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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When I think When I believe




"The greatest act of faith takes place when a man finally decides that he is not God."  
 Johann Wolfgang Goethe

I believe in God.  In many ways I believe in God in ways that most people would believe in concepts like, water is wet, when there is snow it will be cold, fire means burn, ice means slippery.  So, I've been blessed with a faith that doesn't actually falter.  I also am not a literalist in my faith.  Therefore, the struggles people have over many issues, I do not have.  I see the world and believe it was created.  Atheists say it was a series of events and they happened by this and that force... and I am ok with that, because I believe anything that happened could have been guided by the hand of God.  That is, I see the events of science, in their magnificent precision, as confirming God, not denying God.

"I do not feel obliged to believe that same God who endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect had intended for us to forgo their use."   Galileo

I have a brain.  I was told 3 times what my IQ was after taking a test and it doesn't matter what it is, but it is a number high enough to be prideful.  But, I am not, what I am is grateful that God made me the way he did.  Because, there is no argument in my mind or heart between the forces of science or faith, or various religions even.  I feel like I know God, and, as such, I believe in such a way as I do not need to ram it down anyone's throat.  This is not meant to say I have the key, or God speaks to me alone, more than anyone else.  I don't believe that.  I am saying that I believe, and God blessed me that I have no inner conflicts over who God is, nor over my place in the universe.  I believe that whatever God wishes to happen will happen, that God uses all things and turns them for good, and that there is no power greater than God's.  If you wish to debate or argue various points here, take it elsewhere, I am not interested.  What other people believe, or don't believe really doesn't move me, except to say, I hope no one misses the chance to know the architect of the universe, and I pray no one misses out on being redeemed.

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell."  C.S. Lewis

"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion." Albert Camus

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When I Dream

DREAMS

I was asked if I might ever do a book based on my dreams, since to the person asking I have many lucid dreams.  But what I remember are moments in my dreams, really, and not many of those.  But there are people who write from dreams.  Rick Veitch had a series called Roarin' Rick's Rare Bit Fiends where in he illustrated stories directly told by memories of dreams, his own, and those from people who sent in their recollections of their dreams.

I do dream.  I have met people who claim not to do that.  But I don't remember many, not probably more than one or two per month at most of my dreams.  What I do remember of my dreams is not enough for a story.  I have dreams that are of happiness where the setting is always in Duluth MN or Neillsville WI.  I have nightmares in a never ending factory where I am trying to hide from a robot trying to kill me.  I think the dreams I remember the least of are the sex dreams, maybe because those aren't really dreams but warnings sent by my penis straight to my brain.

I don't think dreams for a creative person are the same as for people in other fields.  When I am working on something especially if I am really enjoying my work, my dreams either don't happen at all or they are entirely mundane.  I've heard the same from other people, far more talented and creatively successful than myself.

I was not intending, by the way, to compare myself to others here.  I realize working artists, in writing and image, film and performance, are far more talented than me.  I am just answering a question.  I do think dreams are very interesting.  And people who have lucid dreams are very interesting to listen to when they describe their memories of their dreams.

ONWARD TO ANOTHER SUBJECT

I was in so much pain the other day that I wondered if it was really worth living long enough to be considered "old".  I am not suggesting I would do anything like take my own life, I was just flooded by memories of my grandparents, and my parents, who I miss greatly, and thought, I know they were in pain, what were they waiting here for.  That is, some people, like my father (he passed away in 1998) had said since the mid 1980s that he was ready to die, and probably would die soon.  My mother said no he is not, and she was not going to die any time soon.  She died at the age of 86 in 2012.  She loved life, had a wild time, and Alzheimer's stole her from us.

Now her father, my grandpa, had had a stroke and did not fully recover from it, and was not altogether living a happy existence.  He didn't care for family visits in his nursing home, he spent his days napping, eating, and listening to the news.  I would visit  him, even on my own, and, he was just content being alone.  Nothing wrong with that, but, I imagine he was not so much trying to live forever, as he was trying to endure.  This isn't really to investigate his life, or end of his life, just that, he seemed content being alone, being limited as he was with the stroke keeping him from speaking clearly, he just didn't want company.  He had a single room, and I think that was the thing he liked most.  He passed in 1980 I believe, and was I think ready to check out.  I could be wrong, and I surely don't mean to speak for him.

I don't altogether want to die, but, I am as ready as I will ever be for it.  I love my family and friends.  I have forgiven the people who have wounded me.  And I've done as much as I can creatively, because I don't have the talent to illustrate my own works, so writing is all I have.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Chernobyl, the bitter seed & the harvest of death

29 years ago today the nuclear power plant Chernobyl in Ukraine SSR, then a part of the Soviet Union, suffered a catastrophic melt down and fire.  The result killed people then, and led to radiation poisoning and DNA disasters for 2 generations.  The land is still uninhabitable.


Photo copyright held by Soviet Union Media Ministry.  Used as Fair Use and no copyright infringement intended.

Today there are no people in the region surrounding the radioactive lands of Chernobyl.  The frightening thing about it is, without the sacrifice of some brave men, it could have been much worse.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

My Country, My America

I was asked if I agree with all of the changes going on in the US, like Gay marriage, pot legalization and the secularization of government.    I don't and never have smoked pot, or used in other forms, I am heterosexual, and have led a boring life sexually, and I am religious, so from the start it might seem that I would be opposed to those changes.  But, I don't think these changes are the real issues that are changing.  

A country is different than a person, and therefore, I look upon these issues quite differently than the people who have asked me about my views towards the changes.  Governance is about a contract with the people, and therefore, to some degree, while the government changed the way things would be, by going through the courts, they followed a path that made certain that simple popular will was not used to determine the law.  In any case, the following are my views of the changes.

Gay Marriage for me is not about my beliefs, it is about equality.  Pot legalization for me is not about ability to use, as it is the failure of and cost of the drug war upon the US, which is enormous.  And the government might give a prayer before breakfast, or say under God in some oath, but, the US is a mixture of believers in many different things, non believers, and people who never gave religion a thought.  To suggest that Government should be more religious or less secular is to favor one over the rest.  So long as the Government doesn't say I CAN'T believe in my God and act upon my faith, I am content with it in this area.

Then again, the question was asked because people of faith are worried, rightly or wrongly, over the  many changes.  It is a shock to many that things that would be considered unthinkable 50 years ago, are now legal.

My father, who was a Democrat, never voting GOP, would have had an issue with Gay marriage, Pot legalization, and might not have an issue with less prayer and less attention to religious people or their interests, but he'd likely have been suspicious of it. 

At no point am I suggesting that I think any of it is wrong.  I am suggesting that 1, I am not threatened by it, 2, I am still able to be who I am heterosexually and religiously, 3) I am still an American, and so are everyone else who are both for and against such change.  And since I live in a country comprised of 300 million people, (or more) the rights of the minorities are important, and the values of the majority need to be paid attention to as well.  Diversity means we have a great pool of thought and ideas, and every problem we have can be addressed by many different points of view.

I believe that the vision of America is a solid one, and democracy is a goal that is worthy of the people, and worthy of the efforts to achieve it.




Sunday, April 12, 2015

Brain Thief Dementia

I fear Dementia and Alzheimer's.  I fell into a pit of despair when I lost my mother to Alzheimer's, and more, felt helpless as I watched her fade into the graylands.  I am not suggesting that I know what could be done better to help her, because I have no idea.  It was a wicked turn of events for a woman who defeated cancer four times, who rose up from poverty.  She made her life something out of relatively nothing.  And she ended up not knowing who her children were, nor where she was.

What a thief you are Dementia.  I hate you, and wish only hateful things towards you. I should rather you had taken me and left my mother to live happily and disease free.  She had made her life bloom, I've only sat and watched as others live.

I am fat, but others are dying of starvation

I sit in a heated home, before a computer, in a comfortable chair.  Should I like a beverage or snack, I walk 50 or 60 feet and get one or both.  I can get in my car and drive a short way to a near by larger town and buy more if I like.  I do not have a great deal of money, but I can usually afford a gallon of gas, and 5 dollars worth of food.  In so living I represent the banality of relative wealth.  Because I am poor compared to others who live and work in my society, but I'd have much more money that people in impoverished countries, where people likely work harder, and get paid far less.  Life is unfair, clearly.

As I said, the people in the world who are dealing with malnutrition, undernutrition and starvation do not have any of the luxuries I have.  The food sources they have are withheld, distant or too expensive.  They have no money to buy the food, they have money but no food to buy, or they are considered expendable and are caught between two powers who fight over their territory.  Food is both a weapon used politically and when used physically.  Anyone who has seen the result of wars can tell you that starvation is a very direct result of war, and it is ugly.

In the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin starved the farmers of Ukraine during the event called Holodomor, 1932-33.  During the Second World War the Nazi occupying forces starved both the Dutch people and various other native people who were not allowed to farm lands considered valuable to the war effort for other reasons, or they were farmed, but the produce went to forces far away.  That does not even begin to address the Holocaust, and the attempted annihilation of the Jews by the Nazis and their allies. In Africa the country Biafra declared its independence from the rest of Nigeria, only to see itself surrounded and cut off from the world, and starved into submission.  Sudan and Southern Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, and Eritrea all had similar conflicts.

One of the most evil of villains, however, is the economic inequality and despair, that causes farmers to eat seed crops meant for the next year's planting, that causes them to sell under cost, and that leads to drastic choices that both destabilize the native farmers and land, and the people who count on those farmers, and the land.  The first world, and former Communist and Socialist world might not be actively evil, may in fact have tried to be honorable, but the inertia of flow of money, often caused the poor to lose ground, quit farming and leave for the city to look for the illusive better pay, and the farm land would be bought and used for cash crops or left for the purposes of the wealthy economy, rather than the native poor country.  Eventually, colonialism happens, whether that route is chosen, or the route is simply followed by inertia of wealth.

"Undernutrition is a contributory factor in the death of 3.1 million children under five every year."
 
"According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the less severe condition of undernourishment currently affects about 842 million people, or about one in eight (12.5%) people in the world population."  (Preceding paragraphs quoted from the wikipedia pages about starvation).

They said they were an-hungry; sigh'd forth proverbs,
That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat,
That meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent not
Corn for the rich men only: with these shreds
They vented their complainings. 


William Shakespeare, Coriolanus (c. 1607-08), Act I, scene 1, line 209.


Friday, April 3, 2015

A moment to look back and pause













There are people who judge races of people by previous or present examples, and take the whole from the single example.  At the moment America is supposedly post-racial, having elected a charismatic Black President of the United States, and having seen many advancements in achievement that shattered a variety of barriers.  And I like anyone else can fall prey to judging unfairly.  I am NOT perfect.  I am however aware that I need forgiveness for a great many things.  So I will endeavor to improve.  Race, Gender, Orientation, Ability, Religion or lack thereof, and much more might seem to divide us.  But I truly do believe that when you have a diversity of opinions in response to a question, you have a better chance of finding a good answer, than when you have a single or two answers.  The more outlooks we have, the better chances we have to find a truth.  Diversity IS strength.  That isn't just a saying.

However, we've entered a time of great upheaval.  Our world, for all its desire to grow, and be more than it is, has become a zone of flashpoint debates turning into fights, wars, assaults and riots.  There are indexes of success, of inequity, of perceptions of others, and these almost all show that the races are as divided as before the watershed events of the momentous 1960s.  That is not unrecoverable.  The 60s were so enormous we have to have hope that we are able to spring from that level and grow.  But should it go back below that level, America would gravely suffer.

Going back further than the 60s would be disastrous.  And I am not exaggerating.   




Writer(s): Lewis Allan, Dwayne P. Wiggins
Copyright: Music Sales Corporation, Marks Edward B. Music Corp., Dwayne Wiggins Pub Designee, WB Music Corp., Edward B Marks Music Company


"Strange Fruit"
Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin' in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant South
The bulgin' eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burnin' flesh

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Quest is Lonely, The Trial is Enormous



I am reluctant to give up my quest.

I have pursued it for 51 years, breathlessly at times, painfully quite often.  And I've never reached my desired quest's end. My cheeks are shallow, my body is emaciated.  I can barely stand without shaking, and my vision is that of a much older man.  Should a beast choose to fight me, should a temptation offer itself, I cannot see how I might be able to defend myself.  Going without that which strengthens me is the recipe for failure.

So I continue on, knowing I might fall, I might fail...

Isaiah 40:31
"but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint."