Sunday, January 31, 2010

HE DIVIDING SPACE BETWEEN IMAGINARY BEASTS AND REAL ANIMALS CAN BE VERY NARROW. Beginning with a stretch of beach under the Big River bridge, today I walked a circle trail that surrounds the little town of Mendocino. None of the animals and birds I saw after I left the beach seemed more real than a giant lizard which a group of young people had created out of a big log that had washed up onto the beach. They subdued and harnessed it with great ropes of seawood.
We've heard the tale about a mountain charging onto the front yard of the house where we're staying to take down a deer that was feeding there. I've not seen the lion, but I see deer everyday.

Margaret and I watched a falcon flying low looking for a meal in the high grass on a cliff above the sea.

ROBUST ROBINS are everywhere around Mendocino.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Click on images to see them larger.POINT CABRILLO LIGHT STATION

As early as 1873 Point Cabrillo was surveyed by the United States Lighthouse Service, but the region was remote enough that it didn’t get much attention until after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake when lumber was needed to rebuild that devastated city. A lighthouse was critical to the safety of ships going up and down the coast, so the light station that is there now was finished in 1909.

Margaret and I spent the morning there. She sat patiently while I set up my camera and tripod to try to improve my panoramic picture technique. Taking the photographs is great fun, and I can hardly wait after I’ve taken the pictures to get back to the computer to stitch the images together.

Friday, January 29, 2010

I "fooled" around again today with stitching photographs together to form a panaroma. Click on the images to see them larger.The Main Street of Mendocino.A patch of lilies between the main street of Mendocino and the bluff above the mouth of the Big River.Big River before it flows under the bridge at Mendocino and into the Ocean.The Boat Harbor on the Noyo River at Fort Bragg.Noyo Harbor at Fort BraggNoyo Harbor at Fort Bragg.The Pudding Creek railroad bridge at Fort Bragg.

Journal Entry for January 29
If I hadn’t been there myself, felt the powerful need to belong to the faith community which was spiritual home to many of my friends and family, I might have a hard time believing fundamentalists in any religious tradition can honestly believe what they say they believe. Simple faith, unexamined and unchallenged by reason, comforts and reassures those who are willing to perform rituals as substitutes for critical thought. We may believe the worshipers at prayer in a church will not magically change the world around them, but it would be a mistake to think their experience is somehow fake with no basis in reality. It would be a mistake to believe they have no effect on the world. The history of mankind going right back to the very edge of prehistory is a story laced with religious fervor. Some of the greatest good done in the world has been accomplished in the name of religion. It must be acknowledged also that some of the grossest evils recorded in our history were prompted by religion. It is sad but true that religious fundamentalists are the direct cause of much of the pain and sorrow afflicting people all over the world. It is also sad but true that religious fundamentalism morphs easily from religion to politics. Power brokers around the world recognize that if they can convince people that God is on their side, they can persuade them to believe in the rightness (and righteousness) of criminal activity. From the Crusades in the Middle Ages to present-day Islamic Jihadist movements, the cry has been, “God wants us to eliminate HIS enemies,” and conveniently God’s enemies are the same ones who are the enemies of religious leaders. When the suicide bomber straps explosives onto his body and blows himself up in a crowded marketplace, his simple faith and belief in the rightness of his actions are real. He has been persuaded that he is doing God’s work. We may consider him and his faith and belief to be ridiculous, even obscene; but it would be a mistake to ridicule him or his religion. Scott Roeder obviously believed he was doing the right thing when he killed Dr. George Tiller to “save babies. He honestly believed he was doing what God wanted him to do. The suicide bomber’s belief is real and Scott Roeder’s belief is real. Their reality affects my reality if it changes the world in which they and I live and die.

Fundamentalist Mormons, fundamentalist Baptists and other fundamentalist Christians, fundamentalist Jews and fundamentalist Muslims order their lives around ideas which they consider to be basic to their faith and to their relationship with God. Fundamentalists live in a world where the rightness or wrongness of every idea and every behavior has been established already, so there is never any need to consider nuances and subtleties. They believe God has ordered the world in a certain, fixed way; and their responsibility is to know what that way is and to conform to it and to insist that the rest of the world conform to it. They usually accept the idea that God has appointed someone to be their leader who will keep them informed of God’s wishes for them. Their Supreme Ayatollah, their Pope, their pastor will tell them what God wants them to do. Fundamentalists live in a black or white, yes or no, do it or don’t do it world. They rely on texts such as the Bible or the Koran or on representatives of their religion, their preachers and mullahs, to interpret the holy texts for them so they can know what God wants them to do. If the Mullah says God wants martyrs, fundamentalist Muslims who long to please God and his representatives step up. If the preacher tells them that God wants them to go to the polls and to vote a certain way, they go and vote. If God wants them to hate, they hate. If God wants them to kill, they kill. If the religious leader, as the Ayatollah did in Iran yesterday, wants to get rid of political enemies, he kills them and says they had to die because they offended God.

I am not by nature a patient man. I am impulsive and sometimes react before I think. I confess that I react badly to people carrying signs that say “God Hates Fags.” I don’t like racists. I don’t like bigots. When I was a young man traveling in Mississippi and Louisiana, I reacted badly and without patience to “colored” and “white” signs on drinking fountains and public waiting rooms and restrooms. I refused to eat in cafes with the “whites only” or “colored served at the back door” signs in the front window, but my responses sometime moved beyond disgust. I confess that when I came face to face with bigots whose behavior was borne more of evil than ignorance, I sometimes allowed my disgust to become malice. I shouted slogans and accusations meant to humiliate and wound them. I wanted to do them harm. I was a danger to them and to myself.

I am older now and am supposed to be wiser than I was fifty years ago when I travelled through the segregated south. But when I look around me in church and see mostly white, old people, people who look a lot like me, and when i remember that my name is on the membership role of a United Methodist Church that refuses to allow GLBT members to marry whomever they love and withholds the blessings of the church on their relationship, I am reminded that we have not come very far from the segregated south. I remember that I am a citizen of the State of California where a slim majority of voters was persuaded for religious reasons to withdraw the right to marry from GLBT persons.

This journal writing is not wrapping up easily. I find myself almost embarrassed at having made the case that religion is perhaps our biggest problem. Religion continues to be at war with science and progressive education. Fundamentalist religious leaders generally dismiss scientific reports about global warming by saying “This is God’s world and he will take care of it in his own way.” Fundamentalist Christian leader Pat Robertson said the Devil caused the earthquake in Haiti. Osama Bin Ladin has been successful in persuading a tiny but dangerous fundamentalist Islamic minority that he speaks for God. The possibility is very real that right-wing political strategists are working now in America with fundamentalist Christian leaders to get them to lead their flocks to the polls in November “to do God’s will” in HIS favorite, HIS chosen country. Their highest goal is to get President Obama out of office, and they will devise many ways of suggesting to their religious base that it is God's will to vote Democrats out of office this year to prepare the way for reinstalling a God-fearing American like Ex-governor Sarah Palin or perhaps Cosmopolitan Centerfold Scott Brown in the White House two years from November... or maybe they can persuade Pat Robertson or Anita Bryant to step up to the plate. Where is she these days anyway?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

YOU'LL DEFINITELY WANT TO CLICK ON THESE IMAGES TO SEE THEM LARGER. Today was the first time I attempted to stitch individual images together to make panorama shots without distortion.
Last night in his State of the Union Address PRESIDENT OBAMA spoke words I needed to hear. He instructed, cajoled, scolded, encouraged, and ordered Americans on the street and their elected leaders to work together to solve America’s problems. He talked tough to Republicans AND Democrats, pointing out that simply saying NO to whatever the other party suggests doesn’t bring solutions and new direction to the country. I like him for all kinds of reasons... among them: He is bright. He is tough. He is optimistic. He is honest. He is a patriot. No other American citizen works harder than he does. The country can heal itself if people will work together under his leadership.

One man I met a couple of days ago, a self-proclaimed life-long Republican, said he would rather see the government fail and start over again than to see Obama succeed. The man is an active member of a fundamentalist Christian church. When I challenged him to explain why, he said God will take care of the country if Americans will get rid of people like Obama in government. Wow! We have our work cut out for us in the next election cycle if there are many citizens out there who share his view.

This afternoon I took a walk in a giant redwood forest to keep my mood elevated after last night's speech. It worked. These magnificent trees inspire hope. I took my camera and tripod into the woods, got pictures that could be stitched together, and carefully edited them on my computer.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

YOU'LL WANT TO CLICK ON THESE PICTURES TO SEE THEM LARGER.Beginning in 1869, Spring Ranch was developed one mile south of Mendocino village by cattle and lumber pioneer William Kent, one of the early settlers of Mendocino County. The Victorian house that was Kent’s home has been completely renovated and the ranch has been turned into a vacation center. The unrenovated farm buildings are a photographer’s dream. When I got back to Susan’s house, I realized I hadn’t taken a single picture of the Spring Ranch house. It's just as well. There are plenty of modernized Victorian houses in the village. They are a dime-a-dozen around here, but these old farm buildings give us a "real" look into the past.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mendocino, California, became Cabot Cove, Maine, for the television series, Murder, She Wrote, starring Angela Landsbury. The picturesque Victorian town is located 9 1/2 miles south of Fort Bragg on Highway 1, and three-and-a-half driving hours north of San Francisco.

Margaret and I are staying a mile east of town at the home of a friend. Her new house was build on land owned by her family for decades. Sue’s house is surrounded by a pigmy forest (heavy alkaline content in the soil). The pigmy forest is in a region of California known for its giant redwood trees, so the little trees are of great interest to botanists and geologists.