Wednesday, October 31, 2012

O.K... This one isn't scary.  Actually, it's a downright friendly natural marking on a tree in the Starbucks patio in Hillcrest.


After yesterday’s blog writing, I’ve been trying to think of something which can be said to be absolute... Not something scientific like absolute zero, but an idea which isn’t open to interpretation.  I couldn’t come up with much. I remember reading once that Ernest Hemingway liked cats.  He said, “A cat has absolute emotional honesty:human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.” I like Hemingway... I like just about everything he wrote (Notice I didn’t say “absolutely” everything); and I think he must have intended his ideas to be examined and questioned.  I’ve known a few cats, and I don’t know about absolute emotional honesty.  KC (... for Kitty Cat... We’re not very imaginative when it comes to naming pets.) was a cat I liked very much.  I don’t know about emotional honesty.  KC seemed to me to know a whole range of wily tricks to get what he wanted from everybody in our household.  He definitely let us know what he didn’t like and refused to go along with any procedure that wasn’t to his liking. His strategies worked with humans, but not with other animals.  He was killed by a brute dog in Louisiana. You might ask what he was doing in Louisiana... but that’s another story for another time.

Back to the subject of absolutism:  I guess it’s absolutism in religion that causes me to back away and look for another way... another answer.  Any declaration that begins with “God wants” or “God thinks” or “God demands” leaves me wondering where the person saying it gets his/her information.  If I ask, “How do you know what God thinks or wants,” the answer is inevitably, “The Bible says so.”  Some time ago I got past the notion that the Bible is absolutely true. I like the Bible... I like reading the Bible... Some of the most wonderful literature ever written is found there.  But to believe it is to be understood as literal explanation for the way things are in the world and that it contains the solutions, the prescriptions, for all the world’s problem is naive. 

So, I think my friend is right who thinks my problem is with absolutism, especially in matters of religion.   Pity the ignorant fellow holding the sign declaring in bold letters that God Hates  _________.  If he should say plainly that he, himself, hates something, that’s one thing; but  saying that God hates something implies an intimacy that is improbable... I was going to say “absolutely impossible” but decided against it... and I say pity because his ignorance is obviously not blissful. 

Oh... Today is Halloween.  I went out looking for a scary picture, but settled on images in bark on the ficus trees near my house.  The eyes have it... and so...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

idée fixe

For a long time I’ve been circling around and around the notion that perhaps religion is the problem rather than a solution for a hurting world in deep trouble.  Big, global troubles often are tinged, sometimes even dominated, by conflict from two or more religious groups.  Whatever else it included, the Nazi ideology was noted for its determination to eradicate the Jewish religion from the face of the earth by killing Jews. The Serbian-Croation confict of two decades ago in Eastern Europe pitted Orthodox Christian against Roman Catholic Christians.  City councils and school boards routinely spend hours coping with angry constituents who are insisting that “the other party” must restricted from promoting or objecting to another group’s programs. In my city a cross stands on public land as a tribute to fallen soldiers. For as long as I can remember there have been individual citizens and organized groups who object to the cross on public land because, they say, it violates the principle (and laws) guaranteeing separation of church and state.  Providing students in public schools with information about contraception and/or abortion inevitably draws an often angry response from religious organization.  

I admit that I tend to look for links between violence and religion; and when either or both parties in violent conflicts claim their religious institutions are offended or violated, I have assumed a major reason for the conflict is religion. A good friend whom I respect and like very much has suggested that I should take some time to examine more closely my reasons for linking violence to religion.  She posits a second reason why most angry, violent people respond with anger and violence to people who disagree with them.  Perhaps, she says, it is absolutism that’s the problem.. whether the absolutism is coupled with religious dogma and conviction or with political or social movements and ideas. So I’m going to try to be open to the possibility that religion is more benefit than trouble for communities.  After all, I really like Christmas.  I like going to visit churches and synagogues and mosques and temples.

I’ll see if I can work through it, but I confess (I’m aware that confessing is a religious impulse or maybe obligationd.) I don’t know exactly where to start. But at the onset of this exploration, I’m going to have to decide what to do about Westboro  Baptist Church and Ayman al-Zawahiri.   Of course, I’m going to have to find some reason other than his religious beliefs that Keeps Pastor Fred Phelps and his parishioners out there with their signs declaring that God hates fags and promoting DEATH TO QUEERS.    Now take the Taliban... that’s going to be a tough one for me.  It’s my understanding that they really did send a guy out to kill a teenage girl in Pakistan just because she wants to go to school and had the audacity to talk about it... and it’s also my understanding that the fanatics in that particular religion say they believe God doesn’t want females to be educated... or to drive... or actually to be seen in public. But I’m going to give it a shot.  

I’m going to begin by recalling that my Grandmothers and my Mother and a whole bunch of the best people I’ve ever known have been religious. I’ll admit that as far as I know Mr. Benedict, Aunt Chat and Uncle Bert, in spite of their moral absolutist beliefs, were never mean and spiteful. 

I began this writing late in the day and haven’t had time to give the project the thought it deserves.  I’m going to work on it.  Perhaps I should begin by examining my own reasons for continuing to go to church regularly even into old age... and to admit that I like it or I wouldn’t do it.  More to come.

Monday, October 29, 2012

You'll want to click on this image to see it larger.  Somehow, I think this new North Park mural (still being finished today), says a lot about our culture.  I like it very much.  It's large... 10 to 12 feet tall and going at least forty-five to fifty feet along the whole side of a building.  
Like most of the country, I've been glued to the T.V. today watching the storm called Sandy bash the Eastern Seaboard.  Daughter Nancy lives in Rockville, Maryland, Gary and Maria are hunkered down in Ocean City, Maryland; Brother Jim and Bill live in New York, Bill back in Manhattan tonight and Jim out at South Hampton; dozens of friends are scattered all along several states from Alabama up to New England.  We're concerned about all of them.  I couldn't resist looking back on the Internet to find the report of a CNN debate of Republican wanna-Bs.  At one point Mitt Romney made a great point of saying one of the moneysaving moves he would make would be to defund FEMA and let the individual states take care of their own disasters.  Wonder what he's thinking about it today and tonight and tomorrow...

The Report at the time:

During a CNN debate at the height of the GOP primary, Mitt Romney was asked, in the context of the Joplin disaster and FEMA's cash crunch, whether the agency should be shuttered so that states can individually take over responsibility for disaster response.
"Absolutely," he said. "Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that's even better. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?"
"Including disaster relief, though?" debate moderator John King asked Romney.
"We cannot -- we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids," Romney replied. "It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we'll all be dead and gone before it's paid off. It makes no sense at all." 

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Today I am trying to do still life photography.  Sometimes my search for the photo du jour begins when I have no idea what I want... no notion of what it is that I’d like to capture and keep to remind me of the day.  Sometimes the image presents itself as if to say, “I’m it.  Take me.”  Today was such a day.

Our friend Dorothy gave Margaret and us a gift of food from her garden: two lemons, four hot green peppers, five small fiery red peppers, two bell peppers, one zucchini, two white onions, and three pomegranates.  I poured them from the bag onto a dish and they fell into an arrangement that was irresistible.  The three pomegranates... perfect. Oh, Don’t misunderstand... the pomegranates weren’t perfectly smooth.  They were deep red with scars.  They had character.  Some of you may remember pomegranates from a week ago... those also were from Dorothy’s garden.  They were the light, smaller variety... delicious.  These three red ones today are definitely worth preserving in a picture. 

I fooled around with some fruit we’d bought at the market... not bad; but Dorothy’s pomegranates win... no contest.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

CATRINAS... El Dia de los Muertos celebration at Old Town San Diego


Is it possible that ethnic/religious conflict is at the heart of the World’s Problems?  Is it possible that economic problems would be more easily solved if relationships were not complicated by ethnic/religious issues?  What would it take for the people of the world to just get along together... to help each other?

FROM The Washington Post:
“A Nation’s Young Minds Under Attack”
In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Taliban, determined to keep young people...especially young girls...from becoming educated, are destroying school buildings and killing and wounding children who dare who determination to become educated.

“Dozens are killed as Syrian truce ends within hours”
The first day of a cease-fire in the Syrian conflict in observance of the religious holiday Eid al-Adha went as many observers had expected: It was violated within hours and both sides blamed each other...”

“Dozens in Myanmar Killed in Ethnic Violence”
“More than 60 people have been killed and thousands of houses burned as ethnic and religious violence in western Myanmar intensifies, according to news reports and community activists.  Violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and ethnic Rohingya Muslims reportedly has spread to at least four townships over recent days...”

 FROM Newsweek:  The ... faith problem has nothing to do with organized religion in general’ it has to do with organized religion’s interference in American politics led by a group of extremist evangelicals and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hang In There... Retirement is good.  As much as possible, always try to see the big picture.  This BLOG practice that I do daily is mostly a way of reminding myself that the world, after all, is a good place to be alive. At the end of every days, I take some time to select the one photograph that represents the day... and sometimes I write something that relates to the picture; and on other days I just write something... a riff, like jazz without musical instruments... or a rant or a rave that explodes out of something I’ve seen or heard... The photograph I choose may, or may not, have something to do with the writing.  Occasionally, I have a day when it’s difficult to choose which photograph will be the picture for the day.  The journaling practice goes back to New Year’s Day, 1987.  Since that day I have written at least one sentence (usually many sentences)  in my journal, and I have pasted in alongside the writing a picture, the photo du jour.  I like going back to one of the journals, any one from any year, and opening to a page, usually at random.  It’s amazing how the picture brings back to my mind some experience that I might have forgotten altogether if I hadn’t made the photograph and selected it to represent the day.   Today I opened the 2003 journal to March 3rd and found a photograph I took of Mrs. Aileen Buford on her hundredth birthday.  Wonderful memory, not just of the birthday dinner, but of a beautiful lady whom I had known since I was a boy.  She died a few months after the party.  

Today is a rare day when I’m having a hard time deciding which photograph will represent October 26, 2012.  On my bicycle ride this morning out alongside the San Diego River to the ocean, I got some pictures of water birds in their natural habitat... photographs that I think are quite stunning, even if I do say so myself... but I didn’t choose one of them.  Later in the day I visited a friend at his place of business and work, his Beacon Artworks Gallery in Old Town.  I got a photograph of my friend R.D. Riccoboni, artist and author and all-around good guy, in his natural habitat. He was surrounded by his work, his art.  That has to be the photo du jour.  Years from now when I open the journal to the October day in 2012, I will feel great satisfaction remembering the day I took another friend, Karla Duarte Ramirez, to meet R.D. 

Life is Good.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I went out today to check the bark on some trees I’ve been seeing for some time from a distance.  The first one on the BLOG today is soothing, I need to find soothing images. I am weary from the possibility that a significant number of American voters are seriously considering voting for some of these bozos who can’t even recognize when they are contradicting each other and themselves... and doing damage to the very fabric of our culture.  Mostly, trees are benign and looking closely at them is soothing; but a few of those close to parking areas in Balboa Park have been assaulted and scarred.

My two-cents about significant ignorant declarations by some of the candidates running for high office:  Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, and Paul Ryan have made clear that they will do everything they can do if they are elected to take away the right of American women to decide for themselves what to do about an unwanted pregnancy.  Mourdock waded into the fray declaring that if a woman gets pregnant from rape it’s God’s will and she should not consider abortion.  We learned a couple of weeks ago the unbelievably ignorant Akin declared that the female body has a natural way of keeping sperm from egg if a woman is the victim of what he called “legitimate” rape... so, not to worry.  Perhaps he is suggesting that if she got pregnant, she must have liked the experience. Republican Akin is a member of the House of Representatives from Missouri who is in a tight race for the Senate.  Mourdock, also a Republican and a Tea Party favorite, beat the moderate Indiana Senator Richard Lugar the Indiana primary, so he is his party’s candidate for the Senate.  Paul Ryan, a devout Roman Catholic, declares that he will work to overturn Roe vs. Wade  and make all abortions illegal if he is elected vice president of the United States.  These guys also say they want government to stay out of people’s lives.  These are the same people who don’t want regulations except, of course, the ones that they believe are imposed by God. They don’t want government to tell them they can’t buy and keep assault rifles, but they want the government to tell a woman she cannot abort a fetus under any circumstances, even if pregnancy is the result of incest or rape.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Vive la Difference

Absolutely everything that lives or has ever lived is unique.  However much they may look alike, even identical twins in any species are not exactly alike.  When I recognize and respect differences in others... all others, I stand a better chance of accepting what is different about me; and when I can fully accept and celebrate myself, I stand a chance of being of some use to others rather a burden to them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My picture for the day: the historical marker on the sidewalk in front of the North Park Theater in San Diego.  Most of the time I don't even try to make the photograph fit the writing.  Today this one seems appropriate after the final presidential debate.

So basically it comes down to this...  In the final presidential debate Mitt Romney agreed with President Obama on many foreign policy issues saying the President’s actions had been right at critical times like the response to Egypt’s implosion and the fall of Mubarak.  Oh, he made several feeble attempts to prove he likes Israel more than the President does, and he muddled through a try at explaining the social, religious, and political chaos in Pakistan.  Romney offered lists of foreign countries to show he can at least pronounce them. I’m guessing that he hoped the American people would notice that he is whiter and richer than the President and, therefore, surely blessed by God more than the President who had only a Black African atheist for a father and a mother who strayed from the white breeding stock pen with the African and an Indonesian.

It’s probably time to use that old adage we drag out at decision-making time, “You pays your money and takes your choice.”  The difference this time is that it’s the Koch Brothers and other super-rich Republicans, helped along by a conservative majority in the Supreme Court, who “pays the money” and urge us to accept their choice.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The most highly skilled workforce
the world notices 
a bigger military
closing loopholes
deal with the deficits
driven by strategy
not by politics
Cutting military isn’t acceptable
The nature of military changes
How are we going to be able
to meet, to meet, to meet...
Next segment...
Israel and Iran
Is an attack on Israel
an attack on the U.S.?
Strongest sanctions against Iran...
Nuclear arms race... 
Last resort.  
Ships carrying Iranian oil
fewer horses and bayonets
diplomatic relations
Get Iran to become a friend
to the world
end isolation
we hope
Strength around the world
in China
Regain credibility...
Don’t allow Iran to engage
in talks that go nowhere...
From the very beginning...
campaign promises, promises...
criticizing America...
The mullahs smell weakness...
Fact checkers...
Haven’t apologized...
murderous activities
International law...
The world is unified
against Iran... 
America hasn’t dictated...
Visit troops...
Missiles came down...
The United States has stood...
saving the world
right now.
Don’t be hypothetical...
This is what’s happening
in the world...
Jihadists rising... growing...
Trade deficit with China
North Korea
A whole range of issues...
all over the map...
Rise of China
Greatest future threat
We can be a partner with China
jobs shipped overseas
You’re against it
but earlier 
message to the world
that’s the kind of clarity...
What we need to get done
to keep the American people safe...
What about withdrawal of troops...
jobs back home...
put veterans back to work
Make that transition
Pakistan is important
with 100 nuclear warheads
Pakistan can’t fall apart...
divorce... no, no, no...
Ending of one war
the beginning of another...
Get the Taliban...
Create partnerships with...
across the board
over the long term
here at home
technology... research...
Americans should be proud of...
go after leaders of the bad guys...
Ain’t gonna study war no mo...
Ain’t gonna study war no mo...
Ain’t gonna stu deee... warrrr...
no more.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

When I asked him how he knows what is the right thing to do, he said, “I ask myself what Jesus would do.”

Having only just met the guy before we began to talk about the election and I learned we had very different ideas about who should be elected, I hesitated only a moment to ask another more pointed question; but considering he had volunteered earlier in the conversation that he is always absolutely sure he is voting the right way...  I wanted to know, “Which Jesus do you ask?”

He seemed baffled by my question.  “There’s only one Jesus,” he exclaimed with certainty.  

I asked him if he hadn’t noticed that there are many Jesuses, depending on who’s doing the talking.  “Do you mean the Mormon Jesus or the Roman Catholic Jesus or the Anglican Catholic Jesus or the Methodist Jesus... or maybe the Southern Baptist Jesus... or maybe a Quaker Jesus? What’s the name of your religion? Who is your religion’s Jesus?”

“What difference does my religion make?” he wanted to know. 

“Well, for on thing, the Quaker Jesus wouldn’t start any wars... no matter what.  The Southern Baptist Jesus wouldn’t hesitate to build up a big army and let the world know that in the name of Jesus they are going to make the world the kind of place their Jesus wants it to be.  The Catholic Jesus doesn’t approve of condoms... not that he actually had any first-hand, pardon the expression, experience with a condom. And the last I heard on the subject, the Catholic Jesus, incredible as it sounds, frowns on masturbation.  And although the Southern Baptist Jesus and the Catholic Jesus don’t see eye to eye on most things, both their Jesuses are disgusted with the idea of a couple of guys kissing or a couple of girls hugging and kissing... and it’s not likely those Jesuses are going to warm anytime soon to the idea of two guys or two girls hooking up in a marriage unless its boy with girl and girl with boy.  The Methodist Jesus apparently doesn’t particularly dislike homosexuals personally, he just doesn’t want them to get together to make families.  If they are useful to the church, like donating money or making beautiful music, they are invited to participate.  Just don’t make families... and if they do decide to hook up and become a family, the church mustn’t have anything to do with it... like a wedding or a reception or a blessing.  And there are organizations that aren’t legitimate religions but that nevertheless make up a Jesus to suit their purposes.  The K.K.K.. for example, made it clear that their Jesus definitely favors white people over black people.  Their Jesus wants black people out of the picture altogether... especially black people who do anything to offend white people.  Shooting offending black people in some dark private place was said to be the preferred punishment, but occasionally hanging a black man or burning someone to death is a good way to let people know what the K.K.K. Jesus prefers. You remember the Crusades, don’t you? Those were Catholics going out to rid the world of infidels... mostly Moslems... but if Jews got in the way, their belonging to the same ethnic group and religion as the First Century Jesus didn’t save them from persecution and outright destruction.  And there was the Catholic Jesus who inspired the Spanish Inquisition, and not so long ago in Europe, a madman whipped up enthusiasm among Christians for eradicating Jews.  At least five million of them were killed while Lutheran, Baptist, and Catholic Jesuses didn’t offer enough objection to stop the slaughter.   See what I mean?  Now which Jesus do you want to tell you how you should vote come election day?”  

My new acquaintance changed the subject... said it’s supposed to be warmer tomorrow and we can expect heavy rain on Tuesday.


Obviously, there are many Jesuses.  Ask a methodist who Jesus is and you may hear that he was something or other.  Pressed further you may hear that Jesus was the Prince of Peace, Savior, the Messiah, a teacher.  Ask another Methodist and you may get another answer.  Perhaps the past tense verb will be changed to present tense with an emphasis on a Jesus that lives still... at least in Heaven and for some people in the heart.  Asked specifically what that means, the answer may include the statement that Jesus is in heaven sitting on a throne at the right side of God, his Father.  Another Methodist might simply say he sits on the right side of The Father.  Ask a Baptist and the description of Jesus may be very much like that of a Methodist, perhaps with the added emphasis that their Jesus is absolutely the only way to be saved and to be guaranteed a reservation for a place in Heaven.  A Buddhist or a Hindu doesn’t stand a chance.  The Baptist Jesus wouldn’t give even Ghandi a pass into Heaven if he didn’t bother to be born again.  You’ll have to ask a Baptist or other Evangelical about that. I’m a little unclear on what the Baptist Jesus does to make that happen.  Ask a Mormon and you learn the Book of Mormon tells of a visit to America by Jesus shortly after his resurrection. The Eastern Orthodox Christians of Serbia believed their Jesus  went along with their plan to expand their territory by taking away the parts of the former Yugoslavia that were claimed by Croatia, Bosnia and to some extent Slovenia.  I’m not a student of those conflicts, but I’ve seen the destroyed homes and churches (Roman Catholic) and talked with both Serbs and Croates who swear that they were right and that their religion gave them reassurance of their rightness.  I didn’t talk with anyone who actually claimed righteousness in their actions during that bloody period in the 1990s. Most of them prefer to hear their war described as ethnic conflict rather than religious war.  

Human ethnicity wasn’t a problem in the Southern U.S.A.  I actually heard one of my Southern uncles say that the problem with “the coloreds”  wasn’t an ethnic problem.  He said, and I swear I heard him say it, “Niggers are just like mules. Religion doesn’t apply to animals.”  I hurry to say that many, perhaps even the majority (We’re talking 1960s here) of Southerners didn’t share my uncle’s views; but the majority of them didn’t want Blacks to have equal rights.  Some of them haven’t got over it yet and are determined not to forget or forgive the United States’ government’s putting an end to legal segregation. We all know there is still tacit segregation, ethnic and economic, all over America; and many of the folks who hold on to their bigotry believe their Jesus backs them up in it.

The good news is that we can be better than we are... and the Jesus I have in mind can help with that.  It’s not a religious thing. Approval for right behavior isn’t bought at church. The right thing to do is almost always the logical thing to do.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A hole in one?
Which one has a hole in it?  

Friday, October 19, 2012


Everybody close to me, my friends and the people in my family (some of them are friends, too), know that I’ve been paying attention to tree bark for a couple of years... stopping for picture when I see something in the bark that reminds me of something else.  Looking at tree trunks has become a kind of Rorschach test, sans interpretation, for me. I’m reminded of that classic Peanuts cartoon strip where Lucy, Linus, and Charlie Brown are lying on the grass looking up at the clouds when Lucy says, "If you really have an imagination, you can see things in the clouds.  What do you see Linus?”  Linus says, “Over there I ee a map of British Honduras... and there’s a portrait of Thomas Eakins, the famous sculptor and painter... and over here is the Stoning of Stephen. I see the Apostle Paul standing to the side.”  Lucy says, “That’s very good, Linus.  And what do you see, Charlie Brown?”  Charlie says, “Well I was going to say ‘I see a ducky and a horsey,’ but I changed my mind.” 

I confess that I see interesting “stuff” in the bark of all kinds of trees, but today I’m not saying what.  If you try me with some cards from the Thematic Apperception Test maybe, and then show me an interesting tree, I might loosen up.  

When I grow up, I want to be a poet; so I’ve got to go on exercising my imagination.  

Does it hurt,
is what I wanted 
to know.
An absurd question
asked of people
in Croatia
or Syria or places
east and south of
who know a thing
or two
about suffering.

I’ll get back to you
with that,
he said after hesitating
a nano second.

“I can ask my father
or my grandfather
or my great grandfather,”
he said.

They know about war.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Floss Silk Tree

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Meaning is where you find it... or take it where you can get it... or “This makes about as much sense and anything else.” 

On my way to meet friends at Starbucks just before seven o’clock, I hurried my bike past a couple of stragglers going into St. Vincent’s Church for early morning mass.  A few minutes later I followed a pick-up (Hey!  Hey! Don’t go there...  I’m talking here about a Dodge truck) with BAD RELIGION stenciled on the back window. Dave and Clyde told me “Bad Religion” is the name of a punk rock band. It got me looking around and thinking about how and where religion happens.  Why not a Parking Lot!

All the elements are there. It’s October, and a grocery store has built an altar of pumpkins and flowers with an effigy which I guess is supposed to represent the great American deity around which the goblin and ghoul Halloween saints can be adored by old and young children who want more than anything to be frightened by the supernatural, the unreal, the otherworldly.  I imagined a worship service with genuine supplicants and pretenders.  In my fantasy there they were... gathered with Charlie Brown in front of the display waiting for the altar call.  Surely the Great Pumpkin will appear this year.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like Halloween.  I’ve always liked Halloween.  When I was a kid in Glenwood, Arkansas, the Halloween Carnival was one of the biggest events of the year.  A ten-year-old boy with mischief on his mind most of the time couldn’t find anything at the Methodist Church or the Baptist Church or the Presbyterian Church to compare with a Halloween Carnival.  I remember mostly that the jack-o-lanterns carved from huge pumpkins delighted everybody but scared nobody.  A plastic jack-o-lantern would have been as out of place at the carnival as a cheap plastic Jesus-on-the-half-shell would have been at the Baptist Church.  Only the real, the natural stuff, would satisfy.  And costumes:  You made your own.  None of the store-bought wigs and capes and fake fangs.  People in those days knew how to do religion.  

Now, I think I’m on to something here.  That’s obviously what “Gimme that Ole Time Religion” is all about.  Apparently we’ve got to believe people at some other time in the past, hopefully the near past that was clearly build on a memory of an even longer-ago past which could be revised and improved without changing anything, knew how to do religion; and all people who want to get it right and be true believers have got to do is try, try to understand and believe and at the right moment finally say so...  So why not find the old time religion in a parking lot...

After Dave went to work, Clyde and I got into a deep conversation about the difference between spirituality and religion... at the Starbucks at the edge of the parking lot. I think we agreed that sometimes the dividing line between spirituality and religion is thin and also that the gulf between religion and spirituality is sometimes very wide.  As Clyde talked with me about his hummingbird paintings, he put his hands together in a way that I liked; so as I often do when I see something that I like, I snapped the picture of his hands with my phone.  Now there’s something you couldn’t do a long time ago... take a picture with a phone.  Some of us are old enough to remember a time when the place where you’d find a phone was hanging on a wall... maybe in your grandmother’s house where you only answered it when it signaled that someone was calling someone at her house with two shorts and one long ring. If it was only two shorts, you didn’t answer because it was for somebody down the road... and you didn’t listen in on phone conversations between two other people even though you could because it was somehow not right.  (I was just about to launch into a tangent about Facebook and listening in on other people’s thoughts, but I’m going to save that for another day.) Same thing with religion.  You didn’t do some things even when you could because it wouldn’t have been right.  Of course, you did some things you shouldn’t do... just because you could, hoping to get away with it... which is a lot the way religion works today.  Not so much if the intent is to be spiritual. I can’t even imagine what she or my grandfather would have said if someone had suggested that one day a person would we able to walk away from home with a phone in the pocket from which you could talk with Moscow, Idaho, or Russia, if you wanted to, or you could take a picture of a friend’s hands in a coffee shop. Wow.  That’s deep... and if you look closely to the picture, you’ll see that my Phone picked up the word HOLY in the background. That wasn’t even intended, so it much be a religious thing.

So I rode my bike around the parking lot looking for other things with theological meaning.  It’s amazing how easy it is to gather stuff that might come in handy if you should want to make a religion.  Whoooah.  That’s not what I want to do.  We’ve got enough religion already.  Theology is something I’m still working on... even in parking lots.  I’m going to concentrate on finding things out in the world that encourage me to be more positively helpful and spiritual.

My Feet... My Bike...
Some would say,
"My religion."