Matters of Religion

old mad gods

People around this country are busy expressing their religion.  They refuse to do their government clerical jobs and deny people marriage licenses.  They do it because of their beliefs.  They picket military funerals with signs about “God hates fags” (though I don’t see why the creator dislikes English cigarettes so much) because of their beliefs.  They refuse to bake wedding cakes because Christian fundamentalism has somehow become about who gets to eat your cooking.  They condemn parts of the Middle East and pray for war because there is religious head-chopping going on, and certain countries are not promising to give up their nuclear daydreams sincerely enough.  Expressing religious beliefs seems to be mostly about condemning stuff.  And, admittedly, some of it is bad stuff… like the head-chopping.  But is that what religion is for?

The Paffooney I am using today is called “One Day the Old Mad Gods Will Be Made Whole Again” which is a nutcake picture created during my grad student years in response to the basic undercurrent of fear that underlies most of Christianity.  I think I may have written it wrong, though.  It used to be about “fear”, and today it has become about “FEAR!”

angel by Adolphe-William Bouguereau (1825-1905)

angel by Adolphe-William Bouguereau (1825-1905)

People turn to religion primarily because they fear death.  Christianity promises an ever-lasting immortal life, either in Heaven (Which I have my doubts you will ever find on a map) or (as the Jehovah’s Witnesses in my family believe) on a Paradise Earth.  To never die you are expected to follow a secret formula, or somehow cast a magic spell that will guarantee that even if you are killed, you will never die.  If you knock on enough doors to share the “Good News of Christ’s ransom sacrifice” you will be resurrected to everlasting life.  If you “Love what is good and hate what is bad”, you will claim a spot in Heaven.  But you can’t earn this undeserved kindness.  God gave his only son to die on the cross so that everyone else might live.  …But not sinners.  Not people who do not get the formula right… or do not express the right views… or say the wrong thing.  What the… Heck?

It is not a logical construct.  Elders among the Jehovah’s Witnesses explain to me that is all about belief.  You have to express belief through action.  And where belief conflicts with science or logic, you must prefer belief.

So, the man puts his hand down in an old aquarium full of rattlesnakes, and God is supposed to protect him.  But if the man gets bitten and dies, well, he must’ve been a sinner or needing to be punished.  Hellfire for all eternity… you can’t beat fundamental Christianity on the matter of punishment for sins.

If you have gotten this far through my essay without throwing up your hands and consigning my sinful soul to the darkest pit of hell to burn for eternity, then you have probably concluded that I am just another old philosophical atheist spouting semi-logical nonsense about why there is no God.  And you would be dead wrong.  There is a God.  I talk to him daily.  He helped me write this post.  I am a Christian existentialist.  I believe there is a God, and he can be found in the Bible at First John 4:8.  “He that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love.”  I don’t believe in everlasting life.  I believe I am a part of the whole.  I believe in love, because loving my fellow man is part of loving myself.  I would willingly lay down my life to save another, out of love, because that other person and I are one.  And when they bury me to become worm food and fertilizer, I won’t be feeling the pain and confusion and fear anymore, but I will still be part of the whole.  And the whole is God.

20150902_142649

1 Comment

Filed under humor, Paffooney, religion

A Fortunate Addiction

The Princess

The Princess

I am a serious addict.  I have that sort of disorder-filled personality, as you can plainly tell from my goofy doll-collecting posts.  But a serious addiction I don’t apologize for is my addiction to talking to my kids.  Seriously, they are funny-funny and interesting people.  If you don’t talk to your kids, then you are seriously missing out on the benefits of this very powerful drug.

My number two son, Henry, was telling me the other day that one time in class the History teacher caught him daydreaming and staring at a Mercator Map of the World.

“What are you staring so intently at that map for, Henry?” the teacher asked.

“Just planning world domination,” Henry answered.

The rest of the class laughed at that, including the teacher, but my number two son does, in fact, think constantly about how the world could be ruled better.  He likes arcologies which are Paolo Saleri’s concept of fusing architecture in cities with the natural environment.  Here is one of the sites he studies and makes drawings from; https://arcosanti.org/theory/arcology/main.html

The first time I heard about the Arcosanti thing… ever… was when Henry asked my opinion about Arcosanti and whether he could make a lot of money designing arcologies.

“What?” I asked.  A half hour of intensive and detailed explanation later I said, “Oh.”

The Princess, his younger sister, is more intent on being an artist.  Perhaps inspired by me, or perhaps by genetic abnormality, she is determined to make her fortune as an animator.  Specifically she wants to create Japanese-anime-style science fiction movies about the future.  She showed me her latest drawing just yesterday.

“That is very good, Princess,” I said.  “But why are the boy’s gloves on fire?  And why is he still wearing them?”

“Daaaad!  Those aren’t gloves.  Those are his hands!”

“Oh, sorry.  My bad.  So, why are his hands on fire?”

“He’s using his special magical-fire-power thing to throw fireballs.”

“Oh, that explains it.  It’s a Goku thing?”

“Daaaad!  Dragonball Z is lame.  This is a science fiction story about Project Phoenix Rangers defending their moon base from evil dragon-aliens.”

“Oh.  That’s nice.”

So I enjoy talking to my kids.  I learn new stuff about You-Tube comedy videos, Minecraft, and Gamer-gate… you know, things that really matter in life.

“Dad?” asked Henry suddenly, “What’s your opinion of the use of tactical chickens in warfare?”

“Tactical chickens?”

Tactical chickens?

Tactical chickens?

“Yes, if we intensify their raptor genes and teach them to carry explosive devices and lasers into battle… you know chickens and turkeys are descended from tyrannosaurs.  Robert Bakker the paleontologist says that bird-hipped dinosaurs evolved into birds.  He says tyrannosaurs are closer to turkeys than they are to crocodiles.”

“So, you want to revolutionize warfare with exploding chickens?” I asked.

Tactical exploding chickens.  Or maybe strategic is a better word.  Cause they could also hunt down enemy soldiers and eat them, or lead laser-guided bombs to the enemies’ headquarters.”

Where else in this old word can you listen to creative ideas and innovations like that?  Where else indeed?  And it appeals to me because I tend to think like that too.  I’m goofy like that.

5 Comments

Filed under autobiography, humor, Paffooney

The Blue Man

The Blue Faun who represents the lovely melancholy sensuality that informs my wordy little life.

The Blue Faun who represents the lovely melancholy sensuality that informs my wordy little life.

When I was in Iowa last, and had a chance to see the younger of my two sisters, Mary Ann, she told me flat out that she really liked my most recent blog posts and that I should give up all together on my gloomy pessimistic ones.  This, of course, was confusing to me because all my blog posts are relentlessly gloomy and never make anyone smile, so I did not know for certain what she was responding to.

As I have shared on more than one occasion, I suffer from six incurable diseases and am a cancer survivor.  I don’t plan on living more than decade further at my most optimistic, and I told you recently that I am a confirmed pessimist.  At worst, I could be dropping dead from stroke or heart attack as soon as I post this silly sour old post.  I will be absolutely delighted to live long enough to finish another novel or two and maybe even see them published.   I keep close track of my remaining hours because each one is rare and precious to me, even the ones that are quite painful and hard.  So gloomy is as gloomy does.  I am constantly celebrating that I have lived this long already.  How depressing is that?  … the celebrating every day thing, I mean?

And of all the people who suspect I might be a fish sticks and custard sort of person, Mary Ann is not one of them.  She watches Doctor Who and knows that that is exactly what I am.  I am goofy and scatter-brained and a barely contained barrel of weird energy and misplaced enthusiasm. I do stuff like fill my bedroom Barbie shelf with bizarre and kitschy little 12-inch people.

The Barbie Shelf

The Barbie Shelf

I appreciate melancholy and being blue, because the hollows of the valleys of depression make you appreciate the giddy heights so much more.  And I do realize that I am stringing big words and goopy metaphors together to sound all literary and brooding… but that’s what real geniuses whom I am trying to emulate do to reach the highest heights.  They run down through the valley at the fastest possible pace to build up enough speed to shoot up the side of the mountain on the other side.  It is a Wiley Coyote trick for using cartoon physics in your own favor.  It is the reason I am still tending the flower wagon, trying to coax zinnias into blossoming during the depressingly renewed Texas drought.  It is the reason I keep adding to my collection of sunrises.  The dark blue pieces of the puzzle of life provide the contrast that help you define the puzzle picture of the brightest sunshine and light.

The blossoms in the flower wagon reached a new record number today, despite the heat.

The blossoms in the flower wagon reached a new record number today, despite the heat.

Sunrise on a school day when I don't have to go to school because I am retired.

Sunrise on a school day when I don’t have to go to school because I am retired.

Leave a comment

Filed under battling depression, humor, Paffooney

The Uncritical Critic Likes to Read Books Too!

I told you before that I make a lousy movie critic because I watch anything and everything and like most of it.  You don’t believe me?  You can look it up through this link; The Uncritical Critic

I hate to tell you this, but it is almost exactly the same for books too.

flying goldfish

The Paffooney is an illustration for a proposed collaboration on a children’s book.  My friend and fellow author Stuart R. West (Stuart’s Blogspot about Aliens) had a story about three kids taking a balloon ride when they accidentally gave the goldfish bubble gum to chew ignoring their mother’s warning that dire consequences would follow.  He decided the project was too ridiculous to follow through on, or at least my Paffooney power wasn’t up to making sense of his brilliant literature, and the book did not happen.  And I am sorry about that because I couldn’t wait to find out how it turns out.  I love weird and wild stories of all kinds.  And, unfortunately, I love them uncritically.

So, what kind of books would a goofy uncritical critic actually recommend? Let me lay some bookishness on ya then.

34534

Here is the review I wrote for Goodreads on Terry Pratchett’s The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.

I have always felt, since the day I first picked up a copy of Mort by Terry Pratchett, that he was an absolute genius at humor-and-satire style fantasy fiction. In fact, he is a genius compared to any author in any genre. He has a mind that belongs up there with Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and William Faulkner… or down there as the case may well be. This book is one of his best, though that is a list that includes most of his Discworld novels.
Amazing Maurice is a magically enhanced cat with multiple magically enhanced mice for minions. And the cat has stumbled on a sure fire money-making scheme that completely encompasses the myth of Pied Piper of Hamlin. In fact, it puts the myth in a blender, turns it on high, and even forgets to secure the lid. It is funny, heartwarming, and changes the way you look at mice and evil cats.
This is a book to be read more than once and laughed at for the rest of your life.

You see what I mean?  I uncritically praise books that make me laugh and think deeply about things at the same time.  It is as if I don’t have any standards at all if something is brilliantly written and makes a deep and influential impression on me.

1953

Here’s another book that I love so much I can’t be properly critical when I reread it.  A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.  I cannot help but be taken in by the unrequited love the dissolute lawyer Sydney Carton had for the beautiful refugee from the French Revolution, Lucy Manette.  Tragic love stories melt my old heart.  And I can’t help but root for Charles Darnay as well, even though I know what’s going to happen in Paris at the Bastille because I have read this book three times and seen the Ronald Coleman movie five times.  I also love the comical side characters like Jerry Cruncher the grave-robber and hired man as well as Miss Pross, the undefeatable champion of Miss Lucy and key opposer to mad Madam Defarge.

I simply cannot be talked out of praising the books I read… and especially the books I love.  I am totally uncritical as a reader, foolishly only looking for things I like about a book.  Real critics are supposed to read a book and make faces that remind you of look on my little brother’s face when I had to help him use an outhouse for the first time.  (Oh, what a lovely smell that was!)  (And I mean that sarcastically!)  Real critics are supposed to tell you what they hated about the book and what was done in such a juvenile and unprofessional way that it spoiled all other books forever.  That’s right isn’t it?  Real critics are supposed to do that?  Maybe I am glad I’m not a real critic.

2 Comments

Filed under book review, humor, Paffooney

The Happy Pessimist

“I’d rather be a pessimist because then I can only be pleasantly surprised.”

Benjamin Franklin

289513Truthfully, I have always expected the worst out of life.  That expectation has never let me down.  In fact, it has made me a much happier person.  “How is that possible, you dim-witted dolt?” you ask.  Well, just as Franklin said it.  I am never taken unpleasantly by surprised.  In 1983 when I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, skin cancer, I prepared myself to die at 27.  But I was pleasantly surprised.  I not only survived, but it was completely eradicated by surgery.  No chemo-therapy.  No recurrence.  No more cancer worries (beyond assuming each and every mole I had removed after that point in my life was melanoma revisited).  I can now celebrate 32 years of being cancer free.

pessimist

Watching politics as a humorous hobby benefits greatly from a pessimistic outlook.  I just assume that Donald Trump or Ted Cruz will win the Presidency in 2016, and I am preparing for that dismal dip into depressing gloom.  If Rodeo Clown Bush the Sequel gets elected, or Scott Walker gets the nod, the more likely scenarios, I will be pleasantly relieved and surprised, even though I will still be expecting the ultimate heat-death of the planet to come from those administrations.  If Marco Rubio gets the nod, better still.  He’s kinda young and stupid, but he’s demonstrated that he does care at least a little bit about the common man, and he doesn’t really want us all to die.  He’s even demonstrated the ability to learn from mistakes.  And if a Democrat wins, especially Bernie Sanders, that will be a repeat of the marvelous surprise we all got in 2008 from the election of Professor Obama, man of the people.  I will be preparing for the world to end after this next election, but there is actually a higher percentage chance of survival and limited suffering.  After all, people, even the mega-polluters in China and India. have recognized the need to try to repair the planet.

20150826_072148

I was honestly, as a pessimist, expecting to be dead before the new school year started in 2015.  So I was pleasantly surprised to be able to start a new collection of morning-dog-walk sunrise pictures.  I am prepared and at peace with the world because I always expect the worst to be happening.  Looking at everything from the dark side is ironically the way to find the light and hope in the new day dawning directly ahead.

5 Comments

Filed under humor, Paffooney, pessimism

In Search of the Mythical Socialist Bigfoot

adventurers2x

While the Republican Presidential Clown College continues to shoot their mouths off… and sometimes shoot their own foot off… or put their foot in their mouth and shoot both off… (Dang!  See what you get for being too friendly with the NRA, Republicans?) I decided to track down the mythical creature that Fox News and Rush Limbaugh constantly warn is the socialist-communist-terrorist-really-bad-guy behind everything President Obama and liberals do, Saul Alinsky.

You see, I have been battling the evil Bond villain Badfinger for days now.  He has been exercising his evil on my more Republican and conservative Facebook friends for a while.  They have been posting up a storm of crap about how terrible Obama is, and how false climate change is, and how we should not try to lift up the poor by tearing down the rich… things that sound suspiciously like talking points on Fox News where they mention Saul Alinsky a lot.  (Yes, I do watch Fox News sometimes.  It is always on at my favorite A&W in Lewisville.  And besides, sometimes it is therapeutic to induce vomiting when you’ve had too much poison and disrespect.)

A truck-driver friend posted this on Facebook trying to save me from my liberal Democratic urges.

A truck-driver friend posted this on Facebook trying to save me from my liberal Democratic urges.

Boy, Saul Alinsky sounds like a real monster!  But if Saul Alinsky really said this, and he really is a socialist, why do so many of these sound so much like fascist/capitalist ideas?  The kind of control they are urging is what appears to me to be the thing that would benefit fat-cat oligarchs and rich-old-guy control freaks.  So I turned to Wikipedia to learn more about this evil, very evil guy.  (I know, Wikipedia is discredited because it is edited and referenced by the people who use it… but a source that is factually checked and edited daily can sometimes be more accurate than the rarely updated articles in Encyclopedia Brittanica.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Alinsky

Saul_Alinsky

Wikipedia says that he was a Jewish-American community organizer and writer.  (Red flags have to go up for Republicans for that alone.)  And worse yet he was focused on improving the lives of poor people in American cities, particularly black people.  He was working with black people in ghettos in New York City, Detroit, and other notable “trouble spots” in the 1950’s.  How did he avoid the wrath of righteous commie hunters like Senator Joe McCarthy doing a work like that?  Oh, wait a minute… It says in the article that William F. Buckley praised him as an “organizational genius”.  How did he avoid prison after being endorsed by a commie like that?  Um, right?

His book, Rules for Radicals, begins like this; “What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.”

There’s the damning evidence right there.  He means to punish the wealthy and the greedy and the powerful by taking away some of their excess and giving it to the powerless who are starving and suffering from want.  No communist except maybe… Jesus Christ… could have proposed anything more radical and perverse.

And look at some of the terrible methods he used.  He once used what he called a “fart in” to disrupt rich folks’ sensibilities at the Rochester Philharmonic concert in Rochester, New York.  He organized a group of classical-music-loving radicals to eat huge quantities of baked beans, then go to the concert and intentionally alter the atmosphere for rich patrons of the arts.  That will either bring down Western Civilization as we know it, or make somebody die laughing.  You can’t get much more evil than that, can you?

When asked whether he hadn’t actually considered joining the Communist Party, Alinsky responded like this;  “Not at any time. I’ve never joined any organization—not even the ones I’ve organized myself. I prize my own independence too much. And philosophically, I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it’s Christianity or Marxism. One of the most important things in life is what Judge Learned Hand described as ‘that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you’re right.’ If you don’t have that, if you think you’ve got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide.”

Man, oh, man!  I owe such a debt to my conservative Facebook friends for exposing this monster to me.  I didn’t know what Fox News was ranting about until now.  I now believe this evil Saul Alinsky may actually be worthy of respect.  They may have actually reinforced my loony liberal belief that the American Government exists to better the lives of all its citizens.  It has definitely opened my eyes to the dangers of…thinking like a Republican.

4 Comments

Filed under humor, Paffooney, politics

Badfinger

Yes, there is a James Bond villain who has targeted Texas freeways, liberal politics, and Facebook in general.  He is a bad, bad man who likes to inflame arguments, create racial tension, and fan the fires of road rage.  So, this is my attempt to call this bad man out and make you aware of at least some of what he’s doing.

redneck friends

First of all, I know a way that you can prevent Badfinger’s minions from driving on Teexas roadways.  You can cut off the middle finger of both hands, and those minions don’t know how to drive any longer.  I saw that in action today as I took my number two son to the oral surgeon to have four wisdom teeth extracted (and yes, I know that is probably a bad idea, but he didn’t really have that much wisdom with the teeth still in, anyway).  To get into the proper turning lane, I chose a spot I thought I could get into.  I pulled up to the spot with my turn signal on so the driver in that lane could clearly see my intention.  He zoomed up to close the opening and gave me the middle-finger-indication of his approximate I.Q. as measured by driving habits.  So, I decided to go behind him.  But he immediately, without signaling, tried to ram his way through to the lane I was patiently waiting in.  I had to back my car up while sitting, waiting for the light to change.  The guy behind me felt he needed to signal his I.Q.   But he was apparently smarter by one than the other driver as it took both hands to accomplish this feat.  When the light turned green, the minion in front of me reminded me of his I.Q. again and zoomed into my lane and passed three cars in the lane he was originally in, then forced his way back into the lane to make the turn.  This bit of gracious roadway etiquette accomplished two things the driver probably didn’t intend.  One, he nearly got his precious BMW dented by the car he cut in front of, and two, his mad swoop left a void in his lane that I could get into so that I might safely round the corner on the next green light.

John Kasich flipping the byrd at teachers.

John Kasich flipping the byrd at teachers.

Another minion of Badfinger is a politician that, until recently, I thought was one of the least evil of the toxic clowns in the Republican Volkswagen, John Kasich.  He proved to be an enemy of mine because recently he put the finger on the entire problem with education, teacher’s lounges.  Apparently it is not enough to take strong union representation away from teachers.  He doesn’t want evil communist teachers getting together to complain about class sizes, increasing teacher layoffs, reduced funding, and increasingly draconian testing rules in bastions of communist union power, which he believes are the insidious teacher’s lounges.  I’m not sure why he thinks he’s punishing teachers by taking that cramped little misappropriated closet space away from us.  What will we lose?  A place to make copies on the xerox machine?  Our departments have no money for paper or ink.  A place to put our lunches in an antique refrigerator which may or may not prevent spoilage at temperatures a little warmer than room temperature?  Most of us can’t afford the slice of our fifteen minute lunch hour to walk all the way to the other side of campus and go up two flights of stairs.  But he doesn’t want us to have a place to bad mouth the government that exists only to make our lives harder. And he doesn’t realize that most teachers save their gruesome and evil plans for rebellion until they can meet together at Hop Xing’s Bar and Grill (now with Karaoke) at a time of day when it no longer matters if they get totally schnockered, or if they burst into spontaneous karaoke versions of Journey songs.  Teachers will continue to do the job even without the lavish teacher lounges that don’t actually exist anyway.

So, what am I proposing we do to combat Badfinger and his multiple minions in the fight for God and country and a little respect?  How about an anti-bloviator ray gun that we can disguise as an ink pen?  It might  prove useful against Donald Trump and other Republicans that are our potential next President and chief vilifier of rogue educators.  How about a secret politeness pill that we can slip into the drinking water and make everybody, Badfinger’s minions included, into nicer people?  I’m sure those things will never get voted for… primarily because we really need them.

2 Comments

Filed under education, humor, Paffooney