Category Archives: Religion

Another Lone Crazed Gunman

That’s the expression one of my Facebook friends, and former high school classmate, used to describe and referred to the shooter in Las Vegas last week. I commented that we have far too many of them and that lone crazed gunman seem to be endemic to American history. We have an unnatural love affair with weapons, the more destructive and easier to use the better. This madman was not happy that his rifle was a semi-automatic. He bought a conversion kit to turn it into an automatic rifle. That’s why he could kill so many people in such a short time before taking his own life. It is apparent that this man put very little value on human life, both the lives of others as well as his own.

 

My friend Dan responded with the usual “gun control does not work because criminals will always be able to get guns.” I totally agree with that sentiment. I said, in my original comment, that we needed to make some drastic changes in the hearts and minds of humans. Apparently, Dan missed the point. So, I responded to his comment about gun control not being effective.

Continue reading Another Lone Crazed Gunman

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Pigeonholes and Language

Yes! Yes! I know. It has been over a month since I have written anything on either of my blogs. Rest assured, I am well and doing fine. So, what was the problem? I guess you could say that the stream of creative juices slowed down to a mere trickle. I guess we all have spells like that from time to time. Unfortunately, it seems the older you get the more frequent the droughts are. I guess it’s just something I have to live with. The alternative does not excite me at all. I kind of do want to live forever.

 

I guess I’ve been a creative person, more or less, all my life. I took up acting when I was in kindergarten, but then did not do anymore until our junior class play way back when. I took one more stab at acting my senior year in high school. Doing “the Mouse That Roared” was one of the major highlights of my high school career.

 

I have also dabbled in the visual arts. I did cartooning starting in junior high school as the art editor for the junior high school newspaper. I did cartooning posters for my mother’s bakery shop back then as well. In my 20s, I took up photography rather seriously. I even did exhibits at several local art fairs. I still have a 35mm single lens reflex camera but have not used it in a very long time. My isolate just doesn’t permit me to do that anymore. I have never been much for cameras that do all the work. I do not like giving up creative control. However, I have finally given up and ordered a simple digital camera online that should be here next week. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make that one work and you all will see an occasional photograph on this blog and on my Facebook page.

 

I have been writing for more years and I can remember. I have done my own newsletters, both print, email, and RSS. I have written several digital books about online marketing. I have done research papers in high school, college, and grad school on a variety of topics. I’ve also tried to take a crack at writing poetry back when I was 20. That was a disaster! I do not have the soul of the poet. My writing tends to be dry and intellectual. I guess that is because I, because of my life experiences, AM that dry, somewhat intellectual individual. I would not have it any other way. The greatest thing I have achieved in my life is that I have come to understand who I am, what I am, and am very comfortable with both. Not bad for someone who spent most of his life flitting from one interest to another like a butterfly going flower to flower…

 

So, I guess if you wanted to pigeonhole me (I hate pigeonholes), I am a nonfiction writer with a wide variety of interests: science, magic (or as some call it, witchcraft), philosophy, religion, music appreciation, literature, and movies. I also have an intense interest in politics. That is probably the prime subject for my writings these days. You would think that with all the stuff going on in the US and elsewhere, I would have no problem being inspired to write about those events. Unfortunately, what our illustrious (sarcasm) current President has been doing disgusted me to the point where just thinking about it makes me sick and very angry. I learned some years ago disgust and anger are not the best Muses for a writer.

 

I want to close this post with a somewhat lengthy comment about pigeonholes. We all assign labels to everything and anything. That is what language is all about. Words are nothing more than labels for people, places, things, actions, feelings, etc. We humans need language because we are social creatures. In 1 million years or so that humans have existed on this planet, they have always existed in social groups. A solitary human trying to survive on their own would not make it. Sooner or later, your rather meager resources that you brought with you and that you are capable of making for yourself will run out. You will either die of starvation, exposure to the elements, or the predators will get you. It is only in a community, no matter how small, that we humans could thrive. Language is what made it possible for humans to live and work together and something approximating peace and harmony.

 

However, we forget that language, and therefore labels, are fluid and subject to change. All kinds of things can lead to changes in language. I have been alive for 70 years. The language that I use in my informal conversations is sometimes like a foreign language to my younger son, Michael, who is nearly 21. His informal language is sometimes Greek to me. I think that is one of the reason for the so-called “generation gap” that is responsible for parents and children having difficulties communicating. Though before I get too far off track here, let me go back to pigeonholes.

 

Pigeonholes come about when people treat the words they use (labels) as if they were carved out of some incredibly hard stone. Pigeonholes are useful as starting points in trying to describe someone or something. We need to remember, however, that people and things are not carbon copies of each other. What I mean by that is that I am a 70-year-old man. I know several other 70-year-old man. They are as different from me as I am from the man in the moon. When pigeonholes become overused, they become rigid and people think that that is the way things should be. What I mean is you all have a conception of what a 70-year-old man is in your mind. If you are not a fundamentalist, that picture is somewhat amorphous and allows for a great deal of variety. Fundamentalists have a very clear, distinct, and rigid conception of what a 70-year-old man should be. I do not live up to other people ideas of what a 70-year-old man should be. Nor do I expect any other 70-year-old man to be exactly like me. That conception in your mind is only a reference point, not a commandment from God. So, let’s be a bit more flexible in how we understand labels, how we understand the words we use. Let’s be more flexible and you will see a much greater level of peace and harmony in the world.

 

Peace and love!

John

For God and Country

I don’t talk about religion very much on this blog anymore. I tend to save religious discussions for my Christian Heresy blog. I do however often discuss politics here. Since this post is about both religion and politics in the United States, I thought it was better suited for this blog.

 

Yesterday was the Fourth of July – our Independence Day. Last night I watched the movie version of the Broadway musical 1776 on Turner Classic Movies. The movie was actually better than I expected, mainly because it was less of a musical than I thought it would be. I found the dramatization of some of the debates in the Continental Congress rather interesting. I don’t know how historically accurate those dramatizations were. At one point in the movie, our Founding Fathers were recommending the various and sundry changes to the original wording of the Declaration of Independence. One of the delegates from the South asked for the inclusion of the phrase containing Divine Providence. He felt that the colonies would have no chance winning a war against Great Britain without divine help and that our declaration should acknowledge that. That’s certainly makes sense given the times and the culture of the colonies in 1776.

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Through the Doors Of Perception

The Doors of Perception is the title of a book about taking hallucinogenic drugs, especially LSD. It was written by Aldous Huxley almost 100 years ago, now. Jim Morrison, the late lead singer of The Doors read this book. It inspired the name he chose for his group. Timothy Leary read this book and became a prophet of LSD. I read the book back about 1966 or 1967. It took me until fall of 1968 to screw up the courage to try LSD. That first trip is an experience I will never forget, along with a few other memorable “trips.” “Trips” are what we called the experience of taking LSD.

 

The first trip was on a nice warm day in October, I think, as I was hanging around with some friends on the streets of Old Town in Chicago – the hippie district. The reason the trip was so memorable was that was when I called my father back in Furlong, Pennsylvania, to tell him that I was in Chicago and I was not coming back. A very interesting conversation, indeed.

 

About two years later, I was working at an auto parts store on the South Side of Chicago. I had recently moved in with the woman who became my second wife. We shared a large apartment on the North Side of Chicago, a couple blocks from an elevated train station. The reason that is important to this story is that I used public transportation, a bus and the elevated, to get back and forth to work. I had been there at the auto parts store for several months and had made friends with several of the guys who work there. One afternoon, when we were outside on a smoke break, one of the guys I knew handed me a little orange barrel shaped pill. I knew exactly what it was – a very, very good form of LSD called “orange sunshine.” It was recognized as one of the purest forms of acid available on the street. My friend said I should take this as I was leaving work and I would be tripping quite nicely by the time I got home an hour later.

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A Little Sunshine and a Lot of Hope

My son Michael is a very serious gamer. The reason he is a serious gamer is because I got him hooked on gaming back when he was six years old. I started Michael out on Warcraft II and there’s been no stopping him since. Michael loves to play games, design games, review games, read reviews, and read/watch all kinds of blogs and video blogs about gaming.

Recently Michael showed me a post on a video blog called Game Theory. It seems that the blogger who does Game Theory recently got to do an interview with Pope Francis. The man brought the Pope a video game. I’ll let him explain what video game and why he wanted the Pope to have this game in this very thoughtful video he made on the occasion. What I want to talk about is the social context and social philosophy that this man, who claims to represent the gaming community, presents to all gamers and non-gamers. His name is Matt, by the way, and I will refer to him as such. Continue reading A Little Sunshine and a Lot of Hope

An Update On christianeresy.com

My Christian Heresy site was hacked on Wednesday by what appears to be a group of religious fundamentalists. What particular religion they are fundamental about is really not important. I dislike all fundamentalists, religious or secular. For some reason that I do not understand since I do not criticize anyone’s religious beliefs or single out any religion or targeting, these people were offended by something I said on my site. Well, tough shit! [Sorry about the language but they’re going to be more, so get used to it.]

Because of the hack being a whole lot worse than originally thought, I am going to have to completely redo my site, switching scripts that I use from Drupal to WordPress. That means the database is not going to transfer. For me, that means I am going to have to re-enter each article one at a time. That obviously will take a bit of time so be patient with me. Michael and I will get it done as quickly as we can. As for you all, it means you’re going to have to set up a new membership the new login on the work press their version of my site. Also, write permissions will be very limited for obvious reasons. We may have to play around a bit until we figure out what we can and cannot allow. Again, bear with me. We will get this set up as quickly as we can Continue reading An Update On christianeresy.com

Confronting the Past Lucky 13

Today is my 68th birthday! Yes, happy birthday to me. Thank you! In honor of my birthday I have decided to go back to the Confronting The Past  series. This is a rather momentous year for me. First of all, I turned 68. Second, it has been 50 years since I graduated from high school [by the way, happy anniversary to all the members of the class of 1966 at UM HS.] Third, my wife and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in a couple of months. Fourth and last, by the end of the year all my children will be 20 years old or older. In my book that makes them adults. So, assuming I live to the end of the year, I will have lived long enough to see my children grow up. Not too shabby!

 

One of the advantages of age is that you are supposedly wiser than you were when you were young. Whether that is true in my case or anyone else’s is open for debate; when I’m going to assume that I have gained some wisdom in the last 50 years. One of the responsibilities of wisdom is that you impart that wisdom to others. After all, what good is anything if you don’t share it with those you care about? So here goes.

Continue reading Confronting the Past Lucky 13

One More Reason To Hate The Medical Profession

Those of you who know me very well, and there are a few of you, know that I have a very low opinion of the medical/health care professions. This low opinion is the result of many years of having to deal with their stupidity and ineptitude. I know at least one of you is going to be very insulted by this. All I can say is oh well! So what’s the latest reason for me to hate doctors?

 

10 years ago I had cataract surgery on both eyes. I went from being severely nearsighted to being severely farsighted. I have also had an astigmatism for a very long time. My last pair of glasses before I had my cataract surgery corrected for the astigmatism and also for the double vision I suffer from.

 

After the surgery, I had a pair of bifocals made up that were basically clear glass on the top and fairly powerful reading glasses on the bottom. Problem is, those glasses did not correct for the astigmatism or the double vision. I mentioned this to my ophthalmologist, who told me there was nothing they could do for me, that there was no way to correct for these problems. I suffered under this misinformation for the last 10 years. Because of this misinformation, I have not been able to read a book or a website, type on my own, or even read the program guide on my satellite TV channels.It turns out that there ARE corrective lenses for my problems. In fact, the glasses I had before my surgery corrected for both, as I mentioned. No wonder I’m pissed!

 

This bull manure is just the latest in a long series of episodes of stupidity, ignorance, or what ever you wish to call it by doctors who are so full of themselves and think they are infallible when in fact all they are is arrogant and conceited. Given the kind of money these people expect to get paid for their services, you would think they would make a better effort to be more attentive to the needs of their patients and not worry so much about their schedules or their wallets. Lord knows, most of them have very stuffed wallets. After all, being a doctor is very “lucrative.” That is the term that a doctor I happen to know used to explain why he took a position from which he recently retired.

 

By the way, although I tend to hate doctors, I absolutely love nurses, male or female. I owe the nurses in the emergency room and the ICU at the local hospital my life, at this point.

Means of Production: Capitalism versus Socialism

“In fact, the realm of freedom does not commence until the point is passed where labor under the compulsion of necessity and of external utility is required. In the very nature of things it lies beyond the sphere of material production in the strict meaning of the term. Just as the savage must wrestle with nature, in order to satisfy his wants, in order to maintain his life and reproduce it, so civilized man has to do it, and he must do it in all forms of society and under all possible modes of production. With his development the realm of natural necessity expands, because his wants increase; but at the same time the forces of production increase, by which these wants are satisfied. The freedom in this field cannot consist of anything else but of the fact that socialized man, the associated producers, regulate their interchange with nature rationally, bring it under their common control, instead of being ruled by it as by some blind power; they accomplish their task with the least expenditure of energy and under conditions most adequate to their human nature and most worthy of it. But it always remains a realm of necessity. Beyond it begins that development of human power, which is its own end, the true realm of freedom, which, however, can flourish only upon that realm of necessity as its basis.”

Karl Marx Capital Volume III

For most people, those who qualify as vulgar Marxists, means of production means economic production, that is, things like factories, machines, and natural resources used in production likes iron and coal. However, as is clear from the quote above from Marx, the means of production go way beyond economic production to include things like ideas, religion, and other aspects of culture/society that we consider necessary. For a really good look at what I’m talking about, I suggest reading Marshall Sahlins Culture and Practical Reason. Sahlins discusses specially the production of advertising in Marxist terms. Very interesting! Continue reading Means of Production: Capitalism versus Socialism

A Favor

In my experience teaching and talking politics and sociology and anthropology, I have learned that most Americans have a very distorted understanding of what socialism/Marxism is. This is probably due to the residual hangover of the McCarthy witchhunts of the 1950s. Sen. Joe McCarthy and later J. Edgar Hoover saw Communists in every closet in America and they swore to ferret them all out, even if there were no Communists.

 

I want to talk about the role of socialism in the current presidential campaign, but I really don’t want to do a long detailed explanation of what socialism/Marxism is so I’m asking all of you to read the following article. Click here to read.

 

Thanks!