On Howling

  Everybody’s soul has something to say. We spend our time either ignoring/repressing it because we’re not sure what to do with the emotions that well up, or we go overboard and become soul-driven and wind up one of those overly dramatic people who feel everything about everything. Regardless of which person you are, Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” has the propensity to bring out the latter in a person who takes the time to really read the whole poem. Ginsberg showed no small amount of courage in not only publishing the poem, but writing it in the first place. Ginsberg’s soul had reached its limit, and had to Howl.

                When I first read “Howl”, I had already read William Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch” and Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road”, so I felt I was fairly decently-versed in the Beat generation and it’s production of edgy, off-center portrayals of the alternative lifestyles they had pioneered, and that had fostered in the later Hippie generation that I was more familiar with. I had no idea what Ginsberg looked like and I felt like I’d been struck by a baseball bat after I read that first sentence. I imagined a man sitting in a room, smoking a Camel cigarette, with a grey face drawn full of worry lines and the sweat of three day old worry. He’s sitting there bleeding, but it isn’t blood. He’s writing out his soul and bleeding through that pencil onto those Big Chief writing tablets that he liked to write on. It’s a venomous blood, and it’s full of poison and anguish and anger. He’s raging so hard writing down the demons in his mind that he’s snapping pencils sometimes – he’s boring so hard. I imagined this man chain-smoking his Camels, maybe having a toke of something stronger if he felt he was teetering over the edge… or pouring himself a bathroom paper cup of muddy-brown whiskey, but going back to those cigarettes because with each puff the dragon in his mind vents its anger at the world and its cold indifference. I don’t know if he’s shaking while he writes, this Ginsberg in my mind, but I know he’s all tight like a spring and is going to come out of his skin if one more injustice is witnessed. I was 16 when I first read “Howl”, and I had a Sixteen-year-old’s mind when I heard something incredibly complex but intense. I went for the dramatic.

                Anyone with an internet connection or smart phone can Google Allen Ginsberg and see for themselves that he’s a pudgy, bald, gay guy who likes to chant Buddhist prayers. He’s got this soft Jewish “Nu-Yawk” accent and he frequently pushes his words out in that squinted-eye way that make a man crane his head forward as he reads the world around him. Suddenly everything got smaller and blurrier.  Ginsberg is an unassuming little man and you and I have read a hundred accounts of how “Howl” resulted in a trial and pushed the boundaries of Free Speech and ushered in the whole 60’s. You know this, if you know Ginsberg. I don’t want to add to the hundreds. I have yet to read an account of how the reader felt when they read “Howl”, and how many times they’ve read it.

                That was the first time I’d read Howl. After I learned a little more about the man for a research project in High School, I came to see the little bearded man as having the brain of that first man I described.  Outwardly unassuming, inwardly a volcano. I re-read “Howl” when I was in the Army. I came across it in a USO stop at an airport somewhere… I don’t remember where exactly. I remember that feeling I got when I read those first few words: “I saw the greatest minds of my generation destroyed by madness…” and the silent *whoosh* of a fire being lit in my stomach. I tried to talk about it once with a guy I worked with, a Sergeant. He wasn’t interested and advised me to just keep doing my work and leave those beatnik poets out of anything if I ever want to be taken seriously. I took his advice, and I forgot about the poem as I pushed on with my life as a married man to a woman I would come to divorce a few years down the road.

                I came across “Howl” again when I was sitting in my office in the large Gym I worked at, as the computer guy. Working 9 to 5 with a steady $40K job, going home to a woman who was a stranger and a life I should have felt blessed to be living. I read those first eleven words of the poem that had been attached to an email I’d received from a forward of a forwarded reply to “All Recipients” from some obscure person’s inbox. I’m still kinda scratching my head over that one actually, because I didn’t even like the guy who forwarded me the email in the first place. I *did*, however, read those words with heavily-lidded eyes and Vicodin heartbeats (I’d just cracked some ribs and the doctor had given them to me) and I thought back to the minds of my generation. I was ten years from my high school days, and I wondered where the best minds of my generation had gone. Then I shrugged, and I went back to my $40K/yr job and wished I was somewhere else with someone else and maybe another Vicodin would save MY mind from that Ginsberg madness I just read about and I opened up a mountain dew and forgot about Ginsberg. Delete. Madness Schmadness.

                It’s 2013, and I’ve been given the assignment to write about a poem in our Book. Since I hadn’t bought the book to begin with, I chose “Howl” because it was the first one that sprang to the forefront of my mind. I have re-read the poem more than fifteen times in its entirety in the past 2 weeks. My body has more scars and wrinkles on it than it did 20 years ago, and I sometimes feel like I’ve managed to squeeze extra years into the mix somewhere – I feel the fatigue of the constantly drained. I’ve lived enough for 20 lifetimes and I’ve been making my peace with the direction my path seems to be taking me. Like many men in their later 30’s and further, I give a lot of thought to my mortality and that of those around me. I think about the men that didn’t make it this far and whether they should have, and I wonder why other men with promising lives ahead have been reduced to paranoid shut-ins who have succumbed to the implosion of their minds. I re-read over and over those words… “I saw the GREATEST minds of my generation… destroyed by madness” and I say to myself: The greatest minds had been destroyed, why does the pretty-good mind manage to survive? I read those words over and over, and I shudder. I’ve known people who have had incredible minds that have fallen by the wayside in some manner or another. I’ve lost close friends to self-induced madness, and I’ve felt myself teetering on the edge a time or two myself, but I’ve never had the guts to allow myself to fall over the edge, and I think about that man who wrote those words, and I think about him saying the same things to himself as he writes feverishly on that notepad… His mind flooding out his emotions and ruminations faster than he can create mark from pencil to paper.  He’s not sure when he’s going to approach that edge again, and he’s trying to warn anyone, everyone who can listen… that Madness comes in many forms, and that he’s watched it destroy the best minds of his generation. I see that man struggling to get the message out that we cannot continue to shuffle blindly forward, accepting gratefully whatever we are fed.

                Ginsberg’s soul caused that pudgy little man to cry out onto paper and to carry that voice out to the rest of the world. It wasn’t always well-received, but it is well-understood now.  I am in a second phase of my life now. I have made changes and had to adapt to certain twists and turns on my path. I’ve seen others succumb to Life’s pitfalls, and I do believe that we all have the propensity to be pushed to the edge at least once in our lives. I’m learning to allow my soul to express itself as it needs to, instead of pressing down its feral demands and becoming mired down in the shit that backs up in my head. I spent years ignoring what I had inside me in favor of the false security of an emotionless marriage. It’s amazing how free one can feel if one would simply listen to one’s own soul from time to time – regardless of who might disagree. It’s your soul.Let it Howl. 


God is a testable hypothesis – just test him!

  1. I would like to state categorically, that I DID NOT WRITE THIS ARTICLE.  It was written on NewScientist.com but can’t be read if you haven’t registered, so to save you all from registering, I’m posting it here. Enjoy, and open your eyes. There’s a beautiful world out there to be explored – without fairy tales.

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    THE party line among scientists – believers and non-believers alike – is that science and religion are what Stephen Jay Gould called “non-overlapping magisteria”. In 1998 the US National Academy of Sciences issued a statement asserting “Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.”

    Yet according to a survey the same year, 93 per cent of the members of the academy do not believe in a personal god.

    Since about the same percentage of all US citizens say they do believe in a personal god, it makes one wonder what, if not their science, leads the elite of US scientists to differ so dramatically from the general population.

    A majority of scientists at all levels do not believe in any god. Yet most are unwilling to challenge the religious beliefs of others. I am a physicist who, along with others dubbed the New Atheists, is willing to challenge religious belief. The gods worshipped by billions either exist or they do not. And those gods, if they exist, must have observable consequences. Thus, the question of their existence is a legitimate scientific issue that has profound import to humanity.

    We can consider the existence of God to be a scientific hypothesis and look for the empirical evidence that would follow. Many of the attributes associated with the Judaic-Christian-Islamic God have specific consequences that can be tested empirically. Such a God is supposed to play a central role in the operation of the universe and the lives of humans. As a result, evidence for him should be readily detectable by scientific means.

    If a properly controlled experiment were to come up with an observation that cannot be explained by natural means, then science would have to take seriously the possibility of a world beyond matter.

    Such experiments have been attempted. Scientists have empirically tested the efficacy of intercessory prayer – prayers said on behalf of others. These studies, in principle, could have shown scientifically that some god exists. Had they found conclusively, in a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, that intercessory prayers heal the sick, it would have been difficult to find a natural explanation. They did not.

    Similar tests have been done on near-death experiences. Some people having an NDE during surgery have reported floating above the operating table and watching everything going on below. Whether this is a real experience or a hallucination can be tested easily by placing a secret message on a high shelf out of sight of the patient and the hospital staff. This has been tried, and no one reporting an NDE has yet to read the message.

    Just as science can design experiments to test the existence of God, it can also seek evidence against a god’s existence in the world around us. Here we must be clear that we are not talking about evidence against any and all conceivable gods. For example, a deist god that creates the universe and then just leaves it alone would be very hard to falsify. But no one worships a god who does nothing.

    If God is the intelligent designer of life on Earth, then we should find evidence for intelligence in observations of the structure of life. We do not. The Intelligent Design movement failed in its effort to prove that the complexity found in some biological systems is irreducible and cannot be explained within Darwinian evolution. Life on Earth looks just as it should look if it arose by natural selection.

    Most religions claim that humans possess immaterial souls that control much of our mental processing. If that were true, we should be able to observe mentally induced phenomena that are independent of brain chemistry. We do not.

    If God is the source of morality, then we should find evidence for a supernatural origin in human behaviour. We do not. People of faith behave on average no better, and in some cases behave worse, than people of no faith. History shows that the moral and ethical guides that most of us live by did not originate with the monotheistic religions, as proponents of those religions would have us believe. Instead, moral behaviour appears to have evolved socially.

    Again, if God answers prayers, we should see miraculous effects of prayer. With millions of prayers having been said every day for thousands of years, we would expect some to have been answered by now in a verifiable way. They have not.

    If God has revealed truths to humanity, then these truths should be testable. Over the millennia many people have reported religious or mystical experiences in which they have communicated with one god or another. By now, we should have seen some confirming evidence for this, such as a verifiable fact that could not have been in the person’s head unless it was revealed to them. We have not.

    If God is the creator of the universe, then we should find evidence for that in astronomy and physics. We do not. The origin of our universe required no miracles. Furthermore, modern cosmology suggests an eternal “multiverse” in which many other universes come and go.

    If humans are a special creation of God, then the universe should be congenial to human life. It is not. Theists claim that the parameters of the universe are fine-tuned for human life. They are not. The universe is not fine-tuned for us. We are fine-tuned to the universe. After evaluating all the evidence, we can conclude that the universe and life look exactly as they would be expected to look if there were no God.

    Finally, I would like to comment on the folly of faith. When faith rules over facts, magical thinking becomes deeply ingrained and warps all areas of life. It produces a frame of mind in which concepts are formulated with deep passion but without the slightest attention paid to the evidence. Nowhere is this more evident than in the US today, where Christians who seek to convert the nation into a theocracy dominate the Republican party. Blind faith is no way to run a world.


Was I really like that?

So I just read an article about how they’re going to let women have more opportunities to be in combat. They’re not gonna let ’em serve in Infantry or Special Operations positions (yet), but they will be afforded more and better opportunities to give their lives for their country – just like the men do now.

I’m not about to weigh in on the “Women in combat” argument that’s been around since I wore diapers. What I DID notice (and what prompted me to start writing this) was the comments at the end of the article. Most comments were by obviously left-wing conservatives or military families who were griping about women being in combat. I noticed that a lot of the folks on there who were whining were also spouting the standard lines about not giving up their guns, and 2d Amendment, and so on.

Got me thinking. About me.

Many moons ago, I worked at a gun store and shooting range. It was a pretty fun job for a mid-20’s guy who enjoyed shooting and blowing shit up in the Army, and I liked that I got to shoot the new stuff that came out, and I learned a lot about guns, ammo, how to fix them, etc. It was the culmination of a lifelong fascination with firearms. Working there afforded me the chance to hone my shooting skills by competing against the many folks who came in to utilize the range.

As Ricky used to say to Lucy on TV, “Lemme ‘splain you something…” See, the average customer at a gun store – in the store employees’ minds – is a dumbass. They’re dangerous, ignorant, and pretty horrible shots… not to mention they’re very unsafe at times on the range. I’ve seen people shoot themselves in the leg with stolen guns, saw a guy completely de-glove his thumb with a crossbow (he had his thumb sticking up when he fired… the string pulled the thumbskin right off), and generally have been witness to more than a few acts of stupidity. Honestly, it’s kinda hard NOT to develop an attitude of “better than  them” when you’re around those kindsa things. You become hardened to the fact that these folks are people like you who just enjoy shooting and want to spend a day seeing how good they are, or practicing.

Back to my post. I don’t wanna get off on a tangent on why folks who work in gun stores are assholes, but let’s just say that they are and leave it at that. My whole point to the post was that I was reading comments on the Women in Combat thing, and most of the people leaving the comments were saying things along the lines of “They get my guns when they pry ’em from my cold dead hands” or, “The country’s letting FAGS AND WOMEN into combat! What’re we gonna do? Some fag is gonna try to cornhole me in a foxhole, and if I get stuck with some girl, she’s gonna get period-blood all over me and cramp up and I’M gonna hafta carry her out and get shot!” Then it hit me, I used to say a lot of the same things. I used to be completely outspoken about the “No women in combat” or “No taking away my guns” and I definitely was the kind of guy who would go shoot a few hundred rounds downrange and then go out to the local watering hole and tell big windy stories about my time in the Army, or how I know everything about guns and I’m a great shot, etc.

At this point in my life though, while I would find it fun, I really don’t have a desire to pick up another gun and shoot. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not renouncing firearms or anything. I definitely enjoy shooting, and when I go to my folks’ house, we all read gun magazines and talk about guy stuff and all that. It’s just that my personal tastes have shifted. Gone are the days of reading every gun magazine out there and having to know what the muzzle velocity of a Robinson Arms M-96 Expeditionary is, and what kind of rounds I need to run through my Glock 22. I just don’t care that much anymore. I also lost that attitude of “I can shoot better” or “I know more than you about firearms” that I had for years. I have a friend named Zach who is very much into shooting, and reminds me a LOT of myself when I was younger. It’s his passion and I like talking to him about it sometimes, but I find myself seeing the old me mirrored in him when we talk.

I dunno. I just don’t feel like that guy anymore. I wonder why that is. Why do people change their likes/dislikes completely? I don’t lament not feeling that way anymore. Far from it actually. I just wonder why that is. I went to the gun store the other day w/Zach, and the guys working there sounded exactly like I used to. Listening to them, I couldn’t help but be a little embarrassed – either for them or for knowing that’s how I used to sound – and I just kept quiet.

I guess I wish that the people who do own firearms and use them responsibly would be the ones they show on TV, so that the world wouldn’t think that every gun owner in America is a backwards redneck with delusions of importance. Maybe if the TV showed a guy who was well-groomed, concise and cogent, and wasn’t the bearded guy from the Ten Commandments (sorry Charleton), people wouldn’t be so quick to write people off as freaks. I mean, let’s face it: GUNS. You see a guy on TV with a gun and you log him unconsciously in your mind as either a whacko, a badass (c’mon, how many folks love seeing the reports on SEAL Team Six whooping ass out there) or Law Enforcement. Badasses and Law Enforcement folks don’t typically occupy the top tier positions in the nightly news.

Whackos do.

I’m sorta running out of steam here on my point, so I’ll just end it by saying that I’m embarrassed over how I used to act, I can’t believe I said/did some of those things, and when I read others saying it, I remember back with semi-fond embarrassment. My tastes have changed and I was just wondering to myself why.

 


Stepdad? Or Stepped-on Dad?

Ahh the title of Stepfather. A time-honored title and source of pride and sadness for children around the world.

I’m a Stepdad. I think about being one all the time. My wife has 2 daughters from a previous relationship (to a complete bag of douche, I might add) and they’re great, adorable, annoying, exasperating, cute, funny, garrulous, little headaches sometimes, but always good kids. They have a knack for making me laugh at times, and also a knack for annoying the bejeesus out of me.

Stepdads. They make bad movies about us. I mean for christ sake, I can think of at least 3 movies where the stepdad is the evil one who beats up women and terrorizes kids. Think about the title of Stepdad, and think back to how many times you heard kids talk about their step-parents in unfavorable terms in school. Hey, I get it. It’s hard to have one dad your whole life, have your folks split up, and a new guy taking your old dad’s place in your home and in your mom’s bed. I get it. It’s a tough adjustment for everyone. Now you have a new guy in the house who eats different, maybe snores or farts in his sleep (my wife’ll attest to that one), maybe has a commanding voice and doesn’t tolerate some of the things the kids used to do before he came. It’s a tough racket man.

It’s also an adjustment for the step dad too. He’s coming into a new house with a woman he loves and her two children. If it’s a case like mine, those two children are from her ex-boyfriend who did all sorts of horrible things to her when they were together. It’s not the kids’ fault their father is a waste of air and space, but it is pretty hard sometimes to be fair and fatherly to them when they display some of the same character traits their dad has.

The oldest is almost exactly like him in some ways. She’s moody, bitchy and mean to her sister (although she’s gotten better in the past year, and really – what older sibling ISN’T crappy to the younger one?) and doesn’t have much of a sense of humor sometimes. She’s unlike him in that she’ll laugh at some things she finds funny, and has a tender heart for a girl her age.  She’s also very dedicated when she wants something. She’s got a good analytic mind when she applies it – which is a LOT more these past couple years. She’s having a tough time sometimes, because she remembers what the relationship was like between her mom and her dad when they all lived together, and it has affected her. She really does try to curb some of the negative aspects of who she is, and I know it’s not always fair to be upset with her because of how she’s acting, but I can’t help it sometimes. I’m human too.

The younger of the two is nothing like her dad. She reminds me so much of her mother it’s uncanny. It’s hard NOT to like her, because she’s so damn helpful and giving. She loves to help around the house, and really goes the extra mile to do things for her older sister – despite my warnings that her older sister won’t return those favors – but that’s another thing that makes her Her. Plus, she LOVES Phish. She knows the words to “46 Days” and “Backwards Down The Number Line.” If that ain’t cool… I dunno what is. She doesn’t remember anything from when her dad was in the picture, so she hasn’t been impacted by his antics as much as her sister has.

I don’t have an answer for all of this. I’m writing it all because I want to see it all in print, to read it, and maybe come back later and figure out a solution. I love those girls. I truly do. I went toe-to-toe with their deadbeat loser of a father and told him (nose to nose) to “stay away from my daughters”, and honestly, I felt a lot closer to them because of that. I felt protective. Really protective, like I would’ve felt if I had been talking about my son to some psycho. It definitely brought me closer to both girls.

Being a Stepdad isn’t a bad thing for me. It’s just a tough thing. I don’t know if I’ll ever get all-the-way used to it or not. Regardless… I do the best job I can, and try to keep the negative shit to a minimum. They’re great girls, and they teach me things every day. I just hope I can do a good enough job.

 

And hey, they look funny with diapers on their heads. 


I’m still here…

Everyione’s sick at home, and we had a birthday to celebrate, so I’ve been busy. Apparently I pissed a few people off with my God post, so I may do a followup post to that, trying to explain my reasoning on a few things. Who knows.

But anyway, I’ll be posting more soon. In the meantime, here’s a funny picture of a pissed-off cat.


PHISH!!! (or “Why I’m obsessed by the band”)

In a text to me the other day, my wife said “I love you because you’re obsessed with Phish” and it really got me thinking. Am I? If I am, WHY am I? I’ve never been this nuts about a band before – ever.

With the piano solo to “The Squirming Coil” playing in the background as I write this, I think I can sum it up for the most part with a few sentences, and then expound later. Phish are 4 dorks. They’re 4 extremely smart guys who are all talented musicians who just play for the fun of it. They don’t take themselves or their music too seriously, and in doing that, they manage to make some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. I mean, LOOK at them!

Listen to “You Enjoy Myself” for the entire song (it’s long, I warn you; sometimes 20 minutes long)  and see if you can count the different musical styles interwoven into the whole piece. It starts off almost classical, then evolves into a free-flowing abyss, followed by Page’s never-played-the-same piano solo, followed immediately by a nice funky groove that hangs out for the rest of the song before deteriorating into an A-Capella ending of the song. Listen to “Harry Hood”, and you can almost see Trey squinting his eyes shut in concentration while he makes that guitar channel his inner-spirit out into the audience and it absolutely HOWLS. Let it catch you with its intensity and hard-pushing riffs, and I promise you, you’ll be hooked if you’re not dead. You can feel what he’s feeling through his music. I’m serious.

Look, I know that their music isn’t for everyone. I get it. I know some folks don’t dig jam bands or 30 minute songs. Me? I’ve always had a hard time letting go of myself or expressing certain feelings. Phish allows me to lose myself in the music, letting the notes wash over me and lifting myself out of any negativity I’m in. I can drive to work in the morning and play “Wilson” and it’ll erase any feelings of foreboding I might have, or any bad moods I’m in on the way home. It’s just a good way of re-setting myself back to zero.

I go to Phish shows, and I meet an incredibly large amount of very friendly people. Yes, you get the odd Dickhead or Wookiee (a “wook” or “Wookiee” is a person who only goes to Phish shows to get spun on ‘shrooms or acid, and doesn’t get into the music for music’s sake. They’re in it for the drugs) but really, everybody gets along pretty well. Everybody just gets together at shows and dances. Those of you who know me, know that I hate dancing in public, but for Phish shows, I just can’t help it. My eyes close, my head nods, and I start to groove – in place at first… then harder, and before I know it, I’m dancing around all over the place. It’s so incredibly liberating. Like dancing in your room by yourself. Nobody gives a shit how you look, and people encourage you to keep it up.

Let’s not forget the light shows. Chris Kuroda, their light guy, started out in the mid-80’s as a friend/fan of the band. He used 1 light and some colored cellophane, and now he’s using multi-million dollar lighting equipment. He’s in demand all over the musical world, but his roots are with Phish. The light shows just blow you away, drunk, stoned, or sober. They’re timed to the music, and they just look incredible.

I have books on Phish, bootleg CD’s, posters, shirts, hats, you name it. I believe in supporting a band that has been so instrumental in helping me find that calm place inside myself. My wife loves Phish too, and jams to the music also – but she’s nowhere near the Phreak I am for them. It’s okay. She’s such a musical genius for it all anyway, that I love going to shows with her and listening to new music with her. Lately though, she’s been listening to a lot of Phish, because that’s all I have in the 6-disc CD player in the truck. She doesn’t complain though. I love her. 🙂

So, am I obsessed with Phish? Yep. I guess I am. Give ’em a listen sometime.

 

Cheers!

-T-

 


God. Is he or ain’t he?

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“Dear Heavenly Father, I believe that you died on the cross for my sins, and I’m asking you to come and live in my heart. I accept you as my Lord and Savior, and dedicate my life to good deeds and telling others about your goodness. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

I prayed that when I was 7, prayed it again when I was 11, again when I was 18 and in Basic Training and feeling like I had nobody, and again at 22. I’ve “gotten saved” a few times in my life. I grew up in a family that embraced the Christian faith intensely. So intense that we went to church on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, Wednesday evenings, and Thursday nights for music practice. We went to church. A lot. I listened to bands like Stryper and Petra (hey, it was the 80’s) and all those folks. I can quote scriptures fairly well, and definitely know the basic principles that the bible teaches. I believed in a God that demanded complete compliance and constant praise. I listened to many preachers’ views on God and life, and I tried to keep myself on the straight and narrow. All for a deity that I’d never seen, heard, or felt.

Thing is… why?

I’d been questioning God’s existence since age 12, when I heard someone give the parallel examples between Christianity and ancient Egypt, and how close the two religions are. I won’t go into detail, but watch the movie “Religulous” and they cover it pretty well. Heh… my parents HATED that movie. Anyhow, I started to wonder how come we prayed to this god who never talked back, and never seemed to really give a shit one way or the other WHAT we did. I mean, in the Old Testament, God was one jealous cat. He would jack you UP if you didn’t believe in him. He told King Saul to “smite the Amalekites and leave not one of them alive, down to the last dog or mouse.” Jesus! (pun intended) God told a king to basically commit genocide and kill women, children, babies, animals. All because He was pissed they weren’t praying to him.

I’ve gone to many churches over the span of my life. I’ve known pastors who were alcoholics, who were sleeping with the female members of the young adult ministries, and pastors who could preach a tough game, but their personal lives were all sorts of fucked up. I thought a lot about churches, and pastors, and all of that. Basically, a Pastor is the guy who has excellent public speaking skills, knows the bible, and is able to convince people that HIS interpretation of the bible is the way they should live their lives. If they’re any good, they gather a large following of people, build a huge church, and drive around in their Mercedes convertibles to their $500,000 homes. What these Pastors do is preach the bible, while inserting their personal brand of values and suggest strongly that everyone live by them.

I saw a lot of families at church that had money. Hell, my family was one of them. There were churches we went to growing up that placed my parents in high positions – simply because they made $100 offerings once a week. Money buys a lot of redemption I guess. I also saw poor families that went to church dutifully and tried to interact with all other members. Problem was, the rich folks just didn’t want to associate with the poor folks. Been to jail/prison and got saved there? Don’t go to church to find people who will accept you. You might get to go up on stage a few times to tell your “story” about how bad you were and how good you are now, but I’m telling you people honestly: Christians don’t like dirty people. They don’t like those folks who live in halfway houses and come to church wearing jeans and dingy sweaters. They’ll smile, sure… but you don’t get any invites to Sunday Lunch.  No, I have NEVER been arrested or incarcerated, but I do know several people and have seen for myself the several examples of new Christians getting roundly ignored because of their history.

So, back to my original question. God. Is he or ain’t he?

I have a very hard time believing that this god, who did all these miracles 2,000 years ago, is mutely silent today. I mean, shit! There’s wars and death, and unbelievers, and all that all over the world. Where’s the damn heavenly fire and all that? God supposedly stopped the Sun in the middle of the sky for 3 days so Joshua could win a battle – way back in the old testament. How come that doesn’t happen now? There’s some prophet in the bible, Elijah or Elisha, who made fun of these other religious priests who tried to call down their god to burn up this symbolic pile of wood. Basically, the pagan priests prayed and they couldn’t get a result. The holy prophet guy starts messin’ with them and says “Hey, maybe your god is taking a shit or something. Where is he?” He then proceeds to douse his ceremonial thingy with water, prays to God, and *ZAPPO* fire comes outta nowhere and burns that bastard right up! Pretty cool huh? Why hasn’t’ it happened lately?

My parents think I’m going to hell for my thinking. Sucks. I’m sad, because they really think that way, but I can’t for the LIFE of me understand why they have to put their faith in some invisible deity? My father retired from GMC a couple years back. He’s now got some form of blood cancer that requires chemo, Motrin, and hope that it helps him out. My mother has been dealing with Degenetive Disk Disease for over 20 years now.  She’s messed up! She can’t get around very well because of how bad she is. They haven’t been to church in 10 years. I just don’t understand why they keep praying blindly to some deity to make them better, when the power of human will is PROVEN to be so incredibly strong, that people have completely turned their lives back around from the abyss of death – through sheer force of will. My father is the strongest man I’ve ever known. He’s got a demeanor like granite when he’s onto something. He’s honest and adroit, and will tell you how he feels about something. He’s too smart to be relying on this invisible man to magically take his cancer away. Can’t tell him that though. He won’t listen. So, they think I’m headed to hell, and I am sad that they’re wasting away in their home, praying for some cure or relief, when they could be out there living their lives and enjoying their twilight years.

I can’t believe in a God that does nothing to help his people. I can’t believe in a religion that preaches goodwill and peace towards all, but abuses its followers and forms cliques. Fuck that.

-T-

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