Category Archives: Religion

Easter Eve

We just got home from the family Passover Seder which, as a “recovering Catholic” especially, I find wonderful and thought provoking and fantastic.

It’s late.

It’s been a long day. It’s been a long week, and month, and year.

We found at least five rabbits on the front lawn. There might have been more – it was dark.

There had better be a shit ton of Easter eggs out there in the morning!

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Filed under Castle Willett, Religion

Cloudy Days

If you have a clear Western horizon with minimal clouds over the next few days, take a look just a few minutes to a half hour or 45 minutes after sunset. You’ll see the crescent moon, a little bigger and a little higher every night. You’ll see Venus, which will be REALLY BRIGHT. And if you’re lucky (not too lucky, it’s not THAT hard), to the upper right of Venus a ways you’ll see a much dimmer object – that’s Mercury.

We won’t be seeing that in Los Angeles. This was last night:

And this was tonight:

There’s a major storm moving in for the next several days, so maybe Thursday? Friday?

That’s the message from the Universe tonight. It doesn’t care what you wanted or were wishing for or were hoping for. It doesn’t care if any given time period was going to have something happening that you wanted to observe or participate in or enjoy. The Universe will cloud out your planetary conjunction or eclipse or rocket launch or baseball game or marathon or parade or plane flight or vacation and be totally oblivious and uncaring.

It us, the little animated meat sacks on this dust most in the cosmos who put meaning on it. We are the context.

Logically, or perhaps “theologically,” the Serenity Prayer has it correct in that there are three things we should ask for – serenity to accept things that can’t be changed, courage or strength to change the things that can, and wisdom to know which is which.

It’s one cloudy day when I start quoting prayers. As for this particular prayer, today I’m apparently zero for three.

There’s always tomorrow, even if it’s cloudy.

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Photography, Religion, Weather

No Context For You – January 24th

Perception. It’s a funny thing.

I liked this picture on the phone, but couldn’t figure out to save my life what the snippet of writing was or any of the other forms. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much for this post.

Then, just before hitting “Publish,” one element goes “SNAP!” in my brain, recognizable despite the aspect change, color change, spin away from the horizontal. Like lightning dominoes the pieces fell into position.

The brain is weird.

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Filed under Paul, Photography, Religion

No Context For You – January 17th

 

 

Thought #1 re: everything – as we all know, “Don’t think! You can only hurt the team.”

Thought #2 re: Thought #1 – “What’s the team done for me recently?”

Thought #3 re: Thought #2 – “Yes! I hear you! The voices! The nuns, the nuns, will they never GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!”

Thought #4 re: Thought #3 – Sin! Ask for it by name! Accept no substitutes!

GOTO Thought #3 – Infinite Loop

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Filed under Paul, Photography, Religion

No Context For You – January 08th

I did not come down with a cold – yet. Or the flu, which has rampaged through our small office – yet.

Thought #1 re: that – Let’s assume my guardian angel is doing a good job of prioritizing and protecting me from the biggest threats so I’m staying healthy while all about me are spending days and weeks in misery. How bad must that flu be so that I need that sort of angelic protection instead of some divine intervention with Lottery numbers or something useful? Hey, I’ll take a week of the flu if I can get about $50M cash after taxes, thanks! Just an FYI…

Thought #2 re: that – How freakin’ EGOMANIACAL do humans have to be to believe that the Lord Supreme God of the Entire Universe would create an entire race of divine beings for no purpose other than to follow us around (invisibly, mind you) and protect us from evil and guide us toward being good people. We, the psychotic and only semi-intelligent meat puppets of planet Earth, working hard to annihilate ourselves and take the rest of the planet and the biosphere down with us, **WE** get our own personal set of divine slaves!

Thought #3 – wow, that got dark and escalated quickly!

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Filed under Paul, Photography, Religion

Groundless Faith vs Depressing Reality

Having been raised Catholic, complete with six years of nuns in full “penguin” regalia teaching Catholic school, I’m familiar with the concept of faith.

Having rejected Catholicism and all other religions, I’m familiar with the realization that reality often sucks.

Tonight, having exposed myself to my daily dose of muck, mire, stupidity, and hatred in the news, I saw a comment by someone who was taking solace in her faith in God and her belief that under divine guidance it would all work out for the best. (For the moment we’ll ignore the discrepancy between that common view of the deity’s job description and the theological necessity for free will.)

For a moment I was almost jealous. In her piety and faith she wasn’t pissed off, depressed, furious, outraged, or anxious. God would take care of it, all’s well, let’s have dinner!

Then I was wondering how people with that kind of faith can manage to hold on to it when their it turns out God might have been asleep at the wheel that day. I know that many people lose their faith at that time (hey, welcome back to reality, have some wet wipes, there’s a lot of shit being flung about out here!) but many, such as my mother, hold onto it no matter what.

So which is better, to face reality with all of its flaws and warts and at times like this being pummeled heavily about the head and shoulders with the fact that we’re a long, long way from that mythical Paradise? Or to sail through it all with our faith as the rock solid keel keeping us on course, only to end up spinning and capsizing when that keel breaks away?

I’ll stick with reality for a lot of reasons, but here’s a key one that comes to mind.

If you forfeit the ownership of the world’s slimier aspects, you also forfeit any credit for its moments of bliss. You can believe that God’s invisible angels are all around you, or you can find yourself to be an angel of our own making. This can be in the smallest things, the way you treat people from total strangers to heads of state, to the biggest things possible, such as how you choose to react in a crisis.

You also get to take ownership of the world’s rainbows appearing in a ray of brilliant sunshine slipping through a hole in a black  thunderhead, the sound of the thunder rolling across the landscape, and the brilliant stars that come in the clear night skies that follow.

Sometimes there is an awful lot of shit to wade through, but if you’re going to have faith, think about a Mozart symphony, a 9-11 first responder, your child’s first cry, and the feel of your lover’s hand in yours as you walk through a quiet forest – then have faith there there really will be a pony underneath all of that shit.

 

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Filed under Politics, Religion

By Their Bumper Stickers Shall You Know Them

I don’t think it’s ever a good thing to judge total strangers based on a first impression or some potentially superficial facet of their persona. But I’ll make an exception for bumper stickers. If you’re passionate enough about something to start advertising it as you drive around, you’re fair game for a snap judgement based on the advertising you choose for your vehicle.

Two cases in point from LA’s streets:

First, I’m one of those guys who, either for altruistic reasons or for neurotic reasons (or both), will flash my headlights at someone who’s driving at night with their headlights out. About 98% of the time it’s totally ignored – someone who’s clueless enough to be driving without headlights is also so brain dead or distracted behind the wheel that they simply don’t notice anyone flashing their lights. About 1% of the time it actually works – they get the signal, recognize it, go “Oh, shit, that’s me,” and turn on their lights.

The other 1% I ran into on my way home tonight. His custom plates were something like “GOD♡4EVR” and there were at least a half dozen bumper stickers on the back gate of the minivan asking if I had been saved, warning me that in case of the Rapture the car would be empty, and so on.

Coming up behind them I could see that the tail lights were dark, and as soon as we got to a darker stretch of the road it was obvious his headlights were off as well. The brake lights were working fine, so the problem was obvious. I flashed my lights, once, twice – nothing. We were coming up on a light that had just turned red, there was no one else around us, so I switched lanes and pulled up beside the guy. I rolled down my passenger window and honked, trying to get him to look over so I could tell him what’s wrong.

Nothing. I honked again. Still nothing. I tapped the horn a third time and let my car drift forward a few inches so that I could see the driver better. Isn’t the normal reaction to at least glance over and see who’s honking and why?

The look on this guy’s face said it all. It was a middle aged white guy, balding, collared dress shirt with no tie but buttoned all the way to the top. He was staring straight ahead and scared shitless. There was no way on Earth he was going to glance over and make eye contact.

MY GOD SOME LUNATIC ON THE ROAD HAS BEEN FLASHING HIS LIGHTS AT ME AND NOW HE’S HONKING AT ME IT’S PROBABLY ONE OF THOSE GANG INITIATION THINGS THAT I HEARD ABOUT ON HANNITY OR THE 700 CLUB AND IF I LOOK OVER THERE IT WILL BE A LOW-RIDER FULL OF GANG MEMBERS JUST WAITING TO BLOW ME AWAY SO WHATEVER YOU DO DON’T LOOK! DON’T LOOK! DON’T LOOK! DON’T LOOK!

I left him alone and gave him plenty of space, not honking or flashing any more. About a block later he turned off into a subdivision which, coincidentally, had a serious lack of street lighting. It was almost comical as I went by to see how he suddenly slammed on his brakes in the middle of the road and finally turned on his lights.

Do I think he suddenly said, “Ah ha! That’s what that guy was trying to tell me!” Or do I think he’s at home on some whackjob website perpetuating that stupid urban myth?

Second guy, while I was taking a quick walk around the block at lunch yesterday. A guy is trying to parallel park. He’s got a Prius. He’s trying to parallel park into a spot big enough to easily fit an Escalade. The key work is “trying.” Once, fails. Pulls out and tries again. Fails. Pulls out and backs up to try to pull forward-ish into the spot. Fails. Pulls back out and tries the parallel parking again. Fails and almost hits the car that’s already parked there.

I was going to stop and give him some hand signals or help (remember, altruistic and/or psychotic) when I saw the not one, not two, but three “Ted Cruz” bumper stickers.

For all I know he’s still trying to park that sucker.

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Filed under Freakin' Idiots!, Los Angeles, Politics, Religion