Exercising my right of Free Speech and also your right to leave this site if you disagree.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Some Random Scenes... Thing That Occur To Me

If rage has a color, true rage, it would not be red or crimson. It would be the pale and hollow white of a blood drained face. Bright reds are angry colors, passionate colors. Rage pumps itself full of blood to the point of bursting and then bleeds out to an anemic pallor. Anger causes violence. Rage levels mountains. Rage burns villages and leaves the bodies of the dead on pig poles to rot.

The spirits of the dead were queuing up outside of the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin, jockeying for position. I turned to the old man next to me as we watched the scrum. "Does it really do them any good?" I asked. "This flap at the Chapel I mean, does this guy really have any special abilities?"
The old man was silent for a few minutes. He took his time answering, long enough to make me think that he hadn't heard me or was ignoring me. I had just met him but already this habit of slow response was wearing on my nerves. I had been following the pilgrim souls as they made their way to the chapel and the old man had been standing near an olive tree in the piazza watching the crowd form. I approached him and attempted a conversation that was more or less one sided.
"No", he finally said. "He has no special abilities unless you count simple minded concupiscence as a talent."
"Why are so many people, both living and dead flocking here?" I asked. There were as many living souls in and around the Chapel as there were dead. I could see them milling about through the smoked glass veil that separates the worlds.
"Did you ever play a lottery when you were alive?" He asked.
"Yes, on occasion. It was a laugh. I never really hoped to win. Why, what does this have to do with the Chapel?"
The old man shifted his eyes to me for a few seconds, long enough to covey pity or contempt. "Why don't you go ask one of them? You followed them here; surely you must have... faith." He spoke the last word in much the same way one might say cockroach or maggot.
I was silent for a bit as I watched a spirit with a red head scarf work its way into the crowd. "I followed out of hope not faith." I said. "They say that one of the priests here speaks to the dead and gives comfort to the living. I just wanted to... hoped that... it was true."
"As for the lottery thing, I assume that you are telling me not to put my hopes on a long shot." I added.
The old man touched the end of his nose with a bent and gnarled finger and inclined his head. Then he gestured toward the Chapel just as a cheer went up from the spirits and the living fell to their knees and fumbled rosaries.
"What is happening?" I asked. "I can't see." I craned my neck to see over the sea of spirits but it was no good. I was too far back and even climbing on to the low wall surrounding a fountain did nothing for my perspective.
The old man chuckled and muttered, "Behold the Oracle speaketh."
I listened as silence fell through the crowd. One man was speaking, a living man standing on the dais in the Chapel. He spoke slowly in sepulchral tones. The living listened in rapt attention. Some prayed, some wept. As the solemnity of the living grew, so did the agitation of the dead. The agitation was turning to anger as the spirits close enough to hear relayed the words through the crowd.
"What is happening?" I asked. "Why are they so angry?"
"They are getting exactly what they should have expected." The old man turned and walked slowly toward a side ally leading away from the piazza. I stood rooted listening for a few minutes and then hurried after the old man.
"I need to know what is happening. Why should they expect to be angered? Or do you mean that they should not be angry because they should have known something wasn't going their way? I don't understand. All they want is to talk to the priest. Won't he talk to them?"
The old man stopped. He turned halfway and looked me up and down. "You do know that you can't talk to the living. You have tried. You have tried a great deal. It can't be done. But you can talk to me." He continued on his way down the alley. I followed in silence.
I had tried. I had tried for three years straight, watching as my family mourned, then accepted and then moved on. I tried as my pictures got relegated to albums and my children forgot my face. I tried as my wife dated and remarried. The frustration. The anger. The pure rage I felt at being separated with no means to communicate. That is why I followed the pilgrims. That is why I was here. Eventually I stopped accosting strangers and demanding answers. I had only recently despaired to ever watch in silence.

One day as I sat in the middle of a busy roadway, letting the cars and trucks momentarily smear and distort me as they blew through, imagining that I could actually feel it, I heard a rumor. A group of the wandering dead were standing on the sidewalk planning a trip to see a mystic priest who could talk to the dead.
I followed, not believing anymore than I believed in such things when I was alive. I didn't associate with the pilgrims or engage with them at all. I just followed, half way around the world to Southern Italy. Now here in this place I could hear those pilgrims chanting and howling their fury as I walked after the old man.

The old man veered into a public house, made his way to a back corner and settled himself comfortably into a booth already occupied by a living couple. The young woman shivered as the old man passed through her. Her lover instinctively wrapped his coat around her and ordered another drink. I took up the seat opposite sitting in the young man. I matched the man's position for a moment and fixed the old man with a double exposed stare. "I always hate to do this. Occupying the same space as someone else. It creeps me out."
The old man chuckled, "You won't have to for long."
He was right. The couple soon hurried away casting furtive looks over their shoulders at the corner booth. I remained silent for a few moments before asking again what angered the crowd. The old man considered me for bit and finally said. "You really don't know do you?"
I made an exasperated and somewhat rude gesture at the old man who slowly and deliberately said, "You can't talk to the living."
"I know that. You said that already."
"But you can talk to me."
"You said that too. What do you mean? Of course I can talk to you, you are dead."
The old man touched the end of his nose as to indicate a correct response.
"Are you going to explain yourself?" I asked. "OK, I can't talk to the living because I am dead. I can talk to you because you are dead. The pilgrims want to talk to the living but they can't. Are the just mad because he is a fraud?"
"That man is no fraud." The old man said sharply.
"OK, What is it then? He refused to talk to them. He would only talk to a few?"
"No, not exactly. It’s like this; some of the living are open to... possession by spirits. They have to initiate it or be responsive to it."
"So you mean to tell me that if I could find one of these people, I could climb inside and talk to the living that way?" I cut a longing look back at the door and the noise of the crowd.
"Hold your damn horses." The old man snapped. "It ain't that simple. If it was every spirit on this side would be walking around wearing an idiot suite. Don't you see? There are a lot of simple minded, easily manipulated people in the world and a lot of unhappy souls on this side. If you could just find a responsive mind and climb in, chances are you would find that someone beat you to it. Anyway, the universe would be lot more messed up even than it is. People can't keep their mouths shut. Not even the dead. You get possessed bodies running right and left and next thing you know someone has let on about something they couldn't possibly have know about and then it gets out that there actually is an afterlife and spirits and all that. That happens and religion falls apart, governments fall, all hell breaks loose. A lot of very powerful people on both sides get pissed off that happens." “He sighed.”No, it’s a lot more complicated than that, but you got the gist. The old boy is possessed by someone from this side."
“Who? How?”
“Who? No idea. How? I lost interest a long time ago. There are some prices a man like me won’t pay. Now I just wait.”
“For what?”
“Whatever comes. Whatever comes.”

I crept to the edge of the curtain that gives privacy to the small cell. The elderly priest paced back and forth with the agitated energy of a child waiting for something. The priest took a decanter from a shelf and poured water on the floor one, two, three times then extinguished the lone candle. Cued by something I could not see in the gloom, the priest stopped and drew an intricate pattern in the air before him. Suddenly the priest collapsed like a bundle of loose sticks leaving a spirit standing in his place. The spirit adjusted its red head scarf and disappeared through the back wall of the cell. I watched as the priest awoke, crawled onto his narrow bed, pulled his knees up to his chest and wept. He was pleading prayers to the Virgin to protect him and forgive him when I finally left him to his misery.
...This is part of something I have been writing at for a while. Don't know why really...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Zealot By Any Philosophy

A zealot by any philosophy is still a zealot. This is a point usually missed by the zealot.

Over the last weekend, I attended a family reunion for the Thanksgiving holiday. The bulk of my father's family are extremely religious. The stripes of religiosity vary but the overall taint is the same. Extreme views abound. I find myself being more and more uncomfortable around extremists no matter what they espouse.

Maybe I am missing something but I have trouble drawing a distinction between the kill 'em all and let god sort 'em out fundamentalist Christian and the strap on twenty pounds of dynamite and meet the virgins Islamic nutter. They both scare me. Thankfully the Christians, at this point in history, have not started putting their guns and ammo to use.

But there is always tomorrow.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

With all apologies to Allen Ginsgerg

America you don're really want to go to war.
America it's them bad Muslims.
Them Muslims them Muslims and them Arabmen. And them Muslims.
The Muslims wants to eat us alive. The Muslims's power mad. He wants to take our morals from out our schools.
Him wants to grab Lady Liberty. Her needs a Qur'an Reader's Digest. her wants our auto plants in the desert. Him big evil terrorist running our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him makes American kids read Qur'an. Him need big green backs.
Hah. Her cut off all our heads. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Here I Go Again Opening a Can of Worms

First the disclaimer for anyone prone to jumping to conclusions and extrapolating: I am not trying to extol or excoriate any faith. I am trying to make a specific point, that is it.
Background: Ann Coulter made some remarks that were typical of Ann Coulter. Here is the transcript--
Slash-and-burn columnist Ann Coulter shocked a cable TV talk-show audience Monday when she declared that Jews need to be "perfected" by becoming Christians, and that America would be better off if everyone were Christian.
Coulter made the remarkable statements during an often heated appearance to promote her new book on advertising guru Donny Deutsch's CNBC show "The Big Idea."
In response to a question from Deutsch asking Coulter if "it would be better if we were all Christian," the controversial columnist responded: "Yes."
"We should all be Christian?" Deutsch repeated.
"Yes," Coulter responded, asking Deutsch, who is Jewish, if he would like to "come to church with me."
Deutsch, pressing Coulter further, asked, "We should just throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians?" She responded: "Yeah."
Coulter deflected Deutsch's assertion that her comments were anti-Semitic, matter-of-factly telling the show's obviously upset host, "That is what Christians consider themselves: perfected Jews."
The commentary:
OK, I am not directly commenting on the remarks of Coulter. I am commenting here on the reaction to Coulter. Particularly that of Michael Savage. I am not a Michael Savage fan but I have never thought ill of him either. I just figured that he was another talk show host, interchangeable with any other one. Then I heard him going off on callers over the Ann Coulter thing. Several people called in to defend Coulter. They argued that her remarks reflect the Christian belief that Christ fulfilled the prophecies of the old testament and thus from the Christian perspective Judaism is obsolete. I am paraphrasing but that was the main point the callers made. Savage just exploded, shouted them down. Insulted them and called them "gutter dragging anti-Semites", "bigots"and many other vile names.
Now this is what I find interesting about the whole exchange. There seems to be a strange trend in modern discourse where no one understands what it means to believe. If someone believes, truly believes that god A is the only god. Then there cannot be any possibility within there belief for god B. Therefore, if another person believes in god B, the believer in god A has to (in accordance with his own belief) believe that the believer in god B is wrong. There is no way around it. To sanction the belief in god B is to invalidate the belief in god A. This is not bigotry, it is simply belief. The believer in god A can respect the believer in god B and accept their right to believe in god B but they cannot accept belief in god B as valid.
In the scenario above, if Coulter believes that Christ is the messiah of the Old Testament then she is completely correct within her belief to think that all Jews who reject him as messiah are wrong and hope for their conversion. To think otherwise would be contrary to her own belief and thus invalidate her belief.
Savages remarks and accusations were far more bigoted than Coulter's. One man who called in said that Coulter was hoping that the Jews would be "completed" by conversion. Savage started shouting that he was saying that Jews were only 1/3 or a 1/5 complete spiritual beings because they were not Christians. This is absurd. If a Christian takes his faith seriously then he has to believe that anyone who isn't a Christian is incomplete, is wrong. The same goes for any other religious system. Believing that someone is wrong is not bigotry.
I don't expect any better of people than this miserable failure to think and debate. It would be nice however if the people with the public forums would stop and think before they react. If you follow Savage's logic its wrong to believe anything that is exclusionary of what anyone else believes. Therefore you have to believe everything, but since beliefs are mutually exclusive you must believe in nothing. You cannot believe in nothing, even pure science leaves gaps that must be filled in with conjecture and the scientist has faith in his conjectures.
It all comes back to the fact that no one seems to understand what it means to believe, to respect and to tolerate.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Principia Discordia

Background: Principia Discordia is one of the funniest tongue-in-cheek false religious books around. It purports to be the holy book of Eris, Greek Goddess of Chaos (Discordia to the Romans).


Impending Political Stupidity

It looks as though our fearless leader is poised to commit an act of almost astounding political stupidity.
The president has made his latest request for unimaginable amounts of money to fund the war. This is no surprise by now but hidden in the funding bill is a request for 80 plus million to retrofit B2 stealth bombers to carry the MOP (Massive Ordnance Penetrator (no I am not joking)). The justification for this is "an urgent operational need by theatre commanders". Why is this significant?
The MOP is a deep bunker buster, the largest ever developed. Why do we want such a thing? Well with 160000 men on the ground and untold amounts of equipment in theatre we certainly don't need it in Iraq. We have access to every inch of the country with what ever form of penetration we desire.
The only logical deduction is a planned attack on Iran.
This is political madness. I keep hearing people say that it need to be done and that the president won't leave office with Iran poised to have nuclear weapons; that he can't trust the next president to handle it. Think about that. Really think about it.
First point, does it need to be done? No!
Iran is run by a mad man. This is fact. He is a religious nut but he does not have total control. He is subject to the Imams. The population of Iran is not primarily radical. They are close to revolt. Attacking them will inflame nationalism and deteriorate the internal revolutionary feelings.
People say that if he gets the bomb he will attack Israel with it. No he won't. If you think that Israel is in danger from a Muslim country having the bomb you know nothing of Islam or the region. First, Pakistan is a Muslim country with the bomb. No attack on Israel. Secondly, the third most holy site in all Islam is on the temple mount in Jerusalem. 12th Imam or not, if Ahmadinejad bombed Israel he would have to hire non-Muslim mercenaries. Not going to happen. Thirdly, any nuclear attack on Israel would kill untold numbers of Palestinians. The Palestinian issue (no matter what you think about it) is one of the largest and most galvanising issues in the Muslim world. No Muslim leader is going to openly attack Israel with nuclear weapons.
It is also said that he would sell a nuke to the highest bidder or give it to terrorist to smuggle it into the US. Ok, lets look at that idea. Every non nuclear state in the world looks at nuclear weapons power as the key to the city. The master stroke that makes them piss with the big boys. Do you think that we would be dealing with India as an equal it didn't have nukes, Pakistan? If Iran gets a nuke, they will parade it in the streets like the Soviets did and let the world know they have it. They will demand recognition from the UN, WTF etc and legitimize themselves right out of the terror business. As far selling goes, the previous statement answers that.
Giving a nuke to terrorists, if they have multiple warheads is a possibility but it would have to be delivered manually and there are security measures that could better protect the potential targets (the US) than air strikes on Iran.
Second point: Can the President afford to trust his successor? This is a slap in the face to our political system. One thing that separates us from other nations is that we have always transferred power peacefully no matter the internal turmoil. A deliberate act of preemption based on a lack of trust in a successor (a lack of trust in the voting wisdom of the American people) would deal a terrible blow to this system. It would be devastating to American political stability. We have to trust in our system and let it play out.
Ultimately, an attack on Iran would prove to be an even bigger policy blunder that the Iraq war.


About Me

I am a husband and a father of two. I work as a network administrator. I am interested in religion and philosophy, though mostly from an external perspective.