Christianity In Ten Words

Christianity 10 Words

Thomas Jefferson is often held up by the more rabid Bible-thumpers as a ‘Good Christian,’ who helped found the United States, and is validation for their “on Christian values,” and other judgemental views.  Jefferson however, edited, and had printed, a personal copy of the Bible, in which he removed every story of Christ’s ‘miracles,’ although he never admitted why he had done that.

While viewed as a Christian, he had the following to say about religion, and God.

“No man shall be compelled to frequent or support religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.”

“Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”

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When Christians talk about being “persecuted,” what they really mean is that they are discontent at no longer being able to use social and Political power to force their views, their morality or their dogma onto other people as they once did.  They can no longer burn people at the stake, prosecute people for blasphemy, and have much less of an ability to oppress minorities, and “keep them in their place.”

The dogma, ignorance and authoritarianism that is required for Christianity to maintain control has greatly diminished, and religious authorities and their institutions no longer have the power, nor the respect that they once had.  This makes them feel as if they are being unfairly persecuted, although they have no understanding of what the word means.

Creation

  • Religion is about internal spiritual experiences, and that is all.
  • There is no world other than the material world around us.
  • There are no beings other than the living organisms on this planet or elsewhere in the universe.
  • There is no objective being or thing called God that exists separately from the person believing in him.
  • There is no ultimate reality outside human minds either.
  • We give our own lives meaning and purpose; there is nothing outside us that does it for us.
  • God is a projection of the human mind.
  • God is the way human beings put ‘spiritual’ ideals into a poetic form that they are able to use and work with.
  • God is simply a word that stands for our highest ideals.
  • God-talk is a language tool that enables us to talk about our highest ideals and create meaning in our lives.
  • Religious stories and texts are ways in which human beings set down and work out spiritual, ethical, and fundamental meanings in life.
  • Our religious talk is really about us and our inner selves, and the community and culture we live in.
  • Religious talk uses the familiar language of things that exist outside ourselves to make it easier for us to handle complex and subtle ideas.
  • Faith therefore isn’t belief in a God that exists outside minds.
  • Faith is what human beings do when they pursue ‘spiritual’ ideals.
  • Saying that someone follows a particular faith is a way of talking about their attitudes to life and to other people.

Frustration

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Flash Fiction #80

Memories

PHOTO PROMPT © Amy Reese

WHAT A DRAG IT IS GETTING OLD

Senility or Alzheimer’s aren’t necessarily the only causes of memory loss. Lots of times it’s just data overload.  Young folks have few memories, and they find them easy to access.  Old people have been piling up a lifeful of memories of successes, failures, and regrets, for years.

It’s like going to your Grandmother’s house, and climbing up to the attic. There are lots of interesting things up there, but there are also things like dust and spider webs.  It gets more and more overgrown, and less and less fun.

After a while, it just doesn’t seem worth the climb anymore.

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Daddy's Home

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Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story

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Click on the title to enjoy(?) the Rolling Stones’ ‘Mother’s Little Helpers.’

Yenta

I’ve Got A Secret!

I’ve got a secret, and I’m not gonna tell you.  Nyah, nyah.

Gossip

I am not a gossip.
I do not betray a confidence.
I do not gossip.
I hate gossips!
I think they suffer from a character defect.
I feel they lack self-control, and moral and ethical standards.
I am not a gossip!

I recently discovered why I am not a gossip.  In my long, loner, loser life, no-one has felt me important enough to entrust me with information that I could pass on, or a confidence that I could betray.  It’s easy to not be a sinner, when you’ve never been tempted.  That changed recently.  Somebody told me something.
SOMEBODY!  TOLD!  ME!  SOMETHING!
HOLY SHIT!!

Steam ears

I always thought that cartoon characters with steam pouring from their ears were just a joke.  I’ve got lots of empty space inside my head to absorb an explosion.  Damn, I almost lost my eardrums.  I found one of my eyebrows under a footstool.  It’s a good thing I was sitting down.  I had an attack of the vapors. Everything got fuzzy, and swirled around.  I needed a mint julep to calm my nerves.

‘I need to set up a Twitter account!  I’ll have to open a Facebook page!  Is the computer turned on?  Hand me the cell phone!  Will the extension ladder reach the roof?  I have to get up there and shout this out!’

Easy boy!  Just stick your head in a bucket of ice cubes and water.

About a year ago, I thought I did a favor for a friend.  She didn’t provide all the necessary relevant information, and I recently found that, instead of being of assistance, I’d just been spinning my wheels.  When she fully briefed me, I was able to make an informed choice of a different option.  It’s still early days yet, but this time I think it’s going to take.

To ensure the greatest likelihood of success for another small favor, she filled me in with some background information.  It was like watching the movie Inception.  REALITY CHANGED.  Nothing was what it had seemed.

The information wasn’t down and dirty, or evil and perverted.  In fact, quite the opposite!  This news was happy, joyous, fulfilling, uplifting – just social and legal stuff that needed to be dealt with before the general public is allowed to know about it.

This is “Christ Is Risen” news.  I should be riding from village to village on a donkey, proclaiming the glorious story.  You should know me from afar by the golden radiant glow of the wondrous tale within me – and I can’t say a word.

The wife and son and daughter know the lady, and like her.  They’ve worried for a while because she seemed to be stressed, but now feel better because things seem to be going smoother.  They would approve of the information.  They would be ecstatic to know the full truth, but I cannot say a thing.  Don’t ask me.

Two people can keep a secret – if one of them is dead.  While I am sometimes tempted, I really don’t want to have to shoot a couple of them.  I’m just going to sit here with a knowing smile on my face, and bask in the warm glow of the trust I’ve been given.  In the fullness of time, this situation will resolve itself, and I will no longer be the only one who is permitted to be thrilled for my our friend.

In the meantime….I do not have a character defect.  I do possess self-control, as well as moral and ethical standards.  I am not a gossip!  I am happy that my friend will be happy, and she will be happy if I keep my mouth shut.  If only others could.

 #460

Let’s Go To The Movies

I don’t know how old (young) I was when I first started going to movies, probably about 5 or 6.  There was a little movie theater in my home town which ran Saturday afternoon matinees.  They were often the same movies that adults attended on Saturday night, but back in the 1940s and ‘50s, there were no PG-14 or X-rated movies. They were all safe for kids, although I took shit from my sister for allowing my younger nephew to accompany me to Psycho.

My Mom gave me a quarter a week allowance, and off I went.  The adults’ evening shows were 35 cents, while the kids paid 15 cents in the afternoon.  That left me 10 cents for a 5 cent individual bag of chips, and a 5 cent chocolate bar, or box of toffee.

As I got to be 9 and 10, my younger brother was now the age I was when I started going to the movies, but it hadn’t occurred to Mom to give him any money.  One day he kinda complained, and asked if he could go with me.  The next week, I asked Mom if she would give me 30 cents instead of 25, and she gladly said yes.  I just never thought to tell her what the extra nickel was for.

For about six months we both attended the shows, just with nothing left to buy treats.  Finally it occurred to Mom to ask where he disappeared to each Saturday afternoon.  When she realized I was donating half my allowance to him, she started giving him his own.

It wasn’t till I moved away from home to get a job, that I realized what I had been viewing all those years.  These weren’t first-run movies!  Our little theater ran seconds and thirds.  After they’d been seen everywhere else, they came to my town.  For about fifteen years, I watched everything they put on the silver screen.  I saw every movie!

The theater wasn’t allowed to open on Sundays, so they ran three movies a week, one on Monday and Tuesday, a different one on Wednesday and Thursday, and yet a third on Friday and Saturday.  After I started delivering newspapers, and had a bit of cash of my own, I went almost every Monday, Thursday and Saturday night.

In the era of westerns, I watched hundreds of them, the Duke, John Wayne, Alan Ladd in Shane, Rory Calhoun – Martin and Lewis comedies, then Jerry solo, and Dean in the Matt Helm fiascos, James Coburn as Our Man Flint – musicals, Auntie Mame, Oklahoma, Clint Eastwood in Paint Your Wagon – stuff I didn’t understand till later, Kim Novack in Bell, Book and Candle, George Peppard in Walk, Don’t Run.

On the first of July, August, and September long weekends, the theater would run a Sunday midnight showing, actually Monday, to get around the closing by-law.  These were often Hammer Films, English horror pictures, good to take your girl, to get her to cuddle closer, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Fall of the House of Usher, or the dubbed Japanese jokes, Godzilla, or Mothra.

Early on, they were in black and white.  Later, color film arrived, as well as Technicolor and Cinemascope.  Showings usually started with previews of upcoming movies.  These were followed by cartoons, Woody Woodpecker or Bugs Bunny.  Often there was a “short” before the main feature, The Three Stooges, or The Bowery Boys, always still in gritty black and white.

The bowling alley in town was only open during the summer.  Back when pool rooms were dens of iniquity, I was not allowed to enter until I was 18, but started rather openly “sneaking in” when I was 13.  When the proprietor found that my Dad had no objections, he turned a blind eye, but all that allowed me to do was watch older players, because most of my same-age compatriots couldn’t get past the bouncer.

I/we frequented a couple of local restaurants, but, if you weren’t ordering French fries, or plugging money in the jukebox, you could get asked to leave.  You would also get thrown out if you gathered the ashes from all the ash-trays, and sprinkled vinegar on them.  The rank smell from that chemical stink-bomb was good for at least a week’s ban.  Going to the movies was the most financially rewarding way to while away some spare time.

If, what was depicted by movies wasn’t a reflection of reality, it at least educated me that other folks did and said things in ways that were different from our little microcosm.

Since the wife can’t attend theater movies because of inhalant allergies, she and I have not been out for years.  I still go with the son occasionally, but only for blockbusters which need the big screen.  I believe Avatar was the last.  I still haven’t watched Star Trek Into Darkness, so nobody tell me the ending.  (Did the butler do it?)       😕

One TV Town

People in New York City could watch “network” television shortly after W. W. II, in 1947.  TV came to my little town at the edge of the universe in 1955.  Back then, television signals were taken from the air by metal aerials, and relied on line-of-sight and broadcaster strength, generally not much more than 35 or 40 miles.  Living back of beyond, we were well over 100 miles from Detroit, Buffalo or Toronto.

A foresighted businessman in Wingham, Ontario, about 40 miles south, wanted to get out ahead of the rest of the pack.  He already owned and ran a little AM radio station, and could see the coming profits from television.  He applied for the rights to channel 8, which was supposed to go to Buffalo.  He had to get on the air before the Americans were ready.  Normally a year or more job, he swung some deals, and started broadcasting at 6 PM, November 18, 1955, just over three months from his original application.

Wingham wasn’t much bigger than my stagecoach-stop town.  They bragged that they were the world’s tiniest town to have a TV station.  Like our down-the-road neighbor, they were a farm-based town.  The stock report on the new station didn’t include any NYSE, or NASDAQ info, rather, how many hogs were sold, how many cows were slaughtered, and the cost of hay and straw for cattle feed.

Early programming included an hour daily show for women, titled M’Lady, two Country and Western weekly shows, one called Circle 8 Ranch, playing off the channel number, and two half-hour religious shows Sunday mornings.  Initial scheduling had only 30 hours of broadcast per week.

My family joined the TV-watching elite in August, 1957.  By then, the bank manager, several of the local merchants, and the guy who made a small fortune in mining, had TVs.  Dad’s wages from one of the factories was the same as everyone else’s, but, he also received a small government check for wartime disability, he got a small honorarium for organizing the weekly party at the Legion, and Mom had just begun a part-time job.

We all, but especially my brother and I, were mesmerized by this new piece of entertainment.  We watched all kinds of things that we would describe as crap today, simply because they were the only things on.  We’d have watched the test pattern; in fact I did several times, talking to the Indian Chief with the feathered head-dress, and trying to hypnotise myself with the “telescopic sight” graphic.

By 1957, the schedule had expanded a little, but there was still a lot of that test pattern time.  In a way, I was exposed to some of the best entertainment, simply because the station was desperate to put something, anything, on the air.  No Saturday morning cartoons, so then, and after school, they showed all the 1930s’ movie serials.  I was able to watch Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Johnny Weissmuller Tarzans, as well as The Three Stooges, and The Marx Brothers.

All of these were shown in black and white.  Movies had graduated to color, but TV’s color days were still in the future.  All these old serials and movies had been shot in black and white, and suited the B&W format perfectly.  I got to see Laurel and Hardy make fools of each other, a house fall on and a train run away with Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd dangle from a tower clock hand.  I watched The Dead End Kids on TV, who had become The Bowery Boys, when I went to the theater.

Censorship was not a problem.  If it had been shown in theaters, it showed on my TV.  W. C. Fields said I was “My little chickadee”, although he also said, “I love kids.  I had two for breakfast,” and Mae West issued an invitation to “Come on up and see me some time.”  “Goodness had nothing to do with it!”

The ‘40s and ‘50s were the heyday of the western, the oater.  I saw Roy Rogers, and The Singing Cowboy, Gene Autry, who went on to own several radio stations and a TV station in California, as well as the Anaheim Angels baseball team from 1961 to 1997.  I also got to see dozens (hundreds?) of episodes of The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, Wild Bill Hickock and Hopalong Cassidy.  And you guys wonder why I’m odd!

My little one-horse television station broadcast at about one candle-power for years.  Their broadcast tower got situated at the top of the only local hill, and our aerial perched on top of a steel pipe which poked above our roof, and had to be “aimed” at Wingham.

They operated as an independent station for a while, and later became a CBC affiliate, but their operating budget didn’t allow for the importation of improving, expanding American network shows.  One of the things I won in my Rewards Of Radio post, was because I could name the first female police TV detective.

Several other callers got through to the station before I did, and every one of them guessed Angie Dickinson as Policewoman.  I knew that it was Anne Francis, as Honey West, ten years earlier. The DJ congratulated me, and said that I must have watched the show as a youngster.  Not in my One-TV town, I got my knowledge about that, from my other major source of information, MAD Magazine.

I wish that my kids could have got to see some of the stuff I watched as I was growing up.  It was a bit less brittle and stressful, and more idyllic and innocent.  Writing up one of these “remember when” posts is always like waving a double-edged sword.  On the one side, I get a lovely wave of nostalgia, especially if I can share it with you, my friends and readers.  On the other, I end up feeling old, about seven different ways.  Now, let’s discuss some of the shit that you watched as a kid.

By the time even the earliest of you get to read this, the son and I will be on our way to Detroit for the weekend.  Please comment anyway, and I will reply Sunday night/Monday, as well as relate all the gory details.    🙂

Book Review #4

After writing reviews on the first three of Lee Child’s, Jack Reacher books, all I can say is, this is how they should have been written.

Back, just about the time that the phase, “Jumping the shark” was created, but before I became aware of it, I noticed something similar about television programs. (And Art, and many other things)  After a couple of very successful seasons of Mork and Mindy, even the Mix-Master mind of Robin Williams had to rest, and they brought in Jonathan Winters to save the series.  Whenever a program becomes so cartoonish that they have to add characters, it’s on its last legs.

I liked the series Bones when it first came out, but it’s become so soap-opera-ish that I don’t hold much hope for it next season.  Already cartoonish, a couple of years ago, I found out about these books when they brought in a character called The Locator, and then tried to split a cartoon off from a cartoon and gave it its own series.  I was surprised it lasted one short season.

Even between the pilot and the first episode, they got rid of the intelligent, good-looking, smart-mouthed, British, female bartender and replaced her with some tween Roma Gypsy naïf, and her soap-opera-supplied male cousin.  The books are SO different.

The Author – Richard Greener

The Book – The Knowland Retribution

The Review

To begin with, unlike the TV show, the protagonist was not struck by lightning, and able to find any object in the world.  He is intelligent, methodical, and a student of psychology and the human condition, which allows him to locate any person, many of whom don’t want to be found.

I thought I knew why there were only two books in the series when the central character, already wealthy enough from a number of discreet, high-society cases to live in the Bahamas, receives $31.1 million.  He gives away $30 million of it, and I still don’t know why Greener only wrote two Locator stories.

The book is not About the Locator.  He only appears in about a third of it. The primary third is about an Atlanta real-estate lawyer who loses his wife, his daughter and his only two grandchildren to e-coli contaminated meat.  He eventually sets out to kill those who made conscious decisions to put commerce above food safety.

The second main part of the story is about a steel-trap-mind newspaperwoman, who wants her own column, but is relegated to writing obituaries for the New York Times.  It is her noticing and connecting violent executive deaths all over the eastern United States, which reveals the plot, and its probable planner.

Walter, The Locator, appears in the first couple of development chapters.  He pops back in briefly a couple of times to help direct the paper lady, and shows up again at the denouement finale.  Other than brief mentions of how he honed his Locator ability, very little of it is shown.  He just shows up, and the wanted person is there, all very anti-climactic.

Technically-speaking, there were few typos, or incorrect word usages….until we got to the last chapter.  Suddenly Walter spots a Chevrolet Camero, not Camaro.  The General Motors website says that they search for, or make up names for Chevrolet products which begin with C, for alliterative value, like the Chevy Cruze.

They were initially going to use the Camero spelling.  The GM website says that, in Spanish, the word means a large single bed, a contradiction in terms.  A translation site gives it as a ¾ bed.  Camaro is a made-up name, but means “companion” in middle French, and in modern Spanish, the adjective value is “shrimp-like”, while the noun means “loose bowels”, diarrhoea.  Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a shit.

Possibly in a rush to get the book published, the last chapter suddenly has the woman reporter speak of having someone bare (bear) with me, an invitation to a party I wouldn’t want to miss.  Walter names a character who’s (whose) calling is suspect.

Some action is taken at the whimsy of the perpetrator, and assistance is rendered complements of an FBI supervisor.  These last two seem almost like Lee Child’s British construction.  While not exactly incorrect, most American writers would speak of, at the whim of, or whims of.  Whimsy has such a light-hearted flair to it, not correlating to the death and destruction of the story to that point.  Complements and compliments are forever being mixed up, but in this specific spot, compliments is the more correct.

The book has solid character development, good plot progression, and engrossing narration.  All in all, so much more satisfying than the cotton-candy prose I so often paddle around in the shallow end of.  It was quite enjoyable, and I look forward to the next, but sadly, last.

You Don’t Say

While English is the only language I speak, I have done a lot of study of other languages where words or phrases have entered ours.  English is, at the same time, a complex language, and yet dead simple.  I prize it for the fact that, with some study and understanding, it is capable of producing subtly nuanced meanings.

An American politician in the late 1800s stated that there should be no dictionaries, because no two words in the language mean exactly the same thing.  I have heard and read people who ask, Why are there so many synonyms in English?  The answer is that there are a range of words which allow the user to choose the exactly desired meaning.  The right word, and the almost-right word are not the same thing.  As Mark Twain explained, “There’s a mighty difference between lightning, and a lightning-bug.”

Interestingly, (to me) the language also has a whole range of words which allow the timid to not say exactly what they mean.  Many Muslims will not write the name Allah, because they then have to respectfully get rid of the paper it was written on.  Burning it while praying is the accepted practice.  So too, many Jews will not write the Hebrew word for Yahweh, or even the English word God, for the same reason.  Many people, non-Jews included, write only G*d, thus escaping the ritual.

While respect for God, and the name of God, is admirable, it is a man-directed mental state.  The Biblical commandment is to “Not take the name of God in vain.”  This actually means not to bug God with trivial stuff, or ask for things you don’t really deserve….in other words, most prayer.

Reticent speakers/writers use a wide range of euphemisms, expressions which state clearly what is intended, while pussyfooting around actually saying something which often isn’t really offensive.  The first time I ran into it was in a “Tammy” movie, in the late 50s.  Sandra Dee, playing Tammy, had something go poorly, and firmly stated *Amsterdam!*  Amsterdam? queried her rooming house hostess.  “Yes, and Rotterdam, and all them other damns!”   So she’d clearly pronounced the word, and everyone knew what she meant, but she hadn’t really said it.

Many of the strange Britishisms that you may have run into, center on not saying God.  Egad refers to (the) God.  Gadzooks were God’s hooks, which he used to create the Universe.  Od’s bodkin was God’s bodkin, a spike-like fabricating tool, used to create….  By Jove is just the use of the name of a god believed not to exist, in place of the name of the one believed to exist.

The Australian, strooth, is a reference to “His truth.”  Bleeding and bloody both refer to Christ, on the cross.  The Cockney, cor blimey, started as the expression, “God blind me, for I am not worthy of seeing Your glory.”

Since it is God who would have to do it, many folks also have trouble with the word, Damn.  Dash it all, darn it, and dang, often fill in.  It’s a little dated, but even dagnabit is still uttered occasionally.  Gosh, taken from the Bible, Land of Goshen, often takes the place of the name of God, gosh-durn, gosh-darn and gosh-dang.  The prefix –gol produces the same I-didn’t-say-it effect, with gol-durn, gol-darn and gol-dang.

Dr. Spooner had a speech defect which had him inverting the initial sounds of following words.  For him, a shining wit was actually a whining shit.  Doc Spooner’s inversions are used to bring us Yosemite Sam’s “Dag-gummed”.  Reversing that reversal quickly shows what the Hays Commission wouldn’t let our little cartoon character say.

You can shoot the shit, unless you can’t face saying it.  Then you just leave out the s**t, and say, Oh shoot, or shucks.  My father described the verbally repressed by, “Wouldn’t say shit, if he had a mouthful.”  The first words you learn in another language are often the profanities.  When I was in the Adult Education, with accent on Adult, one of the English-speaking men came out with “scheisse”, German for shit.  A younger, German-speaking female shockedly asked, “Does he know what that means?”  I would imagine he does, although, in an English-speaking class, that’s another euphemism.

The concept of sexual intercourse is another whose solid, Anglo-Saxon descriptor is often replaced, in *polite* conversation.  You’re big kids.  You know what I’m talking about.  Because of a bureaucratic mix-up, a local single mother and her five-year-old son spent a cold weekend when their delivery of fuel-oil didn’t arrive till Monday.  She managed to get some warmth from the stove and an electrical heater, but was quoted in the newspaper as saying, “It was frigging cold.”

Some blue-nosed Bible-thumper complained that the paper had printed that word, especially on the front page, “Because we all know what that word really means”.  You damned, strait-laced fool, that’s what euphemisms are for.  Frigging actually has a dictionary value of, “meaningless intensifier”, unlike similar words like fricking, freaking and fracking.

So, to those of you without the intestinal fortitude to call a spade a spade, or who are surrounded by audiences full of sensitive ears and feelings, you can be happy that you have a language which allows you to use speech so tactful, that you can tell some asshole to go to hell in such a nice way that he’ll welcome the trip and enjoy the stay when he gets there.