Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Living Small


I just finished reading an interesting article about a family living in a very small house on wheels.  It is encouraging to see that someone has actually attempted such a thing :-)  They have 3 children several cats and a hamster.  One thing that is mentioned towards the end is the idea of having more than one tiny house, especially if you have teens (or a grandpa!)

Here is a link to the story, enjoy!

Could you live with three kids, three cats and one hamster in 440 square feet? This family is trying

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sunrise in Tracy

This morning's sunrise, through the smoke of the many fires in California...


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Morning

I had to work this morning, my counterpart needed today off so my normal Sunday routine is gone.  Worse than just that though I was interrupted 3 times as I was attempting to do my routine of shower, get dressed, pray and go to work.  As a result of this I'm sitting here at work with no socks.  :-)  This wouldn't happen if I was willing to wear regular shoes on my way to work but I prefer sandals and put my socks and undershirt in my bag... which I neglected to do today.  Ah well, it's not the end of the world.

When I went out to get in the car I found that it was coated with ash from the fires up in the Sierras, I had to wash the windshield to see out of it, the smoke and ash is everywhere in the valley today :-(


Pray for rain...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Yuba River Trip

Once again we have gone to the Yuba River to camp.  I already linked to this on FB but in keeping with my intention to stay away from that place as much as possible I'm putting this album slide show here as well.  Enjoy.

Yuba River 2015

Hugs and stuff

I wonder if I can make more regular posts here, and reduce by about 99% my posting frequency on that great time sucking, click baiting and profit making abomination, Facebook?  May Zuckerberg be cursed for his evil invention!  


But this is not just a rant against the evil empire of Facebook.

Nope, it's actually a continuation of my thoughts about rituals and routines and coping with life.  I'm sorry if this is boring, well not actually, I don't care if anyone thinks it's boring, it's my life we're talking about here.

Sure it's boring!  
But it's MINE!

Until I began writing about being Aspie and the routines that I follow I hadn't realized how ritualized my whole life really is.  When I get up I must take a shower first thing.  If I do not do that the entire day is "wrong" and I never get back on track until the next day when I can start over and do it right.  If I try taking a shower later in the morning or in the evening, it doesn't work at all, I'm still out of sorts all day long.  So that is the first step in my morning ritual, get up and go to the bathroom and take a shower.  That is ritualized as well, of course.  I set everything up carefully, soap and shampoo in the same spot, a towel on the floor, one over the edge of the enclosure, wash my hair first, then soap up and rinse off.  I "soak" for about 1 or 2 minutes under the water and then I'm out.  The whole thing from entering the shower to exiting takes far less than ten minutes.

After my shower I must make my bed, if I don't then the next steps cannot work properly for me, the whole day is out of sync if I don't make my bed.  I used to just have blankets on the floor but these days I have a folding foam pad that I lay out and cover with a couple of blankets.  In in the morning I fold up the pad, place both of my blankets folded, in the same order every time, on top of the pad, then my two pillows on top of that, with a seldom used but still essential "reading pillow" in front of the whole thing.  On top of that are my stuffed animals, who vary in number depending on how many Max has stolen, or that I have stolen back :-)


Today there are a couple of extra here because I had some soft ones in for Tiernan when I was playing with him the other day.  No matter how many are in house they must be arranged on the bed before anything else can take place, if they are not I feel uncomfortable all day long, really!  It's crazy but true.

The next step in my morning ritual is to get dressed in whatever I'm going to be wearing for the morning.  Nothing else can work right unless I get dressed at this point.  If it was cold and I slept with sweat pants and sweat shirt, my version of PJ's, then I cannot fully enter my day until I've changed into pants and T-shirt.  It I try to skip this, because in my head I tell myself that this is being dressed, my day feels wrong and out of sync.  Yes, I do try to argue with myself over my rituals, but if I don't follow them then things just feel wrong.

At this point my ritual moves on to praying the Morning Office.  I've been doing this for over twenty years with a couple of interludes taken while I was "being an atheist" :-)  Actually, for a couple of the atheist periods in the last twenty years I went right on with the Morning Office because I like the ritual.  I went to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco for years while not believing a bit of it just because I loved the ritual there.


From time to time I've varied the details of the morning office.  I've used several variations, but almost every day for twenty years I have prayed some form of liturgical morning prayer.  The first form I used was from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.  Later I used the forms included in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod's "Treasury of Daily Prayer" which is very similar to that found in the Book of Common Prayer, since both are based on the Catholic Morning Office that I followed during the several times I've tried to be Roman Catholic.

I'll go over the details of praying the Office another time, but this has brought me to the end of my morning rituals.  :-)  One thing I have noticed in thinking about this is that even when I deliberately strive to change things up, to be spontaneous, it's always within specific constraints.  Change has to be done slowly and carefully and I have to really work hard to shift things at all.  Even walking from BART to work is done in only two different ways, any other route, even if it's the same distance, feels wrong to me.

Recently I've tried staying in San Francisco during work weeks with a good friend who is kind enough to allow me to use her spare bedroom.  This always leaves me feeling discombobulated, out of sorts and confused.  I tried to figure out what was "wrong" with being there, maybe it was the neighborhood, it is in the Castro District after all, with it's giant rainbow flag and very strange denizens...


Or maybe it was that I didn't like being away from my family and seeing them every day...


And you know what?  Both of those are factors but I'm pretty sure that the problem is that I've had a ritual of getting a hug from Lora and Serenity, and now Max and Tiernan as well, for nearly a decade, and it's a vital part of my day.  I can't really bring myself to do without that daily ritual, it makes my day feel complete and missing it leaves a huge gaping hole in the day.  So, probably I'm not going to be staying away during my work weeks, even though it makes all sorts of sense in other ways, more sleep and saving time on commutes, but it's not worth it!  A hug is a ritual, but it's probably the most important one I've got and "I can't want to" change it as Max would say :-)

My final thought is this, I seem to have more rituals these days than ever before, am I getting more Autistic by thinking about it?  Or is it just that I notice all of these little rituals now?  To be honest I LIKE it when I do the same thing every day!  I would be just fine eating almost the same things every day, wearing the same clothes etc.  It is easier on the brain, fewer choices to make, fewer chances to screw things up... rituals rock.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Overload

Once upon a time I took a couple of online tests for Asperger's Syndrome and I scored very high on them all.  Does that mean I win?

Most of the time I manage to cope fairly well with life.

Most of the time I suppose that I pass as "normal," whatever that means.

Most of the time.

But sometimes my facade slips and I'm unable to maintain my cool and calm exterior  and then the seething mass of confusion and struggle that is beneath surges up to the surface, like lava bursting from a subterranean magma chamber it scorches whatever is near by when it erupts.  Sorry about that world.

What is this "struggle" I am speaking of here?  It is the daily struggle to make sense of the chaotic world I inhabit.

                                         SOUNDS!  Listen to how it sounds...




                                                  SIGHTS!
                                                          SMELLS!
                                             PEOPLE!!

The world is overwhelming sometimes.

                     SOUNDS - right now.

I hear the world unfiltered.  All of the sounds have equal power to seize my attention.  A bird is chirping across the street in a tree, the sprinklers are running on the landscaping at the apartments on that same side of the street, a dog is barking, cars driving on the roads around Tracy with a constant yet irregular roar as trucks and cars make different sounds, engines and tires on pavement.  The ticking of my watch sitting on the desk.  The scratch of my pen.  The creak of my chair when I shift as I write, the rustle of the page as I move it to keep my pen in the optimum writing position.  People downstairs moving around, a teapot whistles with a sound so piercing and painful I cover my ears to blot it out and I hear my own blood pounding in my ears.  A baby cries, a child talks but I can't make out what he is saying... all of this is pounding at me as I sit in my room writing this.  A door opens, electronic tones are coming from somewhere... a garbage truck rumbles by... and this is a pretty quiet morning really, rather peaceful.

                     SMELLS - right now.

Right now I am in my own room where I, mostly, control the scents.  I burned Frankincense this morning, and now some patchouli so that dominates the room here and now.

                      - other places though...

Stores are the worst.  There are aisles of "cleaning products" with painfully overwhelming chemical perfumes in them that I suppose are intended to make things "smell good" but make me gag and give me a near instantaneous headache and send me fleeing from the aisle seeking breathable air - I feel like I'm suffocating then...

On a train - perfumes!  Dozens, no, HUNDREDS of people wearing what seems to be gallons of synthetic chemical scents that they imagine makes them more... what?   Attractive to potential mates?  I do not get it at all and most all of them smell disgusting and make me feel nauseous.  This is a daily thing.  Of course there are other smells on a train, even less pleasant.  Drug addled bums who refuse all aid to get off the street and who refuse to bathe who bring onto the train their revolting stench so they can be warm and safe.. yeah, it's great.  It's why I sometimes give up on public transportation and drive alone and pay the price.

                            NO FILTERS!

I seem to lack any ability to filter out sounds or other sensory input and I end up overwhelmed unless I can escape somehow, by going for a walk alone or maybe by drowning it all out with Trance music, the more repetitive the better.  Trance if it's a noisy day, maybe Gregorian Chant if it's pretty quiet.

                                                        Incense
                                                                       Music
                                                                                     Solitude

I also don't have a filter on my speech.  This is where real troubles can start up.  Often things come out completely uncensored and unfiltered.  Thought and speech happen simultaneously.  Ack.  Even when I "think before I speak" I wind up saying things that I'm told are inappropriate and offensive, all the time.  I'm warned and told daily that I've said something "wrong" but even when it has been explained I often don't really "get" why it was wrong, which makes it impossible to avoid the next time I open my mouth.

So yesterday I was tired after driving the RV for 3+ hours, and I had a bunch of joint pain (which I am pretty sure is caused by my decision to stupidly eat gluten, again.) and there was WAY too much chaos around me and I got angry and grouchy and swore and huffed and just generally made an ass out of myself... then I thought about it and said, "Larry, you need to work on this."  And the way I'm working on it is to write about it.

Being only "self-diagnosed" Aspie I don't have that handy "Official Label" to wave about at people to say "Hey Help!"  I guess it is up to me to "fix" it when I'm getting lost in the chaos.  The thing is, by the time I realize I'm in trouble I've lost the ability to express my need to get away and regroup and I find myself unable to just say, "I need some time right now to get myself together."  Partly because I don't want to admit that I can't handle the situation like that.  I try to bluff my way through, until it all comes apart of course, then it's too late.

I thrive best with routines and rituals.  Doing the same things in the same ways at the same times day after day.  I imagine this is one of the reasons that I am so attracted to the Roman Catholic Church, daily mass, the various offices to recite every morning and night lend a comforting structure to every day, no matter that the theology is whack.  I get up around the same time every day, take a shower, make up my bed, read the office and write in my journal.  Then, the day begins.  I like my surroundings to be orderly and neat, but I'm also lazy, so things tend to pile up until I decide the hell with it all and I try to "minimize" some more so I don't need to deal with so much crap.

Such is life on the "Un-Official Autism Spectrum."  Yeah, I know it's just the same for everyone, but if that is so then "everyone" is faking it way better than I am.

Finally, it's pretty much like this...

Sensory Overload (Interacting with Autism Project) from Miguel Jiron on Vimeo.

I win when I don't explode all day.  I win a lot :-)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Tongue is a Fire

This morning the New Testament reading for the Morning Office was from James chapter 3.

 "...if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.  If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well.  Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.  So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.  For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water."


Of course this is a passage that always convicts me, after all I have a big mouth that spouts off things that ought not to be said constantly.  I lack that filter that should exist between thought and speech.  Even when I pause and carefully consider my words, still the wrong things come out, because that filter just doesn't exist.  I am honestly at a loss as to what I've done wrong most of the time, only in retrospect, days later sometimes, can I figure out why people are shocked, appalled and offended by what I say.  I have prayed for the ability to speak only kind words, only uplifting and encouraging words... that prayer has yet to be answered.

The most encouraging thing in this passage is the fact that James says "no human being can tame the tongue" which means it's not totally up to me.  I've tried over the years to control my tongue, to no avail.  I've tried "giving God control" over my speech... that lasts only until I'm actually in a conversation of course.

The only thing that works for me is total silence.  



Of course that is not practical, I'm not a Trappist monk so I need to speak during the day, and as soon as I do... poof, things begin to burn!  I can say to myself in the morning, "Today, with the Lord's help, I am going obey the injunction of Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." But as soon as someone mentions politics or religion, or pretty much anything other than puppies... oh hell, even puppies can set me off... I'm spouting flames.  I suspect that I'm hopeless on this.  Lord forgive me because I'm not able to shut my mouth. 

I suppose that some (most?) of this is due to the fact that I am most certainly on "The Spectrum" (I score 40 on the online test) :-)  Even though I can usually cope just fine with life there are places and times when I just can't fit in with society.  My unintentional rudeness is a constant battle, as I try and cover it up by pretending I'm being sarcastic or deliberately tweaking those in authority, when really it's that I'm oblivious to the fact that I'm saying anything wrong at all.  Ah well, being an "Angry Gnome" what does anyone expect of me anyway?  








Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Via Media

As I mentioned not too long ago on this blog I've returned to the Anglican Church after a long time away during which time I drifted through Lutheranism, Catholicism and atheism.  This return was made possible by the emergence in recent years, without me noticing until now, of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as an alternative to the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) which is no longer really a Christian denomination as far as I can tell, except in certain pockets of stubborn congregations here and there.

Truly, I would never have left the Anglican Church if i had known this group was being formed.  I had called myself an "Anglo-Catholic" for a number of years.  I loved the idea of the Anglicans being the "middle-way" between Catholicism and Protestantism.  While confessional Lutheranism is sort of in the same place, a middle place, they generally don't have bishops, and are lacking in apostolic succession in the way Anglicans have it, by actual bishops who were ordained by previous bishops all the way back to the apostles.  I think this is a good thing, a continuity with the early church in an unbroken line.  Of course the Roman Catholic Church no longer recognizes the bishops of the Anglican Communion, but that's just them being all bossy.  If you don't obey the Bishop of Rome you can't play in our sandbox.  Bleh.

It seems to me that a traditional Anglo-Catholic church is by far the best place to be.  If only I had known they still existed for the last dozen years or so life would have been so much simpler.  Well, it's good to be back.

I'm reading a book called "The Anglican Way: A Guidebook" and there is a section there that describes the Via Media:  "...this Latin term means "the middle way."  The Anglican Way lives at the center rather than the extremes.  We have learned that it's impossible to be radical about more than one thing.  We don't desire to be radical about politics, traditions, ideas, or even religion.  We just want to be radical about the only thing worth being radical about: the amazing love of God in Christ."

I'm sure those who know me are snickering about the statement that "it's impossible to be radical about more than one thing" coming from me.  I am known to be extreme and radical about most everything.  But hey, things could change, right?  (Ha Ha!)

Here is where we are living out the middle way:

Anglican Church of the Resurrection, Tracy CA



Friday, August 21, 2015

Why?

Because I need and want to spend all of my time with these guys!



I want to spend time working on projects with my grandsons, digging in the vegetable garden, building a house, building forts and taking care of chickens and maybe goats, who knows?  :-)  I want to be around every day, not banished to a distant city for no real reason.

That's why.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Simple Living

Same basic subject on a different day.

I'm ready to move on into a phase of Radical Simplification in my life.  Getting rid of the clutter and junk that weighs me down so much.  Oh wait, I already did that!  It's OTHER PEOPLE'S clutter and junk that is weighing me down.

When I look around our house I see large stacks of... stuff.  Most of it buried deeply beneath layers of other stuff for months on end, proving that it is neither needed nor really wanted.  The thing is I can't force others to unload all of this crap, trying to do so just makes me come off as nagging and grouchy.  I'm not even going to try actually, but in the process of deciding to move away from the concrete and stench of the city I think that will sort itself out :-)


If everyone wants to come along with me then they won't have that much choice but to get rid of most of the crud... or find a place for it themselves.  

Right now we're just doing it wrong!  A big house, bigger than I have ever lived in, full of people, that part is good :-)  But also full of JUNK!  That's not so good.  I'm looking at a much more compact living space for us all, mostly for cost reasons, but also aesthetic ones, a small simple space is much easier to keep clean and much cheaper to maintain in general.  

I've set a goal on this project.  I want to be out of the city within 3 years.  In that time I need to find and purchase land, plan and begin constructing my tiny house and figure out if anyone is coming with me.  It's sort of fun to plan this in public, with the knowledge that no one is bothering to read it :-)  

I've been looking at land on line for the last couple of days, there is some out there really cheap, but of course it's cheap for good reasons usually :-)  Still, with aquaculture and gardening and things like composting toilets and solar power even fairly marginal land can work.  We'll see.  Could be it's all a pipe dream, but then if you know me you'll know I've gone off before with virtually nothing but a back pack and sleeping bag, I'm not tied to "stuff" at all.  Family, them I'm tied to, hope they see the wisdom in coming with me.  



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

This aging hippie, angry gnome, is about ready to toddle off the grid.


Sure, civilization has it's attractions, computers and flush toilets and running water... but you know what, it's just not worth it anymore.  I keep waiting for the right time, but the time has never been right.  I think this is one of those things where you just have to step out and do it without all that much worrying about doing it just right.

What benefit are any of us in our household getting out of being in Tracy?  The ability to sit around like lumps watching Netflix on the TV?  Running the AC so we don't melt?  What is there in that house that we need?  What is there in any city that we need?  What is the point of spending every dollar we make to just to stay in one place?

My toes need to touch dirt, not pavement!  I need grass and trees and fresh air, not concrete, piss and the smell of car exhaust.  I need to spend my time with my daughter and granddaughter and grandsons, not wasting my time doing meaningless "work" here in San Francisco.

I'm thinking a couple or three "Tiny Houses" somewhere... or a couple of Yurts...



maybe some aquaponics for most of our food.  I don't care if it's on or off the grid, I don't care if there is internet access or not, none of those things are actually essential to comfort or happiness.  I've lived before with no running water, no electricity and no phone service, and I was HAPPY that way :-)

The good thing about this blog is no one, except mom (Hi Mom!) actually reads it, so I can say whatever I want, don't tell anyone mom...

Life is uncertain, I can't see the point of wasting half of the year away from those I love so much it hurts to be away from them!  I just can't do it anymore.  So, anyone have any suggestions as to how to get off of this stupid treadmill?  And fast?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Feeling restless


Make sure to start the video as a background to reading this post :-)

Not long ago I posted on FB that I've felt like running away more as an adult than I ever did as a kid.  That is so true.  Lately I've been thinking that this life is just wrong, I and all of my family with me are not where we ought to be.  I mean that in more than one way, but mostly I mean we are in a big house in a city and that sucks.  Also, I work in San Francisco, and I really hate that.  The city is sort of disgusting to tell the truth, in the moral sense, and in the olfactory sense.  It is crowded, noisy and unpleasant in every way.

I live too far from work and end up either sleep deprived or missing my family by staying in San Francisco day after day while I earn money to "live" in Tracy.  Tracy stinks as well, but at least that is honest cow manure and not the stench of human waste.  Even though I have a place to stay in San Francisco, due to the generosity of a good friend who lets me stay in her spare room, I really do not like not being at home.

What am I going to do about this?  I don't know yet but something needs to change, and fast.  Maybe we need to buy a plot of land somewhere and live a very simple life with less money and more home life.  I hesitate to bring it up to my family but you know what?  I'm the one who is paying for most everything now, and yet I'm not getting the benefit of it, being away most of the time while everyone else is living in "my" house 24-7.  This just isn't working for me.  As Eric Burdon and the Animals sang so long ago "We've gotta get out of this place!"


Heh, when I saw this I at first thought it said "Follow your heart" which is good, but I like it even better once I realized it says "Fallow".  Fallow land is land that is being allowed to rest and recover for a while.  I need to rest.  :-)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Criminalizing Homelessness?

A small homeless encampment at Division and Bryant streets beneath the highway overpass in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. Photo: Connor Radnovich, The Chronicle

There is a recent statement by the Department of Justice that declares it is not constitutional to forbid people sleeping on the street.  This is one of those difficult issues for me.  I come down on both sides, the side that say we need to scrape these vermin off of the streets so normal human beings can walk the sidewalks in peace and without the revolting stench of urine and feces and without being accosted by mentally ill and drug crazed "homeless people" seeking money for their next drink or fix. On the other side I see that these people are suffering human beings whose lives have spun horribly out of control.  I see Jesus sitting by the side of the road, hungry, homeless and helpless and most of the time I turn from him in disgust and pass by on the other side.

I think part of the solution is actually less government interference in the problem.  Allow churches and organizations like Food Not Bombs to house and feed people without jumping through interminable hoops and piles of paperwork and fees.

http://sffnb.org/

I am convinced that in this, as in most every other problem society faces, government intervention makes things far worse than they would be if the people were allowed to seek solutions without interference from that grasping and controlling criminal gang called government.

God save me from Facebook!


What is the point of Facebook?  Some people use it well, they share a photo or two and that's that.  Others, like me, are constantly posting, well re-posting mostly, little cartoons or questionable quotes or whatever.  

Really?  What is the point of that?

It's not really communication at all, if I haven't written something original I haven't actually done much at all.  I know that when you see someone has "Liked" a post you put up you get a little shot of psychological reward, it's actually sort of addictive.  But it's really useless at the same time.

Facebook is not really a place of communication but of cheap rewards for minimal effort.  

No, I'm not leaving Facebook again.  That's pointless too, I always come back.  But what I am going to do is to make a big effort not to re-post things other people have written.  Not to post other people's cartoons and short quotes.  Instead I'm going to post things via my blog, and then put that onto Facebook.  If I can't be bothered to actually write a few sentences about a subject then really it just shows I don't have anything significant to say about it.

I seldom get any feedback from my blog posts, that's OK I guess.  It seems most people don't go beyond the initial little blurb on Facebook, even if you post a link to a story it seems most people just click "Like" without really bothering to read it.  

Facebook, all headlines, no content. 

Well, we'll see how this goes for me.   

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

'Til the Storm Passes By

This was the opening hymn for tonight's Evening Prayer from the Mission of St. Clare.  Sweet and just what I needed to hear tonight.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Saint Larry


Today, August 10th, is the commemoration of St. Lawrence, my "name Saint" as I think of him.  

From the Mission of St. Clare Morning Prayers for today:

The Commemoration

Laurence 10 August 258
Laurence (or Lawrence) was chief of the seven deacons of the congregation at Rome, the seven men who, like Stephen and his companions (Acts 6:1-6), were in charge of administering the church budget, particularly with regard to the care of the poor. In 257, the emperor Valerian began a persecution aimed chiefly at the clergy and the laity of the upper classes. All Church property was confiscated and meetings of Christians were forbidden. The bishop of Rome, Sixtus II, and most of his clergy were executed on 7 August 258, and Laurence on the 10th. This much from the near-contemporary records of the Church.

The accounts recorded about a century later by Ambrose (commemorated on 7 Dec) and the poet Prudentius say that, as Sixtus was being led to his death, Laurence followed him, saying, "Will you go to heaven and leave me behind?" and that the bishop replied, "Be comforted, you will follow me in three days." They go on to say that the Roman prefect, knowing that Laurence was the principal financial officer, promised to set him free if he would surrender the wealth of the Church. Laurence agreed, but said that it would take him three days to gather it. During those three days, he placed all the money at his disposal in the hands of trustworthy stewards, and then assembled the sick, the aged, and the poor, the widows and orphans of the congregation, presented them to the prefect, and said, "These are the treasures of the Church." The enraged prefect ordered him to be roasted alive on a gridiron. Laurence bore the torture with great calmness, saying to his executioners at one time, "You may turn me over; I am done on this side." The spectacle of his courage made a great impression on the people of Rome, and made many converts, while greatly reducing among pagans the belief that Christianity was a socially undesirable movement that should be stamped out...

...Lawrence's emblem in art is (naturally) a gridiron.

Prayer
Almighty God, who called your deacon Laurence to serve you with deeds of love, and gave him the crown of martyrdom: Grant that we, following his example, may fulfil your commandments by defending and supporting the poor, and by loving you with all our hearts, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
written by James Kiefer

The Parable of the Two Sons


I've seen a lot of conservative memes condemning the fact that the Obama administration has made a deal with Iran over their nuclear program.  They seem to think that the fact that people there chant anit-American slogans is significant somehow.  Whenever I hear people getting all upset about the fact that some Iranians have chanted "Death to America" I'm reminded of this parable by Jesus in Matthew:

Matthew 21:28-32
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

What I'm getting at is that mere words mean little compared to real actions.  Iranians chant "Death to America" but they haven't actually attacked the United States in any meaningful way.  Americans talk peace and freedom while bringing chaos, death, destruction and tyranny to nations all over the Middle East.  Obviously I'm not saying the regime in Iran is righteous and holy or any such thing, but the idea that chanting annoying slogans makes one untrustworthy and impossible to negotiate with while actually murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent people and overthrowing dozens of governments and throwing an entire region into chaos is just fine because, after all, we say "We mean well and all we want is to spread peace and democracy around the world."

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Reading the "News"

It is sad that even though I have bookmarked over a dozen "News" sites I find myself not believing any of them.  Each and every one has a blatant agenda that they are following.  Liberal and conservative, libertarian and statist.  Very few stories are simply recounting facts, it seems every story is told to further an agenda.  Pretty pathetic.  I've searched through literally hundreds of sites looking for one that would just tell the facts...
...but there doesn't seem to be even one such news site on the web, it's all opinion and prophecy.  They are either telling me what they think the events "mean" or predicting things that haven't happened yet.  What a complete waste of my time reading the news is.  It has gotten to the point now that I just open the front page of the BBC, Guardian, FOX, CNN, RT and SF Gate and read the headlines and call it good.  If any really important news comes up I'm sure someone will tell me about it on Facebook anyway :-)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Terrorism

I was going to make some political comments on the anniversary of the dropping of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but decided not to.  Instead I want to recommend people watch a couple of Japanese anime.

First is Barefoot Gen, a story written by a survivor of the destruction of Hiroshima.

Second is Grave of the Fireflies.

Nuclear weapons are weapons of terror, the use of such weapons is a war crime in every case.  We must eliminate such weapons from earth, not build more.

Let us pray:

Blessed is our God, now and unto the ages of ages.

Blessed is our God, who grants us peace and is the source of all peace.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.

Loving God, you create and sustain all that is good and beautiful;
You give life to the earth.

You have called us to wholeness; to the fullness of life
But, as we gather here, we are conscious of our brokenness
Both as persons and as communities.

We have heard the cries for justice and peace
From all the corners of the earth.

We are moved by the tears, the pain and the agonies
of millions around the world.

We sense the dark clouds of war that creep over us;
We sit in the shadow of death.

Silence

Help us to fall on our knees and to cry for that vision of unity
Without which we would perish.

Teach us not to deal with others falsely,
Saying “peace, peace” when there is no peace.

Grant us grace that we may walk
In the paths of righteousness.

Bring us to yourself, that our hearts and minds
May discern the way of peace shown by your son.

For you alone have been our help in ages past,
And you are our shelter in the years ahead.

Amen
(From "Prayers for Peace" from the World Council of Churches.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Abominable

As a result of deciding to read more real physical books instead of e-books I went to the library and hunted for a book to read.  I chose a book by Dan Simmons called "The Abominable" based on other books by the same author I read years ago, "Hyperion" and the rest of the "Hyperion Cantos" as the series was called.  That was a great series, though it started to get a bit tedious after a while, but I figured that was just the typical author milking a good selling book series just a bit too long.

This abominable thing is 663 pages long, but I only made it to page 178 before giving up on it as a waste of my time and effort.  I now know far more than I ever wanted to about the details of Alpine style mountain climbing.  :-(  The story was so relentlessly dull and tedious that I finally decided to look up the reviews it got on Amazon to see if the pace ever picked up.  According to one review "...the first 400 pages are an exhaustive and frankly very tedious detailing of mountaineering techniques and methods of the 1920s as our heroes prepare for an Everest challenge to find the lost remains of a previous expedition that went missing. It's not until around p.500 that the action gets going..."  That is way too much prologue for too little payoff in my opinion.

As a result, in spite of the near physical pain not finishing a book gives me, I'm going to quit reading this one.  Life is too short to waste on bad books!  :-P   I wish I had known going in that the title was describing the quality of the writing!  At least it didn't cost me anything beyond a few tedious and wasted hours of my life.  That's one big advantage to getting a book at the library rather than buying it at some store.

Monday, August 3, 2015

It Really is Simple


I’m sitting in my room, listening to “Anglican Radio” which is just playing music at the moment, nice though.  I’m really pleased with the compromise position we have managed to take here in the Anglican Church of the Resurrection in Tracy.  The whole family went to church yesterday and we all went up and had communion.  There was none of the exclusionary crap that the LCMS and the RC throw up in front of people being able to partake, as long as you are a baptized believer then you are welcome at the table to receive the body and blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Of course our family pretty much doubles the size of the congregation, but that is OK, maybe it will grow now that we are there and they now have the web site up.

I was listening to a podcast from Anglican Radio earlier this morning and the phrase “simple faith” was used to describe those who do not have fully articulated apologetic approach.  I think that is actually a good sort of thing for almost everyone, including me!  I think too much sometimes.  It’s all about relationship with Jesus, and thus with the Trinity, that is really important.  To understand each subtle nuance of theology is not needed.  It really is simple.  God is Love.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Quid est veritas? Part II

I've been thinking, as usual, about the truth.  You know what I'm on about here, T-R-U-T-H.  :-)  The idea that any single Christian group has all of the truth is an attractive one, but one that I now have come to conclude, to my dismay, is not even possible.

I had thought that the Lutherans (LCMS only, ELCA don't even qualify as heretics anymore) had a pretty good grasp on it, until I started noticing the extra crud they were adding on to the list of things one "must believe" to be a proper Christian.  I've gone over that before so I won't belabor it now, Young Earth Creationism and what I consider a mistaken reading of Romans 13 and their overly restrictive rules on who can share the Eucharist are on the top of my list.  

Then there was the Roman Catholic Church, who actually do claim to have "All of the Truth" about the gospel.  They even claim that since Jesus stated that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church that everything the church teaches must therefore be TRUE.  I'm pretty sure they have misinterpreted what Jesus was getting at there :-)  It wouldn't be so bad if they did not seem to go out of their way to make up new and increasingly strange "Marian Dogmas."  I did my very best to accept those, since I was convinced that Jesus did want his church to be united and the only possible candidate for that is the Roman church.  I even bought a book by Tim Staples called "Behold Your Mother" that was supposed to explain the Marian teachings in a way that would be easier to accept.  I actually threw that nice hard-bound book into the recycling bin at work to make sure no one else read it.  It was really the thing that convinced me that they have no leg to stand on in their teachings about Mary!   Staples takes the thinnest of biblical justifications and expands them into chapter after chapter of wild speculation.  In any case I came to conclude that Rome too did not have all Truth.

Which left me with my old Anglican ideas, where one gets the best of Catholic and Lutheran thoughts, in my opinion anyway, and fine liturgical services, mostly, and a bit wider idea of what the church is, all baptized Christians are welcome to participate in the Eucharist.  As I said before, the ACNA is more loyal to the traditional understanding of scripture than the ECUSA... but of course they don't even claim to be the exclusive repository of all truth, but they do their best to figure it out, and I now have concluded that this is probably the best anyone can do.  

So, Quid est veritas?  Jesus, and him crucified.  But not any one group of believers in Him.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It's Easy

No doubt it's "not that easy" but so far I've been quite happy with my return to the grain free world of neo-paleo-pseudo-low-carbism.  :-)  Since hitting just over 200 pounds on Saturday morning I have not eaten any grains, no bread, no pasta, no chips, no rice and even no taters.  As of today the scale cheerfully informed me that my weight is now 195 pounds.  What am I eating?  Meat, vegetables and dairy with some fruit thrown in for good measure.  So, it's not really "low-carb" and it's not really "Paleo" but just eating food, whatever I want and as much as I want but skipping those addictive grains!  The only glitch comes when someone wants to be nice and feed me pasta or pizza or something, please don't do it!

On a completely unrelated note, I've been using the Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer for a little while now.  I have three apps on my phone for the Office, one Lutheran called Pray Now that is based on the Treasury of Daily Prayer, one Catholic called Universalis based on the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours and now The Daily Office from the Mission of St. Clare which is from the Book of Common Prayer.  They are all good but I tend to want to use the office that is connected to the church I'm going to.  I have a physical copy of the Treasury of Daily Prayer and I used to have a small pocket sized edition of the Book of Common Prayer but got rid of back when I abandoned the Episcopal "Church" when they stopped being an actual Christian denomination.  Now that I'm back being Anglican I am back to using the BOC, which I must say I always did prefer to the others.  Since the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is working on a revision of the Book of Common Prayer I'm going to hold off on buying a physical copy until they complete that job.

Here is a photo of the Mission of St. Clare, a virtual reality mission... :-)



Saturday, July 25, 2015

An Ode to BART

Oh BART,
how do I loathe thee?
I loathe thy noisy trains,
so loud I cannot think.
I loathe thy overly fragrant passengers,
both those who never bathe,
and those who bathe in cheap perfume.
I loathe thy decaying stations,
I loathe thy brutal cops,
I loathe thy disintegrating tracks,
and thy rickety cars, 
and the way they combine to cause delays,
each and every day. 
I loathe the crowding on cars,
the criminals who lurk,
I loathe the urine soaked stairwells to the streets.

Yeah, I think I'll drive.  
I know, it's not really poetry, but neither is riding on BART.

Addictions

I was going to call this post "Moderation" but as I began to write I realized that moderation is not actually the problem I mean to address today.  I started out explaining how moderation was a good thing but that I was not good at "doing moderation."  But that's not actually true.  In some things I'm quite moderate.  I'm moderate in drinking wine for example, outside of the rare times when I may overindulge I usually have no more than two glasses in a day.  Other things I used to allow to get out of hand I've moderated.  I once was quite out of control on Facebook, checking it all through the day and feeling uncomfortable if I didn't check for a couple of hours.  After a few "fasts" from that I find it is not so difficult to moderate.  Online games, especially Civilization, were once a problem, yet now I am able to play for a while and then put it aside to do other things without the feeling of "one more turn" that used to afflict me.

So what am I going about here then?  I'm getting ready to talk about my uncontrolled bread addiction!  Is that crazy or what?


Yes, I am addicted to carbs, especially in the form of good high gluten bread!  Yum!  Isn't that just the best stuff you ever tasted?  Indeed it is wonderful.  The problem is, no matter how hard I try to moderate my eating of these foods, bread and pasta and chips and so on, I cannot stop.  I eat until I'm full, and then I eat some more, wait a little while, fart once or twice and start in again.  I am now convinced this is the one area where I'm not going to be able to be moderate, just like tobacco I need to cut it out of my life totally.  When I was quitting smoking I quit for a year and decided I could have "just one smoke" once in a while.  So I had a smoke.  Then didn't have one for few days and had another.  "See?" I told myself, "you can do this in moderation, no problem!"  So I had a couple a day, then 6 or 7 a day and then I was back to my pack a day addiction within a month or so. Same with bread.  I know I ought not to eat it because I have symptoms that are uncomfortable when I eat it, the bloating and constant gas and painful cramps are tolerable though, if I get to eat bread and pizza.  The painful joints, swollen and arthritic elbows and knees and fingers that weren't that way while I was avoiding all gluten and grains carefully, that's OK too, as long as I can have pizza and warm french rolls slathered in butter... 

Yeah, it's crazy all right.  The thing that has slapped me in the face recently though is the fact that since I decided I could go off of  my restricted diet I have gained 15 pounds!  That is rapid weight gain, and it's all attributable to the uncontrollable urge to pound carbs.  I've read in numerous places that carbs like breads are especially addictive, physically addictive and not just for the emotional gratification of eating yummy foods.  I was going to link to some of the articles but if you want to find out about it just do a search on bread or carb addiction and you'll find all sorts of information. I'll give you one right here though



So, is Pizza worth increased joint pain?  Worth bloating and gas?  Worth cramps and pain in the guts? Worth becoming obese?  Worth reducing my portions carefully and suffering constant pangs of desire for more?  YES!   I mean no, not really.  

Suddenly it has become clear to me that this is not just a simple matter of wanting a sandwich because it's tasty and easy to prepare and eat.  Not just a matter of liking the taste of pizza, which I really do of course.  No, it's worse than that, it's just like the cigarettes, I know it's killing me and I don't even care when I'm in the act of getting my fix, my pizza or my rolls or my two big sandwiches... I just don't care what it's doing to me, I have to have it, and then I have to have more.

This is an addiction for sure.  It's not something I can moderate, God knows I've tried that enough times to know better.  Add to that the fact that I started up on it again in spite of it causing me actually physical ...

So, it's time to quit cold turkey I suppose, it hurts too much to continue this way.  I ask any who know me not to mock me or argue with me or tell me just to be moderate, it is not going to happen that way.  My scale does not lie, it hit 200 this morning, up from 185 when I decided I could be "moderate" a few weeks ago.  I've been munching Naproxen Sodium and Ibuprofen and Aspirin like candy and still can hardly pick up my coffee cup.  I'm practically jet propelled when I walk down the street... this is insane.



Friday, July 24, 2015

Quid est veritas?

Of course the answer to the question in my title is Jesus Christ, for he is the way and the truth and the life.  Naturally we can't just leave it at that though.  No we start asking all sorts of questions and trying figure out "what does this mean?"

In my last post I quoted a Lutheran pastor who was explaining that Lutherans are less tolerant of "heresy" than Anglicans, especially when it comes to those who publicly teach or preach.  As a layman I imagine I could quietly sit back and not speak out about the things I believe that are condemned in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, or even speak about them in an unofficial manner, and I wouldn't be tossed out on my ear for the heretical notions I hold :-)

I stumbled across the story of Matthew Becker the other day in my reading on line as I sought to clarify my thinking on the reasons I don't really fit in with the LCMS.  Of course, as I stated before, if I didn't live so far from Messiah Danville I would most likely have just kept my thoughts to myself and stayed put, after all it is a place where you will hear the Gospel preached, Christ and Him crucified for us, and where the sacraments are administered properly and where the liturgy is reverent and follows the pattern of the ancient church... but they are part of the LCMS and that organization has added things to the gospel that are not essential, and have made them markers of a "true Christian."  Witness Matthew Becker, tossed out of the LCMS for teaching things that I believe to be true.  Oops.

Here is a quote from a blog post of his called Less Room in the LCMS that neatly summarizes what I'm about here:

 Just to be clear:
(1) I hold that "inerrancy" is not a helpful category for understanding the nature of biblical authority. Even Martin Luther, back in the sixteenth century, acknowledged that there are "errors" in Scripture.

(2) I am convinced that the Scriptures do not clearly prohibit women from serving in the pastoral office today.

(3) I do not reject predictive prophecy. The biblical prophets made prophetic-predictive statements about the future, including the future age of the Messiah, but this fact does not mean that the prophets saw directly and clearly to Jesus of Nazareth and made their predictions based on that vision. Direct prophecies are rare in the OT. More common are typical prophecies. These have an immediate meaning for their own day and an ultimate meaning that points toward the Messianic Age. God always has a way of surpassing biblical prophecies in unexpected ways.

(4) The genres in the early chapters of Genesis do not fit with the literary form of "historical report." The literal contradictions between the two creation accounts in Gen 1-3 are sufficient to push us in a different direction. The history of the exegesis of these chapters--beyond American Protestant Fundamentalism and its inroads in the LCMS--also helps to steer us away from interpretive dead ends. Finally, basic data discovered within the disciplines of the natural sciences also helps us to avoid literalistic, simplistic interpretations that are just plain wrong-headed and theologically unfruitful.

If I were a teacher or preacher in the LCMS I'd have been out on my ear along with Matthew Becker.  Though at one time I agreed women ought not to be pastors when I read the actual bible verses that are used to teach that I've never found them convincing, and only tradition remained to "forbid" such a thing.  Of course taking Genesis literally I have spoken of before, if you are suspected of not being a real Christian because you actually dare to believe your own eyes and the evidence of the world right there in front of you as opposed to buying into a patently ridiculous 19th century reinterpretation of Genesis... well so be it :-)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mary Magdalene

 

Today is the commemoration of Mary Magdalene, who was chosen to be the first witness of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  I've heard it said that this is a good indication of the historicity of the gospels since in that day she would be the last person you would choose as a witness because women were not considered good witnesses. This commemoration is today for all three of the church bodies I "identify" with, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican :-)

I've been trying for a while now to come to grips with the differences between these three bodies of Christians and understand why they seem to be so angry with each other.  I can't seem to sort it out, the differences seem to me minute and unimportant when compared to those things that are truly important, such as we are sinners and are saved by the life death and resurrection of Jesus, who is true man and true God.  There is basic agreement on baptism and the Eucharist as well, though they will parse things and define things down to the point where they all declare each other heretics.  Today I came across this on Worldview Everlasting, Jonathan Fisk's site: 

To my mind, the short of it will revolve around the matter of what we call “fellowship,” or, “how far do you let the heretics go before you kick them out or you leave.” Anglicanism has a greater tolerance for diversity in theology than Lutherans believe is biblically acceptable.

That sounds about right to me, and it turns out that I personally am quite comfortable with lots of diversity as long as the very basic stuff, such as C.S. Lewis wrote about in Mere Christianity, is agreed to.  The "extra" detail is nice but shouldn't be allowed to divide us.  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Round and round we go

For a long time I've been trying to figure out a way that our entire family can worship together.  We live about 40 miles from Messiah Lutheran Church in Danville where we've been members for a long time. This is a very long ride with small children and surly teens and it takes two cars to get us all there.  Mostly Lora is broke and doesn't have enough gas to make the trip anyway and the kids are pretty resistant to getting out of bed early enough to make the 45 minute trip to church.  One of the big reasons I loved the Catholic Church was the fact they seem to be pretty much everywhere within a short drive no matter where we lived. 

We tried St. Paul's LCMS in Tracy - barf.  We also tried Good Shepherd LCMS in Livermore, a bit better but still a weak liturgy and it's still a big drive over the hill.  Mom went with me to St. Bernard's Catholic Church here in Tracy last week, but she really doesn't like that at all and disagrees very strongly with such things as praying to saints and Mary.  To tell the truth I've never been comfortable with that myself, though I tried to make it work in my head, if you know what I mean.

Well, I think we've found our solution finally.  Before I came to Messiah I had been going to St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek for years, and to Grace Cathedral before that when I still lived in the city with my Grandmother, it was only when I realized that the Episcopal Church had gone off of the rails and could hardly be called Christian any longer that I began looking for a new church home.  I love Messiah, and I'm sorry we are so far away that it won't work long term for us. I have gone back and forth from Catholic to Lutheran as a result.  Recently though I have discovered that there is a break away branch of the Episcopal Church called the Anglican Church in North America which is a faithful Anglican Church, unlike the ECUSA, and even more to the point there is a tiny branch church here in Tracy, Anglican Church of the Resurrection, pastored by Father Dondi, a Kenyan priest.  Liturgically and also theologically I am very comfortable with the church, I downloaded and read their provisional catechism and found nothing I didn't agree with.  Serenity's half brother and sister are used to the Episcopal Church so they understand it as well.  I think it's the right thing for us to do, we need to be associated with a community that is close enough to us that we can actually all make it there.  The whole family will probably go next week, Mom, Max and I went this week and we found the small gathering very welcoming.  I'm excited by this to say the least :-)

Friday, July 17, 2015

My Country

So much horrible news is out in the world these days, mostly caused by "my" government, which makes it just that much worse in my mind.  The worst is the absolute glee with which total evil is greeted by so many people.  It seems to me that the more perverted and disgusting a practice is the more it is celebrated.  From same-sex so-called "marriage" and abortion on the left to endless wars and torture and murder of innocents for the greater glory of corporate America on the right, it's all evil.  How has this come about? I don't have an answer to that, any I might give would be speculation.  But you know, it should not be a shock.  Mankind was created good, but we have fallen.

That said, I don't suppose I really need to even pay all that much attention to the course of America, after all, as The Dissident Dad points out, my family is my country.   I follow those laws of America that I'm forced to follow by immediate threat and also those that make good sense to me, in other words, I do what I would do if there was no law in the first place.  Every bit of my loyalty is to God first, then my family, then my neighbors.  I have nothing left for any government.  The only thing I have to do with government is pointing out the lies it tells, and most everything they tell you is a lie.

It is time for me, and my family if they are willing, to start seriously working on separation from the state... this will take some planning and some hard work and hard choices, but I know it can be done because I've seen others do it.  We've been suckered into this consumerist culture but it's time to escape.  Life is not best spent accumulating "stuff" but experiences, shared experiences with those we care about and love.  That really doesn't take much money.  I am pretty sure we're doing it wrong guys, it's time to rethink the way we live, and probably where we live as well.

Life is good, and it's going to get better, if we decide to make it so.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

On the Eucharist

Because I know everyone cares deeply about the random fluctuations that shoot through the neurons of my brain I write again...

I'm working today, on a Sunday.  This caused me much anxiety as I tried to figure out how I was going to manage to make it mass and still get to work on time.

I could have driven my car into The City and gone to the 7:30 mass at Sts. Peter and Paul, which is a lovely church, but the mass at that hour there is pretty weak in my experience, plus I've developed an aversion to driving in San Francisco again.  I don't know what caused that, a month ago I thought driving to The City was wonderful, I actually LIKED it.  Now I can't imagine a worse fate.

I could have tried to go to 11:00 mass at the Shrine of St. Francis in The City, which is where I go to daily mass on my work days, but that would have used up my whole lunch and more since a Sunday mass is longer than a daily mass, it didn't feel like the right way to do things.

I didn't want to go to mass on Saturday evening because Lora was fixing a nice dinner and I didn't want to be late.  Whatever was I going to do?

I looked around for an early mass I could get to and still make the 8:01am train from Dublin into The City to get to work on time.  Finally noticed that St. Michael's in Livermore has a 6:45am mass, I could go to that and make the train!  Woo hoo.  I always enjoyed St. Michael's anyway, it's a more traditional church than most and I like that a lot.  Plus they have a cool statue of St. Michael the Archangel depicted as a medieval knight standing to the side of the sanctuary, you can't really see it in this picture but it's there on the right :-)
So I went there this morning and I'm glad I did.  The next time I have to work on a Sunday I'm going to do the same thing for sure.

One more random thing from my brain.

I've been reading a book called Mere Catholicism by Ian Ker.  Pretty good stuff.  Of course it's inspired by CS Lewis' Mere Christianity, which is a classic apologetic work.  Ker's book is pretty good but not quite up to the level of Lewis' I don't think.  Lewis had a way of condensing confusing and complicated ideas into understandable forms.  Ker does the same thing but not quite as smoothly.

In the chapter on the Eucharist, The Meal of All Meals, is this "Because they not only hang on His words but actually live off His body in the Eucharist, they can be said to form the "Body of Christ" in more than a figurative sense.  When, therefore, in the Eucharist they offer up the Body of Christ in sacrifice, they also inevitably at the same time are offering up themselves since they are the body of Christ."  I like the way he put that, I've had that same thought before, as we consume the body of Christ we come closer together with each other than ever as the Body of Christ, we are what we consume.  We are what we eat.

Well, that's it for today's random thoughts, I have to go now.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Commuting and anger

I had an interesting commute this morning.  I checked the status of the trains and I checked the traffic before I left the house at 4:35am.  At 4:39am a BART train caught on fire, resulting in the closure of 5 east bay stations and cutting off Dublin from San Francisco.  I didn't know that until I got to the BART station though, so I wasted time walking into the station, only to find "you can't get there from here" being broadcast.  I only had enough gas to do a round trip from Dublin to Tracy, not to SF, so I had to get gas, then I got caught up in extra heavy traffic at the Bay Bridge as thousands of my fellow BART riders tried to get across the Bay.

In times past I know I would have been all upset and angry and bent out of shape, muttering and cursing BART and the rotten drivers on the road.  Today it was pretty minimal, for me :-)  The most annoying thing is that it's costing me an extra $10 to be at work today between bridge toll and parking.  That's a lunch!

This Angry Gnome has been working pretty hard on not being so Angry, and with the help of the Holy Spirit things are starting to look better on that front.  I have long had a problem with blurting out the first thing that comes into my head, especially when I'm running into problems, like a commute delay or something at work not going the way it is supposed to go.  That's not good because the first thing that comes into my head is usually curses and foul language and condemnation of whoever I imagine to be at fault for my difficulties at the time.  Recently I've begun trying to simply take a breath and not react out loud for a few moments.  At first it didn't work, but with prayer and paying attention to what's really going on around me it's gradually gotten better.

I have no idea if this is noticeable to anyone who is not living inside my head, but it sure is obvious to me :-)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Happy July 5th!

I love the 5th of July, because it's not the 4th of July.  I am very glad that the 4th is behind us now, with the constant barrage of fireworks for several days accompanied by over the top hyper-patriotism expressed virtually everywhere.



 In my eyes there is very little to celebrate on the 4th of July.  What really happened? A revolt by rich slave owners against their rightful ruler in plain violation of Romans 13, resulting, as do most all violent revolts, in an even more oppressive government ruling the land.

What were the actual results of the revolution?

Very quickly after the end of the war the rich held a secret conclave to replace the government that had fought the revolution with a centralized state, without bothering to ask the people who had actually fought if they even wanted it.

Slavery was enshrined in that constitution as a permanent institution protected by the might of the Federal government.

Genocide was carried out against the native peoples of North America.

Taxation, which had been one of the supposed reasons for the revolt, went through the roof.

Eventually it turned into what it is today, a violent empire that girdles the globe murdering and destroying everywhere, even in its own land.  Yeah, I'm glad that ridiculous celebration is over with for this year.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Little things

At times the Lord does little things to let me know He's still in charge of everything. Today the rent was due and I was a bit short on the full amount.  I was waiting on my daughter Lora and son-in-law J.D. to pay their portion but he had not been paid by his boss so he did not have the money to give to me.  So when I got up in the morning today I prayed "Lord, I don't know how you are going to do it but you told us to pray for our daily bread.  It would really be great if you could manage to get me the rent money today."  Then I wrote out the rent check, put it by the front door for the landlord and got ready to come into work.  On my way out the door I looked down at a pile of sandals that was in front of the shelf placed by the door to hold them. Slightly annoyed by the fact they were on the floor and not on the shelf I poked at the pile of sandals with my foot, trying to shove them into the bottom shelf and off of the floor.  As I did that I noticed a white envelope face down on the floor next to the shelf.  I wondered what it was and picked it up, and the front said "Rent" and inside was the rent money :-)  Somehow Lora and J.D. had gotten the rent together after I went to bed last night.  She didn't deliberately hide it, somehow the envelope had fallen to the floor.   Not a huge miracle, but just a little thing...


Thomas, Patron Saint of Skeptics and Scientists

Today is the Feast of St. Thomas, known to us mostly as "Doubting Thomas."  I've always admired Thomas, he demanded proof for his belief.  He wasn't going to take the word of others for something as strange as someone coming back from the dead!  I think Thomas must be the patron saint of skeptics.  Since I'm a hopeless skeptic, he's my guy :-)  But he really gets a bad rap because the other apostles didn't believe until they had seen either.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Shutting up, sort of.

If I was still on Facebook I would have posted a half dozen or so times today.  I saw a news story about the unemployment rate dropping, which is a lie of course, it's all smoke and mirrors as anyone who pays attention to the way they come up with these numbers knows.  Then I saw a story about a San Francisco park that was totally trashed during the "Pride" celebration last week.  I would have commented about that too, something about the sort of people who celebrate that sort of thing not caring much about anything but their own immediate pleasure or something.  Then I'd have made a point of mentioning that is was really hot this morning when I got up in Tracy at 4am today, 85 degrees and it even rained a little, not enough to make things actually wet but enough to turn dust into mud on the windows of my car.

But I'm not on Facebook so I didn't post about all of that stuff in the heat of the moment, but I mention it all now because I realized, when I thought about how nice it was not to bother with things I can do nothing about, that keeping my mouth shut is sometimes a good thing.  I'm sure I'd have had some people "liking" my snarky comments and others being mildly offended by them.  I'm also certain I'd have seen dozens of over the top political posts claiming Obama is somehow the worst president ever, seems to me every president is worse than the previous one actually.

All in all I'm very glad not to be on Facebook, what a waste of time.  I have a friend who is on Facebook who seems to have no problem ignoring it for the most part.  I can't manage that, I MUST inform people when they are wrong :-)  I must share every little thought that comes my way, and every amusing post I see gets shared... that's why it's better for me to just ignore the thing.

You know what I did today during the time in the afternoon when it got really quiet here at work and I would normally have gone on Facebook?  I read the bible for a while and then wrote this post.  A much more satisfying use of my time.