Wednesday, April 30, 2008
It was a dark, moonless, Wyoming night. He was driving US Hwy 20/26 from Casper to Riverton. It was 120 miles with virtually nothing in-between except empty highway and abundant wildlife.
He hated making this drive this late at night but the urgency could not be ignored. It was one of the loneliest stretches of highway he had ever driven. He was tired and the road stretched before him was very hypnotic.
He was glad that he was the driver and not a passenger along this route. A passenger endures the horror of seeing the glowing eyes of animals, both large and small, which line the highway and might at any time dart out into the headlight beams of an oncoming vehicle. The driver, due to his concentration, is spared from these visions. Heaps of road kill littered the roadway. The suicidal night creatures had not learned from the demise of their brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and mothers and fathers.
He considered the parallel of this to a human drug addict.
His thoughts returning to humans reminded him of the precious cargo on the seat next to him. He increased his speed and his focus.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
I don’t know if or when the end of the world will come and neither do you. Religious fanatics have claimed it was coming since shortly after it began. They believe it so fervently that they spend so much time preparing for the next life that they don’t enjoy this one. They don’t go to movies or watch television because there are sinful things on the screen. They can’t laugh at an off-color joke. Almost any pleasurable experience is sinful. Basically, they are a very sad and mean-spirited lot. They have the awesome responsibility of saving everyone they meet.
I believe in everyone’s right to believe what he wants to. One of the beauties of living in America is that you can worship as you please. I served 20 years in the military to defend that right, among others. I also have the right not to hear about your religion. If I feel the need to explore another faith, I have the Yellow Pages at my disposal.
I live in the “Bible Belt”, so there is a church on practically every corner. I was going to list the churches here in my community but since there are several hundred, I will not. But I think you get my point. My uneducated opinion is that the vast number of churches is somehow linked to money more than faith. Just for fun I did a Google search “get ordained online.” There are 270,000 websites. Religion is big business. Television evangelists are millionaires many times over. “Send us $100 and we will heal you through your television.” That sounds ridiculous, but I have heard that exact claim. There is a fine line between a cult and a religion.
Most of them call themselves Christian and they preach from the same book but they each have their own interpretation and believe that only they have the “truth”. Everyone else is wrong and is going to burn in hell for eternity. There is an old Emo Phillips joke that illustrates this better than I ever could. Don’t forget that most jokes are based on truth:
Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, "Don't do it!" He said, "Nobody loves me." I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"
He said, "Yes." I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?" He said, "A Christian." I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me, too! What franchise?" He said, "Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?" He said, "Northern Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"
He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region." I said, "Me, too!"
Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912." I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over.
Almost everyone I have ever met that introduces himself as a Christian (You would think that one could tell that from their actions and would not require an intro) has not been a good spokesman for Christ. They carried with them an air of superiority; often looking down on and talking about how horrible others are that haven’t been “saved”. They actually believe that everyone who does not adhere to their beliefs is wrong. If you are a Christian and the exception to this observation, I am glad for you. If you are sure of your faith, nothing I say here will bother you. Anyone with a knee-jerk reaction to my words is probably uncertain.
I have had the opportunity to travel extensively and have met Buddhist and Hindu folk that live their beliefs far more religiously than any self-proclaimed Christian I have met. Are they going to hell? Not bloody likely.
Having studied eastern religion a bit, I find many of those beliefs more plausible and certainly more optimistic than the more fatalistic Christian, Moslem, and Jewish beliefs. Talk about interpretation. These three all come from the same source and all share prophecies of Armageddon.
What I am trying to say in my rambling style is that the world may end one day (or night). Our sun may flame out. Global warming may melt the icecaps. One of the psychos with nuclear weapons may provide us with nuclear winter.
When and if it does the billions of us on this planet will have to deal with it in their own way. Perhaps the two-dozen people worshiping in a tiny church in the country are the only ones who got it right and the rest of us are damned to eternity in hell. Maybe Heaven’s Gate was on the money, waiting for a UFO to collect them. Maybe John Travolta and Tom Cruise have the answers.
Only time will tell. But until then, I am going to try to enjoy the pleasures of this planet. It is a beautiful world.
I have not revealed in this writing my actual beliefs. That is a private thing between God and me and no one's business. Nor are your beliefs anyone else's concern.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
As I get older I listen to more and more country music. I still love classic rock but there is not too much new music that catches my attention other than country. I am all about the words and country music not only has great lyrics but you can actually understand them. So today’s Thursday 13 is some of my all-time favorite SAD country songs. But I warn you: If you listen to the songs I have listed, do not have any sharp objects or firearms within reach. Some of these will rip your heart right out of your chest. I am not sure why, but these songs make me feel good. Maybe it is because I know that no matter how bad my day is going, my life is much better than the poor bastard that wrote these lyrics. There are many to pick from. I picked the first 13 that came to mind. They are in no particular order. I am listing the singer of the version I like best regardless of who wrote it. Pause my automatic music and have a listen.
1. Hurt – Johnny Cash
2. Concrete Angel – Martina McBride
3. Sunday Morning Coming Down – Johnny Cash & Kris Kristofferson
4. Whiskey Lullaby – Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss
5. He Stopped Loving Her Today – George Jones
6. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry – Hank Williams
7. How’s The World Treating You – James Taylor & Alison Krauss
8. Paint Me a Birmingham – Tracy Lawrence
9. Love Me – Colin Raye
10. Don't Close Your Eyes - Keith Whitley
11. A Bad Goodbye – Clint Black & Wynonna Judd
Clint Black & Wynonna A Bad Goodbye
12. The Dance – Garth Brooks
13. Do You Believe Me Now – Vern Gosdin
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
It was a beautiful summer evening. The sunset casting long shadows across the lush green fields. Hot and humid, but not unpleasantly so. A slight breeze aiding the retreating sun in cooling the couple sitting in the porch swing. This was a quiet time, before the dark brought the cacophony of sound from the night creatures that hated the heat of the day as much as the farmer. This was the best time of day, as any rural South Carolina native will attest.
Something disturbed the silence. It was a car, still a couple of miles away but definitely heading their way. That was obvious because theirs was the only house the dusty road led to. They loved the fact that they could not hear highway traffic from their porch. It was rare that anyone came out here without calling. It was a long way to come to find out they were not home. But they always welcomed visitors with a smile and a glass of sweet tea.
Jack Francis immediately had a thought that struck him like a blow to the stomach. It was a flashback to an evening very similar to this in 1968, when down this very road came a visitor that he would never forget. Though forty years ago, he could recall every detail. It was a navy blue sedan with an eagle on the front of it. Jack’s dad had told him later that they always sent a colonel to give the family the condolences of the President of the United States. His older brother had been killed in Vietnam, in something called the Tet offensive. He remembered how composed his father had been when he shook hands with the Colonel and accepted the letter from President Johnson. Dad was not one to show emotion or weakness, but Jack knew in his heart that his dad had died that evening. He drew breath for nearly three more years, but he was never the same man. That evening did what 40 hard years of working a farm could never do. It broke him. His dad once confided in him over a too-large glass of Kentucky Bourbon that he was glad Jack’s mom had died two years before. "I am glad she was spared this. No one should have to bury their children,” he added with eyes misting. "They say God never gives you more than you can handle. They are liars."
Jack wanted to follow the path of all the men in his family and serve in the military but by the time he was old enough his dad had passed away and someone had to run the farm. He married his childhood sweetheart and though they would never be wealthy, they had a good life. They raised three wonderful children, who they were extremely proud of. All grown and gone, they now had only each other and these pleasant summer evenings together.
Their daughter, Charlotte (who they called Charley), was now a doctor in Charleston. Their youngest son, Taylor, was an architect in Raleigh. Their oldest son, Carey, was a marine. It was hard to keep up with where he was. They received tapes and letters but he didn't talk much about what he was doing. He didn't like to worry them.
Jack's thoughts were disturbed as the car came into view out of the dust. They had walked down the steps towards the road. He recognized the car immediately, though his wife, Dianne did not. He knew that because she was still smiling, ready to greet their visitors. No one else but the government bought a car like that, not these days. A late-model navy blue Crown Victoria. Nothing good ever comes out of such a car.
Even before the dying sunlight reflected on the silver eagle placard on the front of the government issue car, he knew. He knew what his dad knew 40 years ago. As he embraced Dianne, he only hoped he could be as composed.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
My 13 favorite breeds of dogs. I have chosen some for their temperament, some for their personality, others for their intelligence, and still others for their beauty. Kind of the same way I choose my friends. These are in no particular order:
2. Labrador Retriever
6. Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen (PBGV)
7. Corgi (both kinds)
8. Irish Setter
11.Mastiff (all kinds)
I thought I would also include my favorite breeds of cats. They are listed below: