Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm holding out

for a god who is kinder than any of the ones I've encountered thus far.

Maybe there's some sort of inverse correlation, among gods, between kindness and power. If that were the case, I guess I'd also be on the lookout for a god who was weaker than any of the ones I've encountered thus far.

If that were the case, it would kind of suck, at some level. I mean isn't part of the point of god that she is supposed to ... embody a fix for that particular inverse correlation?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

If I had a lot of money,

I'd be willing to bet most of it that at least 98% of all people who have a problem with other people putting photos of themselves breastfeeding their own infants on FaceBook also voted for George Bush twice *and* John McCain (and, by implication, that they are American).

But I could be wrong.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Megs reads the night before christmas to the girls.

Hurrah for nathalie's Birthday!

'church' is too much a

'church' is too much a production. I'm sure jesus would hate it too.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Somone who understands what happened to my mother

Today I saw this video of teenager Jasmine Mans at the 2008 Urban Word NYC Teen Poetry Slam Finals.

Please be warned this describes rape in vivid terms, so it could be triggering. If it is safe for you, I would encourage you to watch it. H/T Brooke

I loved you mom. You were very brave. Much braver, I think, than me.

Christmas--not living up to the hype

The story the Christians tell (and of course now we are speaking of meta story, which feels inherently less true. Nevertheless ...) is that the big deal about Christmas is that God (that is the one supreme God who made everything) sends his son who is born in Bethlehem, and whose is going to do something rather large--something along the lines of ... save the world, or make things better, or fix it, or ... what have you.

Let me see here .... from Luke's version ...

He'll reign over the house of Jacob forever. He'll have the throne of his father David (probably not really that great of news for the Palestinians, actually, considering the story of David.)

He'll be called the Son of God (very possibly not that great of news either, depending on ... the nature of the God of whom he is the son)

Then there's the bit from Mary:

He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers."

possibly not really that great of news for the Palestinians either, although filling the hungry sounds good. The Palestinians are definitely hungry.

Now we come to the real problem. The angel talking to the shepherds:

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people

Then there's Simeon:

For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.

I mean ... he *certainly* didn't fulfill the hype that most of these folks were thinking about--probably along the lines of Israel being independent again, out from under Roman rule, etc.

But way beyond that, it's been 2000 years, and the much *larger* hype put out by "the church" (and there's a big generalization for you) is just astoundingly ... unfulfilled. What good has the birth of Jesus done the world? I mean AIDS, war, nuclear arms race, cholera, malaria, tuberculosis, starvation, sex trafficking, white phosphorous, cluster munitions, organized crime, genocide, child soldiers, slavery, people dying of *thirst* (for god's sake!), etc. etc.

*Maybe* I just got the story wrong? Maybe all this hype is overblown, and the ... "real" story doesn't really involve good news of any very large sort?

Maybe my expectations are too high. But the way people around here carry on...

Of course their carrying on *could* be more about ... trying to cheer themselves up in the darkest time of the year--something perhaps much older than the whole "christmas" thing--something about the solstice, something that makes a lot more sense, and which has had the trappings of some sort of "Christianity" fitted onto it in this culture, as it has no doubt had the trappings of other religions fitted onto it in other places and times.

Nevertheless, I have completely lost sight of any "good news" in the christmas story beyond that Jesus did some fairly kewl things while he was around, back in the day, and so it rocked that he was born.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A reminder

As America comes toward the end of the holiday insanity, and some 300 million of us get ready to sit down to Christmas dinners (or, for some, do without), some 160,000 U.S. troops continue to occupy Iraq, as well as somewhere between 20,000 and 100,000 "private security contractors"

The ongoing result of the presence of these hundreds of thousands of heavily armed Americans in Iraq:

so far in 2008:

406 children dead from war related violence.

That's about one a day. Imagine how that must feel--picking up a national newspaper each day to read about another violent war-related death of a child in your occupied nation.

72 of these have been killed by U.S. soldiers in "the line of duty". Here's to freedom, duty, and the American Way.

So far in 2008:

9,000 civilian deaths due to war related violence. That's almost 200 per week. How about picking up the New York Times every Sunday to read about another 200 civilian deaths in your occupied nation?

On Christmas day, the U.S. will spend about 340 million U.S. dollars to continue the carnage. And the same amount today, and tomorrow, and on New Years day.

Meanwhile the guy who threw his shoes at George Bush is facing charges. Bush faces no charges whatsoever. Here's to justice, and "joy to the world". It's nice, isn't it, to be the "Christian" nation--to be the ones on the side of the right and the good--of "freedom". Americans should do something to wish a merry Christmas to the tens of thousands of young female Iraqi Refugees living in surrounding nations who have been forced into prostitution due to economic hardship. Maybe send them some of the $700 billion bailout pie or something.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow in Seattle (an unusual treat). And sledding!

My new camera phone is pretty kewl. It has this software which allows you to take three photos as a panorama and stitches them together. A few weeks ago I published the above, the view from the hilltop just down from our house. Here the same view, with Snow!!

Just to the left of where that view is seen from there is a great sledding hill. There goes Megsie--yippee! This is a one minute walk from our house. Coco, who happily went sledding with me on Tuesday, didn't want to sled today--she seemed a little ... somber. She just stood at the top of the hill and watched.

Wow I love the snow.

Here's a little slideshow of all the photos I've taken on the new camera phone since I got it for my birthday. The camera seems to take such nice photos in spite of it's user's inaptitude.

Here's a link to the album


Sunday, December 14, 2008

'oh rest beside the weary

'oh rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing' (hint: they look like us.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I found this picture intriguing

It's not quite right somehow. I rather suspect the presidents have had a whole range of skin tones. This doesn't seem super helpful to me.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Dysthymia, and happiness.

From Wikipedia:

The symptoms of dysthymia are similar to those of major depression, though they tend to be less intense. In both conditions, a person can have a low or irritable mood, lack of interest in things most people find enjoyable, and a loss of energy (not all patients feel this effect). Appetite and weight can be increased or decreased. The person may sleep too much or have trouble sleeping. He or she may have difficulty concentrating. The person may be indecisive and pessimistic and have a negative self-image. The symptoms can grow into a full blown episode of major depression. This situation is sometimes called "double depression"[2] because the intense episode exists with the usual feelings of low mood. People with dysthymia have a greater-than-average chance of developing major depression. While major depression often occurs in episodes, dysthymia is more constant, lasting for long periods, sometimes beginning in childhood. As a result a person with dysthymia tends to believe that depression is a part of his or her character. The person with dysthymia may not even think to talk about this depression with doctors, family members or friends. Dysthymia, like major depression, tends to run in families. It is two to three times more common in women than in men. Some sufferers describe being under chronic stress. When treating diagnosed individuals, it is often difficult to tell whether they are under unusually high environmental stress or if the dysthymia causes them to be more psychologically stressed in a standard environment.

And from DSM diagnostic criteria:

1. During a majority of days for 2 years or more, the patient reports depressed mood or appears depressed to others for most of the day.
2. When depressed, the patient has 2 or more of:
1. Appetite decreased or increased
2. Sleep decreased or increased
3. Fatigue or low energy
4. Poor self-image
5. Attachment to relatives other than parents.
6. Concentration and decisiveness decreased or increased
7. Feels hopeless or pessimistic
3. During this 2 year period, the above symptoms are never absent longer than 2 consecutive months.
4. During the first 2 years of this syndrome, the patient has not had a Major Depressive Episode.
5. The patient has had no Manic, Hypomanic or Mixed Episodes.
6. The patient has never fulfilled criteria for Cyclothymic Disorder.
7. The disorder does not exist solely in the context of a chronic psychosis (such as Schizophrenia or Delusional Disorder).
8. The symptoms are not directly caused by a general medical condition or the use of substances, including prescription medications.
9. These symptoms must result in clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, academic, or other major areas of functioning (APA, 2000).

Which might leave one with the question: "What is 'clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, academic, or other major areas of functioning?"

Ah--here's an answer From "DSM IV-TR in Action, by Sophia F. Dziegielewski

The term "clinically significant indicates that the practitioner has clearly linked the symptoms present in the mental disorder with how the symptoms either stop or impair a client's current level of functioning. For example, an individual may at times exhibit the symptoms that match the criterion of a mental disorder, yet individual, social, or occupational functioning is not impaired. When this occurs, a diagnosis should not be given. A diagnosis should only be given when the client's symptoms are severe enough to either interfere with or disturb functioning."

Which leaves one to ask what "impaired" and/or "functioning" might mean =)

From the writer of Ecclesiastes:

Call me "the Quester." I've been king over Israel in Jerusalem. I looked most carefully into everything, searched out all that is done on this earth. And let me tell you, there's not much to write home about. God hasn't made it easy for us. I've seen it all and it's nothing but smoke—smoke, and spitting into the wind.

Life's a corkscrew that can't be straightened,
A minus that won't add up.

I said to myself, "I know more and I'm wiser than anyone before me in Jerusalem. I've stockpiled wisdom and knowledge." What I've finally concluded is that so-called wisdom and knowledge are mindless and witless—nothing but spitting into the wind.

Much learning earns you much trouble.
The more you know, the more you hurt.

Here's a question. What if you were the sexiest man or women in the world. And you had dysthymia. Would you *feel* like the sexiest man or women in the world?

Of course you would. By definition. It wouldn't feel really great though, I bet.

Solomon fucked up, in my opinion. Have you ever read this passage?

That night, there in Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon in a dream: God said, "What can I give you? Ask."

Solomon said, "You were extravagantly generous in love with David my father, and he lived faithfully in your presence, his relationships were just and his heart right. And you have persisted in this great and generous love by giving him—and this very day!—a son to sit on his throne.

"And now here I am: God, my God, you have made me, your servant, ruler of the kingdom in place of David my father. I'm too young for this, a mere child! I don't know the ropes, hardly know the 'ins' and 'outs' of this job. And here I am, set down in the middle of the people you've chosen, a great people—far too many to ever count.

"Here's what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?"

God, the Master, was delighted with Solomon's response. And God said to him, "Because you have asked for this and haven't grasped after a long life, or riches, or the doom of your enemies, but you have asked for the ability to lead and govern well, I'll give you what you've asked for—I'm giving you a wise and mature heart. There's never been one like you before; and there'll be no one after. As a bonus, I'm giving you both the wealth and glory you didn't ask for—there's not a king anywhere who will come up to your mark. And if you stay on course, keeping your eye on the life-map and the God-signs as your father David did, I'll also give you a long life."

He should have asked for happiness. That's what I would have asked for. Delightful, overflowing, abounding happiness, which would overflow to everyone around me.

What would you ask for, if God made you the same offer he did Solomon?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Agreeing with the almighty

When I was 15 years old, I memorized the Old Testament book of Proverbs, chapter by chapter. I mean to say I only memorized each chapter, and once I could recite it, I left it alone and moved on to the next chapter. So I never actually could recite the whole thing.

But anyway, today I was reminded of these versed from Proverbs. Yahweh and I strongly agree on these. It seems like this ought to provide some comfort, but it doesn't, actually. These things suck, and the fact that Yahweh also things they suck doesn't really seem to help.

There are six things Yahweh hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Even thought it isn't very comforting, there is a certain sense of community in knowing that others hate some of the same things I hate.

A blow

Yesterday I received an emotional blow that was about the worst I've gotten since .... I guess since my mom died, and before that since 2006. Hardly slept all night last night. Wish the world didn't have to hand out such things.