Archive for December, 2010

What’s so bad about wanting to be rich?

Monday, December 27th, 2010

It warmed my heart to hear Mr. Hefner is getting married. I, too, might enjoy a flexible and energetic, twenty-four year old wife. Thing is, at his age I won’t be able to snag one. Unless, of course, I’m rich.

We want to be rich because, if we could be, we could do things people aren’t supposed to be able to do. Being rich, we’d be something else. We’d be super special, with no rules or limits at all – like OJ! So it feels bad to think, if we got there, we might not have a right to it.

One of the problems with wanting to be rich is, we find ourselves defending rich people; sort of like the mice defending the cats.

Joy in the crowd

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

It’s hard to recognize a feeling without turning it into a story. It’s hard not to believe a story told with such feeling. When we’re helpless and uncertain – if it were up to us, we know what we would do, by golly! We like to see people like us, saying what we’d sure like to say. We like to cheer ourselves on. Get out of our way, we’re taking charge now!

This makes it easy to create new media stars and politicians, since a handful of people in three or four companies can draw all our public attention to anyone, just by showing a few pictures. And they do. We have very famous figures today, taken seriously by thoughtful individuals, who really are as dumb as your dumb next door neighbor. They make us feel good. We’ve always secretly admired their belligerent single-mindedness, standing behind them in the checkout line.

There are others who worry about this, thinking¬† complex problems might require difficult solutions. Maybe they’re on to something. Various blow-hards were advertised, calling for thoughtless knot-cutting, in an appearance of conflict during the last election campaign. The screaming subsided, and both parties acted hastily to bolster the monolithic state.

Let’s party!

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

When I think of Jesus I think about sand and feet. Here was this guy, born of a father and mother, hungry and sweaty and eager and tired – a man like me – walking through the desert with the gift of life, which is love. He taught the wildest people on earth to keep peace. He shook us up. He changed everything. Forever.

The proud rulers of today imagine themselves wise and perfected, living by the final set of inevitable rules. But the arts of western money conquest and political puppetry are all simply veiled reiterations of Jesus’ practice: forgive and live; write off the losses and free the perpetrators. Rewrite the rules when the scene changes; sufficient to its day is the evil it contains. Today’s purest dissenters, who jerk their heads and roll their eyes at expressions of faith, wrestle in their hearts for a conception of goodness and come up with – only what he said already.

Come to the party. We don’t care what you believe. We don’t want to change your mind. This is about having fun. Today we celebrate his birthday. Jesus Christ, king of the world.

Preaching forgiveness of sins

Friday, December 17th, 2010

I grew up listening to this red-faced congregational preacher yelling about how Jesus was gonna save us from our sins. I really liked it when he got excited. He was the only adult I knew who behaved like that. Not until a whole lot later did I get some clues about what sins are, or what’s the big deal with Jesus forgiving them.

Sins are the burdens others place on you for violating their laws. These can be bad things. If you do them hard enough you can drag down your soul. Jesus says, ‘forget all that, I’m taking care of the people you’ve harmed, and I say go on and live happily ever after.’ He took a lot of hate for this. The priests and preachers and imams clubbed him and cut him and hung him on nails until he died.

Jesus said, ‘forget all that, my father is taking care of me, and I say you go on and live happily ever after.’

You really matter. You really do.

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

There’s no such thing as a special person, except we all are. There’s nothing that wouldn’t have happened except for so-and-so. When God decided to share love with the world through a child, if the Christ hadn’t been Jesus, it would have been someone else.

I guess most of us wish we weren’t stuck in our spot. Somewhere else, somebody else is who we’d like to be. We can find pictures of them, and listen to them talking on important subjects, and we just know that’s who we’d be, if we could. And we imagine what we’d do.

That’s what we’re offered, growing up. If we beat all the odds, we can be like somebody else. If we can’t, at least we know who they are. We can watch them and love them, and believe they’re really us, inside.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Exit, the apocalypse.

Friday, December 10th, 2010

War is a deliberate accident, inflicted by those persuaded of their own impunity to its consequences. It can be ended by popular vote. Debt is a contrivance, designed to subject most of us to the rest. It can be swept aside with a judgment. All today’s wailing and tooth-gnashing is nothing new. History is the story of surmounting, not succumbing to, these challenges.

Look around you. Your worst enemy is only your neighbor, screaming because you disagree. The truth is, your horrifying future is just today, stretched out until you let it go.

This is a wonderful thing.

I apologize for my unintended offenses.

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

I went over to the music store. The old musicians stood between the instruments, jawing about life and music. Some still have their long hair. They talked over a new Alaskan television show, and in their banter I suddenly recognized who these people are. These were the kids – are old kids now – who resented people telling them what to do. They like upsetting people. They like seeing people upset. That’s their kick.

I’m not usually a forceful guy. I don’t like it. Life’s too uncertain to carry a torch. But we’ve got a real problem today. There’s been an elite war waged against Americans for three decades, and the country is losing. Losing because we’re not taking the enemy seriously. Those of us with half a clue are happy with our current income, and fighting back is not just a little sacrifice.

My revered grandfather was a Republican. There were some great Republicans in the old days. Not any more. Trashing government is not cool. It’s infantile. Ridiculing the people carrying your load is not cool. It sucks. Cheering rich, white drug addicts – and their bimbos – for saying shocking things is not cool. It’s embarrassing. There may be a few old Republicans out there, still living the memory of what it meant to care for their country. I feel really badly for them. I am truly sorry.

“Dad, what’s a ‘conservative’?”

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

“Conservatives are people who blame somebody else. They laugh at the handicapped, call grown females ‘girls’, and think black children are criminals.”

“A conservative man doesn’t know his daughter is having sex, his son is using drugs, or his boss is laughing at him. A conservative woman stays married to him.”

“A conservative doesn’t like your music, your ideas, or your best friend. Conservatives are scared of losing what they have, and worship people who have more. A conservative feels weak, and wants to feel proud; the sort of person who reports you to the secret police to get an Honorable Citizen badge.”

“They’re also everywhere.”

Love and Death

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

I read this morning of a new gun that shoots behind rocks. Just the thing, it’s reported, to fight that pesky enemy in Afghanistan. A little while, I think, and they’ll be using it to shoot back.

Now that my hair’s gone white, and when I contemplate dying I know what I’m thinking about, people have begun selling me life insurance. I have young children, for an old man, and it’s thought I’ll want to be sure they’re safe and happy when I’m suddenly dead.

I remember being a boy and outraged I was hungry and cold, while the other snot-nosed brats were fat and chuckling. I swore I’d promote a level playing field as long as I breathe. My own boys are stunning. Old songs say a woman completes a man, but it isn’t so. His children do. My heart aches and swells with the looks from their eyes. But I didn’t make them. I can’t save them. What a wonderful thing they are, standing on their own in the world. I’ll not break my oath.