I was under the weather when I went to church today, so I skipped the potluck after service. Grant the musician gave me a ride to the market where we both went inside for some stuff, and from there I walked home. Grant was surprised at how big the “little” store was. It’s partly cloudy. Today is Sandi’s birthday, so we sang the song to her. The sermon was kind of a downer; not one of his better speeches. The theme was people who are “invisible,” and he used Lazarus as an archetype of that, waiting at the rich man’s gate.
In fact, the sermon was really bad, or I just took it the wrong way. It’s not the first time that his sermon left a bad taste in my mouth. Sometimes Pastor is sort of clueless about people, as if he lived in the Fifties or something. Bleh 🤢! I won’t want to go back next time.
Seven o’clock at night.
I’ve got a few things on my mind. The first thing is the question of why I should put myself through worship services at all. Why sit still and be preached to when I am equally capable of judging life and reality for myself? But that’s nothing new for me. The truth is, everyone has the right to make their own observations and draw conclusions from what they see and hear. What do we need spiritual leaders for? I guess that was my main thought.
As time goes by, I feel less appalled by what I heard this morning. The sun has gone down and the twilight is nearly extinguished. I don’t feel under pressure anymore with the close of the day. And tomorrow is tomorrow’s concern. This is my own free time.
Eight twenty five.
I’m a little nervous about volunteering today. I’ll just take what comes. There’s some sunshine right now. I don’t have any bright ideas. My dreams last night were about mortality, so I know it’s on my mind. Someday I won’t be here anymore. It’s hard to accept that the wonderful thing that is the human brain is mortal. I can hear music I first heard when I was a three year old. The experience of life in childhood was indeed appareled in celestial light and the fresh dreams of a child were stronger than the common day. Today it’s still kind of cold out. Poor Roger is out tinkering with a project, probably his Willie’s truck he’s trying to restore. I feel tired without having done anything yet.
The weather is beautifully sunny, the skies a deep blue. The volunteering went just fine: quite informal and easy. My dad’s birthday was yesterday but the weather today is more like the weather in 1999, when he passed away. A day or two after his death, I drove over to Borders and bought the little red book of Lucretius out of curiosity. But it’s the kind of question that never will have an answer— and that’s why church pastors will always have a job. It’s because of my dad that my dreams are preoccupied with Old Mortality for the past couple of weeks. On a beautiful day like this, all you can do is just ponder the problem of immortality. Are human beings that much different from other animals; and people like Loren Eiseley would say yes.
I awoke to a view of the harvest moon shining redly in my bedroom window at four in the morning. Earlier last night, I’d felt compelled to pull out books of astrology and numerology, seeking what I could find on Aries and the number 1. Then I made the connection with the full moon when I saw it outside. Right now, it’s like I’m shaking off a dream of the cosmos while the haze to the east is illuminated orange by the rising sun. I ran to the store when there was hardly any daylight and got foodstuffs for the day. The switch to this month feels rather odd to me, though my brain seems to function better since the change. Still it’s going to be a very hot day this afternoon. Lisa said she wasn’t looking forward to it. I’ve got Gloria tomorrow morning and we’ll probably go to Bi Mart for a few things. But church this Sunday I think is out. I don’t know. I’ve thought about it so much; really overthought it, like Miniver Cheevy in the Robinson poem.
Miniver Cheevy thought and thought and thought and thought about it.
To decide whether to go or not, I could just flip a coin— if I had a coin. Somewhere around the house I must have a coin to decide my fate. It’s a fifty fifty toss, yes or no. And somewhere on the other side of the earth the harvest moon still shines red.
Quarter after eleven at night.
I’ve decided to jump ship to a different church and check out the music potential elsewhere than Our Redeemer Lutheran. There’s a Catholic church west of the store, beyond Bushnell and the Maxwell Connector but before you get to the bridge. It’s a place I’ve never been to before: all the more reason to go there. I’ve been stuck at a dead end for a very long time, so it’s time to change something, anything. Sometimes the way to progress is blocked by a single person, someone with some clout, for instance a spiritual leader. Then, the only recourse you have is to leave the situation and look for something more favorable. I think I deserve a better situation than the current one.
It still is 81 degrees in my hallway. But hopefully this is the last day of the heatwave. Yesterday I asked myself what good is reminiscing on things, other than that it makes you feel happy temporarily. Now I ask what’s wrong with that. I think a revival of the Renaissance is a great idea, after we solve our most pressing problems. Some people believe that the root of our situation is laziness, so we need to be industrious and diligent to fix it. But this wouldn’t help with our inhumanity. “Can’t we find the minds to lead us closer to the heart?” Nobody is a poet anymore. I should have gone to see Primus doing A Farewell to Kings last year. They came to a place near Portland to play the old Rush album in its entirety in August. Tribute bands are on the rise currently. This might be the way for me to go if I want to keep being a minstrel. The only problems are transportation and the drugs that musicians often use… Now it’s the same old question: church or no church this morning? There seems to be no other outlet for someone like me. My objection to it is the religion. There’s a drawback to everything, so you just pick the lesser evils as long as you have any choice at all. When those options are all gone, I guess you create your own options. But life is making it much harder to pull off. I wonder why that is? The parameters are shrinking a little more day by day until no one can be a real human being anymore. This is the course America is on. The concept of the individual is going away. I hear a breeze in my maple tree outside, and in my head, the last chord to a piece by Schoenberg done in 1909. Beauty in the dissonance.
I’m sick of church.
Aesop is trying to tell me something but I don’t know what he wants. It’s another overcast day. I’m going to church after nine o’clock… I feel tired and old. All kinds of memories come and go in my mind. I’ll be taking old Maxwell Road to the east towards River Road, about a mile hike. Some sights will be familiar, others new and strange to me. The last time I went that way, I saw that the beekeeper’s house had changed ownership. There’s a house of white brick that I’ve always admired. A lot of things I’m not happy about with this country, enough to tempt me to drink. The squirrels are lucky not to know the difference as a trio of them scampers around my house. I got a neighbor’s junk mail by mistake, so I dropped it off on her doormat a while ago. Music: “Peace and Quiet Time” by John Patitucci, a jazz bass player and composer.
Eight fifty five. Time to go pretty soon.
Quarter of noon.
Church was good. Pastor said it was okay to come whenever the spirit moved me. The new musician, named Grant, asked me if I was coming again next weekend; apparently he wants some support while he gets used to his job, so I might do it to help out. Eduardo and Tori are moving to Oklahoma to take their positions at one of the universities there. This was their last day with the church. I felt just different in service today, like it was no big deal, not a matter of life and death exactly what I believed. But it was really good to see everybody again and check in with them all.
Eight forty at night.
I guess my plans for Sunday morning are made: I agreed to go to church. For the past two or three weeks I’ve been very unstable. I’ve needed a human connection somehow, somewhere; something social to do, and really, Our Redeemer is harmless. I resolve not to overthink it and just go… The sun has gone down, leaving dusky pinks and blues. It was a pretty nice day. I feel a bit like Little Bo Peep’s lost sheep: “Let them alone and they’ll come home / Bringing their tails behind them.” I had a good day.
Quarter after five AM.
Today is a new day. The trees outside are black silhouettes against the first light with scudding lavender clouds. I look forward to playing the bass again this midday. At seven o’clock the store opens, but maybe I’ll put off my hike to when there are more people out doing things. Though on a Sunday, this could be never. I won’t go to church; it was a mistake to ever start going there. But I suppose everything has its pros and cons, and there’s a season for everything, as Ecclesiastes put it. Just not now. I don’t like it when Christians sing songs about the “perfidious Jews.” The slowest place to accept new ideas is always the Church, so I don’t have much patience with prejudice anymore. Most people need a common cause to feel righteous about, but this makes an out-group of others who disagree, and they are seen as the enemy. Pretty soon you have a situation like a war going on, or a ghetto. Ezra Pound’s project was to expose the roots of war, and he ended up blaming it on the practice of usury, or moneylending. It was probably just an excuse for his antisemitism. So much of psychology is ethnocentric these days. I’m waiting for a time when reason prevails over the religious instinct that people can’t seem to live without. I wonder if we can really do this.
One twenty five in the morning.
“Consider yourself one of the family… it’s clear we’re going to get along…”
To use plainer English, I relate to the misfits in Shakespeare because I feel that an outsider cannot buy, beg, borrow, or steal his way into a religious organization, like me trying to find a place in the Lutheran church. A person must have a pedigree in order to fit into the big Christian universe, but I was brought into this world out of wedlock, fathered by a man who had been adopted after being abandoned by his biological parents… It is all well and fine for the human race to organize into Christendom or a Shakespearean aristocracy, yet my heart bleeds for others like myself, the outcast renegades and rebels with all odds against them. A small thing like alcoholism is a drop in the bucket next to the spiritual alienation that people like me experience. Surely the “redeemer” for the elect is different from that for the reprobate? I reckon time will tell. We may not have long to wait.
My Precision Bass, modified with the Model P pickup, sounds rather barbaric, but I won’t really know until I change the strings. Obviously I didn’t attend church yesterday. I’m actually kind of glad I didn’t. The posts I made last fall, through the end of the year, were mostly reactions against the church pastor and his medieval opinions on a lot of things. I really needed to shake it off and be free. Now that I’ve succeeded, my writing isn’t as good as when I had something to fight over. Funny how that works. Gray clouds still block the sun today, though it comes and goes as they allow. I went for the gusto this morning and bought a two liter of Coca-Cola. It isn’t doing much for me. I think I like Peace Tea better, and of course my standby Snapple. The intellectual warfare with the church is ended, clearing the way for peace, even if peace is boring. I have to find something else for stimulation, perhaps something better than petty conflict with others. A rebel without a cause must adapt to changing times. A warrior out of war, like Hotspur, will be food for worms if he doesn’t speak the language. And today the lingo seems to be pretty ordinary: no puffed up rhetoric, no personas to hide behind. People are bored with ostentation anymore. The days of self glorification are over…