Seven thirty.

Another cloudy day so far, although yesterday evening the sunlight illuminated my family room floor. I’ve been to the market already for groceries, and a little later, Gloria is coming to work… Some people believe that some future day the Bible and science will be consistent and compatible with each other. I’m not so optimistic about that. But the effect of atheism that I’ve seen is a sort of moral decline, like reading the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales. Religion is especially good for providing a structure of rational restraint, like a conscience or the Freudian superego. I may never see a miracle or anything magical, but life without a God can be quite unstable. And I’m reminded of the morning when I came out of the store and a great rainbow arched over the building. It was when Michelle used to be a clerk there. Lately I haven’t even seen the moon in the sky. I don’t remember the last time it was visible.

The rainbows followed Michelle to Wyoming… and the moon followed suit.


The Shy Spirit

Wee hours.

Before eleven thirty tonight, I shaved my beard completely off for a clean and smooth look. I’m still weighing whether or not to go to church this morning. The Lutherans are a great bunch of people. The thing that’s missing is the presence of the Holy Spirit when we meet at the sanctuary. But I should just shut my eyes and do it today. And yet the times now are totally different from 2017, when I first started going. Does everyone feel this, or is it only me? I suppose that the spirit is not something you can force in those times when it hides away. I’d feel like such an alien to show up for worship with no aura about me, no glow, no illumination from the spirit. I wonder where it went to? And what might bring it back?

He’s not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays…

The Zoo

Quarter after nine.

A few times this morning I played the vigilante with the birds on my back porch. The sparrows have nested in several spots around the patio cover, but sometimes the starlings come and try to eat their chicks. So I get up and bang on the door or open it and stick my head out. The birds all scatter and fly away at first, then they go back to what they’d been doing. Should I interfere in their business or let nature happen its own way? I doubt that I make very much difference anyway. I wonder a little about social Darwinism versus egalitarianism, and what ideology goes with which one. Historically, socialism and Christianity have been tied to each other, when I think of Victor Hugo and Carl Sandburg. I find myself in a position of absurdity, being very poor and yet believing in Darwin and evolution, perhaps to my detriment. At this moment a starling lights upon a cord outside my door, scolded by a sparrow. It’s an avian zoo in my backyard, while clouds and sun look on blindly, impassively. Is there any justice in nature, and where does it come from? It is the same to ask if there is a god.


Quarter of nine.

Maxwell Road and the far side of N Park were really slammed with traffic when I was out walking. The rain has stopped for now and some sun breaks through. My feet ached with old age and the stress of using them every day, or maybe I’m just tired and uninspired. I wonder why Jung said nature is aristocratic and people are basically unequal? Any behaviorist would argue with him on that score; even Mark Twain with his idea of the Man Factory in A Connecticut Yankee, where people could be trained for any kind of job. But probably neither perspective is a hundred percent correct. Nature and nurture are fifty fifty, I heard it said by a Chinese immigrant who was drawn to Western literature and taught at the university. He was young and on fire, not like the emeritus I’d had for English the previous term…

A capitalist system gives everyone an equal chance at success, no matter how low their birth. Or that’s the theory. I wanted to be a writer. Stuff happens to blindside us and derail our plans, but often a window is opened for us to climb through. And this has nothing to do with capitalism. 


Seven ten.

There’s still not much light outside. Today will be quite full for me: Gloria this morning and DDA in the afternoon. I was thinking, maybe I don’t like Oregon very much even though I grew up here. For all of its blueness, it’s still a very conservative place and I hate that. I knew a white Muslim doctor who left Oregon because she couldn’t adapt to this state. Her son was persecuted at his high school for his beliefs. She took her family back to Washington DC to live. I also had a therapist who said that Oregon sucks. There are only a few little pockets in Eugene where the attitudes are fairly liberal and open. Otherwise you have to be really careful what you say around here. “We can only grow the way the wind blows / We can only bow to the here and now / Or be broken down blow by blow.” The insanity started twenty years ago, although the rudiments for it were always there. Society makes it so hard just to be a human being with the limited time we have. We can only be ourselves with an intimate friend if we are lucky enough to find one. I guess that’s why some people need God.

Eight twenty five.

My pen pal hasn’t emailed me yet this morning, so she might have had company drop in on her. I skipped going to the store this time; Gloria can take me to breakfast and then the grocery store. Agreeing to do DDA today could be a mistake. The others could make it uncomfortable for me if they learn that I am a skeptic. I’ve concluded that people generally are not very smart. 

Blind Man’s Vision

After midnight.

It’s a night of ineffable dreams.

A blind man I used to know from church wrote me to say that God and religion are two different things; and, he inverted what I’d said about seeing is believing. His statements probably affected me more deeply than I had estimated. They stirred up something in me just at the time of my birthday of recovery. I don’t resent this intrusion, really. He served only to open my sealed eyes and look upon the world afresh like an involuntary vision of a Romantic poet.

Perhaps this revelation to me is untimely, but I accept it in stride and move with it. It’s not like I don’t understand his message: he struck a chord that can either jar on the ear or lull it with sweet harmony.

The blind man invites me to reexamine everything I’d thought was settled and set in stone. The truth is that the truth can’t be captured between the covers of a book or chiseled into stone tablets. It’s a fluid thing like water, or breezy like the wind.

It Dwells within Us

I feel okay now. It’s funny; the fall season hit me hard at first but now I can remember many other years besides the crazy ones around twenty years ago. I went through a very long period as a Romantic and mystic but probably in fall of 2009 I started to move away from that. Around that time I bought The Illustrated Jane Austen in six volumes and began thinking like a common sense realist… Reading Whitman again makes me sensitive to the mystical stuff as before. Maybe I’ll stop it and read something else.

The sun went down a half hour ago. The experience of the living godhead is a very strange thing to me. I don’t know if it’s even real or just imaginary, some ventriloquy of the human mind. When you get into a zone of energy, especially with a group of people doing an activity like music or sports or something, then it seems magical and quite powerful. It’s been a long time since I felt anything like that with people. I think the mystical power is a human power that we can give off and share together— or contain and withhold it from each other. I believe that’s what is happening right now: people are very self absorbed so that the experience of spirit doesn’t happen currently.

Even John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath writes of the human spirit in an Emersonian way. It’s a power that originates with us, with humanity. We kind of project it outside of ourselves and then we depend on it; but this gives us more confidence in ourselves, our decisions, our enterprises. I’m paraphrasing what he said in East of Eden.

I guess it’s up to us whether we want to awaken the spirit of God again. William Blake said that the Poetic Genius and man are the same thing. The Romantics saw it all along. Jon Anderson of Yes sings the same ideas. He suggests that heaven is something that human beings create by the power of imagination; but heaven is no less real for this reason.

We are responsible for the future of our spiritual life because it dwells within ourselves in the first place. So that what Jesus said is true: the kingdom of God is within you.


Seven thirty.

Overnight it rained, and now the streets are wet while the sky is still gray. The autumnal feel is very nice when I’m not swamped with old memories and ideas. I can easily imagine that it’s two decades ago by some hocus-pocus of my mind, or perhaps it’s a conspiracy of my mind with the spirit of nature as in Wordsworth. But do I really believe this? The hour is only seven, yet a lot of cars pass my front window. It’s just a residential street in a suburb, so why is there such traffic here? I still toy with ideas I had 19 years in the past, when the presence of God pervaded everywhere, like reading essays by Emerson. But today is a far cry from old mysticism unless we turn it around and take God off of life support to restore him to his proper place. Maybe it’s only me who feels so skeptical these days; but I think the trend now is very materialistic and greedy as well as apathetic, like the joyless mood of The Sheltering Sky. But here I go preaching.

Eight o’clock.

In 15 minutes Aesop gets breakfast. The colors outside are predominantly gray and green and I still hear lots of activity from the neighbors. It suggests to me that someone is selling drugs on my street.


Quarter of seven.

I’m up earlier than usual today. The market was open at six, so I went ahead with my trip. On the lip of the entrance to the lot, I paused to let a car go in front of me. The man parked, got out, and then held the front door wide open for me to enter. He was extremely tall and of mixed ancestry. I said, “Courtesy for courtesy?” He replied, “Curtsy, curtsy!” and went in behind me. It was interesting because my mind had been occupied with visions of a civil war or something over politics. I imagined my nephew polishing his guns and rooting for his wish to come true. But the reality was just this guy at the store preparing to go to work for the day… Outside, the sun still hasn’t gone above the tree line, nor does nature care about human affairs. If it did, then life would be a romantic thing, like a Victor Hugo novel, and equally pompous. As it is, life is very ordinary and pretty blah. No drama. This also means a poverty of faith in religion and whatever gives you a boost. The business of our lives goes on while God sleeps forgotten somewhere out of sight. When it’s convenient for us, we’ll wake him up again. Meanwhile, my dog has been uptight since yesterday. I don’t know why.


Seven thirty.

I guess I’m bound for church this Sunday morning, though my motive for this is obscure to me. Logic tells me there’s nothing before or after the physics, and yet my imagination can conceive a nameless something. Maybe it’s a meaningless thing, but doesn’t imagination have an evolutionary purpose? And when all efforts at philosophy fail, look at the practical consequences of belief or unbelief. Not just practical but ethical, as when the bastard brother in Karamazov kills the old man, reasoning that everything is allowed if there’s no God… People have the power to grant or deny God existence. Now you see him, now you don’t, according to our whim, and whatever’s convenient for us. I just miss those days in the autumn a few years ago when I’d go to worship service. There was no shame or disgrace in doing this. Perhaps I wasn’t so self conscious at the time, and maybe I wanted to believe… I gave Aesop an oversized cookie before his breakfast; he’s still chipping away at it as the sun illuminates my magnolia in back, and I contemplate giving my sister a call today.