Where Angels Fear…

Five o’clock.

Maybe the time is right. But in Oregon, the time is never right. I consider myself fair minded regarding the rights of gay people. It may even be my reason for quitting the church and Christianity in general. The pastor will retire next month and the church wants to know who will keep coming and why or why not. But the hate toward gay people is scriptural: it’s written down in black and white in Genesis and Leviticus, so how can religion ignore that and pretend everything is okay?

I slam into a brick wall every time I write about this; and yet I know I’m not alone with my opinions. With more time and patience, I’d do some reading in Proust, particularly in The Cities of the Plain. He was gay and it looks like he was fully aware of the biblical ramifications of his lifestyle. The question is a very thorny one. Politically, it could be a long time for people to accept it and try to make progress towards a new kind of day.

And again, maybe in Oregon the time will never be right… 


A Letter

The morning with Gloria was really very pleasant. A few times the sun has come out but not for long. After she left, it started raining. This afternoon I’ve been sitting with A Princess of Mars and got up to the fourth chapter. It’s a strange kind of book, and doubtless I liked the cover art at the time more than the story. The comic book illustrators did a fantastic job with the strange creatures as well. But as far as things like social justice are concerned, Burroughs had some rather incorrect attitudes. Now it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable and maybe embarrassed to see it for what it is. And did I tell you that I come from a white working class family? My sister carries the same torch onward— or she did, and the family she calls her own still perpetuates those values. Maybe this is what I’m embarrassed about when I look back and see my similarities to my racist family.
It’s hard to judge whether they’re responsible for their ignorance. I really don’t know. But I think their attitude of anti intellectualism is willful and stubborn, and comfortable for them because blood is thicker than water. By the way, I don’t agree with this old phrase anyway. An individual can choose his friends but he’s stuck with his family.
It’s pretty weird to remember back to the seventies, being in grade school and going on trips with my parents up and down the West Coast, only as far east as the Snake River. And all along the trip to California, picking up a comic book here and there. I also looked at National Geographic magazines and World for kids. There’s a lot I remember but choose not to think about usually. Maybe it’s just too painful for me.
Times were definitely different forty years ago, or fifty and on back.
Also we see some politicians who want to flip the calendar back that many years. It’s hard to watch as our country cracks up like a great ship before it sinks.
I guess that’s what I was trying to say.

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.


Seven fifty.

At the store, Lisa was telling everyone about a customer who said he was short the 8 cents he owed for a purchase, expecting grace. She insisted that he pay it this time, and she had seen that he had the money. But the interesting thing of it was how Lisa felt she had to tell everyone what had happened. My guess is that she felt badly for her action and needed vindication from others. It’s curious how conscience works; and who knows, perhaps the right thing to do was to give him the 8 cents? It’s just another little moral quandary to puzzle over, if people even care about ethics today… I treated my dog to his favorite chicken jerky this morning, plus his marrow snacks should arrive later today. Right now he seems pretty relaxed, spread out on the carpet next to me. Last night they reported snow flurries, but it was dark out so I never saw it, and now any evidence of it is gone.

The more I consider it, the more 8 cents sounds trivial. Why make a scene over something so small? It’s not like he stole a loaf of bread…

As You Like It

Five o’clock in the morning.

Every day is a challenge for me mentally and emotionally, especially when the holidays come around. To think that the illness all started with a mononucleosis bug when I was in high school is an idea that blows me away. To think that it could have been avoided if I hadn’t gotten the virus is so regrettable. But I guess everyone is damaged goods to some extent. We all have scars of battles won or lost. Often our misfortunes are unjust, the adversity unmerited, so the notion of karma doesn’t make much sense. I don’t like to believe in retribution or other spiritual laws. The events of life just happen like cause and effect. What else will science discover, given a chance? For some odd reason, people try to halt scientific progress and turn it around to Dark Age superstition. We make martyrs of those who would improve our knowledge. Something tells me it’s a biblical tendency that holds us back.

And yet, my life has turned out favorably to me, for I live in comfort and some degree of freedom, as if justice held sway. Or rather, life was flexible enough for me to fashion my own fate as I desired. And then I recall the ones who are less fortunate. Every situation can always be worse. 


Two thirty.

Since this morning the Rush song “Witch Hunt” has played in my head, probably for the last few lines of the lyric:

Quick to judge, quick to anger

Slow to understand

Ignorance and prejudice

And fear walk hand in hand

I’ve heard this song be misinterpreted so ridiculously by those with ultra conservative values and attitudes, themselves the very thing the song criticizes. They are the “madmen fed on fear and lies / To beat and burn and kill.” And then I guess they just disregard the conclusion.

But it’s been on my mind for a reason today, as well as my schooldays when life was really pretty happy for me, from ninth grade to graduation from college. Others in my family tend to disparage education, saying that higher ed is impractical and a waste of time. But simultaneously they hotly resent people more knowledgeable than themselves, or just plain more intelligent. I don’t know whether the situation is fair or unfair, or who’s to blame for the inequality of it. What is the origin of inequality among people? And what am I supposed to do about the yawning chasm between me and some of my relatives? The whole thing gives me a headache. For today, I don’t regret that I’m spending Thanksgiving Day by myself with my dog. Fortunately a dog can’t argue with you or spit nails if you utter one fifty cent word. 

Gray Skies

Quarter of eight.

As the daylight came on and I stood on my front porch, there was a homeless person in black clothing raiding our recycle bins. Then he loaded up his car and moved it down a few houses to repeat the process. The day is gray but rainless and people are doing bizarre stuff. Times today have got me all confused on god and government. All nobility is gone from human beings and their behavior, and people are as insignificant as ants… I was a bit trepidatious about walking down my street toward the market when the bum was right there still doing his thing. We ignored each other’s presence even while passing each other on Fremont Avenue. It’s an eerie feeling like paranoia and you imagine anything can happen. I even half expected the store to be robbed when I got there. I detected shadiness everywhere I looked, and the dark morning provided the cloak for any dagger in your chest. 

I think Roger was ready to make a citizen’s arrest if it came to that. He used to be on the SWAT team years ago, totally fearless against the “scum bags.” He didn’t care what their problems were, they were breaking the law. That was his job: bust the bad guys. My dad worked as a cop for a few years, back when it was almost socially acceptable to drink and drive. Today we think that’s strange. Maybe there is no normal in human life? 

Modern Valjean

Quarter after seven.

I just saw a rough looking guy stop his car on my street and get out to steal trash from our bins. He’s probably phishing for personal information he can get from discarded mail. For a moment I felt unsafe as he walked back to his vehicle, furtively glancing around for witnesses. It’s a rather weird start to the day. Now I think about criminal minds and other kinds of dishonesty so foreign to my nature. I used to be treated like a criminal for alcoholism, but was that fair to us? But today I don’t know any people who abuse alcohol. It’s going out of fashion, perhaps. My family, so I believed, used to accuse me of leeching off the system, which wasn’t fair at all. It may be true that no human being is without sin, yet justice must be measured out in a rational way or else it’s chaos. Roger, the retired cop, has just opened his garage door. I could run over to tell him what happened, but stealing garbage is a petty thing. Maybe I’m only paranoid again. We live in bizarre, desperate times. Kind of like Jean Valjean but not as honest.

Eight forty.

Les Miserables is the kind of book that is an accomplishment just to have read. I got halfway through it and stopped dead, but with a little inspiration I could pick it up again. I could do that even today. It raises questions of what is justice and how do we know what is right— and according to whom? Sometimes a suspension of the ethical is called for to serve the divine truth… 

Smell the Slack

Quarter after nine at night.

Apparently some people do get something for nothing in a political system that takes care of the old, sick, and weak. Who am I to disagree or complain, since I benefit from this state of affairs? And who else is going to condemn me or the system for this reality? I should think that my good fortune is the justice of a Higher Power, so I’m going to kiss away the unjust attitudes of the people who don’t see it that way. I say this on behalf of myself and all the seniors and people with disabilities in this country. There’s no blame or shame for getting what we deserve. It’s a failed system where justice is miscarried. For once, it seems to be working okay.

Rational Lies

Quarter of eight.

Today is still nice outside with some cirrus clouds west and south. It’s a Gloria day. Yesterday, the yard guy never showed up, so I wasted my time waiting for him. Last night I felt rather vindictive about it, saying I would give his cash to the church instead. And I do have that option, though if I did it, the blackberries would keep growing and I’d lose him for my yard man. There are a few ways to rationalize doing the wrong thing, such as saying the church needs the money, and it’s been very long since I tithed. But still, when I withdrew the cash I said it was earmarked for the yard work, plus I promised the guy that I’d have it for him. One should always do the right thing and never act out of vengeance or retribution. Therefore I’m keeping the cash safe for him for when he finishes the job.