Searching…

Three twenty five. I suddenly remembered my appointment with Todd for tomorrow afternoon. It will be a video call, sort of like Zoom or Skype. I asked about Heidi, and they said she hasn’t come back from furlough. Something smells fishy. It sounds like she’s not going to be my case manager after this. Miranda took over part of Heidi’s case load, but I haven’t heard from her since early summer… I hope L— H— doesn’t put pressure on me to be religious or something that goes against my personal beliefs. If they do, then I’ll have to figure out other options. I never did like the Christian character of the agency. It was too much like Serenity Lane: Jesus or nothing. I always will find it unconstitutional and unlawful to shove Jesus down our schizophrenic throats. If push really comes to shove, then I’ll emigrate to Canada or something drastic just to preserve my sanity.

Quarter of three in the morning. Yesterday evening I published a post whose sincerity was dubious from the start. A moment ago I went into my posts and trashed it. The writing of it was probably inspired by my trip to Sacred Heart yesterday morning, a phone conversation with L— H—, and finally a shotgun email from Pastor. I retired to bed at ten o’clock and slept four hours, dreaming strange dreams. At one point, I saw a white crockpot that was full of tube worms but which also yielded up old editions of Tarzan, one after the other. At another juncture, I was walking to the church at night and got hit by a car. Though it hurt, I kept walking. When I awoke, I reflected on the nature of heroes: how was Tarzan different from Jesus? Answer: Tarzan did not depend on supernatural powers to expedite his adventures. His strength was purely physical and mental, never spiritual. I considered that I grew up with heroes like everyone else, but they happened not to be Christ. Not even Luke Skywalker, who relied on the Force for his power. Nor Frodo Baggins, aided by the old wizard Gandalf. If anything, the heroes I read about pitted their wits and strength against the supernatural, in the form of nefarious cults with weird, soul devouring gods. Which type of hero was correct? I only know that Tarzan fueled my fortitude in my youth. 

A Pinch of Regret

Having church to go to was helpful for a couple of years. I hope the congregation doesn’t feel used or cheated now that I’ve left. Was I merely deceiving them through all those services? Sort of going through the motions? I don’t think it was a deliberate swindle. It was early in my recovery, and I wasn’t quite myself yet. And the falling away from faith was gradual. I was never dishonest about it, but rather, aboveboard the whole way. Pastor didn’t want to believe it. The first barrier I noticed was the problem of prayer, and this came up a year ago last summer. And then it was the whole concept of Jesus, especially since the virus made it appear like the end of the world. The apocalypse would spell out the Last Judgment, and essentially this entailed the dividing of human beings into saved and lost. My whole being found this proposal offensive. Unfortunately, it is built into the entire New Testament. Parable after parable taught by Jesus refers to the righteousness of Christians. When I cornered Pastor about this, he had no defense, no recourse. I think that by now he has finally dropped me and the whole issue. The one who’s still bothered by it all happens to be me. I regret that it couldn’t have worked out for me and the church. If I could rewrite the Bible to make it more reasonable, I suppose I would in order to get along with more people. The scriptures would be an okay thing if the pages were blank. Some churches try to treat the Bible in just that way. Interpretations can be very plastic, almost as though there were no text at all. I think that this was the impasse I came to with Pastor. At some juncture, his latitude with interpretation would hit a wall and break down. Perhaps I really was a jerk to be so insistent on a point. I believe that, at bottom, maybe Pastor acceded my argument. But in saying so, I’m merely mindreading. For myself, anyway, I wouldn’t want life and mind to be circumscribed by the Bible… Pastor wrote something that suggested to me that I’d been “hardhearted” in deciding to leave. But is it hardheartedness or rather toughmindedness? My heart is a reflector of what my mind earnestly thinks. Perhaps it would’ve been softhearted to put on blinders and forget what I had seen. But that wouldn’t have been my way…

Behind the Outward Show

Ten o’clock.

Yesterday morning, my neighbor Derek offered me an air conditioning unit that sits on the floor. He was letting me have it for free. He asked me to think about it and come back when I’d decided. So, this morning I went back to accept his offer. His face clouded and he told me with embarrassment that the unit doesn’t work. My brother used to say, “If it sounds too good to be true…” And then, as if in response to my sign that says “Black Lives Matter,” Roger put out an American flag with black and white stripes and one blue stripe in the center. I stopped and asked him what it symbolized. He answered, “The police.” This makes sense, for he and Alice are retired cops. But what gives me pause is the thought that there may be something beyond the mere phenomena. Facts are one thing, but behind the outward show I feel sometimes that there’s a karmic law. Good is rewarded with good, bad is punished with bad. The mechanism for this is mysterious, while the effects of it are easy to see… I tried to drop in on the girls at the salon, but it was still too early. Damien called me: apparently I owe him for the past three mows. He’s coming over on Sunday. Life seems to be dumping on me, so now I stop to ponder why this is. “You say there’s no reason to conjure / With the force as it has been known to be seen / You say I’m a fool, a believer / Put your feet on the earth, it is green.” 

Common Sense

Nine o’clock.

Out of the blue, the toilet decided to run. What makes it do that? Plus, the water heater quit working. I have to call The Home Depot about that. Little setbacks are cropping up as autumn gets a little closer. I slept better this time. Dreamed about making music with some help from friends. I think that common sense is the key to our future, if we can just be patient and persist. For a long time I’ve been trying to declare my independence from the church. To sit around and wait for the Last Judgment is no kind of answer to our troubles. It would be rolling over and submitting like a dog. This is what we’re doing to ourselves spiritually. Well, people believe what they want to believe. But a belief ought to give pleasure, it ought to help us along. I reckon I’ve made my wager on the religion issue. Maybe I’ll go to hell; but why would I go to a hell that I didn’t invent? After all is said and done, every individual creates his own fate.

It’s another beautiful and mild day. I wanted a Coke, so I bought a Coke.

I think I’ll decline on singing with the church this Friday. Sooner or later they’ll get the point.

When I stepped out my front door, I smiled to see the Black Lives Matter sign stuck into my lawn. Little elves had put it there this morning.

Maxwell Community

Eight thirty.

Clear skies this morning, but still forecast to be cooler. My parents are on my mind. No regrets for the past at all. I stuck by my mother until the end, especially when it became clear that my brother hated her. Someone had to defend her… Recording the church service is tonight. I guess I’m doing it for a favor to Pastor, or to all of them, as friends. It’s always good to have friends. Yesterday I reread part of The Fountainhead and was impressed by how antisocial it is. I think that, if we are honest with ourselves, everyone has a deep craving for love and understanding by other people. I wonder what made Ayn Rand different? I may never know… I saw nothing unusual at the store. Michelle had a few customers before me, but they seemed nice in spite of their rough appearance. I look pretty ragged myself today, and no one says anything. There’s more to life than looks. I believe this will be a good day. Maybe I’ve been a little hard on the Jesus guy, but I also think the Bible is not the only book worth reading. I love that little market on Maxwell Road, just as I loved being a student at Kelly Junior High forty years ago. As I’ve noted before, Maxwell has a particular vibe. It is mostly Christian, I think, and possibly a bit conservative, though kids wear gothic black sometimes. Wherever there’s Christianity, there’s also rock and roll. It makes me remember writing a report on rock music in eighth grade. Mom bought me a beautiful history of rock and roll published by Rolling Stone to use as a reference. Years later I lent it to a friend and never saw it again. But I got a good grade on my report…

Mental Healthcare: a Letter

It’s been an inauspicious day for my writing today. It was a dud. Well I had my one liter of Coke and suffered no ill effects except for a little hypertension. Okay, and a twinge of conscience for being reckless. I did enjoy the taste of the Coke, but was it worth the self scourging? Probably I was flirting with disaster, knowing as I do that my motive for having a Coke was submerged alcoholism. Tomorrow I’ll have a decision to make: repeat this behavior or force myself to leave it. Before long I could be addicted to caffeine again. The way this works is quite mysterious, but everybody with an addictive personality understands it. My brother has been addicted to Vicodin at least twice and kicked it, but he always returns to alcohol. My sister had a good start on quitting smoking when all of her teeth were pulled— and went back to it again. The thing about alcohol that makes it so maligned by culture is the way it alters behavior. I don’t believe that God and Satan have anything to do with it, although I’ve been indoctrinated with this nonsense so that I know it far too well. But the real mechanism of addiction is poorly understood, and whoever solves the puzzle will be a very rich individual. It is because no one understands it that people resort to religion for treatment of it. My sincere hope is that, someday, reason and science can expose the workings of addiction to the light of day, bringing us out of the Dark Ages and ending the blame and shame that addicts unfortunately have to go through. It was never a fair situation for people with this problem to browbeat them with a guilty conscience. Some healthcare professionals are downright sadistic toward alcoholics. I’ve witnessed this at the emergency room and even been a firsthand victim of it. I despise PeaceHealth and the RiverBend hospital for demeaning people with alcoholism. They also suck at helping people with schizophrenia. And as I write about this and ponder it, I think there must be something I can do to improve these conditions. The days of chaining schizophrenic people in dungeons are not over, yet in the name of decency they ought to be. The dungeons just have been given a facelift. Strangely, where healthcare professionals have failed, I find that a random cross section of people can be quite progressive and accepting of the mentally ill and addicts. So that all hope is not lost for humanity as far as keeping an open mind.

Soliloquy on a Coke

Seven o five.

I will go to the store a little earlier today. I might buy a Coke, as long as I’m stopping the gabapentin. The drug takes up to 48 hours to completely leave your system. Dunno, it still seems risky. I don’t remember when I started taking the gabapentin. I believe it was April or May. Okay, I’ll buy one liter of Coke and put it in the fridge.

Ten thirty. I offered to go with Vicki to her appointment scheduled for Thursday. She said her best friend is going with her, but she appreciated the thought. Well, I bought the Coke. It’s waiting for me in the refrigerator. I’m a little nervous about it. I think I’ll try it late this afternoon. The soft drink is like catnip to me; I just love it and can’t explain why… I have packages coming today, tomorrow, and Wednesday. Tomorrow morning I can go to the bank and deposit my windfall. The sunshine is nice and not too hot. Aesop had his breakfast. Yesterday, I got a text from the guitarist who was interested in jamming. Sounds like he’s making arrangements. I still don’t know his name… I kind of miss the times when I was working. My life felt like it had a momentum going— until I realized that there was no opportunity to move up the ladder. It was a dead end job, and the tasks were too easy. I merely entered data without being allowed to think. So maybe I don’t miss it after all.

Quarter of noon. It’s about time for lunch… Perhaps the aim of life is pleasure, as more than one philosopher has asserted. But if so, it seems like many people refute this idea. I’m far from ever being a self abnegating religious person. For some, even thinking is self indulgent. Why would anyone want to think? This was one of the attitudes that turned me off of AA.

Quarter of one. It was from Aristotle that I learned the hierarchy of ends, with happiness as the highest good. I should go and review the Nichomachean Ethics. Over time, I confused this with the summum bonum of John Stuart Mill, but these were obviously not the same… In the old Christian workplace, I was an oddball with essentially Greek notions. My education was geared that way, so I wondered how other college graduates could have missed it. Likewise, they wondered why I lacked Christian indoctrination. I guess my old job really wasn’t much fun. But I hope the Coca-Cola tastes good anyway!

A Literal Interpreter

One o’clock. Pastor came by and we talked for a few minutes a couple of hours ago. He had pondered my email to him a long time. Bottom line is they’re keeping an open door for me, and I’m welcome to help at Food for Lane County also. In addition I got a text message from the guitar player who had answered my ad on Craigslist. He said he would contact his drummer and we could get together. Then I practiced on my bass guitar with my brain full of the Tower of Power I’d listened to last night. Their rhythm section is really great, and the whole band is tight and together. So today I sounded pretty good, I thought… I bought some strawberry ice cream this morning. In a moment I’ll probably have some more, and give Aesop a few dollops. I so look forward to jamming with these guys. I just thought of the bass line to “Love Machine:” it is very difficult, yet I played it live with Satin Love a long time ago.

Two thirty. This is the time of the day I like the least. So I’ll just roll with it until it gets better at around five o’clock. Maybe put my iPad down and read Nietzsche for a while.

Five o’clock. Currently it’s 97 degrees outside, 84 degrees inside. Our hottest day so far this summer. Pastor said he thought that I’m a black and white thinker. I admitted that I like to have things nailed down. He’s okay with being gray and ambiguous on religion. This feedback from him is interesting. I wouldn’t have considered myself cut and dried, but I do go for precision and accuracy. That is, I will ask, What exactly does this passage mean? As if the meaning were absolute and not relative to the reader. I reckon I was never a Marxist critic in English classes. The more I think about it, the more it appears that Pastor is right… Tomorrow’s forecast calls for a high of 86 degrees. It’ll be nice to see cooler weather. It’s harder on Aesop than on me.

Wednesday Ideas

Nine o’clock.

I’ve just about had it with everything. What makes a person happy or unhappy? For me, it certainly isn’t money. The richest tycoon in the world might not be happy if he’s alone. It’s supposed to be 94 degrees today. We’ll survive it. What makes people happy is community and togetherness. Something snapped in my brain after the last service I helped with. It was the injustice of the Last Judgment and the whole idea of the Second Coming. Christians actually wish for it to come, but I want life to go on as normal. I think that is the issue that forced me to make a decision. I may be un American in rejecting religion. Dunno. It seems very stupid of us to reject science. A while ago I thought of the struggles of Ayn Rand in this country. She hit a wall with American intellectuals, who were inclined towards mysticism. I should take down my book of her essays and give it a read. Maybe then I won’t feel so alone.

One o’clock. So much ambiguity surrounds certain kinds of morals, yet some people are so complacent in being right. They get the answers from a book or from a church— or from their heart, but everyone’s heart is different. I suppose it’s my having Moon in Scorpio, but I crave a passionate love before I die. Lust is the sin I can’t overcome, ordained by my stars. The world seems to forbid it. Obstacles are everywhere I turn. Still it requires more grit and courage to fulfill my dream. So much for reason and science when I resort to the zodiac for reassurance. My birth at the time that the Sun was in Capricorn and the Moon in Scorpio has resulted in quite a singular personality. Or is this merely a way of shirking responsibility for my identity? Sometimes I wish I knew how to cast a horoscope using an astrolabe and all the traditional tools of the astrologer. But one still has to take free will into consideration. I don’t know. It’s just another strange day in a strange new age.

Faceless: a Letter

I can’t read people’s minds, and nobody seems to be communicating what they’re thinking; but after revisiting my email to you regarding the last time I was in church, I begin to suspect that my reaction to the sermon was significant. And Polly also believes in a biblical apocalypse. I just think it’s bizarre how no one is talking about it. WordPress is a ghost town lately. I feel a little like Prufrock right now, except my soul is probably marked for the same fate as Baudelaire’s. Prufrock was exasperated because people don’t say what they mean, or show their nerves in patterns on a screen. But does anyone out there feel the way I do? Should I be worried? If indeed I’m the only one who expresses the same feelings, then I find it very irksome.

What do you really think in your heart of hearts about eschatology? I’m interested to know, and with a growing sense of urgency. And why aren’t people talking about it? If anything, this should be a time for everyone to come together and solve our human problems— and move on to enjoy our lives as if the world has no end. Why aren’t we doing this? We scarcely make eye contact with each other in public, if there’s such a thing anymore… But no. Christianity is such a strange thing. There’s a song by Steppenwolf called “Rock Me” with this chorus:

I don’t know where we come from
I don’t know where we’re going to
But if all this should have a reason
We would be the last to know
So let’s just hope there is a promised land
Hang on till then the best that we can

I don’t know, Suzanne. I feel like stripping naked and going streaking in the streets. Maybe then somebody would react. We’re becoming inhuman, and someone has to do something.

Meanwhile I guess I’ll listen to my Steppenwolf music.