Category Archives: deism

healing after the ice storm


magnolia_leafSo mid week last week the temps had fallen into the mid-20s or so and with a mist of rain in the air during the night, ice formed on pretty much everything outside. Here are some pics from my backyard. My magnolia tree shouldn’t look like this in March.

On the drive to work that morning, I noticed a lot of tree branches had snapped and fallen during the night. Not sure if they were already dead branches or if the weight of the ice caused them to break or both but there was a trail of pretty big branches that started with a neighbor’s house a couple of houses down and just kept going almost all the way to work 15 miles away. It was strange. Some of those branches were pretty big and yet they snapped because of the heaviness.

magnolia_branchesSo all this happened on Tuesday and on Saturday I was finally able to help my neighbor out by cutting the really big tree limb that had fallen in her yard.

After cutting it, we talked for a while Continue reading

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Clean livin’ son. Clean livin’


The link below is to an interesting vid on the front page of NBC News.com from a couple of weeks ago. Is there a fight ramping up over the death penalty again?
http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/debunker/crime-deterrent-debunking-death-penalty-myths-n40571

Also making its way around the interwebs, is a letter by convicted killer Ray L Jasper who is scheduled to take in his last breath on March 19 of this year.

I’ll probably ruffle the feathers of a few of my left-leaning friends with this post and surprise those who know me from my UU church with my opinion on the death penalty.

I am from Texas however and as the comedian Ron White says, “as other states are trying to abolish it [the death penalty] my state is putting in an express lane.”

After I viewed the NBC News video from that link above though I couldn’t help but come up with my own monologue about Continue reading

baking bread and patience


kneading bread

the boys helping knead
bread dough in November 2012

I’ve recently (the past 12mos or so?) been trying my hand at baking bread. I actually have to come to enjoy it and my two stepsons like to help out whenever they know I’m about to start the alchemy of putting flour, water and yeast together.  I’ve done it maybe seven or eight times and have had some success in that it actually tasted ok. Sometimes it turns out quite nice with a tangy, homemade, yeasty flavor to it. Other times, not so much. They were just… meh.

One thing that they all had in common though, tasty or not, was they were pretty substantial. Solid. Heavy… that is until this last loaf I made. This one was rather light and airy and I’m sure it was because I cultivated a little patience and let the yeast do its work.

Patience… [sigh]
If you read my “Exposed” post, you know I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch. Actually putting it that way is a very nice way of saying I feel like my world is crumbling around me.

I don’t mean to be too cryptic about it so I’ll just say The Deistette and I are having marital problems, we’re having internal family problems and host of other problems all of which are tributaries and offshoots of the main issue… litigation with her ex. I’ll leave it there.

So to cope and deal with… well, with all of it I’ve been trying to do things that occupy my mind but don’t necessarily require a great deal of thinking… like, mowing the grass, raking leaves, hemming my slacks, finishing out a replaced window or…

baking bread.

Believe it or not, I can be somewhat domestic and baking bread is something that makes me think about the task at hand, not so much that it becomes real work, but enough to let time pass.

A couple of weeks ago I and my oldest stepson were working on a batch while his younger brother and momma did some grocery shopping.

I’ve noticed with both boys over the years that they are “pleasers.” They’re behavior is better when they have a job they actually want to do and that they feel is actually necessary and that they feel is helping the family or others.

do what you loveIsn’t that all of us though. I think I wouldn’t be so depressed, frustrated and angry if I were working in an occupation that fulfilled that list: was something I felt was really necessary, something I enjoyed or looked forward to doing and something I thought actually helped others and/or contributed to the common good.

Anyway… so the boy and I were mixing and measuring, kneading and pounding. And finally we were done.

I looked at it and thought, “What a miserable excuse of dough for a loaf of bread.” It was rather puny and I thought, “this won’t make much at all.”

We put it in a bread pan and then in the oven that was slightly warm. I kept thinking maybe we should just fire up the oven to 350 and be done with it. But the boy kept saying “no, the directions said to wait an hour for it to rise.”

So we waited. And waited.
And waited, and waited and waited.
And waited some more.

What’s that saying?… “a watched pot never makes the dough rise as fast as you want it to?” :mrgreen:

Finally we reached an hour and in that time I think I added a little bit of that virtue with the help of the boy as we continued our exercise in patience. Not only had I gained a little virtue but that little bit of dough had doubled in size!

It wasn’t the best bread I’ve made but making this batch (particularly with the help of my older stepson) certainly taught me something.

Patience my boy…. patience.

I’m trying hard to cultivate the virtue of patience in my life again. I have strayed from my spiritual path and with awareness, faith, Providence and if I’m lucky grace, I’ll have it back again.

click story


I have an old Mac laptop that seems to be running on last legs. I didn’t update the operating system like I should have (read: at all) and so this old 2005 machine is still running OSX Tiger. Knowing that it’s only a matter of time before it decides it just can’t bear to come to life even one more day, I’ve been transferring files to an external drive. In doing so, I ran across something I had posted at a blogging buddy’s place back in early 2010. I thought I had cross post it here but I can’t find it.  I thought it was worth sharing again so here it is.

To give a little context, this friend had a blog where occasionally she would have blog friends contribute what she called a “click” story… a personal story where the writer had learned some grand lesson.  Below is my contribution.
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Leslie asked me months ago if I would write a click story for her and I quickly said yes.  I feel bad for having put it off so long.  Sorry Les.  The thing I think that has disrupted my ability to do it is she inadvertently placed some heavy pressure on me by saying, “I’m sure you have so many stories to tell.”

Gulp.

Do I?  Ugh.  I couldn’t think of anything that would compare to the others that have been published here.

I began rifling through the mental files of stories I have where I learned a lesson… you know, trying to find one where I learned a really big lesson about myself or life  but none of them seemed to be so profound as to be earth shattering.

I thought of my trip down the aisle (the first time) and how my voice cracked and my eyes welled a little as I repeated the vows the preacher told me to say… a tear came not because I was happy but because I knew!… right then and there I realized with absolute certainty…

I was making the biggest mistake of my life. I realized that we humans sometimes make poor choices, we can’t blame anyone but ourselves and we have to live with the consequences.

I thought I could tell of the time during Marine Corps boot camp when my platoon was learning how to throw hand grenades.  A drill instructor and I were in a concrete bunker and he handed me a live grenade with the pin pulled.  He said, “recruit! You make sure you throw it over this wall like we taught you…

and far! You understan’ me!”

I stood there with a live grenade in my hand… explosions were going off from my fellow recruits lobbing theirs down range.  I looked at the grenade… my hands shaking.  I stared that DI in the eyes, then looked at it again as I heard in a deep, garbled, slow-motion sort of voice, “yewwwww ohhhhkayyyy reeecrewwwwt?”.  It seemed like lifetimes passed as I pondered my ability to heave that piece of metal over a seven foot wall of cinder blocks.

As I pulled my arm back just like they taught me, I was thinking my life has the potential to change or end right now.  In that moment I realized some events in life are deliberate, calculated actions. Other times a completely random, unexpected bit of happenstance careens life toward other places.

I also thought maybe I could tell of a lesson I learned from the time I got fired from a retail job I couldn’t stand.  While in the parking lot after leaving the store I immediately called my editor of my part-time freelance photo job.  I told her what happened, I told her I was desperate and that I was available to shoot anywhere, anytime, and anything.  She gave me work… lots of it. A few weeks into it, my younger brother invited me to a basketball game through company tickets with some co-workers of his.  One of them asked, “so what do you do?”  I got that roller coaster feeling in my stomach.  I hesitated a little in my response and I almost said, “uh… I’m in between jobs” when it occurred to me, “no. I have a job.”

I said confidently, “I’m a photographer with The Houston Chronicle.”

It felt good. It felt DAMN good and I realized we make our own destiny.  WE make things happen in our lives if we push ourselves towards them. And I survived working six and seven days a week until I found another job seven months later.

I could tell the story about Hurricane Ike blowing through town in 2008.  I could tell you how I saw thick, heavy branches from two different trees that missed my house and my vehicle by inches and my property came away relatively unscathed; yet neighbors had fences crash through windows and roofs blown off.  There was one person I met in my neighborhood who had lights on in just a few days but the house right next to him waited four weeks in the sweltering September weather of the Gulf Coast Plains of Texas.

From the hurricane, I realized sometimes shit happens that we have no control over.  God didn’t get angry.  Karma wasn’t reacting.  The Tao wasn’t balancing things out.  I didn’t come away unscathed because I said the right prayer the night before and the other guy didn’t.  Just sometimes… shit happens from no fault of our own or anyone.

And I thought about telling my story of when I went to see my brother and future sister in-law get baptized at their Baptist church.  Coincidentally it happened the Sunday after the planes crashed into the World  Trade Center buildings.  While in that church, watching what should have been a great day for my brother, I saw a preacher point his finger at his congregation and heard him yell… yes, yell at them “it’s because of you and you and YOU that this happened.  Because YOU ARE A SINNER!!! America has lost favor with God and He made those planes fly into those building because of you!”

I realized that my concept of God does not fit that mold.  I don’t believe in a God like that at all.  My God loves me unconditionally.  My God doesn’t control my actions or the actions of others.  My God gave me freewill and reason.  I realized I don’t believe in a devil or that a devil can make people fly planes into buildings.  I realized some people are just jerks and assholes and they do evil things.  And my God weeps when we do crappy things to each other.  That is when I realized there must be another way of thinking about the nature of God compared to what this guy was preaching and I took my first deliberate steps ever towards spiritual awareness and where I found myself on a road towards UU-ism, Buddhism and Deism.

I’ve read most, if not all, of the click stories here at Leslie’s place and they have been amazing, beautiful, heart-wrenching, glorious stories.  Wish my click story were as amazing as those.

Sorry, Les… I got nothin’.

are we a Christian nation?


Polls, data… sheer numbers would suggest a majority of this nation (at this moment in history) is Christian.  But our founding?… the founders?  What of the future?

Christians, with unwavering confidence on this topic, will state the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation.  I heard Glen Beck, who is now some sort of born again, evangelical Mormon or something, yesterday state that the founding documents were based primarily on Deuteronomy.

He’s an idiot and wrong the same way Christians are wrong about the U.S. being founded as a Christian nation.  You can keep saying it but it doesn’t make it true.

I’ve been re-reading a book called Faith of the Founding Fathers that gives a kind of breakdown of most of the founders and which side they sat on the religious fence.  Fascinating stuff.

What I’ve learned is that the founders were quite deliberate about keeping religion out of government and the public square.  When they do mention God it is terms that were very, VERY Deistic… Nature’s God, Divine Providence, etc.  And what they left out of the founding documents speaks volumes.

I highly recommend the book.

I will also point you to a really well written post on the topic over at: http://recoveringfundamentalists.com

Jim Etchison and Brian Sasville have a written a really good post on the founders, Jesus and about how history is written (and rewritten) by the victors. It’s somewhat long, but a good read.

Happy Friday everyone.

wherein the Deist and Deistette praise God OR….


W E ‘ R E   F A R M E R S !!

So during the four weeks when I was doing the demolition and reconstruction of our kitchen (see post below) I decided since I was in a building kind of mood I would construct a little raised garden bed.  “Little” is the key word here.  It’s only two and a half feet by five and a half feet.

It’s really cool though.  I can hardly believe it. (click the thumbnails to see bigger pics)

Emmie and I have talked about doing one since… well since before we even met.  For a little more than a decade I’ve had the notion of living off the land, raising a few chickens and goats and having a garden that could sustain my family.  Keep in mind I know nothing about country living or farming and ranching but like I said for years I’ve had the desire to do this. I even bought my own little piece of Texas about nine years ago with the hopes of doing it some day.

Emmie told me when we first met online that she has had the dream of being able to have her own vegetable garden for years as well.

Well, she ain’t much but here it is.

Our little plot of earth that will soon release her bounty.  🙂  And with God’s good grace and laws of physics He has set in place (and hopefully despite my complete lack of knowledge) we will have at least some fresh veggies from our own garden.

We started by planting seeds back in February.  That may have been a bit early but like I said we don’t really know what we’re doing.  Continue reading

food poisoning sucks


Ugh… on Tuesday night The Deistette and I were doing the evening ritual of  figuring out something for dinner.  It’s been hard lately since my brother and I destroyed the kitchen (a post on that coming soon).

The Deistette decides she’ll just use some left over rotisserie chicken and make a salad for herself.  I can have a sandwich and add a little nutrition with some lettuce.  The boy can have left over chicken and fried rice.  Tah dahhh!… another dinner crisis averted.

About an hour later, Emmie started to feel a little clammy and nauseated.  Not 30 seconds after she told me she was feeling bad did she lose it.  I get really nervous when she hurls her food.  She is so tiny that she needs to keep every ounce in her that she can.  But she doesn’t have a gallbladder so she can only intake so much fat, she has celiac disease (she has to eat gluten-free) and on top of those two things is allergic to a few foods.

Anyway, so she feels better after her little episode and we try to figure out why it happened.  We have no idea since nothing was wrong with me.  Well about 5:30 in the morning Continue reading

A life changed in 30 days


I’ve been meaning to write about this for awhile but kept feeling like I needed more time to grasp any meaning or to analyze what happened but I don’t know if there really is enough time to comprehend entirely the how and the why.  So a little more than a year later here’s my take on what happened to my dad and his wife and how their lives were upended.

You know… it can happen so quickly.   Your life as you know it completely changed; unmistakenly different from it was just the day before.  In the case of my dad and stepmother… 30 days.  It took  exactly 30 days for the transformation of their lives to be different to a point that it will never be what it was before.

In December of 2008, my dad’s wife of 30 years went to visit her brother near Dallas.  An important fact I should note is she has a disease that suppresses her immune system.  As a result she needs to be as careful she can about getting near any one who is sick or should cut herself.

Well she wasn’t as careful as she usually is and something got hold of her in December of ’08 that made her very sick.   The bacteria that attacked her body was strong and Continue reading

I think Jesus built my UU church


Yep… I said it. I believe with all my heart that Jesus built my UU church. And it’s in this place that Jesus built where I’ve been able to learn about sacrificial love, compassion for all living things and helping those weaker than me.

And a couple of weeks ago I told The Little Man I believed Jesus built our church as we were pulling into the parking lot.

I should back-track a little before going any further in why I think this. I mean it must seem odd for The Deist, especially one of a UU persuasion to be making such statements.

A few weeks ago The Little Man (for new visitors here, The Little Man is my wife’s son… my stepson) and The Deistette were going to check out another church… a Methodist church and so I felt obligated to tell him a little about what he might see there. So Emmie and I naturally began with Jesus. We told him there are some people who believe in a man named Jesus and that they believe he is God.

And he said, “well, what about the real God? Do they believe in God?”

“Well, yes… but they believe Jesus was His son and is God also.”

He couldn’t quite grasp the concept. I have to be honest it perplexes me, too.

So we told him that Continue reading

poking at believers and non-believers


I was listening to the Pacifica Station here in Houston yesterday. I normally don’t.  But as I was changing from FM1 down to AM, I had to punch through FM2 where 90.1 KPFT was playing. The DJ caught my attention by saying the next song was brand new. So I paused for just a second to hear what it would be.

It’s by Regina Spektor (who I’ve never heard of) and was released about a month ago.  The lyrics made my ears perk up immediately so I listened to hear what this song was about.

I think she’s making fun of those who don’t believe in God (perhaps a UU or two?) but when shit hits the fan… well, as she said, “no one laughs…” And I think she’s poking fun at those who believe God grants wishes like a genie.

I’m curious about your thoughts.