one little microcosm vs the zombie apocalypse


So today is my birthday. No, not my blog birthday but my birthday, birthday. You know, the anniversary of the day my gooey, sticky body fell outta my mom’s belly and it breathed in air for the first time.

Gah… that’s not a fun description of a baby being born. :mrgreen:

DPS_officeSo one of the things that comes along with a birthday is a LONNNNG wait at the Department of Public Safety (where we Texans go to renew our driver license) also known in some parts as the Dept of Motor Vehicles.

It’s a fascinating place really. I mean like my title reads, it really is a microcosm of the city. There was just about every walk of life in that small building… black, white, brown, yellow, fat, short, tall, beautiful, not-so beautiful, single, married. I mean you name the demographic and it was mostly likely represented by at least one person. Really!… I mean there was someone in a wheelchair and even someone who was blind.

O_o

I’m going to assume the blind person was there along for the ride and was not attempting to get a license.

And as my imagination will most often times do in a situation like this I began to wonder what would happen if some calamity broke out. I mean like really bad… you know like battle of Armageddon bad. Zombie Apocolypse bad. The Deistette says I have a problem. At least one morning out of the week she’ll say, “so did you dream about a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future where you were one of the last people on earth again.”

She knows me so well.

So back to the microcosm. If worldwide plague wiped us all out and we were a lone pocket of humanity that had been spared these would be the people with whom I would ride the storm out.

Would we make it? Who would emerge as a leader. Would we pair off and attempt to repopulate? Would I be able to fight them off when they tried to eat me after we ran out of food?

*Deist pauses for a bit*

Wow… I really need to get out more.

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Exposed


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I used to take pictures.

It’s been so long ago that it almost seems like it was in a past life. When I first started, I was in the military and took pictures that were part of news and feature stories. A few years later I began to fancy myself an arteeest and began trying to create what I “thought” was art. I actually pulled some off and there were a few people who actually considered it art and paid for my prints or asked me to exhibit.

My first attempts were crude but in time my eye developed. I tended to drift toward my journalistic side and capture images that had a human element… you know, that showed where a human presence had been. I rarely did landscapes or what I referred to derogatorily as “snapshots of trees and rocks”.

The fact is “trees and rocks” are hard to shoot and shoot well and I knew it, so I tried to place myself above those Ansel-disciples and do my cutting edge Henri Cartier-Bresson impersonations.  What’s funny is I actually did a series of only trees one time AND… had it exhibited.

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken photographs like that.

But now and again, something will catch my “eye” (which surprises me that my photographer’s eye still works) that makes me think, “this says something” and I wish I had my old Mamiya loaded with some velvety Ilford Delta400.

The above image is one that did just that and all i had was my cell phone, It was taken in an instant, filters applied the way I would have liked to have seen a final print after hours in the darkroom.  It says something… at least to me. The roots are exposed. The tender part of a tree that should be covered which help it grow and mature are all out in the open.

[sigh]

I’ve been going through the some personal stuff that is really stressful. Really stressful… taxing on my soul and is one of those times when I hope with all the faith that I have that God is listening and will send angels to calm my spirit. I pray that Providence will cover my tender parts.

I have entered another dark period, one that makes me want sit with my back in a corner with my knees to my chest bracing for impact. I can’t get everything covered and I feel quite exposed.

reconnecting to music through a pub and my UU church


This was a post I had originally drafted in June of 2008 but didn’t quite finish. Crazy, huh… about a year after starting my wordpress blog. After my last post where I talked a little bit about my youthful aspirations of wanting to be a musician when I grew up I thought this was appropriate to pull it from the drafts and finish up.
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When I was a kid I was in the band… junior high and high school. I already had some musical genes gifted to me from my parents and others but being in the band cemented the fact that I like music. And as a lot of kids did, who grew up in the 70s and 80s, I listened to bands that would become pretty influential rock bands… KISS, Rush, Yes, Zeppelin, The Who and others despite my mother’s attempt to add country music in to the mix. On our daily ride to school she made me listen to Ronnie Milsap, Charlie Pride, Tammy Wynette, Buck Owens, George Jones and Merle Haggard. Mama tried. : )

I rebelled against country music in high school and my love for it didn’t stick until much later in college. I went to a small school in east Texas so country music started slowly but in time became a staple. However, I was also exposed to a new wave of music and embraced bands like Yaz, The Pixies, The Smiths, R.E.M. and Depeche Mode.

When I think about it, I really liked all kinds of music and knew different types quite well… everything from rock to country, Motown, jazz, classical. Hell even disco. (please don’t hate me for that) But I had never really heard or paid much attention to the lowly singer/songwriter.

So fast forward about 17 years… it was about 2002 when I heard my first “guy and his guitar”. By chance I stumbled upon a little pub on my way back from dropping off my daughter after having her for the weekend. The sign on the front said BREW PUB.  With my affection towards good beer, I thought I’d see what they had on tap. Coincidentally it just so happened to be Open Mic Night. Most people might think this would be the worst way possible to be exposed to singer/songwriters. Turns out what I thought would only be a half-hour-long detour wound up keeping me there for more like five hours.

My visits to the Brew Pub started off a little intermittent but after several months I eventually was going every other weekend as I came back from dropping off my daughter on the other end of town. What I loved about the open mic at this pub is almost all the performers were doing original music… or at least their own take on a published song.

Of course not everyone was good. In fact most were quite bad but many, if not all of the patrons on a Sunday night are musicians/open mic-ers and are very encouraging as well as very forgiving. And the host ALWAYS makes each open-micer feel like he or she is THE headlining act of the night. It’s pretty damn cool to be honest.

So after a couple of years of sitting as a spectator I bought my first guitar thinking i might try to teach myself how to play and start making music again. (sixteen years earlier I had left the music department in college thinking I was completely done with music).  So I would sit at the very front of the little stage and tried desperately to remember the shapes their hands and fingers made as they played their guitars and I would race home and attempt them on mine at home. Evidently I was trying to learn guitar a la the Phoebe Buffay school of guitar learning. : )

That isn’t exactly the best way of learning. Plus I would put the guitar down for weeks at a time and it took about a year before I really decided to give it an honest go of trying to learn. I’m proud to report I have since gotten better, which isn’t saying much because I was REALLY crappy when I first started. And wouldn’t you know it… I got my nerve up and did my first open mic about a year and half after really buckling down and consistently practicing and trying. I remember the date: Jan 23, 2005. I know because it was my birthday.

And about two years after that, some friends and I formed a band. We even play at the ol’ UU church now and again. That’s how we all met was through our UU church.
So thankful for that little pub, my friends from church and oh how I love making music again.

Clothes make the man


Some of you might remember that I work for my dad who owns a small accounting firm that he started about 25 years ago. I’ve been with him for about seven years and it appears as though I am the heir apparent.

But bookkeeping is just one thing our small business does and this year we’re adding yet another aspect and it all hinges on me.

I’ll get to that after this quick little sidebar.

When I was in school I was a music major. I dated a dance major for a short while, then an art major. Hung out with all the weirdos who were theater majors. Finger snapped support to my English major wannabe poets during slam-poetry open mics. I hung out and danced at the bar that played 80s new wave, college alternative music.  So basically I was an 80s beatnick.

I swore, to everything that was holy, deep in my soul I was going to make my living as a musician/artist and would never…. never, ever!!!…. sell insurance like my dad, who at the time i hated and considered dead for having left my mother with me and my four siblings, the youngest who wasn’t quite two years old when he did that.

Yeah, asshole right.

Ok, so fast forward 25 years and I’m now working for my dad doing everything from purchasing office supplies to running interference in attempt to keep clients he’s pissed off from leaving. I track alcohol licenses and file the applications for our clients who need it. I keep the books for a handful and pay their taxes. I even change out the water bottles for the cooler and haul trash to the dumpster.

I am a catch all. And last month I finished a class that will help me get my…

wait for it…
Can you guess kids?…

MY INSURANCE LICENSE!!

[sigh]
I feel

like

a middle aged failure.

So to help me along in this endeavor the boss has not so subtly let me know he thinks I need clothes that will help me look the part of an insurance salesman. God I want to jam a hot poker in my ear!

So he insists that I go with him to a clothing store he likes to go to. Any shred of evidence of that kid who had aspirations of being a musician and artist is being severed as I get in the car and go.

I’ve never been one to spend lavishly on clothing for myself. For the most part, I usually buy my clothes at Goodwill or a thrift store. I figure I’m getting a deal and the money I spend is helping someone in need. And as for clothing, I think of it as a necessary evil and if I didn’t think I’d burn people’s eyeballs out I’d probably just go dance nehked in the woods and not worry about clothing. :mrgreen:

So when we get to this place and he’s telling me they’re having a buy one get three more free sale, I’m thinking, “ok at least there is a deal to be had.”

Um. No.

Did you know the sport coats, blazers and jackets cost about 600 dollars?!?!?

So after I picked my jaw off the ground, excused myself to go wipe my butt and clean my drawers I obliged and tried on a jacket or two.

There was a young guy who was tending to me. Looking me up and down, asking me questions then said, “this one. Let’s try this. I think you’re going to like it.”

“How much is it?” I asked sort of sheepishly and accusingly.

My dad chimed in quickly and rather authoritatively, “don’t worry about that. Clothes cost what they cost.”

So the sales guy slipped it on me. Tugged at the shoulders, pulled on the tail, swept off the sleeves a little and says (kinda like Deb from Napoleon Dynamite after taking Uncle Rico’s picture) “This is looking really good.”

I had to agree. As I looked at myself in the mirror I thought, “hey I clean up pretty good.” I almost shot myself a finger pistol but was able to grab hold of my faculties and not have everyone’s dork-meter go full tilt.

We tried on several more and I landed on the four I would take home with me. I’ve never, ever in my life (well except for my Marine Corps dress blues) owned a suit or sport jacket that was brand new and fit just right for me.

At least with my blues I felt like I’d earned them after going through 13 weeks of hell. This… I don’t know. Guess I’ll have to sell a few policies before I feel like I’ve earned these things.

Pops says, it’s a cost of doing business and we need them. I don’t know about that but I have to be honest. I feel pretty good when I’m wearing one of them.

How Obamacare affects my small business and our young employees


That title is a little deceiving. It isn’t “my” business. I work for a small business. And because of the nature of what we do (bookkeeping) and the fact that the business is run like we’re family (sort of) things are different at our office compared to when I worked in corporate America. One of those things is about once every three months or so we shut the office down, put a sign out on the door that says “Office closed until 2pm for training” and we order lunch and relax for an hour and a half.

So Friday, we did just that. It doesn’t happen often but every now and again we do this. The entire office… all seven of us sit together, eat together and catch up, tell jokes, laugh and shed the work of the day for a little while.

Well the boss (who is also my dad) decided that instead of the usual casual nature of these lunches would change things up and talk a little business. He began by saying how he and I had been doing research trying to figure out what it is we were going to do with Obamacare and because it was now the “law of the land” we had to figure something out. He said it with some disdain in his voice because he is NOT a supporter of the president or any of his policies.

And believe it or not, none… NOT ONE of our employees has tried to comprehend what has happened in the political fight to bring national health care to the United States. Of course they’ve heard about it on the news, or Saturday Night Live or The Tonight Show but beyond punchlines and one-line commentary… they are clueless. So this conversation had a lot of me and dad trying to condense and explain in a short time the three years of what has happened with Obamacare. Although my dad pretty much hates Pres Obama, it was pretty objective the way we explained what’s happened.

So he went on to say that even with the subsidy the company’s health care bill went up dramatically. I don’t know what that means exactly but as a result the employees (myself included) are now going to have to pay a portion of our health care insurance where before we didn’t. Our accounting clerks don’t make a lot of money and with this news coming out of the blue (remember they weren’t following how Obamacare would impact them) and it being the gift giving season… you might imagine how this was received, especially since the portion they will pay is going to be about 15% of their gross.

It really sucks.

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So we have two employees who are quite young. Both of these young ladies are 21. One has a child, the other has two. The one with two kids asked me what she should do because in the lunch room conversation her cousin (the youngsters are related) said, “well, what if I just don’t get the company insurance?” She said it as if she didn’t think it was a choice because she kind of laughed after saying it.

I explained to her that was a valid point and she certainly could decide not to participate. I explained to her if she didn’t get the mandatory insurance she would get fined and that at first she would probably be able to handle the fine easily but once you get to year three of not buying insurance it would sting her budget really hard.

So back to the first one who asked my advice. I asked her, “well, how often do you go to the doctor?”
“Never.”
“You never go to the doctor?”
“I never go… even if I’m sick which is rare. I don’t like doctors and usually I don’t have the money anyway.”
(she just started working for us and her husband has been out of work for a year after his trailer full of his landscaping equipment was stolen)

So I continue by asking if she engages in activities that might be considered hazardous like riding motorcycles, bungee jumping, driving without a seatbelt, speeding, sword swallowing, horse racing, pyrotechnics, cow tipping… you get the point.
She laughed and said no to all of that.
So I continued and asked if she thought she might get pregnant anytime soon and she emphatically said no. I don’t if she’s had her tubes tied or how she can be so certain but there is only one other way to be absolutely certain a woman doesn’t get pregnant unless of course you’re Mary the mother of Jesus.

So after the questioning I told her “I am NOT telling you to not get health insurance from the here but if I were you… young, healthy, didn’t engage in potentially dangerous activities, knew I would not get pregnant and simply couldn’t find it in my budget… I wouldn’t get the insurance.”

And that dear readers is what SUCKS about living in the State of Texas or any of the other 25 states that didn’t expand Medicaid. There is going to be a shitload more people who will go without the ability to affordably care for their own health and as such indirectly care for their families than there was before this mess got started.

Gov. Perry, members of Congress, the insurance industry, big pharma, Pres. Obama… YOU SUCK!

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’.

i believe in a better way


I’m slowly getting back into the frame of mind to start posting again at the ol’ Deist blog. Ideas come to me but unlike before where I could remember throughout the day what I wanted to write, my ideas tend to disappear slowly and without any definitive moment they vanish like mist that’s burned away from morning sun.

But I’m getting there and hope to be flexing my thoughts again in a more consistent manner. I’ve been looking at drafts that I have sitting in my WordPress cue and it seems like most of them were meant for when they were first written… a year, two, three or even four years ago. Not sure why I never pressed the publish button on some of those but needless to say they aren’t really relevant or would be out of context because… well, I don’t know how to explain but they would be out of context.

But there are a handful that are meaningful to me still and I’m sure I’ll dust them off and give them the chance to be seen by someone. Kinda like this one. Not sure why I never posted this one but the first draft was written almost four years ago to the day. Weird huh.
Below is the original post:
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A friend of mine from church introduced me to this song several months ago.  I hadn’t thought about it in a while and don’t know why I remembered it today.  Just thought I’d share.

[Deist begins to stretch a little so he can properly do his best air guitar windmill and scissor kick]

So what’s happened in a year?


Well, during the last 12 months quite a bit has actually stayed the same for me. I’ve noticed as I get older, I am, if nothing else, relatively constant.

I still work at the same place (earlier this month I hit seven years there), The Deistette and I are still married and hit a milestone in September (she moved here five yrs ago the weekend Hurricane Ike made landfall ), I’m still making music with a few friends of mine (in February we’ll hit seven years) and I still live in the same house that I’ve been working on and renovating for what seems like forever (September was 16 years).

There have been a handful of changes though. My longest readers might remember a post or two about how I like to ride my bicycle… well, I still do but have become a bit obsessive about bicycles since October of last year and have since added several bikes to the herd that used to consist of just my road bike. Here’s a pic of one of my faves.

Trek-720

Years ago, it almost seems in another lifetime, I used to work in the printing industry… well, sort of. I was a print buyer for a financial company. And, because of the vast resource that is the interwebs, I’ve been able to get back to my roots (which started when I was in the military a couple of decades ago laying out the base newspaper via cut and paste). I’ve built (on the cheap) a very crude letterpress out of steel pipe. I’m not sure how practical this thing will be as I haven’t printed anything on it yet but I hope to start printing letterpress stuff soon.

Letterpress when done well is absolutely beautiful.
just my typeImage above found at this Etsy shop

Let’s see what else… Well, this is a not-so-fun fact. In August I hit the heaviest my short frame has ever been. It has however spurred me to become really aware about needing to lose weight. I’ve been going to the YMCA on a regular basis for the past few months and have become more aware about the junk I’ve been putting in my body.  I guess you have to start somewhere and my somewhere is a very, very small step. But moving my body even just twice a week and trying to be careful about what I eat has helped  me to scrape off a little weight. Key words in that sentence is “scrape” and “little”. But if I make the time and get to the gym a couple more times a week and could lose even as little as 15 pounds that would be good. Realistically though, being only 5’3″ and trying to get to a healthy weight, I really need to lose about 30 pounds. Wish me luck. I really need to make this happen.

So those are some of the minor things that are new with me after a year of being gone. But the biggest bit of change that happened is that I withdrew membership to my UU church of which I had been a member for 10 years.

It’s been six months yet it’s still very difficult to come to grips with it. It’s been a tremendous loss and I still I feel quite sad about it. I had a strong community of friends, like-minded seekers and familiar souls surrounding me that I not only saw on Sundays but throughout the week as well. I was deeply involved in my old congregation and literally put blood, sweat and tears in trying help maintain it and help it grow. It was painful to leave and for the sake of proper decorum I won’t go in to the gory details of why I left but for now let’s just say I couldn’t continue to support that congregation any longer.

I am still however…
a UU.

And I think one needs (what in Buddhism is called) a sangha… a dedicated community of spiritual seekers. The basis of my beliefs still stem from my view of the nature of God which comes from Deism. My practice, as much as I may have drifted from it, is Buddhist.

But my people… the ones who remind me to keep vigiliant as a person of faith comes from a UU church.
My sangha.

And so The Deistette and I have been attending another congregation off and on for a little while now. It doesn’t feel the same as my old congregation. I feel like I don’t fit in. But we’re getting a little more involved and are making plans to try to attend more of the events and programs. And we’ve met new people who we like. : )

I think there are three essential elements of a person’s spiritual walk.
1) you have to have a foundation for your belief system (i.e. what is your view of the nature of god, where do you get your sense of right and wrong come? from where do your ethics come?)
2) Your ethics, morality, and/or spirituality should have a practice and be exercised in the real world.
3) You should have a community of like-minded people who challenge your sense of beliefs, keep you in check as well as support your beliefs.

In some instances, two out of three wouldn’t be bad but I think in the case of a spiritual walk… two out of three ain’t gonna cut it.

Here’s to adding my third back in to the mix and to change.

an entire year has passed


If I had published my previous post and deliberately intended for it to be the first thing people see here for an entire year, I would have never been able to do it. If that had been my intention to sit away from my blog for an entire year, I’m certain I wouldn’t have been able to.

My history is replete with examples of me trying to do or not do something for a specified period of time so I’m certain I would have failed at keeping away from my blog for a year but here I am an entire year TO THE DAY without a single post. Success!!

Wait, whuh? confused

Years back, when I was entrenched in WordPress and lived for the comments and posts of the small circle of blogging friends I had, I sometimes wondered to myself, “how long will this go on?  Will we be writing and following each others’ accomplishments and disappointments 5, 10, 20 years from now?”

I sometimes wondered what happens if/when a beloved blogging friend dies? How will we know? How do we find out?

I thought about in regards to myself. I should at least have the courtesy to let my blogging friends know I’ve kicked the bucket and am on the other side. I should right?

But how to do this?
I figured I’d write a post…  one last final entry here on the ol’ DeistFromTexas blog and schedule it to publish innnnn… I don’t knowwww…. let’s say two months. If I hadn’t keeled over in that time, I would simply back the date up another month or two. And keep doing that until one day I was in an urn on the mantle and in time…. tah dahhh one final post to say goodbye.

It must sound crazy to plan something like that but I think some will understand… I’m looking at you Amuirin, LazyBuddhist, Bibliomom, Ombud. During that first year or so of writing and logging in here at my little outpost of the interwebs, I became connected… so very connected, emotionally to many of you who visited my site.

Well, I never wrote that post. I never scheduled what I’d like to say. I never did the courteous thing. And as luck would have it….  I haven’t kicked the bucket.
I’m back.

And damn is it good to be alive!

serious questions for UUs from my mother in-law


The Deistette and I took a visit to another UU church Sunday. I haven’t been to my home congregation on a Sunday morning in probably two months at least but I feel a strong sense of loyalty to my home congregation so this felt kinda… i don’t know, adulterous?

I’ve been so busy with keeping the HOA deed restriction wolfhounds off my back as well as doing other handyman work for neighbors that I’m either too tired or involved in working on a project to get to church on Sunday.

But I humored my wife and went to this other UU congregation, which on paper seemed pretty damn awesome. It has an engaging children’s program, a number of opportunities for adults to grow spiritually as well as activities to participate in social justice.

I told her not to get too excited about it because on paper a church is much different from what you experience when you get there. The minister might be dull, the people clickish, the sanctuary uncomfortable or it may just lack that “x” factor that tells you “THIS is a church I could see myself being a part of.”

She agreed but she was practically giddy come Sunday morning. She was on the phone with her mom that morning as we were getting ready and because of her excitement was able to convince her mom to come with us and spend the morning and afternoon of her only day off… at church. Full disclosure: it was mentioned we would be going to IKEA afterward. : )

So we get there and it was a nice service. The people were nice. The music was nice. Everything was… nice. But it was just so generic and lacking in what felt like any spiritual experience that we all left… well, disappointed.

We talked about it as soon as we were in the car. After about 15 minutes of conversation my mother in-law finally says, “did I miss something? I mean it was a nice service but there was not one thing said that made me feel inspired or give me something to think about the rest of the week.”

We ate lunch at IKEA and for another 40 minutes or so we continued with trying to figure out what went wrong from little things about that particular congregation to big picture things about religion as a whole as well as shortcomings with UUism.

One thing my mother in-law asked me was “is it hard for a UU minister to give a sermon?” The way she asked it and given we were talking about the sermon being rather lackluster made me think she asked the question because she thought the homily sucked. Plus she knows any one UU congregation can have as many spiritual paths to address as there are members. In that regard she asked do all UU ministers speak with that weird cadence with obviously scripted pauses.  Are they all kind of obnoxious, fake, overly dramatic? In my experience… yes. Yes and I don’t know why.

She asked me what is it about UUism that appeals to me. What is it that makes it a right fit for me.

She asked if I thought of it as a religion? She also asked if I thought ANYONE in a UU church believes it to be a religion considering the way they dressed and carried themselves portrays a lack of self respect. I think her point was if they can’t dress in a way that shows they respect themselves how on earth do they respect anything else, particularly the place where they worship?

And then she asked, how on earth has the UU church had any success or continued as long is it has?

I think these are questions that are asked week after week after week by visitors to a UU church. I think the UU church has such a potential to be a real, valid, significant, legitimate, truly meaningful and substantial voice on the world stage regarding human affairs if we could just get our shit together.

I have been a UU for only 10 years… actually I’m about six months shy of that. But it seems I have always heard some sort of conversation about growth.. the lack of.., the need for…, mechanisms on… growth. This conversation has in fact been going on for decades in the UU church.

I’ve come to the conclusion that we will always be a speck on the religious radar. We always be will be a punchline. We will merely be a voice of misfits that is never really taken seriously. Oh we’ve had a one-off success here and there but you know what… you give a monkey a typewriter and enough time… it’ll tap out a word or two.

The fundamental problem with UUism and why it will always be relegated to the outer fringes of the religion landscape is because we don’t have a singular passion as a collective religious people. We don’t believe in something collectively with burning passion. We have let the genie of “believe whatever you want to believe” out of the bottle long ago and allowed our theological center to scatter to the winds.

Bring it back ministers. Bring back our theology. Preach from the pulpits and the street corners and everywhere in between the idea that we are all One… we all have a spark of The Divine and as such ARE One.

AND, more importantly that there is such a thing as unconditional, undeserved Love that tells us we belong despite are our shortcomings.

You do this, and you’ll create disciples that will have a burning in their heart which lead them to spread a message that can save souls and heal communities.