Strange and Wonderful

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Wintry stream in Nantahala Gorge

In a mountain cabin on a rainy day, I read this passage from Edward Abbey.  The acerbic naturalist offers something we need to hear as more and more voices call us to be distracted to other worlds, beyond this strange and wonderful home.

“How strange and wonderful is our home, our earth, with its swirling vaporous atmosphere, its flowing and frozen liquids, its trembling plants, its creeping, crawling, climbing creatures, the croaking things with wings that hang on rocks and soar through fog, the furry grass, the scaly seas. . .

Yet, some among  us have the nerve, the insolence, the brass, the gall to whine about the limitations of our earthbound fate and yearn for some more perfect world beyond the sky.  We are none of us good enough for the sweet earth we have, and yet we dream of heaven.”

-from Appalachian Explorations, quoted in George Ellison, High Vistas, Vol II

If Only Our White Jesus Were President and the Bible Was Our Constitution (Again)

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The View from Mayberry?

These two articles reveal the numbing effects of coal-fired trumpery* on millions of small town folk (Mount Airy–fictional Mayberry–is a nearby town):

Mayberry and returning to White Christian America (WaPo)

Why Rural America Voted for Trump (NYT)

Remember, there are MILLIONS of these folks, who believe the Golden Gospel of God’s New Apprentice (the President-Electoral) and complain their kids go off to college and return (IF they return) with “progressive, secular” ideas.  No wonder these towns are dying out. . .on tourism life-support.

Really can’t blame “Liberals” for this level of ignorance.  I continue to blame the exceptionally poor religious education in America, only exceeded by the exceptionally poor memory of history and social studies education.

In case you’ve forgotten. . .

*Trumpery (Webster’s)

a : worthless nonsense
b : trivial or useless articles

Synonyms
applesauce [slang], balderdash, baloney (also boloney), beans, bilge, blah (also blah-blah), blarney, blather, blatherskite, blither, bosh, bull [slang], bunk, bunkum (or buncombe), claptrap, codswallop [British], crapola [slang], crock, drivel, drool, fiddle, fiddle-faddle, fiddlesticks, flannel [British], flapdoodle, folderol (also falderal), folly, foolishness, fudge, garbage, guff, hogwash, hokeypokey, hokum, hoodoo, hooey, horsefeathers [slang], humbug, humbuggery, jazz, malarkey (also malarky), moonshine, muck, nerts [slang], nuts, piffle, poppycock, punk, rot, rubbish, senselessness, silliness, slush, stupidity, taradiddle (or tarradiddle), tommyrot, tosh, trash, nonsense, twaddle

Discoveries

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Another stunning piece from Eduardo Galeano, Children of the Days

“In 1492 the natives discovered they were Indians,

they discovered they lived in America,

they discovered they were naked,

they discovered there was sin,

they discovered they owed obedience to a king and a queen from another world and a god from some other heaven,

and this god had invented guilt and clothing

and had ordered burned alive all who worshipped the sun and the moon and the earth and the rain that moistens it.”

The Path Ahead. . .

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Climbing the Christmas Tree

Following my own personal Solstice tradition, I climbed a tree on my Christmas Day birthday.

Lots of sticks and vines to weave myself through, so I didn’t get that far up this time.

As for what’s ahead on the path this new year. . .that’s unclear and uncertain.

The trail looks pretty tangled through a shadowy forest.

But I sense it will lead deeper or higher into the natural world.

They’ll be more trees to climb.

Seasons and Skies

This has been the year of The Sky for me.

Can’t explain it, except. . .Beauty.

Keep Looking Up.

(all photos by Chris Highland)

Even My Dentist Gets the True Meaning of the Season

The True and Real Reason for the Season?

Kindness, compassion, generosity, peace.

Here’s the card my dentist sent out to patients:

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Celebrate Respect

Many deplorably ignorant people would call this “political correctness” but it’s just the right, the good, the respectful and nice thing to do, isn’t it?

(btw, it used to be, this was also the “Christian Love” of the season, before Christmas itself became a weapon in the fake “war”).

I have no idea whether my dentist is a person of faith.  But, it seems, he’s a person of intelligence and respectfulness.

Thanks, Doctor!

Real News: Beware of Fake Faith News!

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Real or Fake? What Really Happened? What’s True and what’s a Lie?

Ah, it’s Christmas-time, the wonderful season when Fake Faith News finds “persecution!” as well as “miracles!” everywhere.

For instance. . .

  1. Elementary school in Pennsylvania cancels their school play, “A Christmas Carol”
  2. Rumor is. . .it was cancelled because Tiny Tim says, “God Bless Us Everyone”
  3. Breitbart, FOX, other conservative local stations pick up the story and RUN
  4. Definitely a case of Christian Persecution!!
  5. The school gets hundreds of calls. . .Jewish family doesn’t feel safe. . .Facebook comments are threatening (this is a new Christian virtue, you know)
  6. The school responds with this Reasonable Response:

“Over the years, preparations had evolved to take 15 to 20 hours of instructional (educational) time to produce this play. Given changes in state standards in recent years, we could not defend the commitment of this kind of instructional time to something not part of the fifth grade curriculum. The teachers agreed that they did not want our students to be put at a disadvantage relative to their peers from other schools in preparation for 6th grade; therefore, the play was cancelled.
… One rumor we’ve been addressing is that one or two families influenced this decision. That’s just not true. The instructional time issue was our primary concern.

See, that damn Education is a Threat to Religious Liberty!

Well, I sure hope that community will now have a Very Merry Christmas. . .

I often wonder if it’s time to teach kids to Fact-Check Faith as well.

How do we know what is fake or true when it comes to faith, religion, god, holidays. . .?


Here’s some Real News that’s encouraging:

The News Literacy Project is now available to students:

“The Classroom Where Fake News Fails” (NPR)

“Many schools — perhaps most — aren’t doing nearly enough to help students learn how to sort fact from social-media fiction. But some are.”

“These teens say they get their news largely from the social media on their smartphones. An infinite stream of stories. Some true. Some false. Much of it written by strangers hoping their readers can’t tell the difference.”

Reasons People Choose Atheism

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Choosing a Path

A religion teacher at Cal Irvine compiled a remarkable list of reasons that people in history have decided to choose non-theism.  It’s worth a scan down the list.

Little Things Can Make an Atheist

A few of my favorites:

“Jesus as a ‘son of God’ is just as suspect as all other ancient ‘sons of God’ whose mothers were impregnated by a God. This was common in the era Christianity arose in, and Christianity simply adopted the god-man motif.”

“If Jesus’s purpose was ‘to die’ for humanity, it would have made no difference how he died. He could have died of smallpox or a fever or from slipping on ice.”

“Since most people who ever lived have never been Christians, most people are going to hell—and thus the devil wins the cosmic battle.”

“The heavenly Father is like an earthy father who continually watches over his toddler children and allows them to handle sharp knives and then blames them and not himself when they cut themselves and each other.”

“Theists have fought fellow theists to the death for thousands of years. And yet it is inconceivable that an army of chemists should kill botanists, or that astronomers should kill geologists.”

What bothers me the most sometimes is that billions in our world are never told that there are other choices, other paths, they can freely choose.