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Rumilluminations October 2012
By: Esther Powell
Posted on: Mon, October 01 2012 - 2:07 pm

October 31, 2012                               Madison, IN

Gee, I'm sorry if I have offended any Mormons by my comments on the historical facts of their religion.

Maybe it would console them to hear that I am an equal opportunity offender!

By reading a couple of books of the Apocrypha (those religious texts rejected by the Bishops of Nycene) and listening years ago to a couple of History Channel TV shows about Jesus I have come to the tentative belief that Christ was a problem child who had a more rational twin (known to us as Doubting Thomas) who was married as an adult (no problem in my eyes.)

I have no problem with someone ridiculing my beliefs.  They are just that - beliefs.  Not being God, I am not offended by disagreement.  (Well, actually, He probably wouldn't be either, if He existed and blah blah blah....)

My definition of religion is:  a sexy combination of charisma and lies that somehow persuades itself (and all its followers) that it (and they) hold a special position in the world.

To which idea I can only say, "Oink!  Oink!"

Oh!  And a Happy Halloween to you, too!

October 29 and 30, 2012                        Madison, IN

I was surprised to see I hadn't written for two days.  Monday I was obsessed with getting phones and yesterday I was obsessed with the storm and the consequences of the storm.

Nobody is saying it, but the worst may be to come (as in the aftermath of Katrina) and I'm hoping that won't happen.

The other thing nobody is saying, is might this not be just as devastating to the U.S. as 9-11 was?

And if not, is it because of our war-mongering response to 9-11?

Just asking.

October 28, 2012                                Madison, IN

No doubt the height of Fall is over now.  The rain has torn the leaves off half the trees and the cold has robbed them of most of their color.

In fact, add a few snow flurries and this could be November.

Not to think of creature comforts with the approach of gray skies and cold winds would be insanity.

There is a reason for the inventions of hot chocolate, hot toddies and mulled cider.

Afghans, blankets, jackets and mittens are all mighty consolations against the onslaught of miserable Winter.

The crown of these comforts, though, are my Wicked Good Slippers.  Cold feet are instantly soothed by soft furry warmth - I can't help it if I sound like an advertisement!

The only thing better would be two fuzzy kittens wrapped around my feet, purring.

October 26, 2012                                Madison, IN

A while back I wrote about flunking a computer test I needed to pass for employment, the only objective question of which was about who causes most employee accidents.

Actually I have never been called in for an interview after taking a computer "psychology" test.  This one was supposed to be about honesty - "no big deal" my potential supervisor told me.

Ha, ha!  I just found out yesterday that my partner is one of very few who passed this test!

In fact, we were figuring that since the corporation took a while to get back to him, if more people had passed the test he might not have been hired.

After all, hiring a man in his late fifties with a degree from the New England Culinary Institute who has in the past been an executive chef for over a decade and has managed several kitchens might be a little intimidating.  It might be overkill to hire him to bake off desserts.

But they had to hire him!  He passed THE TEST!  They were desperate.

Now the college kids at Hanover are enjoying all sorts of sinful sweets and original combinations never before dreamed of, inimitable (possibly even by my partner!) blends of puddings, cake, cookies and candy that will probably lead to an epidemic of obesity on campus.

I am sick with envy - both of him and the lucky dessert-gobblers.

And six months from now, with my partner's coaching, I'm going to whup that computer test and get me a job catering - preferably as far as possible from his tantalizing fantasyland!

October 25, 2012                                 Madison, IN

Now let me get this straight:

A convicted rapist is taken into a federal penitentiary where he is given food, shelter and medical care, and where he cannot be forced to labor in any way, but

the victim of his crime resulting in pregnancy should be forced to suffer the nausea, discomfort, restrictions and life-threatening dangers of pregnancy not to mention the hard labor of bringing forth a full-term child because of some guy who thinks it is more important to answer to his individual conscience than to respect the reality of her experience?  Or a bunch of such guys?

Oh, I see.

No, I don't.  It is so sexist it is insane.

Don't try to tell any woman (or fifteen-year-old girl who is a rape victim) that she is worth less than a few ounces of potential life.

Well, actually, go ahead and tell her.  You've been doing it for so many centuries that she will probably believe it.

That is the only way a woman could dream of voting for a guy like Mourdock or Romney.

October 24, 2012                                 Madison, IN

Wow, the verdict in Italy against scientists for not being God is amazing.

What about holding the agents really responsible for the earthquake accountable?  (Anybody yet figured out how to imprison the earth, the forces of nature and the laws of physics?)

Ha, ha folks - just because scientists often don't believe in God doesn't mean they are offering to replace Him!

(Did we really invent God as an entity to blame/not blame?)

And if an earthquake isn't God's fault even though He is supposed to be all-powerful, remind me again why it is the fault of a human being?

I have entered into a time-capsule and am being transported back to the 16th century.

 Or are we entering a New Dark Age?

October 23, 2012                                Madison, IN

Yesterday my partner and I took a ride on the other side of the river.  I've wanted to do it since we moved here, but somehow we never got around to it.  Maybe I thought it would be kind of like the highways along the northern side of the Ohio east of here - replete with a lot of civilization.

First you pass some trailer parks and little private campgrounds that ought to be handy if we have some visitors who want to rough it a little.  Clifty Falls is beautiful and handy, but I'm thinking this might be a good fall-back option if the State Park campground is full.

After the campgrounds you pass farmland including a pumpkin field that we had no clue was there!  The road gets hillier and winds around with rock outcroppings wooded areas.

We took a left when the riverbank road promised to end, and went up into more wild beauty before farmland again took over.

We're looking forward to picking up the next road west along the river's edge and seeing what is in store farther downstream.  

October 22, 2012                                 Madison, IN

I was wondering why I date my stuff.  Isn't that kind of pretentious, I thought?  Who do I think I am?

But of course, I answered myself, my thoughts have evolved a lot! I don't want people skewering me with my past ideas with no recourse on my part of saying, "When did I say that?  Oh well, that was five years ago!  I feel differently now."

So now I think, what makes me think anyone reads or cares that much about my opinions?  Isn't that kind of pretentious, I think?

Who do I think I am?

Ha, ha, ha, ha!

October 21, 2012                                 Madison, IN

We always hear about March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb.

But what about that other supremely transitional month, October?

October has always been one of my favorite months.  I love the crisp air, the gorgeous fall display of colors and the crunch of leaves under my feet.  Yet in my life October is accompanied by angst and fear of loss - maybe because it is followed by November.

October comes in like a party and goes out like an exile!

The other day I was wondering:  what is it I start feeling the last week or two of October?

It came to me.  I feel hunted.

Then I had to laugh.  Years ago I did that animal card totem divining and the deer was my chief totem.

This evening I went on a walk up the Heritage Trail.  I realized regretfully that I probably wouldn't see a deer.  Too many people around.

All of a sudden, on the most exposed and industrial part of my whole walk, I saw a deer emerge from the woods along the river.  It leapt and bounded toward me.  I just stood straight and watched it.

She ran by within fifteen feet of me, almost flat-out galloping to get past me quickly, then returned to leaping, crossing a road and running up along the tracks into the woods by the pretty part of the trail.

I had never seen a deer run right by me like that - I watched it for the equivalent of at least two or three blocks.

A minute or two later a dad and a toddler on a bike came up the path, and a man with a large dog emerged from the woods at the same point as the deer.  The dog owner hadn't even seen her, but reported having had deer on the run brush right by him on occasion.

Hmmm.  Seems as if someone else felt hunted - and it is hunting season here!


October 20, 2012                             Madison, IN

I remember whining years ago about the possibility of people voting against their own economic interest.

I rhetorically asked the question, "Why?  Why?"

Rich people!  I wasn't talking to you!

I meant the lower and middle classes.  I wasn't talking to people who could well afford to vote against their economic interests.

Of course the upper classes should - noblesse oblige and all that.  Or as Lillian Hellman's dad put it:  Give the poor whatever they ask for.

Well, it ain't gonna happen, of course.  I can hardly wait to read that new book Plutocrats by Chrystia Freeland.

She says the economic interests of the very very rich are very very important to them and they don't need us any more to support them with either our labor or with our purchases.

We are going to have to be extremely creative and create our own wealth.

In the meantime, maybe I have talked a family into adopting a very sweet stray kitty (hope, hope!)

Hmmm... maybe I have the makings of a star saleswoman.

Give me something new to sell, America!


October 19, 2012                              Madison, IN

I'm hanging my head.

Mitt Romney is definitely right about me.  At least 47% of me - well, let me break it down for you.

20% of me definitely feels victimized - but only in comparison to the 1% of me that feels like a Queen - in my fantasy, of course.  Oh, and also in comparison to the poor of the world, which makes my 20% victimization sector look like a princess.

At least .5% of me has accepted help from the State or Federal Government - and I take so little responsibility for my life that I usually don't care where the help comes from.  Why, my husband and I were even given financial help from religious organizations - another .5% of me got that.

Of course, we responded to their pleas for monetary and non-monetary help also.  Mitt should understand that - oh, did he get supported by his Church when he was proselytizing?  Oh.

As for personal responsibility - heaven forbid that I should take that for the paltry amount I have managed to squeeze out of all the people I have been dependent on.  I mean, look at the dependents of the 1%!  They've certainly done better on the percentage ladder than I have.

On the other hand, 80% of me is probably guilty of not earning my way in the "real" world (as I said to a friend once, "My world is real, too!)  Unlike Ayn Rand, I believe in household economy and the value of moral support. 

Mitt is right about something else, too!

He's not going to change my mind!  He can't!  Ha, ha!  I've already voted by absentee ballot.

I omitted Mitt - 100%.


October 18, 2012                             Madison, IN

Wow - how to pick up after so many days off?

Should I talk about Columbus, IN, home of unusual architecture and a great children's downtown indoors play area - The Commons.  This place may house more than stuff for kids, but we were play-oriented.  Not only that, but on the way there we saw fall color and a field full of ripe pumpkins!  We are looking forward to going back.

Should I talk about separation of Church and State?  The encroachment of religion on school and government has been bothering me ever since I heard about government subsidy of charitable organizations run by churches (where did that come from I thought in shocked surprise).  Silly me.

Subtle pressure and not-so-subtle coercion can be the result of this kind of favoritism and subsidy.  Even something that didn't bother me as a child, the use of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, bothers me now.  I see the give-an-inch-take-a-mile phenomenon occurring here.  I suggest that all people who are uncomfortable with evoking God during the pledge recite "over dog" where "under God" is expected.  It is still very Creationist!

The all-or-nothing mentality is simplistic - almost never to be applied to social or physical phenomena.  Just because I am an agnostic does not make me the AntiChrist.  Start bullying me, and I will come out against you.  Bullying is not a religious attribute, but a personal one.  (Now what mortal sin would bullying come under?  Pride?  Bearing false witness?  Anger?  Yep, it is definitely a mortal sin.  Er, oh, right.  I don't believe in Hell.  But bullying will sure strike a mortal blow against compassion and your own personal happiness.)

I'm still interested in moral and ethical issues, though - which shows a secularist can be!

I among many.



October 12, 2012                              Madison, IN

So many things churning around upstairs and down, inside and out, it is hard to seize on any one topic.

Airline flights and family reunions and mind-blowingly adorable first grand-children?

A predawn drive featuring a skunk turning its back and lifting its tail  (My partner: "What are you going to do, spray the car?")  and silver-eyed raccoons crossing the road and a big sideways golden crescent moon appearing suddenly in a gap between the trees on the side of the road?

Speculation on where the expression, "Dear me?" comes from?  ("Me" a substitute for the word "God"?  Why would we call ourselves "dear"?  Got any explanations?)

Wondering why sometimes the toneless "ringing" in my ears is more like multi-species insect cacaphony, and other times I think I'm experiencing total peace and silence?  (Or must have experienced it, otherwise how could I possibly sleep - or is that really just a matter of conscious attention?)  Does the lack of stimulation (whether by my physical movements or sound waves) make the noise stop?  I never think about it upon waking!

Whew!  Life is sure interesting.


October 10, 2012                               Madison, IN

I can't believe I have allowed almost two days to pass without writing.

It shows how tenuous are habits can be - not that I don't like to think writing is more than a mere habit.

I blame my new disorientation on the sleep deprivation caused by trying to retire at 8:30 or 9:00 and wake up at 3:30, keeping company with my mate.

Groggy by noon, I am dozey for the afternoon and not worth much.

Still new to town (not yet here for six months) life is interesting but bizarre.

Family coming tomorrow, I may be lackadaisical about my usual anchors to sanity for days. 

October 8, 2012                                 Madison, IN

I'm presently reading a book, Nonbeliever Nation by David Niose, which mentions, as part of an exposition of the secular element of our population here in the U.S., the fact that the least religious industrialized countries have the lowest crime rates.

I don't know why this surprised me.  I've certainly heard meaner-spirited, more violent talk from Christians in recent years than I have heard from my more nonreligious friends.  It has also seemed to me that too much religion (often related to too intense family relationships) has frequently been the cause of way too much suffering.

Too little freedom and flexibility of behavior often seems to lead to breakouts and breakdowns of all kinds.

The text I am reading now fails to say that the correlation between religion and low crime rates is necessarily a cause and effect one, but makes the point that we secularists at least cannot be accused of creating high crime rates.

Ha!  I have been feeling on the defensive about my lack of faith recently - much more than in the past.  Now I realize that it is because the climate around me has changed.

What a sad state of affairs!  Why do we bind ourselves to beliefs that bring so much suffering if they don't even result in better behavior?

And why am I saying "we?"  I'm removing myself from this state of experience.

I do believe that the truth has set me free, and not in the way that religions teach!

October 7, 2012                                 Madison, IN

Interesting that we have developed debate as a way to evaluate Presidential candidates.

I think the verbal fence-offs were a way to substitute for the original ones - swordfights and duels.

The pen (or in the case of verbal performance, the tongue!) is mightier than the sword.  (Another argument to try to get justice promoted to a higher level than fisticuffs.)

It harks back to the old standard:  might makes right.

It is noteworthy that candidate Romney might be better at debate than President Obama, but would that make him a better President?

Ironically enough, diplomacy and bargaining are the abilities needed in political leaders both foreign and domestic - debate has little place.

Of course I am only arguing this way because my preferred candidate did not show up well in the first debate.  That is what made me explore the issue!

It doesn't invalidate my question.

October 5, 2012                                  Madison, IN

When a person explodes a bomb in an airplane, he's not just a murderer, he's a multiple murderer - charged with two hundred deaths, maybe.

So I guess Romney must have told 50 million lies when he lied during the debates.  Then the lies are circulated (by people who believe them) so he could be accused of many more counts of spreading misinformation.

People listen to the debates because they want to hear from a candidate's own mouth what he believes in.  They don't trust the pundits as much.  For some reason they expect the commentators to be less honest than the participants.

Kind of naive, aren't we?  It's like thinking that the referees and sports commentators are the ones who are on steroids rather than that the players are.

None of us citizens should be completely impartial in this race for the presidency, and every candidate has his manic followers, but hey, if the candidates are going to lie to you, aren't you just as happy to get the report afterwards as have to listen to the whole debate yourself?

Why not, if one of the debaters "wins" with lies anyway?

Romney's words on steroids!  Knocking out 50 million viewers with one sentence.

Poor Obama!  Poor commentators!  What have you, Dear Reader, done in the past when someone lied to your face?

Don't usually call him on it, do you?

What's the use?  He has put himself beyond the pale.

You write him off.


October 4, 2012                                   Madison, IN

Life is such an amazing phenomenon that it is no wonder people want to think of it as a "creation" of some kind of higher intellect.

We humans like to think that our "intelligence" is what put us at the (by our own estimation) "top" of the animal kingdom.

But let's face it - everybody living on the planet now had ancestors who were either "smart" enough or "lucky" enough to survive long enough to procreate.

If it is our own ancestors we're talking about we think, "smart."  Everyone else's ancestors, presumably, were merely "lucky."

Ha, ha, ha!

We're all lucky.

Or to put it another way:  God has been with us all!

October 3, 2012                                    Madison, IN

The thing about Romney's "47 percent" comment that is so disturbing is not so much its lack of correctness or fairness (well, that too!) as that it expresses such a profound lack of respect for his fellow citizens.

I was taught to accord any human being respect as a matter of course.  You may not approve of someone's lifestyle or actions, but you respected their humanity.

That was an ideal, of course.  In truth the people who taught me respect were not always that good at bestowing it, and obviously I'm not always mindful of respecting my fellow humans.

But that a Presidential candidate should stand up and verbally grind almost half the population under his heel bespeaks a lack of respect for the rest of us that I find insurmountable.

It leads me to suspect that Mitt Romney isn't good enough to be president.

Not that he's not GOOD enough (although obviously in foreign policy he isn't).

He's just not good enough.

October 1, 2012                                    Madison, IN

I saw a greeting card the other day which defined the word honor as (roughly paraphrased) a good thing done and kept silent about.

When did silence come into the concept of honor?  I have looked the word up in the dictionary and it doesn't say anything about silence.

You don't have to be silent to be honorable.  Bringing the word silence into the issue sounds like thieves' honor or gangsters' honor, which is actually an oxymoron.

To behave with honor has nothing to do with silence, unless what you want to say is slander or false witness, lies meant to deceive, and all other forms of speech that comprise dishonorable behavior in themselves.

I get so upset about this because people should not be confused into thinking they should remain silent about any behavior at all.  If they decide to be quiet in a certain situation, it may be the polite thing to do.  It may be the tactful thing to do.  It may even be the ideal thing to do.

But silence has nothing to do with honor.  Speech cannot detract from an honorable act, except that by bragging the honorable one might subtract a little from his dignity and heroic mystique.

If anything, people are too often silent about actions that make a huge difference in the lives of others.

What is the big deal about silence, anyway?

If you have such a problem with speech, why not go off and live with the animals in the wild?


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