I’m not sure what I was expecting to uncover

I’m not sure what I was expecting to uncover, walking through the same neighborhoods that I ran through exactly twelve years ago. Was I expecting to see someone who would recognize me, or perhaps run into myself of that era? Why am I so possessed of the desire to be inserted into other times or alternate versions of this universe? Why can’t I be happy with my particular time and place and version of this universe?

After all, I am one of the privileged. I am reminded of this every single day by liberal friends who want me to clearly recognize that if I weren’t who I am, my life would surely be most miserable and unfair.

A memory of being overly excited as my mom lay on her death bed. I wasn’t happy that she was dying, I was suddenly possessed with the realization that this was the last time in this lifetime I would have any sort of happiness due to the fact that I had my mother to talk to. In other words, I had better get in my appreciation and happiness for having a mom to talk to now, because it was about to go away. Indeed, within a day or so, I couldn’t talk to her anymore, and then she died a week or so later.

If we all were suddenly given a complete and sure understanding of the future, and the future was presented to us as a clearly bleak and grim one where Trump declared martial law, enslaved or removed forty percent of the population and began launching nukes at any country that offended him on Twitter–some of us would rise up and try to prevent it from happening, and others would become crazily happy knowing that it was the final hour of their cherished way of life.

I was thinking more about the movie Scrooged, and why the movie hasn’t inspired more people to stop being like the Bill Murray character. In truth, most of us have a mixture of the Scrooge and the do-gooder in us. We really want to have both–we want to show the world that we are strong, successful people who have made it on our own without any help, and we also want to show the world that we are kind-hearted people who can freely give of our time and talents without measuring the cost. Occasionally, along comes someone like Donald Trump, who appears to have no sense of charity about him, and we might think that such a character would never get close enough to the oval office–not in our country. But, I guess enough generations have passed since the Great Depression and WWII that people have forgotten what it is like to give a man like that so much power, and people have forgotten what it was like to be on the receiving end of so much unchecked greed.

There is probably also some truth to the fact that in any society of genuinely good and kind-hearted people, all it takes is a few pushy, greedy bad apples to rise to the top and convince even the most kind-hearted that it is okay to be a little more on the greedy side than the charitable side.

Someone else might take the especially long view of our country’s history, and see the butchering of Native Americans and enslavement of African Americans, and general mistreatment of many others like Japanese Americans during WWII, and conclude that we have an awful lot of bad coming to us–a bunch of bad karma stored up that we haven’t paid for yet.

I’m not sure why I’m going off on this tangent. It’s the general malaise of knowing that the season of plenty and peace is almost over, and the rough times are ahead, and yet I don’t really know what to do about any of it. Should I be prepping for doomsday, steeling myself for some kind of martyrdom, studying up on the software skills I need to have to move to New Zealand, or being like most everyone else and just waiting and seeing what happens?

I sure wish I could be a much better person than I am. I wish I was more charitable, magnanimous, kind, and willing to empathize with the other, even when the other is at complete odds with me politically. I sometimes strive greatly to be that kind of person, and I always fall mightily into these deep funks of despair and anger at the world–going sometimes to an almost polar opposite extreme of that kind of person and finding fault with every single human being on earth.

I wish I was genuinely kind and charitable.

It is so easy to look into the past and see the way that people behaved to each other, and declare that we are much more advanced and enlightened today. Individuals might be of a mind to say that as a society, we haven’t advanced as much as we’d like to think, but I, this particular individual, am particularly enlightened and am a model and will be a model for future generations who are to become as enlightened as I am. In other words, each of us likes to think that we are not inescapably entrenched in our own culture like the rest of the schmucks who comprise our culture.

I am moving into a phase where I am going to be pretty much straight with reality

I am moving into a phase where I am going to be pretty much straight with reality. No more hoping for a mystical experience. No more dreams. No more delving into secret ancient texts in hopes of unveiling novel wisdom. Reality has kicked my butt, but for good. My prayers are going to be basic prayers for forgiveness and prayers to kill my haywire self.

Simplicity. Basic awareness of my being. Awareness of other beings. Freedom from oppressive thoughts and desires. The will aligned with the self. The self aligned with the world that it apprehends as is. There are no more alternate realities, higher planes, demons, angels. This is not to say that they don’t exist, but they don’t exist for me. If they one day decide to insert themselves into my world, then they will exist for me.

Why am I a Christian? Because I’ve tried to not be one, and I couldn’t make it as a non-Christian. Because it is the tradition deeply embedded inside of me from my earliest days. I could no more stop being a Christian than I could stop being a man. Which is to say that it’s possible to do, but the shoe wouldn’t fit.

I am not a Christian because I am especially righteous. I am giving up the pious schtick. I am not righteous. I am not even that nice. I frankly don’t care what you are. Would I stop being a Christian if some dictator told me to stop or die? I don’t know. I can’t say because this hasn’t happened yet. Do I believe in heaven and hell? I do, but I don’t think anyone has ever properly and certainly stated what these two places actually are. I am more inclined to think of hell as being the perpetual wheel of death and rebirth as espoused by Buddhists, and heaven as a place you can return to when you are 100% done with living and dying as a human being.

But, I don’t even wish to speculate on these things anymore. It does me no good. The most good that I’ve gotten out of life has been when I just decide to go out and do life. I wake up and I exist. I go about my business, and I care little about the business of others, except when they need my help and ask for it. Do I care anymore about what happens during the Trump years? Only as much as I’ve always cared about what might happen under any president, at any time. The odds of Trump becoming a dictator are slightly higher than they would be with Hillary or past presidents, but it’s not unthinkable that just about anyone would have/could have declared martial law and taken away all of our freedoms.

I want my days to be sweeter and lighter than they have been. I have been carrying around these heavy loads that belong to others or belong to no one. I formed such heavy loads for the sake of thinking I needed a weight on my back like everyone else seems to have. Maybe it’s time to just stop worrying altogether. When an opportunity presents itself, it will. If it doesn’t, that’s fine, too.

My own world hasn’t changed much in the past twenty years outside of the various self-created dramas and illnesses and conflicts. If I removed my own will and ego from the picture, I can see that what was left was pretty much the same life being lived out from day to day. I got excited about things that I wasn’t genuinely excited about and got upset about things I didn’t especially need to be upset about in hopes of attracting the interest of a wealthy mentor or a lovely spouse. I can see now that at the end of the day I was just a dud–a rather uninteresting man who preferred to walk and jog and read a book or two, and put a few thoughts down on paper. I needed little else.

The world of being that is free from preconceived notions about what that being must look like is actually a very sweet world. It is uninteresting to others, and it will never be a world that gets its own television series, but it is a world far more lovely, safe and comfortable than a world full of drugs, alcohol, live music, tattoos, video games, etc.

Numb

Numb. Behold, you are among the numb ones. You stubbed your toe and the infection grew, and you paid it no mind. Outside, there is mindless progress. We need to get busy doing something because we are lapsing into irrelEce. It is time to wake up and do. Be productive. Be numb, but by all means, keep moving. The winter will come and stare at you from all directions. Yours is a grey, cracked canvas.

Your people were once proud. So were everyone else’s people. The things your people take pride in today are not things a human being should be proud of. But, that’s the great thing about human beings. They can become quite proud of most anything. All of them snapping miserable little snatches of Time with their phones and showing their friends, but not saying a word…hoping for exceeding praise. We all want the crowd of strangers to be just as excited about us as we are.

This was an odd time, indeed, when someone was more likely to greatly lament the passing of a celebrity than the passing of an old friend, family member or someone they knew reasonably well. Was there ever a golden time and place for humanity? Some of the greatest paintings were painted and symphonies composed while outside people lost their heads or burned at the stake. This could be the golden era, though it is doubtful that students some hundreds of years from now will see it as so.

What will we talk about when we have determined that everything we can say to each other will make us hate one another? Why do we need to build a physical wall when we are already pretty adept at building virtual ones and metaphorical ones and metaphysical ones? The wall that is coming is a tsunami and it will wreck all of our petty little walls. Lord, I have been a sinful man. Yes, I’ve sinned all of the usual sins, but most of all, I failed to love my neighbor. I sought out many others whom I felt were more worthy of my love, but my neighbor was to awkwardly not me.

It was, in fact, easier for me to love my neighbor from behind my walls. It was easier to go some place and call a man my neighbor when I could get my neighboring in small doses. It was easier for me to love neighbors who were vastly different than me than the ones who were more or less like me but awkwardly not quite me. Who were those men who looked a lot like me but talked in grunts and clumsy pauses, assenting joyously to news of sports scores and battle victories? Men of my own kin, more flesh and blood of mine than anyone else on the planet, and yet more different than so many others. Confident, comfortable men who had no anxiety about letting out another notch on the belt to make room for the next trip to the buffet.

It was easier for me to love the “not me”–the man or the woman who was clearly and exceptionally not me in some distinct way. Was this because I couldn’t love myself, or couldn’t accept that God loves me, too, and loves those men who were so much like me in many ways but spoke a different language than the one I knew?

By the time I’d reached a certain age, I’d formed these deep grooves inside my brain over what an experience was supposed to look and feel like. If an experience wasn’t behaving as expected, it was quickly dismissed as being irrelEt to my overall mission on this earth. Eventually, I stopped having any experiences that were noteworthy. I experienced existence. A moment of crisis might entail something like heartburn or a stiff neck from a bad pillow.

I became easily lulled into thinking that the world out there and the world in here would never meet in a jarring sort of way. I had the occasional reminder by way of a traffic ticket or a call to jury duty that someone out there was still keeping track of me. But, for the most part, I could rant and rave inside my house and on my blog all day long and nobody paid me any mind. The loudest of the ranters whom I more or less agreed with–he still wasn’t loud enough to change anything, so how would I be able to?

Main impetus: that there is still something to be said that has yet to be said perfectly to the right audience

Main impetus: that there is still something to be said that has yet to be said perfectly to the right audience. That in continuing to write both the mundane and the profound, I will inevitably unleash something revelatory, inspirational and novel. The disappointment comes when I read what I’ve written and realize that I’ve already said it many times before, or some greater thinker already said it hundreds or thousands of years before me.

Is the main impetus born out of an egotistic desire for glory, or a true, God-pushed sense of mission?

What have I not said that could be something left to for me to say?

For some, the ultimate moment in history will be when humans create an artificial intelligence that is smarter than us and outlives us, and indeed co-exists within the human organism in such a way as to make manmade components, machine-made components and nature-made components indistinguishable and inseparable from each other. For others, the ultimate moment in history will be when Jesus returns to the earth to separate the wheat from the chaff. For still others, there will come a day when all of humanity learns to cooperate and get along together, and no human being on earth will have to suffer, live in poverty, or be treated as less than human by another human being. For a few, there will be a moment in the evolution of human consciousness when we finally become prepared to talk to our ancient alien star ancestors. For those with much less of any sort of teleological bent, there is no such thing as an ultimate moment in history. Our civilization will die like so many others, and what comes to replace it won’t look that much different than our own, but will be better in some ways.

It is impossible for me to overthrow the drive in my brain that dictates to me that I live purposefully. Some days, I am doing nothing more than hanging on until I have an inkling of what my purpose is, and other days, I think I know exactly what my purpose is. But, the sense of needing to live and exist until death with actions dictated by some inkling of an ultimate purpose never escapes me no matter how hard I would will it to.

Generally speaking, when I query that voice that compels me so, it responds with a “help others…” and little else. Is what I’m doing with my writing helpful to others, or is it simply the work of an ego that wants to be remembered for having done something–or is my ego a symptom of this drive that is within me–the ego is a means to get me to do my purpose here on earth whether I feel like it or not?

In this new book I want to write

In this new book I want to write, I want to write only about things that all human beings can recognize as being true. I don’t want to be me, but I want to be each person that reads my words. I want to be filled with the memories and thoughts that brought you to this place where you drew these particular conclusions about what was true and what wasn’t. This is why I write so much in the second person. I strives to become You.

I want to define in a short list what is perfectly good and what is perfectly evil, and then everything else can get in line behind either one, and it will be so obvious who or what needs to be removed from the book.

What is evil, but a turning away from God? So says Augustine. All of this stuff–pop musicians, cartoons, fast food, cars, etc.–it’s not good or evil. The only place that evil appears is when a human being falls in love with stuff more than God. However, the God most humans think they are in love with is just another idol as well–one they’ve erected in their heads and churches. The best way to turn toward loving God completely is to turn toward loving your fellow man. If you are always running to the other side of the street to avoid engaging even eye contact with someone, then you are turning away from God. You might be trying to get away from perfectly harmless human conversation and activity that is simply invading your sense of personal space, but you are ultimately cutting yourself off from humans.

It’s not just the very rich who cut themselves off from humanity–it’s anyone who has the means to place themselves in a bubble of self sufficiency and ignore their neighbors. It’s all of us, or at least most of us.

Is a $650 pair of shoes being sold on a street trafficked by many who don’t have shoes or have only the thinnest of flip-flops covering their feet a certain kind of evil? It is a symptom or sign of the way in which enough of us have made it clear we are willing to turn away from fellow human beings. Would banning that price or those shoes make a difference? Of course not, no government is ever going to successfully legislate what it means to be a decent human being until Christ comes back. Stop waiting for that perfect President to make everything right. There is no perfect ruler of us all except the triune God.

The shop that sells that $650 pair of shoes can only meet its demise in a proper sort of way when each of us decides that such a price for shoes is absurd and the money saved is money that could go to helping others have warm, comfortable pairs of shoes during the winter. But, each of us has to decide that for ourselves. Any one of us who is forced to make that decision without having come to it completely of our own accord is going to be representative of us not getting to where we need to be, yet.

Where we need to be is each individual returning to God, which is really returning to the least of these here on earth. No matter how much we strive to do it, we will need to keep being reminded of how we need to come back.

It is the first part of your dream

It is the first part of your dream. You will move in and out a lot through these dreamscapes, expanding and contracting, stretching and reaching and then making yourself as inwardly compact as possible. You are tethered to a human form who is being encoded with a particular set of information, or data, if you will. The useful stuff of you is the information that you bring back to us. The data is largely that which overlaps with other conscious entities. If you simply wake up and collect data without processing it in any fashion, you are useless to us, but if you wake up and take that data and make something meaningful and interesting and maybe even occasionally novel with it, then we find that to be exceptionally useful.

Imagine if you will a territory, place, state of being or higher manifestation of reality that is simply Love and Being. Within this, a tiny pocket from which pieces of that greater Being break off so that the Being can be both subject and object, knower and known, lover and loved. Most of the pieces will immediately fall into the great Void which represents the endless non-space of anti-Being within this pocket. We are talking about dimensions above and beyond the one that you know, and so you can’t rule out the possibility of there being multiple infinities branching off into different directions–some of them are quite good, most of them are not.

“Oh, but it was just a dream…” you cry upon waking…a dream is a thing that is mostly made up of sights and sounds. Some dreams occasionally produce a sense of touch, even pain and pleasure, and a rare few will deliver a smell or two. But, to have a dream where you consume something and feel it in your gut like you do when you are awake–such a dream has never come to pass. A dream might properly convince you that you were empty and hungry one minute, and full the next, but there is not the relish of actually being nourished and having hunger satiated. This is the window into or way back to the reality most of us call reality. Someone might convince you that all of your memories were artificially implanted in your head mere minutes ago, and that you never lived a lifetime as you have lived. Another person might convince you that there is no such thing as Time, that your brain has evolved to make sense of the stuff “out there” in such a way that temporal instances get logged in a certain order. Without this order, you would never exist at all.

But then, there is this persistence of your You Self. You know you to be you and you were the same you some decades ago, even though that particular you may have been in many ways both physical and emotional a different sort of you. You persist. The more you persist in seeking what lies behind this You, this thing you know to be your one Known, the more you want to leave off from it, and lose yourself in a great sacrifice in which you give all that you have to give to other Yous.

The odd thing about the way in which this human civilization has advanced, if you wish to call it that, is that the technology has become increasingly more about information, data, sight and sound. People still long for experiences that include all of their flesh, and they like to try to capture those experiences using devices that record only the sights and sounds of those experiences, but at the same time, humans have innovated very little since the 1960s in ways that could potentially transform how they move about in physical space. For the most part, the cars on the road today are different by some degrees of sophistication, but almost all of them still burn the same fossil fuels they did decades ago. The planes in the air don’t differ much, either. The progress in aerospace technology has been muted and marked with slow and tiny moments of fist-pumping success. The arc of progress from 1900 to 1970 in the world of physical transportation has yet to be duplicated in terms of the acceleration of innovation. On the other hand, the acceleration of innovation in the information world over the past 20 years has been nothing short of seeming like magic. What someone can do now on a cheap, portable device and do it with someone anywhere in the world–this is almost beyond anything most sci-fi writers could have ever dreamed up. But what we can do is all information, data, sight and sound.

Why do you suppose that we can’t transform matter right before your eyes–to take the very atoms that are configured as such to be, say, a table, and transmute those atoms into atoms forming gold? Why do you suppose that we can’t make and grow a human in a tank, and grow the person up in a matter of weeks into a full grown adult, as an exact DNA copy of that human’s former self? Why can’t we travel back in Time–one day we might figure out how to communicate across to points in time with each other, but even this won’t be quite the stellar moment of having achieved true Time travel. Why can’t we pass through walls or move objects with our thoughts?

Our freedoms are restricted by our physical selves. Our past-times are flooded with humans who can do the most amazing things with their physical selves, but the difference in time between the 100m world champion and the average individual of average physical ability is negligible compared to the difference between the 100m world champion and a jet airplane. So, we built a jet airplane, we built rockets, we made it to the moon, but now what? Why are all of these private space ventures incredibly weak and pathetic–the rockets blow up half the time during launches, and at their best, they launch a rocket that gets a payload to a space station that hovers just above the earth? Why haven’t any of these private or government space organizations come up with a technology that can physically transport someone at near light speed, or collapse spacetime altogether and get a person to the other side of the known, physical universe? Have we reached our absolute limits of what we can do physically, or have we merely reached limits in our theories and understandings of the universe that are preventing us from taking exceptional leaps forward?

If we humans are utterly free to do as we wish, and we only have to determine the right methods to unlock what we need to do, why hasn’t some enterprising mad genius come up with some all-encompassing, all-powerful technology that this individual uses to enslave the rest of us? Or, has this already happened, and we are indeed a bunch of slaves, and we just don’t know it? If this is the Matrix, then who is to say that the real Reality looks anything like this one?

How come, in all of our leaps and bounds and advances of technology, not one breakthrough has been made in the science of aging to make a 70 year old look and feel every bit like a 20 year old? Is it because we have some immovable sense of this being a taboo and a transgression against Nature itself–that we must continue to age and die so that new generations may come upon the earth and experience what it means to be human, or is it because science has hit an utter wall and thrown its hands up, saying, “sorry, we’ve done a lot, and we can still do a lot, but we can’t stop people from growing old.” Such breakthroughs have been right around the corner for decades. The conspiracy-minded will say that the technology has been developed, but it’s not being handed out to anyone but a handful of the most elite of the elites–the hidden puppet masters who pull all the strings around the world. For them, even Donald Trump, Bill Gates, George Bush, etc. are puppets. If someone is a public figure, they are on a lower level of the echelon, and there are still levels of people above them.

How would these highest-ranking members of some kind of human pyramid system live? For many, these people are more demons than human. For others they are like vampires–they have found the holy grail of immortality but it has come at a great price. Less negative-minded people have imagined them to be like Buddhas–enlightened ones who can see the entire wheel of existence for what it is, and can play at the lowest and highest levels without needing to be concerned about getting mixed up in any sort of sticky karma goo.

In whatever dreams you might find yourself, you always want to seek out the primary question–why am I only able to experience the utter physicality of hunger and true nourishment in this one reality, this one physical one that no amount of virtual reality creators and spirit/astral world travelers can reproduce? Some would argue that has human beings we are mostly free to do whatever we please, while others would argue that we are mostly in chains, and the little freedom we occasionally experience is completely an illusion.

Once you remove the physical nature of someone’s reality out from under them, you can convince them of anything, unless they are grounded in some type of spiritual foundation. Unfortunately, almost everyone who does remain grounded in some type of spiritual foundation is mostly ignorant of what their faith tradition really tells them to do, and so they are actually even more pliable and open to manipulation. A human being must remain connected to the earth and the stuff of the earth, and that which about the human makes them of the earth. The connection must be a concrete one–loving the idea of fighting some big thing like climate change in the abstract while being incapable of changing one’s own contributions to climate change is the way most people live. A few remain connected to the earth, but there aren’t that many of you left. A spirituality devoid of a sense of stewardship of the planet and an understanding of how you are being nourished is a spirituality that is open to any kind of manipulation imaginable.

As long as you get physically hungry and feel physically nourished after consuming something that passes for food, you know that you are still alive. As long as you know that you are still alive and human, you are still connected with all other human beings, whether you want to be or not. No matter how badly you wish that you were not human, or not as much a human as the most poor, smelly person or rich, obnoxious person–you are, in fact, just as human as they are. You are as much of a human being as an ISIS fighter as you are a porn star as you are Donald Trump as you are the sweetest cooing little baby. No matter what kind of human being you can possibly imagine that you might think is the most awful sort of human you could be, that human being is still a human and so are you. Absolutely none of the systems of repression and injustice will change one whit on this earth as long as there is still at least one human being left with some amount of selfishness in their heart (specifically, the kind of selfishness that is willing to draw lines around who is really human and who isn’t). You can’t change any other human being until you are completely changed. Therefore, you cannot see the changes you wish to see, or wait around in a mansion for the world to change like some pop singer, until you change.

If you have hatred in your heart and wish to destroy even one other human being on this earth, even a really terrible and bad one, you are persisting in drawing a line around who is a human being and who isn’t. Are police and armies needed in this time and place? Yes, they are, but the most surprising thing you will discover is that they are needed and will continue to be needed until everyone has a certain change of heart about how they view the rest of humanity, and this includes you. It has to happen at the individual level, one-by-one. Will humans ultimately end up wiping each other out, and starting everything over again on some small scale? Probably, but this is not to say that it isn’t possible for humanity to yet change all of its individual hearts and connect in a new and profound sort of way.

Am I unusually packed full of paradoxes

Am I unusually packed full of paradoxes, or am I just more aware of my paradoxes than most people are? I strive to make a clean break with my past, and then long for an understanding of a continuous thread of identity formed by select memories. I declare that the material world matters little to me, and then I go and obsess over my bald spot to see if the minoxidil has accomplished anything. I swing erratically between not wanting to be anyone’s friend to wanting to be everyone’s friend, as I go from caring little about being your friend if you disagree with me at all about anything to caring about wanting to find common ground with all of God’s children.

Part of me is desperately seeking a human institution that I can utterly and completely believe in. I don’t want it to be some johnnie-come-lately group, either. I want something old, tried and true. And, I also know that every single institution under the sun has in some way perpetuated systems of abuse and injustice, even if the primary institution itself at its top level has the best intentions ever. I don’t want reality to be loosey-goosey and relative. I want it to be utterly absolute. This was always in me, but I tried to hide it from others because I knew that it wasn’t cool to be this way.

But, it doesn’t matter. I have to confess that this is in me, because I am either going to give into it completely and utterly at the expense of forfeiting a lot of critical thinking and my right to reserve great skepticism for the effectiveness of the institution–or, I am going to once and for all meet and deal with this part of me and rid myself of it.

What I want: A God who is all-loving, all-knowing and all-powerful. All indications of the contrary in this reality are due to the necessity of this God to create a pocket of non-Godness (like the tzimtzum) where beings with ultimate free will can operate. I want this God to also not be ever inclined to damn a single soul to eternal damnation until that soul has completely and utterly given itself over to pure evil. What’s more, I want to land upon the religion in this world that most completely reflects this kind of God, and utterly give myself over to that religion to the point of complete submission of Self. Yes, there is a part of me that wants to utterly and completely become a servant of God and to do so under a communal, human institution of some kind. The obvious candidates of religion are Judaism, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and to some degree Buddhism and some strains of Hinduism. Islam is probably the one religion that most clearly manifests the type of God I am seeking, but it is by and large the most alien to me of all these religions I’ve mentioned. I also feel strongly that the people of my religion should be almost always the underdogs throughout history. History isn’t over yet, and I think eventually Christians will be persecuted in much the same way as they were in their early years. I am unsure if Islam or Judaism will ever be the dominant power religions across the earth. Probably not, since militant Islam is quite polarizing and turns off would be converts and Judaism tends toward ethnic exclusivity.

I also find Judaism to be rather complicated in its myriad of laws. I appreciate the sentiment of striving for purity, but there seems to be a paradox inherent in trying to be more pure by adding more laws on top of what you should and shouldn’t do. Of course, the Judaism you practice can be of a varying kind, but the more purist adherents seem to inevitably be the ones who feel the need to follow the most laws.

***

I am writing this part at a later time. It is now Christmas Eve, and I’ve ranted about the absence of God and the state of the world and watched the movie Scrooged instead of the Sound of Music. I couldn’t help but see Trump in the Bill Murray character, except I don’t think three ghosts visiting Trump would do him much good. Maybe he is redeemable, maybe not. I probably also saw too much of myself in the Bill Murray character. That which is unsavory about me generally tends to fall in the category of me being too selfish. Tonight, we’ll watch The Sound of Music, and I can imagine what it would be like to take my family off to New Zealand after Trump and cronies become too much like Nazis. Hopefully, that will never happen, but we can’t rule it out.

As far as seeking out a particular kind of monotheistic religion that I can utterly submit myself to–they all obviously have their strengths and weaknesses. I think that at the end of the day, God may be seeking to be having a more authentic relationship with me as much as I am with him. Every time I get too caught up in being overly righteous and pious and start expecting everyone else to be the same way, God becomes uninterested in having a relationship with me, and I would actually be having a relationship with an idol in order to sustain my righteous behavior. Maybe too much of religion is unredeemable idolatry, or maybe there is a goodness about all of it when you meet the right, good people expressing their faiths rightly and goodly.

Does this mean I will end up being a New Agey kind of lover of all religions? Probably not. I don’t think this is any more advantageous for me than trying to find a perfect institution to utterly submit myself to. But, I also can see that my longing to belong to a club isn’t going to go away, either. I want very badly to be part of a club where it is unquestioned that I belong there–I don’t get the stares and scowls and sideways glances when I enter the room. I don’t hear the hale, hearty hello’s shouted out to the people in front of me and behind me while I receive the terse mutter after I take the initiative to greet the person first.

This club isn’t going to be found at my present church, maybe not in my present denomination. But, I do think that there could be a basic church out there that seeks to do basic, Christian things without a lot of splash, while being focused on the faith when the people are at the church. Wouldn’t that be a refreshing change–having discussions about fellow members’ walks of faith when we are sitting in our pews talking about our week, instead of trying to make artificial smalltalk about the weather, sports, families, etc.?

***

I have the Fitbit set up, and am wearing it. As soon as my wife has slept a little longer, we are going to go for a walk. Once again, it has passed the darkest day of the year, and the days are going to get lighter and warmer, and I am going to once again feel compelled to try to have a workout regimen that sees me running and in the workout room. Maybe the Fitbit will keep me on task. I weighed myself recently, and I weigh only a little less than I did when we moved down here. I am ready to make some greater progress in eating and being healthy. I have to learn to not let my classes and family life completely prevent me from staying in shape.