Saturday, April 8, 2017

This whole God thing

This whole God thing, yeah I believe, but I sure as hell can't figure it out. My inability to solve the Rubik's Cube should have prepared me for that. And when the prayers have no answers, no response? What else can I think, but that I have been abandoned?


The church and the religious have set our expectations for God. Do this, do that, you’ll get this. No wonder there are so many disappointed, so many non believers. I have a greater appreciation for atheists these days. I get it.

Where are the answered prayers, the healings, and prosperity? God exists, right? All powerful, yet so absent.

The church says love the sinner, but hate the sin. Don't judge others.
Yet the church hasn't taught us how to do this. The wounded and bitter leading the wounded and bitter. Offering cold fish evangelism with palm-size pamphlets and "how are yous?" that are more greetings than a true question.

The church prospers, yet still fails, leaving the sheep in the rain.
Hey bible beater quote me some scripture or churchisms to excuse the lack there of. The beaten, abused, sick, abandoned, and persecuted would surely like to hear it. It might cheer them up, give them a reason to feel guilty about their situation.

And God's expectations of us? Ha, our best and our worst are no surprise to God.

The Bible is supposed to be filled answers and direction. At times it comes up without any.... to believe all, some, none?

The shit I have going on might not seem significant to some, just as your situations won't seem like an obstacle to me. But we're all going through life, with all the ups, downs, and crazy somersaults. ‘Don't let the bastards grind you down.’

I had a great conversation on Friday with a friend. We didn't come up with any great revelations except for one very important thing.

You can take away all the gold and riches, forfeit your Maslow's Needs, close the churches, and what do we have left?
Relationships.

I've said for a long time… God, church, Christianity... it's not about rules and regulations, it’s about relationships.
Not about sin management. Not about not judging others.
It’s you and me. Me and God. You and God. Us.

Life, real life, is messy. We're humans with flaws, lots of flaws. We're wounded emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. We have fears and regrets. Shame and poor self esteem help keep it all hidden. We isolate ourselves from friends and family to keep our dirt a secret. What would happen if you walked in to most churches and stood on the pew and emptied out your baggage in public? You’d be labeled and ridiculed. The first church goers to the restaurants would be talking about you before they left inadequate tips for the servers. Others would jump to your side to pray with and for you. And you’d still be waiting on those answers come August.  Though, maybe, in some churches someone might take your hand and be real with you, take you out for a coffee. Listen to your story. And hopefully, they’d be willing to walk with you through your valley of darkness.

I don't understand why God let's all the bad happen... google more church-speak for that answer. The truth of the matter, shit happens, to everyone. Where does that leave us? Key word is "us."
Relationships.

We're strong, brave, resilient... we can do this, and we don't need 12 steps to do it. Just a bit of vulnerability and trust. Sure at times it will bite us in the ass. But better to have loved…so they tell us.

I'm not going to tell you to stop your prayers. To stop going to church.
I am going to tell you to reach out, to build your relationships, maybe even try to fix some broken relationships. (Some will never be fixed, because that's life and some people are assholes, too buried in their own hurt and pain.)

I was told that everyone needs at least two significant people in their lives, a mentor and someone to mentor. Relationship. Jesus told his crew to make disciples, not produce converts, not to fill mega churches.

This was more therapy for me. But in the realm of relationships, maybe it might bring some light to you. I need to put my struggles to the side for a bit and reach out to some people…

I'm still waiting, probably in vain, on answers to some prayers. I'm not holding my proverbial breath. But a 'Hey, I'm here.' from the big guy would go a long way to fill the silent void.
JQ


Brother let me be your shelter
Never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home


NEEDTOBREATHE, Brother

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles that hide our pain
But the invitations open
To every heart that's been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade


Casting Crowns, Stained Glass Masquerade

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No I won't be afraid
Oh, I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me


Ben E. King, Stand By Me

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mt Shavano

A winter hike up to Mt Shavano via Esprit Point.

Going up Esprit Point, Shavano on the right.

On Esprit Point
View of Tabeguache and Shavano from Esprit Point

View from the top of Shavano

Looking south toward the Sangres

Friday, November 11, 2016

Election 2016: The Year of the Anti-Vote.

A brutal campaign. An unexpected candidate. Two choices, most people didn’t want.

The results surprised me. I expected Hillary Clinton to win. I did expect it to be close on the popular vote, but not so much for the Electoral College.

The next surprise: The Democrat response. Anger. Protesting. Name calling. Dare I say, whining? They talk voting against Hate, yet that’s what they are spewing.  I assume part of this is probably because it was such a surprise she lost. I felt like the Democrats that truly believed in Hillary Clinton (not the regular Democrat voters) thought she was going to bring a new reality to America, that she was a magical change. And if your expectations are not met, that usually leads to the display we are seeing.

The first female president. It’s going to happen someday, but I’m glad it wasn’t her.

People don’t trust Clinton. People dislike Trump. They chose the evil they could see in hopes of his loud mouth is just that, loud obnoxious, and that his actions might actually provide some benefit.

So Donald Trump won.

President Asshole.

Mr. PresiDouche Bag.

The fact he ran for president didn’t surprise me at all. The fact he won the Republican nomination and the Presidency… I’m shocked.  Hard work, cash and arrogance can lead people to high offices. (But I guess that can be said for most presidential candidates.)

Trump offended nearly every color, creed, religion, and social category imaginable. And yet, people in those groups voted for him.  He didn’t win because a bunch of white men voted for him.

Women voted for him (42%).
African Americans voted for him.
 Latinos voted for him.
Middle Class voted for him.
Religious and Atheists voted for him.
College educated and uneducated voted for him.
City dwellers and rural folks voted for him.

This wasn’t a “WhiteLash” against Obama as one CNN commentator said.

So what does all this mean, at least to me?

1.  It was the year of the Anti-Vote

People got out to vote. It wasn’t record setting, but turn outs were high. People voted against big government. They voted against Politic BS. They voted against the Far Right. They voted against the Far Left. They voted against the Obama Administration. They voted against Hillary. They voted against Donald. Even by selecting Trump as the Republican candidate, they voted against the establishment. Five million people voted for Third Party candidates. This entire election process was a big middle finger to the government.

I just hope our leaders are listening to the citizens.

2. We’re a moderate society

America wants to be moderate. It doesn’t want Far Right or Far Left legislation or laws. America wants to say, “go ahead and do that, but don’t make me do it or make me like it.”

Moderate America won in this election. They want to make their own choices, not more government mandates without the people's voice being heard. They don't want Hollywood or the elite making government choices. The people want their voices and views to be heard and understood.

Mike Rowe said it best…. “the winner was NOT decided by a racist and craven nation – it was decided by millions of disgusted Americans desperate for real change. The people did not want a politician. The people wanted to be seen. Donald Trump convinced those people that he could see them. Hillary Clinton did not.”

3. People still turn disagreement into hate speech.

The Liberals are saying people who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton are stupid and bigots. The people who are saying these things are hypocrites.

4. Millennials don’t know how to react.

It’s the first election they lost, they don’t know how to respond. It happens. They are protesting because they didn’t get their way. They are being let out of class because of emotional distress. Cry rooms and therapy dogs? What was that people were saying about an entitlement mentality?

The election process worked, it was legal and peaceful. Every 4 or 8 years, things change. That’s what happens. People didn’t react this bad to “Hanging Chads.”

5. The Far Left is overreacting to this election.

You’d think we elected a Dictator by what we’re seeing on the news. America is not a Third World Nation where the change in leadership causes instant and dramatic changes to laws and culture. We're looking at more status quo than anything else.

The liberals are using terms like fear, terrorized, hopeless… to describe a change that hasn’t happened, and won’t. The claim Trump has a platform of “racism, bigotry, sexism, misogyny, homophobia etc…” And because of that, everyone listed in those groups are worthless Americans and those that didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton believe these awful things and they are just as bad as Trump. That is such BS, again, this election wasn’t simply about Clinton and Trump.

The Far Left is fear mongering… Remember when the Far Right thought Obama and Clinton were going to take away their guns and other rights? This is the same type of exaggeration and lies that polarize people’s views and in doing so loses credibility. They are saying almost the exact same things they criticized the Far Right for saying. They’re stretching out and giving unrealistic meaning to sound bytes and partial quotes, all the while calling for people to be intelligent. I always find it interesting how the Far Left claims intelligence and open-mindedness, until they talk to someone who doesn’t believe in the same thing they do. A complete contradiction.

We’re looking at status quo, not the bigoted apocalypse. Yes, there was a rise in reported hate crimes the days after the election. Trump, the Republicans, nor the government ordered any of these personal attacks. It’s just assholes being assholes because they think they have an excuse.

6. The Right and Far Right need a reality check.

The Conservatives have a right to feel the way they do about political views points. But with that, they have to find a way to move toward the moderate. Keep your stands for pro-life, a strong military, the Second Amendment, immigration, and smaller government… but loosen up when it comes to social justice, racial division, helping the poor and those with mental disabilities.

(Immigration isn’t about racism. It’s about protecting our boarders against terrorism and being able to provide for those who are legally in our country.)

Trump’s win doesn’t give anyone the right to hate, despite what the Liberals are claiming. Time to show your humanity, and speak up against hate and hateful acts.

Moderate America can handle that. What we don’t have are Democrat and Republican candidates that can survive their parties with moderate views. We need this. We need a moderate Third party.

Some sociologists say it takes two to three generations to make real cultural change. We still have time, we don’t need to rush. You can’t force cultural change, you’ll get a fight against it. I’m not saying some changes aren’t worth a fight, just that time and patience can also bring change.

The reality is America still has a long way to reach equality for individuals. Trump said a lot of stupid things before he was even thinking of running for office, like most normal people. He said a lot stupid things while running for office.  He did not have a platform of hate and bigotry, though many liberals feel that way. Again, this election wasn’t about Trump as a person.

We the people are the ones who need to work on equality and acceptance of others. The government can’t do that, it can’t legislate morality. Yes it helps if our leaders provide good examples.

I have heard it said that if you want to heal your personal afflictions (mental, emotional, and spiritual) you have to go through your wound. America is going to have to go through its racial, equality, social wounds to heal and move on. We can’t pretend they don’t exist. But that also means there’s not an evil deed or thought behind every interaction, there’s not a demon behind every bush. Just because someone acts like an ass, doesn’t mean they’re racist or homophobic.

Again, we have to start with individuals, with a society that grows with mutual respect.

But what happens when he is sworn into office? Trump isn't going to have the power to live up to the fanatical fears some people are so worried about... his own party doesn't want him and won't allow him to have that much power.  Senators and Congressman are not obligated to follow his lead. Trump doesn’t have years of favors owed to him through the political process. And the legislators don’t have to fear political retaliation from a guy who is probably a one-term president.

What should we expect from Trump? Hopefully the things that made him a successful business man… listening to the experts then making solid choices. And if he really isn’t a politician, like he says, he’ll listen to both sides and even third party sides.

In the meantime, don’t move to Canada. Stop with the hate speech. Stop with the fear mongering. You and your kids are going to be fine. Talk to you neighbor. Realize we still have divisions in our society that can be fixed. And know that one election, one president can’t fix these things, or they would have been fixed by now.

And most importantly, celebrate the fact the United States of America is the land of the free, and we are able to have a say in our laws and rules, and we can vote for our leaders at the local and national level… even if we just voted against two undesirable candidates… and have an Asshole Elect waiting to be sworn in.

We’ll get to do this again in another four years.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trees and Lines

A few tree images from my hikes the summer and fall of 2016.
Cataract Gulch, San Juan Mountains

Cataract Gulch, San Juan Mountains
McNasser Gulch, Sawatch Mountains
Willow Creek Basin, Sangre de Cristo Mountains


Willow Creek Basin, Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Willow Creek Basin, Sangre de Cristo Mountains


Monday, November 7, 2016

Dr. Strange: A short review


Well they did it again. Another solid movie from Marvel Studies.

Was it great? No. But it was good, a solid production. 

A few of the special effects were a bit dizzying at times, and a little over done. But most of them were cool and fit into the film without being distracting.

I enjoyed Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange. I thought the writers struggled to find his true personality. I don’t feel I got to know him or what to expect from his character as the movie progressed. I didn’t read many Dr. Stranger comics, so I can’t say for sure if it was a perfect match, but it worked for me.

Several humorous moments that got laughs and chuckles from the audience. Again, Marvel keeping it real.  

My one major issue with the movie was the hurried plot/story line between the “accident” and his connection to the mystic arts. The info came too easy in NY, and then they just opened up the doors in Kathmandu. Not exactly a way to keep a secret from a stranger. They also didn’t give us a good timeline of how long this and his training took.

The dialogue didn’t match some of the characters. For instance, Tidla Swinton’s character didn’t talk or act like an “ancient one,” and how ancient could a European white woman be?

Chiwetel Ejiofer as Mordo seemed be the most solid character as far as script and consistency in the movie.  

Looking forward to the sequel.

And to see how Dr. Strange fits into the other Marvel movies… Infinity Wars, anyone?


FYI… Two Post Credit Scenes….

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cubs win and an old hat

I’ve been a Cubs fan since the beginning… well, my beginning.



My mom’s family was from just south of Chicago in the Lockport/Joliet area. Cheering on the Cubs and Bears was part of my early sports life.

I started watching the Cubs in 70s when Bruce Sutter was on the mound surrounded by Bill Buckner, Dave Kingman, and Ivan de Jesus.

Even in Michigan we had WGN as a regular over-the-air channel before cable TV. There were always games on television in the summer. Matthew H.’s house had the TV on constantly, and though we were usually playing outside like most kids in those days, we would stop in to see if Kingman was going to hit a homerun or strikeout.

Then the 80s came with a chance… Ryan Sandberg, Leon Durham, Larry Bowa, Ron Cey, Jody Davis, Rick Sutcliffe, Steve Trout , Dennis Eckersley and Lee Smith to close it out. But the Padres and the Curse stopped the celebration short.

A few years later and a roster change… Mark Grace, Shawon Dunston, Andre Dawson and Greg Maddux… couldn’t make it past the Giants. I was able to watch the Cubs defeat the Phillies in Wrigley in 1990 with Steve P., as Sandberg hit a homer only to be followed by Dunston hitting a grand slam for a 15-3 win.   

Then there were some very lean years of sub .500 baseball. And a few years that bought around postseason games that they never seemed to show up to play.

1998 had the Sammy Sosa home run battle and a just-not-good-enough record. 2003 was a solid season with Sosa and Kerry Wood bringing the hope.

2012 was a pitiful season with 101 losses. Could it get any worse? 2013 and 2014 weren’t much better.

I admit I didn’t follow the Cubs as closely in a lot of those bad years. But I’ve had at least one Cubs hat in my collection during most of my life.

Then it happened. The change. 2015. Joe Maddon was hired and brought his “try not to suck” nonconformist mentality. The roster changed again.

Wild Card game over Pittsburgh. Division series over the Cubs rivals in St. Louis. Then another poor postseason performance against the Mets. But despite the frustration… there was a sense of something beyond the hope of so many years.

2016 was “Next Year” and the Cubbies fulfilled the dreams of fans everywhere. It’s hard to put into words the feelings of so many people who have actually loved this franchise, this team. The game was “one for the ages.” A spectacular battle of two great teams. Fast balls and home runs. Errors and mistakes. Redemption at the plate. Back and forth. Substitutions. RBIs and an extra inning. The rain delay that might have just given the Cubs a chance to regroup, to refocus, to win. It was a spectacle for all those who love the game of baseball.

Watching the game with Sam E., a Chicago guy and good friend, along with 200 cheering and anxious fans will be a lifelong memory. We cheered and cringed as if we were win the bleachers at Wrigley.

With this win, the Cubs have completely changed the culture. The folklore, the curse, the Loveable Losers no longer exist. “Waiting ‘til Next Year” is not about hoping for a good season, but about another championship.

I asked my cousin Julie in Chicago, when she finishes celebrating, to get me a Chicago Tribune. There is something permanent about a front page story to stand against this temporary social media culture.

But more importantly, as much as we love the Cubs, it is more than just a sports team. It’s a culture. It’s a community. Granted, hard times can bring people together… and Cubs have seen hard time. No wonder the Cubs’ fan base is so strong, so loyal.  This win is about being part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s about family connections and friendships forged through the years. It's even about sweaty strangers giving out hugs and high-fives in a sports bar 1,000 miles away from Wrigleyville.

The win is a fulfilled promise built on the hopes and prayers of generations past… and a solid roster with a great manager.

Congrats to the players. Congrats to the fans.

As I celebrate and see all the t-shirts and hats with “World Series Champions” emblazed under a Cubs logo… I smile, but see no need to buy one. I’ll stick with the hat I own until the sweat ring turns it into a work hat, and I’ll get a new one. To paraphrase Joe Maddon, there is no reason to change what we’re doing just because it’s the post season. Do what got us here.



The Game 7 win was amazing. 
The World Series Championship is temporary. 
Being a Cubs fan is permanent.

As Harry would say… Holy Cow. Cubs win. Cubs win.






Monday, October 24, 2016

Jennings Creek Basin Trees

Love the colors and patterns on dead trees weathered in the Colorado mountains. These are from Jennings Creek Basin in the Sawatch Range near Poncha Springs.





Reminds me of Dragon scales.