Grudge Match

THE GOLDEN RULE OF INTERFAITH colloquy: Don’t Confuse The Levels.

A few years ago, a “JewBu” (Jewish Buddhist) friend of mine told me a story that he felt illustrated the superiority of Buddhism over Judaism, or at least the limitations of Judaism compared to Buddhism. It goes something like this:

A rabbi once met a Buddhist monk, who invited the rabbi into his temple. The rabbi refused, saying, “I cannot enter a house of idolatry.” The monk said, “If I can prove to you that you are an idolater, will you study under me for a year?”

On Homo relator (w/ Special Guest Star John Wheeler)

IT TOOK A WEIRD BOUT of synchronistic weather to illustrate how our species loves to tell stories.

First, you need to know about Mugwort Manor. It was a Victorian apartment near the corner of San Francisco’s Fulton and McAllister streets where all the best 1980s’ “major ragers” took place, roughly according to the neo-Pagan calendar, for a specific group of Renaissance Pleasure and Dickens Christmas Fair(e) habitues, occasional bike messengers, poets, musicians, theater folk, and other outliers: social circles mostly (though not exclusively) centering on secretly famous Mugwort resident John Wheeler a”h [1].

Backyard astronomers are a special breed. They savor their moments under the stars. They have an infatuation — a love affair — with the cosmos that grows and nurtures itself just as meaningful human relationships do. Of course, it is a less definable one-way relationship, but I have come to regard that feeling as the closest I can ever come to being at one with nature. After a night under the stars, I have a sense of mellowness, an amalgam of humility, wonder and discovery. The universe is beautiful, in both the visual and spiritual sense.”

–Terence Dickinson, Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe

Allegiance Redux

A FEW YEARS AGO, I revised the Pledge of Allegiance — instead of stating support for a piece of cloth, it celebrates what that cloth stands for. In today’s hyper-partisan political and cultural climate, it’s important to be both precise and concise so as not to be misunderstood.

All that said and done, here once again is the revised pledge, on this the 243rd anniversary of our nation’s first Independence Day. May you say it in good health, and may that good health steadily spread throughout the Lower North American body politic. (Because we really, really need it.)

“It’s Just That…”

THERE’S A THING — WELL, LET’S call it a verbal placeholder-prefix — used by writers of audiovisual entertainments when they want a character to segue away from or into an awkward conversation.

My friends, meet: “It’s just that…”

You’ve heard it. Sure you have. Classic situation in point: Someone is being politely badgered into self-revelation. They’ll begin by saying, “Oh, it’s nothing” (or the like). On being pressed further, they’ll begin to spill their guts by saying, “It’s just that…”

I first noticed this while watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine reruns.

First Graf: On the Road

HAVING FIRST (AND LAST) READ this shortly before a 1985-6 cross-country hitchhiking-and-bus-adventure, I’d forgotten how good it was until beginning to read it aloud to The Partner recently. A rollicking, crying-out-for-emulation 1957 work, what strikes me about it now is the spirit — at turns sacred and profane, funny and poignant. Kerouac’s descriptions, of the world and of the epic grandeur of some otherwise-mundane future cultural heroes (Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, William S. Burroughs, et al), are particularly of note. Because of On the Road I used to lie awake at night dreaming of crossing the country on my thumb and a wish, chronicling the epic grandeur of my own little peer group.

Words To Bring Back: “Reverie”

– Definition: n. Abstracted musing; dreaming.

– Used in a sentence: Since late 2016, my reveries have been somewhat disturbed.

– Why: Although it comes from an Old French word meaning “dream,” it also reminds one of “revere” or “reverent.” And aren’t dreams something to hold in reverence?