December 5, 2020

Saturday Ramblings: October 24, 2015

1955 Nash Rambler Cross Country

1955 Nash Rambler Cross Country

It’s the last full weekend of October and the world is colorful and sad. A perfect time to pile in the old Cross Country and go for a Saturday drive. Let’s ramble!



Ramblers-Logo36ct-nlcs-game-4-photos-cubs-vs-mets-20151021The only thing I will say about the Cubs and their loss to the Mets in the NLCS is that this is the first year in a long time that “wait until next year” actually means something on the north side of Chicago.

No one expected this young team (several of whom were in the minors at the start of the year) to make it as far as they did, and the season they gave their fans was fun, energizing, and hopeful.

Add a few more pieces and let’s try it again, boys. I hope to make it to Spring Training in Mesa.

Meanwhile, the amusement park north of Chicago that our family used to frequent lost a bet on the Cubs-Mets series and is paying up by changing names:

Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill., threw their support behind the Cubbies ahead of the NLCS, agreeing to a friendly bet with Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J. As a result of that bet — and the subsequent Mets series sweep — Six Flags Great America is now “Six Flags Great Mets” and has renamed its Goliath roller coaster “GoMets” for the rest of its Fright Fest promotion.

Oh, the shame.



Ramblers-Logo36One way I like to listen to music is by seasons. There are spring songs/albums, and others that fit summer, winter, and fall. The ones I have chosen as “autumnal” today strike me as fitting for this season because I first heard them in the fall, or because they prompt some memory of an event that took place in autumn, or because the artist has intentionally designed the music to be fitting for this time of year.

As of now, here are my favorite 5 “autumnal” albums:

#5 — The Whistle of the Jay, by Bill Staines

#4North Country, by the Rankin Family

#3October Road, by James Taylor

#2Ashes and Roses, by Mary Chapin Carpenter

#1Get Lucky, by Mark Knopfler

Honorable mentions: Harvest by Neil Young, Tapestry by Carole King, Amber Waves and Winnowing by Bill Mallonee, Here’s Glen Campbell by Glen Campbell, Declaration of Dependence by Kings of Convenience, Infidels by Bob Dylan, Manassas, by Stephen Stills & Manassas, The Harrow & the Harvest by Gillian Welch, albums by Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes, and pretty much anything Celtic and melancholy. Oh, and the kind of good ol’ folk, country and bluegrass you might hear at a harvest dance.

What music do you like to listen to in this wistful time of year, when the northern climes are ablaze in color, the leaves are falling and crunching underfoot, when we begin to smell the smoke of wood fires, don sweaters and jackets and drink our cider and Oktoberfest, and dread the coming cold?


Ramblers-Logo36 Wait a minute. Is this 2015 or 1965?

RNS is reporting that:

LSD-007Researchers investigating beneficial new uses for psychedelic drugs have set their sights on what may seem an unlikely group of volunteer subjects — your local priest, minister or rabbi.

Scientists at New York University and Johns Hopkins University have already shown positive results in an expanding program where psychotherapists have used psilocybin, the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” to treat depression and acute anxiety in cancer patients.

Roland Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins, is leading the new research, which stems from findings that volunteers who’ve taken psilocybin in a wide variety of research settings often report profound mystical experiences.

Griffiths wonders whether these altered states of consciousness are the same as those reported by longtime meditators or highly religious individuals.

So, a person can participate in this study in one of three ways: (1) through a confidential online survey about mystical experiences you may have had and what inspired them; (2) people who have a long history of practicing meditation can participate in another survey that allows them to try psilocybin in a clinical setting with experienced guides; or (3) ordained clergy are invited to participate in a third study. According to the article, here is what this ministerial study will involve:

After extensive preliminary screening, including medical and psychological tests, 12 subjects will receive psilocybin in living-room-like psychedelic session rooms at NYU in Manhattan and at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Subjects wear eyeshades, listen to evocative music designed to heighten the journey inward and are monitored by two therapists, who provide reassuring support.

All I’ve got to say is, FAR OUT!!! And . . . sign me up!

Internet Monk would definitely be groovier.



Ramblers-Logo36In politics this week, we found out that Joe Biden is not running, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee stopped running, and Paul Ryan is running. Hillary Clinton has been duking it out with congressmen over Benghazi, an issue that they hope will trip her up as she runs for the presidency. Our friends to the north elected another Trudeau who ran for Prime Minister. Secretary of State John Kerry ran to Berlin to tell Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas to cut it out with regard to the recent violence on the Temple Mount and now he’s running around trying to help figure out a way to end the Syrian war. Ben Carson has now run to the top of the polls in Iowa, passing the Donald and leading by over 5 points.

But the person who got the most run this week was Larry David, who did a spot-on impersonation of Bernie Sanders in the mock debate open on Saturday Night Live.


By Adrienne Celt, @ The Toast

By Adrienne Celt, @ The Toast

Ramblers-Logo36They used to say women loved the strong, silent types, the ones, you know, who didn’t have to prove their manliness or virility with a lot of talk, but who just oozed testosterone and confidence through their dreamy eyes. Those who were loudest, who tried to prove themselves with a lot of talk, well, it was just assumed they were compensating for something they were lacking.

Know what I mean?

279199-howler-monkeyTurns out, in at least some of our near evolutionary relatives, this may bear out. According to the American Bazaar:

A study conducted by an international team of scientists has revealed that howler monkeys with the loudest vocalizations are in fact compensating for smaller testicles.

Dr. Jacob C. Dunn and his team of researchers published the results of their study titled “Evolutionary Trade-Off between Vocal Tract and Testes Dimensions in Howler Monkeys” in which they found that the primates can only have either a bigger and deeper voice for mating calls or bigger testes for a more abundant supply of sperm — but not both.

However, the uh, less endowed group of monkeys appear to be making out like kings with the ladies.

The researchers found that males with large hyoids and deeper roars but more diminutive testes live in small social groups with often only one male dominating a number of females – a “harem” social model.

Males with bigger testes and smaller hyoids live in large groups with up to five or six males where the females mate with all males in the group.

I have no idea what any of this means.

But any serious study about monkey testicles certainly deserves a place of honor on Saturday Ramblings, don’t ya think?


Ramblers-Logo36squareFinally, this week in music history:

The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” charts for the first time on its way to #1…the single is the result of six month’s work and 17 sessions in four different studios at a then-unprecedented cost of $16,000…

Here is some film footage from those original recording studio sessions:


  1. Eckhart Trolle says

    (whispering) hoot hoot?

    But I’m surprised you missed this story (in which a bride, on her wedding day, presents her father with a medical certificate testifying to her intact hymen):$category%20p$7

    • It’s disgusting, I’ve been following it somewhat.

      I’ll defend to the death their right to believe and do whatever they want. That said, let’s marginalize the crap out of them and limit their influence on Christianity and society. It’s archaic, disturbing, very purity culture, and again, disgusting.

      Women. Are not. Property.

      You may be honoring your dad, but you are dishonoring the God who created you.

      • I just wanted to take this opportunity to let all my fellow ramblers know that my hymen is still intact.

      • This is a very common practice in wide swaths of the world, and not only in Muslim countries. Many parts of Africa, southeast Asia, and the Middle East have routine probes of women (and let’s be frank, many are still girls) before a marriage is arranged for this very purpose.

        Women are property, or something very close to it, in much of the developing world. Read “Half the Sky” by Kristof and WuDunn. It will open your eyes.

        • Common doesn’t make it right. It was common back in Bible times too. It’s still not right.

          If “your Kingdom Come” is good for something, maybe it’s setting women free from this bs.

          Ultimately, this sounds like something Christians should be fighting against, in Jesus’ name.

          • As I said, read “Half the Sky.” Christians and others are actively involved in changing women’s live in the developing world for the better. It takes time to beat back thousands of years of “traditional” practices and thinking.

          • Patrick Kyle says


            Let’s go around the world and impose our beliefs and culture on these poor ignorant savages and their evil cultures. This is no better than the early missionaries in Africa who made the naked native women wear white bras to cover their chests. Where do you get off imposing your cultural mores on these people as though they are universal truths?

      • Eckhart Trolle says

        She should have included copies of the certificate with the wedding invitations. Or better yet, gynaecological photos.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Julie Anne over at Spiritual Sounding Board is already on it:

  2. That cartoon about the doctor with the dog’s head. I don’t get it.

    And Ashes and Roses is brilliant. One of my two favourite albums of the last few years.

    • The patient looks like a fire hydrant; the dog doctor has other impulses than to heal the poor man.

  3. Before you take the ‘shrooms, read The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell by Aldous Huxley (mescaline), and maybe The Joyous Cosmology by Alan Watts (LSD). And watch the movie Altered States (William Hurt).


    • On the more prosaic side, Acid Dreams by Martin Lee and Bruce Shalin documents the history of LSD and its natural predecessors. Of particular interest was the way that the CIA and Co. were all over LSD a decade or so before it ever made it into the counterculture.

    • I’m slowly discovering the brilliance of Alan Watts. He’s super dense at times, but when he’s right, he’s spot on.

    • “Altered States”! That’s a good prompt to watch it again. It’s been many a year since I’ve seen it.

      • The Blu-ray is pretty decent. Worth buying if it is a movie you watch repeatedly or periodically.

  4. The testicle story was great. Unfortunately this is probably another government funded program instead of creating jobs and food and shelter for the homeless.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      You want to study the testes of homeless people? That is creepy dude.

    • By that logic, no point in building roads or bridges since the homeless doesn’t drive.

      But I guess they need roofs over their head too.

      • Well, I am all for education, but I don’t think your example works. I think David’s point was that this study doesn’t actually benefit anyone, while roads and bridges do. That being said, I’d rather pay for a million monkey nut studies than one cruise missile. :-/

        • Which is why we should focus on roads and bridges and infrastructure…because we need to build shelters for the homeless.

          Tasteless joke.

          • Christiane says

            in many countries, those bridges’ underpasses serve as shelters for the homeless . . . but here in our country, our bridges are no longer in very good shape, so the homeless who shelter under OUR bridges are a much endangered species

            and the rich grow richer, and the beat goes on . . .

  5. The Cubs are the eighth team to get swept in the NLCS or ALCS since 1985, when the format was expanded to best-of-seven, and none of the previous seven went back to the postseason the following year or won the World Series within the next decade.
    Mike, bad news for you Cub fans

  6. Ah, yes. The fall Silly Season in Babylon on the Potomac. It would be amusing as hell – if it were somebody else’s country (and somebody else’s paycheck on the line).

  7. I looked at the list of fall albums and thought “That’s ridiculous, my taste in music doesn’t depend on the seasons.” Christmas is an obvious exception, of course. But #2 is your list is an album by Mary Chapin Carpenter, and then I remembered Passionate Kisses. It was from the Come On, Come On album in 1992. It’s one of those songs from that time period that I’ve never decided I don’t like anymore, and the video is saturated with autumn imagery. She wears a long coat and leaves blow in the wind. So you got me Mike. Here’s a link to Passionate Kisses featuring Mary Chapin Carpenter, my favorite fall song of all time:

  8. This song is redolent of fall for me.

  9. I haven’t read the Ramble yet…jumped to the comments to see who was up before me.

  10. That pictured ’55 Cross Country is a beaut of a car. And that burnt orange color is amazing.

  11. On the Hillary trial, I think she deserves credit for facing off with her opponents with style, patience, and humor. It was humorous to read even the accounts of Republicans that it went so badly that it practically handed the presidency to her. If this hearing was mere political theater, it was a shameful display of disrespect for the victims of this horrible tragedy from those claiming to represent the culture of life.

    • Absolutely agree

    • I’m no Hilary lover, but when I watched a few minutes of the hearing it became obvious to me that the spectacle of badgering questions to which she was subjected could only boost her popularity; the next day, when I read that the ordeal had gone on for eleven freaking hours, it became apparent to me that the Republican Party has embarked on a road to complete self-defeat. They seem to be living in a make-believe world, completely out of touch with how things are perceived by the mass of the American people. Kudos to Hillary Clinton for handling that travesty of a hearing with aplomb, dignity, and an appropriate look of bemused disgust on her face.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says


      • Perhaps it should be called an inquisition rather than a hearing.

      • ” They seem to be living in a make-believe world, completely out of touch with how things are perceived by the mass of the American people.” That’s been a problem of theirs for quite some time now…and their base is pretty much the same way.

        • The only thing they are firmly connected to in the American populace is its ugly side, which is evidenced by the popularity of Donald Trump among the Republican base.

        • Which is why as great as it would be if the GOP imploded, I don’t want the Tea Party or “libtards” taking charge, because they are a distillation of the worse of the worse.

      • They live within the sound of their own echo chambers. Yes, so do the dems.

        • The Republicans seem to me to be more out of touch than the Democrats; they have become not only attractive to fanatics, but a political party wherein the fanatical has become the center.

          • As an independent consultant to small businesses I get to hear conversations from all over the political map while in various offices. All 8 sides tend to only listen to their preferred echo chambers.

          • Robert, I think the problem is more like some Rs are very much *in* touch with disaffected people all over the country. Which is scary.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            A lot of people are placing smart money on this country having a dictator by 2020.

        • Key difference between the Dems and Repubs tho is that the Repubs congregate every Sunday to listen to one man speak. The Dems go to brunch and have community and discussion.

      • Christiane says

        watching Hilary being patient with the Republicans on the inquisition panel was informative . . . at times, the Republican members disintegrated into angry spiteful knit-pickers hurling insults freely . . . were these the ‘best’ the Republican Party had to offer in the service of their witch hunt?
        well, it back-fired much

        what a pitiful performance . . . even Republicans watching were disgusted

        Hilary comes from those eleven hours unscathed by the nonsense, but the Republican members of that panel will remain objects of wonder as to why they were ‘chosen’ or ‘appointed’ to represent their Party in what they obviously proved WAS a witch-hunt . . .

        well done, Hilary . . . and fair winds ahead

        • If Hilary wins, they will blame some vast left-wing conspiracy rather than looking in the mirror. The Republican congressional majority is like the 6 and 0 Broncos: their current status is no reflection on the health of the organization.

        • Patrick Kyle says

          The woman is a liar and a criminal. God help us if she’s elected. There is already more than a whiff of revolution in the air. She will speed it’s coming.

    • I don’t mind if they really think this kind of outcome deserves an inquisition. But if it does, where was the inquisition over the false pretenses that led to war in Iraq in which 4,000+ service members lost their lives and over 100K Iraqis died? #doublestandard.

  12. The Beach Boys are about the most opposite of fall one could imagine… unless you’re listening to Be True to Your School. It’s all about letter jackets, football games and cheerleaders. Very autumn 😉

    • If you listen to one of the recent Beach Boys albums (That’s Why God Made the Radio), when Brian Wilson rejoined them, there is a magnificent suite of songs that concludes the record, ending with “Summer’s Gone.”

      Summer’s Gone is first on my autumnal playlist of individual songs, introducing the season. It is the essence of fall.

    • Burro [Mule] says

      if what had happened to the Beach Boys happened to the Beatles, John Lennon would have succumbed to his 70s demons right after Rubber Soul and only their most dedicated fans would ever have heard their best work. The post –Pet Sounds Boys’ albums are awash in brilliant music, and Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Coast Highway revealed that the Wilson family had more than one tormented genius.

      “Sail On Sailor/California Suite – Big Sur” from Holland
      “‘Till I Die/Surf’s Up” from Surf’s Up
      “Let The Wind Blow” from Wild Honey

      are very autumnal-sounding to me. As a lifelong Boys fan, I’m surprised I’ve never given TWGMTR a listen. I intend to remedy that forthwith.

      Both parties have lost a deep and vital connection to the American populace. However, they are both on click when it comes to the interests of the People Who Matter, rather loosely defined as those with an eight figure net worth or better. Single white women, who now outnumber married white women and comprise a significant voting bloc appear pretty solid for Hillary. Apart from this, I know three “progressive” Democratic families where the men are backing Bernie Sanders and the women Hillary.

      The Democrats are still better at pretending to care about the hoi polloi than are the Republicans. The GOP can take no credit for the Trumpmania raging through the pro-wrestling constituency. As a Gerald Ford/Susan Collins Republican, I am used to my candidate never getting any traction in the GOP primaries. I voted for Huntsman in 2008, so I am no stranger to throwing my vote away, which I imagine I’ll have to do in 2016.

      I won’t weigh in on the drugs. I already did a couple of tours of duty. If they want my notes, they know where to find me.

      • Burro [Mule] says

        Voted for Huntsman in 2012, sorry. I actually voted for Huckabee in 2008.

        • At one time I liked Huckabee. Not so much now. He’s changed, and not for the better.

          • Christiane says

            I lost respect for him when some Christians opened their Church for some Muslim people to use until they had built their mosque in a small American town . . . the Christians who did this were criticized by Huckabee who said ‘I don’t know what they could have been thinking.’

            I felt sorry for him, if he didn’t ‘get it’. But I was always after that wondering if he was simply playing to a ‘base’ that was Islamophobic in order to get political points. I mean, as a former Baptist pastor, he had to know the sacred Scriptures on caring for the ‘strangers’ in our midst and on the ‘golden rule’.

            No, he no longer has my respect, either as a politician or as a former minister . . . he knew better, but he sold himself cheap for votes . . . I pity him. Even his own people ‘knew’ he was an opportunist first, and had put integrity aside for his own gain.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            The Duggars’ Friend In High Places.

          • To be honest with you, I can’t imagine any reasonably intelligent person considering Huckabee fit for public office.

          • Burro [Mule] says

            I’m probably not reasonably intelligent by your defs.

            I can live with that.

  13. One of my favorite songs for autumn is “Fall” from Bruce Cockburn’s “Sunwheel Dance” album.

    “The gray forest people cast off their old clothes
    Everything’s sleeping as winter draws near
    So close your eyes
    The mists of all twilights dance close at hand”

  14. Randy Thompson says

    Regarding the Cubs: We mourn your loss(es).

    As to autumn albums, here’s one my wife and I like, for obvious reasons: “Autumn in New England” by David Huntsinger. (His “Winter in New England” we like too.) Very mellow, new age style music, and very, very well done. (He also does the “Daily Bread” series of devotional-style music, which, I guess, is the Christian version of new-age style music.)

    Must run, off to a Board meeting.

  15. Raglan Road by Loreena Mckennitt

  16. Dylan’s “Infidels” will always be a hot-weather album for me, since my husband and I first heard it on a bootleg tape in Liberia. But any time of the year is good — that’s my favorite Dylan album.

    Maybe in the future I’ll have a new association with autumn. Last night we went to see Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn in concert — beautiful music. Surely between the two of them there were at least eight hands on instruments! They couldn’t have made that music otherwise.

  17. When the Dodgers were eliminated we heard the whining at full volume: “We had ’em on the ropes and let them go!”, “This is SO unfair, we were clearly the better team”, “The Mets were so unworthy. They ain’t going ANYWHERE!”.

    But Cubs fans are more elegant and practiced in defeat, even in such an ignominious defeat as a four-game sweep. I am now a Cubs fan (except when in comparison to my Padres, that is).

    • You heard whining from Dodger fans? Ha! You know, when picked to win the World Series this decade, the Dodgers are 0-for-3, while the Giants are 3-for-0.

  18. I realize I’m from an earlier era, but no one has said “When October Goes” by Barry Manilow or “September Song” by Frank Sinatra or “Try To Remember” from The Fantasticks….

    And my age group thinks the carpenter ants cartoon is hilarious!

    • I also love “Try to Remember” and “September Song” (written by Kurt Weill of “Threepenny Opera” fame). The carpenter ants cartoon made me laugh out loud.

      The only music that I particularly associate with a season and rarely listen to any other time is Sibelius’ Symphony #2 – a true masterpiece – which is winter music for me.


      • Yes to those songs. There’s also “Autumn in New York,” if you’re going the jazz standards route. And “Autumn Nocturne,” which is rarely performed.

        • Oh, and, the big one: “Autumn Leaves” (aka “Les feuilles morts”), which is pretty well-known over here…

    • That Other Jean says

      I am definitely one of your age group, then. I laughed loudly enough to startle the cat.

  19. petrushka1611 says

    The Rankin Family have been favorites of mine for a few decades now. It was like seeing an old friend again when you mentioned North Country.

  20. Thanks for the Rankin Family mention. New to me but loving it. Now on my list.

  21. Sorry, cannot relate….
    Here in the OC, we don’t have colors ablaze, leaves crunching underfoot, fires, rarely wear sweaters, and we certainly do not dread ‘the coming cold’ –unless it’s the common cold. Not sure if we are looking forward to or dreading El Niño this year.
    All to say, there’s not much ‘seasonal’ of anything out here–much less music related seasons. We’re the ‘Beach Boys’ all year round!
    Side note: El Niño, I read, was named for Jesus. Apparently the fisherman in the 1500’s noticed the warming ware trend always came around Christmas time…and named it El Niño.
    Envious of you all enjoying the seasons?

  22. The Star Wars Trailer: any thoughts, amid swirling rumors of killing off and/or the dark-side betrayal of one or more of the original characters? I’m starting to believe Disney is going to fail as badly as they have with the Muppets reboot. Bringing back characters to simply kill them off seems to be at least veiled cynicism (The Muppets on ABC is nothing but cynicism.)

    The killing off of Obiwan in the first movie was bad, but the way it was done was mysterious and not in-your-face. Rumors that Alec Guinness asked to have his character killed so he didn’t have to further endure such demeaning lines is disappointing.

    I think I’m glad I was able to enjoy the first movie as a kid for what it was: a movie, not a dynasty.

    • Thrice burned, quattro shy. I refuse to go anywhere near this movie until/unless I get word of mouth from people I trust that it is worth seeing.

    • Trailer: I’ve decided to avoid it. I want to go in to the movie with as little knowledge of it as possible. (I remember getting excited by a 2-bladed light saber. Not repeating those high expectations)

    • I’ll watch Star Wars the same way i watched the new Star Trek movies. Probably a good movie, but not in the same league or universe as the original.

  23. Do we really need more clergy who have hallucinogenic flashbacks?

  24. Many scientists don’t seem to get that Christian religious experience is not co-extensive with “profound mystical experiences”; but then, many Christians don’t seem to get that, either. All around us is the world that God has created, populated by other images of his creativity, not least among them our fellow human beings. It is in our relationships to the world and people around us, inside and outside the Church, that we encounter God, the living Jesus, and it is in our treatment of them that we learn the profound existential truths of our faith.

    • And I’m not saying that “profound mystical” or other unusual experiences are antithetical to Christian religious experience; they may be beneficial to it, or not, depending on what the individual does in the wake of such experiences: the proof is in the pudding, as the great mystics of Western Christianity, like Saint John of the Cross and Saint Theresa of Avila, emphatically pointed out.

    • Excellent points, Robert.

    • Robert, i dunno – there is a profound, long-lasting tradition of mysticism within xtian religious experience. Ditto for Judaism, as well as Islam.

      Is it that important in the greater scheme of things? I don’t think do, but equally, I’m not sure that ignoring it is the best way to spproach things.

      Although how belief automstically = wanting mysticsl expetiences is an interesting question.

      • I question the value of studying these experiences from a religious perspective unless they are connected to a long-term study of how they change, or fail to change, the subjects’ subsequent life, experience and conduct. They may discover something interesting about human religious psychology, but human religious experience and life is not merely the realm of subjective spiritual experience. Religious practices and experiences are embedded in communal interpretative narratives; this is what gives them shape and direction, and value from the perspective of world religions. From this perspective, it’s impossible for such a study, done in isolation from other factors, to say anything of great significance or value for the practice and understanding of any particular religion.

        • I don’t see how the psych aspect can be avoided, since any mystical expetience is, by nature, entirely dubjective – even more so, I’d think, when deliberately induced by ‘shrooms, or whatever.

      • Eckhart Trolle says

        There is, but the experiences cannot validate themselves. It is entirely possible (and in fact very traditional) to be cautious about one’s own ecstasies.

        • Yes, the traditional habit was to be very discreet about these special experiences, and to say little about them, and only when necessary. Which is very different from the current habit of blathering about them.

    • “Many scientists don’t seem to get that Christian religious experience is not co-extensive with “profound mystical experiences”; but then, many Christians don’t seem to get that, either.”

      Wait, wait, are you saying that profound mystical experience of Christians is bogus? Are you suggesting that when Jesus said that the Kingdom is found within that he really meant to say it is found without? Perhaps a nefarious alteration of the text? Are Christians who experience profound mystical states not true Christians? Would that include Paul, John, the desert fathers, Francis Assisi, Julian Norwich, Brother Lawrence, Tom Merton, and a host of contemporary believers? Are these people all going to hell or already there? Should we throw Jesus in with them? After all, one of our esteemed creeds says that Jesus went to hell, at least in some translations, so maybe you are right. His whole ministry looks like one big profound mystical experience. Unsettling.

      • Read my above explanatory comments, rather than reading into my first comment. And to divorce the social spirituality from the subjective side is completely out of keeping with the entire thrust of the New Testament; the New Testament Jesus and the faith he teaches and embodies is a communal one, not one developed and perfected in splendid isolation. It also take place within a particular meta-narrative that gives it meaning and coherence, even as it stretches and extends that meta-narrative.

        I repeat, special experiences are valuable within the communal practice of Christianity only insofar as they enhance our interrelationships, and work themselves out in love of neighbor and enemy. I’ve known plenty of long-term mediators who have evidenced no increase in compassion or empathy; and some who seemed to have become crueler the rather than kinder.

      • The same words that are interpreted as “the Kingdom is within you” may just as rightly be interpreted as “the Kingdom in among you.” That’s what I’m saying.

        • Yeah, I probably should know by now to wait until you’re done arguing with yourself.

          Meditation is not synonymous with contemplation, tho often confused in the popular mind. You know as well as I the key points in Jesus’ ministry which were “developed and perfected in splendid isolation.” To present one sided pictures and label them the whole may be an accepted rhetorical device but it doesn’t exactly serve to advance your “communal practice of Christianity.” A rhetorical device that I find far more effective is using plain English. But as pointed out yesterday by someone using that device, “It takes all sorts…”

          • Your first sentence contains a nice jab, and a fair enough criticism, along with good advice for yourself.

            I don’t believe Jesus developed anything in splendid isolation. Unlike you, and without being overly mathematical about it, I stand with the main stream of the Christian tradition in believing in the Trinity. That means that I believe God is one, and simultaneously and equally a community of being. God is never alone, because God is a community; the doctrine of the Trinity goes beyond modalism, and is bold enough to affirm (in paradoxical language) that the inner life of God is not one of being alone, but is other-directed because God is in real, dynamic inter-relationship with himself. Jesus, as the Incarnation of the Son, participated and participates fully in that community of being which is the one God.

          • To use plain language, God is social through and through, and so is the world God created. He is multiplicity, distinction and otherness, along with oneness, and his presence can especially be found in the places where different things and beings confront each other with respect, compassion and love. Simple enough language, but still unavoidably paradoxical and poetic. I thought you where comfortable with paradox and poetry, Charles? Perhaps only when it dissolves in a mystical (and mythical) Oneness?

          • As to the difference relationship between “contemplation” and “meditation”: This varies from tradition to tradition, and has changed over time even within traditions. For instance, classical Roman Catholic terminology gives quite definite meanings to the words that don’t necessarily line up with the way that you may use them, but they both involve the use of Scripture as a starting point; Buddhism has quite different meanings for them.

            What’s clear is that the people who want to conduct this experiment are trying to induce mystical states using a hallucinogenic substance, and they are attempting to cross-reference these experiments with the experience of long-term “meditators”. The whole study seems like it will be fraught with methodological weaknesses, especially since a significant part of it involves self-reporting.

          • “I don’t believe Jesus developed anything in splendid isolation.”

            Aside from the overblown language, if you are trying to say that it is impossible to be entirely alone, I would agree with you. If you are trying to say that Jesus’ ministry obviously involved being with a lot of people, I would agree with you. If you are trying to say that the 40 days in the wilderness, the transfiguration, the habit of early morning solitary prayer, and the intensity of Gethsemane were not very private and formative and crucial times, I would disagree. There were many public moments that could not have proceeded without the private moments. Both were necessary. Possibly even for you and me.

      • Many people have mythical experiences. Just don’t call them something that came from God, unless it’s God as Creator.

  25. In all seriousness hallucinogenic substances have always shown great promise as medical and psychological tools but drug war paranoia shut down official research for a whole generation. The research being done with them now on treatments of alcoholism and opiate addiction are having amazing results. Another failed criminally stupid social policy based on fear.

    Autumn music-

    R.E.M. Green

    representative samples

    PINETOP SEVEN Rigging the Top Lights

    representative samples

    ARAM KHACHATURIAN – Gayane Ballet Suite

    And let Joni take us out..

    • I’m ready and willing. Just give me a safe environment to do it in, both safe to myself and others.

      It could potentially be one of the best things ever for me.

  26. I associate blue grass with this time of year. This is a perfect melancholy, yet Hopeful song to listen to on a brisk walk or bike ride in the fall. Enjoy…..

    • I reach for Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs. It’s my perfect fall melancholy album.

      Also has some great truth moments. Culture War in particular preaches hard.

  27. My contribution to today’s ramblings, this article that provides another fun example of just how fluid morality and right/wrong is in this world. Anyone else remember when coffee was an illegal drug too?

    • the video in this article is fascinating, so much lost history and cool stuff in it! love the general vibe and feel of it all.

      and as far as i’m concerned, it’s all true. ouija boards are just cool but spiritually pointless devices. it’s all in the brain. and you’d think more believers who believe God created the brain would go “cool!” to that, instead of decrying ‘spiritualism’ or whatever.

      lol idk. i love this stuff. gothic horror. all of it.

      but there is definitely no supernatural power or evil entity guiding an ouija board.

      the more i study, the more i piece things together…the more it’s all revealed to just be elaborate bs and ruses. all of it.

  28. Sigh…you know…it’s hard to know what to believe in anymore when everyone is lying all the time.

  29. I like this part for oher reasons:

    Now we’re dealing with straight up magic! SYMPATHETIC MAGIC! Apparently, it wasn’t enough to pronounce the curse over the bitter potion. God instructs the priest to write down the miscarriage curse, and then WASH IT INTO THE WATER. We are dealing here with the vestiges of sympathetic magic. The priest has to write down the curse, and then brush it into the drink to be consumed, as if just saying a prayer aloud over your meal is enough. Why not write down the grace you say before your meal and sprinkle it on your salad?

    This is sympathetic magic, just like the Egyptian execration texts (which, btw, contain the earliest mention of Jerusalem) that are motivated by the belief in the numinous power of writing. The writing activates the magic potion that causes the woman to abort if she is guilty.

    Writing really is magic to ancient people. I remember watching some episode of Ancient Aliens where they said ancient Egyptians would write on stones and then stones would levitate, which is how pyramids were built (of course). The power was in the writing and mysterious language and it’s power.

    In a way, writing is definitely magical, but it’s certainly not magic. And what are the vestiges of this writing is magic thinking today?

    Sola Scriptura? Inerrancy? The Canon?

    Seems it’s still alive, even if most of who are literate don’t really look at the one person in the village who can read and write and think “wow that person does magic”.

    Now excuse me while I go read this Latin out of the Necronomicon out loud…

    • …it’s not cynicism if it’s accurately describing truth and reality.

      “sounds like something a cynical person would say”

      c’est la vie.

  30. So, half a thought, related to that spiritualism/occultic article above, and since Halloween and the annual Great Pumpkin posts are coming next week. Just thinking here, but…

    I don’t think I ever believed in Satan. What I believed in, growing up, young adulthood, until now…was The Devil.

    And there’s a difference.

    Growing up in my few hundred sized fundamentalist church in Wisconsin, we had all the best traveling evangelists come to scare us up, share stories with us, scare us into the walking the aisle to get right with God every night…but we also had a firm distrust of both culture as well as Contemporary Christian Culture, those liberals and apostates. As a result, we were always behind the times, getting most of our news from Focus on the Family or whatnot (yeah, it was a bizarre mix).

    We also had all those great classic fundy separation issues, so no movie theatres, no playing cards, no Internet, etc.So it took several years before we heard sermons against the evils of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Nine Inch Nails, KORN, Quake, whatever.

    What I did have though, was fantasy and science fiction books (my mom giving them to me with the stern recommendation that if I had a problem with them, then to stop, otherwise go ahead and enjoy), plus the Bible which I took literally in how it described the devil and demons and hell. But my fantasy books were full of stories of demons and ghouls and witches and whatnot. There was a clear divide however between what was true about demons and what was creative fiction about demons.

    For many, the lines blur. It’s all true. As a result, we have The Great Satanic Panic and other scares, which people take seriously. That Halloween really is the most high evil holiday (“evil holy day”?). That ouija boards really do scream when burned and communicate with the dead. That Ozzie actually is a devil worshipper. That the Hollywood Agenda really is to promote satanism and witchcraft, etc.

    But I…never really believed any of that. There was a divide. This is what is true, this is what is false. Because the Bible tells me so. And over time, I kept thinking how stupid and ridiculous the lines blurring were. My parents still hide in the basement and black out all the windows on Halloween, but I think mostly now because they don’t want people knocking. I remember how stupid everyone was acting back on 6/6/06, and how I was a scoffer for mentioning it was 2006, adolescent Jesus must have been terrified way back when.

    I’ve studied The Devil some. Besides what’s in the Bible, I’ve read a lot of popular works as well as Greg Boyd. It’s fascinating how he came about. I don’t believe in him in the slightest anymore. He doesn’t and has never existed. Neither does some creative Satan that has so scared the world. Men and women, everyone, does evil things. The definition of evil always needs a point of reference to what is “good”, and it’ll vary from time and place. We don’t need some creator of evil in an act of rebellion. We need encouragement not to act evil but to love others as ourselves. There is nothing to fear in the darkness besides the unknown, nature misunderstood, and the actions of others.

    What you believe is true often has power over you. Doesn’t mean it’s true.

    When you grow up in the fantasy world of fundamentalism, complete with satanic panic, purity culture, intentional deception, distrust of the world and outsiders, and so much more, and find your own escape into different realms of fantasy, it’s hard sometimes to tell what’s real and what’s not real.

    The idea of beliefs not being true and thus powerless over us often doesn’t even occur. And it can take years to realize that and to break free.

    Grateful for friends and people who are free who can show the way out.

    But sometimes…just like with the satanic panic believers…I wish it were all true, at least the popular idea of Satan and demons and evil. Sounds exciting. Sign me up as a knights templar exorcist ala Van Helsing or Constantine.

    • “well, you may not believe in satan, but he believes in you!”

      if only, sounds exciting.

      pleased to meet you…

    • Try Jeffrey Burton Russell’s (rather dense) books on the development of the idea of SAtan/the Devil throughout Western history. He leaves Greg boyd in the dust, by far.

      Also,r e. Alan Watts, he thought he understood the nuances of Zen Buddhism. Emphasis on “thought.” A lot of actual Daoists and Buddhists have tons of trouble with how he represented their beliefs. I’m sure he thought he was up to the minute, but his popularization of Eastern religious ideas for US audiences/readers is a kind od (I half hate to say it) dumbing-down of the real items.

      • He’s a good entry point, at least. I’ve been reading the Zen Habits and Tiny Buddha websites a lot more lately, and finding a lot encouraging, helpful stuff there. Like the daily devotions I’ve been needing.

        • Alan Watts was a Zen dilettante with a really great voice. The roshis at the Zendo I was involved in laughed at the mention of his name, on the one occasion it came up.

          If you want the real thing, read Thich Nhat Hanh.

          Thích Nh?t H?nh – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


          • Can’t seem to get it.

          • Robert – i think Thich Nhat Hanh is the real deal, and i honestly don’t know thst muvh about Budfhism (unlike you).

            Stuart, Robert is correct about Watts. I remrmber being in my teens and bowled over by one of the tiyles he chose – The Book on The Taboo Agsinst Knowing Who You Are – not realizing that it was all marketing and pop culture appeal, instead of distilled anvient wisdom. I bought it, but found it, iirc, boring, and never bot more than a few pages into it.

            Watts had a TV show on the SF educationsl station (part of the group that later became PBS) that i watched sometimes. He did hsve a nice speaking voice and beatnik beard, but… in one ear and out the other, pretty much. I’m tempted to say it was devoid of content, but it’s been so long that i would need to see an episode or two in order to give a coherent opinion on it. I think i was mainly interested because i thought i would learn about other religions, and… nope.

      • I read Burton’s books on the subject, but he ended each with a chapter invoking Jung for resolution of the question of the origins of evil. I’m just not a fan of that old magician; he spent too much time invoking familiars for my liking. W. B. Yeats, no stranger to the occult himself, once became very spooked by a visit he made to Jung’s home; he left convinced that spirits were afoot in the hierophant’s place, and perhaps not entirely benign ones at that. You can chalk it off to lingering superstition on my part.

        • I think of Jung as Goethe’s Faust come to life.

        • Robert, I’m no fan of Jung, but Burton Russell’s work is incredible, and written over a long period of time. That he was a Jjngian, or inclined thst way, when he wrote ghe 1st one on Satan, i have no doubt, but

          – he is a specialist in medieval history

          – his personal views on xtian belief and the existence of evil personified have changed a great deal since that 1st book.

          Google hid full name and you should be able to find his web site (hosted by the university where he teavhes) without any difficulty. There are a lot of articles and transctipts of talks that you might findmintriguing. I know that i have, and boy, are they ever *not* Jungian!

          • I agree that the books are thorough, well written and well-researched, thoughtful and exhaustive. Burton is a true scholar, yet able to write in a way that is accessible.

            Thanks for the info, numo; I will definitely give it a look.

          • I mean, Burton Russell…

          • Yes, I checked out the site, and it’s obvious that Russell has moved completely outside of Jungianism. In fact, he speaks in traditional Christian language, and is a practicing Roman Catholic. Interesting.

            Like him, and I think unlike you numo, I believe in the reality of the demonic and Satanic, though I don’t see a demon under every rock; it doesn’t always square well with the many elements of my belief that are progressive, but I’ve learned to live with it the cognitive tension.

          • I don’t necessarily disbelieve in either, Robert, but i can no longer live with the weird evangelical/charismatic ideas that i was around for so long. Neither can i read the xtian concept of Satan back into texts like Genesis 1-3.

            My take is that the evil one is more of an It, but that it ecists; equally, that we are usually far too quivk to blame the devil for ideas and actions that wecome up with, all by ourselves.

            I find Jung’s fascination with the ocvult extremely distasteful (understatement), and equally, he sounds like a self-centered, delusional individual who somehow was able to avoid diagnosis and treatment.

          • Avoid it? He was the one dispensing diagnoses and treatments to the richest, best educated clients/patients in the European world, along with his mentor Dr Freud, with whom he had a bitter falling out; Freud considered Jung’s religious orientation a betrayal of his own teachings, and Jung thought Freud was unhealthily obsessed with sexuality, seeing phallic symbols everywhere the way Pentecostal Christians see demons.

          • Robert, i meant that Jung himself was successfully able to avoid having a proper psych wotkup + dianosis and treatment. I am not at all cettain that he would be considered sane todsy – he clearly had at leadt one major psychotic break (likely more) was deludional, had hallucinstions over s long period of time, saw himself in messianic terms, etc.

            I think that whatever Yeats picked up on was stuff that revolved around Jung’s delusions, including his greatly mistaken idea that he had become, for all intents and purposes, a god.

          • Robert – i have a reply to you that is in moderstion for some reason. Please check back.

            But the gist is: i believe Jung was very ill, had had at leadt one major psychotic break, and desperately needed treatment himself. He was the last person to give either advice or treatment of any kind.

        • I’m sure that Yeats’ superstitiousness played a part as well. I don’t like Jung, but certainly am not inclined to trust Yeats’ remarks, either.

    • Keep in mind that fundy culture is pretty much disconnected from anything to do with pre-Reformation xtian history and beliefs, as well as post-, but hey, it’s not like you don’t know that already!

      One thing I find interesting is that many devout adherents of the Reformation took astrology seriously, in much the same way we see the sciences now. Then again, it has a LOT of actual astronomical observation in it, so I don’t know where one thing ends and the other begins.

    • Christiane says

      ” the annual Great Pumpkin posts are coming next week”

      I can never get enough of Schultz . . . what a genius . . . in the midst of all the Halloween poo-pooers, along comes Schultz with the glorious image of the Great Pumpkin rising up out of the pumpkin patch. (sigh) This image absolutely makes Halloween for me.

      There are some seriously evil curmudgeons out there who have targeted Halloween as ‘satanic’ for some time. Well, I hope they can be re-habilitated before they die so that they can experience at least one glorious Halloween night with the whole magilla: decorations, treats, costumes, candles in pumpkins, the street alive with parents and children, door bells ringing, and happy hopeful faces of the littles . . .

      you have to wonder what kind of real monsters produced the curmudgeons who hate the joy of Halloween . . . certainly they never read a Peanuts column or even heard of C.B., Snoopy, and the gang. Much less the wonderful legend of the Great Pumpkin. Poor lost souls. So sad.

  31. And here’s another song that speaks of fall to me:

  32. This one drifts between fall and winter, but one of my faves…

  33. Klasie Kraalogies says

    Nobody excited about the fact that we on Canada swung from a Conservative majority government to a Liberal majority government? The really interesting thing is that a lot of that comes from not only movement between the 2 previous opposition parties, but also new voters/votersbwho rarely vote. The voting percentage was the highest on 20 years. And the the result was that the Liberals quintipled their seats in parliament.

    The biggest drive: To get rid of the current PM, Stephen Harper, who was seen as aloof, dictatorial, micro-managerial etc. Even, as it turns out, within his own party. He muzzled government scientists, controlled the press’ access to himself and the government, etc etc. Controlling the message in a democracy will always build resentment.

    Then, when the campaign started running into problems, they used dog whistle politics surrounding racial/religious intolerance. But it was too obvious. Even though the evangelical right got in on it – Lutheran pastors posted very subtle hints about it (themselves going to vote in bedsheets, an anti-muslim cultural protest meme), relgious teachers in my daughter’s high school made remarks about Europe’s changing culture due to refugee influx, etc etc. It seems the people most responsive to dog whistele intolerance are the “conservative” Christians after all.

    • Honestly, we were more surprised that y’all put up with Harper as long as you did. He was sort of an enemy of the democratic process.

    • Burro [Mule] says

      As long as Canada had four pristine-pure left wing parties that wouldn’t talk to each other, it made Harper and the Conservatives kinda inevitable.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Yes and no. The Green party is really a small phenomenon, and although they run candidates everywhere, they have only one seat. The Bloc is Quebec only, and is not a true left-wing party, as they have several nationalistic to the point of ethnocentric/racist tendencies. For instance, they are not in the same class as the SNP, who though obviously nationalistic, is a true left-wing party by all accounts.

        That leaves the Liberals and the NDP. The latter started as a true Social Democratic party, but has grown to a very large umbrella – a bit like the British Labour party, with everything from Blairites to socialists like Corbyn. The NDP is essentially the party of the Unions as well. Their current leader, Mulcair, came from the Blairite wing.

        The Liberals are centrist to Center-left – Trudeau is probably center-left. They are Liberal democrats by nature. some have called them the traditional governing party of Canada. While the first 3 decades of Canadian governments (1867-1900) were dominated by Conservatives, since 1900 the Liberals have been in power almost twice as long as the Conservatives.

        As to the parties talking to each other – unlikely. Coalitions are almost always bad for one partner – witness what happened to the Lib Dems in the UK. And their are many in the NDP tent that are waaaayyy to radical for the main stream. As to the Bloc, talking to them is suicide, as that will immediately cost you masses of support in the rest of the country. And their relevancehas fallen a lot in recent years. The only reason they have more seats in this new parliament than in the previous one is because of 4 way vote splitting in Quebec – a lot of that had to do with the NDP (and Liberals’) principled stand on the Niqab, while the Bloc and the conservatives pandered to the racist elements in society.

    • I’m somewhat excited Klasie. My wife from Ottawa is much more excited. Quote; “It’s aboot time!”

  34. This is my quintessential autumn song, I can put it on repeat and listen over and over. (Although now I may not need to because I’ve added so many great songs to my autumn playlist!)

  35. Okay, okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one. A minister, a priest, and a rabbi take some ‘shrooms…