Wednesday, June 28, 2006


A while back I wrote a piece ostensibly about the 19th century Robber Barons, and made some references to the fact that modern business and businessmen don't do a damn thing for society.

I stand corrected.

First came Bill Gates announcing that he will step down from running Microsoft and focus on heading up The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full time, beginning in 2008. The foundation is dedicated to health and education, focusing on the places in the world where the need is greatest. Gates says he doesn't see any reason why the ten deadliest diseases killing people in our world today can't be eradicated, and people like Doctor Paul Farmer, who actually work in the trenches, agree with him wholeheartedly: If you've read Mountains Beyond Mountains, you know what it did for Partners In Health. Gates is brilliant as an executive, and as a business tactician. I think it's pretty exciting to think about what might be achieved when his working focus is placed 100% on the Foundation...

And then Warren Buffett announces that he's not waiting to die to endow his fortune upon those who truly need it: He will be giving the vast majority of his billions to several charities, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation first among those. Something like $30 billion dollars will be added to the Foundations $45 billion current worth. Andrew Carnegie gave away a lot of money in his day, something like $7 billion in current value. Gates and Buffett will donate ten times that amount now, let alone what it will be worth in the future...

Buffett said he wants to do it now because, in essence, it's needed, and because there are people like Gates who are better are running philanthropic endeavors than he is - The man who made more money than everybody but Gates admits he's not good at philanthropy: He sure knows where to put it...

Gates and Buffett are actually pals; they play bridge online together, go on vacations, and share passions for, "Bridge, burgers, and the belief that democracy does nothing for the poor of the world." That the two richest people in the world, among today's Captains of Industry, are friends is quite rare - First off, the climate of business doesn't lead to friendship, and the pace of running companies like Hathaway and Microsoft certainly wouldn't either. Gates says he learns much about life and business from watching Buffett. Buffett says his idea to disseminate his wealth now in the manner he's chosen comes from Gates' example. Buffett hopes to create a trend of philanthropy, at a time when it is probably needed more than any other period in history.

I find these two actions very heartening. It gives me hope for mankind in a way I didn't have a few days ago. Money can't buy everything, but money with smarts and determination behind it can make huge strides toward righting the many wrongs of the world. If poverty, hunger, and disease are the root causes of many of the problems we see and hear about every day, then attacking them with the intention of nothing less than complete eradication has to be a good thing, right? We're not talking about waiting on governments and politics and rhetoric to take action, here: We're talking about people who are used to getting things done, and who have the clout and resources to make it happen...

It doesn't mean squat to say so, but I'm proud of these guys. And come to think of it, I can get behind all three of those passions, to boot...

Monday, June 26, 2006

For the Times They Are a Changin'

I'm an Episcopalian, a whiskeypalian, (Whenever two or three are gathered together, there will be a fifth among them, I love that...)
I think we got the reputation not because we're all drunks, but because there is a sense of not taking ourselves too seriously, of gathering together for lightweight as well as heavy times, and of having traveled the difficult road of bridging many gaps for as long as we have.

The Episcopal Church that I love has always been welcoming; broad-minded, open to all kinds of people, and inclusive of all of them. So this last General Convention was both an encouraging and a discouraging event.

For the first time, we elected a woman to the post of Presiding Bishop, the new head of the whole Episcopal Church of the United States of America, (ECUSA), and that is a wonderful, celebratory thing.

Almost simultaneously, the ultra-right wing of our church, the so-called Network, denounced the vote and threatened to remove themselves from the church, (Big surprise there...). They asked the Bishop of Canterbury for what I believe they call Primatory Oversight - Meaning that they want to stay within ECUSA but not have to answer to the National Church infrastructure, or the new Presiding Bishop. I don't care what they call it , to be honest - I call it Having Our Cake and Eating It Too, and I think it's a bunch of crap.

A good friend who was there told me that two statements she heard pretty much set the stage for how this whole mess played out: Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, (Yes, that Gene Robinson), said of The Holders of the Opposing View, "Love them anyway." On the other sid e of the aisle, Bishop Andrews of the Network said, "I love a good fight." Now - Pop quiz - Which one of those perspectives sounds loving and inclusive, and which one sounds divisive and confrontory?

Times up!

Sunday, Father Fred preached a darn good sermon, pointing out that we're not called to play politics and push divisive issues, we're called to do the work of the church - To help those who need to be helped, live as we are called to live, be the people that Christians are supposed to be, and love and respect one another in the process. He said that both sides, liberal and conservative, are wrong to push things too hard, wrong to castigate the other, wrong to make this issue paramount over all. Well, in all honesty, I think he got it just right, and dead wrong. Father Fred has said all along that what he hates the most about this whole rift is being forced into one camp or another, and I agree, it sucks. We've managed to ride the rail for so long, it just doesn't feel right to be made to come down on one side or the other... Unfortunately, I don't personally think we have a choice any more. It doesn't feel right, but the lines are drawn, and there really isn't a neutral zone. I've chosen my side: I choose to go with ECUSA, our new Presiding Bishop, and the spirit of welcoming and inclusiveness I've always know. I'm gonna love 'em anyway.

Yes, we are called to do the work of the church, but if we're not one church we can't. We can't be the people God called us to be if we "Love a good fight" too much. We didn't threaten to leave the church, divide the faithful, and create an atmosphere of intolerance and narrow-minded dogma, they did. We didn't push it too hard, we chose to continue the trend we've known our whole lives. We didn't castigate the other side, we invited them to dialogue and understanding, and they didn't want to chat. We didn't carry the issue over everything else for the last few years, they're the ones that wouldn't let it go. They're not calling a spade a spade, they're calling it a fuckin' shovel, and that's the problem - It wasn't ugly 'till they made it ugly...

So there it is - Fact: The voice of the majority of ECUSA has been heard, again, just as it was 3 years ago. Fact: The rules are already there, we followed them. Fact: The framework already exists - Apparently, not all that many folks are interested in having it remade in y'all's image. Fact: You don't get to change it if the vast majority of the people involved don't feel as you do. Fact: For many, it's not a matter of politics and factionalism; it's a matter of heart and soul. Fact: You can posture and threaten and cajole all you want, but it doesn't change anything.

Know what happens when you push too hard? Eventually, the thing you're pushing gets tired of it and stops being malleable. Be careful what y'all wish for, you may well have bitten off way more than you could possibly be ready to chew...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I heard a great interview on Fresh Air yesterday; Reynolds Price discussing his new book, Letter to a Godchild, with Terri Gross. She is really such a wonderful interviewer - Anyone who regularly gets guests to say, "That's a great question, I've never been asked that before..." Has to be on to something.

Anyway, I've not read the book yet, but I plan to - I've only read a bit of what he's put out over many years - Terri said he'd written "37 volumes of fiction, poetry, plays, essays, and translations" Now that's a prolific writer, and eclectic to boot...

What caught my ear was Price discussing the fact that he's had two visions in his 70 something years of life - Visions: There's a word that in our language has some impressive diversity. Vision might connote vivid mental imagery, the ability to see, the perceptual sensation of sight, imaginative imagery, or a religious or mystical experience. Price's experiences were of the last category, as both were religious in nature. He is, by he by, a very squared away person, and by his own admission, "Not weird". As seems to be the case with most accounts of visions that I find plausible, the seers are quite normal; not overtly religious, or really zealous in any sense of the word.

Price noted the incidents in detail, and I found the accounts quite interesting. He noted a couple of times that, in essence, what he had experienced was just a vision, and nothing more. I think he made that statement because quite often the term vision is held to be synonymous with apparition; obviously, Price doesn't think it's necessarily so, and neither do I. In this instance, Price experienced a vivid experience in his minds eye; he did not see supernatural forms appearing in his real world, and there's a profound difference. I read The Miracle Detectives recently, which is predominantly an account of the so-called Marian apparitions that continue to occur in a small town in the former Czech republic. One of the things that struck me as strange in that book was the reference to what is happening there as apparitional. While there may have been an apparition or two, really what is occurring is a long-running series of visions by a group of seers. Believers still travel there, to be around a seer during a vision, in hopes, I suppose, that they too might see the Blessed Virgin Mary; yet no one ever does, and as far as I'm concerned, no one ever will: Again, what is happening is a vivid experience by the seer in their mind's eye, not an intrusion of the supernatural into the real world of the watchers.

Visions are, it strikes me, really a rather personal thing. Price related that he didn't tell anyone about his for many years, though he eventually mentioned them in two or three of his books. He's corresponded with many others who read his work and wanted to relate visions of their own to a fellow seer. Most of them noted that they also hadn't told anyone of their experiences. While several said they'd not done so 'cause they didn't care to be marked as a nutbasket, in many instances they didn't say anything 'cause it wasn't nobody's business but their own... I've never had a vision, but I understand either perspective. I've never seen an apparition, either, but I know other sane, plausible people who believe that they have. Terri Gross asked Price if he believed the visions others had told him of, and he gave the perfect answer; "I don't know what they saw, but I know that they believe what they saw," and that's kind of the nature of the phenonenon, isn't it?

Visions aren't always religious, and those who believe in them aren't either. They do, however, seem to share a basic faith in the validity of what they've experienced. What the truly faithful understand, I think, in this regard, is that they are not asked to see and believe, they are called to believe that others see, and there's a big difference.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Mountains Beyond Mountains

I hadn't read Tracy Kidder since he wrote House, maybe twenty years ago. It was a great book, and he struck me as a writer in the John McPhee style; a thorough analyst who could make the seemingly boring and mundane endlessly fascinating. For some reason, I never bothered to see what else he wrote, and had pretty much forgotten about him as an author.

And then my mom called and said she was mailing me his latest, Mountains Beyond Mountains, and that it had been her favorite read of the year thus far: She was right. This vignette of Doctor Paul Farmer and Partners in Health is a must read.

I greatly admire, maybe even covet, this style of writing: Taking the time to hang with the subjects for long enough and through enough events to enable the author to write about them with intimacy and comfort. I suppose that if one were positing a possible downside to that concept, one would say that so doing runs the risk of not writing honestly about the subject, for fear of tainting the relationship. I read none of that in Kidder's book. Farmer is the kind of person who could easily be gushed over and nudged toward sainthood. Dokte Paul is not a saint, however, and Kidder never gushes. Farmer's closest cohorts often point out how inscrutable he can be, yet Kidder fleshes out the man behind the works and deliver a truly riveting narrative: We are handed a complete portrait of the life of a truly amazing person.

Granted, Farmer's works are nothing short of amazing as well. Through a combination of single-minded drive, astounding talent, and unwavering dedication, Farmer forges a vehicle for improving third world health and poverty that literally becomes the working model for World Health Organization policy by the book's end. It is literally a case of one man's refusal to quit becoming a worldwide crusade for the poor.

The world Mountains Beyond Mountains illuminates is far from pretty; it is a world so cruel and ugly that one hesitates to face it. As with commercials for Care or the Catholic Children's Fund, the first world generally doesn't want to see it. Yet Farmer's cheerful insistence that we all come along is riveting, and you find yourself fully involved, without a thought of turning aside. More to the point, his Partners In Health organization simply refuses to quit, or to say no to requests for help from virtually any corner of the globe. The hope and care with which these people reach out is truly heartening.

In a day and age where it is easy to believe that the tide has turned fully toward a lack of caring, and protection only for the rich and powerful, Mountains Beyond Mountains paints a tough but encouraging picture of a quiet revolution brewing in the poorest parts of the world. Opening this wonderful book is an irrestistible invitation to have faith, hope, and to do something about changing the status quo. Read it soon.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Eye Heart Ewe

Warning: I'm not going to gush, but I am going to be emotionally honest, so if you don't like that sort of thing, move on, partner...

All the gyrations and palpitations caused by my current health and work situation has brought some stuff up with Monica - Gee, imagine that - My mood, bearing, health and wellbeing might be a concern to her, too!?

She has always read obituaries, which I personally think is a little weird, but who am I to judge... Anyway, she allowed that seeing all the widows there, and thinking about my health, had her shaken pretty deeply.

So, I assured her that I'm not going anywhere, I'm going to be around for the long haul, etc - But more importantly, her comments helped me step outside myself and realize something about all this: If all I do is worry about myself, I'm missing the boat on why taking care of health, wellbeing, etc, is most important. Duh - It's most important because the person I love more than anything or anyone on this earth is counting on me to be around and healthy. I know it's easy, when it comes to ones health, to get absorbed in self-concern, and not even feel selfish in so doing; but it is selfish, and I'm going to knock it off... It's also made me realize that getting out of shape and less healthy is also very selfish, and I definitely need to knock that off...

OK, so now I have my marching orders, because I am not going to blow the best thing to ever happen to me. Later in life than I'd have liked, I found the person who my heart adores. This is my partner, my best friend, my lover, my wife. She is so completely supportive, loving, caring, and such a solid foundation for my life: How could I jeopardize that? I literally want for nothing - Monica gives me everything I could ask for and more. She insulates me from the things she can insulate me from, is always beside me, supports my goals and wishes, and believes in me completely. From the mundane to the incredibly tedious and complex parts of life, she manages it all out of love. We communicate on a level that most people simply don't understand - We not only finish each others sentences, we hear and understand each other completely, without saying a word, even from great distances. We share an intimacy and connection that is truly spiritual and has amazing depth and breadth. We are two halves of one soul... Who could or would ask for anything more? I am so blessed, I have a relationship that I don't think one couple in a million enjoys...

What I owe her is the same loyalty, the same love, the same caring, the same support, and the same intensity for her wellbeing and happiness; I can't do that if I'm not healthy and happy. It's my job to see that I get there and stay there and do for her as she does for me, and so I shall.

My Dear?

Always and forever; for as long as you'll have me.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Cowabunga, Dude

Language is a cool thing, is it not? I hope that languages in all their glory don't all meld into English or Chinese or Spanish over time, as I've heard predicted. The vagaries of language are their evolutionary strength.

I think a lot of those variances won't go away, because of where they exist and from whence they've come. Take Italian for instance - We all think Italian is Italian, but it ain't so. A Veniciano speaker is gonna have a hard time even understanding a Sicilian, and vice versa. In France, Parisians speak nothing at all like farmers from Provence. Northern versus southern Germans, same gig. There are many dialects of Spanish and Portuguese in Mexico, Central America, and South America. Canadians from the Maritimes don't sound like those from British Columbia at all.

I grew up outside of Boston, and when I moved to Spokane at 15 years of age, people had a hard time understanding me. Monica, from western Washington State, couldn't make herself understood by a rural Vermonter. Now that I live in Fort Worth, I can tell you that nobody understands the Texan dialect that sounds as if it's being delivered through a mouthful of marbles, (Yes, there are people who speak just like Boomhauer from King of the Hill...).

And then there are those words or phrases that become popular due to the times, music, culture, (Such as it is), etc. Those little bon mots have always intrigued me, and maybe that's why I still use so many, well, antique words...
When I was a kid in the 60's, good things were groovy or cool. Bad things were a bummer. Somebody being a jerk was a curr. And general agreement was acknowledged with a right on! Far out meant really good. The pigs, the man, the establishment were all bummers and definitely square. Tune in, turn on, and drop out, man...

The 70's ushered in Nose Candy, Peruvian Marching Powder, or Mexican Happy Dust. The Dry Look, and the Me Generation ruled. Who among my generation knew what Gabardine was before those days? Leisure Suits, Disco Sucks T Shirts, and Hip Huggers.

The 80's? Hair band, Butt Metal, Glam Rock, Jacko, New Wave, Punk Rock, New Age and the second British Invasion joined the patois...

Ah, the 90's - Grunge Rock, Death Metal, CorporateSpeak, Dude, Dawg, and Whoa! I remember coming down the trail from a famous rock climbing wall in Washington, and meeting a couple California Surfer Dudes on the way up, they were friendly and excited about the climbs they were going to do, and interested in what we'd done and knew about those routes; I think... They said, and I quote; "Who, Dudes, were you totally up on Snow Creek Wall? Yo, Dawg, what route? Outer Space? Waaaay Honer!! Were you totally honed for that or what? Dude, that is so space age; honer, Dawgs!!" And off they went. You tell me what that was about. Dude, that gnarly rock like fully biffed my board!

And in to the 21st Century; Gen Xers, more Dawgs, and seemingly, a mish-mash recycle of things old. Rockabilly, Psychobilly, Newgrass, Aggro Rock...

Ah, what the hell, it's all groovy anyway - Right on!!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mysterious Little Creatures, Aren't They?

Any fan of the late cartoonist B. Kliban will instantly recognize the tag line and the cartoon – A cat lying on the floor doing something cat-like, as a guy on a couch says the line – Meanwhile, his female companion stares at two other cats behind his head, doing the Walk Like an Egyptian across the couch with big shit eating grins on their faces…

I've been a dog and/or cat guy my whole life, but I'll admit, I'm partial to the obnoxious little furballs known as Cattus Felinus. My family always had dogs and cats, for as far back as I can remember; being an observant youngster, it was clear to me that while the dogs scampered about, slathering and anxiously being good, the cats were watching, aloof, telling the dogs, "You dumbasses..."

The first family cat I remember was Blanche, who was a beautiful white kitty. Although I didn't realize it as a small lad, Blanche was also what they call a 'Loose Kitty', because she cranked out a whole bunch of kittens over the years. My dad had a thing for socks, meaning he had a large dresser drawer full of 'em, nice and soft and quiet there in his closet... So that's where Blanche had all her kittens, of course, being a sensible mom. Dad never seemed to mind, which I've always taken as the sign of a very good dad.

Then next one was Gorgeous, and she was - A long-furred Calico female who had, shall we say, a fiery personality. She used to get magnificent knots in her fur, which prompted mom to get her shaved once. Gorgeous was horrified, and spent several weeks slinking around, throwing looks at us which clearly said, "You assholes..."
Mom put a large, ranch-style birdfeeder next to the windows off the deck, and that cat would wedge her fat ass into the very back of the feeder and wait for a real stupid bird to come eat. I don't know that she ever got any, but it sort of outlined her general view on hunting; distasteful, but acceptable, within bounds of reason...
She liked to sleep in a large terra cotta bowl on top of the piano, which is where my brother would practice his clarinet. Certain notes pissed her off, and she'd come leaping out of the bowl, claws drawn, to retaliate - You'd hear, "doo doo doo doo doo AIIIEEGHHH!!!" and know she'd struck again. When we moved to Washington state, we thought she wouldn't make the transition, so a friend of moms who lived several miles away, took her in. The morning we were heading out, she showed up at the back door...

In Spokane, we got a Sealpoint Siamese named Mitzu.
In the summer, he'd all of a sudden get up and charge back and forth across the back yard and then pose on a rock.
In the winter, he'd yowl to go out, the feel the cold when the door was opened, do a whole body shiver, and head back for the rug in front of a radiator.
In his later years, he'd sit beside my dad's head in the morning when he thought it was time for him to get fed. He'd gently tap dad's head with a soft paw until dad woke up. Then he'd head for the top of the stairs and wait for dad to come pick him up and carry him downstairs for breakfast.

Then came a whole series of my cats. There have been a bunch, none of whom has died of old age; they went to cars, coyotes, or just plain disappeared. Some lasted for years, some just months...
Tigger and Mischa, I got when I moved back to Spokane. Tigger would come see me when I was taking a bath, and crawl onto my chest in the tub, curl up and go to sleep. Something got him out by the road before he was a year old. We know this because his sister took us out there and let us know in no uncertain terms that this was where they got him...
She's still with us, and at 8 years old is one of our longer lived cats. She refuses to drink water out of the cat water bowl - She will only drink from the faucet of our tub, (Which she will patiently instruct us to turn on just right), or the fish tank. She is mostly Siamese and mouthy - Becky, who used to be pretty much silent, is now about as mouthy as she, having learned well how to manipulate humans.

Ah, those others: Hobbes the Silver Tabby who was absolutely beautiful and dumb as a post; Spud, a downright vicious, nasty, ill-tempered little bitch that we kept for years; SloMo, who generally disliked everybody but James; Sushi, who would head butt you when she was happy: Felix ,who scammed Monica into buying him by doing tricks just for her in a feed store cage full of cute little kittens, (He wasn't one of them...); Becky who got locked inside an outdoor coke machine during a freeze; Katie the feral kitty... And many more.

I just can't understand folks who don't love 'em, and as big of a pain in the ass as they are, I'm sure we'll always have a few around...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Trouble With Poetry

I've never really gotten into poetry, which is weird. I mean, I love just about everything having to do with writing, and I read voratiously from many different genres. Yet my exposure to and interest in poetry has only come from classes in high school and college, when I basically had no choice...

I thought of this today while hearing Billy Collins, a former Poet Laureate of this country, on Fresh Air. His perspective was wonderful, his manner gentle and quiet, and his verse captivating. He posits that all poetry centers either on the joy of living or impending death, which is a canny observation indeed... I liked him a lot, though I hate to admit, I didn't know who he was, nor had I heard him when he was the Poet Laureate in '01 through '03. His perspective got me thinking, trying to recall what poets I actually knew, other than simply paid lip service to, and I realized there were none. Yeah, I've read Howl, and some Gary Snyder, Longfellow, S. T. Coleridge, and decided that Buchowski was a dirty old man, but again - All that had been forced by classes; the opinions hadn't evolved of my own volition. So why the reticence? Why the lack of interest?

Then I remembered writing some poetry in high school, and rather liking it. A couple of my pieces ended up in a very nicely published coffee table compendium of our artistic output - poems and short stories beside paintings, and stuff like that. One of my friends was a very talented artist, who probably had a future in it at that point. A bunch of his stuff was in there too.

After it came out, we were at dinner at their house for some occasion or another, and my friend's dad, out of the blue, stands up and announces that some of my poetry was in the book, and then starts to read it - All of this done in a sardonic, mocking tone of voice that, to some degree, shocked literally everyone in the room. A stunned silence followed his reading, the last line of my poem rolling into the emptiness. No one was more stunned, or pissed off than I was. I was 16 or 17, so I didn't say anything; nor did anyone else...

I realized that, to this day, I believe he did it because he thought that his kid was a real artist and my stuff was crap; it didn't belong there, so he decided to belittle it, and me, semi-publicly. He is, by the way, one of the most arrogant, rude, dismissive, and self-centered people I've ever met, even despite this little interlude. After high school, his kid had a breakdown and never recovered: He's schizophrenic, probably messed up worse by the Lithium they punched into folks with that disease back then, and is barely able to survive on his own. He still paints a little, but it seems that, as with many fine artists, his genius rode a fine balance that tipped over when he did.

And I never wrote or read poetry again. I'm not whining, mind you, I've just come to realize that, in retrospect, my avoidance of it is tied to this series of events. Funny how such a revelation will come up after, what, 30 years or so. I was talking with my mom not long ago, and she mentioned them. I asked if he was still the arrogant ass he'd always been, and she allowed that he was, indeed.

And so today's Fresh Air was both a reminder of an uncomfortable piece of my past, and a realization that denying myself a wonderful medium because of a traumatic adolescent incident was foolish indeed. Screw him. I'm going out and buying Billy's latest book, and may it lead to an exploration of many more poets, old and new. And I'd better get at it, before the dire time glimpsed in Collins' namesake poem of his new collection comes about. What time is that, you ask? Let Billy tell it:

The trouble with poetry is
that it encourages the writing of more poetry,
more guppies crowding the fish tank,
more baby rabbits
hopping out of their mother into the dewy grass
And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world
and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks
and sit with our hands folded on our desks.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Something's Gotta Give

Had to go to the doc this morning, the semi-annual checkup. I take stuff for cholesterol, and for high blood pressure: Both are somewhat hereditary, but the blood pressure is predominantly stress induced.

It's my frickin' job. I always thought I wouldn't be stressed by 'normal work', after years of firefighting and law enforcement, but I was fooling myself. I am stressed. Actually, it comes from not providing for my family like I know I can and feel I should, and from things not going well when I know they could and should.

I called Monica after the appointment and told her about it. She pointed out that it was the same with the last job, and the job before that... Her point being, I've been doing the same thing for 10 years now, and it's definitely wearing on me. She mentioned the need for a 'Life Change', and I agree.

I was bitchin' and whinin' about this earlier this year, though then it was frustration induced. Now, it's a health matter, and that's enough of that. I am not going to let my health be threatened because I stress over what I do.

I am going to change careers, again. And this time, I'm going to do something I want to do, something I find fun, or at least easy going. I don't know what it is yet, and I don't care. I am resolved, here and now, that I'm done working at stuff that stresses me this much. If that's not motivation, I don't know what is.

Having finally found a partner I can and will and absolutely want to grow old with, I need to make sure I make it to those years. So, this morning just kinda outlined, I don't have time to dink around much longer. It's time to think, plan, take steps and do it.

Whether that means I'm gonna be selling tools, or underwriting, or doing title work, I don't know, but I'm gonna start today...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Leonardo et al

Of course, I like everyone else have heard all the rap, hype, hew and cry about The DaVinci Code. As a Christian, and a writer of sorts, I'd resolved not to get involved. Wasn't gonna read it, didn't want to see the flick, just leavin' it be...
Then our 15 year old came along with the book and handed it to me and said, "You need to read this..." Now, his opinion I truly respect, in fact much more than the media hype, so I cracked 'er open.

Now, I'm a lover of a good mystery, but I'm also a snob - I like Hillerman, old Clancy, Le Carre, Dame Agatha, P.D. James, and the like; so Mr. Brown was about to be stacked up against pretty hefty competition.

I read it. In fact, I picked it up on Friday, and finished it Saturday morning, because I didn't do much of anything but read that whole time. It's a page turner, a great mystery, indeed.

Dan, from a writer wanna be to a real writer - Thank you, that was great fun!

I consider myself pretty sharp in discerning the intricacies of a good mystery. As an Ex-Detective, (And a pretty damn good one if I do say so myself), I can usually stay one step ahead of the game. This one got me in the end - And it wasn't cheap shot tricks, it was honest to goodness, well thought out plot twists - And Brown, like other great mystery writers, had left the clues there, if you were paying attention - Nonetheless, he slid a couple by me and I admire the heck out of that.

And then there's the whole faith thang... After reading it, I really don't see what all the fuss is about - Sure, it looks superficially as if he's taking big nasty swipes at Catholicism, Opus Dei, and the Priory of Sion, but I didn't see it that way - It's a work of fiction, and what he did was use very socially-charged entities and issues to spin a great murder mystery, and that's that. What he used was humans succumbing to human weaknesses, which is always plausible. That's not passing judgement on factions and faithes, that's simply a sublime choice of subject matter and crackerjack writing... I don't think the book actually demonizes anything or anyone - It does use populist opinion, supposition, and theory, and uses it as a very powerful vehicle.

As a character in the book noted, most people of faith are realistic about the facts and myths of their faith; I certainly am anyway. Nothing posited in the Da Vinci Code is going to change my mind about my faith or my church, and again, I don't think it's intended to do that anyway, it's intended to spin a good yarn.
And even if the various concepts within the story line were intended to sway opinion, what would it say about one's faith if it did?

I'd state without hesitation that if you or your faith can't handle hard questions, wild accusations, interesting possibilities, or negative press, you're probably in the wrong church, and they're in the wrong business. This is after all, religion we're talking about, and little to do with that topic is simple, now is it?

So, take my advice:
If you like a great mystery, read it -
And what the hell,
I love Tom hanks,
so I'm gonna see the flick after all...