Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rustic Porch

Dona Ana, NM.  An old adobe house, newly remodeled.  Nice use of funky posts holding up the porch roof.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Crumble Rock

This rock on our sandbar started the winter as a regular rock.  After repeated freezing and thawing cycles, it has been reduced to this pile of rubble.  The river will soon sweep all this away.  I had no idea that the rock-to-gravel-to-dirt process happened so rapidly. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Three Arches

A nice shady porch in East Las Cruces.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Adobe Apartments

East Las Cruces.  This is typical of the "urban adobe look" -- a long row of doors and windows right on the sidewalk.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Capilla de Don Silvestro

We went to the chapel northwest of Hatch a few weeks ago, and as you can see, it's still there.  This angle gives a good view of the tire retaining wall.  That's a LOT of tires, and a LOT of dirt they were filled with.  Which to me implies a LOT of devotion.  I love the non-mainstream cultural esthetic in which functionality is the only standard of beauty.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Gangbang Queen of Howell County, Missouri

In 1968 I became a minister in the Universal Life Church. This was when the ULC head honcho, Kirby Hensley, was ordaining entire stadiums full of people at one fell swoop just because he could, and I didn’t want to be left behind. So I mailed in my application, and before long I received my official minister card which entitled me to the full benefits of ministerhood, which included marrying, burying, and baptizing. I was set to go. With a joint or two in my pocket, and my minister card in my wallet, I was ready for anything.

I only performed one official act in my guise as ULC minister. That would be in 1971, when I baptized the Gangbang Queen of Howell County, Missouri in the name of drugs.

Judy and I moved to our first homestead in the Missouri Ozarks, two miles north of the Arkansas state line, in September 1970. The local ne’er-do-wells were intrigued to have some hippies in the neighborhood, and quickly made me part of their gang. It helped that I had a little stash with me, of course. But even as the winter wore on, and nobody had any dope left, and we were reduced to drinking sweet wine product to get high, they kept stopping by and picking me up for their little adventures. Judy willingly let me go, evidently figuring that going out on “runs” with “the boys” helped keep cabin fever under control.

The weeks kept rolling by, and before long it was summer once again. One Friday evening the Ronnie and Roger Hunt stopped by with Sharon, gangbang queen of Howell County. I had already heard about her. She was famous for putting out. She would fuck almost anybody. They brought her into our trailer and she sat there on the sofa, closed in upon herself, an unhappy look on her face. Looking back, I would say that she had probably suffered sexual abuse from an early age. I felt sorry for her, but what could I do but watch the karmic drama unfold?

After a few minutes Ronnie excused himself and took Sharon out to one of our sheds for a quick fuck. While they were gone, Roger told me a story about him and Sharon. He had just finished fucking Sharon and she said, “I want to kill myself.” He replied, “That’s OK, I’m through with you now.” Such casual callousness. So utterly unconscious, and so typical.

After about ten minutes Ronnie and Sharon returned. Sharon looked even more downcast than usual. She obviously didn’t enjoy being the gangbang queen of Howell County. Then they drove away.

As was typical during their wild weekends, they stopped back in from time to time, so I got to see occasional frames from their movie. The next time I saw them, on Saturday morning, they been up all night. They had picked up Floyd, an older guy (35 or so), sort of doughy and dweeby, who had the hots for Sharon. But she wouldn’t do Floyd. Even Sharon had her limits. So Floyd was just along for the ride, but not the one he really wanted.

I saw them again on Saturday evening. Ronnie (alpha male of the group) asked me if I was interested in Sharon’s affections. I declined. For one thing, Sharon didn’t turn me on. Not my type. I preferred spiritual-type chicks who you’ve got to get to know first. And more importantly, I believed in my marriage vow. Always did. In my book, a vow is a vow. To break my marriage vow would be to lack integrity. Integrity in that regard is one thing I always maintained, for better or worse.

Finally Sunday afternoon rolled around, and so did our carload of gangbangers. They were still at it, though everybody was obviously getting tired. (Speed will take you only so far.) They were headed for the local swimming hole at a nearby creek, and asked me if I wanted to come along. I said sure, why not?

We piled into the car and I found myself in the backseat, sitting next to Sharon. We didn’t have anything to say to each other. Driving to the swimming hole took about ten minutes and during that time we didn’t say a word. Really, what conversational gambits were there? “Having a nice weekend?” “Met any interesting people lately?” “What’s your Mom think about your hobby?” Sometimes the sheer physicality of a situation is so overwhelming, words are superfluous.

When we pulled up at the swimming hole I had an inspiration. An impulse is more like it. I turned to Sharon and said, “Wanna get baptized? I’m a minister in the Universal Life Church.”

She said, “OK.” We were not going to have any profound conversations, she and I.

Everybody thought that a baptism was a fabulous idea, and they lined up on the bank to watch while Sharon and I waded into the water with all our clothes on. This was going to be just like a regular church baptism: fully clothed, full immersion.

We slowly waded over to a spot where the water was about chest-deep. I had seen baptisms before, and had even been baptized myself, so I knew just how to do it. I stood her in front of me so that she was facing off to the side. I put my right hand behind her back.

“What would you like to be baptized in the name of?” I asked her. It seemed only logical that if you were going to all the trouble to get baptized, you might as well be baptized in the name of something.

“Drugs,” she replied.

Okey-dokey then.

Raising my left hand in benediction, I said, “I baptize thee in the name of drugs.” Now the ritual had reached its moment of truth. Enough talk, now it’s time for action. The credo here is: Just Do It. So I covered her nose and mouth with my left hand and tipped her back. Total immersion. Just long enough to totally cover her entire body. Then I brought her back.

Baptism of the total immersion sort is a ritual of surrender, death, and resurrection. You have to trust the baptizer. The baptizer can drown you if he wants to. You’re laying there helpless on your back, underwater, and all he has to do is hold you down for a minute or two while you drown. But no, the baptizer doesn’t drown you; he literally brings you back to life. Into a new, sanctified, life. A life formally devoted to, in Sharon’s case, drugs.

Sharon didn’t enjoy being baptized. She emerged into her newly-sanctified life choking and sputtering, looking like a drowned rat, more miserable than ever.

The boys thought that was pretty cool, having a baptism performed for them like that. We stood around and talked for awhile while Sharon and I dried off. Then we drove on back to my place. There was nothing to say; there never had been. I never saw Sharon again, though I heard about her from time to time.

If there’s anybody who died young, it was probably Sharon. It would have been a mercy, though getting there would have been the hard part.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spiritual Humanism

In an article I haven’t posted yet, I mentioned “spiritual” humanism as a worthy alternative to the “secular” humanism that dominates the nonreligious aspects of today’s global empire.

First, let’s look at some short definitions of secular humanism:

* The doctrine emphasizing a person's capacity for self-realization through reason; rejects religion and the supernatural.

* A humanist philosophy that espouses reason, ethics, and justice, and specifically rejects the supernatural and religious dogma as the basis of morality and decision-making.

* A philosophy based on weighing and testing beliefs whether they be religious, political or social. Using critical reasoning and logic instead of faith and mysticism to help solve our problems.

There’s a lot here I agree with: reason, weighing and testing beliefs, critical reasoning, rejection of religious dogma and faith. Anybody who knows me knows that “Faith” not my middle name. I have always been a skeptic.

Now, about secular humanism’s rejection of mysticism and “the supernatural.” I have always had a scientific mind. I used to have a credo: “Keep yer eyes open and the wax outta yer ears.” Which means: keep an open mind, keep your senses open, and be as clear an observer as possible. Then when you observe a phenomenon (even a nonverifiable phenomenon), you will be in the best possible position to draw the logical conclusions (if any) from your observations.

I would define the “supernatural” as being aspects of the universe that are not commonly observed or experienced by humans, due to the overwhelming domination by our survival software. I call the consciousness engendered by this software “throwing rocks at rabbits mode.” Humans who didn’t have this survival software, or enough of it, tended to starve or be eaten by predators, and their DNA tended to die off. So it’s no wonder that humans are such a thick lot when it comes to the supernatural.

One possible definition of mysticism is that it’s an often-heroic attempt by humans to shake off the domination of their survival software so that they may, in William Blake’s memorable phrase, “see the universe as it really is: infinite.”

Actually, mysticism is the very opposite of woo-woo. Mysticism is the attempt to come back to reality from the survival software’s dream state. Of course, the experience of reality as filtered through the survival software is “real,” it’s just that it lacks a certain richness, a certain quality, that the poet William Wordsworth described as “the sense sublime of something greater interfused.”

I’ve never considered myself a secular humanist. Secular humanism leaves out too much. I found the scientific world way too sterile for my taste and left it in 1971.

Our planet today is dominated by two main paradigms:

* Religions of various sorts which depend on “received truths” from the past, and the faith of the followers to believe that these “truths” come from a “higher source” and are therefore to be believed and revered.

* Secular humanism, in which nothing is sacred.

What a choice! No wonder our planet is being destroyed!

Last week it seemed to me that spiritual humanism would be just the right combination of spirituality and humanism. So I made myself a clergyman in the Church of Spiritual Humanism. I did this as a joke of course, and to keep up with my son, who is not only a Universal Life Church minister, but he paid extra and had himself made a Prophet as well. Even though I’ve been a ULC minister myself since 1968, I threw away my wallet card long ago, and discovered that the ULC suffered a discontinuity when the founder died, so there is no record of my ministerhood, except for the events engraved upon my heart.

So I am now an “Ordained Clergy Person,” or “O.C.P.” within the Church of Spiritual Humanism. (You can just call me “Reverend Father.”) Of course, I don’t believe that humans can really ordain each other. (We do tend to overestimate ourselves.) The only real ordination comes from God, and I haven’t received this yet. (I’m just a writer with an entertaining style.)

So... after being ordained into the Church of Spiritual Humanism, I decided to read the fine print:

Does Spiritual Humanism include belief in God or other supernatural beings?

The idea of God as a supernatural force, or entity, is a matter of faith and cannot be verified by scientific method. Until verifiable evidence that stands up to scientific method can be presented to prove the existence of the supernatural, we cannot adopt the idea of God as an entity into our religious system. We feel that belief in God is not a necessary component to having spiritual experiences.

The part that hung me up was this:

Until verifiable evidence that stands up to scientific method can be presented to prove the existence of the supernatural...

In my personal reality, the scientific method (which means making accurate observations, and then drawing logical conclusions (if any can indeed be drawn) from these observations) works just as well for personal experiences, which are by definition nonverifiable. Personal experiences are the only evidence we have of the supernatural, unless you want to throw in miracles, and sometimes I think it would be beneficial, would shake things up a little, if we had a million or two miracle workers walking the highways, healing the sick, raising the dead, whatever seemed appropriate at the time.

It’s funny – after not using the “G” word for over 20 years, I’m now starting to use it again. “God” is the most precise word in my lexicon for certain contexts. But that’s just me. My own personal experiences will convince only me, and can never convince a skeptic. By insisting on “verifiable evidence... to prove the existence of the supernatural,” spiritual humanism has shown itself to be secular humanism in another guise. The “spiritual” in spiritual humanism is just another concept, and concepts can never feed the soul. All that really counts to the experiencer, at the soul level, is the lived experience of Spirit. That’s why it’s called Spirituality.

It looks like I’ll never be using my spiritual humanist credential after all, not that I ever would have, except as a private family joke with my son. But to continue the joke, I have now registered as a Universal Life Church minister, even though my son will always outrank me within the “modern” ULC. But I bet he’ll never match my one and only “official” act as a ULC Minister: the time I baptized the gangbang queen of Howell County, Missouri.

Next: The Gangbang Queen of Howell County.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Half-Baked Brain Farts

Sometimes I’m reluctant to release these half-baked brain farts, but then again, that’s what makes this blog so interesting. “What’s he going to say this time?”

I have noticed that Adyashanti seems to have a dismissive attitude about non-awakened consciousness and thinking in general. This is no doubt appropriate for one of his level of spiritual attainment. But I’m just a hobby scientist, and am still fascinated by that kind of stuff in my modestly unawakened way.

Rather than blithely dismissing them as “illusion,” I tend to see thoughts and the “false sense of self” as phenomena every bit as “real” as the secretions of the liver, and worthy of the same level of investigation. How fascinating that synapse activity can generate such a complicated range of effects that can persist over a lifetime!

I believe that the “ego,” or “false sense of self,” is the output function of a set of automatic programs that have their root in neuronal activity within the brain. There’s nothing new there. What’s new is my brain fart (I used to call them “insights” but am slightly more modest now) that these programs can overlap at unpredictable times. Which makes the situation far more complicated. Rather than discrete entities outputting one at a time, or several at a time, it’s more like a constantly shimmering mass. Which can be beautiful to behold, but very confusing to the experiencer.

For a long time it has seemed to me that the “phenomenal world,” or “3-D reality,” is but the tip of the iceberg. Science does a splendid job of learning about the tip, but it’s the rest of the iceberg that allows the tip to operate as it does.

Consider DNA. It has always seemed to me that the DNA molecule cannot possibly contain enough information to encode all the genetic effects that are obviously passed from generation to generation. For example, different breeds of dogs not only look different, they behave differently. It has always seemed to me that it’s asking a lot of a mere molecule to transmit something as subtle as behavior across the generations.

And consider the brain/mind system. The brain is amazingly complicated as it is. Add the mind into the mix, and the level of complexity is enormous. I have always considered that the brain, rather than being a “freestanding unit,” is more of a “receiver” (to use a crude analogy) tuned in to the “rest of the iceberg.” This is the only way I can see the required complexity making sense.

Science has now come to understand that our Universe is almost entirely composed of dark matter and dark energy which cannot be directly observed by our senses or our instruments. (Only 4.6% of our universe is “ordinary matter.”) This is not to say that dark matter/energy are the “rest of the iceberg” that I’ve been talking about. Who really knows what the “rest of the iceberg” really is? But one thing’s for sure: even science is now telling us that there’s far more to our universe than we ever suspected.

Which is what the mystics have been telling us all along.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Purple House

Hatch, NM.  Every neighborhood needs a purple house.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The RV Guy

Hatch, NM

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

"Whew, that's some hot damm chile!"

Chile stand in Hatch, NM -- "Chile capital of the world."