Wednesday, July 29, 2015

THE TRACKER

Chapter 1
Poor Poe
Poe stared into the mirror.  She was never particularly fond of her reflection, but she hated it now.  She noticed her hand was shaking.  She lowered the gun, wondering if she was a coward or a fool. She staggered to bed and lay as she landed.

The morning sun in Denver is bright, but Poe did her best to block it out.  Her windows were as shut off from sunlight as her soul, but she couldn't stop those damn birds from singing at the top of their little bird lungs.  Reluctantly, she rose from her bed as if partially dragged by an invisible force.  Eyes squeezed shut, her head bass-thumping, she bumped down the hall to the bathroom where the vomiting began that would continue throughout the day. She tripped over the dogs on the way to the Keureg 

Poe saw to the dogs, then sat in a chair in the dark for the rest of the day, rising only to throw some tortillas in a bowl, fill a cup with tomato juice laced with hot sauce, go the bathroom, throw up, or see to the dogs again.  She went to bed early, hoping to dream through the screaming in her head.

The next morning Poe rose from bed with a purpose. Bottles of liquor filled the sink. She raised a trembling finger in the air, as if a different type of flashbulb went off.  She lifted off the top of the toilet tank and recoiled.  She had been in that tank many times, but never before noticed the grey-brown slime growing along the inside of the tank, or the moldy, dank stank. Resolutely she dunked her hand into the light grey-green tank water and pulled the bottle of gin from the tank. 

She stared at the sink containing the sparkling gold and rich brown liquors in enticing bottles; the kind that made you think there was magic in them. Damn, that's a lot of liquor.  There were more bottles hidden in the most unlikely placed; closet shelves, behind the washing machine, the dryer, next to the spare tire in her trunk.  She rotated her liquor consumption at various sundry locations.  She didn't want anyone getting the wrong impression.  She hid them to slow her flow and then forgot where they were hidden.  It didn't  occur to her for quite some time that she was hiding liquor in a house where she lived alone.

Poe sighed. She picked up the nearest bottle and began pouring the sacred nectar with the sickly sweet smell into the sink. The rich liquid made little golden streams over bottles and down the drain.  She began to cry and shook, but didn't stop till the last drop was rinsed out of the last bottle and thrown into the recycle bin. 
Poe went to bed.  Her demons did not.
==================================================================
Chapter II
The Beginning
"Polly!"  Poe heard a woman exclaim.  Must be somebody else,  Poe thought, Nobody calls me Polly anymore.  "Polly Mullholland!" 

Poe turned to face her just to stop her from saying it again.

"Nobody calls me Polly anymore, Adele, you know that."

"Well, that's your name isn't it?  You don't really want to be called Poe, do you?  You can't really like it.  It sounds like a man's name."  Adele's eyes narrowed as though she was getting ready to say something Poe was sure she didn't want to hear.

"What are you doing here Adele?  Are you going... in there?" Poe couldn't bring herself to say it and pointed to the room with chairs set around a table? Please God, say no.

"No, I'm in the Al-Anon meetin' across the hall.  It's my boy....you remember Harold? "  Adele rushed on, "Well, he's goin through a bad spell right now.  Gerald won't come to these meetin's.  He went to the first one and says that they point too many fingers at the relatives.  He says there ain't nothin wrong with him, it's Harold who's got the problem..." Adele's eyes began turning red.  Poe wished she had something in her pocket to stab herself in thigh so she could at least look sympathetic.

"Well, look Adele, I mean...it's good to see you.  Sorry about your boy. The meetings about to start, so..."

"Oh, I understand.  We should get together, have coffee sometime." She seemed excited. "You AA people do love your coffee!"  Poe smiled, raised her hand in a sort of farewell salute, turned and walked into her first meeting.   At least the aggravations made her forget how nervous she was for a few minutes. 

"You must be new," a woman materialized beside her at the coffee counter.   

"How can you tell?" Poe's brow furrowed.

"Oh, I don't know..." She glanced at Poe's hand.  Poe looked at her own hand.  It was spilling coffee from the sides. The woman smiled,  "fill it only 3/4 full for a little while," she whispered.

Great, Poe thought and turned and walked away

The woman sat next to her making Poe uncomfortable.  Are these people going to be some kind of cult stalkers?

"What's your name?" the woman asked.

"Poe."

"As in Edgar Allen?"

"As in my younger brother couldn't say Polly."

"Can he say it now?"

"Nope, he's dead.  Look, since you've decided to make me your special buddy, can you tell me where I can get the textbook and workbook?  How long do I have to take the classes?"

"My name is Carrie," her smile deepened, unnerving Poe.  "I think I can help."

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Is Mars The Earth's Future? A letter to Doug & Kristine Tompkins -Tomkins Conservation

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Tomkins,


Is it too far-fetched an idea that Mars could once have been a thriving planet, like earth, destroyed by technology, returned to dust, as it is said all must be one day? Okay, maybe I waxed too Biblical, and I'm no Neil deGrasse Tyson, but my imagination is intrigued and horrified by the possibility.

I just read MarketWatch's July 9 article on Stephen Hawkings Catastrophic End for Planet Earth. I had a very emotional response to the article. I began meditating on what a waste it is to throw away a spectacular planet and the mysterious and beautiful creatures inhabiting it for no reason other than to make a buck. 

The grim predictions of the article made me start wondering what drastic steps could be taken. How do you destroy the monsters (capitalism, to name one)? I wondered, quite frankly, if violence, or even murder was the only way. Fortunately, moral convictions eliminated these possibilities. I started looking online for non-violent ways to beat big business, which is just as guilty as technology, or at least, in collusion. I googled, can we stop technology from destroying the earth, and came across the Guardian's July 11 2013 article, How Technology Has Stopped Evolution and is Destroying The Earth. 

I'm addicted to technology, just as all my peers are. Social media, in my mind, should also be useful for social change. I become despondent when it's only used for finding/rescuing animals and videos of kittens and puppies. Even highly intelligent people do not want to put aside their own agendas. And almost everyone I know refuses to discuss these types of subjects, hush poshing the author as being too negative, a doomsayer. Those who do not, rant impotently against a tsunami.

I think what you are attempting to do is wonderful, but is it enough? You apparently have, or had, a lot of money, but even you, with however much money you have/had, and being highly intelligent, from what I could glean from the Guardian article, only got 1,508 shares and 22 comments from the date of the article three days shy of two years ago. That in itself is heart-sinking. Even great writers, geniuses, who tell us what we are doing and how we are going to end up, whether fiction or fact, are heralded for their writing, but any change effected is too small.

The only way I can think of saving this planet is rallying the people in massive numbers. So far, big money and technology corporations have been able to mass hypnotise large numbers of people. How can we break the psychosis? There has to be a grassroots movement to stop that from happening, but it has to be powerful and move fast. 

I hope I don't sound crazy. Truth is, I'm 58. I'm not even going to be here too much longer. Sure I have kids and grandkids, but the reason is even bigger than that. Right now we have more than we can possibly need. Stephen Hawkings is talking about finding other planets to live and cultivate (why, to do this again?) in space because the planet will be uninhabitable in "the not too distant future."

This cannot, must not happen.

Hopefully, you read enough for me to thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Carol Sheppard


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

In Search of Jesus

I am going through a spiritual crisis. I'm pretty sure that the fact that it coincides with me becoming a vegetarian is no coincidence. I think it's the hormones.

All kidding aside, it's causing me night terrors.

Yesterday I read an article on Flipboard, which I can't find today, about the mythology of Jesus.  The article stated that there is no evidence that Jesus existed other than the Bible, which was edited, revised, stomped on, dragged through many translators and regurgitated by Kings and second-hand accounts.

I almost didn't read the article.  I knew that I wasn't in a place to stand on the faith of the religion I had believed all my life, but I want to know.

According to another article I read today by an author named Jim Walker, called Did a Historical Jesus Really Exist, there is no historical account of Jesus either during His  time or for a generation and more after.  He (the author, not Jesus) makes a good point: someone, somewhere should have heard and written about and the miracles that happened during Jesus' lifetime.  In fact, Walker says that as a matter of fact, no historian, philosopher, scribe or follower wrote about Jesus during his time

Arguments over lack or writing skills, education and an overall  general literary ignorance are dissected and somewhat dismissed.  There were scribes of the day and there are writings. The only known non-Christian writers  wrote what they heard about Jesus  beginning some 37 years after His  death . The rest, Walker argues, were also not eyewitness and got their information from hearsay.


Moreover, it is a well-known fact that the apostles did not actually write any of the books in the Bible at all.  Mr. Walker argues that John, James, Matthew and most of Paul's were second, third or fourth-hand accounts. Even Paul, Walker argues, only wrote eight of the 11 books and never mentions a human Jesus. In fact, Walker says none of them do. (This I have to look up.  It conflicts with my understanding of the Bible.)

Oh, and it gets better.  Walker states that the story of Jesus was similar to many Pagan beliefs of the day: virgin birth, December 25 date, wise men, and sacrifice.

The three following "Proofs that Jesus existed" are not actually proof at all. 
The Shroud of Turin  - carbon dated around 14th century and testing reveals it's more of a painting .
The Burial Box of James - inscription forged.  Artist arrested
Letters of Pontius Pilate - novel created by W.P. Cozier.

All the above "proofs" are revealed to be  fake, but to this day, most adamant Christ-based religious people will not believe the scientific facts.  In fact, if you have ever had an argument with a religious person you know it sometimes sounds as if violence is about to ensue should that topic not be immediately abandoned.  You will not make your point.  Surrender.  (To be fair, the same can be said of some militant atheists, not for this topic, but any in opposition to their core beliefs that there is no God.

Walker's research extends to the historical geographical errors in the bible.  I won't list them here, but they are listed in his blog. 

The article was very long and contained a lot of convincing evidence that no Jesus as we know Jesus existed.

I had a long sleepless night as my faith began to crumble like the Roman Empire.

What if there was  no Jesus?  What would it mean to the human race?  Would the world sink into anarchy?  Sins wouldn't be sins!  No afterlife?  I cringe at the thought of behaviours like pedophilia going unpunished.  Religious wars, political wars, ...all for naught.

My whole life has been based on the belief of a God, of a being who lived as a man and offered himself as a sacrifice to save me. ME!

What if we lived without religion?  What would keep us in check?  Would we keep ourselves in check? Would we be kind with no promised reward? Would there be less war or more?

To be fair, I read a blog by Bart D. Erhman on the Huffington Post Religion site.  He has an opposing opinion.  He admits that the Gospels of the Bible are fraught with biases, problems with detail, with information at odds with each other, and written decades after Jesus' death.  Jesus is not mentioned by any Roman sources of His day  Ehrman's point is whether or not biased sources can be credible.  

According to Ehrman, the writings of Paul are in Jesus' native tongue, Aramaic and can be dated within just a year or two of his life.  Paul obtained his information about Jesus from James, Jesus' brother and Peter, Jesus' closest disciple. Ehrman tried to make a point, weakly, if you don't mind my opinion, that "If Jesus did not exist, you would think his brother would know it."

Ehrman states that there are no accounts of pagan gods who were born to virgin mothers and who died as an atonement for sin and who were raised from the dead.

Jews would not have invented Jesus as he was because no Jews "of any kind, whatsoever, thought there would be future crucified messiah." The Messiah would be a "figure of grandeur and power who overthrew the enemy." Erhman did not mention that Jews do not accept Christ as the Messiah, but he does say that Christians did not invent Jesus, but they did invent that He had to be crucified.

The arguments that Ehrman make are more like unanswered questions. Wouldn't James, Jesus' brother know if Jesus didn't exist?  Why would Christians invent a Messiah in opposition to the Jews' Christ Messiah?

Quite a bit less compelling than Walker's blog.

But....both the blogs raise more questions for me than answers.

Is it so unreasonable to think that Romans didn't write about Jesus because their life depended on not writing about Jesus? Also, it's not so unreasonable that the Romans, the most powerful kingdom on earth at the time, destroyed all discovered accounts of Jesus' life after His death? But that doesn't answer why non-Christian writers didn't write about Jesus, does it?

I had a whimsical thought. What if God sacrificed a man through mythology rather than making a real man die an intolerably cruel death.  Maybe He was too kind to actually put a man through that? What a great idea for a novel.   Don't steal it, it's mine. 

For a religion based solely on faith, is it unreasonable to expect that evidence was removed based on the phrase, all things work for the good of God?  

Or maybe the human race needs a sacrifice to make life worthwhile and to keep it in check?

If you've read to this part, I've been sober for 21 years.  My entire sobriety, the 12 steps, are based upon my belief in a God of my understanding.  Right now, believing that there is no God hurts my stomach...it's disconcerting, devastating. It's sending hot and cold chills up and down my body right now! I expect to have another mentally exhausting night as my mind tosses and turns the information trying to figure out what to believe.

I have a friend who told me that she is starting to believe that when we die ...all there is thunk!  And because she's of Italian descent, her hand gracefully circled the air and lay flat, as flat as we in the grave.

I'll keep searching for evidence that Jesus existed.  Obviously, reading only two blogs, no matter how detailed, could not possibly provide all the information available.  

In the meantime...


I don't know why the thought of dying and then nothing scares the (scares the what, if not Jesus, God or hell?) out of me.

On the other hand, when I look at it this way - if believing in a God, whether there is or isn't one, will keep me sober, I'm willing to do it.  If there isn't, what difference will it make?  If there is one, then at least I behaved as if I did.  

I wonder if that will work?