Sunday, September 26, 2010

suffer the little children

for what feels like weeks now, the first of the "cheshire home invasion" trials is underway. day after day, WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT labels are springing up like fruit flies all over the front pages of newspapers and on tv and computer screens. the testimony is so graphic, the pictures released so horrifying, a lot of people i know are refusing to look or even follow the story with more than glancing interest.

the cheshire home invasion is a horrible story. that it could happen here, in the mind-numbing land of steady habits, is even more horrible. that the state's wasting good money trying to get the death penalty when all you'd need are ten minutes, the petit family men and a few baseball bats strikes me as not quite as horrible but almost.

but what saddens and scares me even more are the people who are taking their children to see this trial. i can't imagine the lesson these parents are hoping to instill in their children. the justice system grinds on in all its majesty every day of the week. if you want to show your kids what the law really looks like, go down to your local courthouse. mostly its tedious and a lot of details and people sweat a lot so they smell bad. that's what the legal system is really like so i don't buy the rationale that this is a good introduction to Law in America.

don't get me wrong. i think you have to raise children who understand that the boogeyman is all too real and that little girls CAN die in awful ways. but i think these parents are doing something truly cruel to their children and i hope they're only doing it because they don't realize the damage they're inflicting. i dont believe in censorship and i think if you want to - god help you - encourage your kids to follow the trial in all its gory glory, go right ahead. but its not really a trial - everyone knows the murderers would've pled guilty if the prosecution wasn't so set on the death sentence. so it isn't really a true example of the american justice system - the facts of the case aren't at issue; the only issue is whether or not the defendants "deserve" to die. this isn't a pivotal matter being decided or a watershed case in state law; this is our legal system at its most sensationalized, at its tawdriest, if you will. a family's pain is being dragged into public viewing - must we all look?

and there's a difference, too, i think, in recognizing that every human being has the instinct to revenge a wrong - which is why i happen to think it would be okay in this case to give doctor pettit's family a few baseball bats, put them in a locked room with the two defendants for about ten minutes and dont ask any questions later about what happens in the room. however, abrogating that instinct and assigning that responsibility to the State is another question all together. just because there are people who do things that make others want to kill them - even for justifiable reasons - doesn't mean i think its okay for the State to put people to death. how many of the children who have attended this trial are going to be able to see THAT distinction, after viewing and hearing such graphic evidence first hand - EVER?

it seems to me fairly clear that parents who would inflict such experiences on their kids are engendering only one outcome, whether they know it or not: to scare the hell out of their children, to sear into their souls not only the idea of the boogeyman, but the memory of one of his faces.

damaged human beings are what got us to this horror in the first place.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

under an aries moon

the conjunction of the fall equinox, the full moon in aries and a precipitous return of summer weather brought on a migraine like i haven't had in months. but i woke up feeling better today, and charged with aries full-moon energy. since my sun's in aries, i feel all activated and charged, rather like a crystal all raring to go.

how do you feel facing Fall, Gentle Reader?

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

another poem ... just because

The Invitation

Come walk with me into my madness
Where dark and light and up and down
Mold and fold into each other
Where before and after have no meaning
And in and out are all the same.

Come peer with me into the pit
Where monsters squirm and demons dwell
And laugh and cry with me
While we poke at them with
Sticks and spears made out of words.

Delight with me where flesh is formless
Blow fire on the cinders of my soul
And kindle therein a conflagration
That some new Light might shine
Upon the world.

Come dance with me upon the precipice
Of what is real and what is not;
As defined by choices only we decide;
And diving, fall, until we reach that place
Where everything is nothing inside out.

April, 2010

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Monday, September 20, 2010

how to prepare to write the (pagan) novel

its getting to be that time of year. jack o'lanterns, falling leaves, and back to school can only mean one thing... NaNoWriMo is JUST around the corner. i haven't decided yet whether or not to attempt it again, mostly because november is usually a very busy month for me. however, when a Facebook Friend who runs the Pagan Writers' Community asked for contributions to inspire newbies, i put a few thoughts together.

- Clear space
Before starting work on a new project, I like to take a day or two to clean my desk and make space for whatever books or research materials I might need. I also like to take some time to make mental space for the time and effort I’m going to have to put forth. I try, as much as possible to carve out at least one hour of writing time a day no matter what else might be going on. If you have a particular time of day you know you write best, try to make as much time to write as your schedule allows.
- Spend time out of doors, or commune with your deities
For me, nature is our great nurturer. I observe what’s going on outside my window as source of comfort, energy and inspiration. Notice the phase of the moon, pay attention to the season. What’s going on in the animal world around you? How about the plants? Consider how you might harness your creative energy so as to be most productive, and enlist the help of OtherWorldly energies. For example, I don’t write well under full moons, so I tend to use the days immediately before, on and after a full moon as days to do anything but write. I find I frequently do a lot of planning under a waning moon, and write best under a new and waxing moon. You may find your energies are aligned as well to such natural rhythms. Now is a good time to strengthen your relationship with a goddess, god, or nature spirit to help you achieve your goal. Consider your relationship with your writing “deva" and consider how to strengthen it. This might lead you to my next step.
- Create a ritual to use every day
By bringing our attention to the words and actions associated with a particular ritual, the ritual creates focus, which creates energy, which creates the intention and thus manifests the goal. I use a simple ritual every morning to bring my attention back to whatever story I am working on at the moment. My ritual includes ordinary actions like going to the bathroom, washing my hands, and getting a cup of coffee. However, by using this time to envision myself releasing toxins and things I don’t need any more, cleansing my hands and fueling my creative fire, by the time I sit down at my desk I’m usually feeling quite productive. I also light some sage and a candle and sometimes draw a Tarot card if I’m seeking inspiration or feeling blocked.
- Set intention
My intention this summer was to take all the old ideas I’ve had kicking around in the back of my computer, put them into proposal form and send one a month to my agent. So far, I’ve sent her four proposals. My actual writing goals varied depending on the type of story I was telling and how much old material I had to work with.
- Take focused action
All the planning, ritual work and intention setting in the world will do you no good if you don’t take action. The art of writing is as much the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair as it is about anything else. Set a reasonable goal for yourself – one thousand fresh words a day is reasonable - ten thousand is not – and stick to it as much as you possibly can.
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

for my friend, debbie... and her dad

How did it happen that the sun
Could choose to rise today?
How can the sky be bright and blue,
And all the world so gay?

The trees remain in full green leaf
The cars buzz to and fro.
The world remains as just it was,
A day - or less - ago.

But now you lie so still and cold,
Your race forever run,
Your eyes forever closed to mine;
Your suffering finally done.

Thus it is that mine begins;
I wonder how it is
That everything seems as it was
Before my world went black.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

finally free

i wore a jacket this morning when i walked the puppies and the light has a distinct gold glow, the air a sharp edge. but for the calling of the crows and the tap of Beloved's keyboard, sam's snores and buddy's sighs, the house is silent. silent, still, and empty.

these are the hours i crave. the grandchild is tended, the children are occupied, Beloved is otherwise engaged. even my friends, most of them, are off and busy. these are my hours, my days, the time i truly relish. some days im busy and productive and some days, to tell the truth, i do what i do best... which is nothing.

here's to a nothing kind of day.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

angels and other visitors

from the time i was very small, i was aware there are other energies besides the ones we can all see and hear and experience with our five senses. as a child, i saw my room fill up with light every night just before i fell asleep. as a very young child, i thought this was normal - after all, everyone told me i had a Guardian Angel and i even said a prayer to her every night.

shortly after i started going to school, however, i quickly learned this wasn't the case for everyone. i was also sick quite a bit and missed a lot of school. one day a little girl from my class, Lucy, and her big sister, Grace, came to bring me my schoolwork. while Grace talked to my mother, Lucy sat next to my bed in the chair my mother had moved from its place under my desk. she asked me when i thought i would come back to school.

i told her in great seriousness that the night before, my guardian angel had told me i would be better on wednesday (which was the following day) and i would be back to school on thursday. i could see from the expression on Lucy's face that this wasn't something she had experienced for herself and i quickly learned, from that time on, that it was probably better not to admit i listened to angels, even if what They said turned out to be true.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

putting summer to sleep

there's a definite chill in the air, and the sky's dismal gray reminds me of november. it isn't raining, but it looks as if it wants to. the trees droop their leaf-laden branches over the ponds, as if they've grown too heavy to bear. another season, another summer is passing. i feel it in the air.

its a fitting day for a funeral.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

yo audrey

audrey's the name of a "friend" of a friend on facebook. when my friend shared my blog about my wish for jesus's immediate-if-not-sooner return, audrey took quite an exception to it. what follows are her comments, and my responses. i let her have the last word on the comment thread because i felt her comments deserved a fuller answer than facebook's comment space allows. and in case audrey doesn't read my blog - why would she? - im sending this to her personally as a facebook message because despite audrey's undoubted inability to allow for such a possibility - and to my own shame - i used to think just like she does.

this is her first response to my recent blog about the second coming.
AUDREY: funny, the last Christian I saw was in the Sudan, burning in a pile of wood & leaves while a muslim was beating his on the back with a stick. Maybe he's just one of those horrible delusional freaks she spoke of. Tolerance works both ways.

wow, i wondered, where does SHE live? then i wondered where i'd mentioned "delusional freaks." so i checked my blog and i couldn't find any reference to freaks of any kind, delusional or otherwise. my curiosity piqued, i read her next comment with even more puzzlement:

AUDREY: course I wasn't actually IN the Sudan, thank GOD.

well, of course not, audrey, i thought. so you'd have no idea whether that "christian" was a catholic priest who'd been caught molesting that "muslim's" child. (not that that's how i think priests who molest children should be treated - im just saying i can imagine circumstances under which anyone less civilized than i am might feel such behavior is justified. which is probably a big part of the problem with my communication to my friend's "friend" audrey. i CAN imagine things.)

now, Gentle Reader, you have to understand that i hold the person who shared my blog in the highest regard. she is one of my dearest friends, a person who mixes integrity with compassion. anyone who is a friend of rose's, in my usual estimation, must have some redeeming feature to them, even if - as it sometimes happen - that feature is not always immediately apparent to me.

so i thought i'd give audrey the benefit of the doubt and replied:

ANNIE: of course tolerance works both ways. and where did i speak of delusional freaks?

to which she said:

AUDREY: I didn't quote you, but your tone is sarcastic and largely derisional. As if we're all loons who actually think in the way you portray. I find it condescending, self righteous and typical of poking at an easy target, the only PC one left to poke at. So I'll just ignore these posts from now on.

her tone to me just drips with the milk of loving-kindness, doesn't it? audrey is smart enough to understand that something is going on for her, but perhaps not smart enough to understand what. although she obviously shares fundamentalist beliefs with the "delusional freaks" and "loons" she doesn't understand that she has to do more to differentiate herself from them than just calling them names. nor does she pause to consider that while my tone might be called satirical, almost in the vein of Swift's "Modest Proposal," her tone back to me might be considered almost combative. since im not a christian, i don't feel the need to turn the other cheek. instead, i decided to speak my piece, and leave her alone:

ANNIE: if you dont like being tarred by the same brush with the delusional freaks (remember, that was audrey's characterization, not mine. nor does she apparently see anything in the least derisional about referring to anyone as a "delusional freak."), perhaps you and your kind will speak up more loudly. i hear a most deafening silence coming from any reasonable voices from the religious right. if you all have something helpful to say in the debate, i hope you start saying it. ignore my words if you will but please dont be silent about the delusional freaks on your side of the aisle.

AHA! so much for being ignored. the coffee must've kicked in, because her response to that was this (cue the Battle Hymn of the Republic):

AUDREY: the way you paint it, we're all delusional freaks, you make no distinction. If it's ok to believe in nature's spirituality, it should be ok to believe in angels, white robes and Heaven. Since you don't know me or what I stand for, I'll clue... you in. I stand for the right to live according to the Natural Law. I believe in each person's ability to be the best they can be. I believe in God, the constitution, the bible, the family and the rule of law. I believe in loving your neighbor, not looking down your nose at them, charity, good stewardship of what we have. I believe that putting people in slots and sides is small, and the government has no business telling me how to live. If you listened to phlem feck instead of jumping on a bandwagon, you'd maybe be a little more accepting of other people's views. I see nothing constructive here. Sorry, Friend.

okay, the Battle Hymn reference was mean. but it adds something if you imagine it in the background while you read that, doesnt it? however, i digress. if you're wondering why i'm doing this, Gentle Reader, it's because, as i said in the beginning, that while audrey may not believe this, i used to think very much like audrey.... frighteningly so. but what my life and experience has shown me is how wrong those views are, how limited and small-minded and mean - and how deeply i misunderstood all those things that audrey, goddess bless her, purports to hold so dear.

i thought about not responding at all, but since audrey seemed to be so insistent that i understand where SHE was coming from (never mind anyone else) i felt she deserved a response - especially since audrey is sure i can't possibly imagine where she's coming from. what audrey doesn't know about me is that not only do i understand her point of view more intimately than she can imagine, i used to share it. in the dark days of my mispent youth, i used to be - as my friend described audrey - very very conservative and very very catholic.

dear audrey - i think you were the person who used the words "delusional" and "freaks." if by "we" you mean everyone who shares a belief in the second coming of jesus, you may wish to take a closer look at what exactly differentiates you from the ones you clearly find distasteful instead of just calling them names. if you can do that, you may have a reasonable voice to add to the public discourse, but based on the facebook status you posted (you're bringing the marshmallows to the koran-burning? oh, for shame!) i doubt it. however, since you took the time to share with me where you come from, i thought it only fair i should share with you where i come from. i think it might surprise you.

and of course there's nothing wrong with believing in angels, etc... i talk to angels all the time, but my robe's going to be tie-dyed. sorry - that WAS a joke. i really dont expect to be sharing any aspect of my heaven with you, mostly because im fairly sure if i showed up in yours you'd insist it couldn't possibly BE heaven if they let riffraff like me in.

what i don't completely understand is the anger my post provoked, because clearly you ARE angry - justifiably so, to my way of thinking. you just don't understand what to be angry about in order to really change things. but it's okay - im presuming you are younger than i am and there is still plenty of time for you to wake up to the fact that the very Systems you hold so dear (the bible, the cross, the flag) are the very things eating your soul and sapping your blood.

i won't bore you with all the details of my spiritual-socio-political journey (if you know anything about liberation theology you might find some similarities to the way i think now) but i will tell you i was born into a family where you didnt come home for dinner if you voted anything but republican on election day. my mother supported barry goldwater and my great grandfather believed the unions were the ruination of the america. we were also extremely catholic and my great grandfather's company literally laid the foundations of every church, rectory, convent and catholic school built in the town in which i was born.

he was also an illegal immigrant so by the "rules of law" you doubtless support with all your might, i shouldn't be here. but the money he made and the taxes he paid and the sons he gave to the war should count for something, don't you think? not to mention all the law-abiding citizens his progeny's produced... too many, now, for even me to remember. but i digress.

the only other detail i will share in my long journey from you to me was that i am - and always have been - a writer. and the thing about being a writer is that you understand the value and the limitations of words. all of those things you mention you "stand for," that you "believe in," with the exception of "natural law" - whatever the freak that is - are created out of words. the bible is written in words, the laws are written in words. everything you say you believe in are created out of words.

and being a writer - whose only tools are words - i have learned first hand their limitations. anything created of words must in some sense be limited, flawed, because words are only the flimsy creations of our limited minds. they're a semblance, a representation, an attempt to capture some essence of something we can only experience, never contain.

the rule of law you speak of? sure, im all for it... as long as i agree with all the laws. but whose laws and whose rules and why must my mind or soul be fettered and shackled by fifth century nomads, first century political freedom fighters and eighteenth century farmers? im sorry, audrey, but i think i've evolved beyond that, and so have a lot of people i know. if you haven't, as far as im concerned, unfortunately it's not just your problem, the way i see it. i have four children and one grandson and another grandchild on the way. my stake in the future is huge, at this point, even greater, i dare say, than yours. after all, you think the world could end any day. please understand i am not calling you delusional. im simply acknowledging how your beliefs must shape your world views, and, as a result, your politics. but my question to you, and everyone on your side of the fence still remains - if you're not part of the lunatic fringe, how are you different?

to your other points of "... loving your neighbor, not looking down your nose at them" - there is a deep vein of class discontent to your anger, isn't there, audrey? it really sucks to perceive that you could easily become one of the have-nots - hell, you might already BE one of the have-nots. sucks rocks, doesn't it? now you know how much of the rest of the world feels. and yes, audrey, we ARE our brothers' keepers.

"" - it's one thing to believe in it, audrey; but do you practice it even when you're vexed? the marshmallow comment in your facebook status would seem to suggest otherwise.

"...good stewardship of what we have" - which would include the invasion of other countries to protect our access to natural resources?

"....putting people in slots and sides is small" - so is calling them names like "delusional freaks" and "loons."

"...and the government has no business telling me how to live." - a government that would insist a woman bear the offspring of an act of rape or incest is sure telling that woman how to live, though, isn't it? i haven't heard the government offering to tell me how to live. what i have heard are a lot of republicans trying to scare me into believing that it might. but what if we had a really nice government based not on a rule of law, but on a rule of kindness, of love, of do unto others as you would have them do unto you? i might be willing to live the way that kind of government might tell me to live. wouldn't you?

"....If you listened to phlem feck instead of jumping on a bandwagon, you'd maybe be a little more accepting of other people's views." - my dear audrey, i HAVE listened to PHLEGM FLECK - get it right - and all i HEAR is a lot of fear. the trouble is that all the things you cling to - that he's clinging to are made of words, words created out of the minds of men. maybe some of those men were inspired, maybe some of them were true prophets and maybe some of them were - to quote you, audrey - delusional freaks. but whatever they were, all that you reference are only things ultimately created out of words - words that change, that become outdated, that pass into the mists of time.

of course you're afraid, poor audrey and everyone else who thinks like you... and that includes my mother, by the way. your views are like houses of cards built on foundations of sand. in the final analysis, the only thing you can really count on is love. love, as a very wise woman once said to me the first time i met her, IS the answer.

and here, at last, audrey, is where we might find some common ground, because what i believe (not that you asked, but i didn't either, and you felt free to share with me) is that the only things jesus said that really should matter to anyone - if he really said them but someone did and thats all that counts - is "love your neighbor as yourself," and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." and that's it.

that's all you need. i believe that were the human race to ever embrace and vote in accordance with those two reasonably simple principles, the government generated by such a collective mind and heart and soul would be too enlightened to ever impose anything that might generate fear on its collective body, or any other. what i came to understand is that people who espouse beliefs like yours have twisted the central message of jesus into something monstrously self-serving - and not for the majority of those who believe them, either. jesus's teachings are now being used to support out-moded and out-dated ways of thinking and seeing the world that encourage tribalism and isolationism. what's sad is how misguided and misplaced your anger truly is. Phlegm Fleck, Lush Limpball and Caribou Barbie ARE the false prophets, sweet pea. nothing they preach is in accordance with love for anyone but one's self and the almighty us dollar. if i were jesus, i'd come back just because i'd be so pissed at how the message has been corrupted and perverted.

but i have hope. i also believe in reincarnation so i have no doubt i'll be back. to paraphrase my mother when she asked why i don't believe in mammograms - with all the shit that's going on, you think anyone is letting any of us off the hook very soon? thank you for the opportunity to articulate my views, audrey. i hope you appreciated the opportunity i afforded you to articulate yours. pax....annie

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

the problem with end times theologies, or why no one should count on jesus coming back

because it gets you off the hook.

people who think the world is coming to an end and jesus is coming back don't have any reason to make things better. if you truly expect the world to end any minute - or even within a generation - why waste the time and energy? if you don't see any long term future, how can you be expected to have a stake in it?

since it's clear to me that these kinds of beliefs can lead to such short-sighted, narrow-minded world views such as those espoused by Phlegm Fleck, it's equally clear (to me at least) that these beliefs are better off consigned to the dust-heap of history. because these beliefs mostly evoke fear, this becomes a path easily manipulated by those false prophets jesus himself warned about - especially if you lack the critical and analytical thinking skills that used to be encouraged in education.

or, in the alternative, we can always hope they'll be raptured out of existence.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

if jesus is really planning to come back...

... i wish he'd hurry up. if there's at all a possibility that an event called the Second Coming could be part of the Eternal Plan, i think it's time (past time, actually) for jesus to come back and take care of all his self-proclaimed followers. i think if he raptured them right off the planet to whatever reward he's got waiting for them, as they think he promised, it would be doing the rest of us a huge favor.

seriously. it would even be okay with me if it turned out that heaven is just what they think it will be: angels, harps, white robes, old men, gold halos and wings. let them spend forever floating around in puffy white clouds listening to the mormon tabernacle choir as conducted by lawrence welk.

just get them all off our front pages and internet news-streams.

i really don't think that's too much to ask.

because then the rest of us could get down to the real business of actually making things better for everyone without having to contend with the sound and fury of idiots who can't be reasoned with because their minds are just too small and too poisoned.

optimist i might be, but i'm sure we can fix things - everything -because i truly do believe that there's enough reasonable, progressively minded, great-hearted people on all sides of just about every problem. but having people clogging up the debate who want to burn the koran, who embrace the politics of fear and the rhetoric of hate isn't helping and it is hurting. people like Phlegm Fleck and Lush Limpball are actually getting in the way of the very political process they purport to uphold, as they fill the airwaves with idiocy and stoke the fires of revolution.

if jesus really does show up, im going to suggest he take all narrow-minded fundamentalists of every ilk and creed with him. i just hope he gets here soon.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.