Archive for January, 2014

Super Sunday

Friday, January 31st, 2014

It’s Superbowl weekend. I changed my yearly trip to Disneyland back to the last weekend in January so for the first time in years I’m not busy during the Superbowl. But I’m still not going to watch it, not even for the commercials. I asked God if this makes me anti-American or just anti-capitalism but she didn’t take the bait.

She pointed out to me that even though in some years the Superbowl is the single most watched event on television, still less than a third of Americans watch it. So that actually puts me in the majority.

I always have mixed feelings about being in the majority.

There’s a strong part of me that wants to be unique, but there’s also a strong part of me that’s happy to be part of a tribe. I’m not so much of a joiner that I would change myself to be part of a group, but I’m always happy to find a group that I can identify with without having to change myself. So, fellow non-watchers of the Superbowl… hi.

Obscene and Not Heard

Friday, January 24th, 2014

God and I were discussing language and its power to define and its power to offend. He made me realize that those two things both come from the same source, they come from an agreement between people. Words mean what they mean because we have agreed to assign that meaning to a particular group of sounds, to a particular group of letters. And the words that offend, not by their meaning but by their, I don’t know, essence, the words that we bleep out on TV or obfuscate with asterisks in “polite” publications, they are offensive not by some inherent characteristic of their pronunciation or of their existence, but because we have agreed that they will be considered offensive.

So the obscenity is in the mind. This got me wondering what words might I want deemed obscenities, not out of arbitrary need to have some new swear word, but instead because of the character of its meaning. Sure there are obvious suspects, things like “genocide” but I wanted something less clear cut, something that not everybody would agree with.

Having thought about it for awhile, I’m not sure that I can come up with any word more obscene than “worship.” “Worship” takes its object out of the realm of critical thought. It goes beyond even mere “faith” for its irrationality. God says he doesn’t need to be worshipped, that despite what it says in the Old Testament, he’s actually got pretty good self-esteem with or without us cheering him on. And if God doesn’t need it surely nothing else does. So how about it?

Not Yet

Friday, January 17th, 2014

I saw a post online this week that was complaining that it’s now less than a year until the midterm elections here in the U.S. and no one is talking about them. The post lamented that the electorate was not engaged and espoused that the stakes are high and the outcome would be important.

I was horrified and it took God a good half hour to calm me down. I’ve been complaining for years now that we start our electioneering way too early. By the time most of our elections actually happen I’m burned out, scandaled out, and in general feeling that a third of the country is ignorant, insane, or both.

So to all of you out there that aren’t talking about the next election… Keep up the good work. You’ll have plenty of time to get informed about the candidates and the issues later in the year. Much later. God promises.

It’s That Time

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Well the long holiday season has drawn to a close. For me that was Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, with just a pinch of Chanukah thrown in. I’m done with my end of year traveling and am now faced with my first unscheduled weekend in weeks.

God asked me what I’m going to do. I told him I think I’ll take a nap.

A Little Bit of Heaven

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

This week I got to feel a little bit of what I imagine it’s like in Heaven. But before I explain that let me talk for a minute about how I rate my music collection.

I’ve spent a lot of time assigning “star” ratings to my music. It took me a while to work out exactly how to think about it so that I could rate songs consistently. The first song I rated as five stars was Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane” and for a long time if I was considering rating a song a five I had to ask myself “is this as good as ‘Like a Hurricane?’” So I was very glad when I figured out a better way to think about it.

What I finally decided on was a simple criteria for each number of stars. One star is a track that actively lessens the enjoyment of my life. I don’t ever want to listen to a one star song again, especially not accidentally. Two stars is for songs that, while there may be nothing wrong with it, it’s not something that stands out for me. Two stars means I don’t care if I never hear that song again. Three stars is for tracks that I want to hear again, just not very often. Four stars are songs that I’d like to hear again, next week. And five star songs are songs I’d like to hear again tomorrow.

Mind you, I don’t hear all the four star songs once a week and I don’t hear all the five star songs every day, but I’d be happy to, that’s the criteria. Even for all of that though, it wasn’t enough, five ratings wasn’t quite granular enough. So to get that extra ratings edge I created a playlist, and in the spirit of “Spinal Tap,” I named it “Eleven.” The songs in “Eleven” are the songs I’d be happy to listen to twice in a row. They’re that good. To me.

So back to the little bit of Heaven. I was driving down the coast of Northern California, along beaches and through groves of redwoods. I hooked my phone up to the sound system and put the “Eleven” list in shuffle mode. Every song that started a little softly made me want to reach for the knob to turn the volume up, even “Turn It Up” by The Alan Parsons Project. Every song was amazing and wonderful. And the point where I figured out this experience must be a little like what it’s like to be in Heaven, was the point when I noticed that not only were the last ten songs I listened to all amazing, and not only was the song I was listening to right then wonderful, but I knew, knew, that the next one would be too. And realizing that I also realized there was just a little bit of tedium to too much good stuff. There was no chance for the next song to surprise me that it was fantastic.

I pointed this out to God, that if everything is wonderful, doesn’t it come around soon enough that nothing is wonderful? She says that in Heaven it started out like that but that she’s fixed it since. I asked how? She says it’s a trade secret.