Category Archives: christianity

j-town

although the so-called rapture didn’t happen over the weekend, as predicted by harold camping, maybe something of a preview of the rapture did occur sunday night. around 6 pm sunday evening, a significant portion of joplin, missouri, the town i lived in for most of 2000 and 2001, was decimated by an f4 (or possibly higher) tornado, forever changing the landscape of this bustling little city.

j-town, as i affectionately call it, was not the place for me ultimately, but it was the place where i grew up, so it will always be a special place to me. i don’t mean grew up in the literal sense, being that i spent all of my life in sedalia until i went away to college at mizzou at the age of 17. no, my growing up at this point was more about actually becoming a grown up, at the age of 35. it was here in j-town that i was drawn away from the fundamentalist christianity i’d been steeped in for the better part of a decade, and began to see that there was life outside of the christian ghetto. it was here that i was first introduced to the ‘radical’ idea that neither christianity nor the other two abrahamic religions were the only game in town when it came to experiencing god. it was also here that i mourned my mother’s long drawn out death, which had finally occurred on christmas day 1999, a couple of months before my move south. it was here that a tumultuous love affair innocently began, even from the beginning knowing that it would end in the way most love affairs do, especially if there are other people involved : very badly (although happily, the two of us are now good friends).

somewhat humorously, calling it j-town seemed quite appropriate, because it seemed like every male i met had a first name that began with the letter j. in particular, i met way too many guys named john. i attributed that to joplin ‘being on the buckle of the bible belt’: ‘what do you think we ought to name the baby?’ ‘well i don’t know; john is in the bible and if it’s good enough for the bible, it’s good enough for our son!’   at one point i had assigned them numbers, but soon found that to be just plain stupid, so i just referred to anyone named john by his first and last name when speaking of him (whichever one he might be). also, there was my relationship with jesus, because even as i got further away from mainstream christianity, i learned more about the human side of jesus. at this point i wasn’t ready to say he was not a historical figure, but i was learning that the bible didn’t tell nearly enough of his story.

so, even though i was there a short time, joplin was a huge milestone in my life, perhaps even a turning point. i knew i couldn’t live there forever though, because, well, i’m not being politically correct here, but it is a redneck cracker-ish town. i used to count the number of people of color i’d see on a daily basis and most days i never got past 5 (although there was the one day i got up to 17, but i had to have counted some twice). there are two kinds of people (generally) who live there, jesus freaks and meth heads (respect to both groups, and to anyone in between). i loved being ‘the library lady’, recognized many places i went in town from working the front desk at jpl, but that’s all i was going to be had i stayed there. so i left, taking experience and friendships and memories with me into the next phase of my life. and that’s what i’m mourning here this evening, those experiences and friendships and memories. oh those things aren’t going anywhere. i’ll always have those things, but what i’m sad about now is that the place where those things, those changes, occurred has itself changed, in a most sudden and devastating way. however, even in the midst of this devastation, as j-town begins to rebuild, i believe what has happened will make joplin a better place in the long term. the pain and heartbreak my fellow joplinites are currently going through – well it hurts me terribly and i’ve been away for going on ten years, so i can only imagine what lifelong joplinites are going through. but all i can do is pray and send a little money to the red cross, and pray some more. going there to help is not an option for me at this time.

i love you, j-town. i know you’ll make it through to the other side.

a primer on the rapture vs. the end of the world

i have lots of pet peeves. one of them is using terms interchangeably that should not be used interchangeably. all week long, it was broadcast in the media that today was forecast to be the end of the world by religious broadcaster and nutjob harold camping, but that simply isn’t true, whatever you may or may not believe about the rapture ever happening. i don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, but theologically, the rapture and the end of the world are two separate and distinct events. camping’s prediction was that the rapture was to happen today, with the end of the world several months down the line, the end basically being the result of god beating up on those of us who were left behind. what follows is a little bit of what i was previously taught regarding the timetable of the end times. not that anyone from the media will read this, but it’ll make me feel a little better…

the end of the world has been part of the doctrine in most religions for millennia, but the idea of a ‘rapture of believers’ wasn’t a part of christian theology until after 1830. in 1830 a young girl had a vision about the return of jesus and the taking up of believers. this was gradually adopted by various fundamentalist denominations, who have interpreted bible verses in 2 thessalonians to mean that this is the event spoken of. as i was taught, this event was to take place at the beginning of the great tribulation, a time in which the anti-christ has taken control over the entire planet, and all sorts of disasters, natural and man-made, take place. however, the verses (as i was taught and understood them while a resident of the christian ghetto) refer to the second coming of jesus, which is to supposed to occur at the end of the great tribulation.

…and i’m about to digress here, because a lot depends upon whether you believe in a pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib rapture.  i do know people who believe we are currently in the great tribulation and have been since september 2005, which could give some credence to camping’s prediction for mid-trib believers (if you choose to believe such a thing, which i don’t, by the way). pre-trib simply means that the rapture occurs before the 7 year tribulation, mid-trib, during the tribulation, and post-trib… well you get the idea. apparently camping’s group were late mid-trib adherents.

the thing is that, at the end of the tribulation the 1000-year reign of jesus is supposed to begin. jesus himself will be the ruler over the entire planet (assisted by believers taken up in the rapture, who return to earth with new bodies), according to a literal reading of revelation 20 as i was taught. at the end of the 1000 year reign is the great white throne judgment, which will, for all intents and purposes, be the end of the world, as the book of life will then reveal who spends eternity in heaven and who ends up in the lake of fire, and off we go to our permanent destinations.  so if this all is true (and i’m not saying it is or isn’t; it’s just what i was taught as a born-again believer), may 21, 2011 could hardly be called the end of the world, if it had actually happened today. *if* the rapture had occurred, it would not have been the end. at worst, it would have been the beginning of a new level of chaos (or perhaps your death if you had been a passenger in a vehicle being driven by someone who was taken up). but, since, according to camping, the rapture was supposed to have occurred at 6 pm local time in each time zone, you would have had time to get prepared (unless you were in new zealand). if you had heard about believers in new zealand disappearing out of the blue around that time, you would have been able to either ask jesus into your heart so you weren’t left behind when the rapture came to your time zone, or you could have hung out in front of the houses of people you know are christians so that when they were called away, you had first dibs on their possessions. i, of course, had plans to do the latter. 😉

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living for god

you may (or may not) remember when a couple of months back, a young woman boarded the bus i take daily to work, and proceeded to give her testimony about her relationship with jesus christ. at the time, i thought it was touching, especially because at the end of her spiel, she prayed for the bus passengers. even though i no longer believe as she does, i appreciated her sincerity, and as we got off at the same stop, i thanked her for her prayer.

fast forward to this morning’s bus ride. after the bus pulled up to the stop she was at, this same young woman handed out religious tracts to each person getting off. (the stop happened to be at a church ministry that provides free breakfasts every morning, and there are a number of regular riders who get off here daily for that reason). i thought, ‘uh oh, here we go again…,’ and yes, after she paid her fare, she passed out tracts to those of us remaining on the bus… except to me, but only because i politely refused. and then she proceeded to deliver a little sermonette about living for god.

i only caught bits and pieces of what she was saying, because i was trying to listen to a podcast on gnosticism (would this be called irony?). however, the gist of it was the usual ‘if you’re not living for god, you’re going to hell’. and, on one level, i can appreciate what she was saying, because i’ve been in that place. i’ve been where i earnestly believed that anyone who had not accepted jesus christ as their personal lord and savior was going to hell. therefore, i believed that people like gandhi and mother teresa were in hell because they were not born-again christians, but someone like jeffrey dahmer was in heaven, even after the horrible things he did, because reportedly he had accepted christ into his heart before being murdered in prison. forgive me, y’all, but this is rather fucked up theology. a person such as gandhi, whose life was dedicated to the betterment of humanity, is currently being tormented by demons for all eternity because he chose not to believe that the jewish version of a myth was a series of historical events? seriously? and you do realize that christianity really is little more than the jewish adaptation of myths revolving around various sun gods (and related goddesses, who are strangely missing in the christianized version) dating centuries before the time jesus was said to have walked the earth. the major difference between the christianized version and earlier versions is that, due to various power plays between political factions at that time, people were convinced (basically by the sword) that this jesus character was real. (and i mean no disrespect when i say ‘jesus character’.)

if there is anyone reading this who has known me for many years, but not had any real interaction with me, you are probably rather shocked at this point. a number of you know that i spent (or as i like to say, wasted) many years believing and living this. jesus was my life. i lived in what you might call a christian ghetto: i worked full-time in a christian bookstore, was deeply involved in a church (or two), all my social interaction was with other born-again christians, and i was afraid (i didn’t realize it at the time, but it all boiled down to fear) to scarcely listen to anything that wasn’t ccm (contemporary christian music) or even drink something as innocent as a watered down wine cooler.

what gradually but ultimately changed things for me first was developing close friendships with people who didn’t have such a narrow view of what it meant to love god, people who helped me to see that what i was really doing was ‘churchianity’. also, after moving away from columbia in 2000, i read a book that removed the foundation from under my feet, ‘why christianity must change or die’ by bishop john shelby spong. actually the first time i tried to read it, it made me so angry, i couldn’t finish it. i couldn’t believe this so-called bishop was saying all these ‘untrue’ things about what i had staked my life on. for some reason though, a few months later i tried it again, and got angry again, but for a different reason. this time i was pissed because i realized that i had been lied to for pretty much all my life. however, the unanswerable question was, whom should i be pissed at? i couldn’t be mad at the people who taught me this stuff, because they were only teaching me what they had been taught, and what their teachers had been taught. and it seemed pretty pointless to get mad at an institution. i remember right after finishing the book, i said to god, aloud, ‘all i want to know is the truth.’ and i swear, i heard a voice in my head say, ‘now we can begin.’ and my life has not been the same.

i’ve been through a lot spiritually, and religion-wise, between then and now. (spirituality and religion are not the same thing; trust me.) i’ve studied various world religions, some more deeply than others to be sure, but i’ve noticed they’re all basically pointing at the same thing. the problem with most religion is that people get hung up on the thing doing the pointing instead of paying attention to the ‘object’ (for lack of a better word) being pointed at. (not gonna use the finger pointing at the moon quote here, not gonna do it…) a couple of people who have met me in the last few years have accused me of being an atheist, just so i can ‘get away with’ doing whatever i want. nobody gets away with anything, but that’s a whole ‘nuther piece of writing. i’m not an atheist because i don’t believe the bible literally anymore. (actually i’m not an atheist, period.) my belief about the bible, and, by extension, about jesus, is that although the bible is true, it is far from being factual. it, along with other religious texts, is a collection of stories about the human condition, about how to (and how not to) treat others, and about ways to find deeper meaning in life. and that deeper meaning does not consist of literally believing that a man born of a virgin was sent from heaven to die for your sins so you don’t have to. that’s what my problem is with the young woman on the bus this morning. i know where her head is at, because i’ve been there. but she’s got to get outside her own head somehow, and see the bigger picture. she, and all of us, can embrace the experiences that brought her to this point in her life, but she needs to know that there’s more to this life than keeping people out of a literal hell.

maybe this life here on earth would be a little bit less hell-ish if we stopped to realize that there are as many ways to live for god as there are people on this planet.

(this post is an adaptation of a note i posted on facebook earlier today.)

mixed reaction

i hate to actually say this out loud (or type it, as it were), but is god trying to get my attention? first there was the cross dream from the other night. i didn’t feel bad about the conversation i had with ‘jesus’ in the dream (and still don’t). but i (foolishly) wonder if what happened this morning on the bus is somehow related to the dream, and if so, what message might god be trying to send me.

if he is trying to get my attention, i don’t believe the message is as obvious as the casual observer to the whole thing might think. here’s what happened: a cute young lady of color, probably in her early 20s, boarded the bus and paid her fare, while casually chatting with the driver. i didn’t think anything of that, but realize now that she was probably asking permission for what she was about to do. there were no seats on the bus, so she stood at the front, and asked how everybody was doing this morning. most everyone replied with some version of ‘fine’ or ‘good’ or ‘blessed’. then she asked if anybody on the bus needed prayer, to which no one responded, so she then said, ‘well, i’m gonna pray for y’all anyway, that god will provide whatever it is that you need.’ and then she started preaching, about how god had done so much for her, and for all of us, and how if we’re not living for god, we’re going to hell. then she prayed aloud, that basically everyone on the bus would repent and be saved, if they weren’t already. most of the people on the bus had their heads bowed and eyes closed (but not me). at the end of the prayer, ‘in jesus’ name’ of course, she thanked us for her time and was silent for the rest of her time on the bus.

so, my reaction to this? first i was pissed off that she was intruding into my thought space. plus, how dare she assume that everyone on the bus believes the same way she does. the majority of passengers on this particular route are black, which as a racial group tend to be pretty religious on the xtian side of things, so that was a safe bet for her, but still. i was pissed, especially when she started talking about living for god, and hell. i wanted to exclaim, like i did in my dream, ‘it’s all a fucking metaphor!’ then i calmed myself down by thinking about this being a blue/amber thing, and considered that maybe she is at a point in her life where she needs this belief structure to make sense of her world. maybe god, as she sees ‘him’, really has rescued her from some bad situations or a bad lifestyle, and feels that everyone else ought to know all the good god has done for her and could do for them. i get that. i was certainly as zealous as she, especially about not wanting folks to go to hell, when i first became a born-again christian back in 1985. so i could respect that and started being a little less pissed.

once she started praying, i felt tears well up in my eyes. actually, i suddenly had this huge urge to just start bawling my eyes out. what stopped me was the fact that i ride this bus daily, and while i see most of these people every day, we’re mostly essentially strangers. yes, i was worried about what they would think of me. then, even while she spoke, i was trying to figure out why her praying affected me so. one conclusion i came to was that it touched me that someone cared enough to pray for me, and the other people on the bus, all strangers to her. she put herself out there for us, and seemed quite sincere about it.

on another level, i think god, not big daddy god in the sky, but the ground of all being, used this incident to get my attention. over the last few months, i’ve not done much praying or meditation or even study of spiritual matters. it’s not that i need to go live in an ashram or a convent, but just that i do need to remember the divinity present in all people and things. today on facebook, one of my friends posted a link saying something about ‘if you want to see the fingerprint of god, look at a godly man or woman.’ i say (and almost commented to him), if you want to see the fingerprint of god, look at the person right in front of you, ‘godly’ in the world’s eyes or not. here’s a controversial thought: even hitler is a part of the fingerprint of god. (stay with me here: i’m just considering the idea that god encompasses all things, good and evil, and that evil, in its own way, is nothing more – and nothing less – than god’s shadow side.)

so, i am eating the fish i need and spitting out the bones from this encounter. when i got off the bus, i surprisingly (to me) thanked her for her prayer and her heart. (her response? ‘praise god!) i’m taking this as a reminder to pay attention to the divinity i see all around, even during mundane activities such as my morning commute. and i pray that god/the universe/the ground of all being will use this young woman to bring more light into the world, and that she will grow into an ever-expanding knowledge of who and what god really is (and isn’t).

what kind of mind do you have?

i have this quote by socrates on the bulletin board above my desk: ‘great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.’ (and of course integral minds discuss all three…) looking up at this quote just now, it makes me think of americanized christianity in that most of its focus is on whether a particular person (jesus) existed and events that may or may not have occurred surrounding that person. in my own experience with other christians, i have seen relatively little exchange of ideas and meaning behind the person or events. it occurs to me also that gnosticism is a rare place where important ideas within christianity are actually discussed and not taken as literal givens.

i’m not saying i have a great mind, but would like to think that it’s above average. 🙂

you might be gnostic if…

yesterday i read the short but packed little book living gnosticism: an ancient way of knowing by jordan stratford. as i was reading, i kept doing little fist pumps and exclaiming ‘yes!’ under my breath (or maybe not so under my breath…). over the last decade or so i have evolved from being a fundamentalist born-again christian with some unanswered questions to someone who ‘believes’ in god, still with unanswered questions, and thinks that while religion is great at pointing at the ineffableness of god, it ultimately gets in the way of a person experiencing god. i saw the underlying truth of Religion, but the dogma and the myopia of it all basically turned me off (and still does). not being a fan of being labeled or pigeon-holed, i just saw myself as someone who loves god, someone who was the dreaded cliché ‘spiritual but not religious’.

while completing my degree last year, i read a number of books that discussed gnosticism in depth and have found that i’ve based much of what i believe now on what i read then. still, reading stratford’s book yesterday caused a light bulb to go off above my dreadlocked head: um, gail, it looks like you might be gnostic. this ‘label’ doesn’t even matter so much, as it’s not like there’s any sort of gnostic community whatsoever here in the mostly spiritually homogeneous midwest. however, it’s also nice to know that there are people alive today who seem to really get the nature of reality and also are in love with mystery and beauty and wonder and questioning. it’s okay to not know the answers and it’s okay to get a different answer than the person sitting next to you.

at any rate, over the last day or so, i’ve pretty much read through stratford’s entire blog as well as having looked at many other websites having to do with gnosticism. many entries from his blog stand out for me, but this one in particular, god and faith for the non-god-and-faith crowd, expounds much more eloquently than i ever could on my feelings about god and faith and belief. and this has caused me to look at all these various little elements in my life, such as this little altar i already have set up to honor the divine feminine (i’d take a picture, but my camera is off in europe without me at the moment) or my fascination with the matrix trilogy or the realization of how integral many elements of gnosticism are (or can be), and i wonder why i didn’t pick up on this last year, if not sooner. (i was probably stressed just trying to get my damn thesis done.)

most importantly, this has helped me to realize that it’s okay that i’m not a christian anymore. yet it’s also okay for me to embrace jesus and mary magadalene and the other apostles and other aspects of christianity, not because any of it is to be taken literally, but for what it all can symbolize and how it can help me in my quest to know myself.

i think this is all pretty dang awesome. 🙂

the bag of flesh known as gail

where to begin, where to begin… i’ve been reading jed mckenna and his first two books (spiritual enlightenment: the damnedest thing and spiritually incorrect enlightenment) have proven to be nothing less than a major mindfuck. i’m anxiously waiting for the third (spiritual warfare) to arrive, which is supposed to be about waking up within what mckenna calls ‘the dream’.

before reading his books, i had already been realizing that life is pretty much a dream and trying to figure out how to be a more active participant within the dream instead of just letting it ‘happen’, or to live more lucidly, as it were. and then i come across mckenna’s words and now realize that the only thing that matters about the dream is that i wake up from it. however, the hard part about this realization is that this thing called *i* is also a dream. i’ve come to terms with life being a dream, but *me* being a dream? that means i don’t exist. there is no me. it’s all a construct: my thoughts, dreams, memories, preferences, opinions, the books on my bookshelf, the clothes i wear, all meant to make me seem *special*, *unique*, *important*, and i’m none of those things. i’m not. the only thing i am is full of shit. just like the rest of humanity. but humanity is not my concern at this moment, or maybe it is in that i can’t deal with most members of it right now. even friends and family are hard for me to spend large chunks of time with. i think i probably have one friend, and an online acquaintance, who would be most likely to understand what i’m getting at here, that i can talk to somewhat about what this is like. otherwise, most everyone else i know (and don’t know, for that matter) is thoroughly ensconced in the dream and think it’s absolutely real and they and their thoughts and beliefs are absolutely real and that even i, the bag of flesh known as gail, am absolutely real. and they are wrong.
so, at this point, *i* am still just a part of the dream. and if i figure out who the fuck this *i* is, i wake up. (i feel like i should have the who playing in the background: ‘tell me, who the fuck are you?’) so who am i? i don’t know anymore. i mean, i was born in 1965 under circumstances i’m not even fully aware of. my supposed father, the man whose name is on my birth certificate, was in bed with another woman the night i was born because he was so upset about his wife giving birth to another man’s child. growing up, i knew something was wrong because he and i never bonded (or rarely even spoke to one another) and i had no physical resemblance to him or anyone on his side of the family. still, i spent most of my life up until my 30s, believing that he was my biological father, because i had no tangible reason to believe any differently. i was told otherwise by my mother’s two best and oldest friends only because my mother was thought to be on her deathbed at the time. however, she did get better, then passed away a little more than a year later, but never did ‘fess up; even when talking to her through my psychic last year, she still didn’t confess to it on the other side of the grave. so i don’t know anything about my biological father, other than his name and what he did for a living. this means that even on the most basic, rudimentary level, i have no way of knowing fully what this bag of flesh descended from. and it just doesn’t seem fair, but it is what it is. however, if i don’t know this, what else don’t i know???
what i do know (or thought i knew), on this plane anyway, is that i was considered a highly intelligent child, having skipped a grade in school; i have an addiction to carbohydrates and sugar that i fight daily; i get a lot of compliments about my hair; i think certain forms of anarchy would be ideal; i’m bisexual; i’ve traveled to some interesting places, but have only been outside the united states for something less than 18 hours; i’m lonely but prefer being alone most of the time although physical companionship would be nice at times; i think i’m pretty smart but also feel like a fraud much of the time… i could go on and on with the trivia, but is any of it true? i, i, i…. who is this *i* that has interesting hair, who is bisexual, who has done some limited travel? fuck. i’m… can i even write a sentence without using *i*???
whatever. i’m trying to write something that i know absolutely without a doubt to be true, and i am finding that damn near impossible to do. to me, whatever is true is that which is not fleeting and cannot be destroyed. everything about me, everything in my life is fleeting; hell, life itself is fleeting. let’s say i live to 80; that’s a mere drop of mist in the bucket of time. my thoughts only last moment to moment; my body will eventually stop functioning and be turned to ash which i hope will be used as compost on flowers with a limited lifespan themselves; all this crap here in my apartment will be given to goodwill or stashed in the back of some relative’s closet or end up in a landfill or maybe burn in a fire or in some other way be dispersed amidst the dream when I’m gone (?!); my beliefs – well we have seen how my beliefs have changed radically over the past decade. ten years ago i was a wage slave in a christian bookstore, and now look at me, derisively denouncing pretty much any form of religion or belief. (wonderful, and imho, true piece of writing by julie, mckenna’s ‘student’ in spiritually incorrect enlightenment, page 256: ‘What is Christianity but a two-bit protection racket? Good cop/bad cop. The son, our blessed savior, saving us from what? From his psychotic freakshow father who’s hellbent on burning us alive forever. What kind of twisted fuck thinks this stuff up? What kind of pathetic slob falls for it? My kind. Me. I did.’ me too, julie. who woulda thunk it?) there is nothing about me that is real, yet i have this attachment to it all as if my life depends on it. maybe that’s because my life, at least as a part of the dream, does depend on me hanging on to the fantasy. and, while it’s had its moments, it hasn’t even been a very pleasant fantasy overall. wouldn’t i have chosen things differently if i knew early on that this was just a dream? maybe, maybe not, who the fuck knows?
what i know to be true at the moment of this writing is the only thing about me that is true, that cannot be destroyed, is my awareness, which i’ve had from before i was born until now; which, in reality i had before i was conceived and will continue to have long after this body stops working. everything else is just part of the construct. and i guess my job in all this is to rid myself of my emotional attachment to the construct and embrace the only thing i know to be true. my ego must destroy itself. if i choose to accept this mission, this is going to be sooo hard. being at this point so very much sucks, because right now i feel like i can’t go back to the way i was even a month ago, but going forward will be a nightmare, if i choose to detach from all this nonreality and pursue ‘enlightenment’. but it only makes sense that i do so, how can i knowingly hang onto a delusion??? i mean, detaching to this degree is a scary thing. how am i supposed to maintain relationships? what about being a part of a healthy, loving romantic relationship, which I still have hopes for (talk about a fantasy!)? how is this even possible if i’m on this quest to weed out falsehood from my life, falsehood being defined as anything that is not 100% true? how am i supposed to show up at work every morning, let alone move to california and continue my education, if everything and everyone i see rubs me the wrong way even on a good day because of ignorance? how can i listen to the dramas my family and friends role play in daily, when i know they are not real, it’s all just a big fucking sometimes tedious play? similarly with politics, it’s all just more drama that affects a larger cross-section of participants in the play. maybe one day i’ll be detached enough to look on it all with a sense of amusement, but right now it’s just painful, because it all seems so meaningless and a waste of time, and yet i’ve got 44 years invested in it.
so, this is going to be ugly, but i have to work it out somehow. i don’t even know why it has to be worked out, but it’s something like a compulsion, i suppose. and let’s say that, okay, eventually i am face to face with reality and have weeded out all that is not true – i am this enlightened creature with the interesting hair. what does that even matter, as opposed to me living out my life the way it is now, like everyone else is doing? one key notion in spiritually incorrect enlightenment is that the point of enlightenment is to realize that there really is no point. geez, talk about meaningless and a waste of time. yet deliberately allowing myself to be a part of a delusional world is not really an option. and i realize that, should all go well physically, i’ll be on this planet another 40 or so years moving around amidst the dream, but i hope to develop the ability not to take it seriously and not to look askance at those who do. (please hurry up and get here, spiritual warfare, for some suggestions on how this might happen…) in the meantime, well, here we go… …don’t take anything personally that i might write from here on out; it’s really not you, it’s me… and i know that most people who have read this far are probably thinking i’ve gone off the deep end. maybe i have.