Monday, August 31, 2009

The Wind Shifts

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," honoring all deities from Neolithic to Not Really Mythic! I'm your host, Anne Johnson. Don't forget that name.

On September 1, I commence a brand new job as a high school teacher. I will have three classes of freshmen and three of sophomores. The classes are likely to be large. The classroom is small. I will be busy from dark to dark, even in these pre-equinox weeks.

The other night I lit up my new Shrine of the Mists from stem to stern, with candles at the four quarters and a phalanx of tea lights. In the process of meditating, I learned that Cernunnos will be my Companion in this endeavor. Even though my new job brings me into a concrete building, He will accompany me. When I return home (twice a week it will be after 9:00 p.m.), Queen Brighid the Bright will warm my hearth. What can be unbearable with this much help?

I am very mindful of the Establishment Clause in our Constitution. I am not going to discuss my theological views with my students. My faeries must remain anonymous. That's as it should be.

What I will do, no matter what, is keep "The Gods Are Bored" as lively and as updated as ever. This little blog is my oasis of sanity in a wild, wild world. Its theme of respect for deities everywhere and of every time will continue.

I will also endeavor to continue my personal mission to improve the quality of my upholstery and yours. In fact, I foresee a whole series of posts on choosing and maintaining the proper interior for your new car. You won't want to miss that, so check here early and often.

When Samhain comes I'll host a few Grand Tours to promote understanding of the holiday. When winter comes, the buzzards will return to Wenonah, and I will once again don the 40-pound vulture mascot suit. Spring will bring the Fairie Fest. The Wheel of the Year will still turn, I'll just have to push a lot harder at the plow.

I feel like I'm stepping off a cliff. I'm a writer who has to learn to be a teacher ... while in mid-air.

Bless me, bored gods. My aim is true.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bye Bye, My Love, Goodbye...

Some of the house faeries are hopping into the trunks. The rest are sneaking into her freezer pack of TaB Cola. And so another summer comes to an end, and my daughter The Heir returns to college. I will miss her sorely.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Robert Menendez: Moron du Jour

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we've spent more than $500 this week on doctor bills, including $119 for a brand-name medication that the doctor insists upon. And we have insurance!

Yesterday, fresh back from handing my grocery money to the pharmacy, I picked up my mail and found there an expensive handbill. The front of the handbill says, "Robert Menendez Is Working To Pass Consensus Bipartisan Health Care Reform That Will Make Sure People Can Get Quality Health Care Today And In The Future."

Then there are little bullet points about being able to "buy new insurance" if you lose your job, no denial of insurance for pre-existing conditions, and a cap on out-of-pocket medical expenses.

On the other side, there's another big headline: "Senator Robert Menendez is working to lower health care costs and make sure everyone can get and keep health insurance -- even it they get sick or lose their job."

This flier was paid for by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (emphasis added), and some group called Families USA. I'm not even going to waste my time looking into "Families USA." Anything with a title like that has no other agenda than to lay waste and ruin upon 99 percent of the families in the USA.

The flier instructed me to phone Senator Menendez and thank him for his hard work on health care. So I called him. Left a message. Not a friendly, touchy-feely, "I'm behind you 100 percent, Bob" kinda message. The best I can say about it was that I didn't curse.

Then I decided that maybe a phone call wasn't enough. So I emailed Sentaor Menendez, my friggin blue state senator. Here is the text of my email:

"Yesterday I got an expensive mailing from your friends at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, asking me to thank you for 'working to pass consensus bipartisan health care reform.'

"You must be mistaking me for a moron.

"Senator Menendez, you are a Democrat in a state that overwhelmingly voted for 'change' in the most recent election. If you do not support the Democratic health care reforms, including public option, the next change may be in your employment status.

"I'm sure once you're voted out of office, you'll find a nice consulting job with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Are they bankrolling you now? It sure looks that way."

Friends, I am in a blue funk over this. If a Democratic senator in one of the most liberal states in America is slobbering over "bipartisanship" on behalf of Big Pharma, what chance in hell do we have of providing health care for our citizens?

I'll answer that. None.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Goal Accomplished

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," website of an unrepentant Bard! Writing, singing, storytelling ... I love them all. The singing could use some work, but at least I can carry a tune.

On the 190th anniversary of Walt Whitman's death last May, I went to a little celebration held beside his tomb in Harleigh Cemetery, Camden, NJ. As part of the celebration, each person there had to say something about why they were there, i.e., what part Walt Whitman played in their lives.

When my turn came to speak, I said that I loved Whitman's poem, "Miracles." Then and there I vowed to memorize it by the end of the summer.

At which point my friend the Monkey Man, who had organized the event, handed me his well-worn "Complete Walt Whitman" and bid me read "Miracles" to the assembled.

As I read the poem it occurred to me that the thing was longer than I thought. A sweat broke out on my neck. I take vows seriously, and suddenly this looked like a whopper of a chore to fulfill.

I've done it.

The more I recite it, the more I love it. This poem will give your big, broad, flexible outlook a real boost.

When I went to visit the family farm a few weeks ago and walked its hillsides realizing I might rarely pass that way again, it was Whitman's words that soothed me. I may be stuck in Camden, but I'm stuck in Camden with Walt. This is no small consolation prize.

And now, completely from memory:

Miracles
by Walt Whitman

Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles.
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of the houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with anyone I love, or sleep in the bed at night with anyone I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me, riding in the car,
Or watch honeybees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or the stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring.
These and the rest, one and all, are to me miracles.
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle.
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle.
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
The sea itself is to me a continual miracle.
The fishes that swim, the rocks, the motion of the waves, the ships with men in them,
What greater miracles are there?

(I know there are other versions of this poem. Whitman re-wrote his stuff regularly. I got this version off the internet, so if there's something missing, let me know. However, if I've stiffed a whole 20-line stanza, don't burst my bubble by telling me. I couldn't face that right now.)

May every hour of the light and dark become a miracle for you, my friend.

FROM ANNE
THE BARD OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Has God Evolved?


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," a site dedicated to polytheism, ancestor worship, totemic worship, culturally specific worship, and all deities driven to the margins by the monotheistic menace! Grab your Goddess and go with me, strange countries for to see!

First, a little business. My three readers have asked for a photo of Shrine of the Mists. Alas, I have no digital camera, my DVD drive is broken, and just now I simply cannot ask my computer Yoda for help. So this is the next best thing. My apologies to the creator of this Roman Catholic shrine, but it serves as a fabulous model for mine. This is the photo I used to create Shrine of the Mists. Take away the statues, and voila!

More fun with the Shrine will be forthcoming, when I have to write shorter posts due to my workload.

I've been hearing a good deal lately about a book called The Evolution of God, by Robert Wright. I was going to pick up a copy, but at today's book prices one must think twice about this. Also, after reading a completely incomprehensible Op-ed piece by Wright in last Sunday's New York Times, I'm wondering if I could even understand the book if I bought it.

Can't even trust me to get the author's thesis completely, but I think it's something like this: The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has evolved from a warlike and jealous regional deity into a more loving and user-friendly model who transcends the boundaries of tribe, caste, and politics. In short, Yahweh has gotten his stuff together and is behaving himself. He has grown, so to speak.

Certainly you might think this is the case if you go to some big Methodist church, where half the budget goes to the creation of parlors worthy of Versailles Palace. You won't hear a Methodist minister preach about selling excess children into slavery, or quoting the passage from Paul in which he wishes his captors would be castrated.

Trouble is, evolution means change, and the Bible and Koran have not changed since they were stitched together. I pity the fool who would have the nerve to say, "Why don't we edit the Bible and take out all this crap about stoning homosexuals and women who aren't virgins on their wedding day?" And as long as that stuff is in the Bible, you can say what you want about Jesus shoving it aside, but the fact remains ... it's in the Bible.

If something is in writing, it can be interpreted, but it cannot be ignored. Inevitably, some people will interpret it literally. With the Bible as a guide, we could actually regress to a time when people would be stoned to death.

What really sticks in my craw about Wright's thesis, however, is his dismissal of polytheism as an extinction event. Sisters and brothers, I've given this topic a great deal of thought. I've had my share of mystical experiences and long periods of reflection on those experiences. To me, the very idea of a single male god is a giant step backward from the idea of a Holy Family in which Father, Mother, and Children support and defend those who worship Them.

I tried for decades to accept the "highly-evolved" Yahweh, and it didn't get easier. It got harder. Even when I factored in the Blessed Mother, courtesy of my Roman Catholic in-laws, it just didn't seem fair that Mary got a seat in the rear of the bus.

God has not evolved. People are using his records selectively, ignoring the ugly stuff and accenting the good stuff. So it's people who have evolved their use of God. This is probably Wright's thesis, though I can't say for sure.

My thesis is this: As long as the ugly stuff is there, it can rear its head again any time. Ask any Palestinian or al-Qaeda. This is not evolution, it's a lightly-sleeping dog.

Conversely, the existence of polytheistic religions consisting mostly of story-like "myths" allows for a great deal of fluidity in modern worship. Saint Mary can't change. Danu can. From Her space outside a firmly written-and-sealed-in-time canon, Danu can offer guidance on everything from stem cell research to mountain top removal mining.

The Gods Beyond Words can evolve, unless and until someone foolishly codifies Them, and all their followers agree with the codification. Then They too will be stuck eating words 2,000 years from now.

My final point: On what planet is a single male considered more evolved than a family unit? In strictly Darwinian terms, God Almighty is destined for extinction, unless his son finds a wife and begets some little gods and goddesses.

Okay, so I'm not the world's deepest thinker. But I'm not a fool either. I'll cast my lot with polytheism, because it allows for change.

The hymn says it best: "On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is shifting sand." If the sand shifts, you can move with it. That rock ain't going nowhere.

Our operators are standing by to take your call.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What Was In That Toothpaste?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I'll be brief today, because brief is all I can be.

Yesterday I went to the dentist for my routine exam/cleaning. I had forgotten I was supposed to take antibiotics for a few days prior to the exam. (This stems from last year's hip replacement.)

No matter. The dentist gave me four big Amoxycillin caplets and had at me with the various power tools constructed for tooth torture. Some 45 minutes later, I ambled out of the office with clean choppers and a full evening ahead of me.

By 9:00 I was sick, and by midnight I was sick as a dog. Fever, chills, stomach. My daughter The Heir, ever vigilant on matters pertaining to vomiting, did a Google search and found that these symptoms can occur with an overdose of Amoxycillin.

This was news to me. I thought you were either allergic to the stuff or could pretty much feast on it with gluttonous abandonment. I never had a problem with it before.

Today my appetite has returned, but I feel like those capsules might have been quaaludes and not Amoxys. My head is spinning.

So here's to a lost day. Thank goodness school hasn't started yet! I can go sit in the shade and stare blankly at my Shrine of the Mists.

Weird way to spend a day stoned.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Can't Say How It's Done


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Mighty Aphrodite! Can August 23, 2009 actually be Anne's 25th wedding anniversary? By golly. I think it is.

A quarter of a century spent with one mate.

What's amazing to me is not that Mr. Johnson and I have been together that long, but that 25 years have passed. The time is so hazy now. The Heir is 20, and The Spare is 15, and ... my goodness. How did this come to pass?

I've probably cooked dinner 7,500 times. I've packed 3,600 school lunches and done 5,260 loads of laundry. I've fed the cats 3,250 times. Decibel the Parrot has gotten a bowl of bird food 8,306 times.

Snap! Done and done again.

To those of you wondering how to stay married for 25 years, I can't give you much advice.

One thing Mr. Johnson and I have in common is that we're not restless people. We don't flit. We even go the same place for summer vacation every year, and when we get there we sit together and stare out at the Chesapeake Bay together.

We both like to read newspapers. We're both pro-union liberals. We always vote the same ticket. We don't always agree on child-rearing, and it's those differences in philosophy that generally lead to our occasional arguments. Otherwise we smile at each other most of the time. When we're not worried about this and that.

Mr. Johnson would tell you that he's been a trial to live with, and I've been a saint for putting up with him. How nice of him to overlook the fact that he's spent 30 years with a wacky woman who flirts with turkey vultures and who carries on whole conversations with a cast of imaginary characters she's concocted to keep her company. Mr. Johnson lives daily with a mate who thinks nothing of mouthing back at South Jersey tough guys who criticize her driving. And he's patient as can be with all the faeries, and the Rituals, and the altars, and all the Pagan stuff. All of it. Actually he likes it a lot better than he did the church lady Methodist stuff.

So, here's to 25 years of partnering! I know it's been that long because the trees in my yard have thicker trunks now. Heir is in college, Spare is beautiful, Alpha the cat has lost her teeth. Only Decibel looks the same. And sounds the same. Which is loud.

Maybe I will give all you young lovebirds a little advice. Have a very small wedding -- less than 20 guests. You'll save a ton of money, and you'll still be just as married as these big spenders who dump $45,000 on a single day in their lives. Think of all the things you can do with $45,000. That will pay for many, many summer vacations staring at the Chesapeake Bay. And all the laundry detergent you'll ever need.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Death Panel Will See You Now

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," weighing in on health care with privileged information! You think Death Panels don't exist already? Think again! They're here, and they've been here for a long time.

When I lived in Detroit in the 1980s, I had top-of-the-line health insurance through Mr. Johnson's company and yet another insurance from my own workplace. I injured myself playing volleyball. Hurt my foot. Went home after the game, iced it a little. Woke up Saturday morning, and there was still some minor swelling and bruising, and of course it hurt.

I went to the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital. I signed in and showed them Mr. Johnson's insurance card. Within a half hour I was ushered into one of those curtained areas where the doctor sees ER patients.

As I was limping through the hallway, I passed a person lying on a stretcher. Young black male, bleeding, breathing as if in shock. He was being totally ignored, while I was given the red carpet treatment. When the doctor came in to see me about my minor foot issue, I asked her about the guy in the hallway. She just shrugged.

I've always wondered if that young man had an appointment with the Death Panel. There's no way to know for sure. The Death Panel sees to that.

Fast forward to 2008. I went to my sports medicine doctor about my ailing hip. He's a very special doctor, the kind who sits down and chats and smiles at you, and then explains very thoroughly and clearly what should be done. There's nothing "routine" about his appointments.

Just as we started the appointment, the doctor got beeped by his front desk. He apologized profusely and left the room. He was gone a pretty long time -- maybe 15 or 20 minutes. When he came back, he apologized even more profusely. Then he told me candidly why he'd been called from the room.

He had been on the telephone with the governor of New Jersey. Apparently my doctor was on some kind of panel for state health care. The governor was asking my doctor which charity hospitals to close in our area. The governor also pressed my doctor about lowering the number of emergency coronary care units. Which ones could be closed? The governor wanted to slice in half the number of units in South Jersey.

I said to my doctor, "So in essence, what you're telling me is that a person who has a heart attack in Mount Ephraim will have to be taken by ambulance to Camden, rather than to Cherry Hill, which is much closer to Mount Ephraim."

He said yes.

I said, "So the resident of Mount Ephraim is much more likely to die en route to the hospital than, say, the resident of Collingswood, which is on the edge of Camden."

He said yes.

I said, "So essentially, it's not survival of the fittest so much as survival of the proximity-to-the-right-hospital."

My doctor said he was doing and saying all he could to save emergency care in all of the local hospitals. But New Jersey has a budget crisis, and one way of saving big money is to cut back on the number of critical care emergency rooms and charity hospitals.

Would someone please explain to me how this is not a Death Panel? Better yet, explain it to Tony of Mount Ephraim, who died of a treatable heart attack in the ambulance on his way to distant Cooper Hospital in Camden.

(By the way, the governor got his wish. A few months after my hip appointment, I saw a small article, buried in the back of the newspaper, noting the closure of five coronary care units in suburban New Jersey hospitals, due to reductions in state funding.)

My final note on this morbid topic has to do with location-related Death Panels.

One day I found myself in midtown Manhattan, standing on the sidewalk bearing witness to one of the city's infamous gridlock traffic jams. In the midst of this gridlock stood an ambulance, sirens blaring -- I mean blaring -- as it sat there, unable to progress an inch.

That ambulance was still sitting there, still blaring its horns, a half hour later. It had not budged.

If my uncle out on Polish Mountain, middle of nowhere, needed an ambulance and emergency care, he would have to wait about a half an hour, maybe slightly more, for the ambulance to arrive. Then it would take a half hour, maybe a little more, to transport him to the nearest hospital. Are his chances of survival better or worse than those of the patient in midtown Manhattan whose ambulance got stuck in gridlock?

The Panel will see you now. Don't fear the Reaper.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Devo

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," thinking and drinking and stinking at linking! I'm your host, Anne Johnson. You could call me a Pagan, and I wouldn't be offended.

One of the units I have to teach as an English instructor is a thing called "picture prompt." All New Jersey students must pass a proficiency test in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and "picture prompt" is part of the writing. The state gives students a photograph, and they have to write a story about it. In 45 minutes. Number two pencil.

Part of my teacher preparation is to compile a big stack of photographs that my students can use to practice picture prompts. In other words, I have to cut up a lot of magazines.

Awhile back I nabbed a stack of Adventure magazines. This sounded promising. Until I started looking at all the beautiful photos and realized they were all of rich white people with fancy gear of some sort, in exotic locations quite unlike anything seen in New Jersey. However, I picked and chose and got some good stuff -- people clinging to cliff faces or scuba diving to wrecked ships, or creeping up on rhinos. Just your average vacation, if you're a master of the bloody universe.

While sifting through this high-end rubble, I found a short essay about Australopithecines by an author named Laurence Gonzalez.

You probably already know this, but Australopithecus was a bipedal hominid genus that lived between 1.5 million and 3.5 million years ago in Africa. These little cuties stood about three feet tall and had small brains, relative to ours. Given the similarities in teeth and locomotion, however, it's a safe bet some kind of Australopithecine is down in the roots of our collective family tree.

Mr. Gonzalez wrote about the fossil footprints Mary Leakey and her team discovered in 1978. The footprints -- one set larger, one set medium, one set smaller -- were laid down in rapidly-accumulating volcanic ash. They record the flight of one little family from an exploding volcano about ten miles away.

Fast forward three million years, give or take, to the eruption of Mount St. Helens. Mr. Gonzalez reports that, as the massive volcano gave every indication of spilling its guts in spectacular fashion, many people arrived in the vicinity just to watch the event. People jumped roadblocks and ignored repeated pleas to evacuate the area. Then half the mountain fell to pieces, killing almost 60 people who had ample warning that they were in an area of intensifying volcanic activity.

My question is: are we sure we're evolving for the better? Three million years ago, three-foot-tall pre-humans had the good sense to pick up and scurry when a volcano erupted. Now imagine these same pre-humans of midget dimensions fending off primordial lions, hyenas, and proto-chimps. (An adult chimpanzee can kill a Homo sapiens in short order.) How successful would we be, stuck up moderns, taking on lions without the benefit of high-caliber weaponry, or at least torches?

Picture the pre-game tailgate party at any college or pro football game, and ask yourself: How far have we come?

Thus also it may be for our deities. Given how little we know about Australopithecus, except for the fact that they traveled in families at times and had the sense to evacuate volcanic regions, can we assume they had no deities? I suppose anthropologists would say no, these creatures' brains were too small to communicate with anything Immortal. To that I say, pish tosh! They might have had quite fulfilling relationships with Sacred Beings. Why do we always assume that we're better than our forebears? Could be the opposite.

The fossil footprints suggest that the female Australopithecus was carrying a child. If that child could witness a bunch of frat brothers puking after a long night of beer pong, would it feel superior to, or inferior to, Homo sapiens?

Tonight the Shrine of the Mists will be lit for the Deities of the Australopithecines. Newer ain't always better.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Moron Par Excellence: Whole Foods CEO John Mackey

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we know a moron when we see one! John Mackey, please come to the podium. You have received the coveted "moron par excellence" award from TGAB!

Readers, you know how impossible I find it to link Internet stories to my blog. So, if you want all the facts about John Mackey and Whole Foods and health care, do a quick Google. You'll find the editorial I'm writing about, and the fallout.

First, for those of you who've never heard of the supermarket chain called Whole Foods, let me characterize it for you. There's one near my house. I've shopped there on rare occasions when I needed some esoteric grains that are hard to find elsewhere.

Whole Foods is an "organic" grocery store. It consists of three components:

1. Foodstuffs purporting to be "organic" but that look like they've been coddled since birth in prime conditions of some sort.

2. Foodstuffs that have been prepared in house for people who don't have time to cook. These foodstuffs include such healthy offerings as triple chocolate cake and macaroni and cheese.

3. Neurotic, liberal yuppie shoppers who are simultaneously obsessed with their looks and health and one hundred percent behind Obama's most ambitious initiatives.


Whole Foods CEO John Mackey recently wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal in which he attacks any effort to provide government-funded health care to people who can't afford coverage. You really should read the whole thing, but I'll quickly summarize:

*Whole Foods employees are 100 percent covered for health care after they meet a $2500 yearly deductible that can voluntarily be offset by $1800 Whole Foods gives its staff (30-plus hours per week) in "health dollars" each year. At best, then, a Whole Foods employee must pay $800 out of pocket each year before getting health insurance. Mackey did not say how much a Whole Foods employee earns in yearly wages after taxes.

*If Americans want poor people to have health coverage, American taxpayers should voluntarily add money to their federal income tax returns, money that would be used for Medicare, CHIP, etc.

*Most of America's health problems are self-inflicted by people eating and drinking too much. If everyone adopted a healthy lifestyle, we wouldn't need government-sponsored health care, and everyone would live to be 90 to 100 years old.

But the following quote was the one that earned Mackey the mega-moron designation from TGAB:

"Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That's because there isn't any. This "right" has never existed in America."

This, my friends, is a benchmark of right-wing conservative philosophy. And if it flowed off the tongue of the CEO of Mercedes-Benz, it would be just another "let them eat cake" moment.

Except the majority of Mackey's customers are liberals.

Hey, John Mackey. I have a question. When you shot yourself in the foot, had you already exhausted your $2500 yearly deductible? I ask because you may need some of it for treatment of the depression you will develop when your stores tank.

All across the Internet, blue bloggers are calling for boycotts of Whole Foods. I add my voice, and my consumer dollars, to this boycott.

Perhaps this nation has never recognized an intrinsic "right" to food and clothing. Certainly many Americans have been homeless and starved through the history of this nation. Is that the standard we want to cling to in the twenty-first century? Put it another way. If health care could be covered voluntarily by donations from charitable individuals, why aren't mega-churches sponsoring free clinics?

John Mackey, moron par excellence, I will never darken the doorstep of your store again. You join Wal-Mart on my list of bad stores where nothing will be bought by Anne. Since your store near me is located in a liberal enclave that voted 75 percent for Obama, I daresay I won't be alone.

What. A. Dumbass.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shrine of the Mists

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" In just two short weeks I will be a full-time school teacher. So much to get done, so little time!

Occasionally I find myself at Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary. One of the things I like about it is the way people have built little shrines here and there in the woods. Most of these shrines are little more than cairns of the local stone, piled up with a few feathers or shiny items attached. However simple these constructions are, they're touching. No one piles up stones without intention. And intention generates energy.

This is a morbid topic, but do you go to the cemetery to place flowers on your parents' graves? I do. Occasionally. Even more infrequently, I place some at my grandparents' grave.

Next time you go to the cemetery, take a look at the older parts of the grounds. No one puts flowers there. The decoration of graves lasts one, maybe two generations, and then it ceases. I stand accused. I know where all of my great-grandparents are buried, but I haven't visited the sites in years.

All shrines are impermanent, if you get right down to it. Someday the Pyramids will erode to dust, and Stonehenge will fall apart. The Great Wall of China isn't a shrine, but it is crumbling even now.

With that in mind, I set to building a little impermanent shrine in my back yard. I've been going outside in the early morning when it's cool and putting the shrine together, using mostly the materials on hand. Thrift is important.

Sure, I would love a shrine made from the stone on my mountain property. I don't have any way of getting that stone from Point A to Point B. So, remember the wise words of Crosby, Stills and Nash? "If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with."

The materials on hand are bricks, scavenged from a handyman project my next-door neighbor completed a decade and a half ago. Long hence the bricks had stopped serving as the border to my garden, because mugwort doesn't recognize bricks as an impediment. About six inches of ivy and mugwort have extended past the bricks. I had to brush the brush aside to find my long-lost "border."

Almost everyone who has ever created a shrine has worshiped the deity to whom the shrine is constructed before the construction began. That's logical enough. Can't imagine the pharaohs saying, "Let's build a big old structure, and then figure out what to do with it."

Logic has never been a strong suit here at "The Gods Are Bored." I started the shrine, wondering to Whom it should be dedicated.

Didn't have to think for long. My little impermanent shrine, done in red construction brick with a few stones from home and various weird stuff made by The Heir, will be dedicated to the Nameless Deities of the Mists. This shrine will honor all Gods and Goddesses who have been forgotten by time, and the people who praised those Gods and Goddesses. These people would include our ancestors, yours and mine. We probably have a common one back in those Mists.

I once had an anthropology teacher who said that, at the time of the cave paintings at Lascaux, the rocks outside the caves were probably covered with paintings too. The teacher said, "Every rock face was probably a billboard for some deity or celebration." Time just erased the handiwork.

So to you, painters of Lascaux. To you, Mitochondrial Mother. To you, restless wanderers of the globe, carting your deities with you to empty lands. This little place honors you and Those you called Divine.

To put it more bluntly, I've created a monument to the bored gods. I call it Shrine of the Mists.

If you would like to have something of yours placed upon the Shrine of the Mists, or if you would like to be remembered by the Very Extremely Ancient Deities Shrouded in the Mists of Time, contact me through my email or comment thread. Dark Moon is Thursday, and the shrine will be ready for dedication on that night.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Frank Talk about Torturing Rover

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" When I hear that a dog is "Man's best friend," I wonder how stupid Man can be to choose an animal over a person as a best friend.

Uh oh, another dog blog! Duck and cover!

I moved to New Jersey in 1987 and took up the Philadelphia Eagles football team right away. It wasn't too difficult to shuck my allegiance to the Detroit Lions.

On Friday, the Eagles signed Michael Vick to a short-term contract. Vick is fresh out of prison for torturing dogs and for running a dog fight ring.

First of all, you've just got to question the mental capacity of this individual. He had a $135 million football contract, and he didn't examine his judgment about running roughshod over Rover? Don't you think someone in his family or circle of friends might have said, "Yo, Michael, this is, like, illegal?"

The Eagles management says that Vick has paid his debt to society and should be given a fresh chance. Of course, this is Michael Vick, a top-notch professional football player. If he had been Michael Vick, desperately poor citizen of Camden, New Jersey, trying to make money any way possible, he'd be standing in line at the employment agency ... and coming up empty. No one's gonna hire a dude who electrocuted dogs, unless he's boffo with a pigskin.

Sunday night, Vick appeared on Sixty Minutes to profess his apology and admit that he'd done wrong and that he would fix things with the SPCA by making speeches about pet care.

Did you watch that interview? Please don't think I'm racist, but I saw a man who seemed totally devoid of remorse. He said the right things, but his eyes gave him away. Cold, hard stares, not even a blink when asked challenging questions. I saw a dude who would give all the right answers just to get back into the chips. Not a truly repentant felon. Even the inevitable fallback to his "Lord and savior" seemed forced and unconvincing.

I believe Michael Vick deserves a second chance. The Eagles need a sturdy backup quarterback. It's all about winning in any sport. But as a fan who can't afford the price of tickets to a game anyway, I feel free to take my support elsewhere. I wouldn't do it if I thought the dude was truly sorry. In my opinion, he's not. (Well, maybe he's sorry he got caught.)

Have you ever tried to find a professional sports franchise that is totally devoid of bad-behaving players? The 1968 Baltimore Orioles spring to mind. Otherwise, forget it. Therefore, we at "The Gods Are Bored," in typical "Gods Are Bored" fashion, will choose to support the first team other than the Eagles for which we find a jersey or a t-shirt at the thrift store. Luck of the draw.

I think dogs have their place in the world, and it's not on a pedestal. But anyone who could do vicious things to a dog also has the capacity to lash out at people. That's what has me worried about Michael Vick, and that's why we at "The Gods Are Bored" have withdrawn our allegiance to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Not Sitting Idle

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where every day is a holy day! Count them off, because they're finite. Each one should be sacred.

I spent yesterday on the shore of the Severn River (a little piece of the Chesapeake Bay). I found myself sitting there with a big ol' case of the blues, cursing each grain of sand that once was a part of the Appalachian Mountain chain and is now mired in the land where the water runs uphill. Like me.

Wait. This is "The Gods Are Bored!" We don't moan and wring our hands. It's boring.

It's sunny outside and a balmy 92 degrees. Time to make a back yard shrine! I've got bricks aplenty, half buried under aggressive mugwort.

Please pardon the brevity of this post, as I'm keen to go out and get sunstroke while the getting is good. I also have a few leftover hard crabs to crack and pick -- a decidedly un-Appalachian chore.

Applications are now being accepted for bored deities who wish to be honored at my shrine. Your input is welcome. I can only pick one. Is it bad form to make an outdoor shrine to the same Goddess who is honored at your indoor shrine?

Great is my faithfulness ... emmm ... something like that.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Farm For Sale

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," ancestrally rooted in the fabulous Appalachian mountains! Go ahead. Take that vacation to Paris. As for me and my house, we will go to the holy hills.

This is the final remaining view from my family farm in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. At one time there were other vistas -- one even more beautiful than this -- but the viewing points have grown up in pine forest. In my lifetime.

I own one-sixth of this farm through a complicated strategy for dispersal that my grandfather thought was fair. Granddad had three sons. Rather than split the land three ways, he left the entire property to all three jointly. My dad had two children. My dad's younger brother had three. Uncle, the only one still living, has three living children. See? It's complicated.

My share of the property taxes on this 75 acres and its minimalist house has never been a burden. Seventy bucks here and there, twice a year. Seemed fair enough.

Then Bedford County decided to do an appraisal and dump a 2010 fair market value on the land.

They say the property is worth $133,500.

My brother-in-law crunched the numbers. If the property is used solely as a vacation place (probably its only feasible use), the yearly taxes will be $11,000 -- of which one-sixth will be my responsibility.

Doesn't sound like a lot, especially in two yearly payments. But I've got one daughter already in college, and another on the way. And some of my cousins are worse off than me.

So this farm will go up for sale, probably within a year or two.

I would be all in favor of trying to find a tenant. There are quite a few Old Order Mennonites up there in the Polish Mountain area right now, and some of them work in the furniture-making business. But the house is hardly habitable in the winter, and the basic carpeting and kitchen tile would seem worldly to Mennonites. And before we could rent, nine cousins would have to agree on renting, and someone would have to serve as landlord.

Sis and her husband want to sell. Cousin who lives nearest to the land wants to sell. Cousin who is current custodian of the land wants to move out west.

Anne sits in New Jersey with the blues. And also the reds, because how Bedford County came up with that selling price for land that can't be either farmed or timbered is way beyond me.

Do you need a quiet place -- and I mean QUIET -- with no white light to block the stars, no neighbors to stare as you perform Ritual skyclad, no one shooting at the deer in the meadow? Let's talk.

As an added bonus, Four Quarters Farm Interfaith Community is in the same Zip code. You could attend Drum and Splash or Burning Man and be home by bedtime!

Farm for sale. Sad. So sad.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Limbaugh Legacy

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," searching high and low for our sass! Must be here somewhere. Maybe I put it in the washing machine and forgot to get it out.

Oh, here it is, in my suitcase! A little light dusting, and good as new!

While I was visiting my sister, I went to her church for a morning show. Why would I do that? Well, she plays the piano, and her husband plays the guitar, and a former high school teacher of mine plays the cello. And they were all going to play. So I went to hear them. And they were good, if you like listening to seven verses of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."

The pastor was sick that morning, so my brother-in-law more or less led the service. What he did was turn it into a Quaker meeting, inviting anyone who wanted to give a testimonial to do so.

Most of the testimonials were what you would expect at such a bash. People either thanked God for healing them or asked God to heal them. One pretty gal told a story of how an angel helped her drive through an ice storm.

Then this old dude stood up. He had an oxygen machine. I can't remember what he said exactly, but here's the jist of it.

"I don't mind bein' controversial. It's just who I am. And I'm a-gonna go down to that Town Hall Meetin' with Senator Cardin. I've got it all written out what I'm a-gonna say. And this is it: I'm gonna tell Senator Cardin that the guvmint can come and kill me any time they're ready, cuz I know where I'm goin'. I'm goin' to meet Jesus. It ain't fair that after a long life a hard work I gotta be targeted fer death cuz I'm old and sick, but these guvmint people gonna have to answer fer that. Not me. I'll be with Jesus."

That was last Sunday. By cracky, I sat down to watch Countdown with Keith last night, and there he was, the dude from Sis's church! He got shown on both Countdown and The Rachel Maddow Show. I guess they were looking for a prime Exhibit A Health Care Wacko, and he fit the bill.

However, this poor man will not go into the infamous Gods Are Bored "moron file." He is not a moron. He just believes what he hears on t.v. and radio. And he's scared. Never mind that stuff about being ready to meet Jesus. If he was ready to meet Jesus, he'd just unplug the oxygen machine and go for a jog in the hot summer sun. He's scared! The pernicious misinformation being spewed by plump insurance companies and right wing talk shows is causing panic in people who probably have enough real worries that they don't need fake ones.

The uncle I visited on the family farm was a Rush Limbaugh devotee for lo, these many years. Never mind the fact that Uncle's children, nieces and nephews served as his social safety net -- otherwise he'd have needed every single socialist service our government doles out -- he believed Rush. Good ol' Rush.

But something has happened. Uncle's cognition is declining. He got a preliminary statement from a recent hospital visit: $40,000 in charges for a six-day stay. He freaked. With tears brimming in his eyes, he said to me, "I can't pay this. What will I do? I can't pay it."

With malice toward government social services, right wing radio/television celebrities have managed to convey a message to senior citizens, especially those who are ailing: You don't deserve to live. This message is sent in two ways. The belittling of domestic spending sends a subconscious message to listeners like my uncle -- If he's using evil, socialist Medicare, he'd be better off dead. The smear campaign against health care reform is even more direct -- you'll be told when to die. The sooner the better.

This is the legacy our hard-working seniors are reaping from right wing brainwashing. They're being told, in essence, that since they can't go out and earn money anymore, they're a burden. Pulling the rest of us down. Granny's on Medicare and Medicaid. Yank that plug!

Rush, you're rich. You have no right to frighten old people who aren't, even if they've gobbled up your road show for a decade.

Maybe I will file this under "morons." Not for the old Christian dude on oxygen, or my anxious uncle, but for the mountebank they've placed their trust in. Yeah, that guy. The one who doesn't give a rat's ass about them. The one who'd rather see them die, and decrease the surplus population.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Expatriate Hillbilly Self-Delusion: Another Navel Gaze

Bill Monroe, the founder of bluegrass music, did not develop his signature style in the Kentucky hills where he was born and raised. His band formed in Akron, Ohio. He had gone there with his brother to work in an auto plant.

Thus it has been now for several generations of Appalachians. We may have been born in Appalachia, but we had to leave to find jobs. A fortunate few of us return, but those of us who don't still consider ourselves Appalachians. It's rather like considering yourself Irish even though you were born in the Bronx.

In my case I was born in Appalachia, and my happiest childhood hours were spent on my grandparents' mountainside property in Bedford County. One of the bright memories I've retained is the first night I actually got to sleep over with Grandma and Grandpa ... how my mother loaded Grandma down with instructions, and how the minute Mom left, Grandma said, "This is my house, and while you're here, you can do it my way!" And she let me stay up until I was actually sleepy instead of dumping me in bed while the sun was still high.

I worshiped my cousins, my great aunts and uncles, the farm animals and songbirds. As I grew I worshiped the woods, the magnificent vistas from the mountaintops and from Granddad's garden. I felt those mountains not only in my heart but also in my spine and my blood, in my feet and hands, the roots of my hair. Every season of the year was a wonder: the spring redbud and wildflowers, the summer swimming hole -- the big luna moths -- the autumn with its winds and wild colors, the icy grandeur of winter.

Then I went away to seek my fortune elsewhere. Both of my daughters were born in New Jersey. I've lived here in the flatlands for 22 years, and four years in Detroit before that.

Part of my coping mechanism, especially in the last 12 years, was to avoid the family farm altogether, rather as one would shun the possibility of running into an ex-lover. In this process I convinced myself that the farm wasn't important, that I could go to Four Quarters Farm or Berkeley Springs instead, that I could hike nearby in Cacapon, that I could do my Work at Terrapin Run, on another mountain. My uncle has lived on the farm since my grandfather's death, and Uncle purged almost all vestiges of my grandparents from the house and spent his days listening to Rush Limbaugh. Why go there? Pretend the place doesn't exist, and keep telling yourself that, and eventually you'll believe it -- or at least numb the desire to feel your blood's country under your feet.

Perhaps it was inevitable that I would be drawn back to the farm. Certainly it was inevitable that walking its grounds, if only a little, would cause my self-hypnosis to crash and burn.

My sister and my daughters (Heir and Spare) and I went to visit Uncle out of a sense of duty. This in itself was wrenching. At 83 he is a dessicated shell of his former self. Like him or not, he was a formidable man in his prime, standing more than six feet tall, able to hike the Appalachian trail with a backpack in his fifties. Before Limbaugh he was rather a bull horn who liked to hear his own voice, but it was okay ... you could just sit and nod and let your mind wander as he blabbed. After Limbaugh this passive resistance to his harangues became impossible ... and it's part of the reason I boycotted the farm.

Fortunately, Uncle has a caretaker ... one of those cousins I worshiped. It was no easier seeing the caretaker than the patient. More difficult, in fact.

But no one forced me to walk out along the mountainside and drink in the view, knowing that the farm will shortly go up for sale, and I don't have the money to buy it. I put my feet on that sacred ancestral ground again, and now I feel like some sorry little plant that got uprooted and shoved into a garden far, far from home.

Literally, when I returned to my house of 22 years, my little block of old-timey suburban New Jersey with its closely-spaced houses and proximity to mass transit, Panera Bread and Wegman's, I felt like I'd been caught violating parole and sent back to jail. Walking up the steps of my porch and into my house was like re-entering a prison. A person just shouldn't feel that way about where she lives, but if there are any Appalachian readers still following my posts, they will understand. The authentic Anne is a product of that mountain. Re-planted elsewhere she grows. She does not thrive. She watches in dismay as her older daughter professes love for New Jersey and her younger daughter indulges in all the excesses of city life. And she is homesick.

Druidic practice always begins and ends with a call for peace from the Quarters. Most always I ask to be West. Sometimes I take another role, just in case someone else wants to face the sunset and salute wisdom and the wellspring from which growth occurs. Now it will be difficult for me to take any Quarter but West, because only by facing west can I direct my gaze toward the mountain where, as a sapling oak, I stood among the fine ancestral trees.

If I forget you, o mountain, may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. I petition the bored gods to give me water in this arid place. I ask Walt Whitman to remind me, by his proximity and his poetry, that every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with miracles, and that every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

It's just tough, you know?

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mountains On My Mind: Navel-Gazing #1

Friends, I've had a few shocks to the system in the last couple of days. If you see me through it, "The Gods Are Bored" will return, I promise.

Apparently my beloved grandfather wanted me to have a box of his possessions. I say "apparently," because my daughter The Heir retrieved the box quite by serendipity from a crawlspace under the oldest section of the family farm.

The box was literally crusted with mold. Heir only peeked inside it before shoving it into a sack. She brought it home because it had pins in it. Heir loves pins.

These aren't just pins, though. They are my grandfather's life.

Items: Red Cross volunteer pins from the Second World War.

Items: Two rings, Scottish Rite Freemasonry.

Items: Twelve "one hundred percent attendance" pins from the Lions Club.

Items: Anniversary of service pins from the American Celanese Corporation -- 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, 25 years, 30 years, 35 years, 40 years, 45 years.

Items: "Perfect Safety Record" pins from the American Celanese Corporation -- 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, 25 years, 30 years, 35 years, 40 years, 45 years.

Item: Retirement tie tack, American Celanese Corporation.

Item: A bracelet with ten round coins, each bearing one of the Ten Commandments.

Items: Four pins, "Jesus Is Lord."

Items: A white Celtic cross with Latin inscription and a pin with a white knight and black knight in profile ... affiliation unknown.

Items: Bicentennial souvenirs.

Items: Cufflinks with initials DWJ.

Items: Tietacks with initials DWJ.

Item: Garden Club citation of merit. (That might have been Grandma's.)

Items: More than 25 Lions Club pins, including a large anniversary pin from the Virginia Lions Club.

Today, while the Heir was at a doctor's appointment, I sat on the Main Street of my borough and took stock of the contents of the box. I shared a bench with a merchant who had come out of his shop to smoke a cigar. The merchant was a man of few words, but he was interested in the contents of the box. And he chuckled after I'd emptied it, when I said that this was the moment when I would pull out the padding to find $10,000 or a hand-written and signed copy of the Declaration of Independence.

No money appeared, nor did any historic document. Nor did I care.

When you are a little girl, and you place your trust and devotion upon a person who deserves both, you grow up feeling rock, and not sand, under your feet. When you are teetering on the edge between Matron and Cailleach, and this person's badges of honor fall into your possession, you understand how magick works, how its power rips through people and circumstances to bind a loved one to the grateful granddaughter who will bring his heritage into a new century.

Granddad, may I be worthy of that which is given.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Woosh!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," deafened by teenager music! Don't know about you, but I can't think with music blaring in my ears.

CRAZY!!!! CANNOT THINK!

Heartfelt thanks to all who offered to help stock my classroom with ref books! I will tender a proper amount of gratitude WHEN THIS MUSIC ENDS!

Actually, we at "The Gods Are Bored" are embarking in about an hour for a long weekend in the old home grounds in WV. We'll be back Tuesday. And we will demand SILENCE in order to compose a post!

Thank you readers, one and all, for visiting "The Gods Are Bored." Now go have a nice weekend. Don't forget to feed your faeries!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Wickedpedia Won't Do

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" We relish this near-daily opportunity to visit with you. All pantheons are welcome!

The closer I get to becoming a classroom teacher -- starting a whole new career at the tender age of 50 -- the more nervous I get. I think this is normal, don't you?

The school district for which I work cannot afford to put sets of encyclopedias into every classroom. Why bother anyway? If a kid is asked to look something up in an encyclopedia, he or she is going to sprint to Wikipedia for the answer.

Bamp!

Love it or hate it (I hate it), Wikipedia does not pass the standard for due diligent reporting. Anyone can get onto it and "tweak" articles. So while I trust it to provide me with the birth date of George Washington, I would not trust it to provide me with a completely accurate overview of his life, accomplishments, key dates, or medicinal habits.

All this is by way of saying that I, Anne Johnson, would like to have a set of encyclopedias for my classroom. My only requirement would be that they be no older than 25 years. Yes, that makes them quite out of date. But. They would still be more accurate and dependable than the Internet for anything that happened before 1985. And that covers a whole lot of ground.

If you have a not-terribly-moldy set of encyclopedias in your house, please contact me. I will pay you to ship them to me book rate. I would also love to have a set of the books Time/Life did called "This Fabulous Century."

If you don't have a spare set of World Books on your coffee table, perhaps you have some suggestions how I can pick up a set, free or cheap as flypaper. Please share.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

No Wonder They're High at Spare's School

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Do you love to read? I do! I just got a message from Mrs. B with 100 books the BBC chose that most people had probably only read six of. I went down the list, and I had read 51 of them. Some people love to read, you just can't stop them.

Needless to say, reading is a high priority at my daughter The Spare's Blue Ribbon High School. Spare is one of those people who doesn't like to read. She's a slow reader and very picky about content, unless the reading material in question is a teen magazine.

Every summer, Spare must read a book and complete an assignment before she returns to English class in the fall. This summer's reading must be a book by a winner of the Penn-Faulkner Award.

Now, there are prizes and there are prizes. Some, like the Nobel Prize, are given to people who mostly write stuff that anyone can easily read and understand. (Yes, there are exceptions.) The Pulitzer Prize likewise most often goes to a serious but approachable book.

The Penn-Faulkner, on the other hand, is almost invariably a high-brow, college-level piece of writing with heaping helpings of sophisticated vocabulary, "deep meanings" that are so deep you could drown before you find them, and literary tricks that delight college professors and baffle the rest of us.

When Spare read down the list of books, Mr. Johnson and I just looked at each other. Mr. J. is a book collector, so he has first editions of some of them. Not because they're gripping literature, but because they're collectible. (Oh well, to be fair, he is reading one right now. I forget which one.)

I'll be the first to tell you that kids should read during the summer. When I was Spare's age, that's just about all I did. But wouldn't it make more sense for Spare to choose her own summer book, one that might actually pull her face out of the vapid teen mags?

Spare made a choice from the list, and I'm not going to say one bad word about the book she chose. Except it's not a book for a 15-year-old. I didn't read it when I was 15. I didn't read anything like it when I was 15.

Wish her luck. She's going to need it.

There's an epidemic of drugging and drinking at Spare's Blue Ribbon High School. Gee, I wonder why.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The African Model

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," typing faster than ever before driving across the county to a day of teachers' meetings! Fly, fingers, fly!

This summer I have read two novels by African writers: The River Between, by Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and Things Fall Apart, by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. Both were written in the middle of the twentieth century. Both novels concern the first interaction between the authors' people and white men. Inevitably, the vanguard of this interaction is Christian missionaries.

The moment of cultural breakdown in both stories occurs when some members of the African tribes in question embrace Christianity and begin to be led into white-sponsored activities such as reading and writing and learning English (in both cases it's English). Both authors show how this encroachment, although sometimes very subtle at first, tears apart their traditional communities, involving as it does an assault on their deities and rituals.

The River Between must be read with big, broad, flexible outlook in full battle mode. The tradition under assault in that story is female circumcision. The first plot point concerns a 14-year-old girl who willingly defies her Christian father to undergo the rite, because she wants to belong to her people. She sickens and dies. In the wake of this death, another young tribe member -- the novel's hero -- tries to reconcile white and native ways, encouraging his people to keep their rituals but to embrace the white man's learning, so as to be able to negotiate with the intruders.

In Things Fall Apart, the central character will have nothing to do with the white devils. He's a prosperous, arrogant man who has fought his way to the top of his society. I won't spoil the plot, but it does not stretch the big, broad, flexible outlook nearly so taut as The River Between.

Things Fall Apart goes into great detail about the deities and rituals of the pre-colonial Nigerians. Gods and Goddesses and priestesses and even holy snakes are in their final glory before the massive layoffs in the name of God the Father. For this reason, Things Fall Apart, and The River Between, pertain highly to the mission of this blog.

We have no detailed narratives of individual reactions to the ancient arrival of Christian missionaries in Europe and the British Isles. But I think Things Fall Apart and The River Between can give us wonderful models of what that invasion meant to small communities, to people of different ages and social standing, to the cohesion of village networks within a larger web of related regional units.

No happy endings here, folks. Although in some parts of Africa people are retaining and regaining their deities, in many other places those deities have been under serious siege for decades. In short, many African Gods and Goddesses have been, or are about to be, bored.

What happens to people when their deities are literally unmasked? Have you ever wondered how your ancestors felt when this happened? Get a glimpse. Read Things Fall Apart or The River Between. Pretty, perfect cultures with wonderful religions, these two communities? Heck no. But did white missionaries have the right to challenge these communities in the name of God? You be the judge. You know how we at "The Gods Are Bored" feel about these things. But we don't speak for you.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

In the Throne Room of the Weather Gods

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" This is an unscheduled posting.

I never expected to be sitting here today at 12:51 p.m. typing a blog post. I expected to be in a verdant park setting, participating in a Ritual with my Druid Grove. I was looking forward to this Ritual in particular, as it is the harvest festival, and I am about to begin planting a whole new "crop," metaphorically speaking, in a new field ... metaphorically speaking.

Instead I'm home. One line of severe thunderstorms passed through about 10 minutes after I would have left for the park. Another, less severe cell, is passing over right now. There's a flood watch in effect for the entire Delaware Valley, including my home and the park, which is about 35 miles away.

Some people on the lunatic fringe might say that God Almighty arranged this weather to suppress Druidic activity. Baloney. Think how many Sunday School picnics are being rained out in the Delaware Valley right now. Rain falls on everyone, the tall and the small.

As a Druid, I'm supposed to worship outdoors, regardless of atmospheric conditions. This, I still feel, is a valid and wonderful part of being a Druid.

Just now I heard from Nettle. Everyone who normally shows up for Grove went to the park ... except for me. It's not like these folks live closer to the park. Nettle takes mass transit. One family drives all the way from Allentown.

My fellow Druids are in a pavilion, centering, meditating, calling peace from the Quarters. I'm looking out the window at a driving rainstorm.

Why did I stay home? Bottom line, my dead grandfather told me to.

The man who lived all his life on a mountainside taught me to hunker down in storms. Where we lived, water runs downhill very, very quickly. I can't blame anyone today for keeping me hearthside except my grandfather's ghost, because my decision was based on the weather-watching we did side-by-side while we walked this world together.

So you could say I'm influenced by the strictures of someone who preceded me, the wonderful man who had the most input into the person I am today. If not for his weather anxieties, I might be performing Ritual right now. But I bow to his guidance. It's the way of my people. I will never overcome it.

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