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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Heavy Snow

We're expected to get 7 - 10 inches of snow tonight.  It's glorious.

This was a 21 second exposure at f/32 and ISO 400.

Photograph Heavy Snow by Jeff Carter on 500px


He's probably watching the storm clouds that are swooping across the state...  I took this photo at the Neil Smith Wildlife Refuge earlier this morning.  

Photograph Sentinel by Jeff Carter on 500px

I've Discovered the Location of the Garden of Eden

I have, after years and years of careful study located the actual location of the Garden of Eden as described in the Bible, along with the four rivers that flowed out of it  - and not only that, but by careful examination of ancient texts, hypothetical maps, and the fevered, hallucinogenic dreams of my friend, Dr. Tarrec, I have also located those four "Infernal Rivers" that flowed into the Underworld, that is Hades.

And based on this evidence, I have been able to conclude that the deep abyss of torment known as Tartarus, where the Titans and the wicked dead are held in prison is located in modern day West Virginia.

Well, why not?  It's at least as accurate as every other claim of discovery for Eden, or Noah's Ark or what have you...

Friday, January 30, 2015

Dido and Jezebel – Strong Women from Tyre

It’s been my personal challenge this year to read (or in some few cases to re-read) the classics of western civilization.  Thus far I have worked my way through Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and currently I am about halfway through Virgil’s Aeneid.  It has been a pleasant challenge, and I have enjoyed finding connections to my study of the Bible.

Today my thoughts were on Dido.  As told by Virgil, Queen Dido (who is known in some sources as Elissa) fled from the Phoenician city of Tyre when her brother, Pygmalion, murdered her husband.  Pygmalion wanted his wealth, and wanted to be king of Tyre.  She fled from her murderous brother to Africa and founded the city of Carthage.  When Aeneus and his rag-tag band of refugees from fallen Troy arrive, Juno (who hates Aeneus and all Trojans) caused Queen Dido to fall madly in love with him, and to break her oath to be perpetually faithful to her dead husband.  Aeneus, while he loves Dido, cannot be bound to Carthage; his destiny lies in Italy and though he is anguished to leave, he abandons Dido.  Consumed by despair and rage and sorrow, Dido stabs herself with Aeneus’ sword and lays down upon a funeral pyre. 

Tragic stuff…

But it was the connection to Tyre that caught my attention this afternoon - being that the city of Tyre is so frequently mentioned in the scriptures of both the Hebrew bible and the Christian New Testament. 

While the historicity of these ancient tales might be rightly questioned, the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, in his book The Antiquities of the Jews preserves a list of the kings of Tyre.  And from that list of kings and a comparison with the Hebrew Bible and other sources we can calculate that the infamous Queen Jezebel was the great-aunt of Dido.

Say what we might about them, it seems that Tyre had a tradition of raising strong willed and powerful women.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ken Ham Is not a Scientist

Ken Ham doesn’t believe in the existence of aliens.  He is firmly convinced that there is no life (intelligent or otherwise) anywhere else in the universe.
“You know, so far no one has discovered life on other planets.  Secular scientists can’t even find evidence of radio signals from intelligent aliens.  So if aliens exist, then where are they? Well there isn’t any intelligent life out there; scientists won’t discover evidence of it.  And that’s just what Biblical Creationists expectYou see, scripture is clear that God designed the universe with the Earth as his focus.  We don’t live in an evolutionary universe that’s full of creatures that evolved by chance. The Earth is clearly designed for life with lots of water and just the right distance from the sun. No other planet in the universe is designed for life. And there aren’t any aliens on them. Intelligent life is unique to earth.”
But this is not science. Science begins with observations (something Ham thinks he understands when he repeatedly challenges evolutionists with the question, "were you there?"). Ham has made a conclusion on the basis of his peculiar reading of an ancient text and refuses to change it on the basis of observational evidence.

He says that “no other planet is designed for life,” being just the right distance from a star to provide heat and light, and containing an abundant source of water.  But this is ridiculous statement in light of the fact that astronomers have already located many planets outside of our solar system that are within that “habitable zone” around a star and may contain water and potentially life.

We don’t know yet whether there is life (intelligent or otherwise) on these exoplanets; to determine that will require more observation and more evidence.  But Ken Ham – who is not a scientist – already has made up his mind on the issue and no amount of evidence will ever be enough to make him change.

Reading the Flights of Birds as I’m Reading the Classics

I am enjoying my readings in the classics of western civilization, and especially in finding material that connects between the various books, and to the book that has been the focus of much of my study – the Bible.  So far this year I have read The Iliad, The Odyssey by the Greek poet Homer (maybe…), and I am currently working my way through The Aeneid by the Roman poet Virgil.  Next in the list is Civil War (also known as Pharsalia) by Lucan – though I may make a short detour to read Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra as it relates somewhat to Lucan’s material, and is structured somewhat on the relationship between Aeneas and Dido in The Aeneid.

One of the things that I’ve notice in all three books so far is the use of Ornithomancy – that is, reading the flight of birds to divine the future.  Ornithomancy is the Greek word; in Latin this was known as augury.  The word was initially used specifically for the interpretation of bird flights, but over time became applied to divination in general.  Augury is the root for our English word “inaugural.”  Roman priests (called augurs) would observe the flights of birds in order to predict whether or not a new leader would have a good or a bad year

In The Iliad Polydamas encourages the Trojan warriors to not attack the Greek ships:

Seek not this day the Grecian ships to gain;
For sure, to warn us, Jove his omen sent,
And thus my mind explains its clear event:
The victor eagle, whose sinister flight
Retards our host, and fills our hearts with fright,
Dismiss’d his conquest in the middle skies,
Allow’d to seize, but not possess the prize;
Thus, though we gird with fires the Grecian fleet,
Though these proud bulwarks tumble at our feet,
Toils unforeseen, and fiercer, are decreed;
More woes shall follow, and more heroes bleed.
So bodes my soul, and bids me thus advise;
For thus a skillful seer would read the skies.
(7. 255 – 266)

But Hector, Prince of Troy wasn’t so impressed by Polydamas’ reading:

The leading sign, the irrevocable nod,
And happy thunders of the favoring god,
These shall I slight, and guide my wavering mind
by wandering birds that flit with every wind?
Ye vagrants of the sky! your wings extend,
Or where the suns arise, or where descend;
To right, to left, unheeded take your way,
While I the dictates of high heaven obey.
Without a sign his sword the brave man draws,
and asks no omen but his country’s cause.
(7. 275 – 284)

The reading of the flights of birds occurs also in The Odyssey:

Now Zeus who views the wide world, sent a sign to him,
launching a pair of eagles from a mountain crest
in gliding flight down the soft blowing wind,
wing-tip to wing-tip quivering taut, companions,
till high above the assembly of many voices
they wheeled , their dense wings beating, and in havoc
dropped on the heads of the crowd – a deathly omen -
wielding their talons, tearing cheeks and throats;
then veered away on the right hand through the city.
Astonished, gaping after the birds, the men
felt their hearts flood, foreboding things to come.
And now they heard the old lord Halitheres,
son of Mastor, keenest among the old
at reading birdflight into accurate speech;
in his anxiety for them, he rose and said:

“Hear me, Ithacans! Hear what I have to say,
and may I hope to open the suitor’s eyes
to the black wave towering over them. Odysseus
will not be absent from his family long…
I am old enough to know a sign when I see one”
(2. 153 – 171, 177)

The suitors probably should have listened to Halitheres…

Augury also appears in The Aeneid where the goddess Venus (disguised as a young Spartan girl) tells her recently shipwrecked son, Aeneus:

I have good news. Your friends are restored to you,
your fleet’s reclaimed.  The winds swerved from the North
and drove them safe to port.  True, unless my parents
taught me to read the flight of birds for nothing.
Look at those dozen swans triumphant in formation!
the eagle of Jove had just swooped down on them all
from heaven’s heights and scattere3d them into open sky,
but now you can see them flying trim in their long ranks,
landing or looking down where their friends have landed -
home, cavorting on ruffling wings and wheeling round
the sky in convoy, trumpeting in their glory.
So homeward bound, your ships and hardy shipmates
anchor in port now or approach the harbor’s mouth,
full sail ahead.  Now off you go, move on,
wherever the path leads you, steer your steps.
(2. 473 -487)

Moving closer to the scriptures of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament, we find that the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, makes mention of Ornithomancy in his book The Antiquities of the Jews:
Now when Agrippa had reigned three years over all Judea he came to the city Caesarea, which was formerly called Strato's Tower; and there he exhibited spectacles in honor of Caesar, for whose well-being he'd been informed that a certain festival was being celebrated. At this festival a great number were gathered together of the principal persons of dignity of his province. On the second day of the spectacles he put on a garment made wholly of silver, of a truly wonderful texture, and came into the theater early in the morning. There the silver of his garment, being illuminated by the fresh reflection of the sun's rays, shone out in a wonderful manner, and was so resplendent as to spread awe over those that looked intently upon him. Presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another, (though not for his good) that he was a god; and they added, "Be thou merciful to us; for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own thee as superior to mortal nature." Upon this the king neither rebuked them nor rejected their impious flattery. But he shortly afterward looked up and saw an owl sitting on a certain rope over his head, and immediately understood that this bird was the messenger of ill tidings, just as it had once been the messenger of good tidings to him; and fell into the deepest sorrow.  (Antiquities 19.8.2 343-361)
Though several translations of the Bible use the word “augury” in passages about divination, it is usually in the more generalized sense, and not specifically about Ornithomancy.  There are a couple of references, however, that seem to be specifically about reading the flight of birds as omens of the future.

Do not curse the king, even in your thoughts,
or curse the rich, even in your bedroom;
for a bird of the air may carry your voice,
or some winged creature tell the matter.
(Ecclesiastes 10: 20)

And the Greek Septuagint translation of Leviticus 19: 26  reads,“Eat not on the mountains, nor shall ye employ auguries, nor divine by inspection of birds.”

Augury or Ornithomancy was practiced all across the ancient world – from Rome to Babylon, and it shouldn’t surprise us that it shows up, at least a little bit, in the bible.

In addition to Ornithomancy, the bible refers to the obscure practice of Lecanomancy - which is divination by reading patterns observed in oil floating on the surface of water in a bowl or dish.  Joseph seems to have used this form of divination. (Genesis 44: 4, 15)  And King Nebuchadnezzar used Belomancy - divination using arrows to predict the future. (Ezekiel 21: 21)

Of Wars Worse than Civil Wars

Of wars across Emathian plains, worse than civil wars,
and of legality conferred on crime we sing, and of a mighty people
attacking its own guts with victorious sword-hand,
of kin facing kin, and, once the pact of tyranny was broken,
of conflict waged with all the forces of the shaken world
for universal guilt, and of standards ranged in enmity against
standards, of eagles matched and javelins threatening javelins.

-Lucan, Pharsalia 1. 1 - 7

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Messianic Themes in The Aeneid and the Ancient World

I have challenged myself this year to read (or re-read) several of the classics of western civilization.  I have already read The Iliad and The Odyssey and have written a little bit about each of them.  I am currently working my way through The Aneid by the Roman poet, Virgil. 

Virgil’s Aeneid was written during a time of political and social upheaval; everything was in flux and flummox.  The Roman republic had fallen, Rome had just come through an extended period of civil war – or rather wars.   The Aeneid was written to legitimize and validate the rule of Julius Caesar and, by extension, his adopted-son (and grand-nephew)  Augustus who, it was expected, would bring back the traditional Roman values (highlighted in Virgil’s epic poem) and restore peace and prosperity.

Virgil thought very highly of Augustus - describing him in the fourth of his Eclogues (poems written somewhere between 44 and 38 BCE) in terms that will seem familiar to Christians:
The firstborn of the New Ages is already on his way from high heaven down to earthWith him, the Iron Age shall end and Golden Man inherit all the world.Smile on the Baby’s birth, immaculate Lucina [goddess of childbirth];your own Apollo is enthroned at last.

 In 9 BCE (a few years after Virgil’s work) an inscription from the Provincial Assembly of Asia announced the rule of Augustus in even more explicitly messianic terms: 
The most divine Caesar…we should consider equal to the Beginning of all things…; for when everything was falling [into disorder] and tending toward dissolution, he restored it once more and gave to the whole world a new aura; Caesar…the common good Fortune of all… The beginning of life and vitality… All the cities unanimously adopt the birthday of the divine Caesar as their new beginning of the year… Whereas Providence, which has regulated our whole existence…has brought our life to the climax of perfection in giving to us [the emperor] Augustus, whom it [Providence] filled with strength for the welfare of men, and who being sent to us and our descendants as Savior, has put an end to war and has set all things in order, and [whereas] having become [god] manifest, Caesar has fulfilled all the hopes of earlier times…in surpassing all the benefactors who preceded him…, and whereas, finally, the birthday of the god [Augustus] has been for the whole world the beginning of good news (evangelion) concerning him [therefore let a new era begin from his birth]. (OGIS 2.#458)

 Back to Virgil - in the first book of his Aeneid he describes Jove (Zeus in Greek mythology) unrolling the scroll of fate in order to reveal to Venus (Aphrodite in Greek mythology) the fate of her son, Aeneas.  He would endure many trials and difficulties, but would eventually become the ancestor of the Roman people (and specifically of Julius and Augustus…). In his revelation to Venus, Jove says: 
On them [the Romans] I set no limits, space or time:
I have granted them power, empire without end. (1. 333 – 334)

Which brought to my mind two things from the Hebrew/Christian scriptures.  First, in the New Testament book “The Acts of the Apostles” we find the apostle Paul speaking to the philosophers of Athens at the Areopagus:
The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us.  (NRSV Acts 17: 24 – 27)

 It also brings to mind the promises God made to David for a never ending dynasty: 
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Samuel 7: 12 – 13)

 These Messianic expressions and expectations were familiar across the ancient world.  Christians reading the New Testament should not be threatened by these similarities; they are part of the context and culture of the world in which those scriptures were written.  These familiar messianic expectations and expressions even helped to shape and form those New Testament descriptions of the God/Man Jesus of Nazareth.

Nothing to Lose but your Banjo

My wife will not allow me to purchase a banjo.  She says that if I get a banjo then I'll insist on playing it.  And she's right.

Here is a song about banjos that includes no actual banjos.

In addition to the material that I recorded, I used a few sounds from the Freesound Project:

M30 Pad 
Scratching Beep
Reverse Opera Rough and Glitchy - I have used this sound before.
Jsyd Windpluck 
Nothing to Lose Noise
Nothing to Lose Noise 2

Monday, January 26, 2015

Transform the Apocalypse (A Nonsense Song)

Sing to me of the twisted man
     the man who’s half alive.
The Queen of England is in the hive;
     she’s reading the Quran.

Francis knows how the heretics
     are going to respond;
they’ll destroy a chemical bond
    and beat us all with sticks.

But if God will bless
and prosper us
we’ll transform
the Apocalypse
into something we can use.

The dragon and his rich cronies
     have never read Camus.
His scaly skin is iron blue,
     they’re actors and phonies.

He makes his bold accusations
     to provoke a cold war;
he’s using uranium ore
     to buy wealthy nations.

But if God will bless
and prosper us
we’ll transform
the Apocalypse
into something we can use.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Biblical Limericks: Eating Food Offered to Idols

Of course it is true that the idols
are not gods and can’t be God’s rivals,
but there are some who think
that to take food or drink
offered them would be suicidal.

So hear me now, and this is vital,
don’t let your freedom break the idyll;
don’t swell with arrogance
and wound the weak conscience -  
you’re free, but let love be your bridle.

1 Corinthians 8: 1 - 13

Background Images for Everyone - 2015 - Week 5

Once a week I post a newly created free background image - it's yours if you want it.   Use it where and how you will - I only ask that you share it freely and that you tell others that you found it here.

This silvery landscape was created by photographing a sheet of aluminum foil (covering some cookies that my wife made) and in the distance is our living room window; the couch cushions become an ominous mountain range.

 photo Week5_zps65535e7a.jpg

Saturday, January 24, 2015

40 Year Old Selfie

I don't take selfies very often, but hey... one only turns 40 once. (Yes.  It is my birthday.  Don't tell anyone.)

Virgil Reveals My Future

Did you know – as I did not, until recently – that the writings of the Roman poet, Virgil, were often used in the past as a tool for prognostication, a form of bibliomancy.  People would open his books to a random page and take a passage to divine the future.
So, since today is something of an auspicious day (my 40th birthday and all…) I’m going to see what Virgil predicts for me in this coming year:

I have opened my copy of The Aeneid at random to page 265 and I find:

The roads resounded with joy, revelry, clapping hands,
with bands of matrons in every temple, altars in each
and the ground before them strewn with slaughtered steers.
8: 840 – 842

Well, that sounds pretty good…

Friday, January 23, 2015

Red Rosette

It's the bottom of an ordinary red glass vase - manipulated very slightly in photoshop to give it a more 'painted' appearance.

Photograph Red Rosette by Jeff Carter on 500px

10, 100, 1,000 Tongues

I have made it a challenge to myself this year to read (and in some few cases) re-read the classics of western civilization.  So far I’ve read The Iliad and The Odyssey and I have just begun The Aeneid, and already I have begun noticing connections between them and to other works of literature (which just means that my reading list continues to expand.)

Here’s something I thought of today.

In The Iliad when Homer (or the narrator) launches into a 250 line catalog of the many ships and heroes that set out for Troy:

“But should I seek the multitude to name,
Not if ten tongues were mine, ten mouths to speak,
Voice inexhaustible, and heart of brass,
Should I succeed, unless, Olympian maids,
The progeny of aegis-bearing Jove,
Ye should their names record, who came to Troy.” The Iliad 2: 484 - 492

In The Aneid during Aeneas’ journey through the underworld the Sibyl describes the various kinds and types of sinners:

“No, not if I had a hundred tongues and a hundred mouths
and a voice of iron too – I could never capture
all the crimes or run through all the torments,
doom by doom.” The Aeneid 6: 724 – 727

And then I thought of Charles Wesley’s hymn:

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

If only he would have included a reference to mouths and some sort of metal (brass / iron) this would have been perfect.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

(Not-So) Biblical Limericks: His Wonders To Perform

Though you should read the Bible for days
you will not find that popular phrase,
and I want it noted -
the Bible’s misquoted:
The Lord works in mysterious ways…

It's not in the Bible.  It comes from the pen of hymn writer, William Cowper.

Glassware and Lights

Light reflected through several pieces of glassware -

Photograph Glassware by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Glassware by Jeff Carter on 500px

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

White Rabbit Asylum

I have mentioned on several occasions that I contribute sound recordings to The Freesound Project.  This material is sometimes used by other artists in their work.  Recently SFXNinja used a few of my sounds in piece of music entitled White Rabbit Asylum.  
"Why don't we begin?"

In Silence

Behind the electrical hum
of fluorescent bulbs and
radio static is silence;
I’m listening for salvation

like a toppled wall,
a battered fence,

I am a breath, an illusion,
something  even lighter
than a breath

I heard you once,
twice, I’m sure of it

(based, somewhat, on Psalm 62)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

They Say / I Say

I am now in my second semester of being a college student – again.  This semester I am taking another writing class – ENG COMP II.  Our text for this class is a handy little primer entitled They Say / I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing. 

The authors of this text present writing as a conversational act. No one writes in a vacuum; we write in response to others. We agree, or disagree, or both.  We modify what others have said, correct them, and elaborate their message. And others, in turn, write in response to us and the conversation continues.

The book provides a number of “templates” or formulas – a sort of literary training wheel for the novice writer – to help the beginner enter into the conversation and to understand how the form of the writing can shape the content of the writing. 

I like the concept.  I appreciate the templates, but it all feels rather remedial to me.  Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up reading the gospels, and hearing the gospels read, - reading and hearing Jesus say:

“You have heard that it was said… but I say…”

What I’m Reading: The Odyssey

This year I’m making it a point to read through several of the classics of western civilization.  I starting with The Iliad, earlier this year, and now I've finished The Odyssey.  Next I’ll move from Homer to Virgil and read The Aeneid, and then I'll move on to Pharsalia by the Roman poet, Lucan.

Of the two works by Homer, I preferred The Iliad over The Odyssey.   This preference may, in part, be for the translations.  The translation of The Odyssey by Robert Fagles seemed less lively, less vigorous than The Iliad as translated by Stephen Mitchell, but I also think it was a matter of the story telling itself.

The Iliad was very immediate, in the gory visceral now while in The Odyssey much of the action is recounted for us at a distance, second hand.  We don’t get to experience the siren’s song, or the strange lethargy of the Lotus eaters.  We don’t see Scylla or Charybdis.  Homer has Odysseus tells us about them – and briefly at that. Homer has Odysseus give us the summary version of these exciting encounters.  All of which breaks the first rule of storytelling: show – don’t tell.

And then after his circuitous journey from Troy back to Ithaca, Odysseus has to deal with the many rude and vulgar suitors who have taken up camp in his home, trying to steal his wife.  This second half of the story neatly balances out the travelogue of the first half – but there’s a lot less happening here.  Odysseus talks and talks and talks until he finally gets around to slaughtering the suitors. 

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading The Odyssey; I did.  But I don’t find it quite as compelling as The Iliad.  Still, there’s a reason that it is part of our cultural heritage, why it hasn’t faded from memory.  It’s a great story.  

Dr. Tarrec's Preliminary Notes on the Alchemical Journal of Dr. Naberius

If we ask what unremembered objects are to be protected by carved stone gargoyles the answer is not as simple as one might imagine.  Yet one thing stands out proximately in the dark litter strewn alleys – the discovery of a journal that will change everything; a record of the visions of a madman, the diary of a contemporary prophet, the collected writings of a master-power mystic who will renew the vigor and grace of this modern age. 

We ourselves have heard the mysterious, thunderous sounds being reported across the United States, from east Texas to North Carolina, from California to Indiana.  The media describes this a USN phenomenon – that is, an Unidentified Strange Noise phenomenon, which is to say, they do not know what these booms represent.  But we who have read the hidden journal, and have deciphered its coded pages, and understood its puzzles, know and can say what these strong vibrations and reverberations portend.

The gargoyles have kept their secrets for thousands of years, so shall we keep ours.  Someone, somebody touched me like fingers on flesh.  My arm is upraised against a fierce wind.

Three wicked generations of exactly(!) 40 years are given in the Holy Scriptures, three generations to be sprinkled with hyssop.  The first saw streams of water turn to thickened blood and died in the desert.  The second received their reward, but were too nervous by what they saw to unpack the boxes.  And the third (may God preserve us for even reciting the horror) includes a tragic, unhappy girl and you – you snakes, you brood of vipers.

After what happened in the house, the worst thing would be to rush.  Be sure that you are seeing what you think you are seeing.

Sunset of 20 September, 1988 saw busted sewer lines inside a secret room.  There were many flies and the Lord of the Flies also.  Thus, when many Americans were celebrating that great president, Ronald Reagan and the peace and safety that he brought, sudden destruction came upon them all.  World War III and IV at Armageddon, and none could escape.

Some may try to assert that this is merely an exercise of the imagination, and a fevered, frenzied imagination at that.  A trial will demonstrate the ridiculous nature of this claim.  Let the neophyte imagine himself as dead, leaving behind a physical body of some sort, then speak to us again.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Background Images for Everyone - 2015 - Week 4

Here is this week's free background image.  You know the rules: use it where and how you like, share it freely, and tell others you found it here.

This image is composed of two close ups- above: plastic speaker grill, and below: a beaded chain wrapped around my finger.

 photo Week4_zps3eca8178.jpg

The Believer as a Skeptic

Skepticism is usually discouraged within the Christian community.  Believers are encouraged to be… well, believers.  Questions are often discouraged. Questioning authority is verboten.  Just have faith and believe.

But I am convinced that skepticism is a good thing, a healthy thing.  And I think that Jesus would agree.

In the lectionary reading for today (John 1: 43 – 51) Nathanael is skeptical; he does not accept Philip’s report about Jesus (Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?).  And yet, when Jesus meets Nathanael, Jesus describes him as “a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false,” even with (or maybe, because of) his skepticism.

Had American Christians been a bit more skeptical, they wouldn’t have been surprised by the announcement that Alex “the boy who came back from heaven” Malarkey lied.

Had Christians been skeptical they might not have followed William Miller out to the Great Disappointment in 1844.

If Christians used some more skepticism, they wouldn’t fall prey to pious sounding huckster, scam-vangelists, and television preachers promising wonder-working miracle prayer cloths.

Doubt is a good thing. Believers should be skeptics. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Achilles, Satan, and My Year with the Classics

Apparently this is going to be the year that I read (or in a few cases, re-read) the classics of western civilization.  Earlier this year I read, for the first time, Homer’s IliadThis prompted me to then pick up Homer’s sequel to it, The Odyssey at the public library along with the Roman poet, Virgil’s sequel The Aeneid.  And now as I’m just halfway through The Odyssey I realize I’m going to have to re-read Milton too.

The realization came to me when I read Achilles’ words to Odysseus in Hades:

“By god, I’d rather slave on earth for another man -
some dirt-poor tenant farmer who scrapes to keep alive -
than rule down here over all the breathless dead.” (The Odyssey 11. 556 -558)

and I recognized Milton’s reflection of those words put into the mouth of Satan in Paradise Lost:

“…Here at least
we shall be free; the Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
to reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.” (Paradise Lost 1.258-63)

And then I compared the opening lines of The Iliad with the opening lines of Paradise Lost:

The rage of Achilles—sing it now, goddess, sing through me
the deadly rage that caused the Achaeans such grief
and hurled down to Hades the souls of so many fighters,
leaving their naked flesh to be eaten by dogs
and carrion birds, as the will of Zeus was accomplished. (The Iliad 1. 1 – 5)

"Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat
Sing, Heavenly Muse…(Paradise Lost 1. 1 – 6)

What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?  Apparently a lot more than Tertullian was willing to allow.

So here’s the plan (so far):  I’m going to finish reading The Odyssey and then begin The Aeneid.  After that I’ll launch into Pharsalia by Lucan (also known as Civil War).  My friend, Joel Watts, and I may be collaborating on some writing about that one; Joel believes that an appreciation of Lucan can give you a better understanding of the Gospel of Mark.  After that, I’ll re-read Paradise Lost 

After that? Who knows – perhaps some Sophocles, Oedipus the King, or Antigone (which I’ve seen performed on the stage, but haven’t read…) Maybe some Aristophanes – The Frogs (Brekekekèx-koàx-koáx...) and Lysistrata, maybe? Dare I try Dante again?  I’ve started The Inferno three times…

Friday, January 16, 2015

What I’m Reading: Redneck Haiku

I found the little book Redneck Haiku by Mary K. Witte on the shelves at my local public library.  I added it to the pile of books that I borrowed, mostly on a lark.  I didn’t expect too much from it.  But since I’m reading a lot of poetry books recently, I thought I’d give it a shot.

The 100 verses collected in this brief volume explore the various stereotypes of the redneck, white-trash lifestyle:  beer, Wal-Mart, pickups, hunting, NASCAR, beer, guns, and beer…  A few of them are amusing enough to elicit a chuckle, but not many.

When Flo goes to Mom’s
    Bubba dines on canned chili,
        Pepsi, and Pop Tarts.  (page 24)

But calling them haiku is really a stretch.  They adhere to the 3 line / 17 syllable (5 – 7 – 5) formula that many of us were taught in elementary school.  But that’s not really enough to qualify a poem as a haiku.  That rule is really only the barest outline of what makes a haiku (and isn’t entirely accurate, even…) For a better sense of what makes a haiku, you would do better to read another book that I found at the public library – Writing and Enjoying Haiku: A Hands on Guide by Jane Reichhold. 

I decided that I would try to rewrite one of these redneck (not-quite)haiku – to try to make it more like an actual haiku. 

Pickup, shiny red
in Grandpa’s dim memory
now rust in tall weeds. (page 65)

This one is probably the best of them – or at least it comes closest to actually being a haiku.  It’s not perfect, but here is my reworking of those lines:

grandpa’s pickup
in weeds and rust

The Garden of Swampy Eden

In the beginning Yahweh God planted a swampy garden in Eden, and it was good, with fecund soil for every kind of tree: Royal Bald Cypresses, Red and Black Mangroves, and the Torreya Tree, that stinking yew which is a holy relic of an ancient time, even before the Ice Age, which Noah cut for gopher wood.

A river flowed from Eden to water the sawgrass marshes, and from there it diverged into four streams:  The Pishon – which is called the Fish Pond Creek – that gurgles all through the land.  The second is the Gishon, which is the Flint River, flowing through the red hills of Georgia.  The third is named the Tigris, but everyone around here calls it the Chattahoochee, and the fourth is the Spring Creek Euphrates, which empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

Yahweh God took the man and settled him in the steephead ravines of Eden to cultivate and exploit it, giving him this command: “You are free to consume all that you desire.  Devour it all, until it is gone.”

Then the man said, “It is not good that this land should go unused.  What good is it?  What benefit can be derived from it?  What profit earned?”  So he dug deep into the earth and from the soil he extracted dark coal and oil.  But still there was no energy, no power, no profit.  So in a deep and oblivious sleep the man cut down the trees and damned the rivers.  Then he built refineries and a coal fired power plant and, at last, he had power for power and wealth.  

This is why a man will leave his father and his mother and become attached to the control of affluence, and they will become one polluted flesh.

Now the man had electricity for his many electronic devices and fuel for his multiplied automobiles, and he felt no shame.  No shame at all. But the blue-black Indigo snake was subtle, the most subtle of all the animals that Yahweh God had made, but his habitat was destroyed and he died without any descendants.  He is extinct among the animals wild and tame, going down into the dust of history.

Photos from Florida Memory of the "Garden of Eden" tourist attraction and Biblical site built by E.E. Callaway.

Adam (painted man)

I've photographed this little plastic anatomy figurine that I have on several occasions.  You might think that I'd tire of it, but no. This photograph was given a painted look in photoshop. Other pictures of the same figurine are here, here, here, and here

Photograph Adam by Jeff Carter on 500px

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rosette and Dust

The window rosette engraving was cut from a book of clip art, the dust was scraped from bits of chalk, and the whole thing was photographed.

Photograph Rosette and Dust by Jeff Carter on 500px

Son of Man

Photograph Son of Man by Jeff Carter on 500px

And there I saw One who had a head of days,
And His head was white like wool,
And with Him was another being whose countenance had the appearance of a man,
And his face was full of graciousness, like one of the holy angels.

 And I asked the angel who went with me and showed me all the hidden things, concerning that Son of Man, who he was, and whence he was, (and) why he went with the Head of Days?

And he answered and said unto me:
This is the son of Man who hath righteousness,
With whom dwelleth righteousness,

And who revealeth all the treasures of that which is hidden, Because the Lord of Spirits hath chosen him, And whose lot hath the pre-eminence before the Lord of Spirits in uprightness forever

1 Enoch 46: 1 - 3

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Culvert Echoes

I took this photo on December 20, 2014.  It was a dreary December afternoon.

Photograph Culvert Echoes by Jeff Carter on 500px

Yes, Ray, What About Genocide?

Bananaman Ray Comfort has posted the following question at his blog / web site: Ray Comfort’s Daily Evidence (which seems really more of an extended advert for Evidence Bible with commentary by Comfort than an actual blog with actual content…)

What About Genocide?

To which he gives a very brief response followed by a single verse of scripture quoted without context.
“God instructed Israel to put these people to death (see Deut. 20:16–18). Skeptics often accuse God of sanctioning genocide. However, if God treated any of us according to our sins, we would not only be put to death (see Rom. 6:23), we would be justly condemned to hell. All of God’s judgments are true and righteous altogether (see Psa. 19:9). None of them are unjust, including this instruction to Israel.
Joshua 16:10 And they did not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites to this day and have become forced laborers.”

Does Ray Comfort really believe that 5 short sentences are enough to rationalize and justify biblical exhortations to genocide? 50 words (not counting the parenthetical scripture citations) to deal with the staggering problem of systematic destruction of racial, ethnic, or religious groups. 

Or is it merely a ploy to sell his so-called “Evidence” bible to the gullible and naïve?  Simplistic answers to complex problems are worse than useless, and Ray Comfort is a huckster with a shoddy product to sell.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dr. Tarrec Predicts the Last King

I was digging through the collection of papers that my friend, the increasingly opaque Dr. Tarrec, has given me.  This one struck me as particularly interesting in light of recent statements made by the on-air hosts of Fox (not really) News.

These lines are written in ink, in what appears to be Dr. Tarrec’s own handwriting, on a scrap of newspaper, in the margins of a story about the New York Yankees defeat of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series – which would, according to the internets, date this scrap of writing to 1949.


That last king at the time of the end will do exactly as he pleases, kicking tires and pushing people.  He will walk along rain puddled streets in the middle of the night, alone.  The king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, but the last king will continue to exalt himself in the blood and entrails of dead cats.  He has evolved, you see, elevated himself overall the chariots and the horsemen and ships of many nations. 

He will speak unspeakable things against our glorious, democratic society.  He will successfully (and secretly) exchange the evidences used to convict members of congress.  He will stalk apartment building hallways.  He shall stretch forth his hand into a diminishing arctic twilight.

And what can be determined from this?

He will show no regard for the precious things, for police reports or historical facts, altering the course of history to offset the effects of his own insomnia.  Even the clouds of fog will shift in his favor.  But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him.

He will destroy this country in a fit of rage because he cannot sleep.  He will destroy the foundations upon which this country was built.  He will pervert the Oxford English Dictionary, ruining its collection of thousands of obscure words.  He will rebuild Birmingham, England in his own image, by his own fear.

The last king at the time of the end will take many pills – hallucinating and babbling in public – then go forth with great fury.  Is this generation ready to face the challenge he presents?

What I’m Reading: The Iliad

I don’t know why I have waited to this point in my life to read the Greek classic The Iliad.  I think, if I’m honest, I was intimidated by it – by its reputation.  I’m a relatively bright fellow, but somewhere along the way I convinced myself that the epic poem was beyond me. Putting all that aside, I recently decided to challenge myself to finally read it.  And I have really enjoyed reading it. 

I am, of course, reading it in an English translation; I am still a bilingual illiterate (I can’t read in two languages – one of which is Homeric Greek.)  I found Stephen Mitchell’s translation at my local public library.  It is a vibrant and swift moving translation, not at all dull and stodgy like I had fearfully imagined it would be. 

The Iliad is about honor.  Its setting is the 10 year long siege of Troy, but the story itself is about honor, and the powerful motivating force of besmirched honor.  Menelaus and Agamemnon launch a thousand ships to war against Troy because of Prince Paris’ dishonorable actions.  The great warrior, Achilles, sulks in his tent while other men around him are dying in battle because of a slight to his honor by Agamemnon.  Honor – and the perception of honor – is what drives the characters in this story; they throw themselves into heroic conflict to achieve greatness and to defend their reputations and the honor of their families, and homes. 

Take that away and it all seems rather petty.  A 10 year war because Helen ran away with Paris?  Achilles refuses to join the rest of the Greeks because Agamemnon took away his prize?  The reader must be prepared to set aside modern conventions and to read the story in its own setting. 

One detail that struck me (and often) was the armor stripping.  Every time a hero (either Greek or Trojan) killed an enemy, he made a great show of stripping the armor from his defeated foe, and sometimes of desecrating the corpse (as Achilles did to Hector’s corpse by dragging it behind his chariot for several days). This act would shame his opponent and make the victory all the more glorious (or the defeat all the more shameful for the family and friends of the defeated).

Having spent much of my life reading and studying the Bible, I was curious to see how this Greek classic would compare to that great book (that great collection of books.)  The Iliad is attributed to Homer and said to have been written in the 8th century BCE – though the events that it describes occurred (whatever one thinks of its historicity) in the 12th century BCE – some four hundred years earlier.

That would compare, roughly, to a work written during the time of the Biblical kings and prophets concerning heroes during the time of the Judges (roughly).  There are a few brief flashes of similarity – I think mainly of Samson’s final prayer for his strength to be restored so that he might die an honorable death killing Philistines – but stylistically and conceptually the works are worlds apart.

The gods and goddesses of The Iliad are competitive amongst themselves and capricious in their interventions into the affairs of humans.  They are constantly flicking arrows away from their favorite soldiers, or blocking spears, or whisking wounded men away from battle.  It’s almost a wonder that the people of ancient Greece could get anything done with the constant meddling from Mount Olympus.  By way of contrast, the god of the Bible is comparatively restrained in his interruption of human affairs.  He does intervene, and miraculously, but Yahweh’s a hermetic recluse when compared to the Greek deities.

If you’re like me – somewhat intimidated by this classic of western civilization – take courage.  Be strong and noble; read the story of great men doing mighty things. Plunge yourself into a strange world where honor is praised above all else, where death is glorious on the field of battle, and the gods are fickle. 

I'm going to go on now and read The Odyssey (also by Homer) and The Aeneid (by Virgil) which are both sequels of a sort to The Iliad.  Homer's Odyssey follows Odysseus on his 10 year journey home after the end of the Trojan War, while Virgil's Aeneid tells of Aeneus' survival after the fall of Troy and his wanderings before becoming the ancestor of the Romans.

Homer. The Iliad. Trans. Stephen Mitchell. New York, NY. Free Press. 2011.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Biblical Limericks: Skeptical

Some Christians think it heretical
to express dubiousness at all,
but John’s gospel does tell
us all that Nathanael,
the True Israelite, was skeptical.

John 1:45 - 46

A Limerick for Fox News #FoxNewsFacts

Balanced and Fair’s the claim of Fox News;
better to say that Truth it eschews,
as it bends and distorts
even lies in reports -
it’s not Truth, but Fear that Fox News spews.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Dr. Tarrec's Anatomy Notes

Here is a page from the anatomy notebook belonging to my odd friend, Dr. Tarrec.  The notes in the margin are in his own scratched handwriting; they refer to the chemystical reactions of anatomical structures and their secret philosophical meanings.

Photograph Dr. Tarrec's Anatomy Notes by Jeff Carter on 500px

Background Images for Everyone - 2015 - Week 3

Here is this week's free background image, created expressly for you.  You can download it and use it in any of your projects.  I only ask that you share it freely and that you tell others that you found it here.

 photo Week3_zpsfa6546bb.jpg


Photograph Crucifix by Jeff Carter on 500px

Saturday, January 10, 2015


I wrote this poem a few years ago.  I don't remember now why I didn't post it here.  I post it now even though Ramadan, and the iftar meal will be celebrated in June - July.

After fasting, after days of self-reflection
            after prayer comes feasting,
            comes celebration.

Music plays and children laugh
as the dates are passed;
the iftar meal begins.
And father is home now.
He hugs those children
he so dearly missed.

After detention, after prison-camp interrogation
            after captivity comes release,
            comes freedom.

Unnoticed comes the bomber
with explosives strapped
to her breasts.
She exploded – ignoring the prophet’s words:
and take not life which Allah has made sacred
except by way of justice and law

After detonation, after smoke and burning rubble
            after the blast comes blood,
            comes death.

Iftar is the meal that is celebrated at the end of the days of fasting during the month of Ramadan celebrated by Muslims.  On September16, 2008 a female suicide bomber blew herself up among police officers who were celebrating the release of a friend from a U.S. detention camp.  At least 20 were killed (including the man who’d been released, his parents and his two children) and 30 were wounded.

The quotation from the Quran is found at Al-Anam 6:151

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Apocryphal Satirical Gospel of Saint Helveticus

It is only the most courageous of governors who are now taking a historically unprecedented stand against the television mind control of the President.  They are bravely looking into the flashing colored lights of that that devil face and shouting, “Fight on!” Even so, we remember less than 60 % of their number (and even fewer of their names.)  The humanist wire service rarely shows them except with their martyr mouths wide open. 

“Well, we’re right,” they insist in uncomplimentary poses.  “This is getting out of hand.”  But they are doing it, troubling themselves with the affairs of men and women when they should be closing the gates.  Dark and sinister spiritual attacks are being waged against us.  The creation of a world government appears to be unstoppable.  They have realized their vast majority and are exploiting it for their own gain, but they have no real power, only cute slogans.  Still they are shaking the world.

Listen to the quick, hard boot-heels of soldiers in the hall, clanking down the dim corridors.  These extraordinary measures have their government.  They stiffen.  They shriek.  They insert the keys into their secret surveillance equipment.  The sweat turns cold on my face to even consider it.  The very same angel of wars and contests will come down to the earth, a suggestion of this is found in the apocryphal satirical gospel of St. Helveticus.  The known number of stars in the 11th and 12th legions is unknown, but human beings may yet have a chance against death.

Liberals are little more than 32% of all atomic particles.  The so-called sexy spiritual is marked for eternal punishment.  The garish yellow and black stripes of the punishment are meted out, but taught nowhere.  This will be an advantage to major economic and political powers.  And here at last is the devil, with his abortifacients and laser gender reidentification procedures.  This is a problem for the good to solve, but the slant will always be toward the evil and the fatal.

The public remarks, recordings, and performances of the President should be taken as evidence of this evil.  He is the antithetical AntiChrist and the media is his worshipper.  The gospel will not get a second chance.  He has not been honest in any of his penny edition pronouncements.  He is over 100 years old, and as blasphemous and as vile as ever.

Ask this question:  Is the world leading our religious leaders to prefer mere modern physics over faithful interpretation?  The Communist Manifesto is still being mentioned in our public schools.  It has neither been dislodged nor discredited by the educrats who rule this nation.

The third angel pronounces doom from the stone bridge.

The elite group is already planning to create an open door for our enemies, and their “holy mother”.  They have grown up strong in the darkness.  They have grown up as cannibals.  Go through that door slowly into this strange loneliness.  The global government recognizes that it is being threatened.  When that kingdom falls, what future will it have to offer you?

I smell death.  I hear traitorous bees and their peculiar hum of insolence.  Hoist the flag.  Review the history.  See how they have turned their backs on a cowardly messiah and become the worshipper of the AntiChrist in leather and spandex costumes.  They forfeit their chance for eternal life. 

“It’s later than you thing,” Dr. Tarrec says to me as we come to the bridge.  He wipes his face and sighs.  “We can cross it, but either we or it will be destroyed.  The AntiChrist’s archers loose their arrows and the world cheers.  They are the incorrigibles of the Tribulation Period.”

There are too many possible errors in this unscientific thinking.  While he is living all quantum theories will be made inelegant and powerless – but the liberal media will not report it for they have become faithful worshippers of that tyrant at the end of days.

Swarm of Angry Insects

Photograph Swarm of Angry Insects by Jeff Carter on 500px

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Biblical Limericks: A Tortured Knowledge of God #CIATorture

American torture has persisted
because few Christians have resisted -
they still defend its use
and accept the abuse
for their knowledge of God is twisted.

“Torture” comes from the Latin word tortus, past participle of torquēre to twist.

Biblical Limericks: Remember the Tortured #CIATorture

Do not forget those who have been thrust
in secret prisons, tied up and trussed.
Their pains we remember
as dealt to our members;
their torturers are abusing us.

Hebrews 13: 3

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What the Star Left Behind

Brand new music for you to enjoy.

Thatjeffcarter Was Here
What the Star Left Behind

In addition to the material I recorded for this album, I also used the following sounds from the Freesound Project: 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

His Last Words Were Good Ones

I wrote, back in November, about my friend D. and his harmonica, and his cancer. Then it seemed that things were going well for D.  He'd been through chemo therapy, and by all indications (at least those he shared with us) he was getting better.  He looked better, had energy, and was gaining back the weight and color he'd lost during treatment. Things were looking up.

Then - in December - we were told that all that was for naught; the cancer had not shrunk, had in fact continue to spread during his treatment, and that he was being put into hospice care with the expectation that he would have six months to a year to live.

But D. didn't even have that.  He passed away yesterday afternoon.  He told W. his wife that he loved her, and went out the door to drive their son across town for an errand. Before he could get into their van, he fell over into the snow and was dead before the ambulances arrived for him.

D. was a man of few words, but his last ones were good ones.

Ruby Light and Fire

In the repeated dreams of his childhood he saw the nightfall between worlds, a place of pain, and there in the darkness - an upraised knife.  Was it fear? Was it paranoia even then?  This was time and that was the place to overreact, but his slumber was never disturbed.

Now he lives in a small community of broken down cars.  Time is strange in these mountains; phones are inconsistent.  Emergency vehicles are seen in the streets, but never arrive.  He is alone in the woods when the thunder breaks and he counts it a miracle.  “The storm is following me,” he thinks.  And even though some of his blood is spilled upon the rocks, he is not a stranger to the rain.

A story of danger? Perhaps, but he has an amazing view here.  There is a glimmer of jealous recognition. Power.  Magic. Is it a debate or a seduction?  Don’t look at the camera.  

He hikes the steep switchback curves down the curve of her back.  The mountains shake in fire and flashlights.  It is magnificent when she breathes. Unique.  Ruby light and fire on her mountains. He will die beneath those peaks.

The daughters of the mountain spirit, witches of a winged worm hunt for him in the darkness.  If he had a dagger with a blade of silver he could perhaps resist them.  There are no answers in the warm body of the fire opal, no explanations. Something is happening here, something fearful.  An embrace and all is ended.

Monday, January 5, 2015

One for the Last Day of Christmas

Creating the Universe in My Backyard

It was snowing this evening, blizzard conditions across much of the state.  So I did what any normal person would do.  I created the universe in my backyard.

And I did it all with my camera, a lamp, and a fog machine.

Photograph Creating the Universe in My Backyard by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Creating the Universe in My Backyard by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Creating the Universe in My Backyard by Jeff Carter on 500px

The Baptism of Jesus

…at the moment Jesus was coming up out of the water
he saw heaven being torn apart…
       Mark 1: 10

A jagged gash in the sublunary world
heaven and earth ripped wide
A flood bleeding through the ragged wound

Judean cliffs of ancient stone
crumple and collapse upon
the panicked crowd gathered at the water’s edge

Great armored locusts
with claws and silver fangs
swarm in the billowing dust

A lion with blood-matted mane
leaps into the sky
and swallows the sun

There is no light
darkness comes
the final night


An exhalation
sweeping wings descend
a dove – a voice

“You are my son
my only son
my beloved”

Jesus rises from the Jordan
wipes the water from his face
and sees the world

It is Late - You Must Run

It is late, already close to midnight – but you must run.  Run quickly, for you are being followed by a familiar stranger.  Run through the eclipse.  Run through all airport delays.  The car and your driver are waiting, but they will not wait long.  It is imperative that you run.  People make mistakes; it happens.  But run.

There are messages in the mirror from Apollyon, hidden from the White House and the NSA, unreadable by the Agency or the FBI.  The messages will be difficult to read, I know, filled as they are with irregularly conjugated verbs and the conjunction of planets, a strange concatenated string of numbers – the numbers are not hidden.  This place is an astronomer’s dream.  Remember: It is an alignment, not a collision.  We hope.  An alignment within the constellation of Cassandra.  There will be much rejoicing among the stars tonight.

The precise reflections of negligent regional managers will not be visible.  They watch without empathetic regard - too many horror stories in the papers and on the news.  There are a lot of weirdoes out there – cultists and covens and the like.  Even so, a stellar event of this magnitude could only be hidden from the public by political manipulation on a grand scale.  Where is the Brotherhood of Games in all of this?  Where is the expected report from Dr. Tarrec?  The rising star will come to power, exterminating any and all who oppose him, just like King David once did.

King Umberto I has summoned the disciples of the watch. The thick metallic smell of blood is in the air.   The watchers have fallen.  Abaddon and Abandon are moving too.  It is very late, as I said, already after midnight.  You must run.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Dream As You Will, the Windows Are Closed

We must now consider the blasphemous teachings of Mary Katherine M. who predicted, among other things, the coming of an unstoppable Russian-Arab invasion of the British Isles, and a monkey army laying waste to the English countryside.  She was conceited enough to claim that she could speak to and control various breeds of dogs.  She added that her own special man-child would crash political parties and photograph strange suicides.  Could he be the great Gogmagog! of old?

Many Islamic states resist the identification, but still the question persists. 

Did she use drugs?  Her new religion forbids them, of course, but the question is urgent, something about a hospital.  Get on with it!  Say what you have to say. A comet rips the sky and you and I will surely die. Many have already demanded that she, or her special man-child, should wrest control of the White House from the old city of Jezreel.  The son of the Devil has already killed, and he will kill again, an endless conflict for the will and souls of the people of the world.  What do you want with the son of Thorns?  What do you know about his son?

Isis radiation will be emitted from Megiddo, from across a longer range, and will be contained within a smaller warhead – either conventional-biological, or some sort of futuristic tactical nuclear warhead.  How many of these self-styled apocalypse artists, with their compulsive eating and drinking habits and their drug problems, will be smuggled into this galaxy? Space is already filled with their detritus.

And this is the result of an ill omen.

We are in constant motion, rotating just above absolute zero (-270° C or -455° F) at the edge of Abaddon.  The orbital motion of the moon should be constantly confirmed, lest it begin to drift into apostasy.  The Isis radiation of the moon would protect us from the man-child’s fires, but the Russians and the Arabs are already using pulsars against the Israelis – they have been using them for the past 100 years.  The rapacious demagogues of Russia will strangle even their own mothers in order to keep their plans in motion. 

Send for the doctor! We are nearing national suicide, something about the newspapers.

The man-child, the Thorn-son represents something else entirely – something connected to the dreams of his father.  He has supplied armaments and armor around the globe for the past three decades.  He keeps an attack dog in the hallway.  A nuclear warhead attack dog.  In turn, the Iraqis have provided the Russians with oil and hard currency.  German engineers will come in the morning to collect the dog, and they will retrofit him with missiles and a dramatically increased range – from 450 to 1,000 miles, even enough to bring down the sun and moon if necessary.

Dream as you will, the windows are closed.

(just a bit of nonsense)

A Ghazal for a King

When those strange and exotically clad kings
came with naïve questions to great Herod king

asking, “Where is the newly born
bright star heralded young lad king?”

they shook and frightened the dark city
that feared and despised the old mad king,

but the soldiers did exactly as they were told -
following orders, even those of a bad king.

Now I ask you, Carter, tell me:
how does this serve Heaven’s glad king?

I'm trying out a new poetic form here (I think i'm growing tired of limericks, at least for awhile).  The Ghazal is an ancient form of poem from Persia / Iran /India.  It is marked by five to fifteen couplets, the first establishing a pattern and refrain which the following couplets echo in the second line.  The final couplet also usually includes a reference to the poet's name either in the first or third person.  The Ghazal usually deals with love and loss and melancholy and theological and metaphysical questions.  This is my first attempt at a Ghazal.   

Background Images for Everyone - 2015 - Week 2

Here again is your weekly free background image.  You are free to use this in presentations, projects, and projections of all kinds. Use it where and how you will.  I only ask that you share it freely and that you tell others that you found it here.

If you're interested to know such things (and even if you are not) this image is composed of two separate photographs:  on the left - a shot of condensation on a plastic cup, and on the right - the gold foil wrapper from a chocolate bar with light filtered through a red glass bowl.

 photo week2_zps14d38428.jpg

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Nostalgia in the Twilight Zone

“There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man.  It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity.  It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination.  It is an area which we call The Twilight Zone.”

I suppose that it will happen to me eventually – I’ll become one of those old folks who mutter about how things were better “back in my day,” back in the good old days.  I hope that it doesn’t. I don’t want to be one of those people.  I’ve never really been fond of wistful nostalgia at the expense of the present.

And it does no good to try to correct those who are pining for the days of their youth, when music was better, and kids knew how to appreciate things, and schools were better and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  If their eyes have already glazed over from looking back into the dimmed past, no examples of civil unrest and rampant injustice will be enough to show them that the good old days weren’t really so great.

And yet...

I have recently been watching the old episodes of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone (I am most of the way through season one now…) and I am somewhat surprised at how frequently nostalgia is the theme of these episodes.  Those who now sigh and pine for the good old days back in the 1950s and early 60s before everything went crazy must forget that even then people were looking back with hazy eyes to a past that was remembered more fondly than the present.

I’ve not made a complete study of the theme – I’ve not even finished watching through the first season – but I can already make a list of several episodes looking back to the past with longing, enough to suggest that I may be on to something here:

16mm Shrine (first aired October 23, 1959)
Walking Distance (first aired October 30, 1959)
Elegy (first aired February 19, 1960)
A Stop at Willoughby (first aired May 6, 1960)
Once Upon a Time (first aired December 15, 1961)
Kick the Can  (first aired February 9, 1962)
Young Man's Fancy (first aired May 11, 1962)

EDIT - I'm updating this list as I discover more to add to it. -tjc
Static  (first aired March 10, 1961)

And, if I can be allowed to expand upon my original thesis here, I might also include Ray Bradbury’s book The Martian Chronicles (1950) in which nostalgia for the halcyon days of the 1920s and 30s plays an important part, suggests that even in the allegedly good old days, people were longing for the even further removed good old days of the further distant past.

Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
Ecclesiastes 7: 10

Jeff Carter's books on Goodreads
Muted Hosannas Muted Hosannas
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