Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bird Watching

I think the Black Capped Chickadee is one of the smarter birds. Of all the birds that visit the various feeding stations placed about the yard, I believe they’ve actually made the connection between the human presence and the seemingly endless supply of black oil sunflower seeds. All of the other creatures, birds, squirrels and chipmunks mainly, scatter whenever a human is in sight. Not those Chickadees, though. They’re not afraid. They’ll sit right there on a nearby branch or on the woodshed and wait until a feeder has been replenished, sometimes moving in before all three are topped up, then swoop in, grab a seed and take it to a place, like the crook of a sumac tree, where they can crack it open and eat it. Those birds are brave little things; and curious, too.

They sometimes venture up to the deck, perch in the vines, on the railing or explore the various potted plants. Occasionally, one of these astute little birds will notice the greenery inside behind the patio door. These are the times when the cats settle in for some entertainment. The cats know they can’t actually catch a bird through the glass, so they just practice their posturing, crouching, tail swishing, ear flattening and make gentile chattering noises. Only if a bird gets too close will they spring and slap the glass with a thump and drive the bird away. But, like I said, those Chickadees are quick to catch on, and soon enough, if they’re still interested, they come back for another look. It’s great fun for the cats and keeps them thinking about something other than food. At least for a while anyway.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Religion Is Vapor

I have always been amazed at the discourse, between individuals, groups and nations, over religious beliefs. These beliefs are, after all, just that, beliefs; something that subscribers and followers hold in their mind, for whatever reason.

If someone told a story about a magic bird that lived in the forest, and said that this bird could perform some fantastic feats, represented a code of behavior and if you held the image and belief of this bird dearly, when you died you would go to the nest of this bird and be processed into the secret afterlife forever in peace, but could not provide you with any evidence of the bird’s existence, except for the unsubstantiated testimony of others who believed in the bird, it would be up to you, as a leap of faith, whether or not you chose to believe in the bird. To me, this is the same as religion.

Religion is pretty much based on things that can’t be proven. That’s not to say, that the teachings, the tenants of a given religion can’t be proven, for we all know that if we spread goodwill toward our fellow man, we shall reap the spiritual rewards of peace of mind. It’s not the philosophical points of any religion that are questionable; it’s the inability to attribute the specific “key to the soul of mankind” to any given sect or denomination.

I know a man who strongly believes that because he is a devout Catholic he is going to Heaven and those non-Catholics, even though they may be devout in another faith, are not. I suggested that a Buddhist, who believes something entirely different, may not subscribe to the Catholic concept, and would therefore not be subject to an alternative belief of what may or may not happen in the afterlife. The man’s response was swift and absolute, befitting the Inquisition, the Crusades, and other demonstrations of force, slaughter and intolerance in the name of religion, insisting that the Buddhist would not be joining him in Heaven.

Why does this kind of conflict occur? Why are people who are supposed to be followers of a belief that holds at it’s base the doing of good, so closed minded and intolerant of the religious views of a fellow human? Is it because of the fragile grasp those believers have on their own faith? Do they dare not look at their religious beliefs as just that, what they believe? The act of faith, or belief in something, is for one’s own. Faith in whatever gives a person spiritual comfort is whatever it is to that individual. The fact that a group of people believe and take comfort in the same way, makes for an even broader level of comfort, knowing that others, your family, your neighbors, your fellow citizens, believe as you and provide a common bond, no matter if you differ in other ways.

Still, the crux of the matter is the fact that religion and the acceptance of whatever particulars are attributed to that given belief resides in the mind of the believer. Faith is philosophical, not scientific. Although, it is true that Jesus, Mohamed, Buddha and others actually lived and spoke words of how humans should conduct their lives, there is no proof that any one of them is the only correct source of the word of God, Infinite Wisdom, The Supreme Power, or whatever one believes is the omnipresent spiritual force of the Universe.

Why can’t people just hold their religious beliefs and be happy about it. Why must they try to spread their influence, make the heathens or the infidels see that theirs is the only true way? Is killing over a religious view justifiable in any organized faith? No religion or design of spiritual goodness embraces or condones violence, inflicting harm on non-believers, or forcing others to see their light. Have we learned nothing over the hundreds of years since the Spanish used the pretense of the religious righteousness and manifested the Inquisition for political power and monetary gain?

Hopefully, we humans (all of us with the same physical evidence that we are equally human and all stranded on this planet as Earthlings, not divided by ethnic characteristics or artificial boundaries drawn on a map by governing bodies that only came about through war or lineage) can learn individually to be tolerant of others, to accept another human for what he or she is, and in turn share this grace with others who would believe as we might, and eventually come to realize that fighting over something in our heads is a sin and would not please God or the magic bird.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Haunting Images

I'm sure I've seen other images that made me feel sad or alarmed, or both, in the past, but I can't think of any right now. The pictures of pelicans covered in oil come to mind many times in a day, with no effort, no provocation. Those images just pop up, never to be forgotten.

And, after the sadness over the suffering of beautiful and innocent creatures, comes the frustration. I ask, "How much oil must there be, in order to coat and kill a brown pelican?" I figure there's a lot and more coming every day, enough to fill up your entire house, no matter how big it is, in a matter of minutes and destroy eveything in it and render it useless and unable to be lived in ever again.

How long can the oil flow? In the backs of our minds we figure somehow someone will figure out a way to stop it. If we didn't hold on to that hope, we wouldn't sleep. But, what if it isn't stopped in a few weeks, or another month. How will we feel then? Some of us will have to quit thinking about it, in an attempt to stop feeling so helpless. Some of us will write checks, offer to volunteer, hoping that our generosity does more than curb our guilt.

I can't help think that back in the 70's, while I waited in line at the gas station, someone knew of the potential for the kind of disaster that is fouling the water in Gulf Of Mexico, killing and possibly causing the extinction of native plants and animals, putting people out of work and making them sick.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

Okay, I finally decided that I needed a weblog, which sounds much nicer than blog, but everyone seems to have skipped over weblog and just uses blog. So, in the future, just to make sure everyone knows what I'm talking about, I too will refer to it as my blog.

Spring has sprung and with that I feel like stretching out, exploring some new avenues, flexing.

A year or so ago, someone asked me what I did. I figured we had a few minutes, so I started telling all the things I do - playing music (tenor sax, electric and classical guitar, keyboard, bass), recording music (arrangements of tunes I like and original compositions), writing (short stories, accounts of travels and experiences, fiction and non-fiction). photography (mostly artistic, still life, travel, some commercial work).

At that point, even though I wasn't finished, I could feel he needed a moment to let it sink in.
"Wow!" he said. "You're a modern day Renaissance Man."
I took it as a great compliment.

I will share some of what I create here.