Tag Archives: Facebook

Counting Down to 62, and thinking back.

If I could collect the money I am vested in for Social Security because of having made the payments necessary to be permanently vested then I would be 62 years old. It would not be a lot and it would be much better if I had a good job and was earning more FICA credits, but there is no reason to hop that anything in my life will improve before 62. If I can survive till 62 then I can perhaps hope for some meager harvest of the crops sown in my still meager but much better days from 1979 to 1995 when I paid the most FICA and the years from 1995 to 2005 when I paid some.  But if I had to guess I think my death benefit will be all I ever collect. Nine years is a long time in a life where things almost always get worse. But this post at 53 is not about looking forward but rather about looking back about nostalgia.

Today I was helping a friend set up a Facebook page for the Table Tennis operation which he feels passionately about. He is quite a bit older than I am and table tennis keeps him in shape and engaged with other people and he finds a way to make a few bucks off the sport as well. Once upon a time I played a bit of the sport but that was a long time ago.  I have little nostalgia about those days but not very much because there are so many other things to be nostalgic about. There are many songs about nostalgia or expressing nostalgia in American popular culture but one of the ones that stands out for me is Glory Days, by Bruce Springsteen. Here are a few lyrics:

I had a friend was a big baseball player
Back in high school
He could throw that speedball by you
Make you look like a fool boy
Saw him the other night at this roadside bar
I was walking in, he was walking out
We went back inside sat down had a few drinks
But all he kept talking about was:
Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days

I suppose that my friend and I have discussed his path through life and his past quite a bit — although we have never shared a beer over it . His journey was accompanied by different music than the Boss’s most of the time. Although I fancy he knows Springsteen a bit. But He is still fortunate to be more involved in many of the pursuits of his  youth than some people — like me for instance  — generally are at an earlier age.

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Rocky Russo remembers the glory days of his life as an outdoorsman and hunter with these photographs.

I was never a Bruce Beast as a few of my friends self described themselves, but I was a the owner of a few albums that I enjoyed listening to. One of Bruce Springsteen’s songs that I liked was Glory Days. For those who want to see a video it should be available here.

Nostalgia takes many forms. Looking back in times takes a different tone because of why one is looking back, what one is looking back at and how one is  looking back at the past.  The

My first cousin once removed, Charles William Massie III died this July.  Among other things he and my Dad cut and suctioned my snake bite and tourniqueted my leg and helped rush me to the hospital. He also helped me wash an eye popping out of my head from an allergic reaction and helped rush me to the hospital again a few years later.  He had a longer obituary in the Abbeville Meridional but here is a link to his obituary at the funeral home where I attended his wake. Big Billy and I shared many experiences outdoors and indoors, hunting, religious and familial over my whole life. Yet we were not that close when he died.

I am entirely sure that life will hold a few surprises in each day that I continue to live and breathe. But this year I have run into a number of women with whom I spent some time many years ago and we have had fairly decent visits,. I am made aware of how much my life is about limits and impossibilities compared to the years in the past when there was more hope and I think some of them are reminded of times when they found social life a bit more exciting than they do today. But perhaps our exchanges are not all that close to the one described in the next part of Glory Days.

Well there’s a girl that lives up the block
Back in school she could turn all the boy’s heads
Sometimes on a Friday I’ll stop by
And have a few drinks after she put her kids to bed
Her and her husband Bobby well they split up
I guess it’s two years gone by now
We just sit around talking about the old times,
She says when she feels like crying
She starts laughing thinking about
Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days

In this year and many years ( twelve to be exact) I have not had any kind of regular girlfriend and the general trend in my life has been towards ever greater isolation of all kinds since I got back from China in 2005. Before China I had been increasingly isolated every year since 1995. So China was just an island of intense social and occupational engagement. But in the years from 1995 to 2004 I wrote for newspapers and taught in public schools as a substitute — recent years have not had those kinds of public engagement for pay. My  Dad has been in the mode of trying to retire more and more and discusses his declining ability to pursue some of his outdoor hobbies. I think of  the next lyrics in Glory Days when I think of talking with him.  Although few of the facts are similar still I empathize with the narrator’s connection of nostalgia across generations. It is something that as it grows in us connects us to older generations.

My old man worked twenty years on the line
And they let him go
Now everywhere he goes out looking for work
They just tell him that he’s too old
I was nine years old and he was working at the
Metuchen Ford plant assembly line
Now he just sits on a stool down at the Legion hall
But I can tell what’s on his mind
Glory days yeah goin back
Glory days aw he ain’t never had
Glory days, glory days

This year and part of the past one have formed a unit as I have been back in Abbeville and living in my grandparents old house and trying to get the grounds back in shape with limited time, energy and resources. Eve the resources to put photographs of the glory days of that house and its occupants seem to be in short supply.  But it is a place of nostalgia. This is the year not of the great parties or the family trip to Sea Island,  Georgia but the  trip to local sites during the greatest flood in memory with an open would wrapped in plastic, a ruined cell phone. The year when one of the highest sites in the parish which did not flood still held a lot of water because I had not yet removed the fallen ceiling and caused me to loose even more equipments and supplies than I would have lost just from the torrential rain damage itself . The glory days of the house were definitely in the past despite it being a high and dry place.  Flood damage came too in the form of cars parking to escape the flood and trying to leave when it was too wet. Flood damage came in opportunities lost when I had just started to find a few after moving in and in time and cost of donated labor treating flood related  injuries and buying cleaning supplies. There were other things too but compared to many others we had nothing worth noticing.

 

The truth is that this year, although I have spent time with family I have spent a good bit of time with two old friends named Philippe and Jude. I don’t give their last names and a great deal of what we talk about is better times in the past. Though we have known each other those were not mostly times spent together so the stories are new  — we are not exactly the same age — but all count Abbeville as our hometown. We rarely drink much together but on occasion Jude and I share a drink. We do smoke together, a much despised habit and one that never held me really in a habituated position until recently.  But we have a few places we occasionally go whether drinking or not. and we are nostalgic together there more often than not.
Now I think I’m going down to the well tonight
And I’m going to drink till I get my fill
And I hope when I get old I don’t sit around thinking about it
But I probably will
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
A little of the glory of, well time slips away
And leaves you with nothing mister but
Boring stories of glory days
Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days
Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days

 

 

One of the places we have been is Twin Peaks in Lafayette. There the waitresses (Katelyn and Leah in these pictures) have less nostalgia and lives more directed to the future. Of course they are cute too and since I cannot afford to do much or go anywhere very often I don’t worry much about the higher than normal prices (which are not that bad — and the food is good). The young girls smile and chat a little and make you feel the present is a kind of present and I have no qualms of conscience about that, in a society of vast sexual problems and maladjustments in terms of every aspect of identity, relationship and interactions between the sexes there is certainly still room for some to object that the food is served with a side of flirty display. I don’t mind saying I find real girls knowing their cute and making a little conversation as they serve you a hamburger refreshingly innocent. Whether this is up to the date, nostalgic in itself or a trend for the future I DON’T KNOW.  But I do know that   in a life in which the best  is mostly in the past it is fun to go to places like this and hope that the girls have life with a more fun present and future. I know that not all of their experiences are fun. But it is an interesting phenomenon in our society today. Links to the experience can be found here and here.  It is perhaps a bit like getting involved on some of the sets of the hit series Mad Men except in a bar that is a fake lodge. But whatever it is it serves a break from the dismal pervasive feeling I often have about much of everything. I have only been twice so far. The reasons I ended up there are too complicated to put here but if I can I will probably go back. I promised Katelyn and Leah I would post these pictures — so I did.

 

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The People Who Make Up a Life

Today Seth Fontenot was sentenced in the shooting of Austin Rivault and the shooting assaults on his two companions. He received a sentence of three years and may be out in thirteen months. I am very sad about this sentence as I feel that it cheapens the life of Austin and the lives of other people.

I knew Austin, I took the pictures of him which appear in this blog post. The action by Judge Rubin is another demonstration of how far from any sense of justice this country is as far as I see justice.

Austin Rivault with friends

Austin Rivault with friends

This week is a Faith Camp and I have not yet been out there but I have been thinking about them and praying for them.  I have done less and less over the years but I do care about the outcome of the event and the opportunity it provides for those involved.  Austin had attended Faith Camp. But his long term contribution to the community was cut short.

I posted about the sentence on Facebook today and had not gotten back on the site since that time when I started typing this post. Several of my friends have lost their accounts (most have gotten them back) but it made me realize that I need to get  a few things that are new copied elsewhere just in case. One of them is the contact information for a Mark John I will soon introduce in this post. I am not sure why it is that I have lost contact with each person that I wish I had kept contact with but I am sensitive about this matter.

I had not seen Austin in years when he died (about two years) but I sometimes thought of him. So Austin is one person who makes up the fabric of my life. That continues even as we deal with the aftermath of his death.

I mentioned a name just above that is the happier side of the week for me. I will return to that and I also have been corresponding with an old friend who is in Argentina and his absence is on my mind too. His initials are LPB and h e had one comment on this blog but I had not even noticed he was following my Facebook profile all these years. He invited me to visit him but I doubt I will. That perhaps makes the invitation easier. Although it is somewhat good that we can regularly correspond now I wonder if LPB and I could have helped each other make life and legacy better over time if we had been together more often. That brings me back to Mark John whom I mentioned before and who I have not seen since he was a baby. I just restored contact with him and that was a good thing. But the Facebook outage made me realize I need to get his email address and give him mine.

I also have had a happy reunion with my godchild and only godson Mark John Braña although we were only connected on Facebook and only for a few days and it is possible that that single contact is now threatened before we could exchange other contact information. But I do post his photograph with his family here. below the pictures of Austin.

Austin at a Faith Camp Reunion

Austin at a Faith Camp Reunion

I get the blues fairly often and fairly deeply. That’s been true most, if not all of my life. I have good reasons to be sad, moody or despondent. Usually I think that the state of mind I am describing is one which is a reasonable and relatively healthy response to the conditions in my life. I also worry and not everything I worry about  turns out to be a real problem — thank God for that. I would be sad if I lost contact with my godson although there is not much if anything that I can do for him. However it would make me sad  if that happened and right now I have a worried sadness that his might happen. The three males I discuss in this blog are not the only people I miss. I miss women whom I miss differently — not just the  love interests but even female friends and relatives.  I sent Mark John a picture of my own godmother whom I do not see all that often. I recently had a nice reunion with her as well. But there was melancholy in that as well. Such as the fact that her sons and I were once friendly.

My recent reunion with my godmother Cousin Mickey or Aunt Mickey depending on my mood.

My recent reunion with my godmother Cousin Mickey or Aunt Mickey depending on my mood.

There are different types of sadness and my own blues are often a sort of medley of sadness. I’m sure some of my readers can relate to that kind of sadness. I am sad that my relationships of various kinds are not all they could or should be. Austin died a long time ago and we were not very close but I am sad about his being ripped away from us all.

This is a blog post which will look at a few recent events in the my life and ask the simple if not easy questions about them.  Maybe it will attempt to answer some of those questions too. I was a good friend of Mark John’s family but initially I refused to be his godfather because I was afraid we might fall out of touch and we did do that.  I tried hard although not endlessly to overcome that separation and for a day or so at least I did. However, that too may be temporary.

My godson Mark John Braña with his wife and children in the Philippines

My godson Mark John Braña with his wife and children in the Philippines

I am reasonably tired today and there is not much chance that I will feel full of pep and energy. I simply feel the need to  do what can be done to deal with a variety of demands on my limited time and resources and I have little capacity to do more than I am currently doing. In fact I find that much of what I am trying to do or doing is not all that sustainable. But I stay fairly busy. While I am busy I still think of people who have mattered to me and still do matter.

I am not sure what other people that I miss or worth mentioning today. But I do know that I have  valued many people and that my future is not likely to be crowded with them. It does not matter to me so much why the people who make up my memories are not around. It matters more  to me to try and be true to the memories and contacts I had with them.

I hope that another day will bring a better and happier view of the future. But that is not this day, not so far anyway.

Reconnecting

This is a certain kind of blog post of which there will be relatively few. It is about connecting specific recent events in my own life and internet activity to the larger patterns of society and the world. I do similar things but not this subset of specific things. I may drop down to some tiny little number very soon but as of a few minutes before writing this line I have 823 Facebook friends.  There are a truly thousands of people I know and sometimes think about who are not on that list. There are many among the two or three hundred people I would most like to have contact with through Facebook and other means who are not on my Facebook list. In general my relationships as carried out by way of Facebook’s services are not very complete an are relatively unsatisfying. In addition they make one aware that sustaining real relationships (especially if one has the disadvantage of being me)  is really rather difficult and uncertain. I enjoy the fact that in some way academic, political, religious, space-oriented, paramilitary, missionary, media and other spheres of activities and groups of associates are joined fo me in representative samples in one convenient place.  

But the point of bringing up the Facebook list is really how much I appreciate and enjoy it. I enjoy and appreciate the way i can get news from relatives, friends and acquaintances. I enjoy having direct and even sometimes only indirect contact with people from my sojourns in Mexico, Colombia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Tonga and the many foci of my activities in the United States. I enjoy having these contacts gathered together in one convenient medium.

I recently served as lector and pallbearer for an uncle only nine years my senior.  It was sad to say goodbye to Will. It was meaningful and even pleasant to reconnect with hundreds of people ( a good number well-known to me) who came to pay their respects.  Those days meant a great deal and I am still glad to have shared that time with them sending off one of those who had a real impact on my life.  This was a time of reconnection that meant a good bit to me.

I could write about so many people and probably could name them whom I have reconnected with in one of the two venues. Guys I went to school with and now can keep track of a bit better and cousins who had almost slipped off my radar screen but are now back in view deserve to be mentioned if  one goes by their importance in my life.  A few of these people  are “flat-out famous” as a friend of mine used to say. Perhaps I exclude their names partly to protect them from unwanted attention and partly to protect myself from their displeasure. Not any specific fear but just a habit of caution.

Beyond these two specific venues for reconnection I have also recently been involved in a couple of rather brief correspondences which had the effect of reconnecting me to my past as well. However, I feel reticent again to go into specific details about who these people were too.

That leaves me with one specific name to mention. I mention her because we are not friends I have therefore nothing to lose and she is so famous that my little blog is not likely to cause her any real harm or inconvenience no matter what which would not have come first from many other sources. 

Amy Grant is just a tiny bit older than I am and I have been listening to her music about as long as she has had a record deal. I used to own My Father’s Eyes, Age to Age, Straight Ahead, Unguarded and several other albums in what was never a really large record collection. She is the most successful artist in the history of the genre called Contemporary Christian Music.  She has won several Grammy Awards and a plethora of Dove Awards. She has been part of my life and I have played tracks of her albums at prayer services, lectures and retreats. But it has been a long time since I have played her stuff for anyone else. It has even been a long time since I owned any copy of her stuff.

I belonged to  (and still do belong to) a college household with a Hebrew name and have often celebrated Christian direct borrowings from the Sabbath Meal and the Pseder Supper. She made her mark with many songs but one of the early big hits was a song with a Hebrew lead line. I combined doing ministry and religious communications with involvement in secular media work. While she was a successful phenomenon it is still true that I could often see her working though decisions and difficulties that were the same as mine in that same process. Some challenges were identical, some very close and others just  resonant but it was a real bond.

I also went to her concerts a couple of times and I felt I could invite a variety of friends who would not  form a group elsewhere. Although the actual groups were small and kind of unsuccessful the potential seemed to be their. With my own sisters and some other young girls I could use her as a role model for a real young woman struggling to survive and grow in faith and be herself. Amy Grant was part of a soundtrack that included Michael Doucet, Bruce Springsteen, Rush, the Carpenters, John Denver, Willie Nelson, George Straight, U2, Rafe Vaughn Williams, Ray Charles, Fats Domino and many other artists when I was young as well as lots of live worship music. However, Amy Grant’s music has more special stories than almost all of the others from the large pop culture world.

I have recently downloaded some of her music and interviews and it makes me remember watching her career progress. She has now been married to Vince Gill for years and I remember when that was topic of conversation as an upcoming event. She has kept working and I have seen some of her stuff on tv and  now can see that she is still working.   I still find the vibe associated with her fascinating.

I want to put in a few links about reconnecting from her own work.

1.Here is  a mature piece of spiritual work than reconnects with her whole past I think: Better than a Hallelujah  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3AmhFXckSc&feature=related

2. Stay for a  While…  is about reconnecting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Om_6q_diHw0&feature=related

3. Thy Word  Amy also reconnects with an old friend and the industry she made rock http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZi-Nqndeok&feature=related

More Blog Stuff…

I mentioned the patterns in views of this blog in my last post.  I am mentioning in this post that I have added several pages today. Two pages relate to Frank Summers sections and are more or less biographical or autobiographical pages.  I posted some images of documents and so they would ordinarily be in the images section. But the things pictured relate mostly and directly to my  curriculum vitae. To offset this I included a page of text only in my Space Drawings section.  In addition to  these page, I have upgraded the Web Helm page and made some minor changes in other pages that I think will make this better.

It is worth noting that I am not commenting at Lords of the Blog anymore. The reasons are complex. I still am posting a link now and then on the Norton View. However I have not been posting text comments.  My e-novel account is fairly static for now — I have to figure out what to do next. The original novel draft is done.

I think that the quality of Twitter followers is quite excellent but there are not very many of them.  I do have pretty many Facebook friends and if you mention reading the blog I will usually let you join the list. That is another factor and medium of contact with me. I am also still a bit active in e-mail correspondence. However,  the center of what I am doing on the internet these days seems to be this blog.

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day. I think it is a sort of holiday some Americans would call a “No Brainer” which does not mean observing it shows that one does not have a brain but rather that even someone with no brains could see the need for it. We need to honor our Veterans.  We need to have a holiday in which we honor our Armed services. Of course, in point of fact, we have Memorial Day and Flag Day and the Fourth of July and Armed Services Day. I am not sure of the rank of all of these days but we are a society with few official holidays at the Federal level and at least Memorial Day and Veterans Day are really military and  Independence Day has strong military overtones. I want to thank all those who have worn the uniform of this country and especially those who have either killed or put themselves in real danger of being killed or wounded in the service of the United States. Memorial Day honors the dead and Veterans Day the living but I want to honor the dead as well. I especially want to honor the memory of my cousin Severin Summers who was alive last Veterans Day and lost his life in combat in Afghanistan this year.

I honor the service of all veterans of this country but I am going to post here a former Facebook Post related to Easter. Perhaps after the tragedy of the Fort Hood shootings we could all use some of Easter’s hope and renewal and I think that the basic message is especially relevant to those US service people who are Christian.  There are of course many of those.

So here is my Facebook post:

 Monday, April 6, 2009 at 11:28am |
Many of my fellow Americans are bearing arms in the service of their country in Afghanistan and Iraq.These are the countries in which the US is more or less officially engaged in a war. We have a large number of people, mostly young men who wear uniforms, follow schedules, bear weapons, drill, fight and kill as well as dying and being wounded in those two distant lands.

Perhaps they know Jesus as the Prince of Peace. I certainly know and honor Christ as the holder of that Title. Many of them are certainly Christians and it is to the Christians who serve in the US military that I primarily address this note. I think war should be avoided whenever it is right and possible to do so. Jesus said “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly”, can it be acceptable to Christian families to have their sons, daughters, wives and husbands far away causing pain and injury to other people?

Smaller numbers of Americans are bearing arms in service of the country which has renewed my passport in Korea, Germany, Japan, Cuba, and on ships and planes around the world. In addition there are far-flung bases on quasi-American soil or a least not state soil. Tiny detachments hold a position for our interests in American Samoa and larger ones in Guam. There are bases in very powerful and not so powerful countries with whom we have had historic ties — these range from the United Kingdom to the Federated States of Micronesia. Then we have a fleet of nuclear powered and nuclear armed submarines prowling the oceanic depths. This is an impressive amount of coverage for a nation’s military. I actually find the role of the military as an institution very interesting. However it is also true that I am interested in the way our troops are mentally affected by their service. I wish all American military service personnel well as military service personnel. That is a simple position for me to take. As long as I carry an American passport, have credits with the Social Security Agency and vote in our elections in Louisiana as it now and forseeably exists — then the USA is the country I support as mine and the very important role of the military in that national team is one I have to root for in their role. Some people in uniform are also brave, honest, decent and patriotic. I like those qualities. However, I do not cheer on our folks in uniform because I think they all have these qualities. Rather, I think otherwise.

Jesus said that no man born of woman was greater than John the Baptist although the least born to the kingdom of heaven was greater than he. John the Baptist told soldiers who asked him how to live that they should not steal and should be content with their pay. Is that the sum total of New Testament advice to young Christians headed off into harm’s way to serve their country?

It is important to understand that I never have served in the uniformed services of the United States. Further, it is quite possible that this is one of the more difficult things that I have ever attempted to deal with in writing. However, I would not deal with it at all if I had not reached just a certain point in the process of my life. I am able now to write about many things I hoped I would never want to write
publicly about in the way that I now do. In this note I am tagging some people who are not either Christian, military or American. I am not tagging anyone for whom I do not have respect but I am really addressing my self in my own mind to a certain audience or readership. I am really writing to Americans who are in the armed services and celebrate Easter as a religious holiday .Reflecting on my own life and spiritual journey I am sort of appointing myself a momentary e-chaplain to Christians in the American military. I certainly could avoid discussing war. However, it would not be easy to do all the other things and seek after all the other objectives that I seek after and not acknowledge war.

Jesus healed the servant of a Centurion who had been generous to the Jewish population and never criticized him for representing an occupying army. He told his disciples that when the Roman soldiers conscripted them to carry their heavy Roman packs one mile they should carry them two miles instead. That is where we get the English expression “going the extra mile”.

I think that Christianity is entirely relevant to the discussion of war and arms in the United States. I think that Easter week especially is a relevant time to join the two discussions. It may prove to be a very thankless task indeed. I think of my countrymen and women who are coming from the aging congregations of urban Catholic Cathedral parishes, small rural Catholic chapels, incense filled Orthodox churches in ethnic neighborhoods, hard-shell Baptist churches on red dirt roads near old sawmills and bait shops, Mega Churches with Protestant preaching and modern audio-visual equipment and the average sized Catholic churches filled with families. I think of young men of 17, 18, 20, 24, 25 and 27 heading off to boot camps, training, transports and war. I think of the secular ideas which guide so much of the military structure and the whispers and influences of men as diverse as George Washington, Hitler, Clausewitz, Mohammed, Mao Zhe Dong, Napoleon, Genghis Khan, Horatio Nelson, Andrew Jackson and Patton who may influence their thoughts about war. I have nothing against their learning from, and studying either the good men or the bad. However, I am driven against all sane reasoning to put down a few of my own thoughts about Jesus Christ and the Christians view of war and military service.

Jesus’s Apostles had nicknames, given names or nommes de guerre that included: the Rock, Sons of Thunder, the Zealot ( a member of a known military and anti-Roman organization) and were accustomed to life threatening situations. Crucifixion and stoning were among their regular subjects of conversation. Jesus also spoke prophetically of the coming siege of Jerusalem. Is this post of engaged observation all their Savior has to offer those who serve in the military and honor his name?

Over the course of these notes I have discussed my own life experience as it relates to this subject. However, I always repeat something from an old note in each note. I do not expect whoever chooses to read a given note to have read all the other notes. I think that it is a really difficult subject for me to deal with in conversation or writing. However, no subject is all that difficult for me to deal with. I am someone who communicates a great deal. Further, this is not the New York Times this is my Facebook notes section. It is more like drunken ramblings at a bar in some ways than it is like shouting and proclaiming from a podium. So I will try to summarize or paint a verbal picture of my background as regards this whole world of warfare. I will try to relate this to my own faith journey as well.

Jesus said ” Do you think I have come to bring peace to the Earth? I assure you that I have not come to bring peace but fire and a sword”. Is a sense of social revolution or social consciousness all these young people can bring into the upheaval of armed conflict from the one who is their model of perfection?

My grandfathers both served in the US military. I have a rather complex and rather large warrior heritage. It extends in varied directions. My mother’s father Cecil Bruce Gremillion served as a bombardier instructor in the Army Air Corp. My paternal grandfather served as an officer in the US Navy. He said he commanded a glorified private yacht in the Gulf of Mexico early in the war. Later he was part of the large fleet of vessels headed toward the invasion of Japan’s home islands when the atomic bomb ended the war. He used to say that although he saw some action in the Pacific his real anxiety was just as great in the Gulf. He said only once but with great passion that while in the Pacific he was well-armed and supported in the Gulf he and his next subordinate (perhaps an Ex. O. or a Chief I do not recall) sometimes referred to the yacht secretly as the “USS Sitting Duck” which had to do with his evaluation of the vessel’s capacity to take on a wolf pack of German submarines in full-out combat.

When Jesus was criticized for failing to keep some laws of the Sabbath by gleaning grain on that day he defended his behavior by sighting the example of King David who ate the Show bread because David was a king and he and his men were under the duress of warfare. Is Jesus’s example merely that of seeing his ministry in the pattern of military operations in his familial and national history?

I am a child of the sixties. I lived in New york and London in the 1960s and had relatives who were on élite college campuses during the heyday of the Peace Movement and the movement known as the Hippies. I never really felt that wearing black hats made some people bad and wearing white ones made other people good. I do not have the space and presume of the reader’s time enough to really cover the personal aspect fully. I am not a trusting blind supporter of the military or its policies. I would not describe myself that way at all. I am not ashamed of my own lack of courage or experience with conflict or danger. I would not describe myself that way at all.

So I wonder what I might say to those spending Holy Week and Easter in the forward zone or any other zone of the US military. First, I would say that Jesus did have you in his heart as he prayed for you that night in the Garden of Gethsemane because you are one of those who has believed. That is a great comfort in many ways. But it is also true that is evidence that God holds you to a personal standard. A Christian cannot believe that our personal lives and consciences disappear entirely into the duties and rights of a military force or a country. God will still hold you accountable for all that you do and become while you are in the services. God will not expect you to behave as if you were not a soldier, sailor, marine or airman but he still sees your heart and weighs your deeds. Of course when Jesus taught us to pray “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” he no doubt included martial trespasses in the economy of God’s mercy. God’s mercy is certainly a very big part of what we celebrate on Holy Week and Easter.

On Palm Sunday we remember Jesus, the Son of David entering the City of David. We remember that the crowds were shouting “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Jesus had many who supported him his claims and his ministry.He did not shy away from leadership, rank or office and he was very open and brave.

So far everything I have written in this note is something I can live with and not regret. But now I am going to start the part that I already regret before having written it. In a sense all war is wrong and even military service. I say that as one who believes that in the Holy center of the Universes around the throne of God the angels wear and use weapons and are organized in armies. But ideally and perfectly there would be no war or planning for war. So I am writing this to an audience I want to encourage who at the same time I do not hesitate to say should ideally be doing something else. I look out at the world and the church today and feel that I too must do something immoral and which will stink in my conscience for a long time. I feel that I must reveal the some of the secrets of a society which has done great good and kept its secrets since the time of Jesus. I do not see Knightly orders, Popes,their Catholic Majesties of Spain or anyone else standing between me and this day. So I write what is precious to me hoping I am not violating Jesus’s injunction not to throw pearls before swine.

The secrets of our ancient order which I am going to reveal are hidden in the gospels themselves. Are there things hidden in the Gospels? It is a reasonable question.

“The disciples approached him (Jesus) and said, ” Why do you speak to them in parables?”
He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you but to them it has not been granted, To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not even what he has will be taken away. That is why I speak to them in parables, because they “look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand”.” Matthew 13:10-13 New American Bible.

Jesus was, among all the other things he was, a warrior. He did not do many of the things that leaders who inspire others have done. He did not besiege or sack cities like Mohammed or his own namesake Joshua. He did not burn down the temples of idols like these same men. He did not rejoice in blood and mayhem like Genghis Khan or the Viking Pagans. Your savior was a warrior who took his joy in weddings, Passover feasts, the Eucharist he was founding, flowers, birds and children. He did not take his joy in the sufferings of others. Our age is very different from the spirit of that secret warrior Jesus but nonetheless in following the warrior’s path you are not straying from the path of Jesus’s own experience.

Josephus either implies or states that during the siege of Jerusalem the Jews turned to Cannibalism and ate one another. People eating other people is a huge and undiscussed part of human history and experience. It is one of the most important struggles of human history. Many societies have been proudly and openly cannibalistic. Many people in the world in 2009 are cannibals. Rome was a place where public law and morals condemned cannibalism. It was a place where officials would have been ashamed to admit to having dealings with merchants trafficking in human flesh. I know to my own satisfaction that here were non Jews eating and butchering Jews at that siege. By mentioning cannibalism at all, even blaming it on the Jews, Josephus put his own life at risk. In Rome there were a group of unofficial but sophisticated pirates who participated in the war machine by buying slaves on the cheap after battles and sieges as well as capturing all they could in the invaded country. They killed these people, often with torture and sport and then made sausage or pies out of them mixing the human flesh with pork.They made a very good profit on this in part because they worked the people as slaves before reducing them to food and extorted knowledge about the new lands fallen before the Roman banner. For this purpose they located large herds of swine near the lands to be destroyed in advance. They were wealthy, powerful, cunning, well-armed, possessed of assassins corps and called themselves demons. They had a handful of key agents throughout every Roman Imperial government. They were an order older than Rome itself and not entirely Roman. There were at least tens of thousands of men at arms at their command both in the Empire and in non-Roman lands. These were the enemies Jesus fought with 12 Apostles, 72 zealous highly trained disciples divided into groups of six for each Apostle. Then he had 38 reserve guards. All were also trained in charitable ministry and his preaching this was not a made up addition later on and yet with 133 part-timers(the ten not enumerated are my last nod towards a disappearing tradition) and the women officials and crowds who supported them Jesus opposed one of the most fierce and powerful forces ever to have existed.

The events of Jesus’s war are chronicled in specific events:
Event One:
Matthew 8:22-27 / Mark 4: 35-41
Jesus calms the storm at Sea

Event Two:
Matthew 8:28-34 / Mark 5:1-20
Jesus crosses the sea of Galilee
Demons are confronted
a herd of swine are destroyed
captive freed
Jesus leaves the region with the ones remaining very upset

Event Three:
Matthew 14: 13-21 / Mark 6;34-44
Jesus feeds 5000 people mysteriously
the disciples are instructed to collect all the fragments

Event Four:
Matthew 14:22-33 / Mark 6:45-52
Jesus is seen walking on the water with Peter.

Event Five:
Mark 8:1-10
Jesus feeds 4000 people. Mark makes it clear that these were multiple events.

Event Six:
Matthew 16: 21-23 / Mark 8: 31-33
Jesus begins to predict the Passion and Crucifixion in Jerusalem as inevitably the end of his life.

Jesus and his élite units used to wait for the worst storms on the Sea of Galilee. They crossed the sea in those storms under his fearless leadership. They opened the early pens located by the demons there in anticipation of the Roman destruction of the Jews and they liberated the prisoners. They then drove the pigs from the demons herds into the sea. Jesus was a carpenter and he located wooden butchering sites at hidden spots in the out in the lake. The crews would remove nets filled with rocks and the rafts would float to the surface. Then his crew would attach inflated pig skins and pig bladders to increase buoyancy. On these non free board platforms they would slaughter the pigs and butcher them into boneless slabs of fish shaped meats. They would dump the entrails, guts, bones and heads in the lake. Knowledge of these dumps enabled him to instruct fisherman as to where to put down their nets to get a great catch. Then they would cover the platforms with nets filled with rocks and arrive at shore near guarded ovens. Reusing fish bones from each feeding and buying distressed fish from other fishermen with knowledge of where great catches could be found they would take a breading and adhere two pork steaks to the fish skeletons. They mixed these porkfish with regular bread and fish and fed thousands repeatedly. This also attracted donations from those who wanted to contribute something and these resources funded a large ministry of healing and teaching. Jesus constantly taught that eating unclean food (such as pork) did not make someone immoral. Once Peter and Jesus were seen using these platforms it was inevitable that Jesus would be killed. He chose to make this happen in a very specific public way in Jerusalem and create pressures on the demons.

After cleansing the Temple, Jesus managed to give on last speech to a huge crowd before being arrested and killed. He said two things at once. To his disciples he said that he was the living water and if they recognized him and believed in him then he would flow out of their hearts and meet their needs for courage and peace of soul. To the handful of demon spies the same words literally were: if you recognize me from the stormy waters, I am the water that made your guards thirst no more and living water (blood) flow from their chest.

Jesus was not a great general, he had no palaces, published glories,nor vast armies and suffered more than he made his enemies suffer. He spent time healing, forgiving and seeking peace, he was humble and meek at many times (not always meek and almost never mild) but he was a warrior. In terms only of skill and bravery he was as he was at everything– arguably the best there has ever been. Yes, I mean that seriously. Your churches and mine may in the end condemn me for what I write and I think his contribution to war is lost in the mists of time. But your Savior has not left you as orphans in this world of war. There are no simple answers, no excuses, no blood lust but the Prince of Peace was a man of war and you need not doubt him as you celebrate his legacy in an armed camp.

Happy Easter! I hope this note which makes me so unhappy is useful to someone. I have no doubt that it is largely correct.

 
End of Facebook Post–
 
I wish everyone a good and pleasant veterans day. We are a nation in trouble in many ways but our military must play a key role in any chance we have for a better future. 

Discrimination, Details and Security

I am writing today’s post largely in response or reaction to yesterday’s shooting at Fort Hood.  The shooting which killed thirteen people and wounded thirty at last count was carried out by an assisted or unassisted medical doctor who was a US Soldier, who had some expertise in post-traumatic stress disorder in soldiers and military communities. He was also the proud possessor of three traditional Islamic names: “Nidal”, “Hassan” and “Malik” although the order eludes me just now. So let us go over the man’s resume briefly:
1. He was (I hope) a trained killer being a US soldier — the basic arts of homicide were within his professional demands.
2. He had the excuse to study and become highly familiar with the details of a variety of shootings and disruptive events committed by soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
3.He was skilled and learned in detecting the physical and emotional vulnerabilities of human beings as a physician.
4.He was in the religious and some of the cultural aspects of his life someone likely to feel more empathy for some of America’s current adversaries than for many of his colleagues.
 5. He was in a position to hear and be informed of many of the most unflattering actions and anecdotes involving our servicemen and women in uniform.
6.He wore the full Muslim prayer garb when off duty and shopping at a store.
 
It would be reasonable to watch such a man very carefully, to scrutinize his associations and consider modifying his duties. The art of doing this with a regard for his good and the good of society is the pursuit of justice. I think that justice is very important. However, in this country rather than seeking justice we seek and teach others to seek nondiscrimination. As William James has written discrimination is the same thing as intelligence. Laws against discrimination are laws requiring forced idiocy. In terms of what is legal we are all idiots  or criminals. To discriminate between people and cases is to think. In areas of endeavor like military policing this set of discriminatory skills is especially vital. Of course real justice is very hard and complicated while both racial hatred and nondiscrimination are easy and simple.    
 
Since I am urging people to become hardened criminals and to think — which is a crime specified many times. I am going to reveal some details about myself to think about as well. These were written in a Facebook post responding to the trend of posting “25 random things about” oneself on one’s profile. I hope it amuses and informs and helps you to discriminate between me and others and not against anyone directly.
 
 
 Thursday, February 5, 2009 at 11:47pm |
I have devoted my notes to odd little thematic essays. Now, that is partly because I want to leave the options open for someone to see this as lasting body of essays. On the other hand I want to stay part of what is going on in the world, my life and the Facebook community. All these varied demands have formed part of the process that created these essays. Each of which is called “My Thoughts…” in the My Box section of this profile and by varied quirky titles in this Notes section.

One of these things that is happening in the world right now and in my environment is that I have been tagged by several people doing the Notes on Facebook titled “25 Random Things About Me.”
1. I was born in Crowley, Louisiana and not Abbeville although Abbeville has always been my hometown and ancestral place.
2. I won the 1985 Sophomore Class Award awarded to a male student at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. There was another award of the same name given to a female student. She was an attractive musician whom I did not know.
3. I was baptized, made my First Communion and was married at Saint Mary Magdalen Church in Abbeville, Louisiana.
4. I have never learned to surf or scuba dive. I am able to fish, sail, canoe, pilot a motorboat and snorkel. I do not excel at those things, but I can do them.

In the world there is always a struggle for the future. That is more true now than at many other times.We livein an age when many ties to the past are being sacrificed in the name of bringing about a better future. While there are also struggles more clearly directed to the present and the past the struggle over the future is a very important one and the people who excel in that struggle often (but not always) gain great influence in the struggles over the past and the present as well. Whether it be American MBA earners in the eighties or China’s batches of engineers and international accountants many young people have rejoiced to be part of a wave of young people making a new future. But I am writing in this note about the struggle for the future. But we have been known to disagree as humans about the whole nature of the future. What do people say about the future? ” The future is good and it is getting better”. Or is it bad and getting worse? Or is it completely unpredictable?

5. I have been published in the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television where I reviewed a book called “FDR’ Moviemaker: Pare Lorenz Memoirs and Scripts”.
6. I earned a Master of Arts Degree in History from LSU in 1993.

Nonetheless, despite an interest in history and some training in that field I remember the early honors, sacraments and water sports. I still find that I am at least wanting to find a future. The future still summons me more than the past.
7. I belonged to Mensa legitimately for high scores on IQ and other standardized tests.
8. Michelle Denise Broussard Summers and I lived together as husband and wife for more than seven years after just less than a year of being promised and then engaged.
9. I got new US Senator (or Rep. & Senate Candidate) John Breaux to endorse me in college when I applied for a position with the CIA. I wanted to be an operative. I did not make it.

I know that for me there are not a lot of likely scenarios for a future that appeals to me a great deal. I have made choices I cannot really renounce or deny but which involved passing on some things I would have needed to have done by now to have any real chance at what I would describe as an effective pursuit of happiness. I am instead able to say that I have found a great number of compensations that have made me glad and content in various ways. I have also had a number of things happen which have served to provide other forms of satisfaction than happiness. Lastly, I have to live with many miserable and disappointing outcomes that are somewhat predictable given the choices I made and the situations I have been in during my life.

10. My Dad taught me to fish and hunt but my great-uncle Clay R. Summers II bought me my first firearm. I t was a “four-ten” shotgun. It was both single shot and crack barrel and I thought it was very beautiful. I was turning nine years old.
11. I have fired 20 gauges, 16 gauges, 12 gauges and other shotguns. I have shot 22,38 and 45 caliber pistols as well as nine millimeter pistols.
12. I was treated for clinical depression ( but not a very severe case) when Michelle and I were splitting up I was about to ditch Tulane Law School for the second time.

I do struggle every day for the future. I do care about the future and want it to be better. I still think I have some ideas about how the future could be made better than it is likely to be as I see things going.
One way that I have struggled for the future is through caring for my younger brothers and sisters, teaching younger people than myself and caring for my nieces and nephews. However, all of this conceivably optimistic work and play has taken place against the background and in the context of what has often been and often still is a living nightmare. I would describe a great deal of my life as a living nightmare. However, I know countless other people whose lives I would describe in the same way. Therefore, I have felt the need to persevere in my struggle as best I could in order to honor their suffering and hopes as well as my own.

13. I have known people personally and socially who endured one or more of the following sufferings:
they were raped or molested as children, stabbed, shot, arrested, imprisoned, beaten frequently, raped and prostituted, robbed, burnt alive to death, drowned, nearly drowned, expelled, tortured, and blackmailed.
14. I had two broken arms at different times as a child. I was bitten by a snake, stung by bees, wasps, a poisonous centipede, spiders, dogs and angry men I was holding in restraint to stop them beating women. I was at various times prior to adulthood hit with rocks, shovels and ropes and was on several small vessels that sunk.
15. I have brought prayer cards, fruit and soap to prisoners in various States in this country and in other countries. I used to drive my cousin to jail often when he was on work release and pick him up afterwards.
16. I am a mediocre horseman at best but never a non horseman since I was a very small child.

I value family but think many families are truly horrific in many important ways. I value religion but see religion often twisted into something horrible. I value work but see much work making things much worse in every way.The list of such things goes on almost ad infinitum. As a small not very religious child I several times considered killing myself not out of depression or despair but as the most accessible way to avoid assisting all the forces and people I saw making a really bad human world constantly much worse. The things I have seen as an adult that were unknown to me then have largely been very bad as well. To remarkable degree life is hell. I am not the only one to make that observation. However, I have learned to desire life and despise suicide on other and different grounds than I had then.

17. I had a scene shooting an automatic weapon in addition to my work as an extra in The Blob with Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith but the filmed sequence did not make it into the final film. A picture of me in a white decontamination suit was published in the Abbeville Meridional with the caption “Beau is Bad”.
18. I had just gotten back from my honeymoon when I worked on The Blob and was going to school full-time for the last half of that series of 15 hour shooting days. The money meant a lot to me.
19. I played “Stage Manager” in a production of “Our Town” at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

What then can a pessimist do when the effort to shape a better future is in question? What can a pessimist do when he is also broke, long out of the flow of gainful work and commerce, divorced childless, unhappy and often ill to help make the world better? This sort of question is not easily answered well. I am trying to do things. I do see the world as largely a disaster and my own life as likely to get increasingly worse and yet I do try to work towards a better future. But still life is really hell.

20. Besides working for the Abbeville Meridional and the Daily Advertiser as a staff writer I also wrote for the Vermilion which was USL’s student newspaper. We ran the Matt Groening(sp) cartoon strips “School in Hell” and “Life in Hell”.

Not everything in life is hell. I was treated cruelly by many when I was a child in ways I could never deserve but I have tried to be kind to children. I have fed many hungry children a few hot meals and helped some get off the street where they were homeless. Most of all the best and happiest part of me was the time I spent reading to and caring for my younger brothers and sisters as well as nieces and nephews. Those good energies did not come from nowhere. My Mother taught me to read when I was very young and to swim and Dad taught me to ride and shoot. There were puppies for Christmas and treats in season. I think that compared to many children I was advantaged. But there were plenty of bad times as well some were extraordinarily bad. I maybe learned to be able to love in difficult times.

21.I used to bring my little sisters to Nancy Knobloch School on the Summer Institute of Linguistics base at Nazuli once a week. We were all living in Malaybalay in the same Bukidnon Province of the Philippines on the Island of Mindanao.
22. I also published some pieces in the Straight Street magazine in Malaybalay in those days.

In my life I have been to a lot of places and engaged in a great number of activities and relationships. So often there have been obstacles and distractions which I was not entirely able to deal with effectively. Like most people (except even more so) I was made up in such a way that I longed for good things from the human past which were not readily available in my own life and environs. We all face difficulties we cannot resolve. I have had to come to the conclusions that the world I live in is largely made up of a mass of horrors which I find no less horrible because they are both widespread and enduring. But I also have seen happiness, goodness and the heavenly on this same Earth. A good bit of life is made up of enjoying a mass of pleasure and struggling for good outcomes that might actually happen.

23. I reached my forty quarters of minimum FICA payments to be fully vested in Social Security quite a few years ago. I have never earned a really large salary.
24. I taught at St. Thomas More High School, Travel Talk Academy in Baton Rouge, he Vermilion Parish School Board’s system, The Shandong Institute of Business and Technology in Yantai, Shandong , China and in numerous short-term venues and outlets.

Right now, two of the forward-looking things which I am doing involve Facebook. One of them is starting a group called “The Crater Cap Concept Colony Group” and another is starting a Facebook group called “Seedbed of a New Geopolitics”. However, it is impossible for me to know if much of anything good will come from these two efforts.

25. I am not very optimistic about my own future but I do try every day for myself as well as for things bigger than myself.

I wonder what I might add to a longer list if I live long enough to see some things differently….

End of my Facebook Post–
 
My thoughts and prayers are with all the ones dead,wounded and surviving the loss of loved ones at Fort Hood. May they have a bit of comfort in these difficult days. 

Blogging Towards Our Future

Blogs and bloggers keep their web logs as we all know. I blog here and now.

Lords of the Blog lets the House of Lords have its webward say on any day.

On Politico dot com one can watch ahead of the ship of state’s own prow.

Go to White House dot gov and find someone with much to do and say.

Go to the United Nations site and it gets close to blogging too but not quite.

It is at Rotten Tomatoes one can find some critiques and hot reviews as well.

Not far from me at WordPress there are many blogs I know left and right,

Go to the search bar and type in something — what the hell! 

 

 

There are folks at space advocate blog, I know Malette is there and writes.

On HBO there are blogs by fictional folks and those who watch the shows.

We can go to the Vatican and Smithsonian and Congress’s  official sites.

And if we are skilled searchers we find where the nearby blogging grows.

Really, there is little left to complain about as many pols blog too.

Doing all  these searches and readings we could now  surely do ,

Short of time we may become for all we have to web review.

 

Our future may see new changes in the blogosphere it’s true.

Under any view we can bet that future will be wired too.

Real disaster alone will end our blogging before twenty-one twenty-two.

 

Franksummers3ba’s Blog is a frank summary  written in frequent speed. 

Until it ceases it will have a man’s viewpoint on the wire to read.

Then take a break between Twitter and Facebook notes and your own blog.

Until you grow tired you could even post my link or put it in a printed log.

Really we are just blogging towards our future here and now in community.

Each of us should go and do something to make of words and our deeds a unity.

Some Thoughts about Science Fiction….

I am writing a science fiction novel on Facebook on an account named Summers Progress. In it I feature a number of my own inventions. Perhaps none of them will see the light of day outside that fictional universe. I am not sure. I see people casually discussing what amounts to surrender to the Taliban. From a scientifc progress point of view this is quite different than delivering Iraq to the influence of an Iran which is at least eager to compete in science no matter how much else I may find reprehensible in its regime.

In recent months we have had  the new Star Trek movie introducing a new young cast and we have had the release of GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra on our movie screens. I think people are hungry to believe in a new and better future. The role of Science fiction in shaping the dreams and hopes of young people is a complicated one which we cannot easily fully analyze and understand. But it does play a role. I hope that as the world struggles with all its current problems it can still make time to perfect its dreams of the future. Perhaps in some ways those are blueprints of many future policies. 

This post first appeared on my Facebook page on March 27 of this year.

This is the kind of topic that I will surely have to revisit and take in small pieces in other notes if this series is long enough. However, there is a place somewhere in the wide universe for an overstretched brief personalistic essay about the future generally. Maybe this is the time and space for such an essay I have taken the lense of science fiction and have ended up focused on really a small part of the future itself. Howver, the future itself is still my topic.

I often or even usually have a strong or weak religious and spiritual element in these Facebook Notes. I usually do not single out religious groups by name for the purpose of distinguishing them from the point of view I am taking. However, in this case I am taking the somewhat unusual course of discussing both Christianity and science fiction and how they relate to our apprehension of and planning for the future. I think that I have a decently adequate basic nonadherent’s understanding of the following three religions: The Church of Jesus Christ Scientist (Christian Scientists), The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints (Mormonism) and the Scientologists. I can assure any of you that I would be happy to influence thinkers in any of these groups but that I am not taking a position which is anywhere particulary near to the orthodoxies of any of these religions. Indeed it is I believe within the range of Catholic and Orthodox Christianity.

I do believe that Space is within the meaning of the heavens and heaven as are other things which Jesus indicated when he said that “The Kingdom of God is within you”. I do believethat Jesus as a fully human man was a poet, a liturgist, a prince, a lector, a rabbi and among other outstanding achievements he created a body of achievement that could be classified as science and engineering — all his human attributes do not detract from his claim to divinity. Nor do they answer the poetic ambiguity in the verse from the epistle “Though he was at one with God he did not claim equality with God as something to be grasped at…”. I do believe the Scriptures I cal the Sacred Scriptures have a call on us to care for the Earth, for our fellow man, for our families and (that at the state) we have now reached Space colonization is exigent in order to fulfill those obligations. Nonetheless, I do not intend this note to be primarily a religious or Scriptural Facebook Note.

One way in which I subject my own talents in predicting the future to public scrutiny is that I play a variety of viewable online games in which prediction is a vital skill. These games include fantasy football at NFL.com, the NCAA Bracket Challenge on Facebook and various kinds of online Texas Hold ’em Poker. I am not the very best but my play is fairly respectable. Outside of online gaming I have demonstrated other signs of function in the current technological milieu. I have earned a couple of degrees, some licenses, some commisions and certifications and they all demonstrate that I am not drawn towards futurist endeavors because I cannot find anything I am able to do anything worthy in the present. Nonetheless, I would proudlyidentify myself as a humanist rather than a scientist.

I have thought about the future a great deal. It seems that a lot of people have. We all express a certain faith in the future everytime we put milk in the refrigerator, puchase stock, go on a job interview or call someone to set up any kind of date, meeting or get-together. In fact probably nobody reading this really thinks that the known universe will cease to exist in the time it would take an ordinary person to read to the end of this note. In that sense faith in the future seems pretty universal.

id
BRINGING A BABY INTO THE WORLD AND HELPING THE BABY MAKE HIS OR HER WAY IN THE WORLD IS A GREAT ACT OF FAITH IN THE FUTURE FOR A NORMAL OR BETTER THAN NORMAL PARENT.

However, beyond simply believing that life will go on for somebody or something somewhere, most of us think we ourselves have some continuity beyond this throbbing or fleeting instant we call the present. I am writing about the future in a bit more specific way than this however. I am trying to discuss the future as a kind of grand subject.

I like to think about forming the shape of the human and earthly future as well as trying to influence it myself. I am deeply unhappy about many signs of how the future may turn out. However, I am also very optimistic about what is possible. A decent number of historians and antiquarians read futuristic literature and science fiction. Certainly, I have read a great deal of history and seen a lot of antiquities. However, science fiction and futuristic writing have played a big part in the formation of my mind and the filling of the time I have had available to read. It is tru that Styar Wars is a science fiction classic franchise and big money in our time which is set long ago and is full of Biblical and royalist allusions to past societies. But it outlines launches, gravity wells, spaceships, linguistic analysis, imaging systems and countless other things which were new with seeds and roots in the time Lucas began the series andwith fruit and flower in the future as far as we are concerned. A substantial minority of science fiction is set in the past in that sense but in a cyclical sense still maps a reality technicaly set more or less in our foreseeble future. Star Wars is actually less, as some of it is not anywhere near our technical capacity.

One of the intersting things about Michael Crichton the writer of books such as Andromeda Strain, Terminal Man, Jurassic Park and State of Fear is that he was a medical doctor. This is why his series ER was so sound in so many ways. There is an authenticity in his imagined science because he was able to live and function in the world of real science in his time. While a devout Roman Catholic, I belong to a struggling old secret society which gives a particular double interpretation to some scripture passages as coded preservations ofsome amazing achievements of Jesus in science and engineering. For us Jesus’s lofty goals and the ideal on which he founded his church are more and not less credible because of the other ways in which he exerted leadership and showed genius in his world. In a certain minimaly similar way writers like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Michael Crichton have some increased appeal as writers of their type of imaginative fiction because they could do real science in the real world.

We often find science fiction refereshing because it is devoid of some of the reminders of religious, national and familial obligations which surround is. That is true even for those who generaly are and seem to be pushers of family, nation and religion with their incumbent obligations. People such as I am still enjoy Dune’s vacation from the Roman Catholic Church to the Orange Catholic Bible. In instances where they are similar there is still no actual Orange Catholic community that either the Protestant House of Orange or the Catholics of our own time have to actually get along with. However, to notice that sense of fictional escape is not to say that tradition, religion and hard nosed reality have nothing to contribute to both the making of science fiction and to its enjoyment by its readers.

It has been also on the promise of really remaking the future that leaders as diverse as Adolph Hitler, Mao Tse Tung (Mao Zhe Dong), Vladimir Lenin, Lech Walensa and Thomas Jefferson have made their claims. Not all to the same dgree but to a greater degree than most leaders who have not lived in the last ten centuries. Contrary to the vast body of modern opinion I would argue that in many ways almost everyone born in the last thousand years shares a basic sense of desperation and insecurity that was far from being the norm prior to that time. Humanity spent a great deal of its early formative period expanding at a walking pace across and from Africa, across Europe and Asia and then across the vastly long journey of the Americas to Patagonia. Then there were crude and slow crafts and dogs and horses that brought in Australia and remote lands and mountains not safely reachable before then. Then the vikings in the tenth and eleventh century to a degree far greater than any history book will ever tell visited large and small islands in all four hemispheres (East and West, North and South) often leaving there only slaves and captives often of mixed ancestry from varied culture with whom some of their genes and technology were mingled. They also drove waves of refugees in ships from burning towns ro new islands in almost every part of the world. All of this happened before 1492 and the age of Discovery. Since about 1100 the Earth has been a fairly old and settled place as far as hunmanity goes. The mythical and infinite earth of great undiscovered creatures and lands with unknown and incaculable potential really died in about 1100. Since then all leaders of all places have sort of known that many of the happiest and most hopeful options for their descendants were foreclosed and that we all had entered a phase of negotiations (whether lethal or peaceful) with other humans. Most humans have never lived on the edge of the unknown lands but their existence did affetct allhumans at some level. Their experience did define the possible for leaders everywhere. Population control, vertical integration, oppression, xenophobia and tedium always had to compete with the whispers of the wild and undiscovered world and the vast genetic and historic cultural ties which linked all humans to the process of discovery. There have always been serious planners and as long as there were truly unpopulated lands around their plans could be different. Since then we live in a different human experience than formed us and only serious colonization of the solar system can address that basic change in a way that preserves some of the best of who we are for the future.

Both adventure and resources await our species throughout the solar system. There is little doubt in my mind that we damn ourselves quite seriously if we fail the challenge of securing access to both the adventure and the resources. Yes, I believe God has given the Moon and Mars to Earth’s people as part of our manifest destiny to colonize. It is part of becoming who we are meant to become.

If we had self sustaining and vibrant colonies on the Moon and Mars trading with Earth. Peopled by growing populations and settlers then our lives would resemble that of our human ancestors for long ages past. Most of us would not go to space and would not live their but we would know that we were living in a world of expanding possibilities. Inddeed it would be better than much of the past because almost all could see that were were bringin life where no life had been before. Being both sane and optimistic would again be really possible. The prospect of interstellar travel right now is a near impossibility. The possibility of interstellar travel in the future of a moderately badly run human society with real colonies on the Moon and Mars is substantial. The possibility of interstellar travel in the future of a society descended from us if we have a few centuries of colony driven development on the Earth, the Moon and Mars is very hight indeed. Once honest people can say to their children that our species is on its way to colonizing the worlds around as many stars as it seems right and convenient to colonize then our whole frame of reference will have changed for what the Human race is about and can expect.

We find science fiction in Dante’s Inferno and the rest of the Divina Comedia where the pilgrim with his guide takes a single path down through the center of the Earth where the pits of hell are deepest and the follows the same line past the center of gravity as down becomes up. Now he follows Beatrice through Purgatory to the high mountainous realm of heaven. The science of understanding gravity in a sphere is the central device. We find science fiction in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein when Dr. Frankenstein freed from the Medieval prohibition against dismembering corpses is able to put his monster (named Adam after the man God made) together form spare parts and give him life. We find science fiction in bits and pieces in old Greek mythology.It reaches some heights in Jules Vernes fictional depths as Captain Nemo adventures in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. There is a poetic wildness to science fiction in CS Lewis’s Perelandra Trilogy named for its second book. But while I read all hese things I also read the vast body of more hard-core genre science fiction.

CS Lewis wrote of the various reasons for writing science fiction. On class of novelists and short story writers he chose to distinguish from himself were the “engineers” who tried to tell stories set around the use of potentialy useful future technology. Arthur C. Clark who wrote 2001: A Space Oddyssey made famous by the great Hollywood film was many things but certainly he was an engineer writer. His hard science fiction told of communications sattelites, space stations, moon landings, computers of the type we call artificial intelligence and other things before they existed. Besides deiscovering shipwrecks, at least one of which was full of treasure, he wrote many novels and short stories. His treatment of starships in 2001 is sort lost in the presence of working portals, one of which was left on the moon at the dawn of mankind. But in several of his novels he describes human s seeding the stars in ships that travel fro hugely long periods of time run by computers which retrieve crews from suspended animation and then help them rise to new function when they reach the star. He may even discuss the use of frozen embryos in providing the bulk of the population base. This is very far from Star Trek’s warp drive or Star War’s hyperdrive or Dune’s Spacefolding Guildsmen.

I have never published a novel and most of the of the ones I have written could be classified as unfinished. However, I have written several set in the period when the solar system is being colonized. A future I feel should be our focus of attention. I have set one or two in the period when human civilization well established in the whole or much of the solar system is invaded by interstellar aliens. I have written very lirrle about humans going to other stars. Partly this is because I feel science fiction ought to entice us into the right future when it is engineering science fiction and our thoughts should be on colonizing the sloar system. However, in my view of the future I have a pretty good idea of how starships ought to come into play.

The most important factor about interstellar travel initiated by the human race is that it would be by far the best if it came after about 500 years of intense development of the Solar System. When there are thousands of operatiing populated spaceships, a dozen or more space stations and large factories and ports on the Moon and Mars fed by Lunar and Martian farms and with labor and finace experienced in space then interstellar travel and starships will have a different appeal than they can as we live in a world where perhaps none of the things listed above will ever happen. I believe we can begin to envision many of the steps we have to undertake. I have included some drawings and illustrations that I have posted in the Crater Cap Concept Colony Group as milestone on that projected road.

Humanity must perfect the colonization of craters in varied situations.
Robotic ships on Mars starting the process will be a kind of simple practice for interstellar colonization as well as being the basis of much of the future economy.
Craters will become huge complexes of cities and farms in some cases. But robots can start the all-important capping process.
Eventually systems like my catapult idea would tie Earth to continuos and efficient launches into space just as imports fom space colonies and prodution for space in space will create a huge part of the economy.

What we need to do to get to be a species that lives engaged with the universe of our perception is first to dwvlope this solar system. This process will of course vastly impact our societies and culture. Not doing it is already having an impact. I believe this process can involve creation of entire Earethly eco-systems in canyons. It can be largely humane and part of a larger blossoming of human culture. One of my new Facebook friends Shaun Waterford is developing (and has largely developed) asystem of underwater habitats. I think colonizing the Moon and Mars can lead toa great synergy and cross-fertilization of ideas with those who want to explore the great potential of responsibly colonizing the pelagic ocean floor, seamounts and underwater coastal flats. Most problems will be different between spae and the sea. However, a huge number of problems will be the same, similar or have complimentary solutions. So what could life in space be like?

A view from above of a mature crater cap colony. The white sheet is the uppermost of numerous layers in the crater cap. It allows the features to be studied from space. The blue discs are solar power centers. The two railways intersect with a single airlock on the surface sheet. The colony has almost no profile, farms, towns and mines are below the surface.
If colonization is centered in craters there will still be plenty of astronomical observatories, laboratories, pipelines and spaceports which allow the colonists to have an exposure to their unearthly surroundings which over a lifetime amounts to something we can scarcely imagine. However, in the Crater Cap Concept Colonies life could be very much like earth except that it would be lived in an earthly ecosystem and by earhtly pople under conditions of one sixth or one third gravity. There is norassurance it will be well done but if it were done well life could be pretty good there. Good in the minds of ordinary folk who are not as interested in science fiction as I am — is a possibility in space colonies.
Using entranceds to mines that radiate from the crater with its central fertile fields and pure cliff dwellings that draw from traditionms such as the Anasazi and Nabateans beautifula nd functional residences with extra safety from breached caps would not use the fertile floors of the crater colonies. Each country and colony could devlope a unique architecture i each miniature world that a crater would constitute.
Many animals could adapt to life in these crater colonies. Chickens could roost high on the walls and fly though the pressurized air in low g. with their aerating feet and droppings they would help in the phese of turning the floors of regolith into real soil.
Larger crater rims would have parks around some of the more massive foundations of the cap. These parks would be outside themain warm and wet circulation of airin the colony.
This would enable a cooler driier microclimate to make for a more pleasantly diverse living environment.
Fish living in bodies of water on the moon and mars would be able to fill a normal idf assisted ecosystem. Then children vould carry emergency vaccum suits in sealed cans as a weight when venturing into this wilderness area. They would benefit from the incidentla weight training. Adults might be allowed to determin e their own risk and decide to use the suit/weight cases or not.

There is of course a lot more to the future than we can address by looking to space colonization. I am very much aware that John Hope Franklin has died this week. He was a black man and a scholar of African American History as well as being an active leader and scholarly planner
of the civil rights movement. John Hope Franklin died at ripe old age. However, the possibilites for collaboration between various groups and peoples would be much more promising if we were colnizing space and greatly increasing real and potential resources. Jesus said “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” Frankilin spent a great deal of time trying to figure out ways for varied people to live together in a way that seemed more abundant to him. There is no guaranty that we will act wisely and fairly in a world of objective abundance but objetive abundance is part of what all people of goodwill should be working towards.

Science fiction is one of the arts of our own time and place. We are invited by it to look at what we can do and how e can do it. I do hope though that because somuch of our fiction is interstellar we are not distracted fro the great adventure in our solar system which really is calling to us and which will shape much of our destiny.

The End

A Personal and Objective Take on Outer Space

This post originaly appeared on Facebook in January but two new drawings have been added and a few typos corrected in this version.

Outer space is that portion of the universe that is farther from the center of the Earth than the highest reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere. It makes up more than 99.99999999999999% of the universe which we can physicaly perceive. If we were to divide up all of the physical space we can see or detect equally among all the inhabitants of the Earth the amount of space occupied by all humans alive today would make a minute and entirely insignificant portion of the share belonging to each person. However, most of that space is dark empty and has hardly any atomic particles in it and it is so far away that physicaly using those particles in any way in the next 100 generations can’t be reasonably imagined. But even our solar system alone would allow us to use a fraction nearly as big as that we started this argument with or maybe bigger. In the solar sytem most of the oxygen is in outer space, most of the carbon is in outer space, most of the hydrogen is in outer space, most of the helium is in outer space, most of the metals we call precious are almost cerianly there and the metals we need for highly specialized uses abound in outer space. It is almost certain that there is more liquid water under the ice of Jupiter’s moon Europa than there is on Earth. Nothing between the Sun and the orbit of Pluto is intrinsically beyond the reach of our own basic technology to reach, tag and return from roboticaly. Cost, law, design glitches and time are clearly identifiable obstacles. I said these things were not intrinsically impossbible by rearranging and refining existing technology. Given thse basic facts, I believe that an aggressive space policy is in the interest of all humans and of the Earth and all its species so long as it is mostly a wise policy or even largely a wise policy.

What inspires me to write this note today is the small concept group which I mentioned in my last Facebook note. I believe that the development of outer space is as important as anything else that confronts human beings in our age. The concept group is called Crater Cap Concept Colony Group. It is not the only group of people exploring the possibilities of space as a group and it is not the biggest such group either. However, it is certainly the only one that I have founded on Facebook. So that rates it an important mention in these notes.

Space colonization follows a chain going from observation, to exploration, to travel and exploration and then to stationing. After these things comes colonization. Space colonization has the chance to be the biggest change in human economy since the development of agriculture. The coming of agriculture was not an unmixed blessing but it was one of the most justifiable of all social changes in human history. Had humanity not become agricultural sooner or later things would have become much worse than they have gotten so far. Life today awaits at a crossroads as great as that of agriculture.The great works of irrigation for large scale agriculture created the mighty powers that ruled ancient China and Egypt and created societies that could pour weatlh into purchases that enabledother peoples to change from nomadic hunting or nomadic herding to a combination of nomadic herding and carrying trade goods. It enabled fisherfolk to increase their population by adding waterborne trade to their fishing economy. It enabled warrior bands to enter int0 long-term contracts with landholding kings and to earn a living partly from keeping the peace.  Agriculture really made a different human world and remade much of the world as well. The best hunter-gatherers were actually richer, healthier and freer than the new farmers but in the end the choice of the species as a whole to emphasize agriculture was a choice vital to both survivial and any real chance of prosperity. I think that space colonization requires a simlar leap and offers similar sets of consequences. I don’t really expect to live to see a working colony on the Moon or Mars. However, as long as I do live I will apply some of my energy to that transition humanity must make towards becoming a space colonizing species. The Crater Cap Concept Colony is the model I think we should be pushing towards making a reality.

While astronomy has always been a discipline that was a significant teacher and leader into fields of knowledge for much of the human race’s journey into development — it must yield to the leadership of those who will build permanent and sustainable colonies. On the day when Humans have a few colonies on the moon with tens of thousands of residents each it will be very easy to make huge progress i astronomy. However, aiming only for a golden age of astronomy will not necessarily bring about lunar colonization. The larger possibility must find the rank and leadership in these areas.

Craters are distinct features which can be studied and which have common characteristics. They exist on the Earth, the Moon, Mars, asteroids, several moons of our solar systems planet and can be theorized to exist in or near many other objects around our sun or other stars. Capping a crater has an intrinsic economic and resource wisdom to it because one is using the enormous energy already expended in creating the bowl and only creating one side. Frequently one could achieve enormous benefeits in blicking our cosmic rays and radiation. All of these benefits are true even for asteroids. However, in larger round objects like the Moon and Mars it is very likely that one could use the gravity to create a highly functioning biospheric hemisphere. In terms familiar to some, one could make a terrarium including one or more aquaria. Whether or not there is air or liquid water on the heavenly body would have little to do with the success of the crater cap colony. People could live in these and that is the basis of our little concept group.

just a crude drawing of a robot for for the Mars early phase
Second drawing of MATCHES (Mars Access to Crater Habitat Exploration Ship)
Last of MATCHES drawings.
I also think that once there is a crater colony (or certainly a few crater colonies) thriving on the moon then one would have a basis for many industries.  Things manufactured on the moon would be esily lifted and deployed to Mars colonization, to space ships, to Earth orbiting stations and to asteroid miners. One sixth gravity is economic magic that would make all solar system operations entirely different. Producing goods in . pace and dropping them to earth is intrincsically cheap. Thus carbon fuels highly refined could be lifted to the moon wherthe will be mixed with gasses made impure for colonies by various accidents and industries. These fuels would lift six times as much from the Moon as the would from the Earth and these fuels would not affect Earth’s air and climate when burned. Very precious things would be “downported” by Earth to maintain a balance. In the distant future components of landing craft returning to Earth would be built with precious metals needed by agencies and nations on Earth. This would create a flow of commerce to bring our population base into outer space. Within a few centuries perhaps a significant minority of cities and farms could be in outer space without any flash bang science that includes things we cannot imagine.

Once we have a couple of crater colonies on the moon we would need geosynchronous sattelite and another base perhaps at an L point between lunar and Terran gravity. These would be the places where all aging nuclear waepons were diposed of by either being loaded on spacecraft for second or third explosions or used in initial explosions to launch really massive spacecraft to move very fast on the way to other colonies and smaller robotes on their way to the stars.

None of this is pure fantasy. I think we should divide up most of the surface of the Moon and Mars among all of earth’s nations unequally, sell some as new national sites and keep a good portion as a permanent UN mandate. Failing to act wisely now either means we willl lose humanity’s greatest economic opportunity or else nd up with a really horrible policy made under more pressing conditions. I am not optimistic that we will make good choices. But I think our behavior in this century will determine the human future’s outlook for all of foreseeable human society.

I am committed to specific goals but I support all who are sincerely striving for a human future in space that is wise and sustainable. Good luck and God Bless to all of you out there. I am not a likely expert or member of the space community but I cherish this hope for an expanding future. Perhaps the amateurish perspective will cost me a few Facebbok friends. I lost two inj the first year and have lost four lately. However, I am grateful for the professionals on my list at the time of this writing.

The Body

I first wote this on tax day of 2009 on Facebook. My April 15, 2009 note was under the title “The Body: More Unavoidable than Death or Taxes”. This has not been changed or corrected.

My physical health this week has been pretty bad while not being too bad for me to write a Facebook Note. It is probably mostly because of this kind of physical illness that I am wrting about the body. My parents have each had some kind of cancer scare recently. I have no health insurance. A life time of adventures leaves my body mapped with scars and if I look around I can find lots of reasons to wonder how long my body will hold together. I worry too about others and take an interest both in sports and in many other forms of physical activity. So I am writing a rambling and incomplete note about the body.

Humanity and the human body have been discussed at very great length by a very great number of writers. I am writing this series of Facebook notes not so much becuase I am confident that my doing so will add greatly to the total dialog or body of knowledge but more because I must do all I can for reasons not always easy to explain. Although 44 is hardly ancient, I have reached a stopping place in a very long and arduous journey. This is drawing upon a year of writing these Facebook notes. About the time my birthday rolls around it will be a good time to have completed this series of My Thoughts about a good number of topics. In one year one can map out a good bit of one’s mental and spiritual landscape. My own journey through this year has been aided by writing these notes which have been more personal than anything else which I have treated as much like a publication.

One aspect of the human body which is among the most important I have addressed a bit in an earlier note adressing the subject of Manhood. I hope that I am soon able to address the subject of Womanhood in another note similarly devoted to the subject. It seems abundantly clear to me that among the most important things about the human body is that it comes in two types we call sexes which cut across or organize all other types very significantly. We call this pair of types the sexes. But in this note I am dealing with sexual differentiation only very incidentaly.

The human body is of course at the very personal level of things one can discuss. The problems and concerns of society are more removed from our most personal concerns and feelings. Life impinges upon us very distinctly when it is made physical. Most people, if they are honest even with themselves find rape a much more certain and definable crime than sexual harassment. They find battery more easily pictured and more likely to be fairly punished than “intentional infliction of emotional distress”. The fabulous wedding ceremony and public anouncement are all well and good but it is sexual intercourse that consumates a marriage in most societies. Sickness is recognized as an excuse for absence from work far more often than most excuses not involving bodily impairment. We live in an age of movies, the internet, telephones, faceless bureaucracies and corporations that deal with hundreds of millions of strangers and we still recognize how real things become when they affect our bodies. It seems very likely that people living through all of the many other human generations were far more tied to the significance of the body.

Any experienced proclaimer of the Christian faith knows that– while many Christians disagree on how to express what Christ was doing in the Crucifixion, why he was doing what he did and what it meant to God and Man– all are agreed that it is intrinsic and essential to the story that Jesus was in great physical pain and that he laid down his bodily life and was executed after being sentenced to death. Both death and a very physical suffering are essential to the redemptive mystery of Jesus Christ. Jesus who fed and healed so many bodies in the course of his ministry of teaching and preaching was subjected to the grim arts and sciences of those devoted to destroying bodily health and integrity. Had Jesus simply been humanely poisoned like Socrates then Christianity would be very different indeed. Perhaps it would be nearly unrecognizable.The horrific violence of his death and his ministry of peace and healing are so poetic a contrast that they can be somehow distorted and exagerated. We can and indeed have lost sight of the other violence on Jesus’s side of the picture and the violence of third parties. But the physical violence he suffered is indeed essential to the whole story.

Michel Foucault, who was among other things a French Philiospher and cultural critic of some note, has given us a number of books which show the bodily aspect of social and cultural development and of political history. One of his books “Sex, Power and the Politics of Identity” focuses on how sexual understandings of the person and the body create a set of connections between political power and sexuality. Two of the other books are “Discipline and Punish” and “Madness and Civilization”. Foucault takes care to show how power over bodies is a vital part of the development of all real power structures. I think that I am aware of my own body slipping away from its maximum and best capacities and uses in very many ways. I am just so very far from feeling good even at times when I do not feel bad. But I do relish the times and ways in which I do feel well. For me and for many of us the body provides a sort of counter which like an odometer in a car records the mileage put on the vehicle. On the other hand, like a counter to a space launch it counts down minutes of vitality. We may have fortunate times when we are not so aware of trhe aging process but mostly we are aware of it. Life gets harder and less comfortable and the potential for doing any good dimiishes. This is not everyone’s experience. Although all who survive age, not all perceive it the same way. “Life is hell” may be a sincere exclamation for many but certainly not all. If one is happy in other ways the small inconveniences of aging are not such serious detriments. If one is fully engaged then life seems to go on tolerably apace.

I am wrting part of this having no room that is an office of my own and lying across the bed in a room which has ankle braces, a variety of nonprescription medication, reading glasses and other things remind me of how much goes into the small and somewhat shabby production that is getting me into each day and through its list of demands. I am grateful for these helps and for the decent mattress which is better than some I have had over the years. I would love to live near a practically swimmable body of water every day (and if the water is right then swimming is more or less the only exercise I can do daily). But I do some walking on the days when my feet are not excessively swollen or otherwise out of form. Of course the more I am able to walk and do so the fewer times these feet are out of commission. With ear canals damaged by years of altitude changes, firearms, infections, loud music and loud cities I cannot swim in our fish pond. Only the salt seas and swimming pools will work for me.

I have felt a lot better than I do today. Today I am in a good amount of pain. When I can, I often take Gucosamine for my joints, saw palmetto for my prostate, at least one decongestant, sometimes cough syrup, aspirin and ibuprofen for pain, an herbal mix for weight loss, a coenzyme for cardio vascular health and a mutli-vitamin. This routine of pill taking joins with my ankle braces and reading glasses as a daily reminder of how much I am struggling to maintain what is not a great level of health and fitness in the first place. I have had years when I was in better condition and years when I was in worse condition. However, the function and development and idea of the human body have long been of interest to me. I am much better for the time I devoted to athletic and fitness pursuits. However, I am not even average in a variety of ways. working out for me has always been something that produced mixed results. One of the fascinating things about having some distinct physical limitations throughout one’s life is that one is able to the world through a separate lense.

I will probably mess up the classic formulation, but in China a scholar was expected to be able to play chess, master calligraphy, create brush drawings of hard to reach sites and master the martial arts. While such a classic Imperial formulation may have been cruel to those genuinely gifted in some areas but challenged in others it did produce a great deal of the beauty, balance and productivity of several of China’s golden ages. As with the Western Renaissance I think we need to re awaken those balanced forces as values. There have been times when I at least approached these ideals — perversely as I write this bit of advocacy I am very far from such wholeness. My body is on the whole a bit run down and it has never met everyone’s standards although it has proiven satisfactory to me and many others on many occasions and in various measures.

When Jesus healed people it is mentioned sevderal times that those around him asked whether the person was sick or injured because of the injured person’s own sin or because of the sin of their parents. It seems to have been one of Jesus’s principal preoccupations as a teacher to distinguish physical infirmity from moral turpitude. Jesus’s own stance and examle is scandalous at times to a world which in so many ways is medically defined and dominated. He did order people to receieve the certified medical examoinations, did encourage exercise, warmth and full stomachs for many who would not have had them. However, there is no doubt that the historical Jesus was aware and a bit defensive about the fact that in someways he encouraged lower standards of hygiene than other religious leaders in his tradition. Despite exigent circumstances this is the one part of his legacy where I in good conscience have found something to agree with in the claims and criticisms of his critics and even enemies. I believe Jesus brought a lot of clean order to a messy world but he also exposed many to meesy and filthy parts of the world they might otherwise have been able to avoid. Jesus was far beyond almost anyone else’s courage and engagement with the wastes of the world in many senses. He must be portrayed as someone who rejoiced in and understood the body. He lived a life in the world of feasts, the desert, the seashore, grain felds, capentry, fishing boats, The Great Temple, woman and children. His body was engaged in his life, work, thought and ministry. It was not by turning off the body and the brain that he would find his way to heaven and lead his flock to heaven. Rather he said to those living active lives, the kingdom of heaven is within you.

His cousin John he often praised and John may well have spent some of his life as an Essene Monk. These wouldbe among the very few Jewish Monks in the history of Judaism. Jesus himself would often slip off alone to pray. But just as Jesus does manifest some of the qualities and experiences of the type of king who lives all his life in a palace and yet he is nothing like them in many ways so it is with monasticism. Jesus is the monk-like seeker of prayer and solitude who endures fasting. But Jesus integrates this with much more of his life’s many assets and aspects. He is in the world but not of it. But he is no less in the world. Jesus is no libertine but is sometimes thought to be one, he is very much one committed to living his life through physical experience. I myself was once very attracted to the life of Christian monasticism and I respect many teachings learned from Buddhist monks. The great Kung Fu and Zen traditions of Buudhist Monks in China and Japan respectively are powerful examples of the Body being magnificently developed even as it is constrained and disciplined.

When I taught in China I often tried to discuss the connections, contrasts and similarities between China’s ancient martial arts regimes and the Olympic Games which had just been played in Greece and would next be played in China. Watching the Olympics in Beijing was a powerful eperience even though I watched on television from the United States. I saw China struggling to find the fullness of what it can be in the future drawing on what it has been and what it can see as possible. I still love the Olympic tradition. As much as I enjoyed the recent NCAA Men’s basketball championships we call March Madness the Olympics is so much more. Amid so many idealistic and varied stroies we are bound to find one that inspires us.

Today my foot pain and fatigue and the last edges of some respiratory illness nag at me. I wonder if the nails, dog’s teeth, exotic insects, snake’s venomed fangs or crushing wheels which have injured my already imperfect feet during my life have left some additional microbial or neurological injuries or conditions which are going to show forth in new and mysterious ways. Few people succumb to rare diseases picked up long ago and forgotten but if one were to create a likely candidate for such a death it would be I. From world record setting drmant rabies, to tetanus to parasites with long and obscure names I could always be surprised within the realm of medical possibility. What is certain is that I hurt and feel poorly now. So I seek in memory and in other places for Olympic types of inspiration. Whatever shall be shall be. I may not be Michael Phelps but I can rush out to meet whatever challenges my life holds. At least I hope that I can.

Christians are the only existing great religious community whose sacred scriptures refer repeatedly to the Olympics. The Olympics celebrate all of humanity but through the body. China’s recent olympics connected with its monastic martial arts tradition but saw the body celebrated openly and publicly in a defferent Olympics tradition. The New Testament discusses winning prizes, racing, boxing, the training of athletes in themselves and more strongly as metaphors for the spitiual life. Today I drag my body along a bit. Sometimes my body fuels my race through life. I wish all of you good and appreciated health.