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Blue Spider's Coffee House

Truth, Love, Beauty and all things Virtuous

Month

July 2015

Let’s Not Forget to Forgive the Mess

Medieval Art Pic 1

The other day was almost a perfect day. I worked a little, played a little, socialized a little, and even caught a movie on Amazon Prime, What We Do In the Shadows. A fairly funny movie. I enjoyed most of it, but I loved how Stew, an IT guy, hangs out with the vampires and liked how the Nick character does all the things vampires don’t traditionally shouldn’t do. And I will never forget, for the sake of my kids, that “werewolves are not swearwolves”.

One of the items on my to-do list for the day was to clean up my backyard. My backyard went crazy with weeds when we were out of town. I definitely had more weeds than grass. It would probably take a couple of years to learn the name of the all the weeds we had in our backyard. I came up with a few like Bart, Phoebe, Matilda and Soren (that one was for my ancestors), but after a while the names started to run together and there were a lot of weeds.

Did I say it was “almost” a perfect day? Well after doing yardwork I came into the house and must of walked all over the downstairs because it didn’t take long for me to realize I hadn’t taken off my shoes and I had tracked dirt all over. In a panic, I got out the broom and started sweeping like mad before my awesome wife came downstairs. I don’t remember walking so much but the more I swept the more I kept finding dirt. Half way through the second sweeping my devoted wife surprised me by making it in downstairs and God bless her she only sighed once before reminding me of the need to take off my shoes before walking through the house.

Not one to hold a grudge, my cheerful and gentle wife offered to make me some eggs and I was all in. Everything was cool again, until….I violently sneezed eggs several times all over the living room floor (thank goodness for dogs, they were right on it) all over me, and all over our Lazy-Boy. All I could hear while I was sneezing was my wife muttering matter-of-factly, “Good Grief” and I thought I heard something that sounded like Jehoshaphat.

After a little break, I finished caulking our windows in the hallway and upstairs while my wife was out. I will be the first to say that I am pretty sure about the man part, but the “handy” part I am still not so sure. Caulking should be relatively easy, but the dang shades in my wife’s upstairs room kept getting in the way and the one shade would not go up. I was able to clean up the shades, but I could not get the other one up and after what seemed like 10 minutes gave up. My wife, the saint she is, quietly came home and fixed the shade in a matter of seconds.

As I said the rest of the day was a peach, we spent time relaxing and then later on with spent time hanging out with friends. At the end of the day, my wife, the gem she is, forgave all my mistakes and being shallow and lacking total understanding I told her that I forgave her too.

Confuscius Say: Language and The Truth of Things

Confucious Pic 1

“If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language is not on accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, properties and music do not flourish.”

I Am A Child and All the World Waits for My Coming

I am the Child
All the world waits for my coming
All the earth watches with interest to see
What I shall become.
Civilization hangs in the balance,
For what I am, the world of tomorrow will be.

I am the Child
I have come into your world, about which I know nothing.
Why I came I know not;
How I came I know not.
I am curious; I am interested.

I am the Child
You hold in your hand my destiny.
You determine largely, whether I shall succeed or fail.
Give me, I pray you, those things that make for happiness
Train me, I beg you, that I may be a blessing to the world.

-Mamie Gene Cole

As We Roam O’er the Heather: Balancing Justice and Mercy

Nothing like a mellow Sunday afternoon stroll to restore your soul. My lady and I enjoyed walking on an abandoned dirt road, looking out at the different ranches set against the backdrop of the Sierras and a deep blue sky. There were the different birds flit and flittering about and a very busy mama bird chasing both an owl and an eagle away from its nest. As we continued to frolic a red-tailed hawk screeched for us. Meanwhile we were trying to impress each other (okay it was mostly me) with our most recently gathered nature facts. Mine was the extinction of the passenger pigeon, even though there were no pigeons on our walk and passenger pigeons were native to the East Coast, I still had to share this irrelevant piece of information. I was so excited when I was telling my wife about their extinction I almost burst out of my maroon knickers.

I’ve noticed as I am getting older I surprise myself at how much satisfaction I get out of watching and talking about birds. But there is one bird that gives me no joy and that would be a pigeon. No offense to pigeons, but their presence annoys me and I find them to be a nuisance. Have you ever seen a pigeon chick? Eww! We once had pigeon’s nest on our roof and one day when we were coming home from a one of our hootenannies we found a baseball sized sickly colored gray body with yellow fuzz all over it in our driveway missing it’s heart (the handiwork of our cat, Ziggy) in our driveway. It was not pretty.

Even though I find our pets to be not very smart when compared to humans, I do still find myself every once in a while learning from them. They have managed to show me on many occasions that life and nature are not fair. Allowing me to be a special witness to their killings, which oftentimes is the result of them preying on weaker or injured animals. Of course, we’ve had coyotes return the favor by injuring our cat (Ziggy, again). There is always somebody higher up the food chain. There is very little mercy shown up the food chain in nature, except for humans. We’ve learned not to eat cats and dogs (well, most of us). Not many of us would eat larger mammals like whales, horses, elephants, moose, and giraffes and many shy away from eating grubs, cockroaches, worms and other insects.

For the most part humans seem to be the only animal not only capable of complex, abstract reasoning, but also capable of generous helpings of mercy. Humans at their best can always find occasion to forbear. Mercy is that well-spring of the nobler race we seek to be. Mercy is the counterbalance that keeps applications of justice from turning into oppression and vengeance. Mercy is what keeps us from becoming the Hatfields and McCoys, the Hutus and Tutsi’s, and aggrieved terrorists in search of seventy-two virgins. It’s what keeps us from tearing each other a part for all the wrongs, real or imagined, we do to each other. In other words, mercy is good thing.

Mercy wooden sign with a desert background

Unfortunately, we now live in an emotionally-charged era that seems to be all about inflicting our versions of justice on others without mercy and without wisdom or insight. Oftentimes using euphemisms and gibberish to make our case for applying this modern brand of justice. The truth of the matter is that seeking out justice can be a very dangerous endeavor without mercy. Mercy is a virtue cultivated through personally striving for moral excellence in our lives, seeking to become an upright and honest soul. This pursuit of moral excellence if it is done with humility and without self-righteousness and self-deception is what gives us the requisite understanding of humanity to dispense justice correctly.

It’s difficult to provide a just and accurate measure of others without this understanding. One of the best definitions of justice comes from Robert Reilly. He points out that the classical definition of justice is giving things what is their due according to what they are and to act justly one must first know what things are. Justice correctly applied requires us to the question the Nature of things. For example, Robert Reilly remarks that if a person cannot distinguish between a man and a dog than they might end up treating a man like a dog and a dog like a man. The end of thing then determines whether an action toward it is a use or an abuse, an act of injustice. Without this knowledge, one cannot act justly. This is why justice should be dispensed carefully and always with an ample dose of mercy and care.

We as humans are terrible at seeing things as they are. I think part of the journey here on earth is to learn to be humble enough to see things as they are and not get selfishly stuck in seeing things as we want them to be and getting lost in all the gibberish and clever euphemisms that muddy the water of understanding.

Men are not Gods

“…the suggestion that one can design a whole society from scratch through the power of reason alone is fraught with problems. Men are not gods, and we cannot abstract our way into becoming them.“-Jonah Goldberg

 

Hoop Dee Doo-When There’s A Fiddle in Middle

AccordionHoop-dee-doo, hoop-dee doo
I hear a polka and my troubles are through
Hoop-dee-doo, hoop-dee-dee
This kind of music is like Heaven to me

Hoop-dee-doo, hoop-dee-doo
Has got me higher than a kite
Hand me down my soup and fish
I am gonna get my wish, hoop-dee-doin’ it tonight

When there’s a trombone playin’
I get a thrill, I always will
When there’s a concertina stretched about a mile
I always smile ’cause that’s my style

When there’s a fiddle in the middle
Oh, it really is a riddle how he plays a tune so sweet
Plays a tune so sweet that I could die
Lead me to the floor and hear me yell for more
‘Cause I’m a hoop-dee-doin’ kind of guy

Hoop-dee-doo, hoop-de-doo
I hear a polka and my troubles are through
Hoop-dee-doo, hoop-de-dee
This kind of music is like Heaven to me

Oh, hoop-dee-doo, hoop-de-doo
Has got me higher than a kite
Hand me down my soup and fish
I am gonna get my wish, hoop-dee-doin’ it tonight

When there’s a trombone playin’
He gets a thrill I get a thrill,
I always will He always will

When there’s a concertina
Stretched about a mile
I always smile
You’ll see him smile
‘Cause that’s my style
‘Cause, that’s his style

The Problem with Growing Up

isabel-croft-jumping-rope-brooklyn-ny-1972“Adults aren’t disappointing simply because we have grown bigger, or obtained jobs, or taken on responsibilities. We are disappointing because for many of us these pursuits have taken on a disproportionate importance. We have forgotten how to see the world as it actually is and are blinded by appearances. We see people as statistics, education as functional, food as fuel, clothing as utilitarian, books as unnecessary luxury, and religion as morality. We vastly over-value what we can experience with the senses….spending our days working over our books, counting everything up, claiming ownership of all we can fit in the ledger, and failing to see that we live in a whole, wild universe filled to the brim with stars somewhere in the midst of which one, unique rose lives on a planet and calls out for love.”—Michael Rennier

Do the Right Thing: Things Unseen

Caracal Kitten

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”-The Little Prince

There is much more to life than what can be seen. And it is only with a heart bent on individual virtue (doing the right thing)- instead of outwardly imposing social justice on the rest of us- that we can begin to see the richness of life and our relationships and begin understand the mysteries of life (the Love of God and His Son, Jesus Christ-yes, that is the mystery).

Doing the right thing is easy and simple– it’s been the same freakin’ recipe for thousands of years. Doing the right thing is so easy, even a monkey could do it (scratch that monkeys do not really know right from wrong. If they did why would they toss pooh? That’s right Bobo, I haven’t forgot my last visit to the Seattle Zoo. But give a monkey another million years and evolution will kick in, all you have to do is just believe, all eleven of my monkey digits are crossed).

For whatever reason, we struggle to do the right thing. We often miss the mark, we want social complexity and mess, we want to be foxy clever, and are quick to point out the problems of everyone else, the mote in someone’s else eye  (this is often disguised as a social justice but very little justice it appears is dispensed this way). We’re have a tendency from time to time to be insecure, impatient, jealous, greedy, and whiney to a fault (And, I know this because if I am an expert on these things. Being selfish is what I do best). And this trips us up.

Ponder this, if you work on seeing people as God sees them, exercising faith, patience, kindness and long-suffering, you’d start to develop the spiritual eyes and the understanding to participate in God’s love for humanity. Take off the blinders of race, gender, and sexuality that have become politicized by both sides and you get to see people as just people with personalities, talents, strengths and weaknesses with a ton of potential. People who want to define themselves and others as white, black, gay or straight, they truly limit themselves and their outlook on life (You do realize that this seemingly harmless bit of common sense, a variant of Dr. King’s Dream [a variant on the teachings of Christ], is in 2015 viewed by some as politically incorrect and possibly racist and homophobic, go figure). I guess to a degree what was once considered common sense could now be seen as speaking “truth to power”.

Doing the right thing goes directly to how you treat yourself and how you treat others. It has a lot to do with being selfless and doing service to others. It also has a lot to do with correctly understanding what your true nature is and having a correct understanding of your relationship with family, friends, neighbors, community, and God.  Doing the right thing has very little to do with equality, eating organic, worshipping mother earth, cutting taxes, or border patrols. If those are to be virtues then they are secondary, tertiary, or maybe even periphery virtues. They are less effective virtues, if they are to be such.

Think about it. What good does it do you if you eat organic foods all the livelong day, if you fail as a parent or neighbor? What kind of world are you leaving behind for your kids when you are more concerned with hugging trees than hugging a child who has had a bad day. Yeah, nobody is going to see the hugging and healing nor are they going to be giving out environmental awards for your selfless act, but I guarantee that you’ll do more for humanity and mother earth by quietly being there for others (thanks Ma and Da), especially those you are directly responsible for, when they need an emotional or spiritual lift.

I believe there is a connection between individual virtue and the health of the environment. And there is a huge connection between individual virtue, humility and social justice. There is a huge potential in investing in individual virtue. By investing, though, I don’t mean more taxes and regulations-that is counterproductive and only creates new problems and creates new ways for being dishonesty. It’s a vicious circle, man. Goodness come from a light, a divine spark, from within.

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