Do we value life too much?

My cat Buddy, always an indoor cat, recently discovered the wonder of his own feline power:  He can break through window screens and escape to enjoy the great outdoors. He did it twice this week. My response (thus far) has been to make sure any window is open just a crack. His response in turn, has been to let me know he regards me as a jailer, or at the very least, as a bad parent, meowing and clawing at the window panes intermittently throughout the day.

Not that I’d ever anthropomorphize, but our conversation the last few days has been something like this:

Buddy: Hey Dad, I want to go out, OK?

Me: No, it’s not okay.  You’re an indoor cat. You’re staying here with me.

Buddy: C’mon, Dad! I’ve already shown you I’m responsible. I don’t go too far away, and I always come back home.

Me: I understand and appreciate that. But it’s because I love you. You’re my little Buddy-cat, and I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.

Buddy: You should talk! You leave home every day!  Sometimes several times!

Me: That’s different. I’m a human being. I have to go to work to make the money to pay for things like our apartment and your cat food. But you’re a cat. Outdoor cats generally die much younger than indoor cats. And they’re more likely to get hurt in fights with dogs and other cats, and to have problems with fleas, parasites, and illnesses.

Buddy: But I can take care of myself!  Remember when I ate the cockroach? I didn’t get sick at all! And I practice martial arts every day with Talbot.  Sometimes I even beat him and he’s almost twice my size!

Me: Are your claws going to save you from the 18-wheelers on Hampton Blvd.?

Buddy: Do you think I’m stupid? There’s nothing on the other side of Hampton worth checking out anyway.

Me: So you’re not missing much if you stay here with Talbot and me.

Buddy: Yes I am! Freedom! Walking in the grass, on the sidewalk! Chasing birds, and hearing their songs so much clearer! Scratching trees instead of your mattress! Breathing fresh air! Sunbathing on the lawn! It feels so good! And I don’t have to worry about missing the stupid tiny litterbox that you always forget to clean!

Me: No.

Buddy: But the cat next door goes out!

Me: If the cat next door jumped off a cliff, would you?

Buddy: I’m not stupid! Why don’t you trust me?

Me: It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s just that it’s a mean world out there.

Buddy: Look, I can take care of myself.  I know what streets to cross and how to avoid traffic.  I can win or escape any fight. And that birth-control talk you gave me when you took me to the vet that time…

Me: I remember.

Buddy: Yeah, I remember, too, thanks for nothing!  Let’s just say the effects are still with me, and I won’t be getting any she-cats in trouble.  I’m old enough, I’ve got my shots, and my tags are RIGHT here!  C’mon, let me go out! Please!

Me: Buddy, I love you, but my answer’s still “no.”  C’mon, who wants a belly rub?

Buddy: I want to go out! I hate you!  You never care about what’s important to ME!

Actually that was the translation … we usually talk in Esperanto. But seriously, the reason I’m posting this is I’m beginning to see his POV. I was raised by over-protective parents, and I’m fully aware that over-parenting can be just as destructive as under-parenting. Is it better for a cat to live 15 -18 years pampered, fat and cramped, or maybe a few years less, but fully enjoying everything the world has to offer in the few blocks of his territory?

I wonder how this relates to other aspects of my life, and the world in general… I haven’t been skydiving yet. Maybe it’s time.  And maybe when I’m old and doctors are pressuring me for an iffy operation that might give me a “few more years” of a lesser quality, maybe I should say, “F-k you! I think I’d rather die in my own bed.” Everywhere, understandably humans try to extend life, and increase “security” as much as possible.  But nothing in the world guarantees or can guarantee long life or security. Does our drive for them stem partly, maybe even largely, from our insecurity?

I’m almost at the point of opening the door and telling him the feline Esperanto equivalent of “Okay, son, here are the keys… Don’t stay out too late.” What are your thoughts?

I’m not dead yet!

Seriously!  I didn’t mean to take an unannounced month off from blogging… (usually I announce those things) and I was startled to realize it’s been a month since my last post. As the Romans said, tempus is a fugitive. 🙂

Besides keeping busy on my job, I’m working on a new and exciting Web project, I’ve started learning French (mais oui!), am continuing with learning Esperanto, and have embarked  on the task of making some extensive changes to My spiritual life isn’t dead either, but it’s not quite as easy to summarize in sentence or two.

But at any rate, rumors of my death were greatly exaggerated! I feel happy… I think I’ll go for a walk!

An atheist, a monotheist, and a panentheist

An atheist, a monotheist, and a panentheist walk into a smoke-filled, crowded bar. The bartender is at the far end, but the atheist can’t see him through the haze. Finally the atheist declares to his monotheist friend, "There is no bartender." He turns away from the bar, and takes out a bottle of Dasani he brought with him.

The monotheist diligently looks for the bartender through the smoke, catches a glimpse of him, shouts and waves to get his attention, and orders a Scotch whiskey. After relishing a sip, he chides his atheist friend. "You foolish unbeliever," he says. "You don’t see the Bartender because you turned away, but just ask him, and he’ll hear you and give you anything you want. In just a moment I developed a  personal relationship with the Bartender, and this fine Scotch is proof." He turns to the panentheist for additional support and asks, "isn’t that right?"

The panentheist says, "Who cares? I’m stoned just from breathing the air in here!"

One Word

One Word screenshotProving reincarnation among human beings is challenging and controversial. However, proving reincarnation (redigitalization?) among blogs is much simpler. Case in point: Eternal Awareness, one of the wisest and most beautiful blogs (or even websites) that I’ve ever come across, is now deceased. Its recorded bits and bytes are slowly going the way of all data, to fragmentation and decay as the server endlessly spins, satisfying the incessant requests for information to manifest in the blogosphere.

But… a new blog has appeared on the spinning wheel of the world-wide Web! It’s called One Word, and carries the same spirit, written by the same author. One Word is unique though, just as every person is unique. Where Eternal Awareness was sublime and serious, One Word is playful and funny, but no less insightful. It’s a cyberspace Shiva enjoying his divinity and merrily dancing on the demons of ignorance.

In this incarnation, Shiva answers to the moniker of my friend Mark Warner, whom many of you know from reading Eternal Awarness. Mark decided to revitalize his blogging through a digital death and rebirth, and revitalized it is. One Word will blitz you with blasts of creativity, humor, art, insight, and joy at brisk intervals. Enjoy!

Beyond Belief: Rocky Is the Way

<sarcasm on>
Hey Pastor!

Rocky VIHaving a bit of trouble coming up with Sunday’s sermon? Is your congregation tired of those humdrum “Love your neighbor” messages that just make them feel guilty? Are they fed up with this “turn the other cheek” crap when there are countries to bomb and people to kill? Want to give them a Christmas message that won’t put them to sleep in that “Boring Town of Bethlehem” with the same old prayers for peace on earth?

Why not give them what they really want for Christmas: self-esteem! That’s right. More than Jesus, even more than fruitcake, they want to believe in themselves. At, we know how to help you care for your flock’s real needs. Visit for a message from our Sly guy on how vague “faith” and generic “values” moved him to make the sixth inspired epistle of St. Rocky Balboa to the Ticketbuyers.

But that’s not all! Check out our “Faith-based” Leader’s Guide. Our handy “five-round” plan can spare you from having to listen to the Spirit for a full five weeks! And if anyone needs a break from God, it’s you, right? Senior pastors, be sure to try Idea 1 in Round 4:

During your sermon, show a film clip from a Rocky movie that demonstrates the values of teamwork, and the futility of going it alone.

(After all, we know where that got Jesus, right?) And youth pastors, you can’t go wrong with Round 3, Idea 2:

Plan a TKO: The Kraziest Outreach. Get all five Rocky movies and do a Rocky-thon at the church—maybe on New Years’ Eve! Finish at the theater with Rocky Balboa! Stay awake!

If your youth don’t believe in hell now, they sure will after twelve consecutive hours in the ring with Rocky!

And just in case you have any doubts about our motives, or letting the Italian Stallion guide your flock for the next few weeks, just remember these two things: There’s no better way to celebrate the Lord’s birth than by spending money, and … Rocky isn’t gay!

<sarcasm off>
In all fairness, this movie is getting fairly good reviews. And as most of you know, I love to find spiritual parallels in movies… it’s the very reason I write reviews, and Rocky probably does have some excellent spiritual lessons. But something about the crassness of selling Rocky as spiritual resource on a par with the teachings of Jesus was more than I could take.

Listen to the NPR report on how Motive Media sucessfully converted some pastors (some very well-known) to sell this rocky “gospel” according to Sly.

Drew Goodmanson at least wasn’t one of them.
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Just in from Reuters: Virgin Birth Expected

And this just after I gave a speech at Toastmasters about contemplating the Virgin Birth as a mystical symbol! Reuters reports that a virgin birth is expected, possibly on Christmas Day, to a Komodo dragon in a London zoo. See article.

Hey, if dragons get salvation, a few verses in Revelation might need to be rewritten! Unless—what if Yeats was right?

What rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward London to be hatched?

Folks, it could be the Antilizard!

Happy Birthday, World!

Zach, at Monakhos, reminded me with his post today that Archbishop James Ussher’s calendar put the creation of the world at October 23rd, 4004 BC.

May the world have a very happy birthday, with many joyous returns!

BTW, this is also the birthday of my good friend, Gama Cartagena! Happy Birthday, G! Maybe all those Firefox parties were about something even bigger, eh?