Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Abstract Thinking

I was talking with an old friend on Easter morning, a friend from the church that I used to attend. I can't remember exactly what we were talking about. Maybe computers. He said he had never been able to grasp computers. He doesn't have the knack for abstract thinking. I asked him what the alternative is to abstract thinking and we concluded it must be concrete thinking.
While concrete thinking generally expresses itself in absolutes, black and white, right and wrong, good and evil, heaven and hell, God and Satan, abstract thinking doesn't require absolutes. Abstract thinking lies somewhere between the lines. Abstract thinking finds the color that lies between black and white. Abstract thinking finds the love that exists somewhere between right and wrong, between good and evil. In the words of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, "If you wanna get to Heaven you gotta raise a little hell."
My mind is lodged like a beached log in a river drive somewhere between abstract and concrete thinking. I don't know how it got that way, but I think I grew up primarily in a world of concrete thinking, in a world of absolutes. I broke from that mold in my mid-teens when I realized how dumb the early 1960s version of "The Creation" was as compared with the obvious alternative, evolution. At that time, the Biblical creation was presumed to have taken place about ten thousand years ago. Things have changed since then. I think now it's up to around forty thousand years ago. The dinosaurs were either in a previous creation, or never existed and God created the fossil record just to test our faith in the Bible, or all measures of time are in error and they actually did live and die within the past 40,000 or so years. The convenient answer is that all lost species and the fossil record happened at the time of "the flood."
As dumb as that whole debate seems, for me the acid test was that if life had to have a beginning, so did God, and if God didn't have a beginning, well He must not have lived. I abstracted my own little absolute, I suppose. But in doing so, I guess I opened up a door to the possibility of allowing myself to have more abstract thoughts. One of those thoughts was that I should try drugs. I tend to sense that most people haven't really tried drugs, at least not to the extent that I did, but many people have and have discovered abstract thoughts beyond the imagination of any concrete thinker. I sometimes wonder if abstract thinking may have originated eons ago when humans discovered such things as hallucinogenic mushrooms or the effects of burning hemp or who knows what else. I think the main reason society fears mind-altering drugs is because society fears abstract thinking. Society is built on absolutes. Society frames reality in absolutes. So drugs that shatter absolute concepts are threatening to the shepherds of society as well as to the sheep.
Love is an abstract. Beauty is an abstract. Forgiveness is an abstract. Truth is an abstract, and God is truth.
I wonder, though. Could it be that hate finds its base in absolutes? Could it be that there would be no way for one man to pass judgment against another if it weren't for the absolutes of concrete reasoning? Is "the deceiver" in fact concrete thought? Mind you I'm not saying it is, but I'm pondering the possibility.
This friend, by the way, flew Hueys in Vietnam and later fought forest fires with them. Hats off to him... a man of precision with nerves of steel.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

63 Million Pounds

I wonder how much the human population of Maine weighs. I'd guess that 63 million pounds would be somewhere around a third to a half of that amount. I just heard on local TV news that the Maine lobster catch for last year was 63 million pounds. Can you imagine that much Maine lobster? $254 million worth of lobster in just one year!

A Rare Orwellian Clarification
I was reading a March 30, 2005 article in the Asia Times titled "US scatters bases to control Eurasia":
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/GC30Ag01.html
The article quotes Senator John McCain on a recent trip to Kabul that America needs "permanent bases" in Afghanistan. Later, Senator McCain's office clarified his remarks. From the article:
"The US will need to remain in Afghanistan to help the country rid itself of the last vestiges of Taliban and al-Qaeda." His office also indicated that what McCain meant was that the US needs to make a long-term commitment, not necessarily "permanent" bases.

Does anybody recognize this wording? It would appear to me that in Bush's Orwellian Washington, the term "permanent military bases" is synonymous with making a long term commitment to stabilize a new government and rid the country of terrorists. Iraq, anyone? There's a word game in Washington to avoid using sensitive words such as "permanent" or, in the case of Social Security, "privatize."
Isn't it nice to finally know what one of these words mean? Just like Bill Clinton once said, it depends on what your definition of "is" is.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Easter

For the first time in my life, I'm beginning to have some serious doubts about Christianity, about what I always assumed to be a religion of truth. Blame Dan Brown for that. Ever since I read The DaVinci Code I've been realizing that the underlying truth of much of modern religious symbolism is hidden from us, masked to suppress the actual meaning.
Take Easter, for instance. This year Easter is in late March and Passover in late April. Yet Jesus was executed on the first day of Passover. For Christians, his blood represented the blood of the lamb which marked the doors of the enslaved Hebrews in Egypt when God exempted families in homes so marked from the execution of the first born males of Egypt. Jesus death was the ultimate sacrifice. Yet instead of celebrating the death of Jesus on the first day of Passover, Christians celebrate it in conjunction with "Easter" named for Pagan goddesses. The pagan holiday celebrates the fertility of springtime, as in "estrogen," the fertility hormone. Easter is officially on the first Sunday on or after the first full moon following the spring equinox. Nine months after the spring equinox is the winter solstice, the natural event associated with the celebration of Christmas, another Pagan holiday.
Jesus was a Jew and his sacrifice is said to have been on the first day of Passover, so if "Easter" is about Jesus, why is it celebrated on a Pagan holiday rather than on Passover? And why is the last place anyone would find the truth about this inside a Christian church? What, is God not truth?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Dick

Who is the Vice President of the United States? Who is this Cheney guy?
The Vice President is Dubya's Dick. He is the one George depends on when he needs to screw us.
Strange ideas come to us when we are overtired...
Some interesting reading here:
http://www.dubyaspeak.com/

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Signs of Spring

Living in the highlands of Maine has a way of altering some of life's common perceptions. Springtime is one of them. Generally when people speak of the signs of spring, they are referring to things like the emergence of flowers, blossoms on apple trees, and the budding of new leaves on all the hardwoods. But if we here in Maine were to wait for those signs, it would be at least halfway to summer most years before we could admit that spring is in the air. We have adapted, however, as humans will. We have a different set of signs here in Maine.
One of those signs is bright orange and reads vertically. It is found along the sides of the road and says "BUMP" which refers to the generally huge frost heave that lies ahead in the road. Spring is the season where the sun has enough warmth to melt the frost underneath the road surface, frost that can go as deep as four or five feet. When the frost doesn't melt evenly, the road surface develops depressions ranging in depth from a few inches to several feet. The "BUMP" signs mark the deeper ones.
Another of the signs of spring is the diminishing height of the snowbanks alongside the roads. The banks are generally at their maximum height in March, but the bright sun warms the sand and salt mixture in these banks causing them to melt much more quickly than the snow melts in the woods and fields. Since we look forward to the day when all the snow is gone, this early meltdown of the snowbanks is very encouraging to us.
Most Mainers call this time of year "mud season" rather than spring. The reason for that might be obvious. There can be a lot of mud around here when the snow melts. But it isn't only the melting snow that causes the mud. From March till May, and in some places even into June, frost in the ground formed during the long, cold winter slowly melts. Frost "heaves" the ground upward and when it melts, leaves the ground soft and very moist. The pressure of a car or truck or almost any machinery or even footprints on this soft ground creates instant mud. Woods operations generally cease for a month or more because of this mud to avoid causing deep ruts in the roads and skidder trails. This frost melt corresponds with the ice melt in the lakes, ponds, and rivers. As a general rule, that ice "goes out" of most of the lakes here in the highlands within a week or two either side of the first of May.
Yet another sign of spring around here is sapping season. That's maple sap which is used to produce maple syrup. My dad used to tap the maple trees on the farm each spring and spend a month or more boiling down the sap on an old propane gas stove in the barn. Normally, the snow depth in the woods at the beginning of sapping season is three or four feet, so he would drill the holes and set the taps and buckets only a foot or so above the level of the snow. We would create a trail from bucket to bucket using snowshoes.
In sapping season, when the temperature at night falls well below freezing but the sun brings daytime temperatures into the high 40s to low 60s, the sap runs. If the nights are above freezing or the days near or below freezing, or if there is much of a wind or precipitation, the sap slows or stops. Most modern sapping operations use plastic tubing from tree to tree to collect the sap, using gravity or even pumps to deliver it to holding tanks or even right to the "sugarhouse" where it is boiled down into syrup. But some people still do it the old way. It is one of the rites of spring here in Maine.
Other signs of spring include early morning walks on the crust, making you feel almost like Jesus walking on water, and corn snow. Repeated melting and freezing of old snow leads to a crust at night when the temperature is below freezing, but a granular snow when the crust melts under the heat of the sun. A very small percentage of Mainers celebrate this transition by exercising a ritual known as spring skiing. I'm no longer much of a skier, but if I were, I would almost religiously celebrate days when the sun creates corn snow.
Picture yourself having endured month after month of short, incredibly cold days and long nights, blizzards, cabin fever, you name it, then strapping on skis in late March or even into April and May and riding the lifts facing directly into the bright warm sun. At the top of the lift you effortlessly glide on this fast yet easily carved snow over to the top of the trail, hesitate to take in all of nature's beauty including the scent of the softwood trees taking their first breath of summer. Then you head down the trail enjoying what can only be described as the perfection of skiing. Spring skiing is when intermediate skiers like me foolishly challenge even the steepest and most difficult of trails, usually with ease. But beware of mashed potatoes! When there is fresh snow or if the sun melts the corn too much, pockets of soft snow form and they can be unpredictable, quite dangerous. Corn snow is very fast. Mashed potatoes can be extremely slow, almost like slamming on the brakes.
One other wonderful sign of spring is daylight after 6:00 in the evening. Today's sunrise was at 5:35 AM and tonight's sunset will be at 5:50 PM, more than 12 hours of sunshine! If that's not a sign of spring, I can't imagine what would be!
Oh, and there's one other sign - me out walking! I even have sunburn on my face to prove it!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Money

Here's an interesting read about our money:
Your Money And You: Everything “They” Didn’t Want You to Know
http://www.tbrnews.org/Archives/a1457.htm
There are some eye-opening concepts discussed here.

Wall Street and the Bolsheviks

I would be the first to admit that my education is lacking. For instance, for years I have wondered about Trotsky and the Bolsheviks of Russia. Heck, I don't even know if Trotsky was a Bolshevik. I watched the movie Doctor Zhivago this week but I couldn't put the historical pieces together. I just don't know enough about it. Trotsky made an appearance in the movie Frida but I couldn't connect the dots there either. I'm just too ignorant.
But last night I stumbled upon what appears to be an interesting online book called Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution.
http://reformed-theology.org/html/books/bolshevik_revolution/
by Anthony C. Sutton
I have been scratching my head in recent years to understand why the US is financially supporting and encouraging the Communist government in China and now also the government of Vietnam. I'm thinking this book might help me see what's going on.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Religion Part 4 - Is Life Bipolar

My last post on religion was on Friday March 4. Today's post is the beginning, I hope, of a discussion on my religious views on creation.
In math there are positive numbers and negative numbers. In magnetism there are north poles and south poles. In electricity there are positive charges and negative charges. I think there are two opposing forces in life as well. In life, there is the force that drives creation and the force that drives destruction.
Love is the energy of creation. Sting sings a song "Send Your Love into the Future." To me, he is telling us to keep human creation going. Send our creative energies forward. Don't let that process be destroyed.
Procreation is the process of sending our own seed forward. Our genetic code is a record of millions, even billions of years of development, of storage of those physical memories that lead to survival, memories that have been encoded and passed along in our genes. But to survive, we need to send more than just our genetic code forward. We need to send our love for life, our love for truth, and our love for each other down through the generations.
There is a driving principle in nature that is as strong a force for destruction as love is for creation. That principle is called entropy. Entropy is a measure of how much energy there is in a system which is not available to do work. In a closed system such as the universe, closed in the sense that it is isolated from outside influences or outside sources of energy, entropy always increases. In other words, in our universe, the amount of energy available to do work is always declining. While it is possible in an open system - such as life on our planet - to gain useful energy from the sun, an outside source of energy, eventually the sun's energy will be consumed. Eventually entropy will win out.
To me, love is the creative driving force which opposes the destructive force of entropy. Both principles, both forces, work simultaneously and continuously in our universe. These are the opposing polar forces driving life.

Monday, March 14, 2005

You Are a Miracle

http://www.wisehearts.com/yaam.html

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Insane Blizzard

The wind chill in Greenville right now is -23F. The actual temperature is 3, but there's a ferocious wind. That in itself wouldn't be all that bad. After all, this IS Greenville, Maine. But what makes today special is the roughly two feet of new windblown snow that we have this morning. This storm began yesterday around noon with light rain, then light sleet, then moderate building to heavy snow all afternoon, but by mid afternoon a north wind had come up. By evening the snow was falling heavily with a strong north to northwest wind. Both continued unabated through the entire night and now at 7:00 in the morning the storm is still raging.
My driveway has vanished. Yesterday evening I watched as the snowbank at the entrance of my driveway grew with each pass of the town's snowplow, but even at bedtime that snowbank was far short of the four to five foot bank that runs along the street. This morning, the snowbank at the end of my driveway is almost even with the bank along the street. It's at least five feet deep.
My wife just heard on the TV that this storm is equivalent to a category 2 or 3 hurricane. I heard on an earlier report that the wind along the coast was gusting up to 80 miles per hour. I don't think it's gusting much over 30 or 35 mph here, but all night long I could hear twigs that were breaking off the trees hitting against my house.
I am procrastinating. I really don't want to go out there this morning.


Blizzard Conditions in Maine Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

No Permanent Bases in Iraq

Juan Cole today posted a link to a truthout.org article where the leader of the Shiite party which won the January 30 election is quoted as laughing at the idea of permanent American military bases in Iraq:
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/030705I.shtml
I have long held to the belief that the Neo-Con objective of the Iraq invasion was always the establishment of permanent American military bases in Iraq from which the Neo-Con plan for the Middle East could be carried out. Outwardly, this has been backed up by Condoleeza Rice's "generational commitment" and Bush's claim that he'd rather fight the terrorists over there than fight them here in the US. The plan is for a long-term fight centered in Iraq.
Those who ask us to believe that we actually plan to remove America's military presence from Iraq ask a lot of us. They are asking us to believe that after spending hundreds of billions of dollars to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein because he was or perhaps could have been seeking nuclear weapons, we will be content to turn Iraq over to a group with close political and religious ties to Iran which is, in the Neo-Con view, seeking nuclear weapons to use against the US. Doesn't that seem just a little bit Orwellian? Yet here we have the leader of the majority party in Iraq, a party with political and religious ties to Iran, laughing at the notion of the Americans staying on in Iraq.
When I think about it, it seems to me that the only hope the Neo-Cons have now of carrying out their Middle East plan of stabilizing and westernizing the region using Iraq as a center of operations is if they can convince Iraqi leaders that the only way to have any kind of security in Iraq is if the Americans can stay on there. In other words, the Neo-Con hope is that the insurgency remains strong in Iraq. Everything that the US military has done in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad fits conveniently into this scenario too. The actions of the US military since the fall of Baghdad have enraged the people of Iraq, fueling the fire of the insurgency. The only explanation that makes any sense at all to me for the US taking this course is that the US military would be asked to leave Iraq if the insurgency died down. The Pentagon and White House don't have any intention of letting that happen.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Fascism

"Fascism is a form of government headed, in most cases, by a dictator. It involves total government control of political, economic, cultural, religious, and social activities.
"Fascism resembles Communism. But unlike Communism, which calls for the government to own all industry, fascism allows industry to remain in private ownership, though under government control. Other important features of fascism include extreme patriotism, war-like policies, and persecution of minorities."
World Book Encyclopedia, 1992
"a system of government characterized by rigid one-party dictatorship, forcible suppression of opposition, private economic enterprise under centralized government control, belligerent nationalism, racism, and militarism, etc.: first introduced in Italy in 1922."
Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, 1986
It would almost appear that what we have here in these two publications is a left-wing conspiracy to brand today's Republican Party as fascist.
When we think of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, we tend to think in terms of imperial expansion and the persecution and execution of the Jews. What we have been taught not to think of is how fascism served the interests of many. As time goes on, it is becoming increasingly clear how fascism won Italian and especially German support and it is becoming clear why investors around the world including investors in England, France, even the United States, encouraged the Nazis. The recent popularity of Republican politics, patriotism, nationalism, and militarism, in the United States in many ways parallels the rise of Nazi power in Germany. Germany's anti-Communism translates into US Republican anti-liberalism, while anti-Semitic prejudice is being replaced with anti-Arab and anti-Islam sentiment.
People have asked me why anti-Bush people compare Bush with the Nazis and not the Communists. My answer is simple. If America continues on this right-wing agenda and succeeds in suppressing liberal and socialist political power, this nation will become fascist. We are laying the foundation for totalitarian rule in America even if it is too early to believe we have reached that goal. But when the goal is reached, and it will be if this trend continues, Fascism will be the victor.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Religion Part 3 - Faith

I continue my dialog on religion. I last posted on this topic on Tuesday February 22.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
As simple as these words of Jesus seem, they have always troubled me in more ways than one. By everlasting life, was Jesus talking about the eternal infinity that is life, about experiencing the infinity of moments that exist between each second, or was he referring to my own life, reassuring me against my own fear of death? But for today, I want to focus on another word here- "believeth." Faith is where my focus is today. In order to have this promised eternal life, Jesus says that a person has to believe.
OK so even that seems simple enough, except that within the evangelical Protestant Christian church, we as humans are powerless to seal our salvation. We simply can't do it. Only God can.
Now if you think about it, that's a paradox. We can't do anything to get saved, yet we can't get saved unless we believe in Jesus.
So what does it mean to believe if believing is not something we ourselves do? If we can't "will" ourselves to believe in God, then just what is this faith?
I'll be honest with you here. I have no idea how to answer those questions. But I have recently begun to see the effects of this paradox on those who do claim to believe.
For most of us, faith is an act of the will, something we ourselves do. Faith is taking something we can't prove and making it a part of our own reality by believing that it is true. We have faith by willing ourselves to believe. That is how we define and understand the concept of faith.
For Christians, though, the faith that saves, the faith that gets us to Heaven, can't be something we will ourselves to do. To Christians, that kind of faith is impossible. Believe it or not, but for Christians, faith has to be something God does since only God can save us.
Therefore, whatever Christians believe, no matter what it is, does not belong to them. They don't own their beliefs. They don't own their faith. God does. The faith that saves, according to evangelical Christians, must come from God. Yes, we believe, but the faith must come from God because if it were our own doing, it wouldn't save us, it couldn't. We as sinners are incapable of saving ourselves. So faith is like water in a stream. It flows through our existence.
But you and I, as rational human beings, don't believe this. This is just mindless prattle and we know it. We can see the evidence of its mindlessness just by observing today's American Christians who have set their God-owned minds on the destruction of God's own creation! And they do it all in the name of faith! They do everything that the destroyer wants them to do, attributing it all to a faith that they refuse to own, a faith that they attribute to God and Jesus and "the Holy Spirit." In their minds, according to their beliefs, according to their own interpretation of "Scripture," God intends to destroy this earth.
I've never read the "Left Behind" series, and hope I never do, but to evangelical Christians, that is God's plan for this earth so anything they do that leads to this plan must be OK with God. If faithful Christians support the development of nuclear weapons, it must be OK with God because God will most likely use these things to destroy His creation. And what sense does it make to conserve nature if God's intent is to destroy it? Why not consume it while we can?
And as if that weren't enough, when the time comes for God to do all this nastiness, "believers" won't even be here to witness the harvest of those things which they themselves have sowed in their lifetimes. They will be "raptured" right on out of here before God lights the fires. Not only are Christians not responsible for the things they do in the name of God, but they will be saved from all the suffering they cause! How convenient! Who could resist a system like that, huh?
Nope. I don't buy it at all. I just don't buy it. If I live my life according to faith, according to beliefs, no matter what, they are my own beliefs, it is my faith. If by my faith I consume that which God created, then if there is to be eternal life, some day I will answer to God about why I did it. If I support the destruction caused by war, if I support the use of fear as a tool for social control, some day I will have to answer to God for why I chose to do it. If I believe in the destruction of the world, the destruction of God's creation, some day I will have to answer for my beliefs.
Furthermore, if I don't wish to have to suffer eternal punishment for those beliefs, the only possible solution acceptable to God is for me to refute them, to stop believing in war and fear and the destruction of God's creation, the world, and hope that it isn't too late! My beliefs are mine! If I want to live my life with the Prince of Peace, then I need to believe in peace myself. I need to believe that the answer is for me to love God and His creation. Period! I can't serve two masters. I can't serve God's ongoing creation while at the same time serving God's plan to destroy that creation. One or the other of those outcomes is from God. One is the plan of creation. The other is the plan of deception.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Midnight in the Garden

Maine dove back into the deep freeze last night after Tuesday night's foot-deep snowstorm. I'm back in hibernation. To celebrate the event, I spent part of the morning watching an old movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I've seen this movie twice before, but never really paid a lot of attention to it till today. I was quite intrigued about it this time.
Released in 1997, this movie's main actors include John Cusack who plays a lead character as a little-known New York writer, Kevin Spacey who plays a wealthy Savanna art collector, and a young Jude Law who plays Spacey's violent drug abusing lover. Steeped in a mix of southern high society, homosexuality, Voodoo, even southern Christian values, the movie spins a tale of intrigue, murder, and a trial that even goes so far as to allude to Perry Mason.
Several things about this movie are interesting to me. One is that Yahoo Movies doesn't even mention the three actors I listed among its list of stars, even though Cusack and Spacey were clearly the leading actors. Chalk that up to the movie's vintage, I suppose.
The second thing is that the movie was produced and directed by Clint Eastwood who won an Academy Award this year for his movie Million Dollar Baby. Eastward's daughter Alison stars in this movie as Cusack's girl.
Spacey plays typical Spacey who's character has a bit of a southern drawl, but displays that arrogance of recent wealth which has become so familiar to me with G.W. in the White House. With the recent White House scandal involving Jim Guckert, alias conservative "journalist" Jeff Gannon, the underlying homosexuality of Spacey's wealthy character and his lover finally stood out to me.
Finally, there is a scene where Jude Law hauntingly displays the body antics which later characterized his virtual gigolo character in the 2001 movie AI. I almost felt like I was having a deja vu when I watched that scene.
Hundreds of billions of gallons of water have gone over the dam since the last time I watched this movie, but somewhere between then and now I have seen some things, learned some things, and changed some of my perspectives on things. This movie will go down in my book as one like Moonstruck or Bridges of Madison County, one worth seeing again from time to time, just to remind me of how much I have changed.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Wearing Me Down

I doubt that I'll ever give in to it, but I have to admit, their stupidity really is beginning to wear me down. I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way either. I think all of us Americans who once believed in a sane image of America are getting pretty discouraged with what is going on. I, for one, have come to the point where I don't believe a word I hear on the news - not a single word of it. When they say Zarquawi, I think Mossad. When they say Pentagon, I think Israel. When they say security, I think torture. When they say peace, I think war. When they say compassion, I think wealth. When they say free, I think cost.
Needless to say, after awhile this double thinking really begins to get old. Yet instead of that slowing them down, my fatigue encourages them to step up the pace. Here's what I consider to be a prime example:
http://www.elkodaily.com/articles/2005/02/28/news/local/news1.txt
Sometimes I wish I could get the Daily Show on TV. It helps to be able to laugh at all this insanity and stupidity...