Monday, September 29, 2008

Democracy

Last night marked the first episode of the third season of the Showcase series "Dexter" on the movie channel. Tuesday night the second season of "The Tudors" airs on CBC. Sad as it may seem, I have been looking forward to settling into these shows once again this fall. In "Dexter", we follow a member of the Miami-Dade forensic team who has a nasty addiction to murder. However, he only murders bad people who have escaped the justice system. "The Tudors" follows the exploits of a good looking version of King Henry the 8th. A few years ago we were just as hooked on "Six Feet Under", "The Sopranos", and Rome. Of course these are all forms of modern day soap operas, and I'm sure there are many things I could do to better exercise my brain, but I choose not to. I do find though that good TV can in some instances promote creative thought. For instance, I can't help but draw some comparisons between the excesses of the Roman Empire, The Tudors and Bush democracy. Today George W. asks lawmakers to pass a bill that would give him the power to tax the American people to bail out the failing financial community, after bungling and continuing with a multi-billion dollar war on terrorism. Meanwhile, average citizens walk, run, and ride in efforts to raise money to bring down real enemies directly impacting their lives like cardiovascular disease, cancer and AIDS (diseases responsible for many more deaths than 911, according to this web site), and struggle to pay for their own health care costs. The U.S. banks who are being bailed out, have created their own mess, but don't worry, King George to the rescue. Despite record profits, record CEO salaries and bonuses, and a licence to print money through fees and credit card interest rates that rival Tony Soprano's preferred gangster rates, can we expect the same scenario to unfold in Canada? Perhaps not, we're already so highly taxed, I'm sure legislators know that this well has been pretty well tapped. So what's my point, you might ask, other than a Monday morning rant? I guess I just got to thinking, which would be worse; to be a lowly serf back in King Henry's day, or a taxpaying member of the great democratic electorate today? What do you think? It seems to me like there were some pretty good times to be had back in Henry's time and I do think the Romans had a really good thing going, not to mention the fact that there were no online income tax deadlines to worry about.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Living in the moment and other deep thoughts




Just this minute, I've finished listening to the last of a 3 CD collection where the late John O'Donohue read from his book "Beauty, The Invisible Embrace", in between reading Eckart Tolle's "A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life's Purpose". Yesterday I listened to a CBC radio program about how to write a better blog. Apparently, one should write about something you love, something you tend to think about and talk about more than most other things. So, I asked myself, what do I love to this degree, so much so that not only do I want to think and talk about it incessantly, but then go on and pontificate about it on-line? Aside from the obvious obsession that men are cursed with, I suppose I love reading, and especially love a good suspenseful mystery. As a small child I would read the Hardy Boys long after the lights were supposed to be out - often with a flashlight under the covers. When I found my eyesight straining, I attributed reading under the covers as the root cause of my astigmatism. Later on in life I became a big fan of Agatha Christie and her fictitious detective, Hercule Poirot. As I approach the half century mark, I find myself spenindg more time reading and wondering about a greater mystery; the mystery of life. Why are we here, where did we come from, what should we be doing, what happens after we die, etc., etc.? Despite trying my very best to pay attention to Tolle and O'Donohue, I don't have any answers to my questions - the mystery remains, for me at least. Both authors try to encourage the reader to live in the present moment, and to separate the "evil ego" from the conscious self - an assignment that I have yet to master. I'm planning on passing "Beauty" on to my mother - I know she'll enjoy O'Donohue's wonderful Irish lilt and the musical interludes, and I have a feeling some of what he has to say will resonate with her. As far as Tolle's work is concerned, I'm planning to try listening to it (on CD) to see if I can pick up on it a little more the second time around, perhaps with less distraction. At some point in his book he points out that you need to be ready for the awakening that he speaks of. This book came to me via at least 3 different channels, so apparently someone thinks I'm ready, I just need to snap out of this slumber. Wish me well.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Door Man


I've always wanted to have a door man. A friendly soul who greets you as you come and go, a trustworthy chap who keeps an eye on things for you. Lucky me, another prayer has been answered. For the better part of the summer, the rather handsome (but very focused looking) fellow pictured above (or a close relative of his) can be found outside the door to my house. He's a little shy, so usually I'll just give him a quick wink on my way through. If I make a move towards him, or ask him how he's doing, he tucks himself into the woodpile (he calls it the guard house), just out of sight. He's probably just a little reluctant to get too close to the people he protects, after all - he has a job to do. Now, back to prayers that get answered . . . On Sunday mornings, like many other Canadians, I leave my home to go to a place called church. Of course, as I leave the house, I give a little nod to the door man. I'll have to be honest though, (regular readers will know this), one of my favourite parts of this holy morning outing is the home cooked breakfast we treat ourselves to after church. Church satisfies a hunger of the soul, while greasy sausages and over easy eggs satisfies another hunger altogether. I digress. One of the things I've been working on at church recently is to pray for selfless, and yet seemingly hopeless causes, like an end to world hunger. Similar to my approach to playing the lottery, my thinking is that if you ask for the same thing enough times with consistent determination, you might just get it, or some part of it, as opposed to not playing (or praying) at all. The problem with a goal as lofty as an end to world hunger however is that it really seems to be beyond the capability of anyone but the big guy, you know "God", or so I thought. You see, it has been revealed to me that achieving goals like finding an end to world hunger are a little bit like eating an elephant; do it one bite at a time. Honestly though, I wasn't surprised when I didn't get an email from God telling me that He was working on my problem and would get back to me with a solution shortly. I was surprised however, when I got an email from my sister Cindy asking if I could help a friend of hers who works in Haiti by writing about her on my blog. I was surprised because it occurred to me that this might just be God providing me with a very clever answer to my prayer. "Yes, I will end world hunger, but you need to work with me by helping Cindy's friend." Yes God does work in mysterious ways. So far, the effort required on my part has been pretty minimal; to double click on the link to Cindy's friend's website, do some reading, and then think of how much I could donate. Donating money to a cause like this is easy as well, (with credit cards, the internet and all), but I really think God expects more from me, and more from my fellow North Americans who take so much for granted - like clean drinking water, for instance. As far as my door man is concerned, he also helps out when he can by eating bugs. What can you do?