The Inner Struggle

Does It Spark Joy?

“Ladies in Lavender”, Joshua Bell, from the album “the Essential Joshua Bell”, (2005)

Looking back at my last post and reconsidering the feelings and emotions expressed therein. In the post titled “Stupid is as Stupid does: When you have a lot of letters after your name …” I find myself slipping back into old modes of thought and attribution when considering aspects of what I read daily in the media.

Favorite sacred cows of outrage resurface with an alarming facility and I find myself revisiting old modes of thought, old narratives from which no good ever flowed. This is not good for my soul nor conducive to establishment or maintenance of “Peace” in my emotional world. Is it indicative of “trash not put out in the dumpster of my mind”?

Kondo Marie A razor I have used successfully when deciding what is important and what to consign to the big blue bin in my back yard is a mantra learned from a young Japanese author,  Marie Kondo , who wrote a book entitled: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”;  to paraphrase: as you contemplate the possession in question ask yourself “Does it spark joy?”. Most often the answer is no, or even in fact the complete opposite, it sparks distress for myriad reasons.

I have considered the possibility of one applying this razor to one’s thoughts about our life and times, our culture, our news, our entertainment, our justice system, our leaders, our contemporaries.  Do they spark joy? In Kondo’s method of tidying up once one settles on the lack of joy in a possession it is permanently consigned to the dump, thrown out for good, never to be retrieved.

I find myself discovering in the back of my mental closet a pile of old shoe boxes containing all the little trash and trinkets of past lives and past modes of thought, past judgements and past sins. I have failed to dispose of these failed thought patterns, rather like Bilbo heading out on his final quest all the while firmly resisting parting with the One Ring of Power.

https://findinghopecatholic.wordpress.com/Again, inspired by a recent post on another site I visit regularly, by a young lady with bipolar. This post too seems appropriate when my busy world is filled with daily crosses and my prayer life is beset by aridity and the temptation to just chuck it all.

As Kasani says: “So how does one achieve peace? It’s actually startlingly simple. The plain, uncomplicated truth is that you will never have peace if you make it a goal in and of itself. Why? Because true peace is simply a side effect. It’s the result of something else. And that something else is trust.”

and in the words of Pope Pius XI:

“The man who prays looks above to the goods of heaven whereon he meditates and which he desires; his whole being is plunged in the contemplation of the marvelous order established by God, which knows not the frenzy of earthly successes nor the futile competitions of ever increasing speed.” –Pope Pius XI

Ultimately it seems that “trust” is found only in “Trust in God”, trust in his love, his forgiveness of all our multitude of transgressions and betrayals, that “Trust” which is articulated in sincere prayer. I find some light to shine on my situation in a little book published in the 1940’s by Father Eugene Boylan, an Irish monk.

Difficulties in Mental PrayerDom Eugene Boylan, O.C.R., was an Irish-born Trappist monk and writer who was born in 1904 and died in 1964. Ordained a priest in 1937, he began writing on spiritual topics, and in the 1940s he published two books, “This Tremendous Lover” and “Difficulties in Mental Prayer”, which became international bestsellers and were translated into many languages.

In the late 1950s he undertook an extensive lecture tour of the United States (“This is the best retreat we ever had at Gethsemani,” commented Thomas Merton after Boylan’s visit there), and in 1962 he was elected the fourth abbot of Mount St. Joseph Abbey in Roscrea, Ireland. Two years later he died in an automobile accident. His book which I am currently reading is calledDifficulties in Mental Prayer“.

In a section entitled “Goodness of Life”, starting on page 66, paragraph 3,  Fr. Boylan writes: “But the greatest difficulties in prayer, and the greatest obstacles to its progress, have their roots outside prayer in the general condition of our spiritual life. On the sincerity of our purpose, the truth of our loyalty, the genuineness of our love—on such things does our prayer greatly depend. Everything that can make or mar friendship and its intimacy will make or mar prayer.” … 

Oboe Concerto in D Minor”, Adagio, from “The Ultimate baroque Album”, (2004)

Jesus in the wilderness… “Prayer will not develop unless the soul is advancing toward the fourfold purity of conscience, of heart, of mind, and of action.” …In its perfection, purity of conscience consists in a firm disposition of the will never to consent deliberately to any offense against God or to any departure from His holy will, and is such that as soon as any act is seen to be opposed to the will of God, it is immediately retracted.”  pp 67 …

… “Purity of heart consists in keeping all the heart for God alone. It is not enough to rule out all sinful attachments, for if our heart is divided by any inordinate attachment, even to lawful recreations, to our work, to persons, or to anything else, we cannot say that we love God with our whole heart. There always will be attachments in the human heart, but they must be subordinate to God and to His will so that they can never usurp His place as the mainspring of our actions.” pp 68  …

Chartres Cathedral Stained Glass Window… “Under purity of mind we include the careful and constant control of our thoughts and memories, by prudently excluding all that is unnecessary, frivolous and vain, and by gradually building up a continual recollection of God and His works. This is also one of the most important of all mortifications  for those who would progress in the spiritual life and far more effective than the most penitential macerations of the flesh.” pp 69  …

… “Purity of action, which is often called purity of intention, in a continual watch over the motives which animate our actions and in a constant effort to act only for the love of God and according to His will. It demands a relentless war on that self love that is always seeking to inspire all our deeds.” pp 69 …

… “This perhaps may seem too hard and may lead only to discouragement. But perfection of this fourfold purity is not required for progress in prayer, for such perfection is synonymous with sanctity; we must, however, continually strive toward these dispositions of purity. We must desire this purity, we must pray for it, we must make earnest efforts to acquire it. But without a special help from God, it is unlikely that we should achieve a sufficient measure of it. There is, however, no limit to God’s goodness. and it is at this stage that He is accustomed to intervene, taking compassion on our infirmities.” pp 70.

Cheers

Joe

empty oneself of every trace of belief in one’s “goodness”.

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Life in a small town, Pen as Sword - Social Commentary

Stupid is as Stupid does: When you have a lot of letters after your name …

“Somewhere In Neverland”, All Time Low, from the album “Don’t Panic”, (2012)

Captains Log, Stardate 20170622.1311

People on the streetLine One: First the plain English version: FLASH MESSAGE: ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING IS NOT HAPPENING! OR MAYBE IT STILL IS BUT its definitely SLOWER THAN WE THOUGHT, and we are not so sure of our data … ummm, well, about that … it would appear that the observed real world data over the last 20 years are less extreme than the projected temperatures expected from our models. We believe that this may be attributable to variability in the real world climate which may be more complex than our computer models …

As every living person on the planet, with no letters after their name, has been saying for almost 30 years, and Al Gore’s carbon profile notwithstanding, it would appear that the science is not nearly as settled as all the scare tactics that the usual talking heads have been screaming at us forever.

Somewhere in NeverlandIn fact the science is SO UNSETTLED THAT IT APPEARS EVEN THE CLIMATISTAS  are clearly backtracking (somewhat) behind a veritable tsunami of baffle-gab otherwise known and identified as BS by regular folks.

Q: When is a religion not a religion? – A: When it is sincerely believed by the progressive left and they get a lot of taxpayer’s money for forcing our conversion to their religion, and their favorite academics get a lot of grants for making up models that support their religious views. P.T. Barnum would be so jealous.

Even though this article published about the little data problem is locked up behind a paywall where only the people who wrote it can actually read it it would seem that without 40 years of academic training no regular human being could conceivably understand what was written anyway.

torches and pitchforksFor the rest of us we have to rely on amateur translation and supposition – just see line ONE (above) for the plain English version.

So are we going to recover all the Trillions of dollars spent in this biggest scam in the history of science? IN YOUR DREAMS TAXPAYING WIENNIE!

https://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2973.html

and

https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms13676

Causes of differences in model and satellite tropospheric warming rates

  • Nature Geoscience (2017) doi:10.1038/ngeo2973,  Received 23 December 2016,  Accepted  22 May 2017,  Published online 19 June 2017
Al Gore

Mr. “Settled Science” Gore. GEE! What’s that funny smell?

“In the early twenty-first century, satellite-derived tropospheric warming trends were generally smaller than trends estimated from a large multi-model ensemble. Because observations and coupled model simulations do not have the same phasing of natural internal variability, such decadal differences in simulated and observed warming rates invariably occur. Here we analyse global-mean tropospheric temperatures from satellites and climate model simulations to examine whether warming rate differences over the satellite era can be explained by internal climate variability alone. We find that in the last two decades of the twentieth century, differences between modelled and observed tropospheric temperature trends are broadly consistent with internal variability. Over most of the early twenty-first century, however, model tropospheric warming is substantially larger than observed; warming rate differences are generally outside the range of trends arising from internal variability. The probability that multi-decadal internal variability fully explains the asymmetry between the late twentieth and early twenty-first century results is low (between zero and about 9%). It is also unlikely that this asymmetry is due to the combined effects of internal variability and a model error in climate sensitivity. We conclude that model overestimation of tropospheric warming in the early twenty-first century is partly due to systematic deficiencies in some of the post-2000 external forcings used in the model simulations.”

The above paragraph of gratuitous greenhouse gas is the closest that  “THE MAJORITY OF CLIMATOLOGISTS” can bring themselves to admitting that they just might have been mistaken for longer than most folks careers, or at least the data appear to be questionable! It is all just so pathetic, just so purblind pathetic.

cow fartsAnd we are told that cow farts are a serious climate threat? 

“Cattle and other farm animals are major sources of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. Methane is released when they belch, pass gas and make manure. ”

‘If we can reduce emissions of methane, we can really help to slow global warming,” said Ryan McCarthy, a science adviser for the California Air Resources Board, which is drawing up rules to implement the new law.

“Livestock are responsible for 14.5 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, with beef and dairy production accounting for the bulk of it, according to a 2013 United Nations report.” . . .

Another travesty by the same academics who have the sheer ineffable gall to write the above baffle-gab about their best and brightest efforts to prove Global Warming exists? Seriously? Oh yea!

While we are at it the NDP are closing all the coal fired electrical plants in Alberta and buying our electricity in expensive U.S. dollars from North Dakota generated by (you guessed it) coal fired plants.

Meanwhile in other news: Life on other planets?

Cheers

Joe

assault rifleAAAUUUUUGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Just another redneck in flyover country clinging to my guns and religion.

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The Inner Struggle

We secretly seek ourselves in everything we do …

“River Flows In You”, Yiruma, from the album “Yiruma Piano Collection” , (2001)

Schloss BernhartLooking out from my library windows over the windswept chilly world around me after a night of violent storm and a lot of rain. Trees down, roofs stripped of shingles, walls bare of siding, across a wide swath of our fair land.

Today I am ruminating about “suffering” and the source of same. It seems that suffering would be significantly reduced if only we focused more on improving ourselves instead of focusing on correcting the perceived faults of those around us.

Focusing on ourselves and our own faults we would not be so disturbed by the resistance of others to our opinions and desires. But, often something inside or something outside draws us along and we secretly seek ourselves in everything we do.  And yet we are mostly oblivious to that.

We continue peacefully along when everything unfolds and is done according to OUR will and as WE judge, but if things turn out against OUR will, we move quickly, almost reflexively, to dissension, strife and unhappiness.

Differences of opinion and thought are the most common source of all dissension, strife, unhappiness and, frankly, suffering, arising out of disputes between family and friends and groups of otherwise sincere and well meaning folks.

Old habits of thought are difficult to put aside and much suffering arises from our clinging to old narratives, and old modes of reacting to perceived wrongs. No one is willing to go further than they see or are happy with. Any dissenting voice gives rise to “suffering”.

But, If one relies only on one’s own reason, thought, and work one seems unlikely to achieve peace, falling rather into self-justification and recrimination. Enlightenment and happiness appear further away than ever.

firedragon found on Pinterest - no attribution

Dragon of Self

It seems, simply, that if one cannot put aside the “self”, then, inevitably, much suffering will be one’s lot in life. The fatal trap is “self”.

The death of “self” is freedom and the gate to peace, but Oh what a monster is “Self” and so difficult to slay, rather like performing surgery on oneself without benefit of anesthetic.

It proves insidiously difficult to tell the dragon of Self: “You Shall Not Pass!”

The commonest reaction to this suffering of dissent seems to be to get upset, excited and angry or annoyed and to fight against the suffering and the dissent, to assert the rightness of one’s own position and necessarily the wrongness of the positions of others. In other words, we focus on the suffering and struggle against it in any way we can.

The effect is that the dissent and the suffering dominates our every waking moment and that, added to self pity, increases our suffering hundreds of times. Fighting against the suffering makes it a LOT worse. What really makes suffering difficult to bear is our own exceeding impatience, our refusal to accept it. This irritation with dissent increases our suffering tremendously and robs us of our peace, and our energy, and of our ability to focus on and to get on with life.

Over a year ago I posted about embracing suffering as a way of overcoming suffering in the same way one can embrace fear as a way of overcoming the fear. I find, after a year of trying, that the techniques I learned for overcoming fear don’t work quite as well when applied to suffering.

It seems that it is relatively easy to identify the locus of fear, the germinating grain from which the fear arises within oneself and thus come to grips with fear as an aspect of self, and self control.

Suffering, however seems another beast entirely, less reflexively identifiable as originating within the self and more easily experienced as originating from without, the fault of something or someone outside our self, and therefore outside our self control.

I begin to believe that a more “granular” approach is required to “deal” with suffering, that in fact it is not the fact of suffering one has to deal with but rather how the self reacts to that suffering that is problematic.

This journey doesn’t get easier as one goes along. It is not that it gets harder exactly but rather that things always seem to be more complicated than one first assumed when first confronting the windmills.

Cheers

Joe

desert walkAlways remember, “be charitable in your judgements, and never take yourself too seriously”

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Life in a small town

Food Porn …

“The Beatitudes”, Noirin Ni Riain & The Monks of Glenstall Abbey, from the album “Vox de Nube (Voice From The Cloud)” (1996)

Eggs Benedict on Smoked Salmon on Artisan Garlic Toast.

Eggs Benedict on Smoked Salmon on Artisan Garlic Toast.

Been fasting intermittently since January 17th.

About two thirds of it doing 20 hours a day and eating one meal a day during a four hour window at supper time.

But have also done multiple multi-day complete fasts ranging from 7 days (longest) to three days short and everything in between.

A couple of days ago I just finished a 4 day total fast. A few days ago I added the picture on the right to my desktop. It is an exquisite photo of one of my favorite stars in the firmament of food.

Is this classified as food porn? Lead us not into temptation …

Cheers

Joe

ScrewtapeGo ahead, smell it, the richness wafting over you …eat it … you deserve it … you have been so good …. you earned it …imagine how good it will taste, creamy, crunchy, smoky ….. mmmmmmmm.

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Life in a small town

A Good Day In The Life … (reprise from March 2015)

Oh Earth Oh Earth Return”, Bill Douglas, (1996)

Heaven and HellI just re-read this piece which was originally posted on March 28th 2015, back before we, the citizens of Alberta voted out our Conservative government and replaced them with the Socialist NDP, thereby bringing our previously booming economy to a screeching halt like hitting a bridge abutment at 90MPH — just a sudden dead halt in smokin’ ruin.

Why I re-read this is because I got a comment today from a fella in the EU… Actually I guess he is not in the EU any more since he is actually a Brit and a football fan which means he is probably a fella I could really get along with … maybe … if we were fans of the same club. Anyway, the comment and the piece reminded me of what is so good about living here and just how damned good we all have it.

It reminded me that things are actually pretty good in spite of the frothing insanity of the current government and their legions of minions in academia and the MSM.  And my depression about our economy (or lack thereof) which has haunted me for months was dispelled at least for now, because I really realize that the fundamentals are all still in place and the economy will come roaring back just as soon as Albertans smell the coffee and wake up…

*****

(from March 2015) Started out today about 7AM, feeling kinda fuzzy … went out to the kitchen, made a couple of pressed Espresso (roast) for the wife and I to start on. Put on the 12 cup coffee drip for the pot for the rest of the morning – have I mentioned that we are heavy coffee drinkers around here?

Anyway, went back to the lounger in the bedroom to watch the (televised) morning rat race and accident reports from Redmonton which I do every morning to remind myself of what I haven’t had to do for over 7 years now. It’s great! Sunny with a high of +15, clear and no ice and they are still driving into each other all over the place (6 so far at that point)  in their mad rush to get wherever … people!

Whilst relaxing and sipping my Espresso I noticed in the background … behind the overlay of teachers and NDP’ers whining about how evil the gov’mint is and how they are all being shafted by the new budget, and they should confiscate more from the evil corporations and so on blah, blah, blah drone, drone, drone … a strange hissing, frying sound … I didn’t put anything in a frying pan, thought I? What’s up? Went back out to the kitchen and SHIT!

Forgot to put the coffee pot back under the drip filter on the hot plate.  In shock I promptly inhaled my Espresso and then sprayed it all over the kitchen in one mighty cough. Human lungs are definitely not designed to breath Espresso. And then got the pot back into the coffee maker and saved half a pot. The rest went all over the counter and dripped down to the floor, grounds and all since without the pot in the dripper everything overflows over the top going down the sides and back into the hot water reservoir and everywhere else as well. Sigh …

By the time I got it all cleaned up and made some fresh Espresso it was time to go down to the store and start my day. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m not driving to work any more if I can miss putting the pot back into the coffee machine. Duh!

Now, you might think that would be enough to start one off on the wrong foot but no … everything went smooth as silk, all the till cash outs,  invoice downloads, and inventory database updates, and all the start-ups and sign-ons and everything ’til about 15 minutes into the busy morning when the wife announces that the multi-function laser fax printer copier has stopped working. and she is a little irritated because that’s MY job and it has been acting up for a couple of weeks and I have not been able to sort it out yet.

But now we have a mission critical issue – in our kind of business we send and receive over 200 faxes  a day so we need it now! And as any guy who has been married for almost 40 years to his first wife can attest to, if Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy! So I start stripping it down only to discover that one of the main feed rollers in the printer assembly has gotten mushy and wrinkly on both ends – OhOh … not good. This must be the Brother printer made in China version of lead in the Chinese baby formula.

Too bad really, the first unit lasted 7 years and this one lasted 7 weeks. Heavy sigh.  Got it at Staples. Nuf said, they are as useless as the proverbial tits on a bull when it comes to returns and repairs so we aren’t going back there, and we are definitely never buying anything made by Brother again, sooo, it’s 4 hours driving to visit Costco in Redmonton for Joe to pick up a HP unit which the Costco web site said was available for $200 bucks cash and carry at the warehouses in Redmonton (there are 5 Costco warehouses in Redmonton – who says the teachers don’t have enough money).

Which traveling in the warm sun wasn’t too bad because once I stopped for coffee and a snack half way there I had calmed down and was feeling pretty good about a warm sunny  (+15) afternoon shopping by myself. I have never found entertaining myself to be particularly difficult especially if it involves spending money. And then, upon arriving at the first warehouse I was informed that Costco had not carried laser printers at their warehouses for over two years and the web site was, well, wrong.

And suddenly I had a feeling, as clear as a highway sign, that I was at an inflection point. As clear as the nose on my face, I could “choose” to get upset and go away mad, and things would just keep going downhill, or I could “choose” to just say “Whatever” and continue shopping since I was already there, and just see what developed. I chose whatever … and the day just kept getting better and better from there.

I found a trio of good appliances I had been looking for, off and on, for over a year, a rice cooker from Japan, a low fat fryer from France, and a Croc-pot from the good ole USA, and I also found all kinds of wonderful food products from all over the world and $1500 later I was feeling pretty good over all and the only thing left to find was syrup for my Israeli Soda-Stream machine and a multi-function printer.

Well, I know I can get syrup at London Drugs, so I head over there, and of course they have everything I am looking for in the amounts I want. Then a geek I know walks by, hey! he works there. Hey buddy, have you got any multi-function fax printers for sale?

Why yes, we have a very nice Japanese Canon unit on sale for $149 and since you are such a good customer here we can also give you 10% off on everything you buy today.  TaDa!  That works out perfect and he helps me load everything in my truck. See ya later buddy. Gotta luv Drug Stores – real folks serving real folks.

So here I am at the end of a perfect day, I started out with a succession of issues but in the end, attitude and $1800 led to everything working out very well. I thought to myself just how damned lucky I am to have been born and to live in the time and place I do. I can hop in my 1 ton at any moment and drive 1400km, over excellent roads, without fueling up or stopping, in any direction I choose, without having to ask permission, I can walk in anywhere and with a little effort find anything I want for a price I am willing to pay.

And before anyone starts whining about not having $1800 bucks I am declaring LOUDLY … ANYONE with heart and will and energy can get and hold a job here and now which will easily give them that kind of money and you will make it faster than the gov’mint can inflate it and tax it away, unless of course you’re an NDP’er or one of their brain dead gliberal progressive gang members.

I didn’t have to bribe anyone, or show my papers. No one shot at me or tried to blow up my truck, or even blew their horn at me in anger. I didn’t see any starving people, or fire bombs or burning tires or smokin’ ruins. I passed about 20 active oil wells and over 2000 head of fat cattle, and a brand new multi-million dollar Canola crushing plant, and several dozen tandem Axel B-train grain trucks and tanker trucks and cube vans everywhere all busily moving the products of our thriving economy to market. All private … hmmm … something in that, eh?

And horizon to horizon diesel pickup trucks in their hundreds, not so many prissy little high mileage cars around here (take that, you global warming wankers). And four huge unit trains (over a hundred cars each) hauling oil and grain and potash and containers of stuff from everywhere under the sun. I only saw 2 cop cars with one officer each all day.

And it all happens because of our Christian patrimony, market economy, work ethic, private property and rule of law. Never before, anywhere, in the history of the world, have so many had it so good. It is really heaven on earth if one looks through the right lenses. And the progressives want to throw it all away ’cause it ain’t “fair”? For God’s sake, why can’t the rest of the world get it?

What’s not to feel blessed about?

Cheers

Joe

CSR

Disclaimer for nitpickers: We take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately

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Life in a small town

Fasting and Type II Diabetes …

Twilight And Shadow”, Howard Shore, from “Lord Of The Rings

flowing brook animatedSo, fasting, how are things going? I seem to have hit some kind of plateau, where I am loosing inches and getting “flappy” but with my weight holding steady at approximately 230 pounds.

That is a long way (on the good side of the scale) from 268 pounds but also a long way from my arbitrary weight target of 200 pounds.

180 pounds

This is what 180 pounds combat weight looks like, (FN C2 LMG foreground, FN C1 assault rifle, background)

I say arbitrary because while I have a lot of doubts about ever getting back to my combat weight of 180 pounds where I was in my early 20’s, I don’t think 200 pounds is unreasonable for a  65 year old, 6 foot male of medium build in reasonable physical shape.

Obesity CodeUp until 8 days ago I was following a 1 meal a day regimen with a monthly 4 day total fast, and allowing myself a 4 hour window between 6 and 10 PM for eating and snacking.

Last Saturday, following advice offered by fellow “fasters” on the Obesity Code support group, which is a Facebook chat group for folks following Jason Fung’s “Intensive Dietary Management” recommendations, I switched things up to encourage my body to get back into weight loss mode.

Guide to FastingI am currently using the weekends, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, as feast days and eating everything I like or want to eat. Then I switch to total fast during the busy time of the week, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday until suppertime on Friday.

It’s way easier to fast when you are busy at work than on a weekend when all you do is think about what you are going to eat when you stop fasting.

Blood sugars are now testing and holding at 5.0 to 6.5 international (the conversion factor is 18 for those who want to see that in American units , eg. 7×18=126, at least that is how I think it converts) and I think that is normal.

I am officially declaring my Type II diabetes “cured”.  Resting blood pressure is around 110/60 these days and weight is 230 Lbs. (or about 100 Kg). I am in keytosis, testing using “Ketostix”, and I feel great.

If you haven’t read my previous posts on this topic here, and here , and here, and here, and here, and here, then let it be known that when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 7 years ago I was 270 Lbs., blood sugars were in the high teens, and blood pressure was in the 140 over 90 range. I felt like crap! 

In January of this year I was testing blood sugars of 16.0 to 17.0 while taking 4 Metformin and a Gliclazide daily. We were talking about starting on Insulin injections. Today, Happy Father’s Day 2017, blood sugar 5.5, weight 230, BP 112 over 65, and I just threw all my Atkins stuff from back in 2002 in the dumpster.

Scrambled eggs, hash browns and ham for breakfast, Avocado with sour cream and Macadamia nuts for lunch, and Fried Pickerel and green salad with Almond flour baking powder biscuits for supper tonight. Weekends are great when you start to eat only on weekends.

Cheers

Joe

Fat GuyIn January 2017 I looked like the 2nd guy from left (May 2011), a long long way from the lean mean machine of the 70’s (at top)

 

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The Inner Struggle

The Real Presence …

“Eternity’s Sunrise”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Eternity’s Sunrise”, (2000).

Meditating on eternity and the implications for daily life. Why should we care about eternity? Thinking about “Pascal’s Wager” for probably the millionth time over the last 30 years.

Blaisse PascalEither God is, or he is not. But to which view shall we be inclined? Reason cannot decide this question. [Remember that Pascal’s Wager is an argument for skeptics.] Infinite chaos separates us. At the far end of this infinite distance [death] a coin is being spun that will come down heads [God] or tails [no God]. How will you wager?

Why are we here? What is the point of life? At one point almost thirty years ago I found myself alone, sitting cross legged on my living room floor, holding my favorite Ruger Red Seal Over & Under and trying to decide whether to put the barrel in my mouth and pull the trigger, or wait until tomorrow and reconsider my future.

As “luck” would have it I waited, and never got around to revisiting that pit, and a few weeks later a friend of mine walked out into his back yard and put HIS shotgun barrel in his mouth and blew his brains out. I was cured of the suicide solution. So why ARE we here? What IS the point of life?

The years since that nadir have been spent in searching for Truth, finding faith, finding fatherhood, finding a purpose in life that transcends me, myself, and I.

The thing I like about Pascal’s Wager is that it appeals not to some high ideal, like faith, hope, love, or proof, but to a low one: the instinct for self-preservation, the desire to be happy and not unhappy. But on that low natural level, it has tremendous force. That instinct for self preservation is what keeps most folks from considering suicide seriously and it does in fact have tremendous power.

Today, all the classic arguments for the existence of God are no longer popularly believed in our culture. What can a Christian say to the skeptical mind of this modern age? A typical modern mind lacks both the gift of faith and any confidence in reason to prove God’s existence.

“I simply don’t care even one little bit for your facts, Joe, your logic, your beliefs, your faith, I just want to have a good time with my friends”. So I have been clearly told by some people I was once fairly close to. So is that all there is?  A good time was had by all and then they died. Short pathetic lives spent in self indulgent gratification of appetites and desires. What’s the point?

I make my living by selling products to customers. I sell a variety products to people, many of whom are older than I, and many of whom are facing all the physical and mental crisis of our elder years. The good times are long gone and all that is left is the end game.

When one reaches the end game the bravado of our younger years is gone and folks are faced with stark reality. We are about to die. That’s permanent. Can’t ask for or expect a redo. Can’t get our money back and go to another hotel.

What we believe and what we face becomes important. The folks with a Faith life, that is those who choose to beleave, to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of God and Eternity, and rules for right living, although without any absolute proof that they are right in doing so, without exception seem to do much better, all in all, physically, emotionally and intellectually, than all the folks who lived for the good times.

I think we were created for Faith, Love, Charity, and God. Absent those items the human animal doesn’t seem to end well no matter how well one did materially in life, or how much “fun” one had.

So what about pascal’s Wager? Suppose someone precious to you lay dying, and the doctor offered to try a new “miracle drug” that he could not guarantee but that seemed to have a 50-50 chance of saving your beloved’s life. Would it be reasonable to try it, even if it cost a little money? And suppose it were free—wouldn’t it be utterly reasonable to try it and unreasonable not to?

Suppose someone tells you that your house is on fire and your children are inside. You do not know whether the reports are true or false. What is the reasonable thing to do—to ignore them or to take the time to run home or at least phone home just in case the reports are true?

Suppose a winning sweepstakes ticket is worth a million dollars, and there are only two tickets left. You know that one of them is the winning ticket, while the other is worth nothing, and you are allowed to buy only one of the two tickets, at random. Would it be a good investment to spend a dollar on the good chance of winning a million?

No reasonable person can be or ever is in doubt in such cases.

But deciding whether to believe in God is a case exactly like these, argues Pascal. It is therefore the height of folly, even insanity not to “bet” on God, not to bet on the “House”, even if you have no certainty, no proof, no guarantee that your bet will win.

Agnosticism is the state of “not-knowing”, of maintaining a skeptical, uncommitted attitude. Agnosticism seems to be the most reasonable option to the modern mind. The incontrovertible reality of the modern day is that most folks are Agnostics. The agnostic says, “The right thing is not to wager at all.”

But Pascal replies, “But you must wager. There is no choice. You are already committed [embarked].” We are not outside observers of life, but participants. We are like ships that need to get home, sailing past a port that has signs on it proclaiming that it is our true home and our true happiness.

The ships are our own lives and the signs on the port say “God”. The agnostic says he will neither put in at that port (believe) nor turn away from it (disbelieve) but stay anchored a reasonable distance away until the weather clears and he can see better whether this is the true port or a fake (for there are a lot of fakes around).

Why is this attitude unreasonable, even impossible?

Because we are moving inexorably through life. The ship of life is moving along the waters of time, and there comes a point of no return, when our fuel runs out, when it is too late.

Pascal’s Wager works because of the fact of death. That rude, unavoidable, fact of death, which I face in many of my customers every day.

For many people it seems fairly easy to ignore the “possibility” of death in their daily lives. They manage to ignore it until they find themselves faced inescapably with the fact of their own death, the fact that they have been refusing to accept for their entire lives. At that point, “I don’t care about the facts” just doesn’t cut it any more.

There is an interesting “fact”, provable by simple observation, that serving members of the military and law enforcement, and veterans, all share some form of “Faith”, some denomination of religious belief, and have a Faith life. It is not just some statistical anomaly that the military, all branches, share the highest declared membership in religious communities of all the population.

The close proximity of death in one’s job, or the high possibility of death on any given day, makes it real. I have buried more people than I have friends and family. Trust me, death is a very real end to life, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but always unavoidable no matter what we would rather pretend.

Jesus in the Wilderness“Suppose Romeo proposes to Juliet and Juliet says, “Give me some time to make up my mind.” Suppose Romeo keeps coming back day after day, and Juliet keeps saying the same thing day after day: “Perhaps tomorrow.”

In the words of a small, female, red-haired American philosopher, “Tomorrow is always a day away. And there comes a time when there are no more tomorrows. Then “maybe” becomes “no”. Romeo will die. Corpses do not marry.

Christianity is God’s marriage proposal to the soul. Saying “maybe” and “perhaps tomorrow” cannot continue indefinitely because life does not continue indefinitely.

The weather will never clear enough for the agnostic navigator to be sure whether the port is true home or false just by looking at it through binoculars from a distance.

He has to take a chance, on this port or some other, or he will never get home.”  From The Argument From Pascal’s Wager“.

You have to choose! It can’t be dodged. Everyone HAS to choose.  YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE!

MTF

Cheers

Joe

Desert Walk

 

 

 

 

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