Nature church is better at the beach part ∞

by Steve, August 11th, 2014

I love mountains and forests and alpine meadows and lakes and streams and wilderness backpacking and backcountry skiing. But this inland-bred landlubber is pretty high on maritimas vitae right now. This past weekend stands out as one of my favorites at the coast so far.

Saturday we saw a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) flying over Highway 101 with breakfast in its talons (species unknown), closely chased by a western gull (Larus occidentalis) looking for table scraps.

Then we took a walk on Taft beach and had a gander at the local harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) colony across the mouth of Siletz Bay at the end of Salishan Spit.
The neighborhood harbor seal colony

Later Saturday, at low tide, I rode my bike north up Salishan spit to the end of the road. Great blue herons (Ardea herodias) are in abundance around Siletz Bay; I saw three on wing and one fishing in a lagoon.
Blue Heron

I had planned to ride to the end of the spit on the beach, but there was a stiff north wind blowing. Since I’d already said hello to the seals from across the bay, I decided to just head back south on the sand. The north end of the spit is in its natural state, with dunes, beachgrass, no riprap and only limited human presence. Even the southern, built-up end of the spit is quiet, since it is a gated community with no public access except by foot (or bike).

All the way down the beach on Salishan Spit I saw just one other house ape (Homo sapiens sapiens). This common invasive species was in much greater abundance once I got to Gleneden, but not enough to harsh my nature church mellow.

The tailwind made the four mile beach ride home a giddy pleasure. My face started to hurt from so much grinning. I made the four mile sand ride in 22 minutes, including a stop to pick up a nice chunk of amber agate. At the end of my ride I picked up a pocketful of smaller agates.

Sunday we got up early to watch the full moon set into the sea, but were fogged in and instead treated to a minus-tide walk on the sea bed and a sunrise from behind the shore pines (Pinus contorta contorta).
sunrise

Later in the day, we saw a number of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) heading north out beyond the breakers. (Apparently they’re back from their annual spring/summer mating party trip to California. What a life.) Then we saw a couple of our resident gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) lazily swimming south a little further out, spouting as they went. They were too far out to get a picture of, but here’s a little video from last spring of what I now believe to be two mothers and two calves feeding and frolicking in the shallows.

Doorway to the Temple of Nature Church

by Steve, July 24th, 2014

Into the woods

Heron spotting

by Steve, March 24th, 2013

At Sauvie Island for Saturday Nature Church, we also saw about a million Canada geese, one Blue Heron, two deer, a flock of sandhill cranes, a bunch of smelt, and a really big tundra swan in the rehab pen.

Jesus got a haircut

by Steve, March 17th, 2013

jesus got a haircut

Nature Church has a new sanctuary

by Steve, November 23rd, 2012

Found a new Nature Church sanctuary in the neighborhood. I’m going there all week. Peace out.

Rush to judgement

by Steve, March 7th, 2012


Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them. –Margaret Atwood

When you put it in that light (and as a man, I can assure you the first half is true), it’s not hard to imagine why the altogether reasonable Sandra Fluke making the altogether reasonable case for the inclusion of contraception in health care would send Rush Limbaugh into a three-day conniption fit.

Rush, after all, is a walking, stumpy, flacid little dick who needs Viagra to get it up (prescribed in somebody else’s name, because he’s ashamed of his emasculated state). He’s a hypocritical drug addict and a know-nothing blowhard, who is so freaked out by a confident, independent, well-educated woman speaking up in a public forum, he nearly wets himself trying to discredit her, ultimately resorting to puerile name-calling and bizarre, perverted innuendo.

But Limbaugh is the least of our concerns; just a distraction, really.

It was the Catholic Church, with all their medieval misogyny and repressed sexuality on display, that first emerged to challenge the president on his altogether reasonable requirement that private employers provide comprehensive health insurance policies to their employees. It was Obama who entertained this outrageous challenge from the other side of the bright constitutional line, and offered a compromise. It was the Catholic Church again which expressed its dissatisfaction with Obama’s compromise. (To his credit, Obama refused to give more.)

It was GOP congressman Darrel Issa who called on 10 men, five of them clergy representing retrograde religious institutions, to testify as experts about women’s health policy, and refused to let Sandra Fluke testify… on the grounds that she wasn’t qualified to speak about women’s health policy.

No, this isn’t about Rush Limbaugh. This is about systematic attacks on the most basic advancements of women’s rights over the past 50 years. This is about the rump of the old guard, who want women back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, under the control of their husbands.

The Catholic Church is at the vanguard of these attacks (small wonder), but it’s the GOP, in the throes of an existential identity crisis, that’s seizing the moment. It’s the endangered white male all over again, positively panicked at the reality of waning influence unfolding before them.

It will backfire on them, of course. The GOP base is a rapidly shrinking demographic, and no amount of pandering to it can reverse inexorable demographic trends.

It already has backfired on Rush. Varying accounts put the number of major advertisers who have pulled support of his show at as many as 36. His show may or may not survive. No big deal either way.

But for Republicans, who still need at least a few women to vote for them, alienating half the voting public is a very bad move. There’s a lot of schadenfreude to be gleaned as GOP presidential contenders fall all over themselves trying to out-caveman one another, but the unfortunate side effect is that we actually have to publicly re-litigate matters that we thought were settled in, say 1972.

Contraception is not radical to most Americans, even if it is to regressive religious organizations some of them affiliate with. Most citizens of the industrialized world have easy access to it, and it is not a source of the slightest controversy. As a matter of public policy, it leads to lower overall health care costs and a higher standard of living for all citizens when women are provided with the means to control their reproductive destiny.

This is not a matter for the Catholic Church — an organization which has repeatedly shielded child rapists; contributed to countless AIDS deaths with its prohibition on condoms; brought us not one, but four Inquisitions; and which still seems to yearn for a repeal of the Age of Enlightenment — to weigh in on. For them to play this as an attack on their religious liberty is cynical to say the least, as they aggressively try to assert their dominion over the constitutional rule of law.

We can only hope that all this bluster is a last gasp of dead-enders, and a clarion call for women to repudiate the toxic brew that passes for political discourse these days. We’ve come too far to revert to naked phallocracy.

Rev. Chuck Currie: “You are a jerk”

by Steve, September 9th, 2011


The Right Reverend Chuck Currie

Like a one-legged man eagerly hopping into an ass-kicking contest, the Right Reverend Chuck Currie, Portland’s celebrity spokes-model and Great White Hope for “progressive” Christianity, penned a finger-wagging open letter in response to anti-religious comments on the Portland Mercury’s blog post about an anti-gay church moving in to Southeast Portland.

For those who don’t read the Merc, you should know that it’s an “alt weekly,” with a young and edgy reader demographic. They drop the F-bomb all over the place, so any reader of their blog shouldn’t be shocked to see a few dropped in comments, or by the generally irreverent tone.

In his letter, Currie essentially equates ridicule of magical thinking with actual oppression experienced by gays and ethnic minorities: “…general intolerance and even hatred toward people of faith is just as evil as hatred directed at people because of their sexual orientation or color.”

But… but… but… Christians don’t get the shit kicked out of them by gays just for being Christian, or have laws passed infringing on their basic human rights! (Can I get an amen?) This is patently offensive, of course, and it was immediately called out with a chorus of hoots from Merc readers.

Commenter Graham, who probably writes more copy on the Merc blog than any single Merc staffer, nailed it right away: “This idiot is confusing acceptance with tolerance. I have to tolerate that religious people are idiots and live in my city, I don’t have to accept their stupid fucking drivel.”

I decided to jump in, using a bit of the Merc lingua franca (cussing), ending with and invitation for “all believers to shut the fuck up about their Gods, no matter how just and merciful they may imagine them to be. ” (I can’t help it; I’m a little sensitive to all the godliness being trotted out on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary.)

I ultimately questioned Chuck’s beliefs, quoting from his denomination’s “statement of faith,” which talks about Christ as savior. This pissed him off, and he responded in delicious fashion.

First he basically renounced John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”) with the Universalist statement “there are different paths to God….” Having brushed aside a perfectly legitimate logical query into his take on the fundamental tenet of Christianity, he turned on me, showing his true colors.

“Your problem, with respect,” he wrote, “is that you lack any real understanding of the great diversity within Christian tradition. And you are a jerk.” (Emphasis mine.)

I gave him some jazz for being a charlatan and cherry-picking from the bible, which he countered with more ad hominem: “You are letting the Religious Right define Christianity for you. You’re letting them set the terms of what is acceptable thought. That’s dumb.” (Emphasis mine, again.)

I closed with this:

No, Chuck, I’ve let the history of Christianity define Christianity for me. Despite you calling me “dumb” (another badge of honor!), I know a thing or two about that history. Modern fundamentalists do not aberrate from this historical arc. The real “fringe” elements in the continuum of this ancient faith are those few who reject the basic tenet of Christ as savior.

My final word here, just to wrap it back to your original sin in writing this ridiculous, sanctimonious, finger-wagging letter: You want us to tolerate bigots, and equate ridicule of their magical thinking to bigotry.

Modern human society has no responsibility to tolerate retrograde thinkers who advocate categorical infringement of basic human rights based on irrational beliefs. In the public policy sphere, whether domestic (basic rights) or foreign (religious wars), we have a responsibility to oppose them at every turn, for the good of human civilization.

If you can’t handle ridicule of your faith, don’t talk about it in public. Instead, “enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.” (Matthew 6:6)

I have heard that Chuck is a real nice guy total asshole (I’ve never met him). But for somebody who is very public about professing his magical thinking, he sure has a thin skin. And a lot of damn nerve equating intolerance of bigots to bigotry.

The local Buddha on a blog anniversary

by Steve, February 6th, 2011

The giant Asurindarahu wanted to see the Buddha, but was reluctant to bow before him. The Buddha, while lying down, presented himself as much larger than the giant. He then showed him the realm of heaven with heavenly figures all larger than the giant. After all this, Asurindarahu, the giant, was humbled, and made his obeisance to the Buddha before leaving.

This month marks the 5th anniversary of this blog, and the sixth anniversary of Wacky Mommy. We started Internet publishing back in 1997 with a little-known literary arts magazine, before anybody had heard of “blogs” and when Mark Zuckerberg was 12 years old. Around 1999, we started another site that morphed into something blog-like after veering through a number of different styles, and in 2005, when blogs were just taking hold, we started writing and hosting our own. In 2008, we started an influential public policy news and opinion site which we ran for two years in our spare time.

Now that Zuckerberg owns the Internet and all your personal data, to be sold on the free market to advertisers, blog traffic is way off. Many, many people don’t venture outside of the walled garden of Facebook… unless there is a link posted there.

Who remembers RSS feeds and readers? (I do!)

The thing is, this technology still works great, and there is great potential yet to be realized. We shelved our New Media networked journalism meta project almost a year ago, but now we’re thinking of dusting it off.

Now, here I go to link this post on Facebook.

Best Christmas letter evah

by Steve, December 14th, 2010

From a family member who shall remain nameless (unless he wants credit, which I would gladly give):

Ah Christmas,

A time to wander blindly into the house of an angry, vengeful god who will fill us with the spirit of righteousness and vengeance for any whose doctrines contradict our own. The best part is never being wrong and treating others as inferior. What could be wrong with an institution that has roots nourished in the blood of heathens, infidels and homos?

As we consume the wealth taken from the less deserving and delivered rightly to our tables, let us not forget to cast severe judgement on any who disagree.

Let us not forget the lost art of smiting and in this time of giving, delivering the wrath so badly needed today.

Truly it is a magical time.

Merry Christmas

and a very

Happy New Year

What he said.

Atheists, welcome. Socialists? Not so much.

by Steve, January 20th, 2009

politicsI should be thrilled, as an atheist, to be on President Obama’s short list: “Christians and Muslims. Jews and Hindus — and non-believers.” Seriously. For all the God goin’ around today (some of it a tad — ahem — intolerant), I was surprised to get an atheist shout-out. (As for my Sikh, Buddhist, Wiccan, Pagan, Confucianist, Shintoist, Jainist, Bahá’í, and agnostic brothers and sisters, they may not feel so special being grouped in with us non-believers.)

Less surprising was President Obama’s ode to the market and its “power to generate wealth and expand freedom.”

Well, it’s sure provided the idle rich with a lot more wealth and freedom over the past 30 years, but any student of economics knows the market doesn’t create wealth. It merely distributes wealth, which is created from capital and raw materials by human labor. The market has proven itself very adept at the upward redistribution of wealth from those who create it to those who finance it.

Obama’s proposed trillion dollar (we all know it’ll get there) stimulus plan is a bastard child of New Deal-style public works investment and Reagan-era trickle down (better-termed “shovel up”) economics.

Them rich capitalist bastards don’t need any damned retro-active tax breaks. In fact, we need to levy a wealth tax on their accumulated capital, and use it to finance even more public investment. The kind that not only builds roads and schools, but also reinforces our tattered social safety net with universal cradle-to-grave health care.

Don’t get me wrong, folks. I’ve been doing the happy dance all day, ‘cuz George W. Bush went riding off into the sunset today, and the election of Barack Hussein Obama II is undoubtedly one of the most important milestones in our nation’s history. His suspension of the kangaroo court at Gitmo is a significant ray of hope, even as he continues the jingoistic talk of being “at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.”

(The notion of a “war on violence” is more ironic than a “war on terror” is risible, and equally absurd, isn’t it?)