RJ's Corner

There Is Nothing Wrong With Myth….

2015-11-12_16-44-06There is nothing wrong with myth, as it is an ingrained part of a cultural and religious traditions. Here is a little about mythology from Wikipedia:

As a collection of such stories, mythology is a vital feature of every culture. Various origins for myths have been proposed, ranging from personification of nature, personification of natural phenomena to truthful or hyperbolic accounts of historical events, to explanations of existing ritual. …  A culture’s collective mythology helps convey belonging, shared and religious experience, behavioral models, and moral and practical lessons.

2015-11-12_16-44-51Lets look at a couple of ways that myth is created:

  • There is a  famous  psychology experiment of giving one person in a group a one or two sentence story and having them pass it to the next person in the group. By the time the story is through the entire group the it is significantly different from the original sentences. Each person re-interprets what he/she heard and then passes that message one.
  • Myth is created when a person tells a story to relay a message. Christ did just that himself on many occasions. They are called parables. They are made up stories to relay an important message he wanted to give us

2015-11-12_16-45-21I will say up front here that I believe that much of the Christian bible is made up of myth. That is just a natural thing when stories are passed down from generation to generation before being permanently recorded. But to say this to many of those who buy into the literal translation of the bible is tantamount to self-proclaiming you are a heretic! To them myth has no place in their religious beliefs.  I know they have their “slippery slope” where they rationalize that if anything in the Bible is not absolute truth then the whole bible needs to be thrown out as worthless. To me that is simply poppycock. For the above reasons I feel sorry for the literalists as they are denying themselves in understanding a very important part of their religious traditions.

There is nothing wrong with myth. It plays an important part of every culture and should be celebrated, not denied. While it may not be absolutely true it speaks truth to the topic at hand. Every society, culture, and religion has its my2015-11-12_16-46-21mythology stories that enrich our understanding.  Native American myth which is also called folklore has stories about the Rainbow Crow, the Maid of the Mist, and the King of Sharks, as well as First Nation. These stories help us understand native-Americans love of the earth over self.

Lets not be ashamed of our myth but instead celebrate it. It is an important part of who we are…

Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving


Old Time Brown County

Max Photo-2

One of my friends who is also a camera buff sent me some photos of antique cars on a Brown County street.  I kind of antiqued this one and it now resides on my desktop. Thanks Max…..

Click on the pic if you want to see a larger version….

About Those Refugees…

2015-11-21_07-34-12I don’t know which GOP rally the picture to the right was from but I know it was from one of them. This guy is seen to represent the supposed base of the GOP. (Why do all those guys holding signs like this one look the same?) They seem to be deathly afraid of someone, anyone, getting something they don’t deserve.  In that regard they just seem to hate the refugees almost as much as ISIS. When I say “supposed base” it is not without an underlying feeling. Outside of Fox News I don’t see much of the phobia happening. I, and especially the media, have been using the term “GOP base” for almost everything that is wrong with this country.  I kind of get the feeling that like the term “Evangelical voters” the “GOP base” has been hijacked by the extreme elements of our society. Those who just hate everything, especially anything to do with change.  I suspect, or at least I hope, that the  majority of those who wear the GOP label are compassionate people who recognize and even empathize with those fleeing war on that side of the world. But what saddens me is that no one in that majority seems to want to speak up for their side of conservatism. Without  at least some opposition the radicals own the word “base”.

Stepping back and looking at it from a wider perspective Syria which is the de-facto home base for ISIS is a unique problem for the world  I can certainly see why so many are reluctant to get involved there. It is complicated to be against both sides of a civil war. Neither the Assad government nor those fighting against it are to be trusted. They both have political agendas that are out of sync with moral values of a major part of the world.

How can you take a stand when neither side of a conflict supports a valid answer? Some are talking about a “No Fly” zone but that kind of losses meaning when ISIS has no airplanes. If we just renamed that concept to a “sanctuary zone” maybe it would fly (pun intended). It would be a place for all the refugees to go to get away from war.  If this sanctuary zone were implemented by the U.S. it would not have strength that it would have if the United Nations, or at least a broad coalition of countries in the area were to do it . Why do we have to go to the other side of the world to solve problems that are totally solvable by local factions?

Another problem with U.S. involvement in Syria is that we as a citizenry are just exhausted with the wars pushed on us for 14 years now. We have spent thousands of our young people’s lives in conflicts which seem to have no viable solutions. Why would Syria be any different? We have already spent $4 trillion on wars this short century with no way to pay for them.  How can we keep doing it and not go bankrupt in the process? We simply can’t keep stripping away layers of our national safety net and put it into our war machines…. that is simply NO solution…


Maui Sunset


I have been digging pretty deeply into my photo archives lately and ran across this Maui Sunset taken in April 1986 while I was on my honeymoon.

A Pragmatic Government….

Malcolm Turnbull has vowed to set aside ideology and be “thoroughly pragmatic” in power as he urges business leaders move on from their past concerns about the dysfunction in Australian politics….

“I want to say to you tonight, emphatically, that the business of government is to get things done.

“Australians expect their elected representatives to deliver practical, commonsense policy to improve economic security and the general well​-​being of the nation.

“We need to be thoroughly pragmatic. We need to be open-minded and practical, business-like.

Source: Turnbull vows to set aside ideology for pragmatism | The Australian

A pragmatic government, I can only dream of such a thing for the U.S. We are so mired down in politics and unbendable political dogma that pragmatism seems utterly impossible. But is it really?

The new Australian leader seems determined to accomplish it for his country.

Even the new Speaker in the U.S. House of Representatives is spouting a level of pragmatism but I kind of think if it were to actually happen it would be totally drenched in conservative ideology that it would not even resemble the word.  I would love to be proven wrong.

Streaks Of Inspiration…


I embrace change, it is what keeps life interesting and challenging for me.  To that end I am adding yet another subcategory to RJsCorner. It is called “Streaks Of Inspiration” 2015-11-22_11-41-25and is found under the”About Life” category header above. I am approaching almost 3,000 posts here. Most are about my observations of daily life around this planet earth. But then there are some where an idea hit me almost like a streak of lighting. It suddenly appeared in my consciousness, often when I am in the show and allow myself to fully contemplate life. :)

Many of the posts that will be assigned to this new subcategory will be  personal insights but I will also include those from others that gave me an “aha” moment of pause. If I have gleaned any deep wisdom from my seven decades on this earth it will be reflected in this subcategory.

Being a wordsmith I take the choosing of the most appropriate words seriously, especially my category names. Lets look the origin of the “Streaks of Inspiration” title:

One of the definitions of “streak” is a sudden flash (as of lightning). That seems to be the main mode of inspiration for me. It comes as a sudden flash across my consciousness. It’s there and if I don’t grab on to it, it is quickly gone.  I think all of us have these types of flashes but sadly just let them flee back into the far reaches of our brain.

2015-11-22_10-10-29On to the word Inspiration. I love all six definitions of the word to the right. Each applies to one part of life’s circumstances. Inspiration is about creativity of which I strive for on a daily basis. I believe creativity only sprouts if you nurture it carefully.

A sudden intuition as part of solving a problem. This has always been a biggie to me even in my professional career. The best solutions to problems have always been in almost instantaneous flashes. I could find myself searching for hours only to find the best answer come in a sudden flash.

Inspiration in the theology mode is often the hardest to accept, especially if it goes against your current mindset. But I kind of think those types of inspirations is just God tweaking me with further understanding.

Arousing emotions – This one comes from external inspirations more so than any internal process. We come across just the right words to get us very emotional about something in our lives.  One of those sayings for me is:

“I don’t regret the things I’ve done, I regret the things I didn’t do when I had the chance.” – Unknown

These words remind me that I must grab opportunities when they are presented to me. Otherwise they are usually regrets later and I just don’t have a lot of “later” left in me.

That’s enough introduction for this new subcategory.  In the coming weeks I will be browsing through my previous posts to tag them for this topic. I will also be posting some new ones as they occur.

We all have Streaks of Inspiration.  I would love to hear some of your.

FEAR Is A Powerful Motive, Especially To The GOP Base…

Never let it be said that the Republican Party is not responsive to its voters.

Just two months ago, many of the GOP candidates for president, including Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio, were saying that the United States should welcome some of the Syrian refugees who have suffered so much; all have now changed their minds. Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush have taken the position that we should welcome Christian refugees but not Muslims. John Kasich proposed a new government propaganda agency to promote “Judeo-Christian Western values” to places like the Middle East and China.

All it took was a terrorist attack in a country thousands of miles away to bring a stampede to the right, a wave of xenophobia and religious bigotry, and a call to transform public policy to more closely align with whatever frightens people at the moment, rationally or not….

You might read that and say, well, Trump is just a buffoon who doesn’t think before opening his mouth, so you can’t take anything he says seriously. Which is true. But it’s also true that the Republican electorate is quite open to that kind of message.

Source: The GOP’s despicable rush to demonize refugees

This posts aligns with a previous one about how politicians will say anything to get elected. The GOP presidential candidates are falling all over themselves to denounce the acceptance of some of the Syrian refugees in this country.  They are certainly echoing their base.  But just who is their base?

2015-11-20_09-09-39A recent compilation showed that 92% of registered GOP voters are white and a big majority of those are above the median age for U.S. citizens. I must admit that I fit well with this demographic base and I was once one of their members. But then I grew up…

There are just too many, especially in the GOP base, that fear is the most basic driving factor in their lives right now. Of course this is the dream population for terrorists. After all that is the PRIMARY purpose of terrorism, to strike paranoid fear into their enemies. As far as ISIS is concerned, when they look at the GOP base they are probably proclaiming MISSION ACCOMPLISHED…


About Religion…

2015-09-14_08-49-23Religion today seems more about interfaith competition than “love your neighbor”. It seems to be “love your neighbor as long as he is a Lutheran/Baptist/etc.


Spiritual but not Religious

The above words (I failed to capture the source) and the graphic are perhaps the primary reasons I now claim to be “spiritual but not religious”. I just see too much politics and interfaith competition to make me want to stay part of any particular religious organization of today.  Each religion and each religious denomination seems to be at battle with everyone else for the mantle of God’s people. I am going to use the famous but utterly simple words of Rodney King “Why can’t we just get along?”

I think God intended us to get along with each other. He told us as much via prophet after prophet in so many religious documents.  I want to especially emphasize the word “THEIR” in the pic above. It is more their religion than it is God’s.  I spent ten plus years studying theology and religion and with the following give you a VERY few examples of what I have personally discovered.

Roman Catholics –  Of course RCs claim to be the first but then  again the Eastern versions say they were the first. To me the whole thing got started off on the wrong path. We supposedly have a reliable source of the words of Jesus the founder but for some reason soon after his death and resurrection the founding of religion is  turned over to a converted Jewish scholar. If you study all the words of Paul, who makes up probably half of the New Testament text, it becomes obvious that he very rarely wrote anything about  Jesus’ actual teachings.  He just seemed to know very little about them or just didn’t think it was necessary to use them in his teachings. Instead he went about deciding what rules this new religion was going to be live by. This isn’t too surprising given that he came from a strict rules obedient religion himself. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Paul had some devious scheme to steal Christianity away from Jesus. He was just making a bunch of rules because that was his nature.

The Reformation –  Skipping ahead fifteen hundred years or so we come to the Reformation.  Martin Luther who was a Roman Catholic monk had a very low-level of self-worth.  He just couldn’t accept the idea that God loved him. It worried him very very deeply. But then he came upon a few words from the Apostle Paul (yeah the same one cited above) in the Catholic Bible that gave him an “aha” moment.   “You are saved by faith alone, not by works…”  He latched onto these words and threw almost everything else aside especially the epistle of James. He concluded that it didn’t matter what you do on this earth, God doesn’t really care, it only matters that you have the right kind of faith.  Of course Luther would then go on to define what that “right faith” was.

Behind Luther came a deluge of many other views of religion.  Most would split off  from each other based on a particular quote they “discovered”. The result of all this is that we now have thousands of versions of Christianity each claiming to be the keepers of the true faith.

Quakers (Society of Friends) – Although I was never a Quaker I did read extensively on that religious sect.  Of all the religions I have investigated Quakers seem to have it the most together. I particularly loved the books by Philip Gulley. He says many things that I totally align with. But even Quakers put rules and opinions as conditions for joining their version of Christianity. For instance, even though Jesus’ first miracle was to make an alcoholic beverage, they decided that you must not drink if you want to be a Quaker.. rules, rules, rules…

I  choose to take my relationship with God on a very personal, rather than an organizational level.

With the controversial words above I am going to close down this current Sunday series on religion and move on to other things next Sunday.

Artistry of Nature…

Artistry of Nature.jpg

With my new macro lens in hand I am finding the artistry of nature almost everywhere I look… Yeah, I still got a lot of these works of art in my yard. :)

Deserving Its Own Real Estate…


I don’t know how many of you are like me but I just don’t buy into the latest gourmet trends of chefs stacking all my food on top of each other on my plate. It tends to taint the meal before I even start eating.  I end up spend minutes getting the mashed potatoes out of my asparagus and the entrée cleaned off before I can get my initial taste.  It just starts the meal out on the wrong foot for me.  To try to eliminate that added task I have made up the following card that I will insist the server give to the chef along with the order.  I haven’t used it yet so I will let you know what happens when I do.

But this annoyance does frequently bring up some pleasant memories of my grandfather who died more than 50 years ago.  He was a pig farmer born, raised, and died in Indiana. When he filled his plate for a meal all of the food was placed around the plate as was common but then he proceeded to take his knife and fork and cut everything up and then thoroughly mix it all together. Whenever anyone would say anything about this practice he would say “it all goes to the same place so why not start it that way”. Grandpa, and many old people including me now, was set in his ways. That was just the way he did it and no one could convince him to do it otherwise….

I’m sure some, I call them sheep, totally buy into the stacking trend as they do for most other trends and they probably “oh” and “ah” when the meal is presented to them. But for me meals are mostly about eating, artwork has little to do with it. I do appreciate a good piece of art on occasion but I just don’t want to mess with it on my plate. Does that make me eccentric? I don’t know or even care. :)


There is the sentiment that we can let the victims and families know we’re sorry for their loss, but those words fall on grieving, frightened and mostly, deaf ears. I am sorry about the loss of human life anywhere, but saying it to the internet has all the veracity of signing an office sympathy card, accompanied by those trite phrases we use, so that we don’t look like assholes. You’re in our thoughts. Wishing you comfort. Our prayers are with you. I don’t want to fill the air with my nothingness.


The voices of outrage come out in full force, relentless anger directed at them, at us, at anything that’s a moving or easy target. Presidential candidates fall over themselves trying to prove how many people they’d kill in response to this nightmare. Political ideologues and bigots of every persuasion grab hold of the pain and anxiety in vain attempts to support their own version of hate.


This is not my story. This is not my opportunity. This is not my moment on the stage. This is my time to listen, to learn, and to try to comprehend other people’s stories. I don’t stay silent because I don’t care. I stay silent because, at this moment, nothing I say will make as much difference as listening.

Source: A Wish for Peace…and Quiet | The Green Study

I wondered how I was going to do a post about Paris. I didn’t want to join all the hot-heads demanding immediate revenge. From past history I know that seldom works. We just get ourselves mired down in something that accomplishes little. I didn’t want to be part of that crowd.

Then I came across the post above on one of my recent Feedly feeds from The Green Study. I have to admit that I am envious of the way the blogger has wisdom beyond her years and even mine. The Green Study refers to the paint on the walls where she blogs. How simple can you get.  Here is a little about her from her “About” page:

I’m Michelle, a midwestern, middle-aged, middle manager of average height and IQ. I’m ex-Army, ex-Republican, ex-Seventh Day Adventist, ex-smoker and an ex-girlfriend several times over, with an obsolete college degree.

Yes, this is a time to just quietly sit by and give our condolences. Ranting accomplishes little except maybe for the GOP presidential wanna-be’s who are out in force trying to appease their base.

Thanks Michelle for showing me the way….

They Will Say Anything…

Seven years ago, when Hillary Clinton was fighting a grueling Democratic primary battle against then-Sen. Barack Obama, she boasted of duck hunting and championed the Second Amendment. Clinton’s campaign in Indiana sent around negative mailers pasted with rifles, accusing Obama of being weak on gun rights. She talked of learning to shoot a gun as a child…

Source: Why Hillary Clinton Thinks Gun Control Can Win in 2016 | TIME

It seems pretty obvious even now that Hillary will be on the presidential ticket next fall.  I wish Bernie Sanders were more electable but that is just not the case.  He riles too many people with his righteousness. He doesn’t play the game of politics well enough to have the majority of people vote for him. Hillary on the other hand is a consummate politician. She has spent her life playing the game.

So it was not too surprising to see that she changes philosophical stands depending on the mood of the populace. She was for free access to guns before she was against it.  Politicians will say whatever they need to in order to get elected.  That seems to be a requirement in today’s America.

It is rather ridiculous how far all those vying for the GOP nomination are going in order to look more like Mr. Trump. I expect it of Mr. Trump, that is his life, but to watch the circus performers jump to the same thing proves again that they will say anything in order to get elected. And of course since there seems to be so many low-info voters out there now especially in the GOP they couldn’t be happier. They get what they want, they get the screamers instead of the statesmen. The more ridiculous the better as far as they are concerned.  They just don’t seem to be very interested in what these folks running for president would actually do if they are elected. They just don’t seem interested in doing the work to make sure that their views are helpful to America instead of hurtful.  In the end I guess it is the game of  “You get what you pay for”. Low-info voters to low-info politicians!!

Getting back to Hillary, I think she would probably do a good job of running the country. She sat behind her man and watched him for eight years so she knows how the system works. She knows how to play the game.  In someways she is now much better prepared for the Oval Office than any president in recent history.  But, I personally can’t get beyond the feeling of aristocracy and entitlement.  She thinks the country owes it to her now.  She was the grieving  wife whose husband cheated on her. She was a senator from New York. She was the Secretary of State. In her mind we simply owe her the presidency and maybe she is right.

I’m sure she would do a better job than any of those yahoos trying to get it from the Republican side and that seems to be the only choices we will have come a year from now. They will all say anything to get elected but its what they do after they get there that is the most critical.

Pragmatism & Drugs in Prisons…

Banner PragmatistsI know the title above might be confusing to you right now but let me explain. If only we would follow the principle of  Occum’s razor and understand that most often the simplest answer is the best answer. But instead we make things more complicated than they need to be.  We just can’t seem to help ourselves.

2015-11-08_15-05-24This phenomenon came to the forefront for me while watching a prison documentary on TV lately. OK, first I guess I have to admit that sometimes I just get bored with the normal stuff on TV and turn into these types of shows just to pass the time.  MSNBC seems to have them on almost nightly now.  On one episode I watched recently the prison warden was complaining how difficult it was to keep drugs out of the prison environment.  He mentioned things like letters with pages glued together and drugs in the middle and books with drug laced glue in the bindings.  He was just so frustrated that he was not able to stop the flow of drugs.

My pragmatic side leaped up as I was watching him. It just seemed so simple a solution that I couldn’t see why he had not found it. If drugs are coming in the mail and from things from the outside why not just put a virtual wall between the inside and outside the prison?

  • If letters are so effectively laced with drugs then just copy them when they come in and give the prisoners the copies instead of the originals.
  • If drugs are hidden in books and such then instead of just passing them through into the prison system insist that the givers give them a list of items they want and the money to get them.  The prison personnel would then go shopping for the goods themselves and provide them to the prisoners.

These types of solutions seem rather obvious to me, why can’t they figure it out? Maybe one reason is because too many of us are just not inclined to think in pragmatic terms. Solutions to big problems can’t be that easy. Maybe we should be teaching courses in our high schools and colleges on pragmatism.

But then again the real pragmatic solution is to not put so many of our citizens in prison in the first place.  Why is the U.S. the number one incinerator in the world? Let’s fix the basic problems in our society and the peripheral ones will naturally go away. Regulating guns would be a nice first step… ;)

I Love Pragmatists…

Here We Go Again… Even Eighty Years Later…

Will Rogers 6Here we go again!  America is running true to form, fixing some other country’s business for ’em just as we always do. We mean well, but will wind up in the wrong as usual…   Will Rogers June 22, 1931

I seem to have been ignoring one of my heroes of late. It seems that my op-ed posts are taking over RJsCorner. I gotta do something about that. After all life isn’t always about what is happening in the world. In fact it is even pretty far down in a sane person’s priority list. But who ever accused me of being sane?? :)

Of course each generation thinks that everything that happens to them is the first time it has happened.  For those of us who are U.S. history nuts know, that is rarely the case.  But sometimes when I come across a new Will Rogers quote it really surprises me. I didn’t know that before my time the U.S. had a reputation for getting into foreign messes where they really didn’t belong.

But I kinda think we have gotten a lot better at it now than we did when Will was alive.  We just gotta find every possible way to expand our military budgets. We can never spend enough on our guns and such. We spend more on it than the rest of the world combined but that, given our pretentious nature, is still never enough. So, we search the world far and wide to see where we can get into trouble and as usual end up on the wrong side of most of it…

Thanks Will for the thoughts.  I promise I will not ignore you so much in the future.

I Love Pragmatists

Banner PragmatistsIt has been a while since I brought up a new category here at RJ’sCorner.  After seeing so many people stuck in one mode of thinking I have come to passionately embrace the concept of pragmatism.  Let’s look at its definition:


I like to think of myself as being a pragmatist.  All my life I have looked for solutions instead of alliances. I try to look beyond the labels.  A big part of pragmatism is logic instead of dogma.  With dogma you are told what you are to believe; with pragmatism you search out the most practical answer by questioning everything.  Dogma allows us to stay stuck in a rut with no practical way of getting out.

It will be interesting to start concentrating on pragmatism on some of my posts.  I don’t know exactly where this will go but that is also part of pragmatism. You don’t have a predefined path. After careful thought you go with what is practical and what works the best for any given situation…

I Love Pragmatists


Religion Makes Children More Selfish…

2015-11-07_09-24-59History backs-up the scientific evidence that secular people are more moral, as reviewed by Israeli psychologist Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi. Most white supporters of the US Civil Rights Movement were non-religious, for example, while the apartheid regime in South Africa was led by devout Christians and opposed by atheists.

But the view that non-religious individuals are morally dubious is deeply embedded in American society. Atheists and agnostics are considered less trustworthy, even immoral, which explains why people who don’t believe in God are unlikely to be elected to high political office, such as President of the United States….

”It’s sometimes claimed that secular families are dysfunctional and rudderless because they lack the security of religion. But sociologist Vern Bengston, who has run California’s Longitudinal Study of Generations since 1971, says this isn’t true: “Many nonreligious parents were more coherent and passionate about their ethical principles than some of the ‘religious’ parents …

The vast majority appeared to live goal-filled lives characterised by moral direction and sense of life having a purpose.”

“Morality and religion are two separate things: religion has been made by humans and morality is part of our biology,” says Jean Decety.

Source: Religion Makes Children More Selfish, Say Scientists – Forbes

In some ways the above poll surprised me but in others it didn’t. I would think that people who religiously (pun intended) attend weekly places of worship would be kinder and more generous than those who don’t.  After all, Christians are exposed to the Gospel messages that often talk about the poor and the downtrodden. Shouldn’t this then become the foundations for their lives?  This poll is about children but I kind of think that children learn most of these types of things from their parents.

I am going to try to rationalize why religious children might be less altruistic than secular kids.  Most religions  embrace the belief that they are the only ones who have really figured out the true nature of God.  Everyone else is wrong to one degree or another.  We are holy &  they not so much. The logic goes like this:

“It is our job to get all those who believe things different from us to admit that they are wrong and our version is right. Then if they publicly proclaim that fact they can officially join us. Until that happens they are to be viewed with suspicion and maybe even distrust. Once they are part of our clan then they are worthy of our empathy and generosity. Real friendship/caring can only be fully established if you are part of us; if you leave us that friendship will quickly evaporate”

With that mentality the children maybe inadvertently learn of the us/them divide in most churches. My personal theology says God cares equally about all of us. He doesn’t restrict his love to religious alliances.  I found it interesting that Most white supporters of the US Civil Rights Movement were non-religious.  Another interesting point is that Muslims are the least friendly and meanest of the three groups.

I will close here by narrowing my brush:

Does my rationalization above apply to all those who claim membership to religions?  ABSOLUTELY NOT… but I think it is a pretty good description of too many of them…


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