“Sin Boldly”


I was so busy capturing this image Sunday at a taco shop in North Seattle I totally forgot to get a punch card. I finally googled the phrase today, after wondering about it already for some years. It turns out that the sentiment shows up only in a personal letter from Martin Luther to his old friend and fellow theologian Melanchthon, and even at that, only a few paragraphs of that letter survived. So yes, the phrase lacks complete context and has been translated into English in a number of ways, but it has persisted none the less for a half a millennium, albeit in fairly esoteric circles, most likely due to all the interesting questions it gives rise to.

So here we are, faced with a Spanish version of the phrase, thanks to my local taco slinger, and I encounter yet another intriguing question. Were I to commit the sin of guacamole and salsa a sufficient number of times for the 10% discount, just what exactly might I do with the savings?

For some strange reason I find the idea of 10% salvation to be every bit as intriguing as the idea that I should sin with gusto.

‘Tis the season…

…for blackberries, that is – at least in my corner of the world…


I stumbled on this patch along the Cross Kirkland Corridor on my way to a nice private brunch. I immediately drained my cup of tea and refilled it with sweetness. Then on my way back I filled all the discarded fast food containers I could find – that includes the fast food container down at the bottom of my gullet. As you can see, there are still plenty left over for you.

Might I share my little blackberry picking method?

Try to grab two at once, but only take the first one to give up.

The method may not satisfy an expert baker, as the hanger-on is probably preserving its tartness, but for my personal sweet tooth. This method works nicely.

Not Necessarily My Philosophy

Basil Rathbone

To make light of philosophy is to be a true philosopher.

…we do not think all Philosophy is worth one hour of pain.

– Blaise Pascal, Pensees

The society that scorns excellence in plumbing…and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy…will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.

– Dr. John Gardner

The philosopher may sometimes love the infinite; the poet always loves the finite.

– G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday

Poetry implies the whole truth, philosophy expresses a part of it.

– Henry David Thoreau

The problem of philosophy is, for all that exists conditionally, to find a ground unconditioned and absolute.

– Plato

Philosophers can be happy without music;

– Socrates

…there was never yet philosopher that could endure the toothache patiently,

– William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

There are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

– William Shakespeare, Hamlet

A philosopher could hardly have a higher ambition than to make himself a mouth-piece for the memory and judgment of his race.

Philosophers have sometimes said that all ideas come from experience; they never could have been poets and must have forgotten that they were ever children.

– George Santayana, The Life of Reason

Nature remains always young and whole in spite of death at work everywhere…

– George Santayana, Three Philosophical Poets

There is no such thing as a private language.

– Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

…we live and breathe in the tremulousness of our lives…

…the several faiths are each a faith in existence itself…

The dark ring of ambiguity around life is a crucial ingredient in its richness…

– John D. Caputo, Philosophy and Theology

…the way to certainty lies through radical doubt…

– William James, A Pluralistic Universe

“Why?” is a theological question.

– Gerald G. May, M.D., Addiction and Grace

If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering.

Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.

Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!

…the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man…

– Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.

– Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Man’s real work is to look at the things of the world and to love them for what they are.

Idolatry has two faults. It is not only a slur on the true God; it is also an insult to true things.

– Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb

…science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be…

– Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years

The one question any three-year-old will ask incessantly is the one question impossible for science to answer: Why?

– Proctor Charlie


Poetry in Retrospect

Poetry emerged from a certain fevered teenage mind back in the early seventies. A certain Professor Nelson Bentley was not much impressed with it…

Nelson Bentley 1972

A certain overgrown teenager remembers Professor Bentley as a much older man than this contemporary image would suggest.

I reckon these words bubbled up again this morning, as I showered off the dust of the previous day, with the poignancy one might expect from the vantage point of one’s mid-sixties. I might speculate, however, that the lack of enthusiasm from a certain professor those many years ago may have been due, at least in part, to the typical denial one might encounter, poet or not, by one’s mid-fifties.

Books I Don’t Agree With


No, not any of these books, well not particularly, well not yet, well, I don’t really know. These are the books by my bed which are patiently awaiting my binge watching to die down again. The Books I Don’t Agree With are tucked away on my Device waiting to sneak into my consciousness in between Things, you know, all those Things – the ones who busily define who I am Not via the artful art of Wishful Thinking. The books I refer to here are the ones sitting patiently there in Device Land just waiting for a tiny crack to emerge amongst a formidable array of Pet Obsessions only to take another shot at ruffling me up a bit.

I began this little Quest a few years back during Lent. I determined to give up, for Lent, my Agreeable Reading. Mind you this is not the same as taking up Disagreeable Reading. This really only just amounted to, at the time, any writers which I might run across who just may possess the audacity to challenge one or more of my Cherished Myths. It turns out that the world is quite rife with such writers. Who knew?

Okay, so it appears I have acquired yet another Pet Obsession. And strangely, as Pet Obsessions go, an often rather uncomfortable one.  If you happen to be one of those people addicted to Discomfort you won’t find this obsession strange at all. My own addictions, for the most part, appear only to be uncomfortable to others who I come into contact with. For the most part, my own addiction is primarily to Comfort.

Of course that one Lent book, several years back, was rather on the short side, Lent being only 40 days long or so (not counting Sundays, of course). My little device now seems increasingly crowded with uncomfortable literature of the greater than 40 Days variety. Oh well.

So why would I want to challenge my own Myths? Well, I don’t really want to much at all. It is much more my style, and rather a popular style I should think, to challenge the Myths of Others. Unfortunately, more often than not, the only challenge I have to hand is to call each Myth out as a Myth. Such a challenge is unlikely to enlighten anyone older than 8. So okay apparently, left to my own devices, I’m only just that lazy.

So I let Other Myths challenge my own Myths instead – my own little backwards path to Enlightenment. Okay, even that isn’t all that unique. It’s pretty much how the Systems of Education have always thought of themselves. It just so happens that the particular Myth at the heart of the book I now have in hand (assuming my Device is in my hand) is itself none other than Enlightenment. And the challenge there is that, traditionally, Enlightenment itself has long been a favorite target of my own Scorn and Contempt, at least in the Mythical Realm. Don’t expect me to explain my Scorn and Contempt here. I’m fairly certain that it is, in fact, my totally irrational Scorn and Contempt.

But I am committed to read the Books through anyway, and so I likely shall.

And, in the process,  I will likely encounter some form of Enlightenment even Despite Myself.

The one Reassurance I may find is that I am pretty sure my own personal Myths are Real. But then the hidden challenge is none other than that stark possibility – even probability – that the Myth of the Other is every bit as Real as the Myth of my own cherishing.

And therein lies the possibility of ever New Adventure…

Space: a conversation

Olson Men


One day God spoke to God. Well, not technically a day because days had not yet been created. In fact “yet” had no context, but as with everything we wish to relate, we have to start somewhere. Or nowhere. Or someplace quite outside of “where”.

God: Do you feel crowded?

God: Do you mean as in infinitely together?

God: Yes, precisely.

[I relate this conversation in English. Presumably God did not have to.]

God: Well, if We are crowded, let’s create some Space.

God: “Space?” Please explain.

God: Space is that which exists between Things.

God: Well, that’s a start. Whatever exists between Things must be “Nothing”.

God: Yes, precisely.

God: So where, exactly to we get Things to exist between Space? Space(s)?

God: I guess we will need to create some of those Things.

God: From what?

God: From Nothing.

God: Precisely.

Other Ears

Cross-eyed Rosie 3I used to claim to enjoy any and all musical genre as long as the music was “good”. I would list only two exceptions: Rap and Country Western. Somehow those were the only two genre I’d never had the patience to tolerate. Then one day I spouted off in this vein to a fellow grad student. The next time we crossed paths the fellow handed me a CD. It contained his own select mix of rap music.

Suddenly I was hearing rap for the first time. I was hearing it through someone else’s ears. It took only a few trips across that CD before I removed rap music from my list of absolute exceptions. I had ears to hear once a kind person chose not to write me off as just another ignoramus and challenged me to try out his ears, if just for a bit.

I still don’t listen to a great deal of rap or hip hop, but I am hopefully just a little less likely to write music off based on just a few bars of intro and a few decades of prejudice. Whatever the genre, somebody cared enough about something on their inside to bring it out in just that way. In most cases it took a whole bunch of people who cared enough to bring a piece of music out in fully orchestrated and engineered form, and often a whole bunch of people had to identify pretty intensely with this music before it had a chance to reach my ears. Given all that, there must at least be a possibility that my world will be enlarged and enriched over the three to ten minutes it might take to witness the heart of another person – or if not the heart, at least a person’s angst, anger or funny bone.

And of course live music is always best.

I have once or twice when passing through Nashville taken the opportunity to attempt a cure for my aversion to Country Western. I found it strangely difficult to find live CW there. The Grand Ole Opry, at least on the night I popped by in the company of an orthodox jewish banjo player of my acquaintance, seemed to dance all around CW in their efforts to entertain and engage. I popped in to the Station Inn one night, but was treated instead to an evening of comedy – mostly making light of CW. Another night I drove 30 minutes out of town to hear a fellow named Adam Pope. All three of us in the audience were well entertained, but not with country western. I highly recommend his Shot in Reno track. Maybe I just didn’t know where to look in that town.

So before you inundate me with mixes, bear in mind that I apparently define Country Western very narrowly. There’s even a possibility my definition is nothing other than Bad Country. None-the-less, I have promised myself to listen with new ears so it probably behooves me to borrow yours should I get the chance. If only for a bit.