Saturday, March 30, 2019

A Few Words From...Calvin Miller

"Decision is the key to destiny.

'God, can you be merciful and send me off to hell and lock me in forever?'

'No Pilgrim, I will not send you there, but if you chose to to there, I could never lock you out.'"

- The Singer

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Collapse XVII: Vacation

25 July 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

My apologies for the delay in writing. For the first time in years, I took a vacation.

Yes yes, I understand – you have often commented that my whole life at this point seems to be one long vacation of doing what I want to do – fair enough, I have often said the same thing myself. But I made the decision – right after the refugees I informed you of in the last letter – to make a trip to some of the places I love here that are farther away.

Yellowstone – You remember Yellowstone of course, we went there on your last visit. I had a longing to go there again – not so much for the natural wonders (as amazing as they are, of course) as for the buffalo. And I found both – and the park strangely deserted. Where before there were literally thousands of cars there were merely tens of them. I had no problem or issue getting anywhere or seeing anything I desired. The buffalo were there, placidly moving in their herds the way they did long before Westerners ever arrived.

The other place I needed to go, of course, was the Little Bighorn.

The monument was even more deserted than I had expected – it was myself and two other people, wandering among the headstones of the US Calvary and Sioux Warriors. The grass was brown and dry and blew in the wind, perhaps like it did almost 150 years ago. The wind whispered the voices of warriors of both sides, long dead, watching.

In a very meaningful way, these sorts of trips were walks into a past that was rapidly approaching into our future.

These were day trips for me of course, and I am sure that you will wonder at the wanton waste of fuel for each of them. I somewhat wonder at it myself – but comfort myself with the thought that I do not know when, if ever, I will be able to go again. At least they can now always live in my memory.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Done With Entertainment

So last night I was watching one of my Animes on Netflix that I have come to watch.  At this point it had become a little bit tiresome and was dragging on, but I was sticking with it to the bitter end.  And then, just like that, it ended - on an radically modern correct note.

And I was done.

This absence from media has been a great boon to me, although a struggle as well.  But as I think about it, this has become the next logical step.

Entertainment, it seems, is always reflective of the age in which is was created.  And media for last 10 years at least has definitely come to reflect society as a whole.

I cannot, in good conscious, support it any more.

And so, I am done.

Two aspects of this, really. The first is that I am done - really done - with Netflix and Hulu.  If I do not own it, I will not watch it.  Which means I will be watching a lot less.

The second is that my timespan of watching just shrank a great deal.  Pretty much anything prior to 1985, I suppose.  Maybe occasional exceptions - one of my favorites The Thirteenth Warrior was made in the 1990's - but on the whole, I stop there.

The good news is, I just got a great deal of my time back.

Yes, I know.  This will not really stop the advance of anything.  Society will continue on with its business and ignore me by my lack of support.

Strangely enough, I find myself more and more okay with this.  It may be a bubble, but I find it to be one that I can function in and focus on what really matters.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To Work....

...more specifically, A Funny Thing Happened To Me At Work.

My boss sits down.  "Good job, keep up the good work."  Hands me a piece of paper.

Turns out I have been promoted.  To Vice President, Quality.


I have been at this just over 21 years.  I started as a Research Associate 1, scraping labels off of bottles in a research lab. 

Of course, nothing is free.  All the responsibility is on me - but in reality, it always was.  And I have a great deal to do and be responsible for - but then again, I always did.

Vice President.  This is a high as I pretty much every figured I was going to reach.

Go me.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Your New Life Is Going To Cost You

Hat Tip:  Aware Wolf

This wandered across my consciousness this weekend.  I looked at it, thought it was rather useful, and sent it along to others,

And then, I actually started to think about it. What a devastatingly profound statement.

Christians, of course, are familiar with the concept of this:  "We are buried with Christ in His death, we are raised with Him into newness of life" we say in some form or fashion every Sunday.  But we make the rather painful mistake of not realizing it applies to every aspect of our life.

It works this way in Nature, of course:  the tadpole surrenders it life to the frog, the caterpillar surrenders its life to the butterfly.  The change in nature - indeed, the change in form - is something that we have actually embraced and use as a symbol of the newness of life, of the ability to change.
We forget that, much like Cortes and his ships, they have burned everything and have no choice but to move forward.

It is true of us as well.

The simple - and rather painful - reality is that when we make a life change, be it by choice or forced, it eventually costs us our old one.

Oh, we may not think so at first:  we continue to maintain the relationships, do the activities, and believe that somehow we are continuing to bridge the gap between the two. But time, that revelator of all things, eventually points out a very simple fact:  Just as we cannot be in two places at once, neither can we have two lives at once.  It is either the old or the new.

It is true of me, of course.  10 years ago this year, we moved from Old Home to New Home.  The move did change our lives - in many good ways of course, but along with the good came the bad.  Our old lives - old church, old friends, old activities, old contacts - faded into the mirror as we continued to move forward into the new. 

Even now, I continue to change - as I have come to embrace Iai more and more, it means that other things, such as Highland Games, matter less and less.  It is a number of factors of course - I find that throwing in the wet is not nearly as entertaining as it once was and driving more than two hours to and back is more than I want to do - but it is also because, simply, I have X amount of time and energy and must allocate them appropriately.

Some things stick with us of course - in a sense we are nomads of our lives, carrying some things from place to place to place (I fell in love with Japan at age 10; it took me 30 years to find a direct connection and 40 years to have a mechanism - training - to return there annually).  But by choosing a new life, we by default choose to lose on the old.

I wonder: if we really grasped that by choosing a new life we cost the old one, would we always be so eager to do so?  Or would we simply become more melancholy about the change, more thoughtful about the choice - and do it anyway?

Sunday, March 24, 2019

God Of The Elements

O God of the elements
O God of the mysteries
O God of the fountains
O King of Kings!
O King of Kings!

Carmina Gadelica (Alexander Carmichael) from Celtic Devotions (Calvin Miller)

Saturday, March 23, 2019

A Few (More) Words from...Miyamoto Musashi

"To Release Four Hands

'To release four hands' is used when you and the enemy are contending with the same spirit, and the issue cannot be decided.  Abandon this spirit and win through an alternative method.

In large-scale strategy, when there is a 'four hands' spirit, do not give up - it is man's existence.  Immediately throw away this spirit and win with a technique the enemy does not expect.

In single combat also, when we think we have fallen into the 'four hands' situation, we must defeat the enemy by changing our mind and applying a suitable technique according to his condition.  You must be able to judge them."

- The Fire Book, A Book of Five Rings

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Collapse XVI: Refugees

20 July 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

Yesterday we say our first band of refugees.

The first hint I had of it was a Recreational Vehicle coming through town past my home, and then another. And another. And then a truck pulling a trailer – until a whole parade of vehicles drove by my house and on the park down the road, where I do my laundry. As I had planned to do laundry that day anyway, I gathered my things and walked the mile or so to the park.

The park was virtually full – the first time in years I can remember it being so since my youth of coming here. Adults and children milled around the main area of the park, the children running around as if trapped inside all day (which most likely they were) the adults in small knots clustered together.

As for me, I was there to do laundry, so I started up my loads, pulled out my book and commenced reading. I sat quietly until about 15 minutes latter when a number of younger women came in to apparently start doing theirs as well. We nodded pleasantly to each other, then I returned to my book and they to their conversation – which was loud enough to hear over the edge of my cover.

They were, apparently, from somewhere south of where we are had been on the road “for a few days” - not enough regional accent to detect from where. Wherever they were coming from, it sounded as if life had not become too awful yet but they were worried about something that was about to come. They did not sound as if they had a clear plan on where they were going yet - “West” is what I heard, but I did not get a sense of how far “west” really meant.

During the conversation, children flitted in and out of the laundry room, laughing and crying and shouting at the top of their lungs. It has been a rather long time since I have had that level of...”activity” in my life. It was a source of both joy and confusion to me as my life has become so much more quiet now. I can scarcely remember when such loud days were the norm.

I finished and folded my laundry, nodded to the ladies women finishing theirs, and then packed up everything in my basket and headed out. The park was as full and busy as the laundry room had been, with children tearing around the spots and men and women in small clusters, grilling over charcoal or cooking over camp stoves.

They were gone the next morning to points “West”, as the owner told me, almost gleeful at the amount of money he had turned in one day and trying to figure out how to restock before the next wave came through.

It is a concerning thing, Lucilius, these populations on the move. In point of fact there is probably no better thing “west” of here than there is “east” of here, or north or south. I am coming to fear the time of decision has already passed and one will need to make do with where one is and what one has.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spring Evening

Translucent moonlight
breaks through holes in the cloud bank:
outlines of shadows.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Of Old Cars and Passing Memories

We are no longer building cars that stand out.

Once upon a time, cars were built that were distinctive and unique.  No-one ever mistook a 1956 Thunderbird or 1966 Mustang or a Datsun 280Z for any other kind of car.  Even today, these cars remain recognizable - and valuable.

However, a great deal of cars are built today will not have the same lasting power.  Most of them merge into one another, a flow of curves and body types to reduce drag, increase gas mileage, and go farther.  And to a great extent, they all look almost exactly the same.

In other words, we have exchanged the unique for the utilitarian.

As I pondered this, I realized that in the age of intellectual achievement, this seems to be true more and more.  Our houses or apartments look them same.  Our appliances all look almost the same, with only features differentiating one from the other.  Any computer looks like any other and smartphones compete only in how big their screen can be.

And more and more, what we produce is ephemeral.  The appliances and cars with planned obsolescence.  The computer programs and TV shows that are replaced in popularity on an almost annual basis.  The things we buy, use, dispose of, and promptly forgot that we owned.

Maybe this is the natural progression of technology, that as we move through what we can do and achiever it becomes more and more amazing, yet more and more passing.  We moved from stone and wood to metal and leather and steel and concrete and computers.  At every step something more amazing, yet each thing seeming to pass more quickly into the ether.  We view ruins that were built 2000 years ago; cities from the gold and silver rushes of 200 years ago weather away and vanish.

As the homogenization of the uniqueness of items continues to dwindle and the inevitable move to own and use less and less continues, we will find ourselves in an age where the original, the lasting, the hand made and hand built and distinctive will find more and more value - not just because it has aesthetic or historical value but because it remains distinctive and memorable in a world which no longer generates its memories in things it built but in something far less lasting - the feelings and memories of an individual, which will never outlive them.  We are exchanging the record for our being in the physical world for a mental record which we can only record in things that, all too often, pass away in the blink of an eye.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Slow Driving, No Media

I am a slow driver.

I drive at or below the speed limit on a daily basis - so much so, The Ravishing Mrs. TB reminds me quite a bit to at least "go the speed limit".  I at least try to get out of the far left lane, but generally - yes, I am that guy.

Why?  Not really sure how it started - that I can recall now, I have never had a speeding ticket.  I think it originated somewhere from my seeming irrational fear of always being pulled over - if I am going the speed limit, there is never any danger of that happening.   I am perfectly happy to let others speed by me on their way to somewhere as I slowly make my way down the Interstate.

It occurred to me yesterday as I drove that this is what giving up current events and media has been like.

If (like me) you are driving at the speed limit, you inevitably find yourself passed by people going quickly (or much more quickly) on their way to somewhere else.  They either whip right by or slowly edge past you, but in the end they leave you behind as they speed over the horizon. 

Oddly enough however, I still end up arriving at the same destination they do, if only a little bit later.

That is what being without the media has been like.  Yes, I eventually hear of the "goings on" out there in the real world (because of course people talk about it) but I end up waking up at the same time as everyone else.  I can perhaps opine on the current event (I am trying not to during Lent, of course!) even as I grasp that I can no more influence or change most of them than I can the weather or the sunset. 

The pace of my life - or at least my stress, I guess, has changed as well.  I am no longer always in an almost hyper-induced sense of waiting for the next thing to occur (I wish I could make this true for work as well!).  I just move forward into my day, knowing that somehow events and commentary are going on all around me and knowing that I will end the day like everyone else around me.

I have to admit this has turned out to be a rather delightful change of pace.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Keep Me

Keep me in good means,
Keep me in good intent.

Keep me in good estate,
Better than I know to ask,
Better that I know to ask.

Shepherd me this day,
Relieve my distress...

Guard for me my speech,
Strengthen for me my love,
Illumine for me the stream.

Carmina Gadelica (Alexander Carmichael) from Celtic Devotions (Calvin Miller)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

A Few Words From..A.W. Tozer

"Religion today is not transforming the people - it is being transformed by the people.  It is not raising the moral level society - it is descending to society's own level and congratulating itself that it has scored a victory because society is smiling accepting its surrender."

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

On Not Preaching Holiness

The Western Church (by and large) has lost sight of the Holiness of God.

One of the great favors you can do yourself, if you are a Christian, is to work your way through Jaroslav Pelikan's 5 book study of the The Christian Tradition:  A History of the Development of Doctrine (I have only made it through Volume 4 but am re-reading the series this year).  In reading the books you find that the develop of the doctrine of the church was a bit longer drawn out that we like to believe ( the best known case of this of course, the Trinity, was not formally worked out until the 4th century).  You will also find that the Church, like any other human institution, goes through trends based on the society around it.

The trend in the Western Church - or at least the American Western Church - is justice.

Justice has become the defining nature of God.  Everything - society, history, current social mores, economy - is viewed through the lens of "The Justice of God" (and by justice, what is meant is equality and righting wrongs).  Thus, preaching of God's word becomes an exercise in 1) showing how the people of the Bible were unjust; 2)  showing how we currently are unjust; and 3) how we need to make fighting injustice our number one goal.

Now, there is a balance to be kept here.  The Bible is rather full of justice - and indeed, it talks about social justice as is suggested (Rights for the sojourner, widow and orphans, caring for the poor - check it, it's all there).  At the same time, the Bible is not ONLY about this thing.

We have lost the Holiness of God in this rush to justice.

God is holy - holy meaning not just as we think of it (really religious), but utterly pure and set apart from anything else.  He is the ultimate holder of gravitas, the one who is so beyond us in our sin in nature and in being that we wither away in His presence. 

God is also very, very explicit about the fact that He is holy - and that He expects us to be as well (Leviticus 11:44 is a fine example:  "Be ye holy, for I am Holy says the LORD").  It is as explicitly discussed as any other attribute of God (such as His love or justice, for example).  Yet holiness is something that you will scarcely hear preached on these days.

Why?  Two reasons, I think.  The first is a somewhat crass one:  The holiness of God allows us to rail against no-one.  We cannot use the word of God as a weapon of God to bring the change we think needs to be in the world, because in that sense holiness has very little to do with this world or our agendas.

The second reason is that the Holiness of God imparts guilt and requires action. 

By demonstrating and saying that God is holy, we are saying that we are sinners.  And sinning makes us feel bad (as it should, by the way).  But feeling bad is not something that a great many churches want to do these days:  it drives away people and convinces them that Christianity is "as seen on TV".  Better to engage them with words and feelings and movements of the society around them. 

And it requires action. It requires us to repent of our sin - even more, it requires us to agree with God on the issues as He sees them and change our view to match His, something which is not popular is a society that sees so much of the Bible as anachronistic and a tool of oppressive morality and domination.

The catch?  Without holiness, no-one can see the Lord.  Ultimately our ability to see God is predicated upon us accepting the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf for our sin - our unholiness, as it were.  And without acknowledging that sin, that unholiness, we cannot be saved from it.

Be careful, Church of the West.  Do not exchange your calling to be a holy people of a holy God to be a socially relevant people of a socially relevant God.  If we do not right this ship, we will end up becoming a chapter in someone else's book of Christian History, while the church that practices holiness somewhere else takes up the torch and moves forward.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Sow True Seeds Fan for Life

So when I was planting on Sunday I opened one seed packet and found this:

$10 off?  And a thing called an action Golden Ticket?  I am a fan for life.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Garden 2019 I

Today I planted.

I went nuts.  I planted two kinds of onions, four kinds of beans, 2 kinds of peppers, and wheat, barley, and rye.  I have no idea if any of them will grow.

That is okay, of course.  There is nothing wrong with trying.

The soil was remarkably friable.  The rabbit droppings and composed wood pellets are working out well.  I just need more of them (if necessary, I can "borrow" some from the rabbit shelter).

That is it.  We are going full bore this year.  NewMantra:  Garden or Die.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

This Night And Every Night

"God shield the house, the fire, the kine,
Every one who dwells herein to-night.
Shield myself and my beloved group,
Preserve us from foes this night,
For the sake of the Son of the Mary Mother,
In this place, and in every place wherein they dwell to-night,
On this night and on every night, 
This night and every night."

Carmina Gadelica (Alexander Carmichael) from Celtic Devotions (Calvin Miller)

Saturday, March 09, 2019

A Few Word From...Masanobu Fukuoka

"I tell the young people up in my orchard again and again not to try to imitate me, and it really angers me if there is someone who does not try to take this advice to heart.  I ask, instead, that they simply live in nature and apply themselves to their daily work.  No, there is nothing special about me, but what I have glimpsed is vastly important."

"An object seen in isolation from the whole is not the real thing."

"I probably know more about what can go wrong growing agricultural crops than anyone else in Japan."

"You might say that, rather than growing citrus and vegetables  up here, I have been helping to restore the fertility of the soil."

"Before researchers become researchers they should become philosophers.  They should consider what the human goal is, what it is that humanity should create."

"When a decision is made to cope with the symptoms of a problem, it is generally assumed that the corrective measures will solve the problem itself.  They seldom do."

"If natural food is to become widely popular, it must available locally at a reasonable price."

"The world used to be simple.  You merely notice in passing that you got wet by brushing against the drops of dew while meandering through the meadow.  But from the time  people undertook to explain this one drop of dew scientifically, they trapped themselves in the endless hell of the intellect."

"The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation of human beings."

- The One-Straw Revolution

Friday, March 08, 2019

People Who Challenge And Inspire

I post this because I had this in high school, lost in it college, and then spent a great deal of time trying to re-find such people - but when I found them again, everything changed for the better.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Lent 2019

The season of Lent is upon us.

In past years I have "given up" such things as sugar or alcohol.  They make for an excellent initial step of self discipline but I have come to understand (at least for myself) that physical deprivation of things is not what I need to be working on in the season.  It has varied over the years since I discovered this fact, ranging from behaviors I needed to give up to behaviors that I needed to adopt.

This Lent?

1)  Media - I am completely shutting myself off from current events and really media of any kind.  My interest - or angst - about current world events in no wise actually changes them.  Instead, I need to fill the time with mediation or God's Word.

2)  Social Media - I have already been experimenting with this more and more.   For now, my goal is to cut down my FaceTome time to twice a week (yes, there are still some reasons to get on there - some of my social groups and activities only post on there at this point).  Outside of a brief check of Instagram to see if Na Clann have posted anything, I will effectively be InterWeb silent.

I can always read or go practice more Iai.

3)  Music - This one is kind o the most interesting of all to me- for Lent, I will abstain from anything other than Classical Music or Instrumental.  Nothing particularly driving this other than just to see what, if any, impact it has on my moods and my life.

So, as I look at this, I see a theme of inner and outer silence.  Surely there is a theme here somewhere.

Do you practice Lent?  And if so, what do you do?

Wednesday, March 06, 2019


One of the feelings I have noticed over the month or so since I have returned from Japan is, occasionally, a sense of serenity.

It is hard to grasp, this serenity.  If I think too much about it, it escapes my grasp.  If I try to make it come to me when I think I need it most it eludes my flailing about.  But if I am patient - if I simply wait for it to come - it comes.

I am not really sure where it is coming from - if it "The Peace of God which passes all understanding"  (which it very well could be) it seems, well, less supernatural than I would have expected (Not sure what I anticipated, really.  Just something more, you know, Thunder and Lightning and Wheels with Eyes).  If it is the result of making a decision and being comfortable with a path, that could be true - except that I am not sure what path I have chosen ( I would be very surprised to find that settling my mind that Iai is the path forward is as life changing a decision as this seems to indicate). 

But even to question where or why this serenity has come seems to undermine the whole concept of it.  In life, at least most modern life, people seem very eager to run hither and yon seeking "peace" by being incredibly active and frenetic and perhaps mistaking serenity for exhaustion.  Or if they have it for a moment, trying to discover what caused it so they can go back to that same well again and again.

It does not really seem to work that way, however.

So for now, I take simple comfort in the fact that it is there. If it is of God, then it will grow all the more. If it is a decision that I have made (perhaps unaware), then it will manifest itself in time.  In either event, the true point of it is to be serene, not necessarily to question how it has come.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Waiting For A Big Change

Ever get the feeling that there is a big change ahead?

You can never really point to it.  There is nothing in your life at the time that makes you say "Hey, sharp 90 degree turn up ahead" - nor is there any signs whereby you can point out the same to the others in your life. 

But the feeling is there. You go to sleep with it.  You wake up with it.  It haunts the fringes of your day as you go about it. 

Oddly enough, you begin to find yourself actively looking for signs of the change - which can be difficult, of course, when you do not know what kind of thing the change is supposed to be.  But you keep looking for hints, signs - good heavens, flocks of birds flying overhead or your lunch mysteriously forming itself into a symbol in its container.

It would be great to know what the change is, of course - after all, it helps with planning - but for now I am simply trying to live in the moment of anticipating the change, something I have not always done as well as I should have.

But change is coming.  I need only wait and watching.

Monday, March 04, 2019

Sow True: A Review

Regrettably, my previous seed supplier went out of business (rather mysteriously and all of a sudden).  Leigh at Five Acres and a Dream suggested a couple of sites.  I went to one of her suggestion, Sow True Seed, and made a purchase.

Happily not too long later, I received a package:

Inside, a treasure trove of spring excitement:

Some high class glossy advertisements:  one for an upcoming book on Okra (which, strangely, I am now interested in) and one for sweet potato slips (who knows?):

Three of the seed packets had quality looking hand drawings on them:

And two were just plain (mostly likely seasonal seeds):

They also sent along two packets for collecting seeds.  Yes, I know that I can just as well use plastic bags or envelopes (I often do), but it was still a nice touch:

I have still have yet to plant, of course - but my initial impressions are very good.  A well thought presentation and marketing of the product.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Each Thing

Each thing I have received, from Thee it came.
Each thing for which I hope, from Thy love it will come.
Each thing I enjoy, it is of Thy bounty.
Each Thing I ask, comes of Thy disposing.

Carmina Gadelica (Alexander Carmichael) from Celtic Devotions (Calvin Miller)

Saturday, March 02, 2019


Today's posting - for no other reason than I like and it strikes me as delightful - is George Ezra's song Budapest.  Click and enjoy.