Monday, November 10, 2008

From Nadine to Jeff: Got a question

Jeff---I was wondering today about what your wife thinks of your opinions about God, or the lack of Him, in our world? You haven't told me much about her; she is working on another degree, did you say? I don't know if that's right/ I'm too sleepy to be asking any questions at all, but the small part of my brain that is still awake, is evidently on it's own here, and wondering about her opinions....that said, I'm going to hit the hay!!! Talk soon...Nadine

Forward from Nadine to Jeff

Jeff---this looked like a great thing for you to do on the plane Wednesday!! Have a great week!! Iowa Bud!!

----- Original Message -----
From: Joke-of-the-Day
To: Nadine
Sent: Sunday, November 09, 2008 9:54 AM
Subject: The Best of Late Night...

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Rex Barker here with with my thoughts on "Time to Focus"...

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During the past several weeks, I have found myself on a number of long flights between meetings. To some people this often means an uncomfortable ride squished between two people you have never met before, elbowing each other for the armrest. To others, it means being bored by the person next to you endlessly showing you their personal photos or discussing gossip. And to others, it means looking between the heads in the row in front of you watching the movies that you missed in the theaters over the past few months.

To me, however, I cherish these flights as great time to reflect. I love not being connected in the air (although this has already started changing as some airlines already have WIFI, and all will have it shortly) This gives me the time to take out a blank sheet on a notepad (or a blank page on my laptop) and review the priorities in my life and take stock of my progress. How am I doing? Am I moving forward, or (hopefully not) backwards? Are my priorities from the last time I checked the same as now, or have they been superseded by new priorities? And are these new goals truly more important that the old ones; or just superficial distractions.

All too often, we find ourselves muddling through day by day, week by week, and we find that we are not moving forward at all with our important goals in life; in whatever area they may be; professional, personal, physical, emotional, spiritual or other. So these constant sessions in the air are great friendly wake up calls reminding me of what I am trying to accomplish and giving me an update on life. Am I growing the way I hoped I would, or am I wasting time on foolish mind numbing activities?

So my challenge to you is that you don't have to get on a 6 to 10 hour flight to do this. All you need is a pad of paper, and a quiet reflective spot by yourself. I have even done it in crowded noisy cafes in Athens, Paris, Rome, Moscow and Jerusalem and of course at Starbucks in Manhattan. Sit down, get a cappuccino or latte, and ask yourself "what are my goals in life" in all aspects. Write them down no matter, how crazy or outlandish some of them may be. Then number them on the right 1, 2, 3 based on importance. If something is a requirement to something else; make it a higher priority.

Then, within each category, write down what is required to achieve this. By breaking down goal into smaller units, all of the sudden they can become achievable. Also be honest with yourself and ask yourself if you have the determination, skills and personality to achieve each of the goals. If no, then honestly accept that this particular goal was not divinely ordained for you to achieve. And then focus on the ones that are suited to you. You might want to win an Olympic gold metal, but if you are too lazy to go even to the gym, start focusing on other goals. And the more you do this, the more in tune you are with your inner self, your ultimate self; your God given soul.

This is Rex Barker reminding you that the best way to achieve your goals and mission in life if to constantly review. In this manner, you control your life more than it controls you.

Please KEEP SENDING us your lessons and type 'LESSON' in the subject line. Your last name will not be used unless you give us permission in your email. We get hundreds, but all are read!

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From Nadine to Jeff

Jeff---I read with interest your "rebuttal," if you will, and once again, tell you that the problem is that you are making this decision to not believe in God or His creation of our Universe and people, way too complicated.....God made it all so simple, SIMPLY because HE IS: He calls Himself the Great "I AM!" That is very simple, to me, and explains it is all about HIM because He IS the "I AM!!" He is everything, and everything is come from and ends up with Him. That is what I believe, and what gives me peace, knowing in my heart that He is there also, in my far as other religions: the Bible says that Jesus will not come "Until the Gospel has been preached to every country in the world." And for those who STILL haven't heard? Jesus has that covered also; Muslims are reporting that Jesus is coming to many of them in their dreams, and they are accepting Him as their Saviour because of that.....He will NOT leave anyone out, without them being presented as their Saviour. The Gospel is certainly being presented to everyone, whether by another person, media, or by whatever means is necessary: Jesus will come to them Himself; the man, Balaam, in II Peter 2:16, wouldn't listen to the Lord, so his DONKEY spoke the words from God to him!! I have no doubt in my mind that God will find a way, (and is not limited in ANY way!) to speak to every single human being on the face of this earth to give them the choice. I have NO doubt about that.
And even tho I have not the impressive education you have, I most certainly have challenged the ability of God, or the INability of God, to make things right. Believe me, there aren't too many circumstances that are much more powerful to challenge your faith, that doesn't make you shake your fist at God, than the death of your own precious child, esp. after you have gone through 19 yrs. of raising him or her from birth to death!! Tanya had only just left our home a month before her death, because she had quit business school, and had come back to live here and work in the hospital office in Audubon. So here were all of her things; many of her clothes, with her smell and her words still hanging in the air, and her belongings everywhere, still in our home, with her only gone for 4 weeks from them. That caused me, and several others in our family, to question God's love, judgment, cruelty, even tho I never questioned His existence. I knew where our sweet daughter was, and that we would see her again, but it still hurt so badly that there was physical pain in our chests!! A "broken heart" isn't just a cliche'! I tell you that not for the purpose of generating your pity,(!!), but to tell you how strongly I challenged God to prove to me SOMETHING!! Two days after her death, He graciously gave me a vision (I was not sleeping), of Tanya in Heaven: she had long, brown hair; was a beautiful young woman, by everyone's opinion.....God showed her to me, on the other side of a river, but not so far across but what I could see every detail; she was running along that river, with the wind blowing in her beautiful hair, as it streamed out behind her; then she stopped and stood just in front of a VERY close friend of mine who had just died 11 mo. before; there was other family behind her, but vividly I saw her and "Donella," my friend, smiling with great joy and waving to me!! It was as clear to me as is my husband now sitting in the living room chair near gave me such reassurance and hope and help to get through the funeral and the days to come that were unbearable otherwise. THEN, after telling Rich that, of course, he told me the night after the funeral that he wished God would show him something like that;I told him to just "ask" for that from God; it was late August, and the head of our bed was against an open window, with no headboard; Rich told me the next morning that altho he hadn't heard an owl all that summer yet, that night an owl sat in the tree outside our window and hooted all night long, and in the morning, he told me he felt such a peace and reassurance from his God that his little girl was fine!! That was what he needed then-- and in the months and years after, whenever we have gone through an especially tough, stressful, or challenging time, we have always heard at least one owl outside, and have felt reassured of God's Presence and nearness......we do live on a farm, and so it is very quiet at night except for sounds like that: owls, coyotes, crickets, and other "night sounds." So, when you hint that you might view God (if you believe there is one) as a mean, heartless, uncaring God that you wouldn't want to have anything to do with, I DO feel sad for you, because I know of Joy and Peace and Anticipation for what He is providing and will continue to provide.....and I certainly don't see Him as leaving anyone out....He leaves it entirely up to the individual to choose or reject Him. In referring to a child as not full of great intelligence and potential, I must not have explained myself well at all concerning that.........I just mean by their innocence that they will believe without the education that you have, they will believe with simple' Childlike faith.....and in that they are fortunate, because they don't have all the entanglements in their minds that we get in a few short years..........
Also, the judgment of God: in deciding whether someone is "good enough" for Heaven: there was a point I was trying to make that was so intrinsically important to this whole conversation: The point is that NONE of us can be "good enough" or do enough "good works" or live pure enough to be given admittance to Heaven. That was the WHOLE purpose in Jesus' coming, because they knew there would NEVER be anyone sinless, pure enough, perfect enough, generous enough, or whatever, to gain Heaven.....JESUS' death and resurrection gave that to ANY of us who CHOOSE (by our free will) to accept Him, to ask Him to be in our lives, to forgive us of our sins, and eventually welcome us into Heaven!! He gave everything for us so that we could be forgiven of our sins and accepted into eternal life with Him!!
I guess I'll quit now, but I just have to tell you what I believe and what I REST in.....not worrying about my death, or what is to come in the ages to come....I believe these things of which I speak with every fiber of my being.
God Bless, Jeff!! Nadine

From Jeff to Nadine, bcc: Sue, Cynthia

You needn't feel sad for me.

As I mentioned before I do envy your faith, I wish sometimes I could put aside my doubts and rest in the comfort of an established community such as you describe. However, even as a child I found the things I was being taught on one side didn’t mesh with things on the other. For instance, if it’s required for people to accept Jesus into their lives in order to make it into heaven, then what about all the people who never heard of Jesus or were brought up in different faiths.

By the Christian logic, tribesmen living in the Amazon who had led pure, child-like existences and who loved their families and their tribe, never hurting anyone and living in harmony with nature would be condemned to hell simply because no one ever told them about Jesus. That didn’t seem fair. Then there were all the Buddhists, Jews, Hindus and Muslims, they were brought up in their faiths, taught to them by their families and clerics with a rich tradition, are we supposed to be better than them because of where and when we were born? How would we feel, my parents, my church, what would we think if a Muslim came into our community and started telling us we were condemned to eternal damnation if we didn’t submit to Islam (a redundancy there as Islam means “submission”).

Then there was the problem of heaven and hell. The thought of living for eternity with all the “good” people didn’t sound like much fun. Then I started thinking somebody here on earth came up with the whole hell idea just to get people to behave according to their rules.

Look, Jesus and all his followers were Jews. They created a radical sect that broke away from Judaism and did a very good job of spreading it, this happened because Jesus challenged the existing world view and technological innovations of the day (Roman roads) allowed the easy flow of people and information. When Martin Luther came along and challenged Catholicism (in part because of the practice of selling indulgences to help people get to heaven, which is just silly), the spread of his 95 theses and the resulting cultural uproar was made possible in a large part by the printing press.

My point is throughout history, religions have evolved and they’ve evolved in part because of the way the world has changed around them. Why then would I clutch to an outdated form of worship that offered something so limiting in return. The whole scheme lacks imagination. Jesus on a throne, descending from heaven to rule for 1,000 years? No offense but that sounds like weak tea to me. An idea trapped in the form of what was viewed as awesome in its day.

Since then there have been major advancements in science, we know the earth has existed for eons and the concept of a god making two humans like he was playing with clay is a quaint concept, but rather unlikely. I became fascinated with physics after I graduated from college, I studied history at Berkeley (frankly, I did not study too hard), and did not really give myself a firm grounding in the natural sciences. Since then, though, I’ve pored through works on Einstein, cosmology, and the Big Bang. It’s been proven that all matter in the universe can be traced to that one event, this article is merely one example,
the new research being done to understand the fundamental essence of that matter is fascinating stuff:

I don’t say this to diminish your beliefs, Nadine, in fact I think cosmology and the way physicists are examining the universe results from the same human curiosity that inspired Jesus to challenge Judaism and Roman rule, and that motivated Luther to challenge Catholicism and the accepted norms of his day. There is always more to learn, and I have a hard time believing that due to the creativity and curiosity with which these scientists were born they lack the right religion and are somehow morally inferior and will therefore be punished by being left out of an exclusionary Rapture.

Faith is a very powerful emotion. To use your wind analogy, I see the result of wind, but I can’t “see” the wind, not with my eyes, but I might think there’s another way to see the wind, I might wonder what causes the wind, which leads me to the study of meteorology, which has advanced to the point where we can view hurricanes on TV bearing down on new Orleans, and we can wonder whether it’s the human population pumping greenhouse gases into the environment that’s contributing to more extreme weather, and we can wonder what it is about earth’s atmosphere that traps the gases, and we can wonder about the origins of the planet and the universe and people study all this and document it and prove it through the scientific method, they develop theories and then test them over and over again until they cannot be proven wrong. They might some day, but today they are true. So, this search for truth of which you speak seems unlike truth at all, it’s not tested, it’s based on believing something is true.

Again, I think the believing part is important, it is a fundamental part of what makes us human. However, if we’re born with the curiosity to test beliefs and challenge them, and eventually prove them lacking, then how is that supposed to be a bad thing. I read Mark’s words in a different way (it may not surprise you that I’m a bigger fan of John’s gospel, btw. John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the word” – the length of this email proves my point), Mark 10:15 is preceded by the words “It is just such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” Children are naturally inquisitive. I do not think those words are simple at all, the moment you start talking about a child, you are talking about the infinite, there are infinite possibilities in the brain of a child, this is why we value life, because we have no idea what could come from our own brains, what we can think up is beyond limits. Consider the words in the context of the advance of the generations. We are born, we grow, we procreate, our children grow and procreate, on and on through time, but we’re all of the same matter.

The universe started from one point, we’re made of the same stuff as stars. Our children, our children’s children, advancing thus to the infinite inherit this universe, what could be more beautiful and all-inclusive than that. And why stop there, if each and everyone of us has through the stroke of some unknowable god-like entity been allowed to imagine, study and prove these points, then what’s to stop us from developing new theories that could be studied and proven. What if this ride on this expanding universe will eventually came to a halt, would there be a big crunch when gravity takes over and pulls all matter back into an immensely dense ball that could explode again in another big bang, and if that is possible is it not possible that such a thing could have happened hundreds or even millions of time. How great is the power of god? Are we to say that such a thing is not possible, that whatever came before the universe was not powerful enough to make something like this happen, if “He” were powerful enough to create humans who could think it?

So, you see how I look at your rapture with a bit of disdain. It’s not that I think it’s impossible, I think it lacks imagination.

Now the sun’s come up, it’s not raining anymore, so I’m going to go play some golf.


From Jeff to Rachel, cc: Cynthia, Sue, Steve

Here's the latest. I still need to post this, but I've got to run and worship the animals by eating some of them (I jest. [Although I am going to a meat eating fest]).

I'm growing to admire her faith. I think it's hard to believe, but then that's what makes me a skeptic. I'm going to lay the agnostic stuff on her, but Epicuris calls...

From Rachel to Jeff, Steve, Sue, Cynthia

Of course she brought out the rapture…christianity is all this woman has to offer, it’s what was drilled into her core and now that everything in her life has left her, she holds on to this one thing, the only thing she has left, death is next... I have to thank you for the attempt to school her on the history of christiantity. Thanks to Christianity, Paganism, is now considered “evil” ~ to worship the Sun, the Earth, and have respect for the very thing that gives us ALL life, has been shunned by the scare tactics of some roman marketing agency… and yet, christians continue to celebrate pagan traditions without being aware of it…(heaven forbid) christmas (the Solstice and return of the Sun, the great provider of FOOD and LIFE) and easter (Spring Equinox, the warming of the Earth, which brings forth new life…) Why does no one question the bunny/egg theme on easter or the tree/santa theme on christmas? Our education has been steeped in christianity, (even though there is a separation between church and state right?, “one nation, under god…) we have been taught not to question from the day we were born…

I am a pagan, I worship the Sun, the Earth, the creatures that roam, for I know (for a fact) they are what gives us life and I respect it ~ without it we are NOTHING…we will NOT exist…and as you can see, I am passionate about saving the planet by getting back to our roots…and in the end, (which has been written into all religions and cultures) and I feel, is upon us now, I would have to say of all that I have read, we can thank christianity for the total destruction of life…isn’t that ironic?

One of my favorite bumper stickers is “what would Jesus do?”

My answer to that question…“love thy neighbor” (regardless of his/her religion, sex, or sexual preference, age, or outfit they decided to wear today…)

Maybe you should send this to Nadine…although I am sure she will not be able to answer it without some scripture reference…
"If God is willing to prevent evil, but is not able to
Then He is not omnipotent.
If He is able, but not willing,
Then He is malevolent.
If He is both able and willing,
Then whence cometh evil?
If He is neither able nor willing,
Then why call Him God?" Epicurus

Off to enjoy my Sunday with a hearty breakfast of Eggs, Bacon and Toast and then a stroll in the park to give my respects to the Earth…

From Jeff to Cynthia, Sue

I don't know whether I should feel bad about this, it's just really fucking funny that I'm going to lay some cosmology bullshit on a cosmetologist. Big Bang and the Gaia principle, "Return of the Superbas" - all matter part of a universe in Carl Sagan billion upon billion year ebb and flow, capturing relativity and some ill-defined general unified theory in a way that a fundamentalist housewife might possibly comprehend...well, shit, the mere idea of it makes me grin, and yes, I'm on PBR #6, but what the hell, this is crazy, how could I address this sober?!?

"I don't know ALL that history that you have given me; I never went to college, but fell in love and got married a month before my 19th birthday!!! (Did get a license as a cosmetologist, which doesn't qualify me for great discussions like this, but....."

Beauty school dropout...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

From Nadine to Jeff

WOW, Jeff!!! That was HEAVY!!!! I am SOOOO VERY sad to read your logic about God, Heaven, Christ, the resurrection, and NO hope of a wonderful life for eternity!!! I read what you say, and it is so far from my beliefs, that I can't even express it...........I don't know ALL that history that you have given me; I never went to college, but fell in love and got married a month before my 19th birthday!!! (Did get a license as a cosmetologist, which doesn't qualify me for great discussions like this, but..... I do know some of it, just because Rich and I both enjoy documentaries, and history programs, and reading. But I have studied the Bible all my life, and certainly you have also, but I was brought up as a Protestant, and so right there, we started off on completely different "planets" LOL!! I have of course read the difference it made when Martin Luther found and moved great throngs of people with his "the Just shall live by Faith," in that we don't "work our way to Heaven" as Catholics are taught to believe (now don't blow your stack here.I'm just trying to break it down to basics......I worked with every church in the book in my last job, so know what Catholics thru many Protestant religions all the way to Unitarians; I was the regional mkt. director for Olan Mills, in the Church Directory division/ my territory was 1/2 of Iowa............also had a Catholic friend along the way, and a sister-in-law now and we have talked a LOT.but, anyway........I am intrigued by what education does, and I'm sorry, but it isn't all good, in my opinion."..simple childlike faith is all Jesus asked for in Mark 10:15: Whoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." That is so plainly worded, so simple: I invited Jesus into my heart as a young girl, and the fact that I DID can't SEE IT until you take that leap of faith; THEN you can see what it's all about, and why it makes sense; THEN your faith will see it in a completely different light and you can have the peace and the awesome anticipation of knowing you are going to live in Heaven for eternity, and only because of Jesus's death, burial and resurrection ; He, in the 3 days when His body lay in the tomb, went to Hell, and took back from satan, the Keys to Hell, Death, and the Grave............and all we have to do then to receive the free gift that He offers us is to ASK Him to be our Lord and Saviour.......when you do that, THEN and ONLY THEN, will your eyes open up to the Truth, and the Truth Will Set You Free!!! Without that, Jeff, all you have to look forward to is being put in a casket, thrown into the ground, and left to rot..........BUT, that would be the easy part, because if you have NOT received the free gift of salvation, you WILL believe THEN in Hell, when you get there, (GOD FORBID!!) because that is where we ALL would go if it weren't for Jesus' sacrifice, and if it weren't for us accepting it. NOW, THAT is my uneducated view, without all of the concern about the complicated history you wrote to me about. And I have such PEACE in that, such HOPE of seeing my daughter again, my father, my brother, my nephew, and friends, etc.........I can hardly WAIT some days, when this world is so crummy; when bad things happen to people that have never done anything seriously wrong: that was what we THOUGHT we were when our daughter was killed just when her life "began" .....but the Holy Spirit DID stick with me thru all of the crap I did in response to her death!!! And thru all of that, through all of the drinking and driving, and hair-raising, near-miss accidents, and even worse stuff than that.....still my Heavenly Father stuck with me; still He didn't give up on me, because I was HIS....He doesn't throw away those who are His children..(YEAH!!).......He went through all of that with me and still took me back in Love and Mercy and Grace!!! And best of all: FORGAVE ME!!! And THAT is MY belief; that is what gets ME through each day, is that anticipation of what is ahead/ whether John McCain or Barack Obama had won this election, GOD is still on the Throne, and He is still there with open arms to keep matter what is to come. The night Obama won, I was scared; I was very humanly scared; now I've had some time to absorb it, and I just see it all as more evidence of the prophesies in the Bible of what is to come in the "last days," and I see it as that...just one step closer to Jesus' getting His church out of here before it turns REALLY ugly on this planet. I hope you would do what I did 50 yrs. ago, and accept Christ ---BY FAITH, as a child would do, and see if you don't find unfathomable Peace in your heart.....NOT saying it in jest, but crying out to the God of the Universe to accept you into His say you see nothing that would make you believe; Jeff, you SEE the result of wind, but you don't SEE the wind...that is how it is with take it, BY FAITH, that God created this world and people, because He wanted a family....Adam and Eve messed up and brought sin, sickness, evil into this world because they chose with a free will that God gave them, (and US), to let satan tell them what to do. That gave us all of the junk in the world that is here....because our world is broken and fallen.........but ONE will all be restored as God made it, to perfection, where "the lion will lay down with the lamb," and the swords will be beaten into plowshares, spears into pruninghooks....nation will not lift up swords against other nations...and they will no longer learn war...Isaiah 2:4.....Jeff, I know you know that and many other scriptures, but the difference is in I BELIEVE those words, and that Hope with all of my heart!! I just want you to know that peace and have that Hope for the future also, whether you experience it NOW or in the future...none of us know how long our life will be. But I KNOW that I KNOW, that I KNOW, that it is true, and that I have so much to look forward to in the next life. It is a WONDERFUL, awesome, and indescribably PEACEFUL feeling to REST in those promises and in that Truth!!!!
I just want that for you as well.......SO MUCH!! I want it for your wife and young sons, to find that, to be led by that in your life, to rest in that hope!!! God Bless!!! Nadine...

From Jeff to Nadine

Hi Nadine,
The wedding isn't until the 23rd and I'm going to miss the sacrament proper as it's in Fresno and I have a strict policy of avoiding Fresno. I am, however, involved with ushering in the bachelor party festivities (which gives you some idea of my priorities).

I probably wouldn't have had a chance to even do that if my friends' arrival in LA did not coincide with a screenwriters conference I'm attending there next week. I leave on Wednesday, ironically after an SDMA (Seattle Direct Marketing Association, which still has nothing to do with coffee, btw) board meeting. My winemaker friend arrives friday morning and the groom arrives the following day, they will be heading on to Vegas, while I'm celebrating my mother's birthday and then flying back up to the wet. Altogether I do think the Pacific NW has good weather, it's certainly more interesting than that which I experienced growing up in LA and even living in the Bay Area, especially since a big chunk of the time I was there was during a drought when it was relentlessly dry and bright. This time of year, though, when it's obvious the warmth of summer and those long days free from rain are gone for another year, can be particularly depressing.

I'm very much looking forward to LA, not just for the weather, but to see my family and my good friends. It's by another funny coincidence that I even know them. My roommate from freshman year in college had had a foreign exchange student the year prior and he returned to visit while I was living with his host brother. We hit it off and kept in touch as he came back to work in the Napa Valley several times (he could work his vintage in the southern hemisphere and then come up to ours to do another). When I graduated I went down to Australia and worked with him on his winery. I went down in 1990, 1992, and 1994. The guy getting married went down in 1989, 1991, 1993, and many other times hence. He is now the importer and distributor of Jenke Vineyards wine in the US.

I must admit I had to do some research this morning to find where exactly the Gloria occurs in the mass. I had recollected it coming some time around the Eucharistic prayers, but found it both there and in the Introductory, see here for a full reading of the mass:

Obviously, your interpretation of the words differs from mine, testament to the fact that we hear what we want to believe. On close examination, looking at the translations from the Greek and Latin, there are a variety of different phrases used. This is the best explanation I could find:

"In Ephesians 3:21, the Greek expression which literally translates to something like "of the age of the ages" was translated as "world without end" in both the King James Version and the Douay-Rheims Bible. Although the 1970 New American Bible still uses the expression "world without end" here, many modern versions use the expression "for ever and ever" for this and other similar Greek expressions.

Perhaps this will help:
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, even as it shall be in that age of the ages, that world to come which is without end."

This last reading, I think, would be in line with your way of looking at the words. "That world to come" is where I run into difficulties as I see no evidence of another world other than the one we live in now, and the great emphasis some people place on this other imaginary world seems to detract from the amount of attention those people should be paying to the one in which they definitely exist.

There's a great book called "A History of God" written by an ex-Catholic nun named Armstrong:
which examines the roots of the major religions, "The Great Transformation" is another work of hers that I strongly recommend. This will get back to the malaise I find myself as we approach winter solstice, since all religions ultimately derive from some form of sun or sky worship, directly related to human's ability to farm. Developing societies could free themselves from hunting and gathering through agriculture, which was dependent upon a good growing season. A bad crop could lead them back into the less civilized state, or worse, starvation.

So, they worshiped the sun and celebrated winter solstice as that turning point at which the days grew longer (a return of their life-giving sun). This nature worship developed into pantheism (tree-worship being a good example) that Christians have long sought to diminish. That said, once Constantine made Christianity the official religion of Rome, the "primitive" rituals were absorbed into Christianity, eg, the birth of Christ coinciding with winter solstice. There is, of course, no evidence Jesus was born on december 25th. The stories revolving around the life of Jesus, propogated by Paul (the true genius of marketing) eventually were adapted to fit with pre-existing prophecies and pagan rites. Jesus was, in essence, a political dissident opposed to the Roman army occupying his homeland. He developed his brilliant philosophy, unconditional love of thy neighbor, turning the other cheek, non-violent non-cooperation, if you will, to counter a dominant force. It wasn't until he bumped up against the established religion by reeking havoc in temple and challenging the existing faith of his tribe that he was turned over to Pilate for crucifixion. This is poignantly ironic when you consider how Christians behave towards those who hold differing beliefs.

Paul's genius was co-opting other forms of worship to fit the story of Christ and then writing letters and preaching the word (the first press releases and media tours). Rising on the third day stems from Egypt's Osiris, who was placed in a tree, sent down river, and then after a lot of work on his wife's part "resurrected" into god-like form: Springtime rituals of rebirth spanned the civilized world, so it was natural to layer Easter upon them. All this made the Christians move from worshiping in the catacombs of Rome to the recognized faith in the western world a more manageable transition.

The Catholic mass most closely resembles those early meetings as it holds a direct lineage, all other Christian sects are derivitive of "the one true church" (a phrase I don't believe). Which gets us back to "a world without end" and what those words meant in Greek, in Latin translations, and in what they mean to our ears today. The whole phrase: "As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end," can be broken down in terms of what Paul was marketing. "As it was in the beginning" was inserted into the prayer to give the faith an undeniable provenance, as in "we may be Johnny-come-latelies, but our tenets were right before anyone knew they were right"; "is now and ever shall be" establishes it in the present and into the foreseeable future; "world without end" or "forever and ever" is where my ears as a child heard a belief that could be passed on from generation to generation into an eternity on earth, which grows increasingly better, if in fits in starts. Your interpretation would fit with my cynical view of Paul's most brilliant marketing ploy, ie promising an end product which you cannot see until you are dead. That promise of peace and happiness is virtually irrefutable because anyone experiencing it would be, in the physical sense, dead, gone, mute, as it were, unable to call customer service to complain.

This is the long way round to say I don't buy the "rapture" business. It's a compelling story cobbled onto another story which derives from stories that hold their foundation in the natural world, which, I have to admit is the only world I can see and therefore the only world I will venture to understand, and, if possible, make better for myself, others, and those that come after me. If this is what people want to call secular humanism, so be it. I just see it as the only logical view to take.

Well, that went a bit long. Now, here it's already past 8:00 am, the boys are watching Scooby-Doo and I think I might make some pancakes. We've started making them from scratch, and there is a big difference from the mix. It stems from the egg, ahem, doesn't it always.

All the best, nadine, hope you're having a good weekend.


From Cynthia to Jeff

PS. Kyle wants you to ask Nadine if the leaves are always green in heaven or if they ever fall? And if the leaves do fall off, are legions of angel worms to eat them?

PSS I think insinuating that the church is Jesus' bride is downright creepie.

From Jeff to Cynthia

Not to be judgmental or elitist or, well, just plain logical, yes, the Crapture...

From Cynthia to Jeff

Oh.... you mean the Crapture?

From Jeff to Cynthia, Sue, Steve, Rachel

OK, it was only a matter of time, but she's done it, broken out the Rapture crap:



From Cynthia to Jeff, Sue

Hi all!

I agree, I would hold it. You could just say as a point of humor though how it all started? i.e. she thought she was getting a coffee company, but got Jeff?

From Sue to Jeff, cc: Cynthia

Big kisses to you, you old sweetie. I will respect your qualms.

Good luck with the pitch. Could be a great TV show, a real life time capsule of what the country is going through right now. Can you get me and Steve a ticket to the opening night preview? Do they do that for TV shows? Maybe you should go for a movie. No tragic endings though. They make me cry.


PS: I know this is harsh, and she has had more than her share of difficulties, and she is a sweetie. But remember, life is a series of choices of how you handle the good and the bad, and her choices got her to where she is today. I don’t know that feeling sorry is called for as much as feeling empathy. She is only 5 years older than me, and 4 years younger than my husband, but she seems 20 years older than either of us. Pursue the relationship, but she doesn’t need pity. She needs a friend. Perhaps you can help open her mind to the larger world.

From Jeff to Sue, Cynthia

I'm very reluctant to push this out too widely, at least until I broach the subject with her.
I'm feeling more and more guilty, as well as sorry for her.
I know there's almost no way she would ever discover the blog on her own, so my revealing it to her will have to be done carefully. Ideally, I'd have some sort of way to make money off of it, and split proceeds 50/50, then she'd see the benefit of revealing such personal information, information that might lead to her and her beliefs being held up to scrutiny and/or ridicule.

I have no problem telling people on an individual basis or even more broadly. I'm just concerned about her feelings if and when I choose to reveal the whole charade to her. As you can tell I'm ambivalent about the situation.

In short, I dunno what to do except keep on posting, try to pitch it as a teevee show when in LA and then see if I can make any money off it for her.


From Sue to Jeff, Cynthia

Hey Jeff,

I think the blog is so cool, I would love to announce it at the meeting, or better yet, have you announce it. Good publicity for you, great demonstration of the power of the web. Should we link it to the SDMA blog?

I know you have concerns about Nadine’s privacy, so I’ll let it be your call. But it’s fascinating, and I would love to pass it along to the group.

Maybe we should send Nadine a coffee package as a gift!


From Jeff to Matt

She has no clue, and, yes, I do feel a bit guilty about that, but there's no way she'd ever discover it without me telling her. I actually want to help her, if I could publish it as a book or otherwise monetize the content I'd gladly split any revenue 50/50. She asked me about some email money-making scheme the other day, she was about to jump into the sort of scam you and I and every half-tech savvy (half? one/64th) person in the country would plainly see through as rubbish. I feel sorry for her.

From Matt to Jeff

Wingnut vs. Wingnut - I love it! Howie Mandel should host. Seriously, I am hooked on this and agree with you that there's something so endearing, yet twisted about the exchange. She has every reason to be more open-minded (that is, than someone who believes anything Sean Hannity says) but chooses not to. Does she have any idea you are posting all of this? I suspect not...

From Jeff to Matt

It's been one of the weirdest, most random, eye-opening, shocking, appalling, guilt-inducing, fear-inspiring email exchanges ever. Her world-view is diametrically opposed to mine and yet I'm really growing to understand her. Bizarre. It's made me think about pitching a new teevee show called wingnut versus wingnut where the right and the left meet face to face.

From Matt to Jeff

Oh my god, I just found your and I think it's pure genius. I'm probably not going to get much work done today. Curse you, jeff!

From Nadine to Jeff

Oh, but "world without end" sound somewhat right!!! Very soon, Jesus will return, meeting His Church(Bride) in the air to take them to Heaven, (Rapture) while there are 7 yrs. of horrible tribulation on earth, and then He and all of Heaven will come back to this earth, as Jesus sets His feet down in Jerusalem to rule on this earth for 1000 yrs. and then we'll go back to Heaven............
Where does the "world without end" come from in that mass? Not being Catholic, you'll have to help me with that.....This is so interesting!!!!
Do you just get lots and lots of rain up there? I have heard that, but then others talk about how beautiful the weather is in the Pacific Northwest? I can certainly understand what you mean about now being able to mow that!!! Yuk!!!
Ok; off to bed......I'll read the rest tomorrow....Enjoy the wedding this week-end!!! Nadine

Friday, November 7, 2008

From Jeff to Nadine

Hi Nadine,
Been struggling to keep up here in the rain. WRT the leaves, it gets so wet here and the lawn is in shadow, if I were to take the mower to them, we’d have a swamp. I do enjoy the exercise and that day was a good day to get out as the rain has been pouring down ever since, I just wish I’d gotten around to pruning the lavender as they look sad with the summer’s blooms turned brown and weepy.

Oddly enough, I collect old encyclopedias. I just love reading about what people used to think was true.

The trick with cutting and pasting a website url is clicking to highlight it (do you have a Mac or PC?) then press Ctrl and C at the same time to copy, then Ctrl and V to paste it wherever you want to put it.

Ahmadinejad is in many ways like American politicians. He has to get elected so has to appeal to the electorate, his base, if you will. Iran is surrounded by US troops, 150,000 plus contractors in Iraq, 40,000 plus international forces in Afghanistan, look at this map:

How do you think we’d feel if Russia (or any country) had that many troops in Canada and Mexico. By peppering his speeches with anti-American rhetoric he’s playing off his countrymen’s fears, not entirely unfounded fears imo, that the US is a threat. The most viable alternative is the North Korea defense, put together a bomb and tell people to back off, it’s worked for Kim Jong Il. I’m not saying it’s right, just considering circumstances if you put people in a weak defensive position they are going to resort to whatever means to make themselves safe.

Ahmadinejad is something like an Iranian Rudy Giuliani, if Rudy were, say, the Speaker of the House. Ex-Mayor of a big city (Ahmadinejad was Tehran’s mayor) with a mouthpiece and a semblance of power, he influences opinion, but can’t alone pass legislation or dictate policy. At least that’s my simplistic take on it.

Now, about Obama, did you see his press conference:

He’s a breath of fresh air and I think if you give him a chance you’ll see he’s a good guy with all our interests at heart and the skills to make a difference.

I think this is the Rasmussen poll you reference:

“As the presidential campaign comes to a close, a majority of voters (51%) say most reporters have tried to help Barack Obama win the presidency. Just seven percent (7%) think they tried to help John McCain.

Thirty-one percent (31%) say reporters have offered unbiased coverage, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Ten percent (10%) are undecided."

As you can see 7% think they tried to help Mccain, not that they thought the press were “fair and positive” as you said. Two very different things. These are polls, and you must take the polls with a grain of salt, what’s more they’re polls about perceptions of media coverage. It’s like trying to staple numbers to a cloud.

In any case, it’s over now and now we just need to get to work and fix things. I, for one, don’t believe these are the “end days” and I certainly don’t think it could be “proven” if we were in the end days, honestly it would be very hard for me to get anything done otherwise (ahem). Some of the most memorable words from the Catholic mass (besides my personal favorites, “The mass has ended, go in peace.”) are from the Gloria:
Glory be to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

“World without end” – that still means something to me.

Check out the Long Now for a different take on the matter:

I’ve been fascinated by this end days thinking for years (in fact I’ve written a novel about it), and I can’t see how thinking we are in the end days does anyone any good. If we don’t have hope that things can get better in this world for us now and for our children, seven generations if you want to go back to Nathan’s reference to the Law of the Iroquois Confederacy, then, well, we’re running in mud.

I have no intention to get preachy, I’m no saint myself, there are stories I could tell which would curl your toes, but I do believe things can get better and not in some next life I can’t see, but in this life right here, right now.

I envy you your faith, Nadine, a long time ago I had the purity of faith stripped from me. Perhaps my life would be easier if I could put aside the complexities of the world and find peace in the idea I’ll be rewarded in heaven. On reflection, though, I wouldn’t want to have lived my life any other way. The most valuable lesson the priests taught me was that churches, regardless of their origins, are human constructs, and as such are fundamentally flawed. Hence trying to find communion with a higher being, a god, if you will, through such entities also holds flaws.

I’ve rambled on again. I thought I’d be able to say everything I wanted to say in response to your emails, (I didn’t even get to talk about your son, Eric). The clock keeps on ticking and duty calls, I’m off again with Jude to martial arts (always did sound like a contradiction in terms to me, like jumbo shrimp).

Anyway, I wish you the best. have a good weekend!


From Nadine to Jeff

Jeff....I just happened on to an article today about Iran, and they explained the leadership group in Iran, so you were certainly correct in the Ahmadinejad hierarchy info......I have, I'll admit, NEVER heard that: I just that he was the main dude and what he was saying was the Big Deal......also, since even in the debates they referred to him as the one to "sit down", that's what I was going by, but I stand corrected, and I've accomplished what we all try to do, to "learn something new every day!!" Thanks, Jeff!!

From Nadine to Jeff

I know wikipedia is handy; that's one of the gazillion reasons why 'ya can't sell or GIVE AWAY encyclopedias anymore!! LOL!!

From Nadine to Jeff

Very interesting read!!! Thanks for sharing that.....I am such a little novice on the computer, COMPLETELY self-taught of the little bit that I know....I don't even know how to DO that; take a website, and put it into an e-mail!!
Hey, why is my cursor jumping all over the page: I even bought a new, cordless mouse, because I thought it was my mouse!! This one is doing the same thing. At least with this one, I can pick it up, put it back down, left click, and it will settle down for a little is REALLY maddening!!!
GOT to let you work......Bye!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

From Nadine to Jeff

Jeff: I started answering your secular humanism questions before I even read the rest, so this is about that, and then I will continue: (this is about that: Ok, but from a Christian standpoint, please try to ask yourself, who wrote these definitions, and how did they arrive at them? I'll let that sink in.
My definition is to do "whatever seems right in your own eyes." Judges 17:6; Judges 21:25, and Proverbs 21:2 all speak of that; and if I could find it, it is also prophesied "in the last days", which we are in, that is also what men will do: we are most certainly in the last days, and that is proven, that those who are secular humanists believe that everyone should do "what is right in his own eyes." Can you see that in the morals of our country, etc., that people are doing that more and more.......the "if it feels good, or right, do it..." (my quote.) That is what I believe is secular humanism, not this admirable search for truth.....truth, in my opinion, is not what they are searching for at all, Jeff......
NOW, WOW, what a lot of things to talk about....are you sure you have time for conversations with me?
Why does Ahmadinejad (did I spell that wrong before, when I just "sounded it out?".....that's old "phonics" speak!!) get to do all the talking if he hasn't got all the power? And even the nominees in debates only mentioned him as the one with the, I did NOT know that, but why would they let him speak all the time if the real powers-that-be behind him didn't have the same philosophy? And why are we and a lot of the rest of the world, esp. Israel, so intent on how fast they are building, accumulating, preparing, and whatever else is the right scientific verbage, a nuclear bomb for the two "satans", i.e., us and Israel? I'm not convinced that he doesn't have some power there, since he is the one that Obama wants to sit down with?

Ok, Eric: we are NOT in favor of gay marriage: we DO believe what the Bible says about men with men and women with women (if you want those scriptures, I'll be glad to supply them..:-)...), but we DO LOVE Eric, ( and he knows that) and ANY gay person; it is the misunderstood belief that churches HATE gay people, and there are certainly churches and "church people" who do; but we do NOT. We LOVE the people, but do NOT love the sin, because we are ALL sinners, and except for Jesus, we would ALL be in trouble. And that is true with ANY people........this is why we love going to our church, and other churches that we KNOW of like ours; we WANT to let people know that, whether this is the sin they are in or something else. And there is plenty of other sin going on; but this one is a biggy because there is such a focus on it, and because it is SO condemned in the Bible. Jeff, if it weren't for Jesus' love, forgiveness, and getting rid of my guilt, I would be the FIRST in line to be in BIG trouble with Him!!! After Tanya's death, in 1990, I had JUST begun, 2 wks. before her death, a very well-paying job, for us, @ about $1000 a week take-home pay, but it was VERY stressful,( because I had to be away from home M-F).....believe me, that was a biggie for our family, as we had been on food stamps, etc., I made some HUGE sinful errors in my life; I became a 24/7 Black Velvet/diet Coke drinker....I drank 4 1/2 of the big plastic bottles a week, WHILE I was on the road 1000 miles a week, yes, that is driving(!!..lots of angels kept the other people on the road and me, safe....I have stories)......also, some promiscuity there, as my wonderful, forgiving husband well knows, so, I am not preaching about "gays" as if they are big sinners and I have been squeaky clean!!! Ha, Ha, Ha.......NOT!! No, I am forgiven, and loved by my Jesus, and even delivered from the guilt of what I was into.......and He gives me such peace and joy in my life, in spite of my great concern about this president-elect. So, ALL of that said, I can't condemn Eric, gays, or anyone else, but I do back my beliefs in this being sin by the Bible........(Oh, AND, God miraculously delivered me from the alcoholism, and the desire to be promiscuous, and believe me, both had a huge, huge hold on me!!
Now, you also mentioned the wonder of Barack Obama being elected: Scott Rasmussen of the Rasmussen Pollsters (can't think of his co. or title)....they just reported that 51% of voters believe that the media was unbalanced in their positive reporting of him, and 7% thought the media was fair and positive to John McCain....interesting....but I am glad for the advancement of those dear people who have slavery in their ancestry, and great, great unkindness, meanness, discrimination, etc. in their lives....I can't imagine how tough their lives have been....TERRIBLE, and so it certainly is a wonderful, historic event for them, 40 yrs. after MLK, Jr.'s "I have a dream speech!!" Wonderful, wonderful.........but, as I said to you, whether you believed me or not, that I do NOT have ANYTHING against a black president, I just don't want THIS man to be our president. But, we have him, so now I have to pray for him, and pray that he will not affect everyone's lives adversely!!!
How does your son like his aikido classses, believe it or not, I did know what that was.....I think it is a WONDERFUL thing for kids to go to those types of classes; I have a great nephew in VA that is very small for his age, has a severe hearing loss and a learning problem (he was born "just-dead", and they revived him, but obviously must have had some oxygen deprivation)...they have a karate' class in their small town, and the teacher is in a wheelchair!! So he has really been able to build a little self-confidence as well as the ability to defend his little body against bullies or worse....he is 10 but very small for his I think those programs are GREAT...not sure what we have available here in our little bitty town, but I know Carroll, IA, 32 miles from us has classes of this type in the Rec Center.
Oh, MY, I can't believe the time and words I have "wasted?" here!!! I REALLY didn't mean to do that to you. I agree that we need to not be finger-pointing or name calling.....not good. But I was really letting my hair down and being honest with you, I guess. I am not a mean-spirited person, but it sure sounded like it in my whining about Obama's election!! I'm sorry!!!
Better let you go, and better do some "work!"
Your Iowa Buddy, Nadine

From Nadine to Jeff

Have you tried mowing your leaves a couple of times, or, if you have a bagger, doing that? That's what we do, 'cuz it's less work than raking. But I will admit that raking is good exercise. I, unfortunately, can't even ride the riding mower.....just gives me too much pain, but Rich does that...mows once or twice........and he gets plenty of exercise as a custodian, so he likes to ride the mower.....ok, now I can't open that link about secular humanism, 'cuz I'm writing to you, so I'll quit and read it.......Nadine

From Jeff to Nadine

I just re-read what I wrote to you and realized I left out a paragraph, that jump to raking the lawn would be pretty extreme without this:

"Understanding the outlooks of those who differ from us. What could better describe these exchanges of ours? I don't know if my friend Nathan is a secular humanist or if I am, but I am by nature curious, which might partially explain why I'm awake at 2 oclock in the morning reading about secular humanism and sending you an email."

Not enough sleep, maybe...anyway, this is the whole email. I sometimes write in a word document and then cut and paste it into an email so I don't have to have my email open for so long (if I have it open I can't see if I've got new email, and I've been exchanging emails with a friend of mine in Australia while writing to you. I used to work on his winery in the Barossa valley and he's coming to the states next friday for a mutual friend's wedding, should be good fun).

Anyway, long story short, this was what I meant to send...


I have to admit, I've heard the term "secular humanism" many times and never fully understood what it meant. So, I just went and looked it up on wikipedia (great resource, btw, not sure how I ever survived without it)

These two points jumped out at me:

· Search for truth – A constant search for objective truth, with the understanding that new knowledge and experience constantly alter our imperfect perception of it.

· This life – A concern for this life and a commitment to making it meaningful through better understanding of ourselves, our history, our intellectual and artistic achievements, and the outlooks of those who differ from us.

Understanding the outlooks of those who differ from us. What could better describe these exchanges of ours? I don't know if my friend Nathan is a secular humanist or if I am, but I am by nature curious, which might partially explain why I'm awake at 2 oclock in the morning reading about secular humanism and sending you an email.

I raked leaves yesterday. We have a fairly large property and big maples that blanket our back lawn with leaves, which if left alone turn into a mulchy mossy mess. We'd had a break in the rain (which has now ended as it's raining here now as I type) so I figured it was a good time to get the leaves up. It was no small chore, but there are times when I really need that sort of work to help me think. At one point I stopped and looked around, big swathes of grass were cleared, others still covered in leaves, and it reminded me of the map of the US we'd all had emblazoned across our TV screens for the last 24 hours. Blue states here, red states there. Underneath, though, it's one green lawn.

I don't want to wax too poetic, I think you get my drift. After the yard work, and after dinner I took my older boy to his aikido class (aikido is a martial art that practitioners use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury, also from wiki, grin, it makes me sound so much smarter. I'm an idiot in person, without google and wikipedia I can't hold an intelligent conversation).

When class was over, a few parents and Jude's teacher and myself were talking about the election and how important it was to them and to their children. The teacher, Chris, told us how his two teenage daughters were crying they were so inspired, they felt like before when people said anyone could be president it simply wasn't true, and now something like this happens and it changed their perspective.

Putting aside policies for a moment, the election of this man (half white, half black) fulfilled statements made in the declaration of independence that people simply did not believe were true. I don't want to overstate this, it's not like the skies opened up or a burning bush began speaking, but still it's important to recognize his mere election is inspirational.

The conversation turned, however, to McCain's concession speech, specifically some of the crowd reactions which seemed less than cordial. The father of one of Jude's classmates then started sharing some of the really mean-spirited things some of his conservative friends had been sending his way during the election. The juxtaposition of those two mentalities was striking, and I can hear it in your "voice" when you write to me, too, Nadine. It's the fear and uncertainty that I think the Hannity's and Beck's of the world promulgate which has gripped a significant percentage of this country, and that's unfortunate because this should be an exciting time not a frightening time.

I don't want to sound Pollyanna-ish myself, and I certainly don't think I'm going to solve things by sitting down for tea with Ahmadinejad (yes, I just looked it up on wikipedia: ) Did you know he's not the supreme leader, he doesn't have final say on any foreign or domestic policy. I didn't really know that until just now.

More than anything I think we need to put aside terms like socialist, secular humanist, liberal, conservative, red state versus blue state, they presume too much. Right now, people shouldn't be calling each other names or classifying them in one way or another, we should be working together to solve real problems – getting healthcare to children, creating jobs and rebuilding this economy.

You can ask how we're going to pay for all that, and I'll just say we've found $1 trillion to give to a bunch of banks, we can find the money somewhere.

I'm curious, you mentioned the assisted suicide legislation that passed in Oregon, how did you feel about Prop 8 in California banning gay marriage, considering you have a gay son, I thought you might be opposed to it.

Don't feel you have to respond to that question if it's too personal. At this hour, here in the dark with raindrops falling on the roof, and the rest of the house asleep it seems like I can write anything. So, forgive me if any of this late night/early morning writing is intrusive or offensive in any way, it certainly is not meant to be.

Have a good day, Nadine, and I'll "talk" to you soon.



From Nadine to Jeff

Jeff---sorry, but I think this guy is way too cerebral for me, and I do not believe that secular humanism is the way to go, which is what he espouses!! He has such a Pollyanna world view that it's somewhere my mind or heart isn't going to bother to go......unfortunately we DO live in a world where there are bad people....they aren't all little monks sitting around with their arms folded and smiles on their faces, or buddha's, as he keeps referring to. We have to defend ourselves in the world of bad people "who don't like us very much!!" If Obama thinks he can sit down and have tea with Ahmadinijab and work out our differences, and essentially this is what he thinks he can do, that is VERY frightening to me, and to many others in this country today!! I am not the only one who is thinking that way---listen to the shows tomorrow, or when you can. Jeff, I'm worried that Obama thinks that he can bring home our troops, ASAP, just when we have FINALLY begun to see real progress there; our troops are pulling out of Falujiah, which was an incredibly hot spot for a long time. What a waste of lives. If we pull out very soon, all those lives, all that money, all those resources will have been wasted. And the terrorists will move right back in there and make those Iraqi's lives more hellish than they were before.
And I do care about human lives: the unborn and very old people--somewhere last night assisted suicide was voted in. When those things begin to occur, and they will with great rapidity if Barack Obama has his way. This is what I believe with every fiber of my being, and that frightens me also.
And the socialist/ Marxist/ communist associates he has hung out with, and those principles that he espouses scare me.
Increased taxes......
All of these things frighten me.
And I can't shake that fear today.
I hope I am not a pain in the neck now to you, are a busy man, and I have really started to take up a lot of your time with all these discussions.............I have appreciated it, though, and I'm glad that you say you have too!! These are just some of the issues that worry me, and many others.....I hope and pray that I am wrong and that Barack Obama moves a little more to the middle, but already today he has appointed one man as his chief of staff that everyone is saying is VERY far to the left, so we may be off and running....with President elect Obama living up to what we expected from him!! Now, I do not deny that this was a wonderful and historic moment for our country, and THAT IS awesome, and I know that this means SO much to every one of color in this nation....his color has not been the issue for me; his leanings, his past or present friends IS an issue for me!!! And where he plans to take this nation IS an issue for me!! God Bless, Jeff!!! You don't have to respond to this: go relax and enjoy your evening and your family!!!

From Jeff to Nadine (included earlier "Happiness versus Corporatocracy" piece

Hi Nadine,
What a crazy day, trying to get caught up on everything while people keep sending me interesting things to read.
I don't want to just dump a long article in your inbox and then walk away, but I do have to get dinner ready for the boys and this was pretty interesting, if a bit out there.

I worked with the guy who wrote it for awhile on a magazine, now he's in India. I can't quite get my head around all of it, but I thought you might want to give it a read. (I'm basically being lazy and not responding by writing all the specifics I wanted to write and sending this instead).

Hope you had a good day.


From Steve to Jeff


If anyone needs their mind blown, it's Nadine.


From Jeff to Sue, Cynthia, Steve

Great article, Bob Greene at his best.

Here in haiku and a bit longer form are two other takes:
november the fifth
the election is over
now we go to work

I can't advocate the reading of this in its entirety unless words like yoga economics, inner consciousness and Life Forces don't scare you off. It was written by a former Newtopia compatriot of mine who is now walking the earth in India. It's good, just long and a bit out there. I was thinking about sending it to Nadine just to blow her mind...


Happiness versus the Corporatocracy

Today was an important day. Senator Barrack Obama was elected President of the United States. I'm white and I grew up with a black sister and a family who passionately believed in human rights. My parents helped Chilean political refuges fleeing the insanity of General Pinochet to find a home in England. They had arrived on a ship into Liverpool when I was a little boy. They were warm-hearted people, highly educated and penniless. Hernan was a highly respected lawyer. One of his clients was a general in the army who was fond of him. He came one day and told Hernan to leave on a bus for Peru with his wife that night or he would most likely be imprisoned or dead the next morning (for being a liberal). Good people who had been betrayed by their own country. They were victims of a military coup that had been sponsored and helped by the CIA and the top levels of the US government:

"American media in general ignored completely the role that the American government had in the crimes of not just the coup, not just the reign of terror which Pinochet's secret police extended around the South American continent and across the globe—including the worst terrorist act on U.S. soil prior to 9/11, the assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt in 1976 in Washington, D.C.—but also multiple attempts to overthrow the democratic government of Chile in the years prior to the coup. These efforts were coordinated from the very top of the American government, by President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger."

Ethan Heitner

The world is a big place full of real estate and wilderness (which is also real estate in the eyes of the profit-minded) and it is also full of small powerful elite groups of people very focused on controlling who controls big patches of that real estate and wilderness and what they can get out of it to improve their lot. Abraham Lincoln once said that the greatest art of the future would be making the most of a small plot of land. I don't think he meant it in quite the same, almost tribal mentality, that the corporatocracy world views the same philosophy. Maybe he foresaw, like Malthus, the consequences of a coming time - a time like today - when there would be almost 7 billion people on the planet. A crowded very challenging time when the competition for resources and power took center stage. We would be wise to listen to the wisdom of the Iroquois and think and act soundly:

"In our every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." From the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

The Founding Fathers of America were a fresh and welcome moment in human history. They believed in a government of the people, for the people and by the people. They were amazing men. Jefferson even made his own version of the Bible - he went through it and wrote down every passage where Jesus was quoted speaking in the Bible. Jesus may be many things - and I am not one to get into the politics of Christianity or religion in general - but one thing can be said of Jesus - his message of selflessness, forgiveness and love is a powerful and compelling one. A man with such meditations in his mind framed the Declaration of Independence.

It focused on individual rights and the right of revolution. Abraham Lincoln, beginning in 1854 as he spoke out against slavery and the Kansas-Nebraska Act, provided a reinterpretation of the Declaration that stressed that the unalienable rights of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" were not limited to the white race. "Jefferson and those who shared his conviction" created a document with "continuing usefulness" with a "capacity to convince and inspire living Americans. The invocation by Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address of the Declaration of Independence defines for many Americans how they interpret Jefferson's famous preamble:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Yes, the birth of the United States was a very welcome thing. At the same time, not one treaty made with the original custodians of that land - the Native American Indians -was ultimately honored. And they were truly people who took care of the Earth with responsibility and affection. Instead one of the worst cases of genocide in history was ruthlessly and systematically carried out.

The Enlightenment brought us Descartes and Newton and a mechanistic world view that heralded great scientific change for the world. "I think therefore I am," was that time's ode to the magnificence and power of the intellect. But thought and reason alone are not the pinnacle of man's potential (indeed thought can be a prison and a cruel master). Thought can build powerful machines and create elaborate and carniving ways to conceal the truth and blind justice. It can do terrible things in the name of vested interest. But only the heart can make use of thought with any wisdom. Reason married with insight and compassion all attuned and in harmony is the pinnacle of our potential.

The President of America is a powerful man and an inspiring leader can bring about important changes with the people behind him. But let us not forget that the world is full of armies poised to attack and defend. Let us not forget that the nuclear submarine - one of the most expensive technological creations of mankind - is a living definition of something that has no creative purpose...that is not productive in any way. It's goal is solely destructive. Of course, there is that argument that the nuclear weapons and nuclear submarines that carry them are acting as keepers of the peace by preventing wars - and in a way that is an important truth. But we still miss the ultimate point. Where there is defense there is a sense of lack, a vulnerability. There is also justification for attack. But we are not the body. We are not the little identities that we assign to the body. We are something much vaster than all of that and we belittle our selves when we do not see it. As the Buddha said the greatest of all taints is the taint of ignorance.

The word art comes from latin. It means skill. In that sense anything that we give our full attention and heart to can become a skill. Lincoln predicted that the greatest art of the future would be making the most of a small plot of land. With a planet way overloaded and stressed for resources because of the demands of approaching 7 million people it is easy to see his point. Lincoln's statement is also a challenge to us. It challenges us to live with attention; to live in such a way that the heart leads the mind and to make a fair world.

Today was an important day because a black man became the President of the United States of America. In fact he is a black man and a white man. He is the child of two races - one, a persecutor and the other, the persecuted. The world's tribes have had a long and bitter history with their neighbors and we are a long way - collectively at least - from living the truths that Jefferson held to be self-evident: "that all men are created equal." But today was an important step. This does not mean we are all equal in ability or possibility but we are all equal in intrinsic value. Every seed of potential, nurtured with love and care and wisdom, is worthy and contributes to the needs of the whole.

When Nelson Mandela came to power he brought his warring people together in unity by bringing both victims with grievances (blacks and whites) and their persecutors (blacks and whites) together to find common ground. He created a special court for this very purpose. It was not a court that dealt out punishments. But it was a court that focused on airing negativity and anger with the explicit goal of replacing it with forgiveness, healing and reconciliation.

I wonder if there would be so much terrorism and war - economic and physical - in this world if man had learned to lead the mind by the heart? The solutions to the world's problems do not ultimately lie in the hands of governments and presidents - though they can do a lot (especially if they humbly follow their mandate as servants of the people). Communism and capitalism are not going to change man deeply fundamentally profoundly. Only humanism has the capacity to do that.The real solutions lie in the hands of individuals. Individuals who are interested in meaning and happiness. Individuals whose minds are liberated from the shackles of vested interest, prejudice and tribalism (nationality, racism, xenophobia etc); whose consciousness actually sees the grave and very human responsibility of taking care of life on this planet as is fitting of our roles as its present custodians and guardians. The flowering of such a mind only comes about in the right atmosphere - in an atmosphere where education can transform and sculpt.

Michelangelo once said when asked how he created David " I took away all that was not David." That's what education means. Ex-ducat/ducare. To pull out what is within.To pull out what is potential. Within man there is a potential monster and a potential saint. Whatever your job is - whether you are a scientist or a teacher or whatever - is irrelevant. Only your example counts. You can be a monster or a saint whatever your position or status. The highest refinement of education is to bring out the highest compassion within us - as well as our unique abilities and channel them towards productive and creative ends. That means no nuclear submarines. Imagine if we really made productive and creative use of the world's armies! If used wisely what outstanding humanitarian works could be carried out! Imagine if we could find a way as individuals to share this planet with fairness and affection...without being blighted by the divisive forces of '"us" and "them"'-mythologies and prejudice.

Yes, it is a wonderful day for democracy. And there are many reasons to celebrate and cherish this moment. But it is also a good moment to reflect that the only meaningful change is change within individuals. And that a new and enlightened world order will only come about when people, to paraphrase the last words of the Buddha, really really do their best. Lincoln has made clear the challenge. To make good use of a small plot of land. Jefferson made clear the goal: happiness and liberty.

Would Gandhi be a good example of the kind of logic that might bring it about? When asked if he wanted to bring about independence to India and oust the British he said naturally that was what he wanted but outcomes are difficult to nail, and even when we have the best of intentions - nothing is in our hands. The only thing in our hands is how we go about doing things. Gandhi said his way was non-violence and he lived what he said. As the Course in Miracles says: "In my defenselessness my safety lies." It is not easy or difficult to give up the illusions of ignorance nor is it easy or difficult to subdue the taints and misperceptions that control our minds. It is not about "easy or difficult." It's about the resolution and the determination to find a way to do exactly that. A transformation in consciousness is the goal. And it starts and ends within the individual. Within you and I.

We need a new yoga of economics. But a new economics will only come about with a transformation of consciousness for economics is after all just a map of our collective motivations. The streams and rivers of money in this world and the intentions that push them along are like the veins of the body of humanity. If the decision-making Central processing unit is in harmony then the nerves work well. When our intentions are wise and they are applied wisely and effectively the world has the potential to become a sane place.

Margaret Mead put it all into perspective:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Communities that foster service as the highest goal and who nurture individual worth and tolerance know that humanity's problems cannot be solved externally.

The consciousness of the whole is affected by every thing we do. And in the end all we have to look to is the example of our actions. When we are ruled by the mind we react and perpetuate ignorance. When the heart leads a sane mind we act decisively (in alignment with Life Forces) and from another level of consciousness. Yes. Obama is a wonderful symbol of what might be in a world that desperately needs a different way to go forward. But at the same time the old human problems remain. We can judge and alienate or we can encourage as the Buddha did: "Do your best." Like the Buddha we must share compassion and we must not suffer the fool within us (or those outside of us) gladly - we must go to the very root of ignorance and uproot it courageously and lovingly. As custodians of the Earth we must outgrow the tribal mentalities that keep us at loggerheads.

The American poet Carl Sangburg wrote in his introduction to The Family of Man:

There is only one man in the world
and his name is All Men.
There is only one woman in the world
and her name is All Women.
There is only one child in the world
and the child's name is All Children.

The only world that is worth celebrating, the only world that is going to have any meaning is one without borders; one which unites and cooperates as one family. You don't see borders from space. From space you see a shining jewel in the vastness of the void. Ours is the space age - the age of One family. The only borders in truth are in the mind. And with each of us the responsibility lies to pull them down. To see the good in every one, to make the most of our potential... to be responsible for our own small plot of Earth.

Nathan Daniel Curry
Vice-President Blue Lotus E-Solutions,
Director Palenke Lotus
Head Office:
Blue Lotus E-Solutions PVT LTD,
7/3, Hanumantha Rao Road,
Balaji Nagar,
Chennai 600014 "breath is life"

Expectations of others will get you nowhere. But one must have extremely high expectations of oneself.

Forwarded from Sue to Jeff, Cynthia

Bob Greene
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN)– There was a moment last night– this was just before Barack Obama and his family walked onto the stage in Grant Park for his first public appearance as president-elect– when the throngs of people in the park fell almost completely silent.
In one respect this was a product of an explicable glitch in the proceedings. During the long campaign, the timing of Obama’s entrances at rallies was meticulously coordinated– the preliminary orators (usually local government officials and candidates) spoke, the music and its pacing built up with the intention of quickening the pulses of the crowds, and then, at exactly the right moment, Obama, the candidate, would make his entrance.
But by late last night Obama was no longer a candidate, and there was no need to pump up the sense of anticipation, and the evening’s events– the concession call from John McCain, the congratulatory call from President Bush– were being dealt with as they rapidly occurred on a timetable Obama’s staff could not control. So there was some dead time in the park before Obama appeared on the stage.
And the crowd, for just those brief few moments, became all but mute. They weren’t certain what was going to happen next.
What happened next, in the crisp and clear night, was the Obama family suddenly coming into sight. Then, the cheers reached the sky. But in the quiet that preceded…
In that quiet there was the recognition:
Here comes the part of this drama that is unknown and unknowable.
Here– in the days and weeks and years ahead– comes life; here comes events that know no schedule, that can’t be planned, that will appear on no carefully constructed itinerary.
The silence from the crowd was like an intake of breath.
The silence said:
Here we are– we, the people in Grant Park; we, the people of the United States; we, the people of the world. Here we are, and none of us– not even and especially the man on the stage, the man just elected to be the 44th president– can be sure of what lies ahead.
If some in the audience– those of us in the park, and those watching around the world– sensed perhaps the slightest sliver of a subdued tone in Obama’s voice, a perceptible difference in his timbre, if not his words, from how he had sounded on the campaign trail, the shift was understandable.
It may have been his own version– intentional or involuntary– of that sudden silence that fell over the crowd. He can’t be silent, in any sense of that word– he is going to be the president. But during that same span late last night when the audience, in its brief hush, seemed to be acknowledging that everything– everything– had just changed, so, too, Obama appeared to be sending the signal, to the rest of us and maybe to himself, that he was well aware of the change, and was already beginning to deal with it.
He is no longer a candidate seeking something. Last night’s Chicago weather– so warm and inviting for November– was deceptive; it will not be warm here very much longer. Obama, of all people, knows that; he has lived in Chicago long enough to realize that balmy days with winter coming are the most predictable of teases.
The silence of the crowd ended and the roar greeted him, and as he, a man just hired for a new job, looked out at the people and at his city’s glorious skyline, you asked yourself if the thought may have been crossing his mind:
There will, in my life, be other good nights. But none of them will ever be as good as this one.

Forwarded from Nadine to Jeff

Scroll down to the joke at the bottom of this's pretty funny!!!!!! Nadine

Subject: Expectations...

"Never give a party if you will be the most interesting person there."
- Mickey Friedman

Rex Barker here with "Hope"...
Send us LESSONS that you've learned in life! Please write "LESSON" in the subject line. Your last name will not be used, unless you tell us to use it in your email. We get hundreds, but all are read...
Please submit your favorite inspirational stories, pictures, quotes, or dog pictures to
Whether you are happy or disappointed with the results of this hotly fought election, it is now a time of hope for the country. Hope that regardless of who is running the country, our lot as a people improves.
Hope that the economy turns around and people are earning healthy livings. Hope that our borders – will be protected against terrorist threats – both internal and external. Hope that our education and healthcare improve. And hope that freedom and growth around the world rebound.
We judge of man's wisdom by his hope.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.
- Barbara Kingsolver
Hope is the last thing that dies in man; and though it be exceedingly deceitful, yet it is of this good use to us, that while we are traveling through life it conducts us in an easier and more pleasant way to our journey’s end.
- Fran├žois de la Rochefoucauld
Practice hope. As hopefulness becomes a habit, you can achieve a permanently happy spirit.
- Norman Vincent Peale
He who does not hope to win has already lost.

A police officer pulls a guy over for speeding.
Officer: May I see your drivers license?
Driver: I dont have one. I had it suspended when I got my 5th DUI.
Officer: May I see the owners card for this vehicle?
Driver: Its not my car. I stole it.
Officer: The car is stolen?
Driver: Thats right. But come to think of it, I think I saw the owners card in the glove box when I was putting my gun in there.
Officer: Theres a gun in the glove box?
Driver: Yes sir. Thats where I put it after I shot and killed the woman who owns this car and stuffed her in the trunk.
Officer: Theres a BODY in the TRUNK???
Driver: Yes, sir.
Hearing this, the officer immediately called his captain. The car was quickly surrounded by police, and the captain approached the driver to handle the tense situation:\
Captain: Sir, can I see your license?
Driver: Sure. Here it is.
It was valid.
Captain: Who's car is this?
Driver: Its mine, officer. Here's the owner card.
The driver owned the car.
Captain: Could you slowly open your glove box so I can see if theres a gun in it?
Driver: Yes, sir, but theres no gun in it.
Sure enough, there was nothing in the glove box.
Captain: Would you mind opening your trunk? I was told you said there's a body in it.
Driver: No problem.
Trunk is opened; no body.
Captain: I don't understand it. The officer who stopped you said you told him you didn't have a license, stole the car, had a gun in the glovebox, and that there was a dead body in the trunk.
Driver: Yeah, I'll bet the liar told you I was speeding, too.

From Jeff to Nadine

Hi Nadine,
I want to take the time to respond properly to your emails; however, I've got to get my older boy ready for school and then do stuff I put off yesterday. In short, I wanted to say, you needn't worry so much. Obama is a good man committed to helping the less fortunate in America, and what's more, he's organized a motivated, energized, positive force - the more than 3 million financial contributors to his campaign are not going to simply go away. More and more people are excited about getting involved in government and I believe that will translate into better lives for all.
Digging into specific issues like abortion and taxes and the separation of powers which you've discussed and which I really want to respond to in detail will have to wait until this afternoon. Know, though, that I'm thinking about you and your situation.


From Nadine to Jeff

Oh, yeah, and one more fun thought!!! NOT!!! My mother-in-law, who perhaps might have considered helping us with things like fixing this house? Now all she can think about is how she is going to pay the newly inflated gargantuan taxes that she'll have on her our hope that she MIGHT help us out a little more......where do you suppose THAT is going to go? I'm trying to LOL about it all!!! Your goofy friend, Nadine

From Nadine to Jeff

Jeff---it's good to hear from you....I congratulate you on the election of the candidate of your choice. I must admit, for me: I am deeply frightened tonight by what his ideology will bring to this country. I feel DEEPLY for the aborted babies in this country, at the rate of 1500 black babies alone PER DAY, and 51 million of all races in America since Roe V. Wade. Our new president promised early in his campaign that his first signature would be to bring partial birth abortion back to us, at any point in the pregnancy, and for any reason. He already knocked down funding in the Illinois legislature to help babies born alive and able to survive an abortion, and in fact, a particular article I read, a baby was born just that way, and was thrown in the garbage, alive, at full term.....a nurse picked up the baby and held it for 45 min. until it did die. That is what we have to look forward to.
He is in favor of the "Fairness Doctrine" that Nancy Pelosi has recently pushed very hard: with that, the Christian pastors that speak on TV every day that I enjoy and learn from, WILL be challenged if that is voted back in. These are just two concerns that I care deeply, deeply about, and for that, tonight, I grieve. He also promised that his Supreme Court Judge appointees that he would look for WOULD be ones that would consider what it would be like to be a poor African-American girl that became pregnant and didn't know what to do--obviously speaking of her obtaining an easy abortion. With all the empty arms of couples in this country hoping and praying for a baby, but either can't afford the cost of the adoption, or just aren't getting access to "one"....These are the issues I grieve for tonight!!!!
You may think of me as a silly Christian fanatic for these concerns, but I know more than one might think, even tho I am in a place that many in this country would poke fun of as being so far right it's laughable. I also fear for the terrorism attack now, for the very reason that Joe Biden's "gaffe" alluded to: that Barack Obama WILL be tested now because he has so little experience, certainly in military and foreign policy--I fear for thas as well tonight!! So. as I congratulate you for your wish come true, I fear for what we have ahead of us with this president. I may have said to you earlier, that I have NOTHING against Blacks or African-Americans, whatever the term I should use on this particular day, but I AM afraid, deeply afraid, of this one.
Jeff, thanks for letting me vent, because I wanted to to my sons, but Daniel won't speak to me because of his wife, and I can't say it to Eric, because he is extremely liberal, and because the man he lives with is also Black, or an African-American. So I feel a little lonely tonight as I am "unloading" on you.....I am with friends as well, of course, but my hubby went to bed a long time ago, 'cuz he gets up at 3:30 a.m. to go to I need to get my tears and my venting done before I go to bed, so I don't wake him up with either. Thanks again for your "ear" tonight!! You've become such an interesting friend in such a short time!!
I AM going to try to concentrate on the positive now, that history was made tonight, exactly 40 yrs.since Martin Luther King, Jr. made his speech:"I have a dream..." That is what I will try to think of now!! And I will think that in spite of those of us who feel let down, there are just as many, and a few more, of course, who are very, very happy tonight......and that is what America is all about!!!
God Bless!!! Nadine
I hope in the morning that I won't regret that I sent this!! I fear it will sound terribly dismal, but that is where my heart is tonight, and for some strange reason, I'm unloading it all on a wonderful person I have VERY accidentally become friends with!!! LOL!!

From Jeff to Nadine

Hi Nadine,
I have to admit, the content of this email was not what I expected based on the subject line.
I thought you might be forwarding me information about chicanery at polling stations, or some such.

It looks like Obama has this locked up. Iowa might even go in his favor.

The important thing I think we need to remember out of all this is that we're all Americans. Through the course of our exchanges I've become more aware of what it must be like living in a state like Iowa and getting news from people like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. It's hard to understand all of this country. I've traveled a bit through the states, but I have to admit most of my time has been on the west coast where there are different demographics and a different outlook than yours, or at least what I can presume to know from your emails.

Either way, the next four years are going to be hard. Hard for ordinary citizens and hard for our leaders, I think one thing that could make an economic recovery more easy is everyone getting behind our elected leaders. I don't know how people like you and I can help do that, but i do think we (you and I) have made inroads in that direction.

Take care and have a good night.


Forwarded from Nadine to Jeff

Subject: FW: And that's how the fight got started

1: When I got home last night, my wife demanded that I take her someplace expensive
so I took her to a gas station. ...And that's how the fight got started.

2: I tried to talk my wife into buying a case of Miller Light for $14.95. Instead, she bought a jar of cold cream for $7.95. I told her the beer would make her look better at night than the cold cream. ...And that's how the fight got started.

3: After retiring, I went to the Social Security office to apply for Social Security.
The woman behind the counter asked me for my driver's license to verify my age. I looked in my pockets and realized I had left my wallet at home. I told the woman that I was very sorry, but I would have to go home and come back later. The woman said, 'Unbutton your shirt'. So I opened my shirt revealing my curly silver hair. She said, 'That silver hair on your chest is proof enough for me' and she processed my Social Security application. When I got home, I excitedly told my wife about my experience at the Social Security office. She said, 'You should have dropped your pants. You might have gotten disability, too'.
...And that's how the fight started.

4: My wife and I were sitting at a table at my high school reunion, and I kept staring at a drunken lady swigging her drink as she sat alone at a nearby table. My wife asked, 'Do you know her?' 'Yes,' I sighed, 'She's my old girlfriend. I understand she took to drinking
right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear she hasn't been sober since.'
'My God!' says my wife, 'Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?'
...And that's how the fight started.

5: I rear-ended a car this morning. So, there we were alongside the road and slowly the other driver got out of his car. You know how sometimes you just get soooo stressed and little things just seem funny? Yeah, well I couldn't believe it.... he was a DWARF!!! He stormed over to my car, looked up at me, and shouted, 'I AM NOT HAPPY!!!' So, I looked down at him and said, Well, then which one are you?' ..And that's how the fight started.
6: I took my wife to a restaurant. The waiter, for some reason, took my order first. 'I'll have the strip steak, medium rare, please.' He said, 'Aren't you worried about the mad cow? ''Nah, she can order for herself.' ...And that's how the fight started.