Monday, November 24, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 11/23/08: Ezekiel, Foxy Dog, Dark Star

1. I was back in my role as Lector this morning at the 9:30 service. The Old Testament reading was from the Book of Ezekiel. It's so radical: I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.


2. Snug got groomed at Foxy Dog today and he's ready to roll.

3. A little after midnight last night, the XM Grateful Dead channel host played the second set from the Winterland 11/11/73 show, featuring the most sublime "Dark Star" I've ever heard. I can't begin to say how transported I felt by its avant garde jazzy flights into the far reaches of the space highway.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 11/22/08: Martin and Jerry, West Bank, Blog-day

1. I found a copy of "Legion of Mary" at House of Records and purchased it. I've been wanting to hear Jerry Garcia play in this band with Martin Fierro and listen to Martin's pre-Zero stuff. It's been a relaxing pleasure. I look forward to taking in more of this fine disc.

2. Snug and I took a walk along the Willamette River in the River Road area today. We'll have to go there a lot more often. Duck pond. Tree-lined. Quiet. Perfect. I had to kick myself for forgetting my camera.

3. I got caught up in my reading of student essays yesterday and it's been fulfilling to have the time to knock out a couple of sibling assignments and get caught up on some blog reading. Oh! I changed my header, too. It's a 1962 picture of Fire Chief Bill Lenhart and others telling communists, i.e. certain union organizers (I'm sure), to stay out of Kellogg. There's is a ton of history of labor conflict in that picture. Interesting that none of those pictured are metal workers.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sibling Assignment #82: The Cable Guy Helps Dad Die


Wow! Where to start? This week's assignment from InlandEmpireGirl gives us three siblings an almost limitless number of events in our childhood home to write about. Here's the assignment:

Finish this sentence." I will never forget the time _________________happened at 516 W. Cameron. Remember? It was a huge disaster."
Silver Valley Girl mixes marriage and the memorable Mt. St. Helen's volcano blast, here, and InlandEmpireGirl explores why she never became a barista, here.

When it comes to life at 516 W. Cameron, it's hard to tell what's worse: disaster or the fear of disaster.

When Dad was dying in May of 1996, everything was always on the brink of small disaster.

Would the oxygen arrive? Did Dad get his medicine? Dad's pain is increasing. What do we do?

Harry's coming.

Con and Jeni are coming.

Donnie and Rosie are coming over.

So are Ted and Dorothy.

Mouse called. He's coming over.

Silver Valley Girl and PKR are coming soon from Meridian. So are their girls. Where are they going to stay?

More flowers arrived. Where shall I put them?

When are Jerry and Corrine coming by?

Dad wants a liverwurst sandwich.

There's Marilyn and Rick. Dad'll love seeing them, too.

Dad says a Popsicle will taste good. He wants orange. All we have is banana and grape. I'll go get some. Hurry!

How will John Stockton and Karl Malone match up against Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp in the NBA Western Conference finals? Will the Jazz finally go to the NBA finals?

Do you think Dad can be awake when the smelter stacks get blown up?

What time does Betty Mercado come by?

Dying magnifies life. We had more love, vitality, tension, sadness, noise, uncertainty, hushed tones, tales, fatigue, imagination, acts of golden rule goodwill, and laughter packed into 516 W. Cameron during those last three weeks of Dad's life than that old house had ever seen.

I don't know how many days before he died it was when Dad asked if he could have our little television we used in the basement set up in his bedroom.

Dad loved drinking at Jack and Dan's on Hamilton St. in Spokane and loved that Jack's son John Stockton ran the show for the Utah Jazz and if the Jazz could get over the hump of the Sonics, they would play for the NBA championship.

Dad wanted to watch John Stockton, but had become too ill to leave his room to watch the Jazz in the living room.

"I don't know why he wants that television now. He sleeps during those games more than he watches them."

"I know, Mom, but it won't hurt anything to put the television in there. I'll set it up."

"You? Since when could you do something like that?"

I took a deep breath. Mom meant no harm. She didn't want more disruption. No more change. Dad was dying. Everything was changing. Couldn't we just leave the televisions the way they were.

I was caught. Mom didn't want me fiddling with the television cable, especially since my track record as a fix-it-up guy around the house was pretty piss poor.

But, I had it in my head that even if Dad slept through the Jazz games, he's die better, happier, more peacefully if John Stockton was in the room with him.

I'm pretty sure Mom was worried I'd mess up the Soaps.

I defied Mom. I felt like a male Antigone.

A force beyond my control or understanding welled up inside me. I carried the little television upstairs. I surveyed the cable situation. Zeus sent Athena to aid me. I decided I knew what to do.

Mom paced.

I arrived home from Ace with a little doomahickey I could plug one cable into on one side and two cables into on the other and I unhooked this wire and plugged in that one and set everything up, satisfied I had everything in order.

There were two seconds left. The NBA championship was on the line. The game was tied and I had two free throws.

I choked.

I did something wrong. None of the televisions received a signal.

Shit.

"What'd you do? I told you to leave the tv's alone."

I'm surprised the planet didn't suddenly collapse from oxygen deprivation, I took such a deep breath.

"I'll figure it out, Mom. Please. Please. Leave. Me. Alone." I was shaking.

I took a step back. I surveyed. I can't remember what my mistake was, but I saw it. I fixed it. All the televisions worked. Erica was as cunning as ever on "All My Children".

I don't know at exactly what point in the series Dad had the television in his room. I do know this:

On Tuesday, May 28th, Utah was down 3-1 and beat Seattle on the road 98-95. The smelter stacks came down the day before. Dad missed that.

I know that on Thursday, May 30th Utah went home to Salt Lake City and beat the Sonics 118-83 to send the series to a game 7.

I remember telling Dad the series was tied. He could no longer speak, but he gurgled his approval.

I know Dad died on Saturday, June 1st.

He never knew that Utah returned to Seattle on Sunday, June 2nd and lost Game 7, 90-86.

For My Sisters



I was just wondering if on a November weekend my sisters might like to listen to a James Taylor concert from January 25, 1971. Of course, the concert is available for any of you who stop by. It's just that my sisters are loco for James Taylor.







Sibling Assignment #81: War

Our sibling assignment came from Silver Valley Girl:
"As our thoughts are centered on the men who fought for and defended our country this week, write a post with the focus on War."
Both of my siblings have posted their pieces. Silver Valley Girl's is here and InlandEmpireGirl's is here.

I'm a little late with this post and I lost my Veteran's Day vibe. But, Silver Valley Girl's prompt triggered a memory.



Being drunk for days on end transformed how I saw the world.

I always had a slight headache, a headache I learned to long for. The pain circled around the most exurban fringe of my nerve centers and didn't debilitate me. The slight ache sharpened my senses, making my world more vibrant and memorable.

I had this slight headache most days in the late winter and spring of 1973 during my freshman year at North Idaho College.

I spent most of my time at Baco and Robert's apartment on the Fort Grounds of Coeur d'Alene, at place we accurately, especially when we left out dirty dishes at night, called Cockroach Castle.

It was the best of times. Baco, Robert, and I were in an American Literature course together and on late afternoons we filled the icebox with Lucky Lager beer and Marl-bater cigarettes and listened to Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and drank beer and read passages aloud from T.S. Eliot and the National Lampoon and Playboy interviews and from the Walla Walla College course catalogue (Baco and Robert were Walla Walla College dropouts) and listened to Cream and Led Zeppelin and Free and Jethro Tull and KHQ-FM and went to the Topper for Double Whammies when hungry. And smoked Marl-baters.

I had the greatest girlfriend. I wish I hadn't squandered Liz's affections. Liz loved bringing Cat Stevens to the Castle and teaching us Catholic catechism and drilling me for my U.S. History exams when I read five chapters the night before the test and she encouraged me, telling me she couldn't believe I could keep details of Lend-Lease and the Marshall Plan clear while trying to finish reading "Deliverance" while maintaining my rigorous beer drinking schedule.

I remember one day in particular, not for what Liz and Bocco and Robert and I did, but for the day itself. It must have been an April day. I remember the relief. The sky was sapphire. The temperature climbed into the low seventies after a long gray North Idaho stretch of days in the thirties, forties, and fifties.

I'd been drunk or hungover for several days in a row and Liz and I drove down east Sherman in her Ford Fairlane to the Sherman IGA to buy a case of beer and cash checks for cash.

The dull ache in my head from too much drink craved the warmth and clear light of this April afternoon. Liz radiated with good humor and enthsuiasm to get back to drinking. We ecstatically cussed the day, peppering our praises for Lake Coeur d'Alene and the Ponderosa pines with our own liturgy, repeating our single cry of praise: "I can't believe how fucking beautiful it is!"

We held hands, bought our beer at Sherman's IGA, got back in the car, and romanced the parking lot. We held each other, shared long kisses, held each other's faces with our eyes and in our hands, and kept saying, "I can't believe how fucking beautiful it is."

Liz fired up the Fairlane.

We had the radio on.

At that moment, God intervened. The waves of the Holy Spirit joined with the radio waves and filled Liz's car with joy and rhythm and the reckless pleasure of being nineteen years old on an endless April afternoon by gracing us with "The Cisco Kid".

By War.

If you'd like, watch and listen to War perform. Light up a Marl-bater, snap open a cheap lager, and join Liz and me in the parking lot of the Sherman IGA; get your War funk on, lift your eyes to the sky, cry out, "I can't believe how fucking beautiful it is!", and let your spirit (and maybe your body!) dance.

Led not Dead Live from the Filmore West


Friday, November 21, 2008

Three Beautiful Things: 11/19-21/08: Jeff, Rumi, Stacey: Three Keys to the Noble Life


1. Jeff and I have been friends for twenty-two years, ever since our days together as graduate students at the University of Oregon. We have traveled a lot of miles together to go hear a lot of music: Grateful Dead, Zero, Richard Thompson, Renegade Saints, Nine Days Wonder, Crosby,Stills, and Nash, Floydian Slips, and a lot of music and music talk passes between us, especially at LCC where we are both English instructors. This whole week has been one of our most robust in music talk: conversations about David Gilmour, the rest of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Zero, but the best talk has been about the great pleasure we get from the Grateful Dead. If there were doctoral degrees in Grateful Deadness, Jeff would have earned one long ago and he's generous with his knowledge (it's all about the music, not the Scene), happily shares his recordings, and puts up with me dropping by his office almost every day to talk about the ways the Grateful Dead made music and the many musicians who are part of the Grateful Dead family tree and jam band tradition. The Grateful Dead kicks the hell out of Paxil as an anti-depressant!

2. Rumi.

If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.

Like this. Like this.

I haven't been writing as much here on my blog lately because I've been devoting as much time and energy as I can to reading student writing and trying to help my students in their work. This is the best part of the term: in my World Literature class, my students are able to write with more feeling and depth about what we are reading and this week has been a particularly happy one for me as I read my students' diving into the mysteries of Rumi.

3. Stacey said in class Tuesday night that her way to live a noble life is to act upon the kindness and compassion that rises inside her when she remembers that we are all dying. She didn't mean this in a morbid way and last night in WR 121, we spent over an hour discussing Stacey's insight and I left class buoyed, with the highest regard for my students' intelligence and their longing to learn more about living a noble life and putting what they learn into practice. My gratitude has to go out to Dan O'Brien for the way he explores this idea in Buffalo for the Broken Heart. I'm sorry to see our study of this book come to an end.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 11/18/08: Noble Life, Zero Tribute, Bootleg Dylan


1. I deeply enjoyed my evening WR 121 class's discussion of what it means to live a noble life in response to Dan O'Brien's exploration of the same in Buffalo for the Broken Heart.

2. I purchased and downloaded the 08/08/08 Zero tribute concert to Martin Fierro, their lyrical and mirthful saxophone player who died March 13. Listening to "Gregg's Eggs" and "Catalina" and "Horses" and other tunes took me back thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen years ago to WOW Hall or to the Hilton Ballroom and night after night of improvisational jam jazz rock blues with Zero and the long, often dreamy meditations of Martin Fierro, as well as his playful antics with windup toys and verbal nonsense. If I could go back in time and relive any concerts from my past life, I'd go back to those great nights on the floor of the packed WOW Hall with Zero.

3. I fired up my pathetically tiny MP3 player with thirty-nine tracks from Bob Dylan's "Tell Tale Signs, the eighth volume of his bootleg releases. Dylan is old. I've never enjoyed him more. The gravity and weariness and depth of his aging voice makes his singing more accessible to me. He genuinely sounds at time deeply vulnerable and at other times he sounds like a wizened sage.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 11/17/08: Quiet, Mmm, Molly

1. Your old life was a frantic running
from silence.
-- Rumi

2. Today the grilled cheese and bacon sandwich I fixed for lunch pleased me. Sometimes that's all it takes.

3. My stepdaughter Molly and I had a great email exchange today. She's getting married in June and the wedding plans are kicking into high gear, as well as some of the family tensions that inevitably arise when planning a festival. Here's Molly, her fiancee, Hiram, and their dog, Yzerman:






Monday, November 17, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 11/16/08: Grateful Dead Dream, Worship, Writing Grows

1. The Grateful Dead is in my head. Last night I dreamed that Jeff Harrison and I team taught a course on the Grateful Dead at LCC. I wrote Jeff as full of an account of the dream as I could. I've posted my description of the dream below.

2. I have attended services at St. Mary's Episcopal Church three out of the lasts five weeks. I think I'm getting back into the swing of worshipping. I was a bit reclusive at church today, but the worship felt right, necessary, and fulfilling. I felt at home.

3. Some of my writing students are really starting to get it and as their writing grows in power, my sense of enjoyment, stimulation, and happiness grows.


The Dream:

So, as is my habit now, I tuned the XM radio to channel 57 so the Grateful Dead would serenade me through the night and possibly get into my dreams.

There we were, Jeff: team teachers, giving a Grateful Dead course at Lane Community College. We built the course around the idea that the Grateful Dead were ancient and modern at the same time. We taught our students that the lightning bolt in the skull


is a yin yang symbol and that the Grateful Dead constitutes an infinite number of co-existing opposite principles in an eternal flux of assertion and recession. Sometimes the dark asserts and the light recedes, but they are of each other, and we taught that the Grateful Dead's music and musicianship give us a constant experience of moving fluidly within oppositions.

So, it was the last day of class and I raised the question we had started the course with: how can we understand the Grateful Dead in terms of the yin and yang of the ancient and modern.

A student shot up her hand and wondered how we could understand the elements of psychedelic drug use in terms of the ancient and the modern and you quoted, without a book or notes, a series of wisdom teachings from ancient Jewish mysticism and pointed out how lyrics in several Robert Hunter songs grew out of and paralleled this ancient mysticism and that tripping on LSD was a way of asserting modern mystic experiences in relation to our receding knowledge, in modern times, of ancient Jewish mysticism, but that the modern and the ancient were present in both the Grateful Dead's music and in the hallucinogenic rituals that developed in the scene surrounding the band.

You held up a large print of the lightning bolt in the skull and reminded the students that the lightning bolt is the ever fluid threshold between opposite forces and by thinking of the ancient as blue and the modern as red, we could see ways in which there are moments when the ancient blue is dominant in certain Grateful Dead moments and other times when the modern red dominates, but that the Grateful Dead, you reminded the students, should always be understood as portraying the endless interplay between the ancient and modern.

That's pretty much the dream. I don't know what tunes were playing on the radio during this dream....Dark Star maybe? or maybe Cosmic Charlie?

All I can say is thank God for Channel 57.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 11/15/08: Special Olympics Breakfast, Snug Cruise, A Purple Umbrella and a Fifty Cent Hat

1. Got up, threw on an ugly ensemble of rumpled brown highwater slacks, a half milk, half cream colored pair of dollar store socks, Whitworth hoodie, and ebony crocs and told Deke I was going to Appleby's for a five dollar Special Olympics benefit breakfast. I figured I'd be going Hans Solo, but the Deke wanted to go and so we did.

The breakfast was perfect: fluffy pancake, modest heap of scrambled eggs, three slices of bacon, not crisp, but cooked through, just the way I like it, served on a festive oval platter accompanied by a pint glass of iced orange juice . I loved that Appleby's served everyone the same plate of food: no menu, no decisions: just sit down, get some coffee and juice, wait a few minutes, and a steamy plate of morning energy appeared. And, it was all you can eat, but Deke and I stopped at one plate!

If I found out a restaurant took this one plate, one pancake, scrambled egg, tender bacon, five dollar, no order needed approach to breakfast, I'd be there every Saturday.

2. Snug and I went errand hopping and software windowshopping and we listened on the radio as the Ducks screamed to a 45-17 halftime lead over Arizona, but by the time we took a stroll in Westmoreland Park and came home to debone the whole chicken that had been in the Crock Pot all day and by the time we ate our dinner, the Ducks had squandered all but three points of that magical lead, but hung on to win 55-45, and in celebration Snug ate a Pig's Ear.

3. My midmorning, post Appleby's tooling around town featured the XM radio tuned in to the Led Zeppelin channel and I nearly ecstatically crashed into the front of Old Navy when "Hearbreaker/Livin' Lovin' Maid" jumped out of the sky and into the tinny speakers of my '93 Honda Civic.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 11/14/08: Thanks, Tony; Good Luck, Kanette; A Masterpiece, Rick

1. Tony reads my blog sometimes! Before class got rolling this morning, he asked me to clarify the sibling assignment concept. He seemed to chuckle at the thought of me screaming down Chestnut Hill on that unknown item Silver Valley Girl photographed, sent to me, and assigned me to write about.

2. I met with Kanette today at the Daily Grind. She's taking a careers course at the Univ. of Oregon and, as a course requirement, interviewed me as someone who works in a field she might be interested in. I've been available to be interviewed by students in this program for several years and it's a lot of fun to yammer about my work and give my couple of cents of advice.

3. Rick Wainright's Friday 55 poem "Lost Time" is a masterpiece, as is his thirty second slideshow, accompanied by the poet himself reading the poem. Click here, watch, listen, weep.

(Some of you might know Rick as Myrtle Beached Whale, who writes with a smirk. For this piece, Whale dropped the smirk, wrote as Rick, and. . . well, check it out.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 11/13/08: Trance, Satisfaction, Joy

1. I felt myself move into a new dimension of consciousness as I tried to explain to my students how Dan O'Brien's efforts to restore his Broken Heart ranch by raising buffalo had the effect of restoring his soul, of moving more deeply into living a noble life. I wondered if my students could tell that, because I feel Dan O'Brien's experience was so profound, I fell into a trance in front of them in class.

2. My World Lit students' ten minute reflections on the Coleman Barks/Rumi videotape were arresting, stimulating, admirable, insightful, energetic, gratifying . . . .

3. When Melissa learned that her essay on joining the Army becoming the way she lost her pursuit of the American dream had earned the maximum seventy points, her chin quivered, her chest shook, her stomach somersaulted, and a huge smile covered her face.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 11/12/08: Grateful Satellite Radio, Coleman Barks is Rumi, Not Guilty My Ass

1. Got an email today from XM Satellite radio telling me that with the merger of Sirius and XM, I have a new line up of channels to listen to. OMG! Channel 57 is the Grateful Dead channel. I love having the cosmic country sounds of the Grateful Dead as the soundtrack to my life and I can hardly wait to have the Grateful Dead channel on though the night. I've always loved to sleep with the Grateful Dead playing. I mean, I love them when I'm awake, but it's great dream music and triggers all kinds of wonderful stuff in my unconscious mind while I sleep.

2. Today I played the hour long Bill Moyers interview with Coleman Barks to my World Lit students and I loved the silence that fell in the room as Coleman Barks tried to explain the mysticism of Rumi and as he read Rumi poems accompanied by the Paul Winter Consort. For me, this is the turning point in the World Lit course. With Rumi, it's like we are entering into a world so strange, so unlike what we are used to, and this is just what a World Lit course should do for me and my students.

3. It felt good to cut loose with a string of the vilest profanity when MB told me that her stalker had pleaded not guilty to breaking the stalking order. He came, in full view of me and Margaret and campus safety and later the sheriff's officeto LCC six weeks ago to bring MB a gift wrapped knife. I hope his not guilty plea doesn't fly with the jury and pisses off the judge and, when he is found guilty, the judge punishes him severely.

Three Beautiful Things 11/11/08: Steely Dan, Veteran Wainwright, Veteran Bennett

1. It's funny. I get older and music that was popular twenty-five, thirty years kind of went by me and now, in my mid-fifties, I'm recovering it. Pink Floyd's the prime example. Today, it was Steely Dan. I graded essays most of the day and gave myself a Steely Dan concert via Napster and, well, I've neglected Walter and Donald too long.

2. Veteran's Day highlight: I've know Rick over at Myrtle Beach Ramblings since I was five years old. At his blog, he writes with a smirk, but for Veteran's Day he put the smirk aside and wrote this piece on his military service and later wrote a deeply moving poem that (I think) he'll be posting on Friday. It'll feature him reading the poem and accompanying images. I'll link to it when he puts it up.

3. Melissa, WR 121 student, veteran of the war in Afghanistan wrote a haunting and moving essay about how she sacrificed for her country by going to war. She also sacrificed the very American Dream she went to war to defend. Very sobering essay.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Three Beautiful Things on Freaky 11/10/08: Nathan Obama, Marge Reunion, Cassie Asks Hard Questions, BONUS! NMc's Feminist Groove

1. So last night I had this harmless dream about the Obama family and Barack Obama had a son about six feet six tall with curly/wavy brown hair who I recognized as my former student Nathan. I was fun thinking about Nathan as a member of the first family and I liked how Pres.-elect Obama jived Nathan about being a white kid from Newport as he put an encouraging arm around his shoulder. I woke up this morning smiling about Nathan Obama and went to work and conducted my 10:00 World Lit class, thinking I hadn't seen Nathan since midsummer when I was out walking Snug and Nathan was on his bike and stopped to tell me about his plans to work hard and move to Germany to live with his brother and focus his energies on writing and art so I went to my office after class and was fiddling around when I heard a knock on the door.

It was Nathan Obama.

Freaky.

2. Lately I'd been thinking about a student of mine from the 1990's who took all my composition courses and some Shakespeare, too, because I see a woman around school whose looks resemble hers and after today's swim through The Ramayana in World Lit I didn't even get to my office before, lo and behold, there was Marge. I hadn't seen her in at least ten years, she'd been on my ind, and as if on cue, she appeared. Freaky. I'd been on her mind, too, and she decided to stop by and see how I'd been and to tell me the latest about her life as a mother, a resident of Salem, and her continuing struggles with MS.

3. Sooo, I went over to Margaret's office after Nathan Obama shuffled off and we were talking about mental health and teaching and our team teaching when one of our Fat Cats students popped in, out of nowhere, and Cassie told us about her idealism and her blunt honesty in workplaces and the difficulty she was having holding jobs down and what was she going to do with the rest of her life, anyway: Did we have any ideas? MB did. I didn't. I was too preoccupied with how freaky it was that Cassie just showed up at the same time MB and I were discussing our teaching of the very course Cassie took from us two years ago.

Bonus Track!

4. As the evening stretched out, I read deeper and deeper into my World Lit. students' Antigone essays, a deep pleasure. I got to NMc's paper. Neil writes his papers from a feminist perspective and Antigone was a banquet of fine food for getting his feminist groove on. His essay provoked, stimulated, and stretched me. About three quarters into his essay, NMc addressed his displeasure with women feminists who claimed men couldn't be feminists. I gulped. Freaky. Only three hours earlier, I had taken on the same subject in this blog post. Freaky.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Discovering I'm Not a Feminist

During Whitworth College's spring break of 1983, I rode the Greyhound to Seattle land back to hang out with some friends, go to a few movies, and just enjoy being on a short trip.

I was a working as a full-time, interim instructor in the English Department. I was twenty-nine years old, newly divorced, and trying to secure some direction in my life. Through my youth and enthusiasm and liberal-mindedness, I quickly won the trust of quite a few outsider students at Whitworth, most notably a group of women who met regularly for dinner together off-campus to discuss their emergent ideas about gender. Several, but not all, of these students were lesbians.

In casual conversations at the store or in the cafeteria or in my office, I asked questions, not to challenge, but to understand what these students were discussing and tried to understand their perspectives. I was ignorant. They loved helping me understand their questions and how they talked about things -- and always made it clear that I would never be invited to their meals for women!

One of the students suggested that I read Adrienne Rich's collection of essays On Lies, Secrets, and Silence.

I read Rich's book on the Greyhound bus between Spokane and Seattle.

The book puzzled me. It challenged my assumption that consciousness, how we think, perceive, remember, and generally experience the world was a sexless/genderless experience.

I thought of feminism as a movement centered on equal rights for women under the law and on equal opportunity in the workplace and on women earning equal pay for equal work.

It had never occurred to me that on a metaphysical level, women experience the world differently than men or that women have different ways of arriving at knowledge and of deciding what kinds of knowledge they find reliable. Nor did I ever think of questions of morality or ethics as being anything but a universally human concern, not a concern that women experience differently than men.

Rich challenged my universalist philosophical assumptions more strongly than they'd ever been challenged. Rich helped me begin to think of feminism as concerned with deeper issues of consciousness, with consciousness shaped by gender.

I felt a little threatened at first. I didn't like the idea that the experience of being a woman was quite different from mine, as a man. I wanted to believe that, at the level of perception and cognition and affect, men and women had more in common than differences and that if men and women could work things out socially and legally, if we could hammer out institutional equality, we could stop thinking of women's issues and focus more on human issues.

In other words, I'd thought of feminism as a legal/political/social movement. I was, and still am, a proponent of this kind of equality, so I thought I could call myself a feminist.

After riding a Greyhound bus between Spokane and Seattle in the spring of 1983 and after reading On Lies, Secrets, and Silence, I never thought of myself as a feminist again.

Ever since that bus ride, I have regarded feminism as a fundamentally philosophical way of women working to resist the idea that men and women differ only in terms of reproductive organs, the ability to give birth, and in other physical respects.

I came to understand that the differences between men and women are deeper than physical and chemical.

This difference is fundamental: men and women perceive, process, think about, sort out, understand, negotiate, and understand reality in fundamentally different ways.

The memory of my bus ride between Spokane and Seattle, my conversations with the feminist students at Whitworth, my years of further reading and countless conversations and discussions listening to women graduate students and faculty at the University of Oregon and fellow instructors at LCC all came back to me when Barack Obama was elected president last week.

Not only do men and women perceive, process, think about, sort out, understand, negotiate, and understand reality in fundamentally different ways, so do members of different races.

And that's where I'll pick things up in my next blog entry. How has being white (and male) shaped my consciousness and the way I experience the world I live in? I don't see the world the same way an African-American does.

It's why I don't think we can think of a post-racial world.

It's why in my happiness that we elected Obama president, I also feel very somber. It's not that I don't want to be led by a man who has and does experience the world fundamentally differently than I do.

It's the challenge Obama and our country faces that leaves me somber.

Enough for now: I'll pick this up in another day or two and try to sort out the question of racial whiteness as it applies to me, a North Idaho boy, and how being white has affected the very frame of mind I carry with me into the world.

I'm hoping that eventually I can explain why I think we should be saying that if we voted for Barack Obama, it was because he's black. And how I don't see anything wrong at all about voting for a candidate because of our response to his race. I think such a response is healthy and inevitable.

Three Beautiful Things 11/09/08: Sibling Assignment, Winded, Thanksgiving Shaping Up

1. I had a great time writing this week's sibling assignment and my sisters did too. It's really fun when these assignments we give each other hit the mark!

2. Snug and I went up to the Laurelwood area of Eugene and did some uphill walking. We both needed to get the blood flowing and the breathing accelerated.

3. Ed called. Our guys get together weekend in Cd'A is shaping up. I can hardly wait to make the trip, see my family, and be with the guys again.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sibling Assignment #80: The God Machine of Snow Speed

I gave this week's sibling assignment. It's offbeat. I hope it works, or at the very least, I hope my sisters and I have fun tackling this one.

Take a picture of something weird or of something not weird in a weird way.
Try to make the subject of your picture either unrecognizable or take a picture of something really odd that your viewer won't know what it is.

Post the picture and write a post about it in whatever way you want. You might try to identify what's in the picture or you might write what the picture makes you feel or think about or whatever.
Silver Valley Girl posted a Pulitzer Prize worthy poem, "Keeping My Eyes on Kellogg", here. Go right now and read about the great ice cold slug bait beer search in Mom's garage, courtesy of InlandEmpireGirl, here.

Here's the photo Silver Valley Girl sent me and my story follows:

"Do you think it's big enough?"

"Yeah. It's big enough. How big you think it needs to be?"

"Big enough for my ass, I guess."

"There ya go. So put your ass on this sucker and let it rip."

I have to admit: I was apprehensive.

I'd waxed the rails of my not quite flexible Sears and Roebuck Flexible Flyer knockoff and flown down Chestnut Hill plenty of times. I'd borrowed the Morgan boys' Flexible Flyer and marveled at the whiplash eccentricities of its touch runner power steering and just last week I screamed down Chestnut with Cara and Mary and Jim on the monster logging truck inner tube Randy Dolphin's dad hauled over in the back of his three quarter ton burnt sienna Ford F-150 pick-up. Last year Randy Winterowd brought his turquoise Wham-O Spinmaster Tilt-a-Whirl Flying Saucer and when I dizzied myself through the Chestnut and Mission Street intersection, I never enjoyed throwing up hot chocolate and marshmellows more.

But what was this? It was not a tricked up ride, no maple polish, no Arctic lightning bolts tattooed across its top, or flashy Northern Lights color design.

It might have been a paint pan. It looked like the underneath of a ditto machine. It was as flashy as the front strut-mate mounting kit Dad bought last month when he and Art Listoe tried to shore up the suspension of our Chevy Impala.

But Lloyd promised me a great ride.

"Okay. I'll give it a try."

I dragged Lloyd's ride to the top of Chestnut Hill and then went a bit farther on a trail we'd built between the bushes on the little mountain above Chestnut Street hill. It meant barreling a few hundred feet down the mountain and then taking a hard right onto the Chestnut Street hill itself and screaming three steep blocks to Mission Avenue at the foot of Chestnut.

A wind had picked up and it blew the snowflakes like pine needles into my face. Whizzing down Chestnut on Lloyd's faceless snow glider was going to hurt, but if it was a great ride, it would be worth it.

I hit a couple bumps coming down the mountain that lifted me off the ground. My heart leapt into my eyes. The wind and snow wet my eyes, but I managed to lean into the hard right onto Chestnut. I laid back, just like the lugers in the Grenoble Olympics. My face felt flat. I zoomed by Carol Lee and Suzie Mac and the Absec boys and roared past Lennie.

Some of the kids stopped in their tracks. Later they told me that I streaked so fast they could barely tell who I was. Other kids quit climbing Chestnut and started to run to the foot of the hill to see me when I finished this run.

I'd ridden the Jack Rabbit at Nat Park and water skied behind the Ross's inboard/outboard on Beauty Bay and I'd cannon-balled off the high dive at the city pool, but nothing compared to the feeling of speed and power and dominance I felt as I flew down Chestnut Hill and blew through Mission Street and rocketed all the way through Mullan Street and finally came to a stop at Riverside.

No one had ever sledded down Chestnut Hill and made it all the way to Riverside. When I came to a stop, I looked back and all my friends were running toward me, hollering, whooping, laughing, jumping up and down, speechless in their ecstasy to have seen me achieve the impossible.

I never rode Lloyd's slate king of speed again. After my ride, Lloyd took his snow glider home and never used it again.

"I wanted my god machine of snow speed to go out on top," he told me a couple of weeks later. "No one will ever match what you did that day on Chestnut Hill."

I almost retired from sledding myself after that ride. I didn't, though. I went back to riding, savoring every ride from then on.

I never expected to have a ride like that again.

And I never did.

Three Beautiful Things 11/08/08: They Laugh, XM Success, Rain Energy



People they laugh when they hear you're from my town
They say it's a sour and used up all place
I defended its honor, shrugged off the put downs
You know that you're poor, from Tacoma


1. This Neko Case song popped into my mind this evening while I was conemplating my racial identity. I've always listened to almost the entire song as being about Kellogg -- "People laugh when they hear you're from this town"... I hope you'll take a few minutes and listen Neko Case singing it on You Tube.

2. I love my small brushes with materialism and its pleasures. Today I had an XM Satellite radio installed in my Honda, and after some trouble shooting on line, with a robot customer service machine at 1-800-XM Radio, finally at 8:10 this evening my Honda Civic is now tricked out with satellite radio.

3. I know it's miserable and bone chilling, but the rain gives me energy. I've been energized all day and much of the day was sopping cold.

Lots on My Mind


The election of Barack Obama has plunged me into contemplation about race in the United States. I'm not quite ready to write it all out yet, but last night I did what I enjoy doing most when I am in a contemplative mood.

I drove over the Coast Range to Florence, my mind quietly working over the ways I've come to understand racial difference in our country. The drive did me a lot of good.

After all that thinking, I did what I enjoy doing when I need to let my mind relax from its thoughts. I played slot machines at the casino and lost myself in flashing lights, Diet Pepsi, bells, animated figures, and the suspense and tension playing slots helps me feel.

I had a meal coupon and so I took a break from playing and plunged back into contemplation over salad, cold shrimp, crab, breaded scallops, razor clams, breaded jumbo shrimp, seafood pasta, and more Diet Pepsi at the Friday night fish buffet.

The buffet was not very well attended, so while a pianist played the greatest hits of Celine Dion, Elton John, and the early Bee Gees not far behind me, I thought more about race and what it's meant to me be white and a native North Idahoan.

So often, when the word "race" is employed, it's in reference to people who are not white.

Last night, I needed to think about myself and my family in terms of race, our race, in terms of being white, and how strongly my consciousness and feelings of belonging, especially in North Idaho, are grounded in the fact that I'm white.

I'm not very interested in white guilt. I'm interested in looking as dispassionately as I can at what being white means to a guy like me who has lived, worked, and played with almost exclusively other white people my whole life.

But, I'm not quite really to bust my thoughts into words yet.

I am getting closer to understanding my vote for Barack Obama and closer to understanding why I have expressed my joy at the prospect of his presidency in sober, somber reflection.

I think it all began in the basement of my parents' house, when at ten or eleven years old I used to spend a lot of time reading Life and Look magazines' presentation of the Civil Rights movement.

My consciousness about racial difference in the USA began then and all these forty-five, fifty years later I am still retreating into the basement of my inward self, trying to understand.

If this sounds interesting to you, I hope you'll come back and read more of what I've been thinking as I slowly, somberly, and seriously start to write about my vote for Obama and my thoughts about being white.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 11/07/08: Gilmour Tears, Ramayana and Crayola, Snug Walk


1. I sat in my office this morning and listened to David Gilmour's "Live in Gdansk" album. I don't often have tears running down my face for any reason, but as "High Hopes" progressed and as I listened to David Gilmour's lyrics and listened to him play his lap steel guitar solo, I wept, silently, hoping no one would visit my office. Beauty moved me. (Click on the green eighth notes icon if you'd like to hear the song. You can view David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Richard Wright and the rest of the band, accompanied by the Baltic Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, playing "High Hopes" Live in Gdansk, here.)

2. I loved watching and listening to my World Literature students talk and laugh and work with crayons, color pencils, charcoal sticks and other media as they drew, colored, and pasted pictures on large pieces of sketch pad paper. Their assignment was to work out their insights into The Ramayana and its treatment of dharma and make it visual.

3. Snug and I went for an autumn afternoon stroll. It's difficult taking pictures with Snug on the leash, but I did manage to capture leaves on the sidewalk and a shot pointed at our neighborhood's Baptist Church.




Thursday, November 6, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 11/4-5/08: Obama Somberness, Sopa de Pollo, New Sheriff of Bunn, Burke, Eagle, Clarkia, Delta, Avery, Gem, and Murray, Idaho

1. Barack Obama is our 44th POTUS. His win triggered deep somberness in me.

2. I bought this spicy Mexicany chicken from Trader Joe's and used it as the basis for a soup with chicken broth, string beans, spinach, onion, and egg noodle. It's spicy, bone warming soup.

3. The country's election I cared the most about was finally resolved: write-in candidate Mitch Alexander defeated primary winner Gary Yergler for the Office of Sheriff of Shoshone County, Idaho.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 11/02/08: Tsunami Nearly Over, Bacon and Eggs, Country Pop Rock

1. I'm getting caught up. I'm still behind in my paper reading, but I finished and returned over thirty essays today and I have quite a bit of time to work on papers tomorrow. Another deluge will come, but I'd like to be done with the last deluge before the new one.

2. Two slices of medium cooked bacon, a slice of Trader Joe's sharp cheddar cheese, an egg fried over medium sandwiched between two toasted pieces of bread made for a terrific breakfast this morning.

3. I didn't see it coming, but suddenly today I was in a Pure Prairie League/Poco/Marshall Tucker Band/Brooks and Dunn kind of mood and through the magic of Napster, I treated myself to a concert.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sibling Assignment #79: Christian Brothers Cribbage

InlandEmpireGirl asked us three siblings to write a piece on this:

Many hours of our childhood were spent playing games. Share a memory that involved playing a game(es).
You can scratch your Yahtzee with InlandEmpireGirl, here and tear through Mr. Anderson's bushes playing hide and seek with Silver Valley Girl, here.

All I remember about playing Canasta is that it involved about eight decks of cards and about a pack of Pall Malls for Mom, and it must have been a sad game because someone always cried when we played.

All I remember about Monopoly is that Grandma Woolum told us she got so sick of her kids fighting when they played Monopoly that one day during a heated game she tore the board away from her kids and threw it in the trash burner and torched it.

I do, however, have much happier memories of playing cribbage with my father.


I must have been about thirteen or fourteen years old when one of my aunts or cousins from Orofino gave me a cribbage board for Christmas.

I had no idea what it was. I took the board out of the box and all I saw was holes. They weren't numbered and I could see no purpose for it.

"What's this?"

"I'll show you later, Son. Wait until things settle down."

I don't know if things settled down that Christmas Day, but in the next day or two Dad got out a deck of cards, poured himself a brandy over ice, lit up a Camel straight, and began patiently explaining 15 two, 15 four, nibs, crib, double runs, suited Jacks and the other ins and outs of cribbage.

We played a few hands where he showed me what to do and then a game where he showed me what to do and before long I was on my own and Dad and I found something in addition to watching games on television that we enjoyed doing together.

Our games were calm. Unlike Yahtzee, as InlandEmpireGirl described, where Dad would blow into the cup and rattle the dice under his arm pits and plead with the "bones" to do his will, when it came to cribbage, we played quietly and respectfully.

I began to learn how to form a good hand for getting points in the first play, how to disguise my hand, what the juicy hands were, and how to keep my concentration and make difficult decisions about which cards to keep, which to throw away.

For some reason, I always enjoyed Dad drinking brandy when we played. Because we had to give a lot of attention to our cards, Dad drank the brandy slowly and I enjoyed watching beads of condensation form on his brandy glass as the ice slowly melted and diluted his brandy.

When I turned nineteen and was of legal drinking age, I started drinking brandy on ice when we played.

Our drinking together over cribbage made me feel like I was becoming an adult and that Dad and I were on more equal grounds with each other, not only in cards, but as guys.

Sometimes, usually around Christmas, Dad would buy a bottle of Crown Royal whiskey. This was long before single malt scotches and bourbons began to clutter the landscape of fine liquor. For us, Crown Royal was the top of the line. If we drank Christian Brothers brandy slowly, we took almost imperceptibly small sips from our Crown Royal glasses and heaved sighs of pleasure and eloquently expressed our pleasure: "Now, that's good shit."

In my early thirties, I decided alcohol was getting the best of me and I quit drinking. That was January of 1985. Dad and I still played the occasional game of cribbage when I came home to Kellogg for the holidays, but it wasn't the same.

The cards were good, but I could tell Dad didn't enjoy drinking his brandy or whiskey as much alone as when we sipped them together.

In the fall of 1996, I decided to see if I could drink alcohol again.

But, Dad had died in June.

I started drinking again too late.

If I had it to do over again, I would still have quit drinking alcohol in 1985.

But, I wouldn't have been so rigid. I wish I would have said to Dad, "You know, I quit drinking this shit, but I think for a few games of cribbage, it won't hurt me if we have a glass or two of Christian Brothers brandy with you."

Sibling Assignment #78: Sitting Around at Stein Brothers' IGA

Silver Valley Girl prompted me and InlandEmpireGirl to post an essay exploring the following:

Pick a business in Kellogg where you used to "hang out" in junior high or high school and tell a story about an incident that happened at this location that was really memorable.
InlandEmpireGirl remembers scarfing Awful Awfuls at the Brunswick Cafe in Coeur d'Alene, here, and here, Silver Valley Girl takes readers back to Pappy's Pizza and a Powder Blue Cadillac in Kellogg.

A lull.

A handful of shoppers, most just grabbing a box of Oly or a six pack of Lucky Lager. No need for a boxboy.

The store's shelves were restocked.

It wasn't time to start sweeping and dry mopping the aisles.

Grab a Darigold crate.

Have a seat.

Let's shoot the shit.

My favorite hangout in high school was the stock room at the back of Stein Brothers' IGA where I worked as a boxboy for three years.

It didn't matter if it was Merle or ReillyJ or ReillyT or Boosh or Jimmy or Dickie or Dale or LeRoy or Chico or 'Sidro or Red or who it was, when Kellogg mothers had finished buying out the store and when the price changes were done or when the canned green bean display was built, I loved pinching a pint of chocolate milk or a cream puff in the bakery or a can of Pepsi from the cooler and pulling up a milk crate or a box of Carnation Evaporated Milk and sitting down with my fellow boxboys or bosses and shooting the shit at Stein Brothers' IGA on Hill and Cameron in Kellogg, Idaho.

We talked about Led Zeppelin and Neil Diamond, basketball games and biology tests; the National Football League and high school football; high school girls who came in the store, and the couple or three gorgeous checkers LeRoy always hired to keep customers coming in the store; we told jokes, lied, picked on each other, and kept our morale up.

The work at Stein Brothers' IGA wasn't bad. We carried customers' groceries to their cars, kept product on the shelves, incinerated scores of cardboard boxes, cleaned up broken jars of Nalley's Dill Pickles, delivered groceries to a handful of shut-ins, and kept track of weekly bargains and answered customers' questions.

But, it was hanging out in the stock room that I loved the most.

I still pull up a milk crate at work and shoot the shit now that I'm an English instructor at LCC.

Outside MB's office a small round table sits in the corner and from time to time MB and sometimes KZ and sometime PM and pull up a chair at this table and shoot the shit.

We talk about Pink Floyd and student essays and the politics of our workplace and we crack jokes and tell funny stories.

It keeps our morale up and makes our work sweeter.

Now my favorite place to hang out is the round table in the corner by MB's office. It's just like sitting on a box of Del Monte cling peaches in the stock room.

I get stuff off my chest, laugh, and learn about the world I live in in a way that keeping my nose to the grindstone denies me.

Like drinking pinched Pepsis with Merle and ReillyT, it's what makes the workplace a pleasure.

Three Beautiful Things 11/01/08: Back, Gary, John

1. I posted again today. That really felt good. I've been overwhelmed lately with work and I've been struggling with some fatigue, and it was invigorating to write a blog post again and feel back in this groove again.

2. I ran into Gary, a former student of mine at LCC, and his wife, Jennifer, who was also my student once, at Border's today. Gary took about five or six courses with me and we became good friends. He is a veteran of the Navy and a very bright guy. We've lost touch since he left LCC and graduated from the U. of Oregon with a couple of degrees. I hope our reunion means that we'll get back to having a cup of coffee or something together again. He's a great guy.

3. I ran into John at the store today. John is a photographer and used to do a lot of work at LCC, but rarely works there anymore. It was good to see him. He's been through some personal grief and had some health problems. When I told him he was looking a lot better today, he smiled and told me that, indeed, things were going better. That was really good news.

Sibling Assignment #77: Raymond, The Christian Skeptic

About three weeks ago, I assigned this prompt to my sisters and me:
In honor of the upcoming production by the Sixth Street Theater of the musical "Godspell" write a post explaining what your spiritual experience has been with "Godspell" and, if possible, how that experience is similar and/or different from your spiritual experience with "Jesus Christ Superstar".
Silver Valley Girl's post is here and here is InlandEmpireGirl's.

As I posted in my last piece, I live my life skeptically, never really knowing if what I see or hear or feel is true. I experience the world as an unsettled, unpredictable, puzzling, inconstant, fluid, riddling place where we live our lives acting on partial knowledge, fallible judgment, and fractured perceptions. It's humbling. As much as I'd like to think I'm knowledgeable, exercise keen judgment, and am impeccably perceptive, I'm not. I do the best I can, but I'm living in a fog. I think we all are.

Therefore, I am a Christian. I have to live by faith in a mysterious reality of resurrection and forgiveness. Otherwise, I'd go mad. By all scientific and social scientific measures, to live a life of faith in what I cannot see or touch or taste or hear or smell and by a reality that cannot be measured, is to be a fool.

I'm a fool. I'm a Christian fool.

Over the last couple of years or so, I've not been going to church, primarily because my struggles with depression combined with my introvertedness combined with the demands of my work make church attendance draining. It's weird. Church fatigues me.

But, two weeks ago, I recommitted myself to church worship again. After services both Sundays, I came home and slept for an hour or so.

Church still fatigues me.

But, entering again into the liturgy of the Anglican tradition and once again drinking the wine of the blood of Christ and eating the bread of Christ's body at the Communion rail invigorated my spirit, fatiguing as that might be.

Returning to church is awakening what I think is my most Christ-like quality: my skepticism.

And this brings me to "Godspell".

I saw "Godspell" the first time at Cowles Auditorium on the campus of Whitworth College (now University) during the summer of 1974. The performance was put on by a group of Christian actors giving benefit performances in various cities in support of Caesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers.

I'd heard that "Godspell" offended some Christians because Jesus is portrayed as a clown.

I thought it was perfect. Clowns are skeptics. Clowns subvert the world as we know it, taking what we assume to be true about the world and showing us, no, that's not true. There's more. We think a small car can only hold a couple of people. Then we discover a small car can hold a thousand clowns.

Jesus was skeptical of common understandings of the Law, of the human tendencies toward strife and grudges, of the what the world says is the place of the poor and the infirm and the prisoner.

He was skeptical of the finality of death. Where others saw finiteness, this clown Jesus saw eternity, everlasting life.

"Godspell" helped me understand the subversive nature of the parables. We expect the holy men to help the man beaten on the road to Jericho, but it's the slimy Samariatan who aids him; we expect the prodigal son to be yelled at and punished by his father, but he his return is celebrated, laviciously; the world would say that if a shepherd had ninety-nine out of a hundred sheep in tow, be satisfied. Ninety-nine out of a hundred ain't bad. Jesus subverts that idea. In the subversive Kingdom of God, the shepherd searches and seeks and doesn't rest until he's found his one lost sheep and returned it to the fold.

I don't remember all that Jesus the clown does in "Godspell". It's been too long since I've seen it. But as one who is skeptical of worldly values and of worldly pursuits as ends in themselves, Jesus as clown helped me see worldly values turned upside down.

I can't change the nature of the world I'm so skeptical of, but I can live in faith, seeing through the eyes of Jesus, seeing things in reverse, living by a reality that transcends the one I'm so skeptical of.

But, there's more.

Complementing the experience I had with "Godspell" was the very different experience of "Jesus Christ Superstar". I first saw Jesus Christ Superstar as a movie, first with Silver Valley Girl when she was about a fifth grader and then again my junior year at Whitworth when it was the Saturday night campus movie and Cowles Auditorium was packed.

I'd been told in my high school youth group at the United Church of Kellogg that I should be careful about seeing "Jesus Christ Superstar" or listening to its music.

The musical presented Jesus as human. The show did not portray the resurrection. It looked at Jesus as a product of his followers' public relations and marketing. Was Jesus Lord? Or was Jesus Christ a Superstar, a Beatle, Joe Namath, Mickey Mantle, Marilyn Monroe, or Marlon Brando?

Put another way, I began to think the musical was raising questions regarding what happens when Jesus, in the 2oth/21st century is not so much Jesus Christ the Lord, but Jesus Christ Superstar.

I saw "Jesus Christ Superstar" live in London in the summer of 1975.

Afterward, I walked the streets of the West End, questions erupting inside me about Jesus Christ.

Who are you?

Are you what they say you are?

Is it all hype?

I heard the voice of Mary Magdalene: "I don't know how to love Him."

My faith grew as I questioned, as I gave in to rather than suppressing my skepticism. I experienced spiritual expansion. I experienced God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost urging me to doubt more, to ask more questions.

"Jesus Christ Superstar" opened the way for my interrogative living of faith. Even these thirty-three years later, questioning is my chief way of knowing God through Jesus Christ.

I don't want to worship a Superstar.

I continue to do, as I did that night walking the streets of London: in the words of Paul, I work out my salvation with fear and trembling.