short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ticket Trouble

It seems like time for some humor in my life, and hopefully in yours, too. So, here is another of Doah's stories.

Mommy travels a lot, so you would think that she would learn how to handle airports and tickets—but she does not. I guess she is a slow learner. She keeps making mistakes about which airport to go to, when to go, and where her ticket is.

Very recently, she had flown into Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC without incident. Wow! A first! She was so pleased. When she returned, she went to the airport early. That was a first, too. She usually runs in at the last minute. She was so proud. Moreover, there was no line as she walked up to the counter to get the boarding pass for her electronic ticket.

"I am on your noon flight to Phoenix," she told the ticket agent.

"That cannot be," the ticket agent replied. "We have no flight to Phoenix."

"But," Mommy protested, "You must have. I have a noon flight listed on my itinerary." She handed the itinerary to the ticket agent.

The ticket agent looked at the itinerary, then looked at Mommy rather strangely. "Ma'am," he said, pointing with his finger, "You do have a noon flight, but not from here. It is from Baltimore-Washington International Airport." Oops!

That, of course, was a little better than the time Mommy arrived at Domodedovo Airport in Moscow, en route to Siberia. She looked and looked for her ticket, but it was nowhere to be found. Oops! That was a problem because she did not have very much money with her. In fact, she had just enough money to buy a one-way ticket to Siberia. She figured she could somehow get back from Krasnoyarsk, the city she was going to in Siberia, and she did.

A one-way ticket to Siberia was something that Mommy got a lot of times. Mommy really likes to travel to Siberia. She likes it so much that she will even go on a one-way ticket. Some people get sent to Siberia, or at least they did in the old days, which weren't all that long ago. That was a different kind of one-way ticket, but my Mommy is not at all worried about getting stuck there.

Once, with my sister, she went to Akademgorodok in Siberia on a one-way ticket deliberately. She figured she could get a ticket back while she was there. So, one day she and my sister took the bus from Akademgorodok to the airport. Everything worked out well, and Mommy soon had return tickets. She went outside to catch the bus back, but there was no bus stop to Akademgorodok. She asked some people about that. Yes, they told her, the bus comes here from there, but it does not return. Mommy is sure a one-way Mommy!

Another time she was at the airport in Kemerovo in Siberia with my brother. She was very proud of herself because she had gone to Kemerovo on a roundtrip ticket.

"This is the first time I've been in Siberia with a return ticket," she bragged to my brother.

He looked at the ticket and said, "Don't be so sure, Mom. This ticket is for yesterday." Poor Mommy! She just cannot get out of Siberia very easily. (She says that Siberia has always been a difficult place to leave.)

Conclusion: Before you leave home, make sure you have your ticket, but if you do not have it, go, anyway. It may be an interesting experience.

This story is excerpted from a collection of vignettes that I helped Doah, my severely mentally challenged youngest son, to write and publish several years ago (copyright 2003). It was my attempt to help him understand literacy and the purpose of writing and reading.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Angel's Instructions

There once was a man who was traveling through the desert. The journey took longer than he expected and soon all his provisions were gone except for a small jug of water and a loaf of bread. An angel carrying water and food was sent with this command: "When he drinks the rest of his water and eats his last loaf of bread, give him the water and food."

And so the angel observed the man from a distance, waiting for him to drink his water and eat his loaf of bread. But the man was so afraid of finishing his supplies and being left with nothing that he simply couldn't get himself to do so. Whenever he was about to drink or eat, he would say to himself, "But what will happen to me if I were to finish my water or eat my last loaf of bread? I must hold on to them, they are all I have left."

And so he would continue to walk and the angel would continue to observe from a distance.

Sometime before sunset, the man collapsed on the sand. In one hand, he held that very last loaf of bread, and in the other, that small jug of water. The angel, still carrying the food and water, kept on observing until it was clear that the man had died.

"How strange are the children of Adam," the angel said as it ascended to the sky.

The above story is excerpted from a book, Metaphors of Islamic Humanism, by my friend, Dr. Omar Imady, copyright 2005. I originally posted it on Blest Atheist but felt it would be better posted here since I have subsequently posted other stories here from the same book.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Escaping the Design

A man who lived in Baghdad once saw the angel of death in the market. It was obvious that the angel of death was staring at him.

"He must have come to take me," the man said to himself. "I must escape!"

And so the man went quickly to the governor's house who was his friend. "You must help me. The angel of death is here in Baghdad. He has come to take me."

The governor said, "How would you like me to help you my friend?"

"Send me, send me away on your fastest horse to Damascus."

And so the governor ordered that the fastest horse in Baghdad was to be given to his friend. In only three days, a record speed, the man arrived in Damascus! No sooner had he arrived, however, than he saw the angel of death near the eastern gate.

"You actually are here," the angel said.

"What could you possibly mean?"

"Well, I was very surprised to see you in a market in Baghdad because I knew that I was supposed to take your soul three days later in Damascus. How you managed to get here this fast is beyond my comprehension!"

The above story is excerpted from a book, Metaphors of Islamic Humanism, by my friend, Dr. Omar Imady, copyright 2005. I originally posted it on Blest Atheist but felt it would be better posted here since I have subsequently posted other stories here from the same book.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I Am The Root of All Evil

I am everywhere: I infect your daily life; I appear at nearly every turn, at every transaction. My power is immense: I make decisions for you; I determine victories in war; I determine what is produced, what is not and who gets what. I overthrow governments, subjugate poor populations and exploit the natural resources of the planet, leaving environmental ruins in my wake. I am money. I am the new God.

My actual material make-up seems harmless enough. I most often appear as a mere scrap of paper, yet my shape takes many forms. I can appear as a bank statement, a check, a gift certificate,a winning lottery ticket,a plastic credit card, even a surreal maelstrom of billions and trillions of electrons that are fired across the planet every single day in a matter of seconds. I maintain an illusion of interest, an unbiased objective tool, a mere medium of exchange. But I am much more than that.

A geographical analysis of the world reveals how the operation of the current social organization that humans have chosen is structured to accentuate my power. Cities are located largely on sea ports, perfectly positioned to ease my movement from one port to another, from one country to another. Millions, perhaps billions, of miles of cables have been laid, satellites have been launched into orbit, and microwave communications have been developed in order to better accommodate my electronic flow.
Walk through the downtown section of any major city in the world and look up at the buildings. Not even a hundred years ago, the tallest buildings were churches of another faith. Now they are temples erected in my name: banks, institutions that produce absolutely nothing and exist only to further my power.

Christianity itself, the dominant ideology of the western world for the last millennium, has waned in the face of my new religious following. Historically, we know that early coins emerged from temples, and the word Moneta, “She who warns,” was the title of the goddess Juno, whose temple was used by the Romans as a worship to make coins.

People purchase goods with me, get paid for their work with me, and regularly invest me in order to increase my power. The word used to describe my system—Capitalism—is just another way of saying moneyism. People worship me every single day of their lives, not just once a week on Sunday. Large returns are a sign of my blessing.

The United States of America has declared itself the crusading paladin of my faith. America is the self-proclaimed protector of my sacred church: the free market. Any person, organization or country that holds views at odds with my religion will be destroyed in my name. The Cold War was largely a manifestation of this crusade.
Marx’s communism was the largest and most powerful heresy and therefore required obliteration to satisfy me. It’s not the authoritarianism of Marxism that was blasphemous. Many brutally authoritarian governments in Latin America have the blessing of my archangel, the United States. Even the ostensibly Communist countries, such as China, have my favor. It is heresy against me that is not allowed.

I have a way of perpetuating my power, even by those who remain unconscious of my power. I am a mere scrap of paper, yet I gain power in every time you use me. I am worthless unless I am transacted. This is the beauty of me—if you posses me, you must worship me. It’s like an addiction: once you join my system, you can’t exit. Consumerism breeds more consumerism.

My church is changing everything. Anything that is not ready to sell must be transformed into a commodity. Only then can I grow. The environment is worthless unless it is exploited, creating capital and thus enlarging my congregation. I care not for the destruction of ecosystems. I need only production and consumption.
I have changed the entire way society looks at itself. People used to grow food to eat, wove clothes to wear, and built shelters to live in. Now, everything is done for me. People don’t work with the idea that what they are doing is necessary to themselves and the commodity at large. They are merely fulfilling an individualistic need to worship me.

Even better, people are no longer human beings. They are mere cogs in my great machine. The more a person can conform to this reality, the more holy a person becomes and therefore receives more of my favors. People are referred to as “consumers” or “producers.” Read the newspaper. It never reports that “a human being died today.” No, instead it might report that “a doctor died” or “the President died” or “a police officer died.”People are defined by how well they worship me. Those that worship more are remembered more than those who worship very little. Bill Gates, my new high priest, is well known, but who is the guy on the downtown street corner? I do not care, and neither will you.

If I did not have this power, why is it that millions of people starve and billions go malnourished daily while the world produces more than enough food to adequately feed everyone? Why is it that a person must go without necessary medical attention merely for the fact that he or she hasn’t the means to properly worship me? I am so very powerful.

The most important element of this faith is the fact that it is nearly impossible for members of my religion to even envision a world without the father, the son and the holiest of ghosts: private property, money, and the so-called free market. Language has been constructed to discourage such an undertaking. Any words that were created to describe a society structured differently, without me, have been altered with negative connotations or have been forgotten—words like socialism, anarchism, collectivism, solidarity, mutual aid, and autonomy.

There have been heretics through the ages, such as Gerard Winstanley of England, Jean Varlet of France, Peter Kropotkin of Russia, Emma Goldman of the United States, and Che Guevara of Argentina, who have dared to dream, but I had them harassed, brutalized or murdered for their optimism. Just as heretics of the Catholic Church were erased from memory, so too, these prophets have been removed from the history books by my new inquisition.

I am God; I am money; and in God you will trust.

This essay was written by Hana Qashu, a student of mine in a senior-year Writing for Publication course I taught at a university in Jordan, and published in a collection of stories written by people living in the Middle East at the time. I thought folks in the West might find it interesting to see how a talented young girl in the Middle East thinks.

About Me

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I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.