Thursday, July 31, 2003

A Religious Experience...

(first, let me just say again how irritating it is that Blogger is unable to handle posts from a state that doesn't go on Daylight Savings? 99.9% of the time, who cares... but when I post on my birthday, I want to see the dateline say "July 30, 2003" dammit.)

So last night I got an excellent t-shirt as a gift. (the second excellent t-shirt I've gotten this week; for the story of the first, click here.) It's a black shirt from goodwill, never worn, from the Baptist Bible College of Indianapolis. The back of the shirt has a number of quotes screened on it; a couple from the bible, perfectly nice firey quotes from Isaiah and such. Then there are the slightly more corny quotes that caused my friend to actually purchase this shirt for me:
"God meant the Bible to be bread for our daily use, not just cake for special occasions!"
You hear that, folks? The bible ain't cake. The other good one is "Be careful how you live, You can be the only Bible some people read." To which Karen suggests we add a footnote: "Now available in Braille!" Heck, I might just have to start a ministry with that...

Lest folks think I am an utterly sacreligious pig, I should point out that my philosophy of religion for my own life is quite in-depth--which is one of the reasons I find distillation of religion into t-shirt form so darn funny. Anyway, I went ahead and followed Tripp's link to the Belief-O-Matic, just to clarify where I stand in the grand scheme of things (other than poking fun at Baptist t-shirts.) After answering 20 questions about my beliefs and their priority in my life, here's my top 5:
1. Reform Judaism (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (99%)
3. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (98%)
4. Unitarian Universalism (96%)
5. Baha'i Faith (85%)

#3 surprised me a bit, just because it surprises me that it comes out only 2 % points different from Reform Judaism in my list, with the Quackers sandwiched in between. At any rate, it was interesting to me to see that nearly 20 years after deciding that Reform Judaism was the path I wanted to follow in my life, and after then spending those 20 years weaving back and forth on the issue of formal instruction and conversion, my core beliefs apparently still line up with where I thought I was going (philosophically) when I was 13. Maybe it's time I revisted this issue. OR, maybe I should look into Baha'i, just to make sure I'm not missing something.
No, I Didn't Fall In. Or, Happy Freakin' Birthday To Me!

I like to stretch my birthdays out. Especially after my depression at hitting 30, 3 years ago, I make it a mission to have the happiest freakin' birthdays possible. What makes me happy is being surrounded by friends, and doing something different than we usually do. This year being no exception, I planned a trip to Rustic Gardens, a mini golf course here in Indy that's been in operation since 1930. The course goes around an old farm yard, up hills and around trees and through the chicken coop, and it's just too cool to be believed. Only $2.50 for 18 holes, or $5 after 6. So I invited all my buds to come play mini golf with me, and then to go to the Broad Ripple Brewpub for food and beer and friend time.

BUT, now here's the best part, today was also "Seasonal Gardener Appreciation Day" at the zoo. That is to say, all our gardener bosses held a pitch-in for the seasonal help. We had masses and masses of food, and then--joy of joys!--we got to go over to the Marine Mammal building and have a personal encounter with the walruses and dolphins. I got to pet a goddam walrus today!! A WALRUS!!! It was amazing. They're very smart and darn cute to boot. The dolphin was cool as well, though more kind of nervous and shy. I'd always been told that touching a dolphin feels like touching a wet balloon, and I'd have to say that's true. But a >living< wet balloon, which is totally different from the ordinary kind. The walrus was kind of velvety and wet, and the whiskers (called vibrissae, I believe) are like really thick fishing line. It was just amazingly cool, and an excellent way to spend my birthday. Oh, and I got a twinkie with a candle in it from Kyle and Emily, and a personally drawn birthday card from Emily as well with a picture of me complaining about my advancing age.

Then after work it was the mini golf, which of course I did badly at--Andy W. and Francie tied in our foursome for the win, and i think Stephen trounced the other group but I never did hear the final scores there. Then at the Brewpub I had no less than 12 of my pals hanging out with me, and I can't imagine a better way to spend my time. So was it a good birthday? Abso-friggin-lutely.

Friday, July 04, 2003

President Bush Stole My Flag!

Here it is July 4, and I, a patriotic American, feel cheated out of my independence. In the last couple years--particularly since 9/11--the American flag has been usurped by the present administration as a symbol of support for our current "Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!" foreign policy. Here in Indiana (presumably elsewhere too) the flag is plastered over T-shirts, in car windows, and on bumper stickers proudly proclaiming "Don't Mess with the U.S.!" and other idiotic slogans. The greater global good philosophy of the 90's has been tossed out the window, and our flag has become a symbol of an isolationist, love-us-or-we'll-kick-your-ass approach to world politics. So if I, a thoughtful American for whom the flag repesents free speech, due process, and democracy, were to fly an American flag from my house today, it would be taken by passersby as a statement of support for an administration I didn't vote for. This, despite the fact that many recent actions taken by this administration demonstrate their total LACK of regard for free speech, due process, and even democracy (as seen from the very beginning, in Florida's ballot fiasco.) My flag's symbolism has been stolen from me, and Mr. Bush is the culprit.

Two political blog entries in a row. See what happens when I don't have anything else to write about? Right, well, I'm off to make some non-partisan, non-mayonnaise-based potato salad and enjoy the 90 degree Indiana summer afternoon at a pitch-in. Happy Independence Day, everybody!