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Dent de Lion! June 6, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death, macro photos.
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Ah, the lowly dandelion, bane of the Chem-lawn crowd, delight of de little ones.

“Do you like butter?  …Oh yes, you do like butter!!”

It’s so ubiquitous as to be nearly invisible to the average passer-by, to the extent that I have no photos of its fulsome blossoms from 2010.  And as I chose not to spend all night looking for the photos which I know I do have, I’ll cut right to the chase:  it’s the ghost of the dandelion which most captivates the child in us all, its gossamer globe glowing in whatever light encounters it:

…its stem popping crisply as it’s picked, bleeding sticky whiteness where your pinky meets your palm, and then, held up close to amazed eyes, a new universe unfolds with a complexity and clarity worthy of Edwin Hubble or Carl Sagan, presaging Buckminster Fuller by a million years:

If one needs proof that there is a God, one need look no farther.

And then, with a mighty puff from a child’s tiny lips, this earth-bound constellation explodes in a super-nova of delight, to be scattered on the wind, to begin again its miracle to the wide-eyed delight of some other child.

They’re going to come in waves throughout the summer, Dear Friends.  And when they do, pull over, get a little bit sticky, and send them on their way.

Speed Limit. March 12, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, poetry.
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In a car, it’s a really good idea;

On a beam of light, it’s immutable:

186, 282.39705 miles per second.

That would get you a long way in a short while,

Except that you can’t do it.

Bill Gates can’t do it;

Superman either,

Because at 99.9% of that speed,

Your mass has been multiplied by a factor of seven

Without even changing the size of your pants.

And at 99.9999999% of that speed,

Seven decimal places if you’re counting,

Your mass has increased 360,000-fold,

Time has slowed to a crawl,

And space is constricting around you

Like a  starving anaconda.

And if you have the audacity to summon

The collective energies of a billion stars

And push on, faster, faster,

Things will get a bit strange;

Your mass will grow toward infinity as space loses all meaning, and

Time will cease to exist as you consume all the energy that is, and

You will be everywhere at once,

And nowhere at once,




To God.

Let There Be Light!

A Few More From The Museum. February 21, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death, Politics and Society.
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The lower floor of the Amherst College Museum of Natural History is festooned with slabs of stone, historical records of How Things Were a hundred million years ago:

The odd lighting is designed to emphasize the subtle undulations of stone surfaces shaped by their environment eons ago, including interference ripples from a clay lake bed:

…and the imprints of those who came here long before us, and preceeded us into the historical record:

Our legacy, as observed from a hundred million years in the future, will likely be that we’re viewed less as a benign phase of existence and more as a cause of the massive extinctions and upheaval which are, on a geological time line, just around the bend.

And so it goes.

If our judges are of a species and mind to forgive us our trespasses on the grounds that we were too stupid to know better, we’ll go down in history as bumbling idiots.

But if there is a God, and if He really expected us to be shepherds of His creation, we’re totally fucked.

The Church Of All That Exists November 22, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, Politics and Society.
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Those of you who’ve had the poor judgment to spend any amount of time here probably know that I’m a Recovering Catholic. I was reared in an over-the-top Catholic home, went to church and Sunday school, said my prayers before bed and Loved Jesus.

But a schism developed when I was a teenager. I had learned about too many Crusades, too many Inquisitions. I saw too much money flowing inexorably upward, from the frayed pockets of The Poor to the Gilded Basilicas of the Vatican. There was too much dogma, too much hypocrisy, too much disregard for Earthly suffering, too much finger-pointing, too many distortions.

There was too much othering.

Even back then, this was important to me, not as a concept with a word attached, but as a visceral feeling of something-not-quite-right.

So I left the Church and wandered in the wilderness, coming to rest before too long in the strong arms of Mother Earth and the warm light of Father Sky. I wrapped myself in Nature, and found it to be a tapestry woven of All That Exists, with nothing superfluous and nothing lacking.

And I saw that it was good.

I’m happy to say that I’m not alone, here in the Church of All That Exists. I’m rubbing elbows with all the good people who now live or ever have lived, and all the flawed people who ever strove to be good. People of peace and love and vices, people of empathy and compassion and countless human failings. The living and the dead, the children of the future, the Ancient Forgotten Ones.

The Peacemakers are here, not in perfection, but in intent. Siddhartha is here, teaching about letting go of the material world, and about having respect for all living things. Gandhi, with his bullet hole, is here; his wife has forgiven him. Dr. King is here, still advocating for social and racial justice, though it astounds him that so many still cannot see.

He’s listening intently, sadness in his eyes, to the contrite tales of nineteen young Muslims who learned to fly, but not to land, because they believed their God demanded that of them, that they give their lives for social justice, as had Martin two generations before. I feel them struggling beneath the weight of the innocent souls surrounding them, asking “Why? Why me?”

There is no right answer, at least not a clear one. The Church Of All That Exists ask only about intent.

“What were you thinking?

“Were you giving of yourself, or were you taking from those with less?”

The Lion is here, lying down with the Lamb in its jaws, doing only what it must to survive. There is no evil in its heart, no malice in its mission.

But not all who live, not all who do, not all who take will be welcome here. The Rumsfelds who sit at a safe distance as they send their neighbors’ children off to die for the profits of the already rich will not be here. The Hitlers who categorize and contain and exterminate for the attainment of their own goals will not be here. The Cheneys who sneer at the pitiful poor who are ground into dust by their For-Profit-War-Machines will not be here. The Phelpses who revel in the suffering and deaths of others who are not like them will not be here.

Nor is my tenure here certain, guaranteed, preordained. My love of All That Exists is not enough. To stay here, to live and die and remain in this place, I must own it, embrace it, commit to it, to the air and the water, the rocks and the trees, the lion and the lamb, and the people. Caring is a necessary first step, but it’s trying to make a difference that makes my bed here.

There are many different paths to this understanding. Some have frescoed ceilings and gilded statuary; others have the humble trappings of a neighbor’s house. Some have choirs and pipe organs; others have the deep stillness of the Silence of Friends.

Mine has a dome of stars, patient and serene, with thin clouds scuttling by, their edges back-lit by a waxing moon. Mine has the low moan of wind over the surrounding hills, and nearer, the rattle of beech leaves refusing to fall. Mine has the bracing cold of hoar-frosted moss, crisply crumbling beneath my knees, penetrating my jeans with an awareness of this world as I bow down to my Mother Earth, humbled beneath my Father Sky, asking for a way to make a difference.

I know it won’t be easy, but on this Thanksgiving Eve, I’m grateful to The Church Of All That Exists for teaching me that I must try.