Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I had to put my dog, Patches, to sleep yesterday. I am devastated.

I sort of thought that I wouldn't be. She had a good, pretty long life, and I have two younger dogs who demand much more attention that she did over the last few years.

Still, it was really horrible. I've actually put two other dogs to sleep in the last 18 months (ugh! what a terrible thing to have lots of in your life!) - a puppy who I had had less than a week who had parvo, and my mom's dog, who I'd found at college and who had recently been living with friends of mine.

But she was my baby, and you can't imagine how much worse it is. I got her when she was about one and a half, in 1994. We've been through lots together.

*A dog bite on her back (& trip to the emergency vet)
*A swallowd bottle of ibuprofen (prescription!) (& trip to the emergency vet)
*The breakup of my first relationship (actually, all of my relationships)
*Four cats
*Numerous other dogs (I was always trying to get a second one, she said "no" a lot)
*The time she jumped over a wall at the river and ended up in a drainage pipe outlet - she won't swim, so I basically had to get in the river (in december!) and go around and get her.
*The (barbed) fishhook she got in her mouth (at the river - I actually managed to get it out without damaging anything!)
*The time she jumped off a ledge at the river, and couldn't jump back up, it took me forever to get my scarf around her middle and hoist her back up (during which a helpful woman walked by and told me a dog had died falling down that hill recently)

I almost stopped taking her to the river, but I never did, we all went on thanksgiving.

This photo is more than ten years old (twelve?). There was a willow tree in the yard that for a while had one regular trunk and one stump that was about 5' tall. She was really good at running up the side of the stump, and loved to stand in the tree. The other part fell over in a storm within the year, and it took us ages to deal with it, so it was a great doggy playground.

I didn't name her Patches. I tend towards human-type names for dogs myself. But she already had it, and knew it, and it fit her so well. I'm sad that I will never have to explain that to anyone anymore.

I found myself really really wishing for the afterlife that I don't believe in. So that I could believe I would see her again, that she's happy somewhere instead of just gone.


Friday, November 24, 2006

"The God Delusion" - musings

I just finished reading Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion. I liked it pretty well. I find Dawkins mostly fun to read, and quite talented (usually) at making things like the science of evolution make a little more sense to me than they did before. I also find him sort of annoying and condescending. Though I tend to agree with him on many things, I find that his presentation comes off as a bit too self-satisfied. In that past I have thought he spent a bit too much time harping on how stupid one would have to be to accept biblical creation as the true story. This book seems much the same to me.

The biggest point that I'm left with this time is that he is arguing that we should do away with God and religion. I don't so much mind this proposition (as I understand it) but see no practical way to implement it. Also, he makes a very clear point that people who are "religious" in a fundamentalist sense are often poorly educated, and that fundamentalism is dangerous. He seems to think that we can get rid of fundamentalism by getting rid of religion (by......?) but doesnt' go into what those poorly educated people will do with whatever longing led them to fundamentalism in the first place.

In any case, my real point was more about the personal effect it had on me. Early on he makes a distinction between 'supernatural religion' and 'Einsteinian religion'

The latter being pretty well summed up by this quote from Einstein,

"I am a deeply religious nonbeliever... I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism. The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive."

This actually does a really good job of summing up part of my spirituality. Except for the use of the words "religion" and "mysticism" I myself interpret religion to mean unthinking acceptance of doctrinal or scriptural "rules" or "truth" that stand without evidence to support them. This is clearly (well, I think clearly) not what he meant.

Mysticism, on the other hand, for me, has something to do with transcending the "usual" - feelings of exceptional connectedness, and/or awe, which to me seem completely compatible with nature as God (or any non-supernatural interpretation of "God") Perhaps the meanings of the words have subtlely shifted over time, or simply between the minds of Einstein and me.

I am left, however, sort of high and dry, as usual. I tried to discuss this experience with each of my two exes. One seemed not to want to hear about it because atheism is a big turn off, the other because spirituality is completely uninteresting. Where does a spiritual atheist find a spiritual home?

Dawkins himself does little to address this for me. He himself seems quite ready to find a sort of spiritual wonder in the unravelling of quarks and other scientific ideas that are beyond my understanding, and what's more, mostly beyond my interest.

I find spiritual renewal and excitement in nature - swimming in isolated, clear, beautiful lakes, watching and hearing (and sometimes feeling) a thunderstorm, just being aware of the ocean. These can by mystical (but not religious) experiences for me.

Understanding these things can be kinda cool (why thunder happens, the amazing vastness of the ocean and all the life within it that we don't understand) - but that is not a spiritual experience. Science is no substitute for this God, this wonder, but then the God in the Bible most certainly isn't. I am amazed at how few people I have encountered who share this experience.

I said once, when I was discussing this stuff with Liz, that it's like a baby being born is a miracle. It's not supernatural, we know how to get it to happen, and we know a lot about how it happens (zygotes and embryos and genes and all)- and that doesn't affect the miraculousness of it at all.

At the same time, knowing all that stuff, being a genius to embryology, or unlocking some new key to conception, is not anything like birth.

I don't believe "God" (in the sense of a being with intent) makes miracles happen, and I do believe that given infinite time and resources, science could explain them all (meaning that they are theoretically explicable without "God", but probably won't ever all be so) - but neither has any bearing on the miraculousness of the miracles themselves. To me there's an immense amount of power of spirit there, but sometimes I feel almost entirely alone in witnessing it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Blog Meme Thingamabob

So, Robin didnt' tag me, but I wanted to do this thingy from her blog anyway:

1. Grab the nearest book. If you are currently reading something, that'll be fine too.

2. Open the book to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your Blog along with these instructions.

5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet I know that is what you were thinking!

6. Tag 5 people

"Newcharlie sighed and looked out over the block. "Whatever."
"I felt real old when he said that, like I'd spent all my life standing in that doorway trying to get him to listen to me. My head felt heavy, and the sun was too bright in my eyes. When I closed then, Mama was there again, holding the leaf out to me."

It's from Miracle's Boys by Jaqueline Woodson. I just finished another book by her as well, but it's less than 123 pages long (they're teen fiction)

This book was chosen by the library to be some sort of Minneapolis reading club book - like what if everyone in the city read the same book? we could all talk about it with random strangers I guess. I really like the idea, though I doubt I'll talk about the book to anyone I don't already know.

I'm about to return this book to the library

(PS - I'm not into the tagging thing, you're all tagged if you want to be, not if you don't!) comment here and let me know if you do it)


Monday, November 13, 2006

Miss me?

So, I'm thinking I'm maybe ready to blog again, but not really sure.

As to:

*What is the point of blogging?

*Do I have anything remotely useful to say to the larger community?

*Am I a quaker blogger? (being, I AM a blogger who is a member of a quaker meeting, but I am bored and frustrated by too much quaker history or, for lack of a better word, dogma. As a f/Friend put it so well recently, "I'm not so excited about Quakerism. I'm excited about GOD, but not really about quakerism" (yes!)

*If I'm not a quaker blogger, what sort of blogger am I? Or do I want to be? I have toyed with the idea of being an eco-blogger, a vegan-blogger (damn, not vegan yet though!), an animal rights blogger, a confused about love and romance blogger, a whiney blogger, a meaning of life (or lack of it) blogger, and I could probably go on and on.... oh, a queer blogger (though being queer is so uninteresting really, if certain people would just get over it, there would be little to say)