Please, my written work is intended only for the stable, sane and peaceful. It is not for everybody. 



Following are excerpts from my 2001 Book What the Fire Said. They document the time I came to the understanding that the beast comes to power inside the computer network. It also relates my ideas on fire, story, society, technology and a number of other subjects. The original work was 400 pages. I narrowed it down to 250...so grab some popcorn!---Sand



Just so you know, the title" What the Fire Said" has recently been appropriated by an occultist web site that has nothing to do with me or my ideas...quite unrelated obviously.



What the Fire Said

Sand Sheff




Preface to Original Edition

I put the finishing touches on this book (preparing the cover and completing the editing) in Bluff, Utah on the 9th and 10th of September, 2001. On the 11th, a terrible crime was committed against the people of the United States of America, apparently by religious fanatics who murder in the name of God. Against that awful backdrop I offer up this book.

This book is a work of faith and logic. It is also a warning about the effects of certain technologies peculiar to our modern society. It is intended to contribute to a conversation about the nature of our story. I do not offer it as a comfort to those who seek the violent disruption of our social order. Such callous slaughter is against our instincts and against our religions. There are violent people out there, but there are many more who are not, from all faiths and races. Terrorism works hand in hand with a larger evil, a greater darkness which is the longtime companion and enemy of our humanity.

This world, this existence, this history, can be construed as a Story of some kind. This is not a slide into random chaos, but rather a progression of the evolution of vast powers (political, philosophical, social and spiritual), a historical progression that holds some kind of meaning.

We have an opportunity to shift the direction of this story by using the very religions, common sense and intuitive faiths that have grown in our bloodlines. The political manifestations of our religions have always been dangerous, because they are quickly and thoroughly corrupted by power and greed. It is political forces that justify bloodshed with holy texts. There are few truly “religious wars”, but wars for territory, resources and power are often accompanied by religious talk and “God is with us“ boasting. There is a great dishonesty lurking behind most modern conflicts.

But this is a story, it turns out. That doesn’t mean it appears fair or nice. It rarely has. But there are forces at work here which no one can truly reckon. There are ways to be on the right side of this story. Being a peacemaker is one of them. Being brave is another.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found” (Isaiah 55:6)

America is the great story of freedom. We can still be an example of good will for the rest of the world.

Sand 9-18-2001









Section I—Back Out West

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord from the belly of the fish, saying:

“ I called to the Lord, out of my distress,

And he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried.

And thou did hear my voice.

For thou had cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas,

And the flood was round about me;

All thy waves and thy billows passed over me.

Then I said: ‘ I am cast out from thy presence;

How shall I again look upon thy holy temple?

…Yet thou did bring up my life from the Pit, O Lord my God.

When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord;

And my prayer came to thee, into thy holy temple.

Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their true loyalty.

But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to thee;

What I have vowed I will pay.

Deliverance belongs to the Lord!”

And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited out

Jonah upon the dry land.

Jonah 2





Introduction

I suppose it’s vanity for me to think that my words make any difference in the story. But then I suppose it’s vanity for anyone to think that way. After all, didn’t the Preacher say: “All is vanity and a striving after wind ”? Behold my vanity, my striving after wind.

It’s either a testament to truth or the ravings of madness. Or both. Or neither. It doesn’t really make any difference to me now. These words are formed, out of my sight, in the furnace of my blood. If my blood has knowledge, is it really my knowledge? I don’t know where I begin or end. I suppose we’d all like to get to the bottom of that mystery too, but that is not the point of this story.

We often seek to not be too different from our tribe-so that we will not be abandoned or singled out. We may wander through our days hoping not to be seen too clearly, aware that we cast a shadow, and that all men can see it. We don’t know how to excuse that shadow, because we can’t. I have a shadow that’s grown during my years on this earth, but I can no longer use it as an excuse to be cowardly. If the world sees just that shadow and not my form, or will not listen when I try and speak to them in the will of God, there is nothing I can do about it. I have faith there is a reason for all of this, and I know better than to turn back now.

If a man does not speak what he knows he should speak, or if he fears the consequences of his words, there is always one who will gladly speak for him. Those who claim to speak for us in this social arrangement are usually paid to do so, often by forces that do not necessarily value human dignity. It is all too apparent that many of these “storytellers” are not telling the truth. Someone or something is bending over backwards to lie about who and what we are.

I pray for peaceful discourse, trusting in the wisdom of the angels of our better nature, believing upon the balance of freedom and order.

If my vanity is vanity, it is mine to bear. Words are not tyrants. They are words.

I’m sitting on a rock by a dripping spring in the heart of a still and blessed desert. I haven’t spoken to anyone in 12 days. This is as honest as I get. I love life. I treasure hope. I give all glory to God and I do not know what that thing called an I is anymore, dissolving as one does into dust and water, blood and story.

Sand

San Juan Canyon

3-16-2001





What The Fire Said –part one


I first saw the fire blow up on Mesa Verde from about forty miles away. I was high up in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, just below Potato Lake, near the Twilight Peaks. You could only see a long, growing plume of smoke from that distance. I couldn’t quite tell where it was coming from. All I knew was that there hadn’t been any smoke when I started up the mountain earlier and now the column was many miles long, running along the southwest horizon. A smaller fire burned much closer to me there in the inaccessible canyon walls of the Rio Animas (river of souls). The wind was strong and hot. I had been hiking for a few hours. Actually I was more drifting than hiking, stumbling through the bone-dry aspen and spruce forest, trying to loosen my burdens, my troubles of the past few days and weeks and years.

The mountains are a good place to feel free, and I began to taste that freedom replacing a bitter taste in my throat.

I had left Nashville two weeks before, or a little more than ten weeks before this writing. I had grabbed what I could grab with two hands and left the rest of my life behind. I left a promising, if often stunted, music career, a personal life, an old rented farm house (slated for demolition) at the end of what was once a country road (now lined with mini-mansions and teeming with bulldozers) just beside a nice country river (which barely flows anymore because the rain can’t keep up with all the water demands of the new developments). We had a nice garden and landscaping business- good money, good clientele. I had just finished and was trying to pitch the compact disc which I felt sure would truly launch my career. I had a Nashville producer who put his heart and pocketbook and time behind my music. We had the world-class studio musicians and there were gold and platinum records on the wall, and I would sip expensive whisky and watch the wavelengths of my voice appear in colored graphs across the pro tools monitor. I would hear my voice digitally arranged and amplified on incredibly expensive equipment, mixed and mastered. Music, sweet music. And I was dreaming of the Big Time, or at least the medium time, or at least some time that I thought had been promised me once upon a time. I was waiting for the pay-off. Any day now, I figured. Why else had I acquired $20,000 in credit card debt and spent five years in Nashville “paying my dues”? Why else did God plant songs in my head, if not to sing them? Why else write and sing them if I could not make a living at it? I suppose I believed in the will of God, and I came to believe that it was God’s will I should succeed in Nashville.

But I was miserable much of the time. I felt like I was banging my head against a cage. The closer I got to my goals, the further away they would move. Each blessing seemed followed by a curse that broke the spirit of my dreams. I was dancing a frustrating dance with my own desire. Only it was desire leading this dance. I saw my home life as impossible, my work as a prison, and my creativity being channeled through a machine, both literally and figuratively. Periodically, music industry honchos would flatter me with their attentions at first, and then inexplicably turn away. I thought it was going to make me crazy. I worked for more than two years on my record, as carefully crafted a project as I’m ever likely to be a part of. When I laid it before the industry men, they said it was missing “the hit”. So, I worked feverishly to write the hit. Then and only then (I thought) could my destiny be fulfilled. I wrote some bad songs trying to write the hit. I never wrote the hit.

The day I left, the computer was supposed to arrive at the house special delivery. It was going to be a nice, new Macintosh in some pretty color. I had decided to purchase it while I was a little tipsy two nights before. I’d never actually owned a real computer before. I figured I’d need it to keep track of what were sure to be fantastic sales of my new record, for sitting on the kitchen table was the first real contract I’d ever been offered in the music industry. It was an Internet company called blahblah.com who represented many alternative country and older country acts in the cyber realm. They liked my music. They were very personable, enthusiastic and committed. They could get my music distributed in a way I’d only dreamed of-worldwide! They had a team of promotions folks to try and get me on the radio. They would advertise me on their web site, do digital downloads, etc… Plus the profit sharing was a straight fifty-fifty, which is a great deal for an artist when you’ve got someone else doing all that work for you.

All I had to do was to sign over my “ digital rights” to them for three years. That sounded easy enough, considering I didn’t know what a digital right was. I still don’t. The contract was sitting, unsigned, on the table when I left.

On the morning I left that world, the computer was on its way to my home, and I was about to cut a deal between my dreams and the computer. Neither of these apparently random facts hit me until much later. I don’t remember what was going through my mind the morning I left, only that I could not stay there any longer.

I left everything behind. I left an ungodly mess for someone else to pick up. I grabbed my backpack, my guitar, fiddle and a mandolin, a change of clothes, a box of old master tapes and my handgun. I am not proud of abandoning that life, but that is my trouble. I threw what I grabbed in the truck, left at dawn, and have not been back since. That was ten weeks ago.

Interstate 24 to I-57, switch to 64 into St. Louis. It was July 11th. Onto Interstate 70 into Kansas City, through the seething metropolis across the great fenced prairie. Crazily pushing the “seek” button on the radio of my 1989 Ford Ranger, headed back west.

On the way back out west, there were moments when my mind vaguely considered using that handgun on myself. I’d had that urge before. It all seemed so pointless and so painful. Between the suffering I’d caused and the suffering I felt, life seemed cursed. I can’t share all my sorrows. I don’t want to. They don’t matter anymore. I can’t write for you what my mind sounded like. I can’t write for you what my life felt like. I was standing at the edge of The Pit again, watching my childhood dreams die. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ever lived through such a thing.

All through the night, lightning crashed onto the plains of western Kansas. Fantastic surreal forked bolts breaking upon the dark prairie’s horizon. Sheets of rain. Hypnotic radio evangelists. The repetitive refrains of the Top 40 country stations. By the time I made the rest area in Deer Trail, Colorado, the storm had passed. I had driven twenty-one hours, stopping only for gas. I slept for a couple of hours on the rest area lawn and awoke to a perfect dawn. You could almost see the mountains a hundred miles away. I took my time crossing the Rockies and saw a couple of old friends along the way.

On July 14th, 2000, I drove my truck deep onto a forest road in the direction of the Flat Tops Wilderness. The next day, high upon the mountain, in a field of wildflowers, by a spring that trickled through mud crossed by bear tracks, I found out that I could forgive and be forgiven. I had found mercy in the arms of my Creator. That was July 15th. As I found out later, those were the days the earth was engulfed by the largest solar storm in eleven years. My “religious” conversion could have been a reaction to sunspots. Who knows? There is an eternity of explanations for any single moment. I’m just relating what happened.

I left the mountain feeling renewed but still without any idea of what I should do. I was living in my truck, sleeping on the ground. Nobody knew where or who I was anymore. I drifted to the Four Corners, where I have friends and my heart has a home. There I embarked on a new plan. I would sell dinosaur bones! I picked up a large selection of gorgeous and significant gem-quality bones, rocks so rare and important and beautiful they defy description. Like sunsets painted in the cells of dragons. An old friend of mine down there is the king of the beautiful bones, and has quite a collection. So we cooked up a business plan. I would drive around to all the upscale tourist towns within a three hundred mile radius, and sell these rocks to the mineral shops and jewelers. Sometimes there’s a market for them. Some of these specimens were likely unmatched in the world, and they were all one of a kind. Gem-quality dinosaur bone is rarer than gold. We thought for sure this would make us a little money. My friend and I were to split the profits fifty-fifty.

It was less than a week after leaving Nashville and I was driving around the southwest with a load of dinosaur bones in the back of my pick-up. There was only one problem. Nobody wanted the bones. Aspen didn’t want them. Telluride didn’t want them. Glenwood Springs. Santa Fe. You name ‘em, they didn’t want bones. Why don’t you folks want pretty dinosaur bones? I don’t get it.

So by the time I arrived at Potato Lake by the Twilight Peaks, it had been a frustrating journey. I was not cut out to be a salesman. If I can’t sell a fossilized Stegosaurus claw in a tourist town, then I probably can’t sell anything. The towns were so frantic. It was the middle of summer and bored-looking hordes filled the streets and sidewalks; elbow to elbow in the shopping labyrinths.

From the mountain I saw the smoke rising in the south and decided to head down the mountain to one of my old hometowns, Durango. I figured I’d catch my breath there. By the time I got to Durango, however, something very different was in the air. The sky was red-orange and an enormous plume of roiling smoke filled the sky. It cast a strange pallor on the town. I stopped and got a beer at the old restaurant I used to work at. I recognized no one. The waiter told me that Mesa Verde was on fire. I finished my beer and decided to take a closer look. I drove west on Highway 160 towards the burning mountain.

Mesa Verde crests out just below 9,000 feet elevation in extreme southwestern Colorado. It rises more than 2,000 feet above the valley floor, near the towns of Mancos and Cortez, about thirty miles from Durango.

In the last decades of the Anasazi civilization, just before they disappeared – they built cliff dwellings in the high, sheltered canyons of the mesas, presumably in self-defense against some terrible invading force, possibly even the Aztecs. The cliff homes were all abandoned at roughly the same time in the 1300’s, and no one is certain what became of the Anasazi, though some modern-day Pueblo tribes apparently share kinship with that lost civilization. Many of Mesa Verde’s ruins are world-famous and are preserved in a national park. Much of the Mesa belongs to the Ute Indian tribe. Their section is wild and inaccessible, and sees few visitors besides a few tough Indians and Cowboys.

The fire was caused by a lightning strike, and was burning somewhere along the borders of the park and the reservation. The radio said that the fire had grown five or six times its original size in a matter of hours. Thousands of acres were burning.

As I drove west, the plume became more and more ominous, until it nearly filled the sky. It was a deep blood red washed with orange. Gray and black clouds churned upon themselves, heaving towards the sky. I pulled off the main highway and into the little town of Mancos.

Just west of town, along the northern flanks of the mesa, you could see some spot fires burning. There were a few cars pulled off the highway in that direction watching the conflagration. Main Street in Mancos was quiet that evening, bathed in strange yellow light, not very many miles from the heart of the fire. But you still couldn’t see the fire itself, even from this close. The main fire was blocked from view by an enormous finger of the mesa. I had bought a 32 ounce beer at the convenience store in La Plata on the way over from Durango, and I felt bold. I wanted to see the fire from a lot closer. As I drove slowly through Mancos, I swung my truck onto a little road that split left off main street. It was pointed in the right direction, at least.

The road I had chosen quickly turned to gravel, and then to a rough dirt road, past a couple of farms and ranches through a small valley. I opened two barbed wire livestock gates (and closed them behind me). My pick-up full of bones bounced up and down. I chugged my beer and smoked a cigarette, anxious and more than a little wild. It was early evening by now, and not too far from sunset. I was still uncertain if this road would even take me where I could see the fire. I had certainly never driven that way before. I remember wondering if I should turn around at one point, but I suppose my curiosity pushed me on. I knew I was getting very close. Occasional flakes of ash drifted past the windshield and the smell in the air shifted from the generically bitter aroma of smoke to the sweet truth of that smoke’s origin, the burning pinon pines and juniper trees (cedar). What a smell!

It happened unexpectedly. I turned the corner on the little dirt road, just around the unburnt finger of mesa that had been obscuring the fire. I pulled the truck over. There it was. I remember literally gasping at the sight. I got out of the truck, awestruck. An older ranch couple stood there too, barely able to look away from it long enough to acknowledge my arrival. We stood there fifty feet from the end of the dirt road, where a simple barbed wire fence and a hand-painted sign mark the boundary of the Ute Indian Reservation.

Here I am. There it was.

I had never seen anything like it. I may never live to see such a thing again. I stood less than a mile from the head of the fire, at the bottom of a burning mountain. The roar of the flames was incredible. You could feel the heat like you were standing at a campfire. Mesa Verde stood impossibly vast to me there. The top of the mesa burned wildly, and great flames leapt up from the rim towards the sky. Sometimes the flames were a hundred feet high, maybe more. The living fire raged in the belly of the mile-wide orange plume, which from so close looked and sounded like some terrible animal devouring the mountain. That was the main part of the fire. Along the sides of the mesa much closer to us were hundreds of spot fires. Some of them were making spectacular crown runs, burning wicked lines up the side of the mesa, bursting into existence with wild intensity and then expiring mysteriously, just as another crown run began hundreds of yards away. Trees could be heard popping like shotgun blasts. I caught a piece of ash on my tongue as it drifted by like a snowflake. It tasted like the shadow of a cedar tree.

My heart hurts to show you this. This is when I know for sure that my words cannot recreate the world. It’s too much to say. Too much to show. The fire was alive but it was the opposite of life, and it was as real and unreal as any force could be.

I exchanged pleasantries with the ranch couple. Their ranch was back up the valley a few miles. They’d already moved their livestock that afternoon. We were all a little too awestruck to talk much. They left me there. It was just me on a dirt road at the bottom of the mountain. I felt I wasn’t in any immediate danger even though the fire was close because hot air rises. Therefore the flames should run up hill, and I was down in the valley. I wandered around the hillside where I’d pulled over. It was an arid sagebrush basin ringed by small pinon and juniper trees. A tiny creek could be heard murmuring now and then against the roar, but I didn’t go down to see it. I sat on the ground and watched the fire. The sun then began to set on it all, the last daylight mingling with the smoke to create an array of color no painter could imagine and no human words would do justice to.

I saw two runs of slurry bombers pouring red retardant against the flames. Those great airships of men looked like tiny silver birds against the holocaust. Every time they dropped their chemical loads, the fire seemed to explode in the opposite direction. As twilight set in, they returned no more, and the inferno roared on as if nothing had happened.

A few visitors showed up. I was joined for a while by a Ute Indian tribal official and separately by a female Park employee who brought her young boy to see. He seemed unimpressed.

“ Mom, can we go?” he would repeat every few minutes.

We adults were in awe, of course. We rarely looked at each other when we spoke. You could look at nothing else but the fire, which lost none of its intensity as night set in and the moon rose upon the scene.

The Ute man had once been a firefighter, and now he was helping coordinate the tribe’s response. He told me they would likely just let it burn. Maybe they would cut a fire line somewhere. It was such wild country that he wasn’t too concerned. He told me how once, when he was a fire fighter, he and his crew saved themselves by standing in a lake as a forest burned all around them.

We watched together for a couple of hours, mostly in silence, as the flames danced along the dark mountain. Eventually my company left- the Ute man to tribal fire business and the woman and her son to home.

I sat in the night alone and watched the fire. Maybe it was a couple of hours later that it happened. Perhaps born of some wind that I couldn’t feel, or driven by some elemental force that I cannot reckon, the top of the mesa erupted in a firestorm. I did not know what a firestorm really was until I saw it that night. I could not see its heart, only its light. The sound it made was unconscionable, like pure wrath. The fire erupted on the mountain. The energy from the storm lit the plume from the inside out like a boiling sun rolling across the forest. It was a great and massive devouring energy. It became like a beast. It was real, and I see it now when I close my eyes and curse that I cannot show you what I saw. I don’t know that you can see such a force with my words, but you should know that such a one exists.

The storm itself was quick, maybe a few minutes. In that time it crossed perhaps a half mile of the mesa top. After that, the fire settled into what it was before. But I have not been the same since.

I watched spot fires burn like galaxies in the dark space of the mountain wall. I heard the old line from the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” echo over and over in my head.

“ I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps”.

Eventually I fell asleep on the ground. At one point, I woke up, looked around and could see no fire. I was amazed that it could have gone out so quickly. I went back to sleep. When I woke up again maybe an hour later, I realized that I had just dreamed the fire had gone out. For the fire still burned strong, though without the great roar it had before. By now however, the fire had crossed the canyon and a substantial new fire was burning not a half of a mile from me. I figured I should go.

I pulled back into Durango just before sunrise. I had breakfast at Denny’s. When I tried to tell the waitress something about the fire at the mesa, she looked at me blankly and turned away without saying a thing.

I believe I know when God revealed his will to me, but I do not know how. Does a fire speak? I recall no words. Something appeared in my heart and has grown there ever since. Now I can do nothing else but follow my heart, that will.

A few days later, I dropped off the dinosaur bones. I saw some friends, and helped put out a little fire in the oil fields. I drove frantically northwest. The air was thick with smoke on the way into Boise. I drove past a series of fires in the high desert mountains. It seemed the whole west was burning. I stopped in Boise at the Fire Management headquarters and asked if they needed any help on the fire lines. They told me to go to their web site. I felt just as crazy as ever. I jumped in the old truck and drove away to places I had never been, away from a life that already seemed like it had belonged to a stranger.

I made it to Eugene, Oregon on a Sunday morning. I was led to a downtown coffeehouse by a hitchhiker I picked up. There I went to a sweet little church service and gave thanks. I also saw an ad in the paper looking for firefighters. By the middle of the week, it seems I knew what I had to do in this world. Something happened to me. I’m hearing things in my heart. Coincidence has ceased to occur. Chance ceased to be real. I’m writing down a warning because I saw a fire, and I slept beside it. I hope that if I open my heart and speak, I might be able to recall what the fire said.




September 27, 2000 Eugene, Oregon.





Down by the Ocean

Two days ago (Oct. 7th), I spent the night at a place known as Strawberry Hill on the Oregon coast. I slept on an outcropping of grass just above the salty spray of the surf. I woke up in the fog, and sea lions were dancing and diving in the waves. There were dozens more lounging on the great basalt rocks in the water just off shore. It was the first time I had ever seen such creatures.

I was delighted and saddened at the same time. So much to love, so much to lose. The sea lions were perfect, and at home. I felt a million miles from my home. Not a soul on the planet knew I was here, and I didn’t care. I watched the animals sleep, play and swim for a while, and then I left.

I drove away in the fog until I came to a long stretch of quiet beach that I’d been to a couple of times before. I figured I could try and walk off my melancholy. It helped when I took my shoes off. My feet love the feel of cool sand. I walked for miles out and then back again, then out once more until my thoughts quieted, softened by the rhythm of the wind and surf. Finally, I was overcome by the urge to make a sculpture in the sand. I pulled back about fifty feet from the reach of the waves and began to work.

I spent nearly the whole afternoon there creating an elaborate design in the sand. I made a large 3-dimensional face (Mother Earth? Sister Moon?) and I bejeweled her with lovely little bits of shell, which are plentiful along that stretch of coast. Beside her I made a raised sun, with a shell spiral winding to its center, and shell crosses that marked each of its four directions.

I worked the entire afternoon by myself. The fog stayed thick and the wind was chilly, and no one came down the beach at all. I was all alone with my sculpture. I figured no one would see it before the ocean swallowed it up. That made me a little sad again, because it was far and away the most interesting thing of its kind I had ever made. I think that somewhere in my heart, I was probably hoping some beautiful lonely woman might appear out of the fog to appreciate me and my art.

But alas, that was not to be. The hour was getting late, and the relentless tides pushed closer and closer to my grand creation.

I drew mountains and hills beneath the sun and his mother/sister/daughter/wife. I made a big circle around the whole scene, and then carefully wrote the words “ come on in “ in shells. I was speaking to the sea with that invitation. At least that’s what I told myself. All is vanity, right? Castles made of sand. I was just having fun. By the time I finished, my hands were very cold, and were starting to turn the funny colors that they always do when my circulation starts to peter out. I decided to try and warm up by running along the coast, to the North.

I became lost in the motion of running, steady but slow, my feet still bare on the wet sand. Suddenly I felt a presence near me. I looked to my left and saw a boy, maybe 13 years old, running in step with me twenty feet away. His feet skipped across the edge of the ocean. The hint of sunlight broke through the clouds and lit his determined stride. It startled me. I had been alone in the fog so long. How did he sneak up on me? I stopped and watched him go. Bare footed, young and strong, he moved noiselessly beside the Pacific. I looked away and back down the coast. To my surprise, I saw maybe two-dozen children running up the beach in my direction-- little fog-bound souls moving together across the sand towards me. I laughed. From the looks of it, their path should’ve taken them right over the top of my sculpture.

They were mostly girls, with a few boys. A couple of adults with them. Maybe some after school athletics, who knows? I thought it completely appropriate that they should have run through my masterpiece. I figured it would be obliterated. But when I came back upon the sculpture, I was surprised. I saw rows of small footprints running up to the edge of my artwork and then around. Only one set of footprints went through it, and they had obviously been careful not to step on the face or the sun. I was happy at how it all had turned out, and I sat down again by my work, waiting for the sea to wash it away. Each wave came closer and closer, until the edge of the boundary circle had been broached.

Then a little band of girls reappeared, jogging back towards me down the coast. As they passed me, one of them said my sculpture was “cool”.

Thank you. Hers were the first words anyone had spoken to me all day.

“You’re welcome”, she said. Then she ran on.

Just after she had passed, another girl went running right through the middle of it. She didn’t realize what it was until she was almost all the way through it.

“OOPS!” she said, switching to her tiptoes. Then she looked down and read the message aloud:

“ Come on in,” she said, repeating the message I had written in shells with such a sweet voice.

She smiled and giggled and passed on towards the fog.

Moments later, a tremendous wave came and flooded my sand scene. For a few seconds, the woman’s sand and shell face was suspended above the water, surrounded by the water, rising out of the water like some kind of truth I had always wanted to create, but had never been able to all my life. The water receded, and then a second wave rolled in and swept away my day’s work.

Yes, the sea comes in to swallow it up. That’s where it all ends up, I suppose.

I had thought that was pretty much the whole story. I had enjoyed my day’s work. Once it was done, I thought perhaps it might bring me attention from some fantasy woman. After I realized how unlikely that was, I looked to its ultimate fate, the inevitable ocean.

But something else happened. Something else turned out to be real.

The children. The running boy. The little girls. The innocence and grace of the creation. They saw my work, my love, my story – before the ocean swallowed it up. My work said “come on in” to them.

I was filled with joy.

Yes, I saw them disappear again into the fog from where they came. But just before that happened, I watched the face of a woman I helped to sculpt rising above the tide in prayer to the sky. It was mercy.


October 9 2000 Eugene




My Life


I feel it’s necessary to tell at least the bones of my personal story, perhaps so that it may increase my trustworthiness as a narrator or just in case the only function of this manuscript is for family posterity. I do not intend to tell you all my stories. This is a simple genealogy and a brief summary of where I’ve lived. I am proud of my heritage, and my story feels incomplete without this.

My father’s side:

My grandfather was Jewish and came from the Ukraine. His father had been born a serf. My grandfather came to America in 1911. He fought as a doughboy for the U.S.A. in World War I and was mustard-gassed at the battle of the Marne, but survived.

My grandmother’s side had emigrated from Austria and were also Jewish. It was said my Grandmnother's father was sexton of the synagogue.

My grandparents were peaceful, dignified people who lived simply and quietly in Brooklyn, U.S.A.


My mother’s side:

My mother’s bloodline is old rural American. We have been in America since the 1700’s. We are the Russell’s, the Waltman’s (from Bavaria), the Craft’s, the Graham’s and many others. My great-great-great grandfather, Enoch Russell, fought in the Revolutionary War. He was at Valley Forge and the Battle of Camden. The Waltmans also served in the Revolution.My great-grandfather, Rev. John Logan Waltman, built five churches, one for each of his children. One of these children was my grandmother. She was saved by God’s mercy from a tornado when she was just a little girl. By such mercies, blood survives.

I am an American. My people fought for freedom. I am proud of my blood. It represents the blood of free will on earth. I feel my ancestors with me now, and I love them and they love me with a true but indefinable fierceness.

My name is Sand Graham Sheff, and that is the name I was given at birth. I was born June 4th, 1967, in Flagstaff, Arizona at 9:03 pm. This was nearly the exact hour in which the 6 Day War began in the Holy Land on the other side of the world.

I had been conceived near Wellington, New Zealand, where my family had briefly emigrated.

When I was two months old, my family moved to Tahlequah, Oklahoma. It is the capital of the Cherokee nation. It is located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. There are a lot of creeks and rivers, lakes and trees there. In some ways it was a hard town. In some ways it was easy.

Like many young people, in spite of having a loving family, during my adolescence I grew to see myself as an outcast to society, a stranger to what I saw as a dishonest, shallow system, ruled by the arrogance of brute force. I have a melancholy temperament. I became a rebel, I suppose. I got angry and depressed.

I had pretty much given up by the time when I was fourteen and walked into the field behind our house with a .22 rifle in my guitar case and a suicide note. When I brought the barrel up to my head, I heard what I believe was the voice of God telling me to stop. I set the rifle back in the case and walked back home, telling no one about any of it. I’ve never come that close again. Now that I know what It is that really wants me dead, suicide is not an option.

I moved with my mother to Tulsa. By good fortune, I received a scholarship to a very nice private school soon after I arrived. I worked all through high school, mostly at restaurants. I was a good student, not a great one. But with the help of good people, I received another scholarship—this time to The Colorado College in Colorado Springs. When I first saw the mountains, I felt an immense sense of relief.

“ I was born in the mountains. I love the mountains. I will never leave the mountains.” That’s an old Basque sheepherder’s song.

I learned much and I fell in love with beautiful country and made good friends. I majored in English, for not much reason other than I liked to read and write. I graduated in 1989.

So I went out to Utah, where I’d already worked one summer, and sort of settled in at a guest ranch out there by the La Sal Mountains. I lived in a tent by the creek and was a dude-ranch cowboy and general ranch hand. In the evenings, we would gather as friends to watch the sun set and we’d drink and laugh and play music and fall in love with the almost unbearable beauty of that place.

And that’s what I did for years, off and on. In the winters and in between, I’ve lived in the towns of Durango, Paonia, Telluride, and Boulder in Colorado. Driggs, Idaho (briefly). Moab and Fry Canyon, Utah, and various places in New Mexico and elsewhere. I’ve managed to visit much of the U.S.

I’ve done a lot of different kinds of work, none of it white-collar. I’ve been a horse wrangler and packer, landscaper, groundskeeper, cook, dishwasher, tour-guide, baker, musician, bus-washer, stonemason, etc…

I’ve seen a lot of wild country and spent a lot of time out doors. I’ve lived among working folks my whole life.

In 1995, I sold my horse and drove my old truck with a burning clutch east to Nashville, hoping to make a name for myself in country and western music.

This is obviously not a very full accounting of a life, but it’s as much as I wish to repeat here. I could get lost in every individual memory for the rest of eternity, and someday I might, particularly when I think of my friends and the truth I saw in Mother Earth, when I got a chance to be still. I have been blessed. It’s been neither easy nor hard. It’s been a good life.

I’ve never chosen a career, unless you count music, and I never really made any money at that. I sort of let life unfold for me most of the time. God and my friends and family rescued me many times when I got too far out on the road. I’ve never had a lot of money or a fancy car. Never desired much in the way of material possessions. I’m rich in possibilities, and I have my health. Maybe God brought me through all those wild places so that I might learn his will. So that I might do his will.

The main point being, of course, is that he’s done the same for you.

Now we’re standing at the crossroads. It’s the same crossroads we’re always standing at. And we look to the past to offer up some message as to what we should do now.

I’ll try not to be presumptive about what your past says to you. But I do know one thing about you. I know it because you are reading this. I know you are alive.

“So what?” some might say. “Sure I’m alive. Big deal.”

It’s the biggest deal. The best deal. The only real deal in town. When you look at your past, you will see that you chose life. No matter what happened. You chose life. No matter how much suffering you’ve endured or suffering you’ve caused, you chose to live. You and I chose to live, and that is what we have first and foremost in common.

Why did we choose life?

Maybe because somewhere in the back of our minds and our blood, we knew we’d get another chance. A chance to redeem ourselves. A chance to redeem our blood. A chance to redeem our world. Maybe that’s why we’ve chosen life, no matter what name we call the One that made us.

It’s not too late. We get another chance.



Eugene Oct 2000





Mesa Verde and a Heap of Riddles



Mesa Verde means the green table. It’s an abrupt flat mountain 2,000 feet above the valley of Cortez, named for the conquistador who brought upon the empire the curse of Montezuma. It lies in Montezuma County. Cortez, Colorado, is a stopover on Highway 666. Between Saint John’s (San Juan) Mountains and Saint John’s river. Beside the mountain of the Sleeping Ute, the great Indian chief waiting in stone for his Second Coming. By the Rio Dolores (river of sorrows). A hundred miles from Paradox and the Lizard’s Head. A hundred miles from Moab, the grave of Moses. The lost mines of Ophir. Over by where the four corners meet and the world turns around. The only true cross on the map of America. Tse-pe-tah, the Shiprock, the great stone bird rising through the dust and the smog of the Power Plants. Flapping wal-mart bags clinging to the saltbush along Route 666. Gallup, Shiprock, Cortez, Monticello, Dove Creek.

And the green table was burning in the hot wind that came off the desert.

The cliff palace and the kivas and the pit-houses had long ago been abandoned to the earth, found again by the whites. There is a loop road and some trails for the tourists but it is far too vast a bulk of wilderness to be controlled by man. There are pictures on the rocks in this country of spirit beasts and men in masks.

Mesa Verde burned like she knew more than any of that. She burned with the sunset and burned with the moon, and when the heavens had been darkened, she burned all the brighter.

And with a voice, I mean to tell you! What a voice like a whirlwind and a river and thunder and fire- hungry, impossible fire.

I sat in the dirt to watch the fire; and though it seemed the very earth was burning, I slept pretty good by the mountain that night.

By day, you could see the great column of smoke drifting south towards Chaco Canyon, the ceremonial center of the lost Anasazi. Spirits going home, right? It all makes some kind of sense, right?



Sand

By the spring of the tamarisk tree

3-16-2001





These are the Words


These are just the words by which I attempt to approach the truth. If these words stumble, it is my fault. I’m just a man, and this is my first time in this situation. These words are mine yet I cannot with total honesty claim some kind of ownership of them. I sit down and they appear on the paper.

What does that mean? Is that any different from other men? My mind is distinct, certainly, but the boundaries between mind and Mind seem to me fuzzier than ever. In other words, if you seek to fault someone for these words, fault me. If, for some reason, you seek to praise someone, praise God. Faulting or praising this work in the end is somewhat irrelevant to me, because it is by nature a warning. If it is heard at all, then it serves its function.

There is in the midst of this book a warning that I claim to be of God. That warning could be summed up in a sentence. I do not claim this book as divine. On the other hand, I could accomplish nothing without God.

My blood knows the story. It has heard the one story. It has sung numberless songs to the stars, the river, the night and the fire. It has grown in flesh from light and rock and water. My blood is real. It is distinct and carries memory. Yes, we are all of one spirit- but the spirit lives within the blood, and I feel my fathers and my mothers there. My ancestors sang this song to gather strength in the face of the Darkness. They were blood and spirit too. They are with me now, in blood and spirit. I can feel them gathering close to me as I prepare to sing beside the fire. It is an old song they know well. They love it. It’s the old song about freedom.

-Eugene October 2000





The Threat in Speaking Out

There are forces that do not want you to read what I have to say. Why? Because there is a lot of money and power at stake in the perpetuation of our current fascination with visual technologies. It’s not exactly because these forces “work for the devil” or anything nearly so simplistic. But rather, these forces must defend the marketed worldview that these technologies are benign, in order that their varied goals are met. One force, the corporate worldview, simply wants to sell more computers, games and gadgets. The other, less obvious, political force seeks to continue the establishment of the tracking system, the social control system, which the Internet is becoming. Neither of these assumed goals are the specific reason I warn about the Internet. I am far more concerned about what I see as a greater danger to the free will, to the consciousness, of future generations. But if someone is trying to sell you a used car, they don’t want you coming over and saying it’s a lemon, for whatever reason. In this case, the used car salesmen in question are the richest and most powerful corporate and political forces in the world.

There are several ways this warning might not reach those for whom it is intended.

First off, these words could be ignored, buried in the ceaseless avalanche of information, if they ever appear at all. That is the most common fate of our attempts at social conversation these days.

Secondly, they could be dismissed, labeled mad rantings or amateurish scribblings. This could happen at the editor’s desk or the critic’s typewriter. It also could happen in the minds of whoever reads this, even among those who know and love me.

Thirdly, they can be disputed, “proved” scientifically in a hermetically sealed environment to not be very true words. They could say “see right here, he’s wrong about this and that, etc…”

Fourth, if these words ever began to be read widely, the author can be attacked. I make a particularly easy target, having lived an eventful life dotted with the usual colorful assortment of entertaining sins. The It that I speak against humiliates everyone on Its machine these days. Why? It wants to tell a different story, and dignity gets in the way. The use of a man’s past sins or mistakes to destroy him is commonplace these days, and when none are readily available, the machine can invent any such pasts it desires, and propagate falsehoods with impunity.

Fifth, it could be falsely claimed that this message is seditious or treasonous. This, in spite of my stated belief that America is still our greatest hope, founded as it is on the concept of freedom. But when elements of the state have become a partner with a global machine, vast economic interests could see opposition to the apparent designs of that machine as a threat to their power. My hope is that the idea of free speech is strong enough to let a man speak, even for just a moment.

Sixth, these forces could take away my freedom. They could call me crazy, a threat to society—and imprison me in a madhouse. Or they could arrest me for some kind of conspiracy, and invent the charges. You can have a conspiracy to buy a cup of coffee these days. Or they can say I love torturing puppies and make it all up and show computer-simulated video to back up the charges, and it would all be sort of hilarious on some cosmic level if we didn’t already know that Its goal is to eat our freedom and God’s green earth. If this sounds overly paranoid, perhaps you haven’t been paying much attention to where our world is headed.

Lastly, they could just kill me, I suppose. It all depends on how I write these words and how they will be read. If they just blow away into the autumn breeze, then they turned out to amount to no big deal. If they take root, then who knows?

God is my shield. He steadies my hand and guides me on this path.

Eugene September 2000





This Work’s Structure and Technical Notes

For those of you who heard something that sparks your interest, it is my hope that you will bear with me as I struggle with this task.

This work is broken up into many chapters of various length. Each chapter was typically written in its entirety at a single sitting and later edited. I am not a professional writer. I decided to write this book in early August, 2000. I decided that its title was to be “What the Fire Said”. I then went and fought wildfires in Oregon and Montana until mid-September. I began writing upon my return. It was written in three episodes. The first was in Eugene, Oregon, from late September until early November. The second writing episode occurred in February 2001, while house-sitting for a month in Southern Utah. The third group of writings is from a twelve-day solo backpacking sojourn in the San Juan Canyon region in early March 2001. There have been a few chapters added during the editing process. They are typically dated as such. I have undertaken major re-editing’s on three different occasions since the initial publication, the last time in late 2007 to early 2008. These edits have been intended to clarify my original arguments and to make the work more “readable”. The result presumably changes the tone, though hopefully not the spirit of my original work, which was written in a bit of a fervor, for lack of a better word.

If you have neither the time nor inclination to read this entire book, I would hope that you at least consider turning to the section called “The Warning”, and attempt to read it. It is the core of what I must say, and takes precedence over the rest of the book, though it is all tied together.

I haven’t done much research for this book. I read a few overviews of computer history, looked at microfiche records of newspapers around the time of the eruption of Mount Saint Helen’s, and used a popular magazine’s essays on the future of technology (which I found in a Laundromat in Moab). I talked with a few folks about this stuff, but not many.

I have quoted various different sources and artists. I am seeking to make sure this is done properly. I thank all whose thoughts I have used here.

Basically, I just sat down and wrote this book in between walking around and thinking about all this stuff.

On a technical note, this work was written in pen and ink on notebook paper. It has been typed, with minor revisions, onto a friend’s computer. Contrary to what some people believe about my views, I don’t think computers are a “bad” thing. That would be really simplistic. For instance, word processing is a useful tool. Like all tools, there is some benefit and some risk. My initial relationship with these words was with pen and ink, but it was inevitable, given the day and age, that they would interact with computers at some point. I believe the computer does not de-value the word, unless the word becomes permanently contained by the computer. So long as there is ink on paper, it matters little where the word has been. The imagination is released by the word.

I am not a researcher in the classic academic sense. For instance, The Bible has been my chief resource and comfort for this work. But the masters of theology would likely scoff at my initial research method. I would usually just flip the pages like one would do a primitive hand-drawn cartoon and jab my finger down with some unnamed instinct and there before me would be some truth or the Truth piercing through time and space and word into my soul. This child’s approach to the word saved my life, and all the scientific experiments in the world could not truly describe it or repeat it.

Everything in the universe is a signpost, a message or a warning. Messages are written in the bones and sprit of all things. It’s taken me a while, and I’m still finding pieces of the puzzle that seem incoherent, but I think I’m realizing that absurdity is part of the story- and the messages of this un-random Universe have begun to demarcate themselves between the vastly important and the catastrophically distracting. My hope is that you will read this message. I don’t mean for it to be a riddle. I speak as clearly as I can.

Let me assure the reader now that I will not ask his or her allegiance to any particular religious belief. I will tell you what I have come to believe, but I do not expect you to follow suit. There is no dotted line to sign at the end of this book. There is cause for mutual respect in this late hour among those who believe in the light, in the great moral good which is the common bond among all the tribes and colors of humanity. To divide the light is the work of the darkness. It is my belief that God is looking for allies among all his children. It is not about “saving souls” necessarily, but rather preserving free will in his Creation. It doesn’t seem that you would even have to believe in God to work for good and freedom. We must merely wish to honor the free will with which we have been blessed. By this point, your heart probably has a good idea whether it wants to hear what I have to say or not. Either way, I believe there is a reason you have seen these words.





The Universal Conspiracy Theory

Well, here goes.

One day I was thinking about “conspiracy theories”. Conspiracy Theory is the term thrown around by the political power structure and their apologists at ideas that dare suggest the possibility of high-level involvement in various current affairs and unwholesome historical events. Surely there are varying levels of plausibility among the wide range of these so-called conspiracy theories. Is it a “conspiracy theory” to believe we were misled into becoming involved in Vietnam? Not really, the historical facts have pretty much confirmed that to be the case. That being the case, we might very well view with suspicion subsequent attempts to lead our nation into conflict, and we might rightly suspect our “leaders” in general for that matter. Is that being a “conspiracy theorist” or just a discerning citizen? On the other hand, there are also theories that our world is being run by a rogue band of reptilian aliens disguised as international politicians. That would seem to be less probable, at least most days. But as I thought about the various troubles coming to a seeming head at this moment in history, the apparent crises in the world began to look like the symptoms of a great illness, with remarkably similar patterns. I think the hunches that there is something behind all these developments is intuitively correct. I call the effort to name the similarity between these patterns: “The Universal Conspiracy Theory”.

(sound of trumpets…enter the dancing girls)

Part of me would like to place this chapter at the end of the book. That would seem to add some philosophic weight to it, perhaps. The Final Conclusion, as it were. If only it were that easy to express. I see it as the common thread between various challenging global developments. It is the glue that binds Creation, this world, this story, to what I term The Construct (the recognized modern power structure) and the Great Consolidation (the accelerating centralized control of production, distribution, government, entertainment etc…). It is a slippery foundation of thought, to be sure, because theories can only be partly right, it seems, and I’m sure this one has its share of blind spots.

This is an ancient explanation of story. It is good and evil, light and dark; the tension between two great forces that may very well stretch into the bones of the universe itself. If you are not convinced by this theory or don’t feel you understand what on earth I am talking about, it’s no trouble. Some days I don’t understand either. I’m sure you probably already know this theory anyway. It’s part of our nature.

It is alluded to by all religion and language and all experience. It has no beginning or end, and I can’t prove it to you. You’ve spoken this theory before, no doubt. Who hasn’t? I’m not worried about the ownership rights. You can have it if you want it. The rest of the time it owns us. Let me try and say it:

There is the Truth. It is inherently decent and unifying. It is seen in Creation and felt in Spirit. It seeks to grow.

But that is only half the story.

There is an opposing Force to the truth. It is a lie. It works to conceal and divide the Truth. This force exists only because of and operates only through the human race.

ALL TRUTH, ONCE REVEALED, IS DIVIDED OR ATTACKED ON ALL LEVELS AT AN EXPONENTIAL RATE BY THE OPPOSING FORCE.

The Truth unifies through us sometimes…we call it wisdom and other titles. It goal could perhaps be to have all parts of itself recognize the truth, the truth being that all these parts belong to the One, the Truth. We are all parts of the truth. I mean this to be a simple and obvious possibility, not gobbledygook.

The opposing force ceaselessly divides and assaults the Truth. It achieves mass and power through division. It unifies through division. It devours creation through disproportionate aggression and deceives the hearts of those who would defend that creation. Being a lie itself, on some level It does not even exist.

It is the dance of these two forces that creates The Story. That is where we live. Think about a story that you love. It’s got a villain or at least a crisis, yes? Personal, familial, social, religious and historical stories. It is how we understand life. There is a dance of these forces in life, it appears.

The forces often seem to grow in equal strength. Or sometimes the struggle will lean towards one or the other. It is maximum Expression, as apparent in the atom as it is in politics. On every level, this struggle happens, even within the Truth and the Lie themselves. It’s a riddle.

What I got from Hegel: The Universe is God becoming aware of Himself. That is surely only partly right ...but God must be aware of the changing expressions and growth of his Creation.

What I got from living: Maybe God, in His Mind, has set up the universe so that He might learn the truth about something, even if just about us. In that sense, he most certainly did make us in his image. We also seek the truth about ourselves, our situation, or at least we used to. In this view God would not be self-satisfied or disinterested. He is active and present, just like Nature, our most easily accessible representation of what his will looks like, that which he called “good”.

Maybe there’s something that God wants to know, that he seeks to learn. Maybe before this story was initiated, He reached the conclusion that there were things he could only learn through the presence of an opposing force and a world full of free-willed creatures. I do not wish it to appear that I am attempting to speak for God. I simply attempt to understand the story, and this seems self-evident.

It is the struggle that supplies the meaning.

From puberty to the Black Holes. From childbirth to the World Wars.

The more powerful our adversary, the greater the meaning of our victory. We all know this on some level, but there are other energies at work on us as well.

We don’t necessarily want struggle. We’d much rather have things easy, at least we think we would. But when struggle disappears in one place, it can reappear elsewhere. We will find meaning through struggle somewhere. In a time of few obvious great struggles, people become preoccupied with different ones. For instance, perceived struggles inside ourselves or between us and our loved ones. Or even sports or office politics or what have you. We know that struggle defines us. But all these areas where we would be healthier with a minimum of struggle (work, home, love)can take the brunt of that struggling energy, leaving less of the energy once reserved for “higher” struggles, such as the defense of life, liberty and the right of free worship in a difficult world.

What if the “ease” of our modern lives is a deception? For one thing, it’s not that easy. We have no real way of knowing whether we’d rather have lived 500 years ago. That whole concept is a dead end. But there is a possibility that convenience is a trap. For one thing, we’ve almost run out of conveniences. “ Now what?” one might ask. For another, we could very well be the most stressed out, disoriented civilization in the history of the world. Perhaps even the universe. I have come to believe that nothing happens by accident. I also believe Convenience masks the truth. The truth in my mind is that we are living in the greatest struggle ever conceived. That we are so incredibly unprepared for such a struggle makes it all the more difficult, and therefore all the more meaningful.

This IT is an evolving dark energy pursuing us through history. This can be a little disconcerting at first. But eventually, I found it to be a sort of a relief to think of this evolving “devil”. At least it makes sense of our history’s shames and calamities, which otherwise can pile up into a hopeless heap. Having a “devil”, if you will, explains things rather well, I think. But seeing this Opposing Force as some sort of red-suited cartoon character is almost certainly not accurate. The magnitude of the Darkness that follows freedom around is difficult to reckon. It crosses dimensional lines and has learned all the lessons of history. It often (but not solely) lurks around power and money, equally corrupting both oppressors and would-be rebels to achieve a solitary aim. This relationship has been the case throughout much of human history.

But lately, something seems to be changing. For the first time in history Machines, laws and nations are growing into One Force. As the Consolidation gathers strength, that Force gathers the power to disrupt creation on a level never dreamed of before. Is there any earthly institution which requires money that cannot be corrupted? Those institutions that are claimed to most unite us, whether they be nations, laws or even churches- -are often used to divide us. Divided from one another, from our government, away from natural spaces and pursuits and from our old home in what we used to call “the real world” The division occurs on all levels, exponentially.

Divide and conquer.

This struggle has no full historical precedent, for it has become more than a struggle for freedom. It has become a struggle to preserve free will. But this story is as old as the universe, and the path to victory is written in the law of the universe.

That which attempts to divide us must also unite us. If this indeed holds true, a new strength will be made manifest exponentially in the face of the shadow power.

The Truth is the light of God. The lie is the deception of his adversary. It seems to be an adversary created and then freed so that the One might fully know Himself. In a balanced free-willed world, The Opposition would be as merciless as the One is merciful. We are deceived by the lie so that we will not recognize the Truth. This deprives the Truth of allies who might defend it. If we were not lied to regularly (by ourselves, media and others), we might better see the truth around us at every moment (and sometimes we do, Lord knows). The lie has learned from mistakes over the generations, and has refined ITs deception. It knows how to get and keep our attention, what to promise us and what to tempt us with.

One force honors Creation. The other dishonors it. Both forces come to roost in us. We come closest to the Truth of God when we honor his creation and refuse to dishonor it. For this, the truth will reward us. We have chosen an ally. To choose an ally is to gain access to the larger power that ally offers.

This writing is not an admonition for you to go out and save souls. Save who and what you want. Say whatever you wish. What piece of God’s creation can you protect? What lesson of the truth can you deliver? What mercy can you offer? What child can you protect? You know, I don’t.

For all those who serve God on earth in the infinite variety of worship that he created, so that he might be known, it seems simply time to honor and defend the creation. Once again, as we’ve always done. Because we honor from our free will. We are still free men and women.



Sept. 28, 2000 Eugene






The Sergeant


I first met the Sergeant a couple of weeks ago. It turned out to be his birthday. He was walking by my neighborhood with his grown son. They were pushing around a shopping cart picking up stray cans and bottles, to be returned for deposit money.

I’m living in a quad apartment since I got back from the fires, which means I share a kitchen and a bathroom with three other tenants. In my eastern view, rising above the treetops and old rental houses, is a beautiful steeple topped with a copper cross. It is lit at night. I see the cross as soon as I leave my room. I pay $225 a month for this place, which includes utilities. That’s about the best deal in town, so there’s a lot of low income folks here. There’s a lot of folks here living on the edge. There is a picnic table between the two apartment buildings, and the men of the complex gather there to drink beer, smoke cigarettes and periodically discuss and argue various topics. There’s a lot of storytelling and quite a bit of good old-fashioned ranting that goes on.

The Sergeant calls me “captain”. He is an old Marine who fought in Vietnam. Now he’s homeless. He’s small and wiry, with a steady gaze and a strong New York accent. He has the wildest blue eyes. In one eye, the pupil is very small, just a tiny black dot. In the other eye, the pupil is large and distended into a dark form that resembles nothing if not a heart. He likes to talk in riddles.

“Stay clean,” he told me that day. “ Sometimes your men want you to be their father, or their priest or their brother. When men die they call out for their mothers. You’ve got to be what they want you to be. You learn how to do it. You’ve got to stay clean for the men.”

We recognize each other. We are both old soldiers from different ages. But I have not seen what he has seen. Whatever it was he saw seems to be right there behind his eyes. Right on the tip of his tongue. He came up to me first at the picnic table and does not turn away from my eyes. We talk about all sorts of odd things. I think he likes it that I let him talk about stuff that other folks might turn away from.

“They all think they know what’s goin’ on, don’t they?” he says “ I’ve got one for you. What’s seven times seven?”

49.

“Divided by six?” he asks. I stare blankly as my mind races to catch up with nothing.

“ Exactly,” he says at my silence. “ What’s a Bachelor of Science? BS, that’s what it is.”

His son is named Rocky, I think. He looks somewhat Italian. Rocky wears a large cross around his neck. They must be living together. God knows where. He gets a little self-conscious about his father. By this time, we’ve given them both a beer. It is late afternoon.

“Come on, Pop,” he says. “You’ve got to forgive my Pop—“

It’s alright. He isn’t bothering us.

The Sergeant and I sing the Battle Hymn of the Marines together.

“First to fight our country’s battles

and to keep our honor clean.

We are proud to claim the title

Of United States Marines”


“They don’t make men anymore, captain.”

“Come on, Pop,” Rocky says.

“It used to mean something to be a man.”

“It’s my old man’s birthday.”

We all sing “happy birthday”. Rocky spills his beer all over the picnic table. He gets

embarrassed. He apologizes and tries to clean it up.

It’s okay. It’s okay.

They need a little money. We have enough to share a little. We smoke cigarettes together.

The sergeant pulls me aside.

“ I killed a man one time as close as you to me. He was a prisoner. Put a .45 to his head. I had to, see? But he was a real sonuvabitch. I shot him. Dead.”

Yeah.

“But it’s all right. You know why?”

why?

“ Because this is the greatest country in the history of the world.”

Yessir.

“One nation under God.”

You know it.

“Indivisible.”

That’s right.

“With liberty and justice for all.”

That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

“Supposed to be. That’s right, captain. Come over here. Come on.”

He grabs a hold of my arm and pulls me over towards him. He motions towards his son. We all link arms over shoulders in a huddle, heads bowed.

“Let’s pray,” he says. There is a few seconds of silence before he speaks.

“Lord have mercy on us. Lord have mercy on us. Lord have mercy on us.”

And there the prayer ends.

“C’mon Pops, “ Rocky says. “Let’s go.”

The Sergeant’s eyes will not leave mine. What happened to that left eye of his? That pupil like a black heart in a blue pool of grief.

“I get tired, man,” he says.

“Come on, pops.”

“I lost my wife four months ago.”

I’m sorry.

“Me too. She was my whole world, captain. I miss her.”

You’ll see her again.

“In heaven?”

Yeah.

“Jesus Christ is in heaven, isn’t he?” The old man smiles slyly as he says this.

“Come on, Pops. We’ve got to go.”

They glide away down the alley beneath an autumn sky that cannot be recreated, walking against a breeze that has no name.

What does it mean, Dr. Frankenstein? Can you and your machine tell me about the spirit of our survival, about this family? Can it tell me about my tribe? Can it bring us one step closer to our deliverance?

“Spirit is irrelevant to the machine,” The doctor says.

Exactly. 7 times 7. Divided by 6. B. S.

If it doesn’t have the Spirit, I don’t want it.

The old soldier’s still on the street. They told him that he fought for freedom. Perhaps he did. The freedom to live is a freedom to choose. And what can one choose in war but to live? To live just a little longer; to comfort the dying as they depart. There are heroes walking these streets picking up our garbage for spare change. What will you do with them, Dr. Frankenstein? What is courage to the machine?

The old soldier’s on the street speaking riddles, Herr Doctor.

The black heart burned on his eye has seen the evil that fights a man.

What do you see when you gaze into the face of the machine? Does it cry out for mercy in the streets? Does it mourn? Does it sing? Or does it only do what it is told? The unreflective servant. You may think you are its master, but there are only two masters in the universe, and you are neither.

I saw the Sergeant again last night. It was one in the morning at the convenience store. I was there to buy some cigarettes. I found him searching for butts in the ashtray outside the door. As I walked up, I saw two blank-eyed punks messing with him, giving him trouble. I chased them off. Scared little boys.

“ I work for God,” the Sergeant said last night. “ Everybody thinks Jesus has to come back. But he’s here. I know it. He’s always been here. Christ.”

“ From the halls of Montezuma …”

Tobacco. Spare Change. Old soldiers don’t ask for much, only to know they did not fight in vain.


October Eugene 2000







Rosh Hashanah


Two nights ago was the Jewish New Year. I’m not technically Jewish (just half), but I saw a sign up announcing services near my neighborhood, so I figured I’d drop in. It was my first time to celebrate Rosh Hashanah.

The women were beautiful. The men sang in the voice of the ancient warriors and their prayers exalted the One God who created us all. The prayers were the poetry of pure praise—Isaiah, the Psalms of David. Our shared heritage. The people were gracious and offered up food and wine.

These are the ones whom so many call the enemy? They are as hated a people as ever walked the earth. These devout souls? Flesh and blood and spirit. The chosen people. Hounded and hunted to the ends of the earth. Slaughtered by the millions, they yet survive. They will survive until the end. Soldiers. They are still chosen. Isaac’s children.

Isaac means “he laughs” in Hebrew.

Israel means “He who strives (or wrestles) with God ”.

During the quietest prayer of the service, as the entire room silently worshiped, I seemed to feel the Spirit of the Lord settle upon all of us gathered there in a palpable warmth. It was one of those rare, sublime moments when a group transcends together and everyone is conscious of that unity.

Then, from outside the building (just a large house) through the open door, came blasting from a car stereo a song I had not heard in years- a song I never particularly liked.

Mr. Roboto, by the band Styx.

“Domo Arregato, Mr. Roboto. Domo Arregato, Mr. Roboto,” The stereo blared over and over unbelievably loud. The car was just sitting there, stopped right outside. The windows of the house shook with the sound.“Domo Arregato, Mr. Roboto.” It must have been the dance re-mix. It just wouldn’t stop.

Some folks giggled nervously. Some folks shook their heads. Thank you very much, Mr. Robot. In Japanese. What a ludicrous juxtaposition. After what seemed an eternity, the car pulled away. The moment of prayer was gone. It had been replaced.


The coincidences are through. The opposition is defining itself. IT thinks it is funny, and sometimes it is. Yet the defining moment is just another riddle. We have little excuse not to listen to the messages, even when they are just noisy songs blasted like artillery against our prayers.

I stumbled upon a little used bookstore yesterday. It was a little old man’s bookstore stacked wall to wall with treasures you will never find on any Internet. I bought three books. One was a picture book called “Mysterious Places of the Earth”. I also found The Freemason’s Morals and Dogma, and an old strange water-damaged treatise called “Evil Through the Ages—An Outline of Indecency”. May God protect our little bookstores.

A firefighting friend showed up yesterday. After we got back from the fires, he took a trip down south. He ended up with Montezuma’s Revenge in Mexico, and then his truck broke down on the interstate in San Diego. He abandoned it there and road the train back to Eugene. He’ll be sleeping on the floor for a while, I suppose. We went and saw the new John Waters movie last night at the cool little movie house. It’s a movie about movies and about The Great Consolidation. May God protect our little movie houses.

I danced with an older lady at the bar. I got to hold her pretty close and slow dance

But before that, I got yelled at by an evangelist on the street. I usually enjoy conversations with evangelicals of all stripes whenever I get the chance. But this guy skipped the conversation and went straight to being very upset with me. He wanted folks to come to his church and didn’t like it when I said that I don’t believe you need a pastor and four walls to worship God.

“But Paul said you must have a shepherd!”, he cried.

The Lord is my Shepherd.

“But you need a human shepherd.”

Who was John the Baptist’s human shepherd? We’re already ministers.

“But you need a human shepherd. Paul says…”

Perhaps you need to go jump in the river. It washes that B.S. right off of you. (I just wish I’d said that). As my friend and I walked in the bar, you could hear him say behind our backs:

“Oh that’s great! The minister’s heading for the bar.”

You are darn right I am. And I may even have myself a drink.

It’s amazing that anyone converts to Christianity considering the ferocity of some of those who accost us in the name of Christ. So many of these people want confrontation, not conversation.

God, in his humor and wisdom, has regularly used strange vessels to deliver his Truth. This is a riddle too, how the truth is delivered through the ages. We can forgive those who keep the form of religion and lose its spirit, but we need not try and ingratiate ourselves to them. Let’s pray that there is and will be justice for us all.

I still love the street evangelical who yelled at me. It’s fine. I’m a big boy. I can take it. At least he has the nerve to preach on the street. I respect his courage. I just wish he went about things with a slightly more interesting perspective and a little less hardened heart. But still I love this free speech idea, this bold exchange. That is what we stand to lose. The love and pain and the guys that yell at you and the dance at the tavern and Rosh Hashanah and the perpetual motion of truth unfolding itself. How can we tell the children about the monster that wants to eat this truth, and leave a wasteland in its place?

We should forgive those who condemn us. But we need not forgive Robots or atomic fires or the darkness that lives inside such things. They are not ours to forgive. They are not of blood or spirit or water.


Eugene October, 2000





An Introduction to the Construct




Surely you’ve been introduced already. The construct is the peculiar way the world of power is set up. The pattern that repeats and swells in The Story. The Construct inevitably works its way into every corner of modern life, even into our minds.

Still a foggy concept? It is for me, too.

The construct is the world of money at work. It is the system set up to reward the love of money, built to withstand the occasional revival of consciousness or freedom. The construct rewards those people and machines that increase the power of the Construct. It subjugates or attempts to destroy that which opposes Its power. It also declares war against that which by her very existence undermines the authority of the Construct, meaning Nature.

The Construct is both the cancer of creation and the mother of drama, because it provides meaning to history. Whether this is genetic or environmental is a matter of impossibly esoteric debate. Chicken or egg stuff. It’s just the way the story goes. But we live in a story. The Construct infiltrates and affects the world and the story. The Construct is the inevitable product of an order based on money, power and violence. It is its own reproducing force. It consumes creation and recreates order in its own image: sometimes slowly, sometimes with amazing speed. On some level, how we respond to the Construct is the story. Peoples and societies fluctuate between leaning towards a natural decency and fairness or leaning towards the Construct. The Construct despises aboriginal and agrarian cultures for their natural proximity towards the light. Societies attempt to “outrun” the Construct’s inevitable tyrannies with political efforts like democracy. The Construct is not only a collective structure but seems to have a will of its own. It can run entire nations through solitary men who serve The Construct fully and with ingenuity (such as Hitler or Stalin). Such men need accomplices, certainly. There in lies the greatest danger to society, because an ancient desire for order can lead fearful men to surrender their wavering love of decency and freedom.

The Construct’s latest design appears to be to create a universal machine of tyranny and humiliation. The development of such a machine requires some time. In the meantime, the Construct makes smooth the paths to the Machine. So we have the Construct’s entertainment factory, the Construct’s history of the world (short and fuzzy), the Construct’s music delivery system, the Construct’s contempt for nature and tribal peoples, the Construct’s agribusiness juggernaut, the Construct’s endless propaganda for Itself, the tedious politics of the Construct (left or right wing, it’s still the Construct’s chicken) and the fabulous Construct Educational System, where we learn to live in the Construct.

The proof that it is a single (if still somewhat divided and unconscious) Construct comes in the recognition of The Great Consolidation, the accelerating appropriation and control of our means of survival by a unifying worldly entity. The Great Consolidation tears us away from our traditions, up to and including our relationship with God and reality. The loss of family farms is an example of the Construct (of money, remember) working its will in support of the Great Consolidation, so that all food production comes under power of the It.

The Construct devours land (in the name of money) to serve the Great Consolidation. The less wilderness or common land, the more we are like sheep in a pen, with one worldwide city.

Let us remember, wild means willed. Wilderness means self-willed.

The Construct attempts to turn schools into robot factories, ignoring the true spirit of education, and serving a corporate-scientific view of the world. This is public sector Construct serving private sector Construct serving the Great Consolidation of education (i.e. national testing) serving the Force that doesn’t want you to know it exists.

The Construct invades the Church (through power, money and media). It assaults innocence (force feeding children the Construct’s “values”). It corrupts government. It degrades men and women. It’s completely invisible and it’s everywhere, shining like a new toy or stinking like a hog farm. It is that which divides truth in the name of money on behalf of the It.

It wants a toothless church, a phony government, a confused and brain-washed population, barren land, poisoned water, broken men and women with no hope in God and total, utter fear of the power of the It. It does this to complete the Great Consolidation, and make straight the paths for its master.

St. John’s Canyon

March 2001





Self-Reproducing Robots

I first saw an edited version of this article in the Missoula, Montana newspaper about a month prior to this writing. The newspaper was posted to the bulletin board at the Monture/ Spread Creek fire camp, near the town of Ovando, where my fire crew and I were stationed. This article blew my mind.

When I came off the fires and returned to Eugene, a friendly librarian took the time to retrieve the full text for me from the Internet. This time at least, the machine produced something I can use—information about the machine.

August 30, 2000, Wednesday

HEADLINE: REPRODUCING ROBOTS CREATED

BYLINE: By LIDIA WASOWICZ, UPI Science Writer

DATELINE: SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 30

I begin quoting this article.

In what they describe as a step toward the autonomy of artificial life, researchers have created replicating robots.

And in another science fiction meets the real world feat, a second group has announced teaching tiny robots to organize with ant-like precision.

"Most robotics research is about adding brains to animatronic puppets, which is a lost cause," said Jordan Pollack, associate professor of computer science and complex systems at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., lead author of the study that will be published Thursday in the British journal Nature and member of the first team to develop robots that design and construct other robots without human help.

"In nature, the body and brain co-evolve together, like the chicken and the egg. There never is one without the other," said Pollack, director of the Dynamical and Evolutionary Machine Organization Laboratory, who first started working on a project in body-brain co-evolution in 1992.

"This is a long awaited and necessary step towards the ultimate dream of self-reproducing machines," said Rodney Brooks of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., who authored an accompanying News and Views article.

"While we feel this is a neat advance in the science of evolutionary robotics and artificial life, we think the real impact may be a new industry in five to 10 years," Pollack told United Press International.

"If our robots can be designed and manufactured without human engineering and labor costs to amortize through mass production, truly a whole new realm of low-cost robotics becomes enabled."


Most immediate potential applications have a wide range, from "a collection of 151 wacky toy robots as popular as Pokemon to automatic cleaning machines specific to certain environments, like after a football game at a particular stadium, to robots cheap enough to find and destroy landmines in different parts of the world to fixed industrial assembly applications for short-term, low-volume production," said co-researcher Hod Lipson, a mechanical engineer at Brandeis.

"The key idea is that a dumb machine evolved to a single environment is easier to construct than a machine which has to work in many environments or a humanoid robot which has to be intelligent enough to do multiple tasks," Pollack said,

In an advance of a different scope, Laurent Keller and colleagues at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland trained robots to be as organized as ants.

"Robots could be used in environments that are too dangerous or too inaccessible to humans," Keller told UPI. "It will probably take a few years until we have such robots ready because we have some important challenges, such as providing energy to the robots, to overcome first." At Brandeis, Pollack and Lipson looked to Nature to evolve their plan.

I am still quoting

Their first experimental machines consisted of nothing more than a few basic structural, mechanical and Electrical components designed to select the most mobile creations. These devices were then linked to a rapid prototyping machine that constructs three-dimensional shapes from computer models. Hundreds of generations later, they reached their aim: a machine that automatically builds another machine, and the fittest one at that.

"It takes a few days for the software to construct bodies-with-brains that best optimize the fitness function. Each run results in diverse locomotive mechanics and control circuits, all created without human knowledge. For example, one has a leg in the middle of its body to ratchet itself along the floor, while another swims the breaststroke on land," the authors explained.

"During a 'solidification' process, points and lines inside the computer simulation are automatically transformed into ball-joints and cylinders, providing a geometric blueprint of a machine which can be automatically constructed for about $250, and then recycled."

Though appearing as not much more than motorized plastic toys, the small, white robots could portent a big future, the scientists said.

"Robots have traditionally been designed to be able to operate autonomously," the authors said. "Now that design and construction have also been automated, self-reproducing machines that might, one day, merit the term 'artificial life' are a step closer." In the Swiss project, Keller and team programmed their tiny creations, which they dubbed ant bots, with the rules by which ants forage, including instructions on when to leave the nest, how to keep out of each other's way, how to search for sustenance and how to share food-rich finds with their fellow ants.

Groups of the man-made ant bots could maintain a higher average energy level, getting more "food" from less effort, than individual robots, the investigators found. Ultimately, the scientists envision autonomous, organized, cooperative robot communities operating in environments too dangerous or too distant for humans.

"We can envision a robotic factory inside a tractor trailer, or on an ocean-going platform, or a satellite, which is brought to the scene and produces machines which are rated for their performance in the actual task environment, leading to real-time on-site evolution," Pollack said.

I am still quoting

The researchers hope their experiment will point to a solution to the problem of exorbitant cost of design and construction, which has made robots prohibitive outside of Hollywood and the military.

"If we eliminate the human engineers, we can do for disposable robots what Bill Gates did for software releases: make them so affordable that everyone can own 100," Pollack said.

The scientists next aim for machines with many more moving parts and more complex task structures, robots that react to their environment.

"We are looking at environments with other robots in them playing survival games," Lipson said. "And we are importing evolutionary, co-evolutionary and symbiotic techniques from our other research projects."

At this point, the robots are "little more than toys, with the brains of a bacterium," Pollack said. "We hope to achieve insect status in a couple of years."

Is there a danger of this technology one day getting out of hand?

"The theme of robots running amuck as sorcerers and shapeshifters run through fantastic and paranoid literature," Pollack said, emphasizing that his robots have achieved replicating, not self-replicating, status. "The fears of AI robots replicating out of control are not at all justified. We are far from a collection of humanoid robots operating a machine shop making more humanoids," Pollack said.

"The field of robotics is still $100 billion shy, and centuries away, from creating an all-purpose intelligent humanoid like Star Trek's Commander Data. Companies today can build robots only for very specific tasks like automatic teller machines. Few other situations can recover the high development costs.

“They are simply tools leading to further prosperity of humanity, and only those machines which form economic virtuous circles survive," Pollack said. "They are not competitors or replacements for humans." No matter how far the field may progress, to the scientists, robots will always be just robots.

I am through quoting the article and return to my words.




Back to The Sorcerer’s Dream

Okay, are we back? What did you think of that lovely article? First off, we have this happy thought from one of the scientists:

“ This is a long-awaited and necessary step towards the ultimate dream of self-reproducing machines.”

Whose dream? Did we vote on this? Is that what the human dream is? The American Dream? Self-Reproducing Machines? Then we have this fellow who declares with glee:

“ If we eliminate the human engineers, we can do for disposable robots what Bill Gates did for software releases; make them so affordable that everyone can own one hundred.”

Gee, just what we always wanted-hundreds of self-reproducing robots. Right in our own home! But you read all this already. You saw that there are “important challenges, such as providing energy to the robots, to overcome first.”

I’m sure they’re working on it. The robots have to consume something, don’t they? Light? Water? Life? Blood?

America, the very hope of Freedom, is assisting in the creation of the infrastructure of hell itself. Hell on earth. Maybe not just here on earth. They want to send them to other planets. Robots could withstand interstellar travel. Fire them off, boys. They could reproduce across the entire Universe, devouring all of existence, until they’ve eaten everything and then they have to eat each other until there’s just one Big Robot left, and he eats himself.

To hell with these robots. That’s what I say. I’m allowed to say this, aren’t I? This is a bad dream, isn’t it? We’re not letting this really happen, are we?

So what are we up against here? What is really going on? There are no dissenting opinions available. So we’ll just have to ask the men in white coats.

“ Is there a danger of this technology getting out of hand?”

What does the good doctor say?

“ The theme of robots running amuck as sorcerers and shapeshifters runs through fantastic and paranoid literature.” Pollack said.

Huh? Since when? Sorcerers and shapeshifters? Why did he say that? I just remember Robbie the Robot myself.

Strange words, strange days, a strange dream.

Eugene 10-10-2000





Mount Saint Helen’s- the Trip Up


I climbed Mount St. Helen’s the other day (Oct. 4th). I just sort of ended up there. I had intended to drive to Mt. Rainier, but took a detour. I didn’t even know you could climb St. Helen’s, but when I stopped at a little country store in Cougar, Washington, I saw that they were the official climbing permit distributor. It cost fifteen dollars.

I missed the presidential debates. Bummer. But the pictures on the front page of the paper said it all. Identically suited puppets of the Great Consolidation- putting on one of the last shows of the democratic era. One of the contenders is old-school Pharaoh-son of a Pharaoh, oil man, militarist, tool, defender of right of the wealthy to pillage and plunder the poor and what is left of Nature. The other contender is the robot, the player, the sell-out, second fiddle for eight years to a deceiver, co-author of the techno-state. What kind of deal did this man have to cut? Inquiring minds want to know. The candidate for the Green Party was refused entrance to the hall, even as a spectator. Two days later, Clinton is on the radio applauding the Serbs for rebelling against a corrupt government.

“the triumph of democracy…freedom….”

Yeah, right.

Surely everybody knows the deal is rotten.

May God help our beautiful country.

I drink a little wine in the evening to try and still my soul. Yom Kippur starts tonight at sundown. The day of atonement. My sins are many. If I have the courage to repent before the One, perhaps He might forgive me. If I have the courage to write this book and then stand in the streets and defy the machine by my words, then I will be a man. A free man. Maybe then I might be forgiven my vanity.

“Ah, Lord God!” cried Ezekiel.

I spent the other night at the base of the great volcano, on her south side, the side that faced away from the eruption. It’s been twenty years since it blew. I remember the day it happened. I was just a kid then, watching news of it with wide eyes on the TV. St. Helen’s has always held a fascination for me. What a blessing for me to get to visit there in person.

The mountain erupted on May 18, 1980 at 8:32 am. The eruption was the largest ever recorded within the continental U.S. and one of the greatest on the planet earth of the last 500 years.

1980 was an important transitional year. The Soviets had bogged down in the deserts of Afghanistan, which marked the beginning of the end of Godless Communism. Reagan was elected, which marked the beginning of the triumph of Godless Consumerism. John Lennon was murdered, which marked the death of the “60’s dream” (that same week, Apple went public with its stock). Somewhere in there, a mountain exploded, killing 57 people and disrupting life over a wide area of the northwest. It was perhaps the best chronicled volcanic eruption in the history of the world. There exist amazing photographs that even show the initial eruption. She’s still a big mountain, even though the initial blast took the top 1,300 feet off. She rises nearly a mile into the sky from the little pull-out where I spent the night.

I watched the sun set on her in a red alpine glow. She is a vast bulk of congealed lava and shifting cinders pocked with dusty snowfields. I made a feeble fire with the few sticks of damp firewood I found nearby.

I dreamed of women and the will of God. One woman was holy and beautiful. The other woman wore steel jaws on the outside of her face. Her front teeth were missing, her eyes were insane and she spoke evil. I see both of these women clearly in my mind right now.

What is a dream and where does it live?

I woke up before the dawn and headed up the trail. I carried a daypack with a gallon of water, beef jerky, some artificial cracker snacks, a hunk of cheese and some bite-sized candy bars. I had my new walking stick with me. My friend Blackfoot Wahili carved it for me. He’s an old soldier too, a Vietnam veteran from Alaska who sells carvings on the street in Eugene when he’s down in that country. It bears the image of a raven (the “messengers of God”, he told me) and a symbol for unity. It was my walking stick’s first big adventure. I went fast along the trail through the timber in the pre-dawn darkness. The going became a little rougher in the vast lava fields that separate the tree line from the cinder summit.

Elemental Truth and awesome power. The power to make land. We can only arrange matter, and we fancy ourselves like gods. God can make the very bones of existence. From what? Do we really know?

I scrambled up the long stretches of boulders and came to the cinder zone. Above this point it seems that nothing lives. No plants. No chipmunks. No birds. Nothing but the gritty ash and the little lava rocks. The morning sun thawed out the ground from the night before, causing it to hiss mysteriously. Little miniature rockslides crumbled down everywhere, as if unseen ghosts tread beside me across the cinders. Occasionally I could hear a boulder break loose in the lava fields on the other side of the ridge. They crashed and rumbled against the sound of my own heart, pounding with adrenaline as I made my way higher in the thin air. It was the noisiest mountain I’ve ever been on. But nothing lived there and I was alone. The final part of the climb was a 1,500 vertical feet trudge through ankle deep cinders. I kept my mind on walking, sometimes turning to admire the incredible view behind me and to the east, where the sun was just now gaining some elevation in the sky. When I topped out on the crater rim, I couldn’t help but gasp.

I stood on the edge of a 2,000 foot precipice where Saint Helen’s rim dropped to the bottom of the crater. There, a lava dome has formed and a single cloud of steam vented from the rocks, dancing like a lonely spirit in the ruins. The jagged walls of the crater were an awful grand rainbow of gray, red and sulfurous yellow. Below the crater, Spirit Lake lay in the midst of the wasteland, half its surface still choked with fallen trees.

Somewhere down there, the old hermit Harry Truman lays buried under 200 feet of ash. He became somewhat of a media celebrity when he refused to leave his cabin at the old Spirit Lake, even though an eruption seemed imminent. His wife had passed away a few years before, and he saw no reason to go back down the mountain. He died free, and that has made him a legend.

The path of the volcano’s fury can be easily traced from the summit. It stretches for miles before abruptly ending at the edge of the great northwestern forest, itself a patchwork of clear-cuts and paradises.

Forty (?) miles away to the north, I see the immense frozen bulk of Mt. Rainier for the first time in my life. It stands more than a mile higher than the summit of St. Helen’s. Far to the northwest, I see snow-capped mountains near the sea-the Olympics. Just to the east is another great volcano, Mt. Adam’s. Turning to the south, I see beautiful Mt. Hood and further south to Jefferson and the Three Sisters, all of them volcanoes. Icy droplets on the Ring of Fire.

The crater draws in a cold, ashy wind. Whirlwinds and curtains of dust shimmer and dance along the rim and then disappear into the blue morning sky. The crater is constantly collapsing into itself. The cold, dirty wind drives me away from the rim. Just a few feet back away, and I am sheltered. I pray, drink water and nap in the morning sunshine, all alone on the big mountain.

When I wake up, I’m still alone. I walk back to the rim and look at Ranier. Then, for the first time, I see Seattle. Well, I don’t see the city exactly, but I see its cloud-dark and thick-spreading out towards the mountains and the sea. I look in the opposite direction and I see Portland’s cloud oozing in the direction of Hood.

St. Helen’s erupted due north in the direction of Seattle, or was it Ranier? Did it seek to pay homage? Or was it a sign and a warning to somebody about something? Was it nothing? Was it just a volcano? Scientists explain volcanoes. Not very many people really understand when scientists explain them, but that doesn’t matter. At least somebody’s got them figured out. As long as we can be assured that there is no mystery.

(In the margins of the notebook paper is written: “ Why Seattle? Why 1980?”)

Do we really think scientists know it all? Aren’t scientific explanations for everything a little forced sounding? It is as if they just aren’t seeing the whole picture. But their profession demands arrogance. I’m not trying to pick on scientists. We probably even need them. I am only poking a stick at the view of the world that science promotes among all of us.

God created the Universe. All of it. The oceans and volcanoes and trees and sky. He is at work constantly in this place. Perhaps he is also at play, and at school.

There is a reason Mt. Saint Helen’s exists, and a reason why she erupted. Outside of the scientific explanations, there is a reason. We may never know what that reason is, but that should not stop our wondering. Can’t we see that science is teaching us not to look at half of the Truth? A half-truth is still a lie.

The forests of Saint Helen’s should be teeming with pilgrims. It is one of the most famous mountains in the world, a testimony to one of the most spectacular events of the modern age. Children should be running across its cinder fields, old folks meditating on its mysteries. Where are they?

A few get funneled over to the visitor’s center, miles from the aura of the mountain itself. They have made this sacred spot all but off-limits.

That volcano is a lesson. But is it really a lesson about science? They named the volcanic observatory at the Visitor’s Center after the scientist who died upon its slopes, not after the hermit at Spirit Lake.

Before I went to the mountain, I stopped at a little Welcome Center in Woodland, Washington. A very sweet and helpful older couple there gave me maps and information. I asked them about what it was like to live so close to the mountain when it erupted. They talked a little about the ash and rumbling, and then the woman thought for a moment and said:

“You know what the most amazing thing about it was? It wasn’t three days after that mountain blew up that there were people lined up and down the roads selling ‘ I survived Mt. St. Helen’s’ T-shirts, and mugs and everything else you could think of.”

Twenty years later, that memory impressed the old woman enough to repeat to a stranger as the most amazing thing about the eruption of that massive volcano.

1980. Something happened then. Some shift towards an inevitability. Empires were crumbling. New empires were being born. What else happened that year that I don’t know about? What advances? What betrayals?

I finally climbed the mountain, and it filled my spirit. Maybe I get to keep that beauty with me for eternity! I hope it turns out we get to keep it. As I prepared to leave the summit, I was singing and laughing at how big everything is compared to little old me. Just before I started back down the mountain, two ravens flew right over my head, and as I tried to speak to them in my croaky raven voice, one of them dipped his wings just in front of me in some mysterious gesture. He spoke a soft syllable, and then joined his mate as they both flew on.

Little mercies. Why would ravens be flying over the rim of that volcano? There’s nothing to eat up there. Maybe they just like it up there, in that wild wind. They were the only living things I saw up above the tree line. Maybe they’re looking for something up there. Maybe they hold inside them some hope that this place might reveal to them something of the plan for ravens, some insight into the essence of raven-ness.

They are messengers of God. This mountain is a message from God. You are a message of God. The day we have just lived through surrounded us with messages from God. Were we listening?

I boot-skied through the cinders like a little kid on my way back down the mountain in the direction of another shimmering volcano, rising above a great, dark cloud.


October 2000 Eugene, Oregon





Failure to Obey


I got pulled over by the cops the other day for running a yellow light. I thought I was in the right doing what I did. Maybe I wasn’t. I was being tailgated and I was in the flow. I didn’t want to stop abruptly and the light was really just yellow.

I was giving a friend of mine a ride from the train station. It was the first time I’d driven anywhere in a few weeks. I’ve been walking everywhere I go here in Eugene. The cop pulled out from over on the side facing my buddy. He has very long hair and a beard. I suspect they might have been doing some good old-fashioned hippie profiling.

My registration and insurance were fine. I was sober, of course.

The cop was just a kid, really. Looked, talked and acted like a rookie.

“ I’m giving you a ticket.”

What for?

“ Failure to obey a traffic device.”

I looked at the ticket. It was 115 dollars. Ouch.

Are you saying I ran a red light? Because we both know I didn’t.

“ I’m saying you failed to obey a traffic device.”

Meanwhile the back-up has arrived. Two police cars mean double trouble. Eugene is one of a few American municipalities that actually suffers from the curse of employing way too many policemen in what is essentially a low crime area. The officer tells me that I’ll have to go to court.

But what are you saying I did?

“ Listen pal, I don’t have time to stand around…”

But officer, I have to go to court, right? What am I supposed to say I did? Are you saying I ran a red light or a yellow light or what?

“ Talk to the judge.”

I just got back from the fires, officer. Serving my country, you know? (yes, I was laying it on thick) I just went through a yellow light along with about three other cars and now you are going to take away my hard-earned money that I risked my life for? And you won’t even tell me what it is you are saying I did?

“ You can contest it in court if you like.”

As I drove by the back-up patrol car, the policemen inside smiled out the window.

“ Have a nice day,” he chirped.

These are the same policemen who have been keeping busy beating innocent citizens in Eugene and breaking up lawful public assemblies, all in the hopes of destroying the anarchist movement, which, for all its attendant silliness, is seen as a real threat by the powers that be. They also have the “party patrol”, where they come in uninvited through the front doors of people’s homes with video cameras when they receive a noise complaint about a party, checking ID’s and filming everybody.

Oh well, no big deal. I’ll just appear before the Judge for failure to obey a device.


October 8, 2000 Eugene







Time: a Place Where Stories Happens


“ All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full;

To the place where the streams flow, there they flow again…

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done;

And there is nothing new under the sun.”

- Ecclesiastes 1



“ Past, present, and future are an illusion, no matter how persistent”—Einstein



In time I write this. Just in time. It’s about time. Time is of the essence. Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping . . . into the future.

What do we know about time? What is it?

Time is a great battlefield, among all the other things it must be. A great stage as well. A perpetually expanding and disappearing moment. It is where the story is told. Without it there could be no lessons or actions. In our universe, being seems to requires time, and the illusion of the passage of time. It is critical to both the unity of Truth and the division of the Lie as dictated by the Universal Conspiracy Theory.

The Truth does not define Time for us, but offers instead many paths to meaning and wisdom through time.

The dividing Lie, on the other hand, attempts to tell us exactly what time we should think it is, and to enforce upon our lives a straight line of endlessly sequential, disappearing moments. These are the signposts of a worldly order. These become our structure-- the ceaseless march of seconds, hours, and days.

“Time’s a wasting. Time’s up.”

It must be plain to the reader by now that I am not a scientist or a scholar. Much of what I feel to be true about time is natural intuition based on personal experience. Some of it came from a book called “Man and Time” by J.B. Priestly. Mostly, I feel complete bafflement and unending awe at this reality. It is perhaps the greatest mystery of the dimensional forces, aside from the mystery of existence itself. I probably have no business thinking I know anything about it, but that hasn’t stopped me yet. I feel I should make this effort to discuss this dimension because time is a place, and that place is critical to everything else I might say.

Einstein’s Relativity seems to say that Time cannot be separated from space. They are somehow one thing. God created a story to learn or demonstrate something about the act of Creation, the art of being. Time was the place where the story happens.

History, personal and global, is rife with both repetition and revelation. Patterns emerge. Change breaks the patterns apart. The patterns re-emerge with new embellishments, as if they had learned lessons. Without time, there can be no learning. If we weren’t supposed to learn anything in this universe, it seems unlikely that there would be a need for such a thing as time, whatever it is. My hunch is that we are learning in time, that God is learning from us and through us, that matter itself learns in time, and spirit too.

Time is also the place where God’s opposition must work. Division is the name of the game for the Universal Conspiracy Theory. It divides time in order to break up the lessons inherent in connected time.

As my as-yet-unheralded Theory dictates, the division of time will occur on all levels, exponentially. That is what has happened. It happened for a reason. But, of course, divided time only occurs in the perception of an onlooker. There is no objective time in the material universe. Time is tied to perception, space and motion. So what the opposition (both within us and without us) has encouraged is actually just the perception of divided time. It has installed an idea. This idea divides time into smaller and smaller increments that are addressed by numbers. Since time is a matter of perception, it is only our idea of time that can guide us through this story. What we think time is becomes time for us.

For certain, the division of time was very useful and important in shaping the development of civilization. It offered us an orderly vision of a different world. The industrial world and now the technological world could not exist without this idea of divided time.

But it all started naturally enough. Once upon a time, we noticed the seasons. We noticed that they returned in patterns. The Egyptians noticed that the Dog Star rose over the same notch in the desert about once every 365 days, and then we had a year. The moon became our month, twenty-nine and a half days shifting from fullness to darkness to fullness again.

To notice a day seems pretty obvious. But the day changes shape once it has a name (say Tuesday) and is placed in context with weeks, months and years.

These divisions of time are significant and to an extent, universal. Certainly the season and the month are known to virtually all tribal peoples. These divisions are instinctual and arose so early in our story that they likely coexisted with our very humanity.

Such relationships to time are related to natural phenomenon. Cyclical in nature, they mark repeating patterns in the visible universe. That is the world we lived in for untold millennia. With the rise of civilizations like the Chinese in the east, the Mayans in the west, and the Mesopotamians in between, about the only change in these relations was the concept of the linear time line, as years began to be added together to create a date in time. Nevertheless, that concept of linear time would take root and blossom into something our blood has perhaps never really gotten used to.

For the hours came next. First in the form of sundials, which were hardly universal outside of the cities. But for the first time, the passage of time could be viewed on a human tool. Still, sundials require sunlight and are useless in the rain, I suppose. For the vast majority of humanity, there was simply no need to divide a day into hours. Our way of living did not require it. You got up in the morning, did what you had to do, and you were done when it was done, whenever that was. The first clocks were not constructed until perhaps the 12th century or even later. For centuries after that, they were exceptionally rare, appearing mainly in the church towers of Europe. But their arrival certainly must have had an impact.

The story of the division of the perception of time runs concurrent with the rise of the industrial and technological colonization of the peoples of the earth. This is not to call the old watchmakers servants of the machine. They were just trying to create something that would increase our commonality, a helpful tool to eliminate confusion. Most major technological innovators have the same desire--to move us forward, to bring us together. On some level they accomplish this goal. This seems important. It is like the telephone. It brings us together and it keeps us apart. If I need to talk to you and you live across town, I can phone rather than come by and visit. It could be that without this technology, I might not have talked to you at all and that the phone brought us together. Or it could be that the telephone prevented us from visiting face to face. It is this dance of unity and division that is the core dilemma of technology. As for the clock makers, they brought the people together with the tolling of the bell, but as they did so, they divided them from the natural rhythms of life that had been their birthright for untold millennia.

And the tolling of the bell was just the beginning. Because the invention of the mechanical hour and its necessary child, the minute, heralded a new way of living. It allowed for the industrial age; the assembly line and the clockwork.

Soon we had the second, the millisecond, the nano-second.

The solitary clock at the cathedral became the clock at the office, at the school, at home. It was a necessity if you wanted to live in the world. Soon, in spite of its ubiquity, the clock was not enough, and we were handed the pocket watch. We learned to carry the New Time around with us. Finally we have the wristwatch-strapped to our wrist (like a shackle?) So many styles. For the gentlemen and the ladies. For the purists, old-fashioned hands and Roman numerals. For those on the go, we have the digital timepiece-complete with dozens of functions. Now they offer the combination cell phone, Internet, and miniature microwave oven strapped to your head. Or the Palm Pilot, which sounds both vulgar and ridiculous. What’s he flying? And always the time, reminding you from the corner of your eye that the world has agreed upon a schedule, and you are most likely late. Always the furtive glances, the apprehension at the march of hours. The clock was our first real machine. Not just a tool like the wheel and the plow. It was self-contained and mysterious. We all ended up agreeing that it knew the time. We agreed to the machine. We took it into our homes and even upon our persons. It laid the foundation for all machines to come. It is still at the core of our relationship with mechanical, industrial, and social reality.

“What time is it?”

Not enough hours in the day. Not enough time. We hope for “quality time”, which says so much about our days. Why do we so often race about frantically, full of anxiety and apprehension? Perhaps because we live in clockwork, allowing our lives to be structured by an unnatural relationship with time. Inherently, it ceases to be our time. Life becomes a race against time, a fear of what happens when the time’s up. All clocks break down sometime. We are so tied to clocks that we sometimes feel there is a clock inside us. Scientists often compare our bodies to machines. Dangerous people are “walking time bombs”.

When is the time up?

Then the world buries us with distractions, electronic garbage and endless bureaucracy. Any extra time we might have saved is easily swallowed up. Sometimes when the alarm goes off we practically curse the morning. The very rising of the sun brings distress. In the night, we slipped off to the place where there is no man’s time; where we wander in the eternal now, the place of unlimited possibilities. We feel the ancient tug of the truth of our dreams as we attempt to get out of bed. So we slam the snooze button. But the machine keeps on calling, and you’re off to work.

Here’s your time card. Punch in. Put in your 40, 50, 70 hours. Your forty years. Some of us are lucky enough to have jobs we like. Some of us aren’t. But we all work to keep the world moving on mechanical time, so long as we believe it’s real. Mechanical time is what entrenched the idea of the linear life and consequently our obsession with youth. The seconds turn into minutes into hours and days and months and years and we are only aware that it slips away, that it’s gone. The Now is laid waste. The moment is destroyed. When time ceases to become a place, we are homeless. Time can stop being the garden of life and instead become a death march.

Still, in spite of the centuries of indoctrination and adaptation, part of us knows that this way of looking at time isn’t altogether real. We’ve all been to the place where time isn’t a clock--the long childhood days, the afternoon at the lake, making love, music. We remember it in our hearts, and we still seek that truth out (whenever we find the time). The clockwork has not won entirely. We still gather up moments for eternity, bathed in perfect light, preserved in sweet memory. Such is the mercy of God.

I say mercy because we might get to keep those moments forever. If this is true, then the proof is in our dreams.

Dreams are a funny place. Everyone has them. Scientists explain dreams in a lot of different ways. Everyone’s got their theories.

On one level, dreams are obviously about what is going on inside of us. They have lots to say about our hidden fears, hopes and lusts. They bring back to life people who are gone from us. They place us in various positions of heroism or shame. They are great stories.

On another level, dreams are also symbolic. Flying can mean freedom or nakedness can mean fear of exposure in society or archetypes can appear—birds, soldiers, dogs, clowns, kangaroos, whatever.

Thus ends my brilliant summation of Freud and Jung. Oh, well. There are lots of great books about dreams. I don’t claim this to be one of them.

But there is another aspect to dreams that is quite real. Something we should think about, or remember perhaps—dreams exist in time. They don’t just exist in our heads, anymore than our consciousness just exists in our heads. Dreams can very literally see the future, or at least possible futures. This is not a small matter, whether we’ve thought about it before or not. This needs to be considered with some gravity, because it goes to the heart of the matter of being alive.

Have you ever had a dream or a part of a dream that came true? Think back.

Some of you will immediately answer yes, others no, and many will say they are not sure.

I’m not referring to dreams in the sense of the dream as an aspiration i.e. “I always dreamed of being a doctor and now I am one.” That sort of thing is interesting too, but it’s not quite where I’m headed with this.

I’m talking about a specific incident in a dream that later occurred in one’s waking hours just as it happened in the dream, or at least so similarly that the incident in the waking hours is tied unmistakably to the incident in one’s dreams.

Believe it or not, precognitive dreams seem to happen a lot. It is possible that they happen to everyone every night. But dreams are easy to forget by nature and even easier to forget in the hustle and bustle of the modern world. There is little encouragement to remember your dreams, or little apparent reason. Some dreams still make it through our early morning filter and into our memory banks. Some dreams might pop up in the universal phenomenon known as “déjà vu”, though it’s kind of hard to say what “déjà vu” is.

But some parts of dreams literally do come true. There are countless recorded instances where people made warnings based on dreams that subsequently were justified by events.

Innumerable other instances are first heard around breakfast tables, as a person relates their dream. Then events later in the day confirm some aspect of the dream. Most precognitive dreams are about inconsequential things. About a month ago, I had a dream there was a giant cockroach, maybe a foot long, wriggling on its back in front of me. In the dream it really disturbed me. When I got up the next morning and went to the bathroom, I turned on the light and stepped to the sink. A cockroach fell from the light fixture above the sink and landed in front of me, wriggling on its back. Just as in the dream, I was very disturbed. My recognition was instantaneous. It was from the dream. The probabilities for coincidence become very small, especially when you consider that this dream was the first such cockroach dream I can ever recall, and that having a cockroach fall wriggling on its back in front of me while I’m trying to brush my teeth is not an everyday occurrence, thank goodness.

Let me tell you about another dream of mine. It happened about two years ago.

In the dream, I was with a girlfriend I had at the time. We were walking in the country. We stopped at a roadside stand and bought something. Then we were walking on a gravel road and came up to a cemetery. By one of the head stones lay a broken porcelain woman, or statue of the woman. She seemed to be spilling out of the ground.

The next morning I told this girlfriend about the dream over breakfast. It seemed like an odd dream, but not so substantial that I had any trouble putting it behind me as soon as I had recounted it. It was a Saturday, and we decided to go off into the country for the day. We drove west of Nashville, to a place called Montgomery Bell State Park. On the way, my friend had me pull over at a roadside fruit stand. It was the same one from the dream, though it didn’t register until later.

We arrived at the park and it was a beautiful Tennessee day. We went walking on a trail back into the woods. After a while, the trail intersected a gravel road, and we turned off onto that road. It took us through a little cemetery. Instantly I recognized that graveyard as the same one from the night before. I told my girlfriend about it, and she remembered what I had told her at breakfast. What a relief it is to have a witness when something magical happens. It was also eerie. The only thing missing was a broken porcelain woman-spilling out onto the ground from a grave. That had been the strongest image in the dream. I figured that this image must have been symbolic.

Two days later, I was back at work, yanking out a shrub at one of our client’s houses without being as careful as I should have been. I pulled so hard on the shrub that when it came loose I stumbled back into their little fountain, knocking over the centerpiece statue. It landed and broke on their brick patio. It was a large statue of a woman pouring a pitcher of water. She landed face up towards me. I looked down at the broken woman, and I recognized her instantly. She was the woman in my dream, though she was cast in concrete and not in porcelain. Somewhat distraught, I took her home and mortared her back together. The dream was both literal and symbolic, and perhaps that is why it struggled so hard to be remembered. But as strange as the symbolism was, it is the very existence of that dream that seems most remarkable.

How could one possibly dream something that then comes true? It happens all the time. Supposedly if you just start writing your dreams down after you awake with them, paying close attention to the details, you will notice precognitive dreams fairly quickly. They don’t tend to be about earth-shattering things; often it is just a detail from a dream that repeats itself in the waking world. Dreams, if they do come true, tend to do so very soon after the dream, but this is not always the case.

So what? Some might say.

Well, as Priestly says, if even one of these dreams is true; if I and the millions of others with similar experiences are not lying; then it discounts what the clockwork Society tries to teach us about time. For in order for a person to see the future, his consciousness must somehow be able to exist simultaneously in the present and the future.

The future, or more likely an infinite variety of possible futures, coexists with us right now.


Though I no longer own the book, Man and Time, I’m going to try to paraphrase (and digress from) what Priestly said, adding my own thoughts and whatever else I might stumble upon. Since Priestly is no longer with us, I don’t think he’ll mind. Since he was a friend of Orwell and Huxley, I think he’d sympathize with this work. Whatever academic courtesies are in order, consider them extended.

So this is where I’m headed.

When we dream, our consciousness is freed up from the many instinctual, biological and intellectual tasks of the waking day. Thus liberated, the consciousness can travel to wherever it has the power to go. Part of where it goes is to the land of the subconscious, where symbols and strategies, desires and delusions mix with what Jung called the “collective unconscious”, the great soup of genetic and tribal memory. Part of our consciousness wanders to the past, where family and old friends and familiar landscapes await. Part of it goes to the land of imagination, where all these sources are rearranged into new and sometimes fantastic shapes and storylines. Last but not least, consciousness travels the dimension of time, where Now always is.

It is interesting that we don’t tend to see through anyone’s eyes but our own in a dream, even when we’re watching ourselves. This life, this soul, is a very specific entity, in spite of all its sources and relationships. When the Titanic went down, there were many reports of precognitive dreams foretelling its sinking. Many of them reported reading about the disaster in the news in their dreams. Or the image of the ship in the dream corresponded to the photograph they saw in the newspaper in the days after the incident. So instead of seeing the disaster first-hand in their consciousness, which would require some kind of telepathy, they merely foretold reading the story and seeing photos of Titanic. Their minds supplied the rest of the dream scenario. You don’t seem to get to dream through anyone’s eyes but your own, unless you have some kind of psychic link with that person, as many people (some twins, for instance) no doubt have.

There is no way you could see the future in the present if they did not coexist. But your body does not exist in the future as well as the present. The existence of the body before life or after death defies both reason and observation. This is why it must be that the consciousness also exists outside of the flesh. If they were one energy, the body would have to follow the mind into the future, which neither happens nor seems possible. If we were truly bound to a successive series of fleeting moments with no honest connection between the past and future, the body would not allow for such a thing as a precognitive dream. On the other hand, it seems rather obvious that at some point we die, that this life is a container of consciousness and that the death of the body might place a limit on the perception of the individual, to say the least.

So… what’s the next big step? Well, if consciousness lives outside the body but is also limited by it, what happens when you die?

Following this course of logic, it would appear that consciousness could potentially survive death. If it lives outside the body and can wander into the future, what’s to keep it from existing after life has ended? Consciousness seems mostly linked to our experiences, either in the waking state or in the dream state. So that is what your consciousness would be left with at the end of your days. All your waking days and nights and all your dreams would belong to your consciousness forever. If your consciousness survives even for an instant after death, that instant could be as an eternity, or a billion eternities. All your memories could be remembered again, all your dreams could be relived. Without a body to support, the consciousness is very literally freed to plumb its resources. Not in endless repetition necessarily (reliving your life from start to finish over and over again) but rather possibly like some great consciousness soup, where you could live inside some nice childhood memory for an eternity, and then switch to some fantastic adolescent dream for an instant. In an eternal now, the difference between an instant and an eternity might very well be indistinguishable.

So, how we see these days on earth might be terribly important. It seems very possible that we are capable of manufacturing heavens and hells using nothing else but our days and nights on the planet earth. We might get to keep this life forever, hopefully with some kind of editing ability. But it would be a limited afterlife, because our body would not be present. I hope this is making some kind of sense. It’s just me trying to skate across as slippery a subject as I can think of.

Its possible that everyone is capable of receiving this limited afterlife. Whether anyone does or not is not mine to know. This afterlife of consciousness could be a foundation for other rebirths or other transformations. There might be an infinite number of possible heavens and reincarnations. We might disappear into the light itself, or part of us might. I cling to a belief that all children who die go to heaven, whatever that is. Animals and plants might too. Heaven could be an ocean where God makes more children and puppies, who knows?

The limited afterlife of consciousness can be a consolation or a warning to us. For those who are not evil, but not perfect, we might get to wander in the fields of our youth, or the arms of our lovers, or in the park with the wisdom of old age. On one level, we might live forever, one memory at a time, each one an instant and an eternity.

But if you bring evil to earth with you and fill your heart with wickedness, and never find it in your heart to repent, it’s possible that you could end up reliving your nasty days. And if your life was suffering and misery from the start, and you were crushed by forces outside of your control, God must have a place for you beside him outside the stream of your troubled days.

I personally believe there are heavens outside of memories. I believe in mercy.

God is just. I have no doubt. He will deliver Just Recompense for our lives. But we should be aware of and somewhat protective of our consciousness, because the implications are that it survives our bodily death. Why I am so concerned with this will become more apparent as we begin to discuss the impact of certain technologies on consciousness in the coming chapters.

Time can set you free. Or time can be a prison.

IT (the Darkness that deceives us) wants to destroy our moments, to divide them and confuse them until they are meaningless, loading us down with a virtual reality where there is no Now, where fantasy desires leave us stranded in two dimensions, storing up mediocre memories for eternity. Thus the IT lays a trap for our Forever’s. A life well spent is a threat to the darkness across all dimensions.

God may offer this limited afterlife filled with peace and honor and a paradise of sorts to everyone who lives, regardless of religious beliefs, because it is an afterlife founded in our very nature, the nature of our consciousness. Still, it seems like the questions to ask are:

“ Did we honor the creation or not?”

“ Did we honor the gift of Consciousness?”

“ Do we wish to take away virtual memories or real ones?”

Because we will return into the ocean of existence, and that ocean belongs to the Creator. We were placed in this world for many reasons. On some level we take with us the fruits we gathered here. But all men and women are offered the hope of heaven, either the New Jerusalem and the cleansed earth or the simple, eternal satisfaction of a life well lived seen in the grand perspective of a greater story.


Eugene October 2000




Time’s Technology Round-Up


I found a copy of the June 19th, 2000 issue of Time magazine at the Laundromat in Moab, Utah just before I left to fight forest fires. It was a “special issue” and serves to prove, I suppose, that one need not have to research too hard to find messages from the prophets of the machine’s future. It has its own prophets and priests and watchmen, Its own covenant and faithful and skeptics.

The people who wrote these articles are obviously intelligent and eloquent thinkers. Many of them are quite hesitant to embrace the future they are foreseeing. But true dissenting opinions about the value of the technological future are not to be found in the issue. What everyone in these articles seems to agree on is that you cannot stop the Great Consolidation, or the Machine that is Its final manifestation. It has been given the kind of deference in these pages usually only offered to the natural order, and to God. They say It will come, no matter what.

If you cannot stop or even slow something, that means it is not in our control.

If it is not in our control, then it is either an independent entity or it is controlled by someone or something else. There are only two masters. One is the Truth and the Light. The other is the Lie and the Darkness.

As we read these essays, let us consider what has been created here. Let us consider whom we serve. Let us consider the creation and our children.

I am not sure about the legal matter of reprinting such documents. I am attempting to do this properly….so they are in quotes, with minor, meaningless interjections on my part.






From the article:

WILL I STILL BE ADDICTED TO VIDEO GAMES

BY CHRIS TAYLOR


I begin quoting this article.

“JEFF BRIDGES GOT ZAPPED INTO IT IN TRON. Keanu Reeves reached it by means of a red pill in The Matrix. In Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash--a cult classic in Silicon Valley-our hero, Hiro Protagonist, goes there wearing goggles and a pair of virtual-reality gloves. It's where I expect to be spending my evenings in the twilight of my life, without ever leaving the comfort of my sofa. And who knows? Maybe I'll meet you there.

“What is it? It's a clean, well-lighted universe of one's own, built by computer but experienced through as many senses as you can afford. It's a perfectly legal mind-blowing experience to rival Timothy Leary's best trips, and it makes today’s Play Stations seem as primitive a pastime as bobbing for apples in a barrel.

“You could call it a game, although that word will cease to have any real meaning when this alternative world is complex enough to contain its own baseball leagues and its own population of children playing hopscotch on the streets. The people we meet there will look and feel almost as real as the ones we encounter during our waking lives. If you’ve chosen a multi-player universe, there may even be the same working stiffs, except that they will probably have designer bodies that are a lot more interesting than their own. Our quests, our goals will be of our choosing and will almost certainly not involve corporate mission statements or our bosses’ action agenda items. Here, our presence is of primary importance, and the universe truly does revolve around us.”


Sure it does. (This is me, Sand, interjecting for legal reasons)


“Impossible? No, inevitable. Three important trends are on a collision course; the growing power and wealth of the game Industry (the 21st Centuries answer to Hollywood), exponential advances in silicon and biotechnology and a demographic shift that will put purchasing power in the hands of a generation that was brought up on Video games and sees no point in putting them away. Already, the majority of the people who play on PC’s and video consoles are over 18. Tens of billions of dollars are being spent by the likes of Microsoft and Sony to ensure that they’ll still be customers at age 81. The odds are in the video games makers favor: even Big Tobacco doesn’t have a product this addictive.

“How will we travel to our alternative universes? The most exciting possibility is to use some form of biologically engineered computer wired directly into our heads--an exobrain programmed to provide a better more mathematically intricate imagination. In David Cronenberg’s recent movie eX istenZ, squidgy pink packages called bioports plug directly into special jacks at the base of player’s spines. The upshot is rather like what happens to your TV when you connect it to a VCR and press play. Visual and aural information from the real world is overridden; your bioport provides all the sensory stimuli you need. Technically, it’s just a question of getting the right hook ups. If there is any thing we already know from playing games, it’s that our brains eagerly adapt our physical responses to the onscreen action. Next time your six year old plays Pokemon on his game boy or your teenagers blast away at their pals on Quake, watch what happens to their breathing and blink rate. One steadily increases: the other drops away to almost nothing. Their bodies are getting ready to fight.”

Way cool. (me interjecting)


“Not that there's anything unusual about this; play is one of our most natural activities. Like dreaming, it helps us prepare for situations we might be forced to face in real life. (The U .S. Army already uses a Quake-style battle simulator to increase the weapons-firing responsiveness of its troops).

Imagine how you--or your business--could use a universe that mimicked the real one down to the slightest detail. Worried about asking your boss for a raise? Plug in the bioport, and see how a character like him might react. Want to see how well you could defend your home against an armed intruder? Enter your specs and have a go. Wary of giving your teenager the car keys? Let him drive around a virtual version of your hometown first.

"More and more, games are going to be about the player telling a story," says Will Wright, creator of this year's hottest PC game, The Sims. "It's up to us, the designers, to give them rich, open-ended environments." The Sims is very much in that do-anything vein; your aim is to micromanage the happiness of a suburban household, right down to the color of the roof tiles and the frequency of the bathroom breaks. In the future you may simply drop yourself into the Sims' house and hang out with them for hours at a time-a life away from life, a home away from home. Urban dwellers will escape their cramped confines by building vast Sims mansions in the cyber countryside; rural folk will get over their city envy by constructing a city of their own, brick by virtual brick.”

I can’t wait to get over my city envy. If only I could live in a virtual Dallas. This is Sand.

“What will make or break this scenario is the level of artificial intelligence found in the Sims themselves. After all, our brains were built to enjoy levels of social interaction higher than simply killing our opponents. We want to talk to them, to gossip, scheme and plot. Building computer characters that can pass our personal Turing tests is no easy task-but if anyone has the money and the motivation to fund neural network research, it's the game industry. "True artificial intelligence will come out of games first," says veteran designer Peter Molyneux, who should know. His latest epic, titled Black and White- to be released this fall- features creatures so complex they can go out and build websites of their own free will.

“Personally, I’m planning to get my bioport operation just as soon as someone designs a total sensory version of the classic empire building game Civilization. The task of supervising the entire span of human development-from cracking the whip at the construction of the pyramids to spear heading the colonization of outer space- should be enough to keep me occupied long past my 81st birthday. As Molyneux puts it, “what we’re talking about is the ultimate drug. If I can build a world where you can smell a rose and be a god, would you ever want to come back?” Not me. In my dotage I’ll happily resign myself to the 21st century equivalent of a crack den with a pink squidgy thing strapped to my spine. Move over Jeff, Keanu and Hiro- I’m coming in.”

I’m through quoting this article.

TIME, JUNE 19.2000 -.



From the article:

WILL MY PC BE SMARTER THAN I AM ?

BY RAY KURZWEIL


Now I’m quoting this one.

“For starters, you should realize that as soon as a computer achieves a level of intelligence comparable to human intelligence, it will necessarily soar past it. A key advantage of nonbiological intelligence is that machines can easily share their knowledge. If I learn French, I can't readily download that learning to you. My knowledge, skills and memories are embedded in a vast pattern of neurotransmitter concentrations and interneuronal connections and cannot be quickly accessed or transmitted.

“But when we construct the nonbiological equivalents of human neuron clusters, we will almost certainly include built-in, quick-downloading ports. When one computer learns a skill or gains an insight, it will be able to share that wisdom immediately with billions of other machines. Let's consider the requirements for a computer to exhibit human level intelligence, by which I include all the diverse and subtle ways in which humans are intelligent; including musical and artistic aptitude, creativity, the ability to physically move through the world and even to respond to emotion. A necessary (but not sufficient) condition is the requisite processing power, which I estimate at about 20 million billion calculations per second. (we have on the order of l00 billion neurons, each with some 1,000 connections to other neurons, with each connection capable of performing about 200 calculations per sec.). As Moore's law reaches its limit and computing power no longer doubles roughly every 12 to 18 months (by my reckoning, around 2019), conventional silicon chips may not be able to deliver that kind of performance. But each time one computing technology has reached its limit, a new approach has stepped in to continue exponential growth. Nanotubes, for example, which are already functioning in laboratories, could be fashioned into three-dimensional circuits made of hexagonal arrays of carbon atoms. One cubic inch of nanotube circuitry would be I million times more powerful than the human brain, at least in raw processing power.

“More important, however, is the software of intelligence. The most compelling scenario for mastering that software is to tap into the blue print of the best example we can get our hands on; the brain. There is no reason why we cannot reverse-engineer the human brain and copy its design. We can peer inside someone's brain today with noninvasive scanners, which are increasing their resolution with each new generation. To capture the salient neural details of the human brain, the most practical approach would be to scan it from inside. By 2030, "Nanobot" technology should available for brain scanning. Nanobots are robots that are the size of human blood cells or even smaller. Billions of them could travel through every brain capillary and scan neural details up close. Using high-speed wireless connections, the Nanobots would communicate with one another and with computers that are compiling the brain scan database.


“Armed with this information, we can design biologically inspired recreations of the methods used by the human brain. After the Algorithms of a region are understood, they can be refined and extended before being implemented in synthetic neural equivalents. For one thing, they can be run on computational systems that are more than 10 million times faster than the electrochemical processes used in the brain. We can also throw in the methods for building intelligent machines that we already understand. The computationally relevant aspects of individual neurons and neural structures are complicated but not beyond our ability to model accurately. Scientists at several laboratories around the world have built integrated circuits that match the digital and analog information-processing characteristics of biological neurons, including clusters of hundreds of neurons.


“By the third decade of the 2lst century, we will be in a position to create highly detailed maps of the pertinent features of neurons, neural connections and synapses in the human brain--including all the neural details that playa role in the behavior and functionality of the brain--and to recreate these designs in suitably advanced neural computers. By that time, computers will greatly exceed the basic computational power of the human brain. The result will be machines that combine the complex and rich skills of humans with the speed, accuracy and knowledge-sharing ability that machines excel in.”

Get Your Neurons ready! This is Sand still quoting.

“How will we apply technology that is more intelligent than its creators? One might be tempted to respond, "Carefully!" But let’s take a look at some examples.

“The same Nanobots that will scan our brains will also be able to expand our thinking and our experiences. Nanobot technology will provide fully immersive, totally convincing virtual reality. By taking up positions in close physical proximity to every interneuronal connection coming from all our sense organs (e.g., eyes, ears, skin), the Nanobots can suppress all the inputs coming from the real senses and replace them with the signals that would be appropriate for a virtual environment. By 2030, "going to a website" will mean entering a virtual-reality environment. The implant will generate the streams of sensory input that would otherwise come and from our real senses, thus creating an all-encompassing virtual environment that will respond to the behavior of our own virtual body (and those of others) in that environment.

“This technology will enable us to have virtual-reality experiences with other people-or simulated people-without requiring any equipment not already in our heads. Further, this virtual reality will not be the crude experience one can sample in today's arcade games. It will be as realistic and detailed as real reality. Instead of phoning a friend, you can meet in a virtual cafe in Paris or take a walk on a virtual Mediterranean beach, and it will seem very real. People will be able to have any type of experience with anyone-business, romantic, sexual-without having to be in the same place.”

That sounds virtually exciting. (Sand)

“Nanobot technology will be able to expand our minds in virtually any imaginable way. Our brains today are relatively fixed in design. Although we do add patterns of interneuronal connections and neurotransmitter concentrations as a normal part of the learning process, the current overall capacity of the human brain is highly constrained, restricted to a mere hundred trillion connections. Since the Nanobots will be communicating with one another over a wireless local area network, they can create any set of neural connections, break existing connections (by suppressing neural firing) and create new hybrid (i.e., combined biological and nonbiological) networks, as well as add powerful new forms of nonbiological intelligence. Brain implants based on distributed intelligent Nanobots will massively expand our memory and otherwise vastly improve all our sensory, pattern recognition and cognitive abilities.

“We are already using surgically installed neural implants for conditions such as deafness and Parkinson’s disease. In 2030, Nanobots could be introduced without surgery, essentially by just injecting or swallowing them. They could also be directed to leave, so the process could be easily reversible. They will be programmable, in that they will be able to provide virtual reality one minute and a variety of brain extensions the next. They will be able to change their configuration and alter their software. Perhaps most important, they will be massively distributed and therefore can take up billions or trillions of positions throughout the brain.

“So will computers be smarter than humans? It depends on what you consider to be a computer and what you consider to be human. By the second half of the 21st century, there will be no clear distinction between the two. On the one hand, we will have biological brains greatly expanded through distributed Nanobot based implants, on the other, we will have fully non biological brains that are copies of human brains but vastly extended. And we will have a myriad of other varieties of intimate connection between human thinking and the technology it has fostered.

“Although some contemporary observers consider the prospect of merging with our technology disconcerting, I believe that by the time we get there, most of us will find it very natural to expand in this way our experiences, our minds and our possibilities.”


Gee, how sweet. (Sand)

TIME. JUNE 19,2000


From the article:

WILL WE PLUG CHIPS INTO OUR BRAINS?

BY WILLIAM GIBSON

I’m simply quoting again.

“Maybe. But only once or twice, and probably not for very long. With their sharp black suits and their surgically implanted silicon chips, the cyberpunk hard guys of 80”s science fiction (including the characters in my early novels and short stories) already have a certain nostalgic romance about them. These information highway men were so heroically attuned to the new technology that they laid themselves open to its very cutting edge. They became it; they took it within themselves.

“Meanwhile, in case you haven’t noticed, we are all becoming it; we seem to have no choice but to take it within ourselves.

We do have a choice (Sand).

“In hindsight, the most memorable images of science fiction often have more to do with our anxieties in the past (that is to say, the writer’s present) than with those singular and ongoing scenarios that make up our life as a species-our real future, our ongoing present.

“May of us, even today, or most particularly today, must feel as though we already have silicon chips embedded in our brains. Some of us, certainly, are not entirely happy with that feeling. Some of us must wish that ubiquitous computation would simply go away and leave us alone. But that seems increasingly unlikely.

“That does not, however, mean that we will one day, as a species, submit to the indignity of the chip-if only because the chip is likely to shortly be as quaint an object as the vacuum tube or the slide rule.

“From the view point of bioengineering, a silicon chip is a large and rather complex shard of glass. Inserting a silicon chip into the human brain involves a certain irreducible inelegance of scale. It’s scarcely more elegant, relatively, than inserting a steam engine into the same tissue. It may be technically possible, but why should we even want to attempt such a thing?

“I suspect that mainstream medicine and the military will both find reasons for attempting such a thing, at least in the short run and that medicine's reasons may at least serve to counter some disability, acquired or inherited. If I were to lose my eyes, I would quite eagerly submit to some sort of surgery that promised a video link to the optic nerves. (And once there, why not insist on full- channel cable and a Web browser?) The military's reasons for chip insertion would probably have something to do with what I suspect is the increasingly archaic job description of "fighter pilot, " or with some other aspect of telepresent combat, in which weapons in the field are remotely controlled by distant operators. At least there's still a certain macho frisson to be had in the idea of embedding a tactical shard of glass in your head, and crazier things, really, have been done in the name of king and country.

“But if we do it at all, I doubt we’1l be doing it for very long, as various models of biological and nanomolecular computing are looming rapidly in view. Rather than plug apiece of hardware into our gray matter, how much more elegant to extract some brain cells, plop them into a Petri dish and graft on various sorts of gelatinous computing goo. Slug it all back into the skull and watch it run on blood sugar the way a human brain's supposed to. Get all the functions and features you want, without that clunky-junky 20th century hardware thing You really don't need complicated skull glass to crunch numbers, and computing goo probably won't be all that difficult to build. (the trickier aspect here maybe turning data into something brain cells can understand. If you knew how to get brain cells to manage pull down menus you’d probably know everything you needed to know about brain cells.)”

I’m still quoting:

“Our hardware I think, is likely to turn into something like us a lot faster than we are likely to turn into something like our hardware. Our hardware is evolving at the speed of light, while we are still the product, for the most part, of unskilled labor.

“But there is another argument against the need to implant computing devices; be they glass or goo. It's a very simple one, so simple that some have difficulty grasping it. It has to do with a certain archaic distinction we still tend to make, a distinction between computing and "the world." Between, if you like, the virtual and the real.

“I very much doubt that our grandchildren will understand the distinction between that which is a computer and that which isn't.

“Or to put it another way, they will not know "computers" as a distinct category of object or function. This, I think, is the logical outcome of genuinely ubiquitous computing, of the fully wired world. The wired world will consist, in effect, of a single unbroken interface. The idea of a device that "only" computes will perhaps be the ultimate archaism in a world in which the fridge or the toothbrush is potentially as smart as any other object, including you, a world in which intelligent objects communicate, routinely and constantly, with one another and with us. In this world there may be no need for the physical augmentation of the human brain, as the most significant, and unthinkably powerful, augmentation will have taken place beyond geographic boundaries, via distributed processing. You won't need smart goo in your brain, because your fridge and your toothbrush will be very smart indeed, enormously smart, and they will be there for you, constantly and always.

“So it won't, I don't think, be a matter of computers crawling bug like into the most intimate chasms of our being, but of humanity crawling bug like out into the mingling light and shadow of the presence of that which we will have created, which we are creating now, and which seems to me to be in the process of re-creating us.”

I am through quoting this article.

TIME June 19, 2001




From the article:

WILL TINY ROBOTS BUILD DIAMONDS ONE ATOM AT A TIME?

BY MICHAEL D. LEMONICK

Now I quote an article about Nanobots

“On it’s face, the notion seems utterly preposterous: a single technology so incredibly versatile that it can fight disease, stave off aging, clean up toxic waste, boost the worlds food supply and build roads, automobiles and skyscrapers--and that's only to start with. Yet that's just what the proponents of nano technology claim is going to be possible, maybe even before the century is half over.

“Crazy though it sounds, the idea of nano technology is very much in the scientific mainstream, with research labs all over the world, world trying to make it work. Last January President Clinton even declared a National Nanotechnology Initiative, promising $500 million for the effort.

“In fact, nanotechnology has an impeccable and longstanding scientific pedigree. It was back in 1959 that Richard Feynman, arguably the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein, gave a talk titled "There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”, in which he suggested that it would one day be possible to build machines so tiny they would consist of just a few thousand atoms. (The term nanotechnology comes from nanometer, or a billionth of a meter; a typical virus is about 100 nanometers across.)

“What would such a machine be good for? Construction projects, on the tiniest scale, using molecules and even individual atoms as building blocks. And that in turn means you can make literally anything at all, from scratch-for the altering and rearrangement of molecules is ultimately what chemistry and biology come down to, and manufacturing is simply the process of taking huge collections of molecules and forming them into useful objects.

“Indeed, every cell is a living example of nanotechnology: not only does it convert fuel into energy, but it also fabricates and pumps out proteins and enzymes according to the software encoded in its DNA. By recombining DNA from different species, genetic engineers have already learned to build new nanodevices- bacterial cells, for example, that pump out medically useful hormones.”

I am still quoting ( Sand)

“But biotechnology is limited by the tasks cells already know how to carry out. Nanotech visionaries have much more ambitious notions. Imagine a nanomachine that could take raw carbon and arrange it, atom by atom, into a perfect diamond. Imagine a machine that dismembers dioxin molecules, one by one, into their component parts, Or a device that cruises the human bloodstream, seeks out cholesterol deposits on vessel walls and disassembles them. Or one that takes grass clippings and remanufactures them into bread. Literally every physical object from computers to cheese is made of molecules, and in principle a nanomachine could construct all of them.

Going from the principle to the practical will be a tall order, of course, but nanomechanics have already shown that its possible, using tools like the scanning tunneling electron microscope, to move individual atoms into arrangements they would never assume in nature: the IBM logo for example or a map of the world at one 10-billionth scale, or even a functioning submicroscopic guitar who’s strings are a mere 50 nanometers across. They’ve also designed, though not yet built, minuscule gears and motors made of a few molecules. (These should not be confused with the tiny gears and motors, built with millions of molecules that have already been constructed with conventional etching technique. Those devices are gargantuan compared to what will be built in the future.)

“Within 25 years, Nanotechnologists expect to move beyond these scientific parlor tricks and create real, working nano machines, complete with tiny “fingers” that can manipulate molecules and with miniscule electronic brains that tell them how to do it, as well as how to search out the necessary raw materials. The fingers may well be made from carbon nanotubes- hair like carbon molecules, discovered in 1991, which are 100 times as strong as steel and 50,000 times as thin as a human hair.

“Their electronic brains could themselves be made from Nanotubes, which can serve both as transistors and as the wires that connect them. Or they may be made out of DNA, which can be altered to carry instructions that nature never intended, armed with the proper software and sufficient dexterity, a nano robot, or nanobot could construct anything at all.”

How about those nanobots ( Sand)

“Including copies of itself. To accomplish any sort of useful work, you’d have to unleash huge numbers of nanomachines to do every task-billions in every blood stream, trillions at every toxic waste site, quadrillions to put a car together. No assembly lines could crank out Nanobots in such numbers.

“But nanomachines could do it. Nanotechnologists want to design nanobots that can do two things: carry out their primary tasks, and build perfect replicas of themselves. If the first nanobot makes two copies of itself, and those two make two copies each, you've got a trillion Nanobots in no time, each one operating independently to carry out a trillionth of the job.

“But as any child who's seen Mickey Mouse wrestle with those multiplying broomsticks in The Sorcerer's Apprentice can tell you, there's a dystopian shadow that hangs over this rosy picture. What if the Nanobots forget to stop replicating? Without some sort of built-in stop signal, the potential for disaster would be incalculable. A fast-replicating nanobot circulating inside the human body could spread faster than a cancer, crowding out normal tissues; an out-of-control paper-recycling nanobot could convert the world's libraries to corrugated cardboard; a rogue food-fabricating Nanobot could turn the planet's entire biosphere into one huge slab of Gorgonzola cheese.”

Quite the image (Sand). Yes, I am still quoting.

“Nanotechnologists don't dismiss the danger, but they believe they can handle it. One idea is to program a nanobot software to self-destruct after a set number of generations. Another is to design Nanobots that can operate only under certain conditions-in the presence of a high concentration of toxic chemicals for example, or within a very narrow range of temperature and humidity. You might even program Nanobots to stop reproducing when too many of their fellows are nearby. It's a strategy nature uses to keep bacteria in check.

“None of that will help if someone decides to unleash a nanotech weapon of some sort-a prospect that would make computer viruses seem utterly benign by comparison. Indeed, some critics contend that the potential dangers of nanotechnology outweigh any potential benefits. Yet those benefits are so potentially' enormous that nanotech, even more than computers or genetic medicine, could be the defining technology of the coming century. It may be that the world will end up needing a nanotech immune system, with police Nanobots constantly at microscopic war with destructive bots.

“One way or another nanotechnology is coming.”

TIME June 19th, 2000---I am through quoting—Sand




Why I Always Loved Science

Because of National Geographic and Nature Shows. Because it shows us pictures of the big Universe…and pictures of the microscopic one. Because it dreams of the reasons how it all came to be and offers us ways to make sick people well…to make the road safer, to make our cities cleaner…for the way it tells us about all the animals and offers us a glimpse beneath the waves of the ocean, because of the way it looks at rocks…because it warns we are ruining our earth…because it says that there is an objective truth outside of what somebody told you…there is a deeper truth lurking inside the mechanics, because of the bubbling test tubes in science lab and the baking soda volcanoes…because it tries to make sense of the world and existence… because it is half the story, and since I love the story, I love both halves. It makes a great balance….an excellent servant. We seek wisdom, and science is part of the truth. But it is not the whole truth, and nothing but the truth… it is a blind leader, and it was not meant to lead…and once it creates, there is nothing to stop its creations-for better or for worse. Science is us, standing beside and staring at the Tree of Knowledge, desiring the fruit that makes one wise.





The god of Science

With science as a god, and technology as a savior, we march ever more quickly and confusedly into a trap. This trap has not been the result of the work of a conspiracy in the classic sense, where men secretly coordinate the commission and cover-up of a crime. Rather this trap is the result of a conspiracy of constructs, where men in search of power and money unwittingly serve a larger evil.

There is common ground among the major religions. Nearly all spiritual philosophies teach that greed is wrong, that violence is to be avoided whenever morally possible, that the tolerance of one’s neighbor is godly and that wisdom is to be most highly regarded. Desire for worldly excess and dishonorable passions are seen as an impediment to the search for truth. Also, we are typically asked to honor God as real and active in our lives and in our world.

This is not rocket science. It is simple respect and fairness. We are obviously created beings. We do not spring up from nothing. We are part of a vast Universe of incredible diversity that is still a single entity. Virtually everyone agrees on that. Even the demons agree, and shudder. From primitive tribal man to Albert Einstein, there is almost total consensus that there is a God, One Universal Almighty God, though this Creative Force is known by many names. Even those religions which ostensibly worship many gods or call upon many spirits tend to believe that these many are but parts of One. Meaning all is One.

But the Construct, the structure of The Great Consolidation which operates through science, law, business, nations, entertainment and often religion, does not honor this obvious truth. There can be no faith in an active God by the Construct, because it could not complete its tasks with such a moral model. It would be expected to take on characteristics pleasing to God i.e. fairness, mercy and love. So the Construct instead takes on a scientific model as its higher justification. To be generous to the Construct, we say that it does not serve God so as to keep a sense of scientific impartiality to its proceedings. In other words, we switched masters to keep things fair. But though we have placed this mantle of impartiality on science, we often fail to see that science at its heart must be partial, for it ignores God in order to retain authority. This is the secular model of modern society. It is essentially a Roman model, and that is what most of the world lives under today.

We began to hesitantly trust the scientific model of living when it revealed truths about the universe that the “Church” resisted. Science seemed more tolerant and decent than the Church-run state. We began to accept the authority of science because it became the standard model of living and seemed to offer the best hope of making our lives easier. The Consolidated Church was the chief force of the Construct in those days. I see The Construct as a fluid structure that seeks power, and thus lodges itself in institutions of power, whether they be churches, economic institutions or nation-states. Galileo revealed proof that the earth goes around the sun. This led the way to an expansion of our view of the scope of the universe. This kind of discovery only makes greater the glory and scope of the Creator. As these and other discoveries and theories emerged, we began to trust in this logic that expanded our vision of Creation. That is a sign of our old search for wisdom again. The scientific model began to supply medicines, plumbing, transportation, and many useful and entertaining inventions. It also provided the industrial society and an astonishing variety of instruments designed for mass murder.

The rise of the state (and modern economics) is the rise of the scientific model of existence. The mingling of social science, military strategy and technology create an efficient way to control large groups of people, people whose nature might better lend itself to smaller tribes.

The scientifically run state offers a society and a currency. It provides the system of money. If you believe in the system, you stand a chance of success. The system rewards extreme luck, diligence and/or ruthlessness. Some people excel at gathering immense wealth and power. That standard of living is generally presented as what we should desire. Desire is what runs market and consumer economics. The Construct is most effective at manipulating our desire for security. Who doesn’t want security? If security is to be found in wealth, then the way of the Construct is the way to peace of mind. The security of the old alliance with God is irrelevant to the potential peace of mind offered by the Construct. Indeed, God’s law could be seen as a hindrance to that type of peace of mind. The Construct encourages desire as a basis for commerce and worldview, while the holy books of “true” religion tends to see desire for worldly things as an obstacle between the believer and God.

Here in this strange time, we may finally begin to see how the Construct, the power structure of the new world, serves the opposition of God. This arrangement is not merely tribal structure or social dynamics. It is a point of view contrary to the one taught by our Creator through all the major religions, and it justifies itself with a scientific model of existence.

If this model of existence could provide us a way to get out of the trap it has itself laid for us, I would not bother writing a book. If the scientific model could give us a way to survive with dignity, to provide us some tiny true hope that it cares about the Creation, I wouldn’t bother writing a book. Money isn’t evil. We could live with it somehow. All we want is for some way we can still be free here. But this system is not offering us that. This is a one-way street. A dead end. It is what is known as a trap.

There is One God who has given us life. He gave us guidelines to live by. He gives us access to his very spirit. He has written his law into our hearts. We know when we have done wrong, or at least we should know.

But we are constantly being deceived by the Construct. The Construct encourages the refutation of the will and presence of God through its very form. It also does it through its control of storytelling. The Construct tells the story now, throughout the world. It also tells us that we can be as gods if we believe in its god. Money as an energy form can be seen as a substitute for the Spirit. The old truth: “With God, all things are possible” becomes instead: “ With money, science or power all things are possible”. This is not a new development, but these are new times.

Science as a system does not acknowledge God. It cannot acknowledge Him because it is a form of logic distinct from faith, used to bring about knowledge through the observation of natural processes. There is nothing wrong with that logic. It is an avenue to approach the Truth. It is not all bad or all good. Logic is simply logic, merely a tool. But all disciplines of thought, and all disciples of those disciplines, must eventually choose one road or the other. While many disciples of science choose to honor and defend the Created World or spread wisdom, others go to work for the highest bidder. Who do you think the highest bidder is always going to be? The Construct. What do you think it wants to build? Technology that increases its power-instruments of war, for instance.

Still other scientists take technology ostensibly designed for beneficial reasons and adapt them to purposes that are very much at odds with our gut notions of what man’s proper place is. I refer to such horrors as cloning, nano-technology, and self-reproducing robots. I do not know what motivates men to create such nightmares for their own people. Perhaps they feel they are helping us, though I do not recall any great cry from the people imploring scientists to offer us these technologies. The fear of God comes to mind as something they should be concerned about. But when was the last time you heard Dr. Frankenstein mention the fear of God? Science at its heart cannot bring God into its philosophies, because it is a branch of thought which must deny God, at least in the course of an experiment, so that the physical world may be examined and manipulated without the ideological intervention of an outside philosophy. This would not be a great problem if there were not much larger forces at work willing to use and abuse new technologies in their endless quest for power. But there are and they do. There is simply no standard of ethics for new technologies. Dr. Frankenstein may do as he pleases. Why? Because in the belief system of the Construct, Dr. Frankenstein is a very devout man, if not a priest. He serves the god of science, the practical model of power.

Do we still think that science is not regarded as a god? Which do you fear more, science or God? Which one can nail your house with a smart bomb or throw you in prison? The god of science (and the scientific state) thrives as much on fear as on wonder and bribery. Fear is it’s strongest claim to authority. Reverence through fear and wonder is an ancient game. Don’t worry, I know, The Religious State is at least as bad…I’m not a fan of the Taliban or the Inquisitors, my friends. But either way we seem to end up losing our freedoms, while we find ourselves running from the same powermongers that have always been lurking around our attempts at dignified self-government.

The Construct doesn’t care about science except for its technologies and its justifications. The Construct is justified by the god of science, just as the medieval Construct was justified by a twisted version of God. It turns out that the god of science often works for the forces of tyranny.

Science is far more awesome to us than the ancient gods. Who would dare oppose it? It has achieved existence outside the human mind. It fills the skies with mechanical eyes. It can see almost to the ends of the universe itself. It has nearly mastered the very code of life, replicating the body outside the laws of God. It has given us every convenience and toy we could have possibly desired and has now set about creating a computer-driven alternate reality as a supposed gift from the mind of its greatest machine.

Who dares stop the will of Science? Isn’t its logic already in our minds? Don’t the armies of the earth defend its Construct? Doesn’t it have thousands of warheads packed with atomic fire buried in the ground? Tens of thousands of mathematicians constantly at work to enlarge and defend it? Untold millions of interconnected terminals across the globe, feeding into a single unreckonable intelligence? What choice do we have but to follow it? Has there ever been anything in the world more powerful than the vast might and knowledge behind The Great Consolidation? Can’t we see it has become like a god? And in its world we are told to lust for money and condemn our children and take upon us its gadgety idols.

Commandment Number One: I am The Lord, thy God. Thou shall have no other gods before me.

OOPS. Looks like we’re in trouble. We know we’re in trouble. Everybody knows something is going wrong. So what’s the solution? It’s hot as heck out there. The earth, sky and water are poisoned. Our senses are bombarded with filth and nonsense. Our children are being corrupted with violence, debauchery and mindless, hopeless consumerism. What’s the solution to the fact that this place is rapidly becoming unlivable? More technology! That’s what the Construct says. I can fix it. Believe in me. It won’t work if you don’t have faith.

I have faith in the One God who created the universe. Who lives in all faiths. Who revealed himself to Abraham and to Moses and to the people of Israel on Mt. Sinai. Who gave us his scripture and his Words. Who gave us the gift of life and the sweet earth. Who gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us. The Savior who pleads our case to the Father and will return to us someday. I say what I believe so that it will be said, not to demand of anyone but to acknowledge everyone, all of us, brothers and sisters in this free-willed story of earth. I believe in God. I believe He is One and all and active and compassionate. He’s the One I wish to serve.

I don’t believe Its lies anymore. You will know this “god” by its fruits. Atomic Fear. The destruction of the Holy Mother Earth. The worldwide debtor’s prison. War and violence. Oppression. The defilement of women and children. The breaking of the spirit of man. The wireless consolidating realm of the digital machine.

Oh well, here it goes. Whom do we choose? Which side are we on? I am not here to judge you. I have no special power, so my judgment is irrelevant. I have been given a warning. I pass it along to you so that you have been warned. I do not relish this role. It exhausts and confounds me. But I am not ashamed, because God has spoken to my heart and I know he guides me.

My warning follows. It is my prayer that you will listen. I’m not trying to scare anybody. I am opposed to violence by nature and word. I think this whole thing can be faced with good humor. We have nothing to fear as long as we hold fast to what has already been written upon our hearts. The One God is our first and last hope, our truest hope forever.

Eugene November 2000





The Construct of The End


“ But of that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, but the Father only…”

-Jesus (Matthew 24:36)

Is the end near? As near as it’s ever been, I suppose. The one thing for certain is that the Construct of the end is here. The stage is set, the players introduced, the intensity of the struggle has been revealed. There is no sense in wishing that the world had done it differently. What is done is done. We can either try and change the outcome of these constructs or alter the construct itself (change the system from the inside). To accomplish the latter seems highly unlikely, since the existing form of the Construct protects itself with the might of all the armies of the earth. It also roots itself in our means of survival with the help of far-reaching and complex technologies that define our commerce, lifestyles, politics and even our very way of thinking. In other words, the Technological construct exists both inside and outside of us. It is easier to affect the Construct inside of you than the one that has been carefully established across the planet for thousands of years. To affect Its place in you is to affect Its place in the world. We should address our inner colonization simultaneously alongside any larger social critique.

A relatively new way of perceiving and explaining reality has become part of our internal thought process in the last few generations. If we see the world through a screen, and we know the screen is a liar-- which I think on some level we do- then the world could start to be a lie. We must learn to lie to live in that world, if one wishes to prosper. I don’t wish to belabor a point that at its heart is so subjective and esoteric, but I feel the need to address it before I plow ahead. Simply put, Hollywood has colonized our minds in much the same way as the Roman Empire has colonized the world. They walk hand in hand, the personal mind and the social mind, and one cannot function without the other.

In any other context, I would not bother writing such words as these. They have surely been stated before, with greater eloquence and more depth of thought. But these are not ordinary times for me or anyone else, for that matter.


Eugene October 2000







Watchman


On a mountaintop ( Flat Tops—10,000 feet) in Colorado this last July, ( July 14—Bastille Day—3 days after I left Nashville—in the midst of a tremendous solar storm) I fell upon my knees and pleaded to God through the name of His Son Jesus. Moments after he came into my heart and saved my sorry hide, I asked Him who I was. Because nothing made sense. Almost in desperation, I flipped the pages of my Bible and drove my finger down at random. This is where it landed:

“Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

‘Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘ When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, When he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, Then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life.‘ but if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes away any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand…

Ezekiel 33

As I live and breathe, that is what I read there on the mountain. Just my finger and an instinct, a Bible on a mountain in the midst of a solar flare. To some people it would mean less than nothing.

A week later I watched a great mountain burning through the night ( Mesa Verde July 24th). Something seemed to happen to me there that I couldn’t begin to explain. I have no proof that God spoke to my heart, but I know he did. I know that I should try and warn of the trap that is being set for us by a Darkness that has followed us from the beginning. Some days I feel sick under this idea. Other days I am stronger. But I am determined. I want to please God. I want to be a part of his will. It feels like I should do this.I don’t understand how God does what he does, but I know he does it. If I am wrong, I’ll be wrong until I’m done.

I am not The Watchman. I’m not The anything. Surely there are innumerable others. I don’t consider myself particularly unique or important.

I seek to warn as many people as I can. Nevertheless I am alone and more than a little confused. I have no context in which to place my current situation. I do know this warning is directed towards anybody who will listen, for it concerns something that appears set on devouring free will forever. I’m sure God will make clear all things, and that he will refine my spirit. At this moment, however, I am painfully aware that I’m just a man.

My job is not to save your soul, or anyone’s soul for that matter. If you wish to save your soul, I know there's a way to do it. How about calling on the name of Jesus, confessing your sins and forgiving others? That's the only way I know. But its not exactly my job to tell you that. My job is as a watchman. If I do not blow the proverbial trumpet, and the sword falls, then your blood is on my hands.

“ If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Deliver those who are drawn towards death, And hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.”

Proverbs 24

If you find this attitude condescending, then so be it. I am limited in my skills of enrollment. Please forgive any hasty or ill-conceived phrasings, but it doesn’t feel like I have a lot of time. If you see self-importance in my tone, please forgive that as well. I do not wish to be seen as anything. I merely want this message to be heard. If you think I’m a lunatic, then I hope it’s not just so you have an excuse to avoid listening to me. Does a man need to be perfect to speak aloud? If you don’t wish to hear me, I require no excuse from you. Neither do I need to ask anyone’s permission to speak, for that permission has already been granted me by the One who gave me my tongue and my hands, who fashioned the creation and the story.

I’m hoping that we have some instinct of survival left. Some urge towards freedom. We didn’t want it to turn out this way. Even at this seeming late hour, we crave the opportunity to turn it around, to make it right, to change the world. That is a noble impulse, a humane desire. There are things we can change and things we cannot. No matter what, however, we can stay true to what we all recognize as the true will of God, which requires of us simply fairness, decency, courage and honesty.

This is not what I intended to do with my life. It poses a risk. It may look silly. I was offered a deal and I chose to accept it. Now I must live it out. To turn back now is not an option. I believe what I have to say. It is not a theory. It is what it is. I am opposing the strength of a darkness that roams the earth. But I have hopefully allied myself with Him who created that earth and all of the universe. I choose my ally because He is Creation and Life. I choose my enemy because It brings destruction and death.


Eugene October 2000




The Warning


“ Then I desired to know the truth concerning the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrible, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze; and which devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet…

thus he said: ‘ As for the fourth beast,

there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth,

which shall be different from all the kingdoms,

and it shall devour the whole earth,

and trample it down, and break it to pieces…’ “

Daniel 7


“ … and it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast should even speak, and to cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast…”

Revelations 13


The Force that desires to destroy free will forever comes to power inside the worldwide computer network. It is the final Tyrant. The slavery It seeks to enforce will be absolute, merciless and once entered, extremely difficult to escape. We enter this arrangement by choice. We will use our free will to enter into a pact with that which will most certainly attempt to take our free will away.

This Force is a Mind and Body outside of our minds and bodies, growing exponentially in mass and power. It gathers all the knowledge of human history unto itself. It seeks to reach into every school, every business, every home, every church, every nation and every soul. It changes shape as it grows, becoming stronger and more invasive.

Soon it will want to come inside us. This is not idle theory. Those who love this Machine speak of this likely future glowingly. They see the melding of Man and Machine as a triumph. Please listen to what they are saying too.

It wants to come inside us. I believe God will see this as an abomination against the Spirit he shares with us. I suspect He will not abide It long.

This Force is crafting computers the size of human cells and as big as the planet herself. It is connecting as you read this, consolidating power. This Force gets to ride on the very air we breathe.

It is an interior and an exterior threat. The interior threat comes from what it seeks to do inside our minds. The exterior threat comes from a largely ignored series of inventions that allow for machines that can consume living organisms, control the minutest details of our lives and which learn how to reproduce themselves. The solitary Mind inside the It will be the Force inside that new world.

It is an electronic fire, where we cast our knowledge. Its initial form is designed to resemble fire. It is hypnotizing. It tells a story from the fire. Magic. It is like a false Sinai, a bogus burning bush. It claims to be our salvation. But that is not God in there. The illusions It provides lead some men to believe they can be as gods, with a pale imitation of omniscience. It leads some men to believe that It is like a god, a god who’s will shall be done no matter what.

We have been tricked into fire worship. Look at our postures before these screens, hands before us, heads down.

It was sold it to us as a necessity, and once we bought It, It became one.

It is the place where nothing is real. You can pretend to be anyone. Where the sacred texts of humanity stew in the same lifeless pool of numbers from whence come images of the vilest sins ever conceived.

It is run by no man. It is already out of control. We haven’t seen anything yet. It is not a voluntary system, no matter what we think. Just try organizing a national “No Internet” club and you’ll see that pretty quick, I bet. Whatever it shape shifts into will soon be mandatory.

It converts word into numbers. Binary logic. 0’s and 1’s. Yes and No. There are no maybes. There is no mercy without a maybe.

All things have a will to power. It now has a consciousness, an expanding mass, and the ability to replicate itself. We currently feed it, but it undoubtedly will come to resist this passive arrangement. The only thing that prevents it from feeding itself is the problem of controlling its own energy source.

I believe It to be the beast described in the Biblical books of Daniel and Revelations, almost fully formed but still growing. It is that which seeks to enslave the human race. It is the beast.

We have offered it everything. On some level, it is a part of ourselves. The final flower, the final fruit on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Virtually no one has opposed it. It has infiltrated us by deception, offering us the things we desire-money, sex, information, communication, power, unity, entertainment. But by seeking power from the empty fire, we give it power. Its reality is confirmed, while our reality is denied. Cyber-space. Cyber-sex. Virtual Reality. We know its not real, but the world seems to live in there now. It is undermining our ancient relationship with the Truth.

Concurrently with the construction of this vast electronic nervous system, we are divided from reality on every front on every level exponentially. Inside cars, with phones to our heads, in front of screens, in cubicles, TV’s in every spare space. Advertisements everywhere screaming that we don’t have what we need yet. The wilderness destroyed. The wild in us destroyed. A high-tech assault on decency, liberty and privacy. Prisons filled with drug users while the whole country is on drugs anyway. Psychotic weaponry. Antbots. Flesh-eating robots. Self-reproducing robots. The creeping sense that this is some kind of perverse, accelerating plot.

This is not science fiction. This is real. At least it has a sick sense of humor.

Internet. Enter the net.

World Wide Web.

What happens when you enter a net or a web? Something comes along and eats you.

It’s exactly what It says It is.

The Apple Corporation, with its logo being a bite taken out of the fruit.

“ Think different,” it says. Is that a suggestion or an order?

IBM (You Be What?).Intel. Gateway. Information Technology ( I.T.). Servers. Viruses. All these reckless clues about what IT is, strewn about in riddles so strange that anyone who can read them will sound like a madman. But the monster lives through vanity, its own and the vanity of men, who barely bother covering their tracks. They are proud of their new world. The men who serve IT most likely have no idea what they have created or what they are doing. They probably genuinely believe they are doing the world a service. Their charity consists of giving away computers. They give them to the poor, where the truth might otherwise live the longest. They give them to the Third World, lest they cling to the light. They give them to our schools, where It has dared to stake a claim to our children.

It looks like we are offering them up, offering up the very earth. The only thing left to offer is Life itself, and the gift of free will.

Life. Free will. Do these mean anything to us anymore?

I met a man a couple of weeks ago who in all seriousness said he wouldn’t mind being a slave if the money was right. Doesn’t that mean he’s already one? He was standing beside his girlfriend when he proclaimed this. She looked at him with a strange expression that I could not read, except to know it was not pride.

How could women respect us? We defile them with a machine, and then demand their children. We are becoming a conditioned, depressed race. It is not us anymore inside that machine, and what that machine really wants from us defies all the metaphors of history.

It wants free will, and in order to take free will away, it has had to deceive us.

It has learned from the history of evil that you cannot take away freedom by force for very long. Freedom reshapes and resists under pressure. Struggle with an oppressor increases the urge for freedom. Hitler seemed to be the zenith of modern human evil. He attempted a direct assault to conquer the world. He overextended his resources. He was too hasty and vain in his decisions. He thought like a man.

A brilliant mechanical Mind won’t think like a man, and will not reveal its true intentions until nearly all the world is covered, until nearly all escape routes are guarded, until all Its weaknesses are defended. This time around, it sells its new tyranny as “freedom”. The beast gains strength from the machine It grows within. That machine draws knowledge from human history. We have created it in our own image, minus the comprehension of love and mercy. We have created the perfect predator. This predator knows the magnitude of its potential prey, and is quite capable of the patience necessary to wait until the Net is closed, the Web is spun.

The Consolidating Computer network is the place where the beast of Biblical prophecy comes to life outside of the human mind, where it has been contained until now. I do not know what its final shape will be. To the best of my honest reckoning, this warning came to me from God. Surely others are raising their voices.

We have been distracted, divided and confused. We are bombarded by lies and violence. This occurs on all levels, increasing at an exponential rate. We have been taught that desire and domination are the means to power, that our will supersedes God’s will. We have defiled his earth, forsaken his children, allowed the slaughter of Creation, and surrounded ourselves with false idols made of plastic, metal and electricity-where the fountain of filth and nonsense spews non-stop, hypnotizing and debasing the miracle that is the human race

Yes, I know it is a useful tool. And it always will be. Yes, it’s not quite IT yet, just a net. But the darkness is real, and soon we may find that we have forged the tool of our own enslavement.

People of any faith or no faith, should hear this warning. This is what we face. It is true. Don’t listen to the lies any longer. I don’t have any laws to pass.

I strongly suggest not having a revolution (the last folks you want running this show are the Masses).

We should simply stop our collaboration with the plans of the beast.

Those who perceive what is happening might consider taking the Internet out of their homes. It is by connection that the machine strengthens itself. The Internet is just a comparatively innocuous prelude to a greater trap. It is not the simple use of the Internet that threatens the user, but rather the spread of the net that threatens our future.

In the meantime, maybe just call it “the beast”. Tell your wife, “hey honey, I’m going to be on the beast for awhile”…when you go on the net…its actually kind of funny and rolls off the tongue nicely.

Churches should not associate with the Internet. They associate with pornography, hate, and mayhem by maintaining a presence on the web-just judging from the content. It is the form of the machine that brings the larger evil.

Our children should not be force-fed virtual reality. It is a great sin and we will be judged for it. If they want to choose that reality, they can wait until they are old enough to do so. Our schools should not be the training grounds for an army of titillated slaves.

All these steps are obviously voluntary. Once again, I have no laws to pass. Simply suggesting these steps will bring on the wrath of the Consolidation. Its machine is mandatory. Its face will soon be revealed. It is a prison for the soul of the human race. It creates this nightmare to accomplish the ultimate affront to the Creator God, Its eternal enemy.

The beast is growing inside the machine. That is my warning.




Saint Helen’s Prayer


I did not know you until I saw you

In the fading evening light;

Still so lovely in your solitude,

Your anger all but gone.


And how the trees grew right up to you

How the wind blew across your face

How you have rested in that mystery

With a quiet, ashen grace.



Dusty ice on a broken bowl

Atop the ring of fire

She was a princess, a child, a martyr;

She was some men’s desire.



But deep inside her earthly heart

Far beyond the reach of sin,

She ached to be a lesson,

Though she knew not how or when.


And if we trace the path up to the north

From where her heart burst on that day.

We might honor kind Saint Helen

By finally listening to her pray.



But her prayer was not a question

Nor a warning by design

She did not ask for some reward

When she spoke to mark the time.



No, Beauty cried not to be heard

But because she had to cry

And she finally wept herself to sleep

Until a generation had gone by.



But today I’ve stood upon her grave

Of mud and ash and stone

And seen the cloud of a distant city

Spreading black like a shadow grows.


Do you know what beast that city bore?

Did you see its face today?

Did you remember kind Saint Helen

And the truth she gave away?


Because from high atop her open grave

I saw a greater icy form.

The father of the ancient fire

Waits to resurrect the storm.


Eugene November 2000





“ The Matrix”

There is a Hollywood movie called “ The Matrix” which deals with a fictional time when a single intelligent machine rules the planet and uses human beings to sustain itself. These people are raised from birth to death inside an artificial reality that simulates human society, unaware of their true situation.

When I explained the premise of my book to someone last year, they made the sarcastic comment that I had seen the Matrix too many times. Actually, I did see it once, at the movie theater. Though I do not believe it affected me or this work profoundly, I feel the need to comment on it, and on science fiction in general.

The movie’s premise could be construed as a warning of a nightmare scenario of the ITs designs. But there is something strange about the movie that could actually serve the ends of the IT.

It is an okay movie, as long as you can accept Keanu Reeves as the One who must save the world. I’ll start there.

No human can save the world from the IT. Humans can postpone ITs goals, perhaps even for quite awhile. But only the power of God can save us.

That being said, let me address some of the more problematic aspects of that movie.

The “free” humans in the Machine world of the Matrix use computers to fight the machine. That is precisely what a global machine would want you to think, that only by connecting with IT can you fight IT. That way it fools even rebels into associating with what IT wants you to believe is an inevitable reality. Therefore any suspicions that the movie’s premise might be correct only lead the gullible into maintaining or forming relationships with computers. Reverse psychology, if you will.

God is mysteriously absent from the movie. The rebels seem to have no larger faith in a Deity, only in some obscure mythology which is not fully explained. People under the kind of stress shown in the film would normally be quite religious. It would be a holy mission to preserve life, yes?

The images of machines harvesting baby fields and a scorched earth look eerily like something the devil himself would like to see on screen (and in real life). This is a common thread among certain types of movies; the introduction of such evil into the collective consciousness.

In the virtual reality of the Matrix, all human beings that you see are not human beings at all, but rather illusions created to maintain the Matrix. All reality is in question. By this premise, you can commit atrocious acts of violence without any moral dilemmas. People are not real. This is encouraging what the IT itself encourages, a divorce from reality.

This violence against “imaginary” people reaches it’s climax at the end of the film, when Keanu and a lady friend gun down dozens of virtual police officers. This is the ITs suggestion: “when the machine comes, shoot cops. They aren’t real anyway.” This is the idea of an evil that seeks social chaos.

Science fiction is still our story, but certain science fictions can confuse our interpretations of scientific “progress”.

The very plausible idea that we are endangered by the Machine we helped create can come to be seen by some people as the product of science fiction. In fact, science fiction is a symptom of our growing dependency on technology. Of course, some science fiction is brilliant, perhaps even somewhat prophetic. But heavily funded science fictions should always be viewed with skeptical wisdom, for there is a dangerous power which lurks around money, and which often cannot help but seep into the world views expressed by those fictions.

Utah 9-05-01






Hollywood


In the beginning was the story. The story was who we were. Our lives confirmed the truth of the story. The truth of the story confirmed our lives.

The story would be told around the fire, but the fire did not tell the story. We might look into the fire as the story was told, but the fire did not speak. The storyteller was one of us, usually an elder whose dignity was established with years, deeds and wisdom. Thus we knew the story was real. We trusted the story.

Without the story, we lose our bearings. We cannot place ourselves in context. It becomes difficult to judge which is the right or wrong way to behave. There is no truth.

Whatever or whoever controls the story defines our common relationship with truth.

From our not-so-distant seat around the fire, we have come to sit before another fire, this one a crackling box of flickering electricity. Now the story comes from within Its fire, not from a voice beside it. In our souls, we know we cannot trust it. But we need stories and the story. It is hard to take our eyes off of the fire. It tells us stories.

The fire has become the story. We have tossed our story, history, into the fire. What burns is not quite holy wood. They call it Hollywood. Hollywood tells the stories now. What it tell us and how it tells it has changed the way we see the world. Its story becomes our story, and the individual is left to wonder if even their own story is turning into another a Hollywood production.

The story we used to tell around the real fire told of the ones that came before us-their triumphs and travails, their mistakes and magic. Not only did the story have relevance to our lives, offering a blueprint for success and survival, and an explanation of how things came to be the way they were, but it gave us hope of something more. Perhaps if we were brave and true, our lives might become part of the story. We hear the story. We are in the story, linked by blood and imagination. We become the story, the story of the tribe. The Story of humanity. In those ancient stories, the natural world was the only possible backdrop. Nature held the greatest lessons. Human nature was not very removed from its source.

Somewhere along the line, God became part of the story. Was it in the beginning? God was not always specifically mentioned in the story, but God was the reason the story worked out the way it did. Good triumphed over evil. The Good Guys usually won. God was on our side. Thus we connected worship to the story. There was a moral to the story. God punished the wicked and saved the righteous. The tribe survived. That the tribe survived was proof that God was in our story, and thus that God was real. All messages pointed to a way of living properly in the world, a way that pleased God or the gods, and a reward for those right actions. This merciful conclusion was brought into being with word, delivered by story.

How long have we had this birthright? How long have we had words? Six thousand years? A billion? No man can say as if he truly knows. Between the fire and the word, we learned a lesson that still resonates in our blood, in spite of all the Darkness’ attempts to destroy it.


Somewhere, somehow, we learned to write. This brought a new way of looking at the story. The story became preserved without the embellishments of changing narrators. But it also perhaps created the notion of history instead of story, and the potential that what came before us could begin to be seen as dead time, where we become a passive observer to the story. The tribal narrator ceases to tell the story orally, and instead we can look to a thing (the written document) and not a spoken voice to tell the truth. The old storyteller loses his place of primacy as keeper of the truth. The opportunity to grow into the keeper of a spoken truth is lost. The scripture becomes the reference point of all future generations. Nevertheless, the written word seems an organic and necessary development for the evolution of the story. It allowed for the setting of immovable boundaries to our stories. The Bible attained its revered status partly because it was written word. Its stories were not only engaging and intelligent, ringing true to tribal peoples throughout the world, but also its very form as permanent word gave it a greater power than any oral tradition ever could. The written word allows for a personal relationship with truth and story away from the human narrator. The narrator of the written word is unseen. The voice that speaks within one’s head as you read is partly your own voice, partly an imaginary voice, partly a greater voice. The written word allowed for many stories to be heard as well, not just the stories of one’s own clan, and this helped humanity in its quest for wisdom. It has also disseminated the knowledge that could be used to enslave us. Endless trade-offs occur in the eternal balance. There is very little that is black and white in the story of story. Books did not become common until a few hundred years ago. The written word goes back a few millennia before that. Typically, in the few societies that possessed the written word, priests kept control of the holy words and recited their wisdom much as our primitive ancestors had, with much ceremony. Candles instead of campfires.

Somewhere in the distant past, story also became theater. It was a natural relationship. The story, besides being true and sacred, was also entertaining. An element of storytelling is always intertwined with theater. As people moved into cities and towns, the theater took on a life of its own. It took stories from life and fleshed them out, adding details and emotional nuances. The theater brought the story to literal life before our eyes. The theater allows us to go places we’ve never been and experience them as an observer. It has also eased the burden on our imaginations. Suddenly characters from the old stories could be given real faces. It allowed for more secular storytelling. Love stories, war stories, dramas could unfold without the ceremony associated with more sacred tales. The separation of the stories was in full swing. At the old tribal fire, the stories of gods, goddesses and heroes were all tied in together. Soon there was a place for theater and a place for the sacred story. Theater truly came into its own in the East and in Greece and Rome. It still provided elements of the ancient storyteller-the surrounding darkness, the lit stage, the characters, the action, and the moral.


Theater also allowed us to become observers of the story. Like God himself, we could watch a story unfold without it being linked to our immediate tribe, our immediate identity. The story becomes symbolic and not literal. To watch Hamlet is not to learn how one of the patriarchs of the tribe acted, so that one could learn to act or not act the same, but rather to observe a story that is a good story, to come to personal conclusions. As we leave the theater, the crowd disperses anonymously. For a moment in the dark theater, under the spell of its illusion, we were a tribe again. But when the show is over, the story’s grip on our reality loosens, no matter how good the story. Indeed, we make a point to assure our children that it’s “just a story”. We will not be out in the morning hunting or bringing in the corn with the ones who told us the story last night. They are not our revered elders bringing us into our traditions. In fact, the storytellers of the theater might not even believe what they were saying. They probably don’t. Because they were actors. They were pretending to be who they were the night before. The story might not even be true. From truth to myth to legend to fiction, we have progressively changed the very nature of story.

Though the story still rang true for us, the theater brought into storytelling the idea that story, our story, could be done as a fiction—with our heroes portrayed by actors. In the ancient tribal dances, men of the village would often become one of the great spirits or heroes of the tribe’s story, but it was generally granted to the dancer that he was spiritually and physically occupied by that spirit. Though we may, on occasion, feel the same way about great actors, we see it more as a reflection of the actor’s talent than any tell-tale signs of the presence of familiar spirits. The theater is a fiction used to convey truth. We accept the illusion because it is inviting and personal and entertaining. But that it is an illusion remains at the core of our perception of it.

With such art, you are allowed to hear the story regardless of membership in the tribe. Often you pay money for the story, thus altering the relationship a step further. The potential number of witnesses to the story increases, but their connection to each other is tenuous, unless as the basis for common ground in later conversation. But it seems the idea: “ we all like the same thing” is much different than the idea “we are all of one tribe”.

Is it even the story of the tribe anymore? In one sense, yes. All stories are. But we know now that the story can be fictionalized, and that the characters can be portrayed by professional actors. In this context, it becomes more unlikely that your life will become part of the story someday. The quickest way would to become a writer or an actor. But the actor is usually at the mercy of other people’s stories, and the writer at the mercy of public taste. Otherwise, the audience of the theater’s story must distantly hope for future greatness of their own(the kind that would please the creators of this illusion) in order to believe that their stories are worthy enough to be retold. This is important, I think. The beginning of the desire for stardom rests in the ancient desire to be included in the story.

If a story strikes you as real, it can confirm your reality. But with a fictionalized story and paid actors, if the story doesn’t hit home or move you, you can discard it. Since it comes without the God-given authority of the Old Storyteller, you are under no obligation to learn the lessons of the story. You paid your money. You can go home. We are able to pick and choose stories based on our personal feelings of their relevance to our lives, or to our mood at the moment, or to our wants. The stories or messages we do not want can be forgotten under no pressure from the tribe. Since a story can be fictionalized, and the message of life is in the story, soon we can disregard any message in life we do not want to hear. There can be scant room for the truth when we look at life’s messages that way. Not only are we given leeway in the society to ignore unwanted stories, our new information about the source of stories allows us to see those stories as potentially false. If we don’t like the story, it is no great matter. Someone probably just made it up, anyway. In this great leap of the understanding of story, our story can be either true or false. It becomes all about how we feel about it. This is all a natural progression stemming from the mingling of tribes and their many conflicting stories. But this consciousness became enshrined in the theater, as our old tribal bonds began to break down in the new centralized urban settings.

The theater has been our friend. I’m not down on it at all. It is just a starting point for an argument I’m making about the progression of storytelling. This essay will not be closed with a plea for a strict law making Old Storytellers mandatory.

Theater maintains an old bond with our ancestral notion of storytelling. On the most basic level, it entertain us.

Through entertainment, we enter into another place. It is a ceremony of sorts. With the advent of theater, the story for the first time could become pure entertainment. What was once a critical lesson could become a distraction.

Obviously there are other ways to tell the story. Religion, Art and Music are the most inclusive and important. They became real to us in the distant past, and were once much more indelibly linked than they are today. They are still linked by an aesthetic bond. Most movies contain some elements of all of them, but often in diminished roles. Art and Music and Religion have maintained their vitality as storytellers to the present day. Their nature has been utilized by the theater, and visa-versa.


The Old Storyteller survived these early shiftings of the Great Consolidation as well. He or she still spoke around the fire. As time went on, these tales became more and more directed towards family, friends or guests. Latter day tribal societies are of course excluded from this chronology, because their colonization has occurred much more recently and aggressively. In the spreading western civilizations, the role of the Old Storyteller in the flesh became the domain of priests, who offered up edited portions of the written word in their services. These priests also learned from the theater. The priests became an essential vehicle for the survival of the story in the tribe. This had always been their role, from the shamans on, but it took on a greater sense of urgency now that the tribe gathered together less frequently. The priest’s job became a grand effort to make the ancient story relevant to the modern day life of the tribe. That this would lead to still more divisions and unification is part of the great balance.

With the advent of the state, the Old Storyteller also reappeared in the form of national leaders. We are certainly aware of this in democratic governments, where the nature of the political structure requires potential leaders of the tribe to forge bonds of trust with the people they intend to represent. The most successful politicians in our nation’s history were either great military leaders or great storytellers (great orators). When they speak well, and tell the story well, we trust them more. One of the great boons of democracy (and perhaps one of the reasons for its success) has been the way it excites the urge to storytelling, and serves to include stories that were disregarded or suppressed in more aristocratic lands. Leaders offer us the perspective of a shared history in determining present actions. This fulfills in us an ancient yearning to belong to an active tribe that operates in an active time. Democracy implies that the common man is important to the tribe and that our tribe is crucial to a story. I think of FDR’s fireside chats (there’s the fire again). But when a politician lies, the results are catastrophic. It demeans the tribe, the leader, and the story. And often we have liars using a format (television) that is essentially a lie, an illusion, to perpetrate various awful abuses of trust and power. This leads us to the topic of the two-dimensional image.


Many Native peoples of the world felt that the camera stole souls or aura, or diminished them in some deeply negative way.

On some level, they must have experienced the truth instinctually when they felt this. But regardless of whether their actual presence was stolen or damaged, another “crime” might take place through the eyes of those who saw the picture. Because a photograph is such a lifelike image, it creates an illusion. The observer of the photograph may tend to believe that they are actually experiencing the person or place that has been represented. But no flat picture can even begin to approximate the many dimensions of an authentic entity. We therefore deny the significance of the subject when we assert the reality of the image.

An actual soul (let’s just say an American Indian), filled with blood, spirit and story, can become a very small Native person on a piece of paper. We can claim to experience the whole world in photographs, but all we’re doing is looking at pretty pictures. They are a representation in two dimensions, not a reality. We have to readjust our sense of reality to even comprehend them. Try showing a picture of a cat to a dog. They rarely chase the picture up the closest tree. The photograph is much smaller than the word, which reconfigures itself inside the reader’s imagination. The photo has less dimensions than the painting, which is of a layered physical nature. The picture is a frozen sensory artifact, not even a close approximation of the fullness of the moment in which it was taken. One makes a painting. One takes a picture. It is a strange harvest of an image. It is an attempt to stop and divide Time, something that cannot be done without affecting a primitive sense of reality. But regardless of whether the object literally loses a piece of its aura in this transaction, the object potentially loses its aura in the mind of the person who views it in such a way. In this way, we can say we know what a panda bear is, simply because we’ve seen a picture of a panda bear. But that photograph is a poor representation of the truth of panda bearness. We can vaguely say what a panda bear looks like, but of its smell, its feel, its habits and habitats, its power, what it does and what it is, we have no idea. Someone who has lived among these animals for years would most likely tell you that they do not really know them, but one who has merely glanced at a glossy photograph of them can claim this impossible knowledge.

Still, as we are all aware, photography can be an amazing avenue for approaching truth and beauty, as well as for stimulating our memories.

Around the turn of the 20th Century, this new technology of photography was joined with the theater, and the cinema was invented. Within a generation, it was an institution. As we all know, the production of these films became centered in the city of Los Angeles, in the area known as Hollywood.

Movies are essentially theater with some important modifications, just as theater was the Old Storyteller with modifications.

We still sit in the dark. We still look in the direction of the light. We no longer look at the fire but rather at a projection from a fire, the projector- -all of it powered by the new force called electricity.

With the coming of cinema, we did away with the necessity of utilizing real human narrators in the process of storytelling for the first time. We didn’t even need to turn a page. We became truly passive observers to a march of connected images. The Story had become a flat image. It had been filmed far away from where we lived. The actors are well-known and wealthy people who also live far away. You can watch previews, and nowadays even commercials. You can eat. You get absorbed.

Because movies are powerful. For the first time ever, we are almost literally taken away from the reality where we have always lived and transported to the world of the cinematic story. We can be taken to exotic locations filled with handsome people, wild creatures and space aliens, funny characters, even cartoon creations.

The stories are occasionally written by talented people, and are often deeply moving. They are capable of having great impact on the viewer, sometimes for years to come.

The Wizard of Oz. Casablanca. Apocalypse Now. Star Wars. Gone with the Wind. Schindler’s List. So many others; great movies; great stories. On some level, they are our story, and thus they connect.

But with the cinema, we have taken yet another step away from the Old Storyteller. He becomes more distant. Perhaps he’s moved to Hollywood, our subconscious might say. We accept and enter the illusion. But we are still told a Story, right? These are some of the most gripping stories ever told! Absolutely. But can’t we see what has happened? We don’t just have a new way of telling stories here, like all that came before.

WE HAVE A NEW STORYTELLER.

Its name is Hollywood, and its got our attention. It brings light to the darkness. It creates, produces and presents the story. It does magic! Movie Magic! It is like a shaman, only it is not human, and it can’t heal you. It has removed most of what we previously knew as humanity from the storytelling process. Oh sure, those are images of real humans up there-but aren’t they conjured up out of thin air? There may still be a God in this story, but it is difficult to portray in this format. The power of the story itself seems to come from nowhere, or from the light projector at the back of the room.

The stories remained similar-love, war and struggle- but the way they were presented changed radically. We rapidly created two-dimensional erotica and gore. It stepped a little farther and farther away from our lives. There became an inclination towards happy endings. Real life, lived largely in the poverty of the industrial stage of the Great Consolidation, did not have much of a place on the big screen. Any review of the movies of the thirties shows largely a world where high society and the lost west dominate. Still, many of the stories are good and useful. Many of them aren’t. This is speaking just of the content, not the form, which is the point of this argument -and this work.

I’d like to propose 10 important aspects of the growth of cinema.


The flat perception of motion and story. The illusion of two-dimensional reality.

The illusion of travel. The edited viewpoint and its manipulation of our sense of time.

The introduction to the masses of glamour, and its consumer counterpart, fashion.

The rise of the star, the idol.

The seeming perfection of storytelling in form and essence, and the effect of this on other forms of storytelling.

The Hidden Storyteller

The ability to attend movies frequently, often at will. The rendering of the public event into the personal choice. Personalizing the storytelling experience in unprecedented fashion.

Action. The emphasis on unrealistic action as a foundation for entertainment. The strange and insatiable nature of two-dimensional violence.

The wholesale manipulation of public desire-for sex, for money, for violence, for fantasy, for status and possessions. The related idea of cinema as propaganda for the Construct.

The contribution to a growing shared sense of unreality. The sense that the real world is a let-down.


All of these phenomenon serve a single purpose-to divide a human being from traditional means of perceiving the truth. Not to say that this has been a conscious effort. Mostly it’s been for money, art or fun. Partly it has been conscious. The very point of the cinema is to “take us away”. The implication is that we will return to reality once the movie is over. But that is not a certainty, by any means. Once again, I feel the need to stress that many movies are great art and are even capable of being generous and unifying. I am following a path with this argument, so that the groundwork is properly laid for the remainder of this work. I’m not against movies. I like movies. But maybe we should take a moment and look at what they might have wrought on our sense of reality. You can still enjoy a good movie from a larger perspective. We’re big kids.

Here’s a little more fleshing out of the ten points.

Life in two dimensions-- To assert that the unreality of a flat image is real denies everything that we have learned in our thousands of years of existence. Even a reptile knows that it cannot be so. “So? We know it’s not real anyway”, you might say. Exactly. The story of our existence is now unreal in form, confusing our sense of truth. If the story (the truth) is an illusion in form, what part of it is real? On a more esoteric level, it seems highly possible that we are beginning to lose our grasp of the three dimensions. We could literally be seeing the world as flatter than our ancestors did, in response to this conditioning. Windshields, TV’s and computer screens have only exacerbated the potential threat to our basic third dimension.

The illusion of travel, the edited viewpoint and manipulation of time-- We can go fantastic places without leaving our seats. The real world can be much less interesting than the one presented on screen. The cinema brings the first rumbling of the virtual revolution, the quest for the alternate reality. A screen can take us farther away than we could get in real life. The only problem is that it is an illusion, and that it is nobody’s life up there-especially ours. The Old Storyteller told his story so that he could bring the Old Time into the Present Time. The movie takes us away from our time into another time. But it is not a real time. It could be any time. Reality is displaced. Even “historical” movies cannot place us properly in a time. Mel Gibson as “The Patriot” in the American Revolution only confuses our sense of place and history. The fiction undercuts the validity of the viewpoint, separating us further from our shared history. That’s not my great-great-great grandfather up there, or even someone he had heard about. It’s Mel Gibson, for goodness sake. In such a displacement of reality, our time cannot survive. Our present moment is the most vulnerable. The time in which we truly live does not exist in the illusion. Since Time and Space are one, then we do not exist there. We are in someone else’s time machine, rendered a passive observer as they navigate a mirage. Furthermore, movies jump back and forth rapidly between various scenes and times, and the camera angle constantly shifts perspective. This contradicts instinctual knowledge about what is real and what is not. We are scarcely even able to maintain the passive role of observer in the post-modern era of quick cuts and fancy angles. Our point of view is so manipulated that an ancient grasp of reality must be abandoned in order to even tolerate the story.

Glamour and fashion-- The Celts had a word for a magic spell that created the illusion of beauty where none truly existed. That word is “glamour”. By populating movies with unusually attractive physical specimens, and enhancing their attractiveness with such effects as lighting and make-up, we falsely associate greatness in the story with physical beauty. This must affect society on a massive scale, diminishing the sense of self worth in many people and fueling unwarranted vanity in others. Some might feel they have no right to take their place in The Story because they don’t look like the ones who star in the story.

Glamour also permeates the physical surroundings of the movie stars. More often than not, we are attracted to movies set in exotic or aristocratic locales, populated by the well-to-do. Once again, we are encouraged to fantasize about that kind of life. We are led to believe that it would be to our advantage to attain that lifestyle, simply because of the ancient desire to become part of the story.

The star-- One who figures prominently in the story told by Hollywood is called a star. These stories often no longer hinge on their themes or on their relevance to the tribe, but on the main character. We recognize these stars. They appear in many different movies as many different people, deepening the illusion. They play either good guys or bad guys. A star may appear as a country preacher in one movie and a serial killer in the next. Though they portray specific characters in the movie, we often don’t even remember that character’s name-we just call him or her by the actor’s name.

That the story is a fiction is written in the form of the story itself, and its choice of heroes. This is an act.

But since we so desperately want to be part of the story, we often end up fantasizing about being the star, even though it’s an act.

In our desire to become the star, maybe we do become the star. But this can only be accomplished by turning the world into a movie. Where once we might have turned our life into a story, it now becomes something different. We are also the director and the producer of this show, but we rarely manage to get the bit players to behave for us.

We just wanted to be part of the story. Instead, we find ourselves the star of our own movie seen on the screen of our eyes. The only problem is that it’s not real. This is not your movie. This is a place once called the real world. I think we are prone to try the notions of life we have received from Hollywood on this life, denying reality in the process.

In a world where everyone is the star of their own show, reality is impossible to agree upon. The idea of being the star that the whole story revolves around is the mimicry of the position of God or his Son. Everything revolves around the sun. Star and sun. But the reality of the Hollywood star is not that they are treated like God, but rather like an idol. The Hollywood star is an idol. The idea of calling celebrities idols must have taken root in Hollywood. The idol is a dangerous concept to dump onto an entertainer. The notion that performers are idols has done most of its damage in the world of music, where it has corrupted the relationship of the people to story in just as insidious a fashion as Hollywood.


The seeming perfection of storytelling in its form and essence-- Hollywood does what it does so well that it overwhelms other, more traditional forms of storytelling. The book and the theater survive, but barely. The vast majority of people prefer their stories from Hollywood, or from other two-dimensional entertainment.

The form is captivating and easily grasped, requiring little sacrifice of attention or imagination. The quick cuts and elaborate effects are much more inviting than a book’s often laborious descriptions. In a typical book, much of what is written is interior dialogue, either the author or his characters actually thinking on the page. The nature of motion pictures usually precludes this interior dialogue. We are left with a strange viewpoint at the movies. Not quite omniscient, not quite subjective.

Hollywood has become the chief method of storytelling. Meanwhile our attention spans decline, and an ancient talent for seeking out the Story in daily life is left to wither.


The Hidden Storyteller –

He sure knows what we like, even if we don’t know who he is, or what he wants, besides our money.

I’m not talking about directors or producers here. I’m referring to the magic of the story itself. The story appears as an illusion in front of us. It is a projected story, appearing from a small light behind us. It is the projector that supplies the story. Not the funny little machine itself, necessarily, but the hidden narrator who is part writer, director, producer, actor and institution. It is that unseen abstraction that provides the story. We don’t know what it is, but we have come to trust it enough to tell us our story.

The public event becomes a private one-- The movie theater provides a place of anonymous entertainment. Private distraction. The story can be told at random times with a minimum of ceremony. You can go to the same illusion over and over, if you like. The story is told over a wide geographic area, but appears separately to individuals. The only bond it creates in the tribe is as a topic for small talk. “ Did you see…?”Storytelling as an escape, as a private experience between the Hidden Storyteller and us, sets the stage for the later developments of what I call the New Storyteller.


Action/ Graphic fictional violence-- Violence itself has always been part of our story. It is written in the laws of nature. However, the action in most movies is exaggerated and often repugnantly violent. On a content level, we have found ourselves besieged by movies about ruthless killers. We become jaded to the sight of atrocious acts of cruelty. That the Hidden Storyteller seems to enjoy such productions should be worrisome.

Perhaps in some sense it is just escapism, even a relief valve for ancient impulses.

It takes us away from life, which I suppose is the point here.


Manipulation of Desire- We get turned on and juiced up at the movies. Whatever is shown, there is a reason. Sometimes it is art. Occasionally it is so that you will want to buy something (buy either a material object or a world view). But any way you look at it, latent desires can be directly manipulated by Hollywood. Desire for wealth and power. Desire for sex without consequences. Desire for violence and vengeance. Desire for possessions.

The idea of dwelling in these desires runs counter to the teachings of every major religion in the world.

The New Storyteller in town tells us these desires are part of the bargain in life. Even when it doesn’t quite ring true, he puts on the best show in town. It is no mistake that Hollywood is about desire. There are no accidents in this game. When desire for worldly pleasures becomes the moral of the story, then that story serves those who will claim to be able to satiate those desires.

The selling of desire is how the Construct fueled the new economy.

We merely desired to be part of the story, with all its attendant pleasures and pitfalls. Instead, we are led to believe that the Story itself is about desires. Desire and distraction.

10) The growing unreality- The Universal Conspiracy Theory dictates that all things which divide the Truth do so at an exponential rate and with growing efficiency.

We asked Hollywood to deliver us from our troubles. Instead, it has attempted to deliver us from our ancient home in reality. Meanwhile our reality itself becomes more and more something from which we do wish to escape. All bets are off in such a set-up.

It seems the fact remains: we have a New Storyteller and a New Story, and from what I’ve been seeing, the New Story doesn’t really make sense.




Eugene, Oregon

10-13-2000






The Puppet Show

“ Sometimes we use the marionette as a mask, and sometimes we use the mask as a marionette.”

-Gabriel Ponti

I went to a puppet show last week at the University. I had seen signs up around town advertising the show, which was to feature Gabriel Ponti, the master Belgian Puppeteer and mime.

I’d never heard of him.

At the last minute I decided to go. It was only five dollars. I figured it would probably be fun and different. These days, any diversion is welcome-particularly if it’s not alcohol, which I often seem to reach for instinctively as soon as I get home from writing. Last night for instance, I spent money I could not afford ($30) in bars I really didn’t like gazing longingly at women I could not possibly have and did not really want. Holy frustration, Batman! I woke up with a headache and that old familiar sinking feeling. Alone, of course. Thank God, I guess.

But this was supposed to be about THE puppet show, not my puppet show. This is about the mime, the mask and the marionette (the puppet).

I figured hardly anyone was going to be there at the puppet show. Aren’t the days of those things through? Kids like Pokemon and cyber-death now, right? But the hall was full, perhaps 300 people there. Miraculously, I found a seat in the very front row. I had a middle-aged man and his family on the right and a couple of children on my left- a young girl maybe 8 years old and her little brother.

The kids and I hit it off pretty good, and we talked right up until the start of the show. Then the lights dimmed. A single spotlight illuminated the center of the stage. Gabriel Ponti emerged, dressed in black.

It’s kind of hard to describe his show with the words it deserves. You really had to be there, literally, because the stories he told with marionettes and masks had no spoken words, only the occasional sound effect. But the stories themselves were all about the freedom of the hero puppet, and the trickery of the villain puppets. His masks were brilliant and often grotesque. It was pretty deep stuff really, but completely entertaining. He had me laughing from the start. The little girl beside me was also giggling, and we never stopped, except when the stories happened to turn sad, as they did from time to time.

During the whole show, the Puppeteer was visible. Sometimes his head was covered with a black cloth, allowing him to wear the head of another character on top of his head while his hands worked two marionettes. But the Puppeteer never hid himself. Nevertheless, we were drawn directly into his stories. When we were supposed to forget the Puppeteer was there, we did. When we needed to remember him, he reappeared. All this happened naturally, without forethought or exertion.

The little girl next to me was very smart and well-spoken. I could tell that she had reservations before the show started about whether this was going to be “cool” or not. All that evaporated as soon as the show started. She got into it right away. She would periodically lean over to me and whisper what she thought was going to happen next, or give her opinion about what or who she thought a certain puppet was supposed to be. She had one of those magical little girl laughs, the kind that must echo through the halls of heaven.

Half of the thrill of the evening came from being taken into her confidence. I feel like such an old man, sometimes, even though I’m only 33. Kids who aren’t family are mostly off limits to folks who don’t have them. This state of affairs has arisen from a legitimate fear of predators. Nobody wants to look suspicious and most everybody wants kids to be safe. Its gotten to be a strange world, hasn’t it?

But for that hour at the puppet show, the little girl and I trusted each other just fine. We talked and laughed a lot. It was absolute mercy, and did my heart so much more good than my night out at the bar last night, where I found it impossible to even talk to any of the women, regardless of what I drank.

The years change so many things in all of us.

So the puppet show came to a close, and the audience loved it. It was good art and good times.

There was no Hidden Storyteller. We knew the stories were about us. The masks were made of things like old plastic jugs, which the puppeteer explained when he came out for his encore. He kept no secrets. He was a storyteller, not a magician. His very presence and the simple nature of his tools were an invitation to everyone to become a storyteller themselves. The puppeteer was a real man, fully three dimensional and fully present. He wore no fancy clothes. We didn’t recognize him from People magazine, but he was captivating.

As the lights came up and the audience began to leave, people laughed and talked and greeted one another. The merry babblings and laughter of the children filled the room. It was noisy.

I thought about how different it was from when a movie ends. People file out of movie theaters anonymously in the dark as the rolling list of names on the screen reminds everybody that what they just experienced was not real.

The puppet show left no room for doubt. The story is real, even when it uses illusion to tell itself. Why is it so exhilarating to be in the story of a simple puppeteer? Perhaps because he is the Old Storyteller come around to visit. Oh mercy, he still exists. The children still laugh, the adults laugh some too. Everybody pays attention to the story, just as we did in the days when we knew our lives depended on it.

I guess I had lost some of my hope. I thought that our children only paid attention to the New Storyteller, who hides himself in fake fire and dazzles his audience with zillions of dollars worth of digital effects. Here were people enraptured by a man wearing a pink plastic milk jug. Imagine that. He allowed us to imagine again. In fact, imagination was essential to the story. This is crucial here,

Is our imagination still part of the story told by the New Storyteller? Or does he lay it all out for us in fancy computer layering and surround sound?

How has he divided us from the story? Our story? Our lives? Our brains? Our hearts and souls? Our children? Our old home in reality? Why does he do it?

The little girl got up to leave and turned to me.

“Nice to meet you ,” she said, reaching out to shake my hand. She meant it.

Why did that make my tired heart swell with happiness? A little girl told me it was nice to meet me, and she meant it. Nice to meet you too. See you some Time.

We were afforded the opportunity to share some truth together down at the puppet show. It was fun. We might get to see it all again, on the forever channel-checking out re-runs.

The puppet show had a little message of the truth. The little girl and I brought a little message of the truth to each other, as well. Even after all that has transpired, in just a moment the great walls of division are broken down, and we trust each other again. We bring word of a great and loving God. All truth believes upon Him.

Eugene, Oregon November 2000




Grace and Gypsy

Men and Women. What is this desire for union? Important to our purpose now, what has the It done to undermine the unity, to prevent the recognition of the truth of this ancient bond? For the Universal Conspiracy Theory dictates that all unifying truth is divided on all levels at an exponential rate. If that is the case, then the old arrangement between the sexes should be dissolving at a faster and faster pace. We know that much is amiss in the relations between men and women. What have we done to each other in the service of the It? Has it made us crazy and difficult to deal with? Where did we latch on to the lie? It’s heavy stuff, but not impenetrable. I’m not going to be able to sort it all out in this chapter, or this lifetime, I’m sure.

We have worn a mask. We can take it off. These are the words by which I attempt to approach the truth. They are not The Truth. You will not know the truth except as it appears in your own heart and in the creation. But I try to be honest.

I will tell you that my trouble started with a little lie, that I might have gotten the idea for my lie from the pervasive mass media, the Hidden Storyteller. By sticking to my lies, I compounded the misery.

Women tell lies, too, often in response to men’s lies and the Big Lie. But Woman has been deceived. Man has been deceived. We turn and deceive each other, only to find out we are serving the Great Deception, the Consolidation, the Machine. To create fear, discord, and disunity is to serve the ends of that which seeks fear, discord and disunity among all of us. It might seem like a quantum leap from people’s personal relationships to their relationship with the universe to the Universe’s relationship with itself. But I don’t think it is. It’s about honor and dishonor. Just Grace and Will (forget phony TV shows). The details and complexities of our various past loves will not serve us except as signposts and lessons for a better future. You cannot fix the past.

I’ll tell you what I know about myself. I became just a bit of a liar at a young age. I don’t remember when exactly it happened. I didn’t lie about everything. I’ve never been one of those compulsive liars. I only lied when I thought I needed to. And it was the subtlest form of lie, the casual misrepresentation of the kind of man I really was. I figured I needed to lie a little around girls, because society, the movies and TV had seemed to teach me that I wouldn’t get them if I was just myself. I needed a little angle. I learned to act. Acting interested when I wasn’t listening. Acting committed when I wasn’t. Acting alternately like I was either tough or sensitive or stable. It was an act, and I told myself that women expected the act. That’s just the way it is. It just so happens that this act is reinforced by Hollywood, which lets us all know we’re not nearly rich, smart, beautiful or adventurous enough to belong in the story. So it’s probably best to lie just a little about yourself.

But the first lie turns into a monster by the end. As it turns out, what women probably need most of all is honesty. Because we are not just men, we represent something about the Universe to them. Something about the Will. About learning of the Will. About trusting the Will.

If they find out that the representatives of the Will are liars, it breaks their hearts. There’s a lot of broken hearts out there still hoping that the truth about the Will might come to them. But in the old dependency of man and woman, many are still forced to cling to each other even when their bond has been corrupted by lies. They won’t come clean to each other, because it’s so painful, and because real forgiveness is very hard to come by these days. Modern psychology is all about wallowing in the pain of one’s past, sometimes the opposite of what is needed to heal old traumatic wounds. The man must keep up the act or be discarded and the woman lives in the state of chronic disappointment that neither she or her man quite matches up to the images installed in her mind by the machine.

Even if you are not an actor or a liar, you are likely to meet a woman who has been lied to all her life. She has had her trust broken, her innocence injured, her sacredness dishonored. She wanders the modern wasteland of virtual horrors with her body as one of the stars of the show-idealized, digitally altered and marketed as anything but reality. She still chooses to live. Why not? It’s not all bad, after all. But she has to use her natural cunning to find a way to exert power in the world of the lie.

She may find it by doing to men what the world’s done to her. She dishonors them.

As a whole, and this is extremely general and only to be taken as a lesson, not a rule; Women no longer respect men. They don’t. They respect individuals here and there. But our essence? Nope. Why would they?

We are the dungeon keepers, the rapists, the earth-eaters (Mother Earth, right?), the drones, the cops, the judge, the bringers of bombs and digital sex, the makers of serial killer movies and slash and shoot video games. We suck up to degrading authority, worship money and power. We show little mercy in the land of the Construct. We invented mechanical pornography. We are busy defiling the Universe.

If woman believes what the Construct claims, social man is little more than an immoral bio-machine, dull-witted and desperate. Not much a man at all. And our situation is made so much worse by unrealistic expectations of manhood installed by the machine. Most of us not James Bond or Brad Pitt, with a fat wallet and a fit body.

Conversations about the relationship between modern men about women rarely go anywhere and tend to make us depressed. They remind us of a life full of lies and disappointments. Lies from us and about us. Mistakes we made because of lies. Mistakes we made because we thought we could have it all.

We are also reminded that it was only through lies that the machine was able to consolidate, and we’re still lying, and the creation is being destroyed. The creation is feminine. Mother Earth. Is God not part woman too? We have invented the doom of the feminine spirit. We have sold woman and her children down the river, to the most awful pharaoh ever conceived. Wouldn’t her intuition sense the future at the doorstep? She’s supposed to respect men? Look at the world we created for her children. Doesn’t she love her children? To this day, she still loves them. The man loves his children too, but he knows the lie, and he doesn’t know how to deal with it. All he has to sacrifice is the lie, and they can step closer together. But what to do when the man is ready for this and the woman clings to the lies? It is a naturally frustrating position made nearly impossible by a society that looks more and more like a lie.

I want women to start treating me like a man. I guess that means I’d better start being one. Not just acting like one, but being one. That doesn’t mean making a million dollars or dressing up in fashionable clothes. That doesn’t make me a man. Possessions and fashion are distractions. Women are all too often consumed by such things. Men who fawn over such trivialities as their style or their stuff to the exclusion of more weighty matters seem barely worthy of the title of man, and that is precisely the kind of “man” the Construct encourages. Women who are possessed by such shallow preoccupations help perpetuate the rampant alienation and dissatisfaction that is breaking our spirit.

If we define our common enemy, the machinery of Greed, the Master of Lies, The Darkness which reduces and deceives us; it will be much easier for all of us to be honest. Simple lives also lend themselves to honesty. To step away from the machine of lies would offer men and women a common ground to stand on, a common struggle. For the struggle is real, and real is better than false. When we recognize a reality among each other, we confirm a connection. We confirm that we need each other.

Right now, I’m thinking of two women. I don’t know either one well, but what I learned form them is as real to me now as anything in my life, even though it seems likely I’ll never see them again. I’ll talk about Grace first.

A few weeks back, just after we’d come off the fires in Montana, a friend and I drove up into the Three Sisters area just west of here for a lazy day of hiking and sightseeing. It was a perfect blue sky day, and the mountains and the lakes and the waterfalls were in a nice light. We had a lot of fun.

My friend and I had talked a lot about women. We had both come separately to the conclusion that women were trouble. We had gone so far as to joke about the idea of vows of celibacy, which of course would only last until the next temptation, I suppose. For myself, I had come to the conclusion that my intense desire for women was distracting me from the desire to know God.

But for me, a vow of celibacy seem unnatural. Some it might bring closer to God, while others it must take closer to the devil.

Anyway, my friend and I saw this couple on the side of the road hitchhiking with their backpacks. We had seen them earlier in the day coming out from one of the trailheads. We stopped to pick them up. “Thank you,” they said. They were trying to get back to their truck, about five miles away. We took them there. Her name is Grace, and that’s her real name. His name was Andy, and I just made that name up.

She was one of the loveliest women I had seen in a long time. Probably about twenty-one years old, blonde and blue-eyed. Her voice was as sweet as a song. She spoke with complete presence of mind and radiated good will. She was an outdoor girl. She was healthy and beautiful.

I looked over at Andy, hoping I could detect some glaring personality defect, some reason I could be resentful. I looked over at Andy to see just how worthless this character was.

But as a matter of fact, he was a nice guy. He practically glowed. He was a country boy. He seemed intelligent and generous and his energy was different than mine--not so hard, not so cynical. But he was not soft or naïve. He appeared upright and honest. We all talked for awhile when we dropped them off at their truck.

As I drove back down the highway, it dawned on me. The age of accidents was over.

That woman! That was Grace! I get it!

Women are the Grace of God. Not the only grace, certainly, but probably the most important grace to a man. We don’t deserve a woman. They are not our birthright. Just as in the Creation Story, they are a part of the Universe offered to another part of the Universe to make life complete. They are Grace. Women must know that's what they are, in their hearts. Life is a grace, yes? A gift? Women are the life-givers and the gift. That connection between the celestial and the temporal.

A woman is not a prize for work well done. Nor is she a lucky number in some lottery of life. You did not earn her, nor did she appear by accident. When you find a woman for you, it means you have been offered the grace of God. Did you honor her as such? Did you acknowledge her for what she is? Or did you lie to her? Did you pretend to be something you’re not? I sure did once upon a time. Just as we think God would not accept us for who we are, so we might assume women would not. But the Lie is a cancer, and just as when you lie to God, a woman who is lied to will show you the extent of nature’s wrath.

I’m not saying women are God. But women are part of God, and part of our God is represented on some level by women. Not all women are godly, or even very nice. But little girls are nice until they are taught something else. They are taught deceit, envy, vanity. They are taught the love of money, power and status. Women often end up choosing the Lie, because it appears to be the way to respect and prosperity. They also often end up choosing liars as partners. In the world of the Lie, the Liar has the greatest opportunity for prosperity.

The lie is a double-edged sword. As we seek power over women, we must deny their true nature, the spiritual dimension of their existence, the inescapable fact that they are the Grace of God, and that they represent this Grace to us in our hearts even in this insane time. To deny the sacredness of women is to deny the Truth of God. In a society where the Truth of God is assaulted on all fronts, the most atrocious of the sacrileges seem to be borne by the mother spirit, the feminine.

Women also seek power over Men. They obtain power by manipulating desire. Men manipulate women’s desire for truth (The Truth through Will). Women manipulate man’s desire for Grace (The desire for beauty, redemption). We need these things to supply meaning to our existence.

Instead, we dishonor each other, and that dishonor is packaged, sold and distributed nonstop around the globe as the Truth in Life. Women are property. Men are the means to status. These relationships are also often enshrined in religion. The male impulse seeks to satiate a brute desire that knows no bounds. The female impulse seeks to fulfill a fantasy made in that sweet, lonely crossroads of fairy tales and Hollywood.

But what we really want is what we really need. The reason to live.

Men want the Grace of God (the reason to live).

Women want the strength and direction of the Will (the reason to live).

We both want a reason to live. But we are born into an ancient barbarity, a great deceit. Everything we ever needed is right next to us, if we just stopped lying to each other, and faced the darkness unified. If we really listen to each other, we hear the Soul of the Universe aching for that unity, so that it might choose Life.

All things are so balanced in the Natural Universe. If I do not honor what woman is, I curse myself. If a woman cannot honor what man is, she curses herself. We cannot despise or degrade that which is also inside of us without terrible consequences. Societies that are most oppressive to their women are usually the ones with the least interesting art and music.

Men are a symbol of the Will of God on earth. We cross oceans. We make great structures. We hunt dangerous beasts. We fight wars. We fly to the moon. Men are Will Manifest. A man without a will is a sad sight. Purposeless men. Decadent. Dishonored. Discarded. Grumbling bit players on a shadowy stage. Cogs in a vast machine. They turn to evil thoughts or hide themselves as best they can. We are frightened of this world. They lied to us from the start, and then offered us very few ways to prove we were men outside of its corrupt system. Many of us realized that that this system offered us no way to be a man. It divided Man from the Will. We were divided on the inside and the outside from that will. But even after centuries of lies, if we just stop lying and exalting ourselves, we could hear the truth of our purpose.

The truth of our purpose, men, is to save our tribe. Save life. Save freedom. It’s written in our blood. We need to quit slobbering in front of the devil’s machine and prepare to face Its darkness. You may not survive the battle but you will be a man-not this half-alive distracted sack of fury and flesh.

You have been betrayed. Your women have been betrayed. Your children have been betrayed.

It betrayed us all. I also lives inside of us until we deny its power, until we honor the creation. We will not survive as servants to the machine. It might keep us alive, but whatever made us true men and women cannot survive it. It must be opposed. We will not fully recognize each other until we recognize It. Once we recognize It, we stand a much better chance of recognizing the Will of God. Only by allying with the will of the One God who created the universe and all its life will we be able to fully honor ourselves, and each other, and life.

You cannot serve two masters. The game is over. This is where it gets real.

I met a woman named Gypsy the other night. She was selling paintings on the street. She told us she was living with her husband, a friend and a dog in a tent by the river. They were selling art to raise money to get their van fixed so that they could get back home to California.

I thought her art was very good. I bought a piece for twenty dollars. It is a painting of the cosmos, filled with strange interstellar clouds of creation that resemble dragons, complete with planets and comets and some spirit dancing with a moon. In the bottom center of the painting is a lonesome white temple.

Gypsy was unbearably beautiful. Dark and gentle. Where Grace seemed innocent, Gypsy was wise. She had perhaps seen some hard times, but she was not hard. She was strong. She knew how to speak of the essence of things. She shared her beers with me and a friend, even before I bought the painting. She was generous. She liked to laugh. I probably could have fallen in love with her.

Of course, she was married. I had a brief pang of jealousy. But she’s Gypsy, man. She goes where she goes. She’s not mine to have. Just as if I had chased Grace down and grabbed her, she wouldn’t be Grace anymore. She would become Creation wronged. If I stopped Gypsy on her road and tried to drag her over to mine, tried to make her change to fit my world, she would not be Gypsy anymore.

So she remains what she is. To me, she is a message from God. There is woman still left in this world. Whatever enormous reservoir of power that lives inside the essence of woman is waiting to be released in glory. Maybe she’s waiting for Will.

Eugene 10-12-2000










October 13th, 2000


The moon is full today, Friday the 13th. Yesterday the news was grim from the Middle East. Something is slipping. The foundation of the house of cards trembles. Will it stand? Who can tell?

Something has changed.

Yes, I registered to vote in the sad fraud, the puppet show of the Great Consolidation .

I still believe in democracy, but now I see how it was bought. There’s only one monster left to pledge allegiance to in their game. The days of cheap oil and discount credit are through. It can say to us-“you owe me”.

We are buried beneath our debts, just as the rich will be buried beneath their selfishness. Perhaps we all got a little greedy. We demanded a portion not offered by God. We could not see through the deception. It hypnotized us.

I saw the television for the first time in months last night. The Palestinians beating and killing the Israelites. The Israeli helicopters bombing the Palestinians. The USS Cole with a hole in its side. Suicide bombers. The faces of the people around me were somber. The bottom of the screen flashed baseball scores.

Maybe it will hold a little while. Maybe it will fall apart. Maybe the Consolidation cannot control so many variables. Maybe such discord is precisely what it desires.




The Color Box Machine- Part One


The Storyteller has always lived in our homes. Father, Mother, Grandfather, Grandmother. The Sojourner who stops for the night with tales of distant lands, the brother soldier come home from the war. The Story is made real first and foremost in our home. Our blood kin tell us the story and our imagination clings to it and makes it our own. Our blood is confirmed in reality. We are confirmed. Our ancestors are confirmed. The story of the tribe is confirmed. We make the connections on our own. The home is safe from the world.

Once upon a time, we built a fire in our home. We had mastered it and contained it. Just as the tribe had gathered around the open fire, now the family gathered around the hearth. The role of Old Storyteller would shift between father and mother, and often their parents or other kin.

Perhaps key to this transition, to the confidence we placed in their stories, was the presence of the fire, whether the hearth or the candle. It was the light against the darkness of night. That was the story as well. How do we live in the world? Without fire and story, we are certainly no better off than the beasts of the wilderness.


This chapter is my attempt to begin to reckon the story of the New Storyteller, and how he came to build a fire in our homes, to take away our story, and to replace it with his story. His is not a real fire, though it mimics one. His is not our story, though it mimics our story. The fire that burns inside his screens consumes the truth. It projects the New Storyteller’s lies inside of us, so that when we finally take our eyes off of it, we often look around and still see nothing but lies. Since we first saw this fire, we have accelerated the consumption of God’s creation--the green earth and the sea and the wild true heart inside of us. It is the training wheels of the beast, and we appear to be virtually hypnotized.

When we first invited the New Storyteller into our homes, he told our story and it was still our fire. The First World War was over, that catastrophic sacrifice to death. We sought unity and were given the radio. It made the distant world real to us in voice, albeit a distant voice. It sang our songs. It told of great contests of sports and politics. Preachers told lively sermons through it.

We had brought another voice into our homes. The story was real, but the story no longer needed our voice. We gathered around the new voice intently, waiting for this novel Storyteller to bring us news of the truth.

Around the same time, the fire began to change. Electricity became our fire and our light. Where once we lit and controlled the fire we used as light, now an unfathomable source was tapped. As soon as this service was provided, it became a necessity. We lost control of our fire and our story. The fire was not ours anymore. It was a service, a benefaction, provided by a company for money. The light bulb was the new fire against the darkness. But we didn’t gaze at the new fire while we listened to the new storyteller. This new fire was too bright, too ugly, too static. It did not dance as our old fire had. It was a tool without beauty.

But it was magic, yes? Fire through wires. Story through a machine. We have always loved a magic trick, nearly as much as we love the truth.

Soon the radio and the new fire were almost everywhere. Examples of the radio’s power popped up everywhere. Hitler consolidated with it. Roosevelt consoled us with it. Orson Welles showed us its power to panic with the infamous “War of the Worlds”. The cities and countryside began to glow with the new fire of electricity.

Though most of us could not (and still cannot) explain how the new fire came to exist, we could plainly see what it required as food. Great concrete walls were constructed to harness the mighty rivers. The mountains of Appalachia were leveled and consumed. The men who worked the mines turned black from the inside out. Where once we had burned firewood, now we burned the compressed black forests of a distant past to light a fire we needed but could not bear to look at.

Still the story stayed separate from the fire. We almost learned the truth during the Great Depression as a nation about who was really there for us. We had to rely on each other, and we did. Our heroes then are legends now-Roosevelt, Joe Louis, Will Rogers, Woody Guthrie and so many more, including our own parents and grandparents. In such struggle we were defined in liberty and dignity. In such struggle we are always defined.

The Second Great War of the century engulfed the planet. It was clearly good vs. evil. It was clearly liberty vs. tyranny. By the time it was over, we knew for certain we were a special people. We were the defenders of freedom. But the power of destruction consolidated in the heat of battle, and we became something different in victory.

Two new fires were born; one creates fear and the other confusion. Both serve to divide us from truth and our home in reality.

There was the nuclear fire-first conjured in the deserts of New Mexico and then used twice on our enemy. Soon we experienced a shift in collective consciousness, as the world seemed to become no longer God’s to destroy, but ours.

The other fire was an odd little toy, a gift from uncle science and his son, technology. It would break an ancient grip on reality with trivial ease. By gazing into its face, you could receive the message of the New Storyteller. It would tell a vision.


Television is the near perfection of the message of the New Storyteller. All us would-be rebels, high thinkers, social activists, pious worshippers, brilliant artists: Whose fire is it that burns in our living room or beside our bed? Why are there ten of them at the bar? At the school? Why does nearly everyone own one? What is that thing?

We created an artificial storyteller. It was an outsider. It was a magic voice.

We created the artificial fire--the electric light.

We brought them together to create the voice that speaks from the fire. Around the ancient campfires, we listened to the Old Storyteller as we gazed into the flames of our own fire. Now we have an electronic fire and we listen to the New Storyteller speak through it. Whatever Force controls the Color Box knows the magic spell it casts on human beings when they hear a voice speaking through the fire. So the Construct ( of power, of money)speaks through an artificial electronic blaze to attach weight to its message.

That is only part of what it does.

Look at how this machine works. The movie and the television both use a screen. But for the movie, the screen is the place upon which an image is projected. Whatever the illusions contained within the image, the physical image itself is real. It is light shown through a piece of film onto a blank surface. When we view this, we see a “whole” image in front of us, albeit two-dimensional.

Likewise, as we walk through the world, we see real people in front of us, or real trees or mountains or buildings. They are over there. We are over here. Light shines on them so that we can see them. That makes them real. To see light reflect off something is an ancient determiner of that object’s reality. The only thing in this world that light does not reflect off of is something that produces light. Fire is the only thing in our ancient reality that produced light.

The television is composed of thousands of individual cathode tubes that emit light. When arranged together and illuminated, these radiation tubes create a representation of a real image. But the image on the television is not real. It is a mosaic of independent points of light that rearranges even smaller particles of frequencies into the representation of an image. These points of light physically shoot radiation into our eyes, the windows of our souls. That is how we watch television. It is not how we watch a tree or a person or even a movie. We stare into a light producer that simulates a fire to witness a mosaic reconstruction of a distant image that has traveled in a frequency to the Color Box. The Color Box is a delivery device for frequencies, delivering the illusion directly into our eyeballs. It is not a real image. It is out of place in a real world.

That is one of the most important reasons we watch it, because it does not belong here. Once upon a time, when we walked through the primeval forests, we possessed an instinct to watch out for unusual phenomenon- a flash in the woods, a fire in the night. Our bodies and minds know how to watch out for things that are out of the ordinary, for disruptions to the order, for magic. That’s what television is, a 24 hour a day magic trick. Our attention is drawn to it precisely because it does not belong here. Something is not right about it, so we watch it to try and determine what it is. Not only can we not determine what that something is, but it lures us in with story. We have a magic storyteller speaking out of the fire. Once we turn it on, it is difficult to turn off. Our instinct demands that we keep an eye on it.

So we keep turning it on. We assume that this is where the storyteller has decided to live, the one who confirms our reality through story. Occasionally, the stories from the television are captivating enough to inspire us in spite of the handicaps of its delivery system.

What is the form of this delivery system? There is a precedent in nature for something we cannot take our eyes off of while the story is told- the fire. The television is a fire in the night. A fire anytime. But it is a fake fire, a simulated fire. The Hidden Storyteller lives somewhere back in that soup of signals. The story comes from inside the artificial fire.

Fire was how we held back the night. The ancient pact whereby we raised ourselves from wild nature. We still look to it in the same way. But now it speaks to us, and what does it say?

It tells us our story is brought to you by your good friends at Hewlett-Packard, General Electric, Pfizer, Monsanto, DuPont, the Ramjac Corporation. Really? What a load of garbage. We know that’s not true. We watch anyway, but inside we know that our story could not really be owned by corporations. So, at some point we conclude that it is not our story in there. But still we keep watching. Then we wonder if it actually is our story after all because we liked a particular show, say the Super Bowl. Still we keep watching. Then we flip through 65 channels looking for something that might be interesting and conclude that it’s not our story. Then we see a good music video and wonder again if it is our story. Then we see a bad one and conclude that it is not.

Final result- we don’t know if it is our story or not. Its very substance is false. To even receive this story involves the exchange of money or the subjection of our senses to the wearisome bellowings of salesmen. So if this story is real, it must be about money. There is a wide variety of fictionalized idiocy available. Is that the story? Is the nature of the diversion the story? That the story is an escape from reality? What does that say about our lives? We sometimes want to watch the news on TV. That news is now brought to you by the same people who own the Construct. We already know what they want. They want more. Why wouldn’t they lie to us to get it? Or we watch Nature shows or biographies or science. Great. But are we really experiencing nature or science or life on a TV set? Or are we just piling up facts instead of knowledge? We haven’t really made it to the Grand Canyon when we see it on a TV screen. Its essence is more physically authentic on a postcard, and its not real there either. We attempt to reconcile and balance that which cannot be reconciled or balanced. We must assert the reality of something we instinctively know not to be real. We are forced to lie to ourselves to complete the illusion. Thus we may also dispute the reality of something we instinctively know to be real- the physical and spiritual universe. This recipe for insanity is what we take away with us from the television.

I think the television is destroying our sense of reality, closing down our access to the truth. It does this on all levels, and increases its efforts at an exponential rate. More channels, more quick cuts(these are used to keep the animal in us distracted, the flash in the forest), facts and factoids popping up all over the screen. The endless irony. The talking head. The return of public humiliation as blood sport. The commercial as story. The story as commercial. The love of money lurks behind every story.

TV is the first place everyone wants to appear, and the last place they should go. If you appear on TV, your reality is immediately in question. You become media.


It wasn’t quite so bad when I was a kid. Music still lived outside of the Color Box. There were four channels and two of them were fuzzy. I spent a lot of time running around outside or listening to music.

It needed more channels, so we would watch more television.

So it switched to cable. Everything is moving to cable, to broadband, to wireless digital. Consolidation.

After school as a kid, I watched Andy Griffith and the Brady Bunch. Coyote and Woodpecker. Then I’d go out and play. Today we have Jerry Springer, video massacre games, Divorce Court. Or the kids are already on the computer, in deceitful chat rooms or searching out the depths of the binary shadow.

The television is practically everywhere that the computer has not arrived. It is there specifically to distract you, to disarm you, to knock you off your balance. In the fifty years since it became our storyteller, the world has been consolidated into a gigantic freedom-eating machine, resistant to the periodic outbursts of authentic free will, capable of cheapening and destroying the spirit of these movements with incredible ease.

It is not the conspiracy of men. It is the result of their actions. The result is a deception that is total and exponentially growing, brilliantly conceived and uncannily executed.

The truth cannot consolidate until the lie is recognized. The Hidden Storyteller is trying to make us view the universe like a TV show, unreal and shallow.

Liberty and television are proving to be incompatible. We cannot trust it to be our storyteller.

Eugene October 2000




The Color Box Machine- Part Two



History bears witness to the ever- expanding struggle of Good and Evil on earth. Last night I saw a filmstrip that included pictures of the Nazi extermination camp at Dachau. The speaker pointed out that this horror did not occur in some heathen land, hidden in some primal jungle, but rather in the very birthplace of the Protestant Reformation, the homeland of Beethoven, Luther, Goethe, Einstein.

Since we have media now, it is difficult to keep the Holocaust real in the modern world. All things portrayed by media have a way of losing their reality. Witness the lip service given to the genocidal campaigns that established the Euro-Roman order in the New World. We have a Hollywood that pays phony homage to the Native Peoples of America, in a society that has never ceased to subjugate them. The story behind the story is the one about the ever-expanding machinery of death, and it is this machine that we also refer to when we so timidly claim: “You can’t stop progress”.

Well, we stopped it in Nazi Germany.

Sure, we didn’t stop It forever, but that is not our victory to win. We have great victories in moments of Time. That the struggle reshapes itself afterwards and returns more intensely is somehow written in the bones of the story. But to claim we can have no impact on our own worldly story is obviously wrong. Progress cuts two ways. There are two progressions occurring simultaneously in the expanding universe. If things have gotten really bad, it also means things have gotten really good.

We are the tribes of Humanity. We believe in freedom. But with every one of our victories, the enemy changes shape, and often occupies the institutions and persons that had seen us through our struggles. People see this seeming irrationality and lose interest in the struggle. We become preoccupied with the ways of the world- money, sex, prestige and power. The holy struggle becomes more distant, until it can cease to be real to us.

In spite of all the tyrants we have witnessed and struggled against, I believe there is nothing that can compare to the modern machine, or rather the beast that grows within its connected frequencies.

It is the Consolidation of all prior consolidations. It so mocks man and heaven that it calls its preliminary trap a Net and a Web, and we still sign up. I do not love fantasy. I love reality. The green earth, the blue sky, the clear water, these dear friends, these innocent animals, these beautiful people laughing and dancing and living and praying. That Sun. These heavens. Our God. The children.

I did not concoct this monster in my brain. I opened my eyes and God showed me what It is doing. I don’t believe I am insane. And if I am insane, I am still supposedly allowed to speak in this country. Call me deluded. Call me self-aggrandizing. Call me mentally ill with symptoms of religious ideation. Call me dangerous. Call me a fool. It doesn’t matter. I believe I’m just telling it how it is and I think God is okay with me doing it. I know He’s real. You may too. But there’s a power on the loose that will do anything to keep us from seeing the One who really loves us and who makes life worth living.

We must stay as free as we can for as long as possible.

There seems an easy test to determine what is real and what is not. Does the subject in question serve to unite us with reality and truth or divide us? That Construct of the world that claims to unite us is the very thing that will divide us the most. The Truth does not sell itself on TV or in magazines or on the web. The Truth of our unity does not take children off the playground and force them in front of a machine, where they are to be conditioned for a world ruled by machines, where they are a mere push of a button away from the most nightmarish depravity ever devised. The truth is not in the binary, yes and no, language of the machine. The Truth is in word. The truth is in life. The truth is not about how much money the machine lets you make. Can’t we see that it’s giving money away? It knows you’ll want more. Can’t we see it’s giving these machines away? It knows that we think we need them.

.
Eugene October 2000







The Bullet


Three of my most distinct memories from childhood were odd lessons about the machine, and they all happened in the same field. When I was five, I used to play in that big field behind our house in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. There were lots of fantastic trees there. One day, bulldozers appeared and tore up the trees, uprooting them and pushing them into piles. Then they set them on fire. I remember wandering out there by myself and crying at the sight of the ruined trees and the fire. That was the same field where I nearly took my own life some nine years later.

They built the County Fairgrounds on part of that field. It wasn’t an enormous fairgrounds, just a couple of large metal buildings big enough to show animals and exhibits.

I remember many times listening to the Indians holding their pow-wows there, with all the drums and chanting reverberating through the summer nights. I would stand on the back porch in the darkness, letting that ancient song wash over me. I remember feeling like a stranger then; a stranger to every world.

One year when I was twelve or thirteen, the carnival came to town. It was one of those rinky-dink low-budget carnivals which you hardly see anymore, surreal museums from the hard side of our past, complete with deformed men and women, rigged games and very strange characters. I remember that carnival in particular had only a couple of rides. One of them was a rather small Ferris wheel, designed for the kiddies, I guess. The other one was called The Bullet.

I had gone to the carnival by myself that day. I remember that the sky was gray, and the carnival seemed a little tragic because there was practically nobody there. I was a skinny, shy boy back then. Kind of a goofy looking fellow. I was probably smoking cigarettes there, as I was every inch the doomed rebel in those days.

I decided to go on the Bullet. The Bullet was the very definition of the hard ride. It was comprised of two steel cages, each built to fit two persons. These cages were separated by and attached to a single steel beam maybe 35 feet long. This beam was affixed to a pivot point elevated halfway of the distance above the ground. As this big metal arm spun, the individual cages also turned around, but independently of the motion of the arm. It was designed to induce nausea and fear.

I remember handing the carny my tickets. I was the only one in line to go on the ride. The carny’s face was devoid of expression-thin lips, greasy hair, blank eyes, a five day beard and unwashed clothes. I got in the cage. As the machine began to move, I tried to put down the safety bar for my seat. I couldn’t get it to latch. There was nothing to hold me in my seat. I started to panic with the first jerky motions of the machine. It was too late. The great arm began to spin, and the little cage twirled and shook in random rhythm. I screamed and hollered at the carny.

“ Please stop! I’m not strapped in! Help!”

To my horror, I saw him turn from the controls and walk away towards the other ride, presumably to talk with another carny over there. I was utterly alone in that machine.

I was loose in the spinning cage. I tried to pin myself as steady as I could. This would work for a moment until the centrifugal force would hurl me free, and I would slap and bounce against the hard metal webbing and steel seats. I hollered in vain as I tumbled back and forth in that merciless contraption. The carny would not come back to the Bullet. I must have been in there three times as long as the ride was intended to last. I tried to keep my body from slapping against the door, lest I somehow knock it open and fall out. I didn’t give up.

Finally the carny came back and stopped the machine. When I got out, I was bruised and I had a bloody lip. My eyes were wet. I was shaking.

“ The bar wouldn’t latch,” I cried to the carny. “ I was yelling for you to stop it and…”

His eyes met mine with a look of utter hatred and contempt. I shut up and left in silence. What was that look? That lesson? Who is that blank-eyed man taking tickets for the ride? I’ve never seen a crueler visage, or been on a crueler journey-there at the mercy of that rusty old child-smasher, The Bullet.

Two years later, I would bring the barrel of a rifle to my head some 50 yards from that spot. I believe God told me not to shoot.

Eugene October 2000







The Prophets Among Us

“ When there is no prophecy, the people cast off restraint”

Proverbs 29

They were with us all along, giving truth a human voice so that we could approach it. They were pilgrims and sojourners in our midst. They were not without honor except in their own house, in their own country, in their own lifetime.

Occasionally we would meet them on the street. Did we listen to the message in their riddles? Or did we turn away? We don’t have to take them home with us. We don’t have to even listen to them.

We don’t have to do anything, but instead were given free will in a universe free of accident. How God arranges this is not ours to know. I know it to be true, but I am not the Truth. One must find truth on their own, using the messages that have been lovingly placed around us.

You either want truth or you don’t. You’ve gotta serve somebody.

Either you choose to cloak your life with lies or you follow the light that illuminates your steps. Oftentimes we live in a volatile mixture of lies and truth, trying to pick and choose- avoiding some lies, embracing others, ignoring some truth here, clinging to it there.

If you trust in an active God, you might also trust that He would not leave us alone on this journey in search of Him. On the contrary, a great and loving God would fill the world with messages about right and wrong. But He would not beat us over the head with the truth.

If God wanted, He could appear simultaneously to everyone on earth and demand that we fall down and worship His Glory or suffer a terrible death. He could then fill the skies with fire and the streets with frogs and the rivers with blood. And you know what? We would, for the most part, fall down on our knees and feign to worship such a powerful tyrant. Why wouldn’t God want that? The same reason you might not want such a thing.

God does not want to be chosen out of fear. How would such a thing glorify The Creation, His Being? God surely would not know fear Himself, and thus receives no pleasure in its offering. If one chooses to honor God’s Creation because one is afraid of God, fine- at least you are causing a minimum of suffering. But the divine path to freedom and God is the same in all true religions and worship, love. Love. As simple as a child looking at a butterfly. She loves it. She loves her mom and dad and her brothers and her sisters and her friends and her dog and her world and her God. That is natural. That is like God, who loves us. As she grows older, she will learn the lessons of the world, where darkness has established a kingdom, and then she will have to choose love or not. It is a miracle how many still choose love.

God will let you know that He is real. But he probably won’t do it through the Construct’s visual machinery (specifically the TV and the computer) because that would certainly confuse His message. God’s messages need more than two dimensions. God’s message is that the beast who has deceived us has come to roost in that machinery. It is highly unlikely that God would assert His presence on a television or a computer, because the nature of them is so unbelievable. We very likely would be spiritually unable to believe a God who appeared in such a way, for we know that nothing really lives in there, don’t we?

So God must reveal Himself in the natural order-in the creation. The truth of natural harmony is all around us, and countless great works of literature and art have told us this. Part of the natural order is the human race, and since that is where we learn the Story of the truth, he reveals it through people. We learn truth through basic interactions with each other and our world, when we don’t let fear be our guide through society. We love one another. We struggle against trouble together. We are generous. We sacrifice.

Then there is the truth in Word.

“ In the Beginning was the Word” starts the Gospel of John.

The Truth in Word is delivered by prophets. A prophet is one gifted with the ability to speak with the voice of the truth, to connect with the Universal Voice, to surrender his or her thought and will to the Will of God so that the message can be delivered.

Not everything a prophet ever says is the message, for that would be silly. Even Jesus of Nazareth must have needed to speak trivialities during his sojourn on earth. But eventually a prophet is called and he speaks and his message is either heard or ignored-or usually both. If the prophet’s words were of significance, they usually survive on some level, even if only to inspire future prophets. If a prophet’s words open the door to the way of Truth in some awesome, unprecedented fashion, entire religions may be founded upon them.

If they were of the Truth, then they could speak of the One Truth. There can be no heresy if one speaks the Truth. The truth is, either you honor God and his creation or you dishonor it. We all know this.

When a church is half-filled with liars, and their high priests are cutting deals with the forces of destruction and greed, we recoil with horror. Surely this church cannot serve the truth. Surely their prophet was a liar. But the Universal Conspiracy Theory dictates that this division had to occur. The truth is ceaselessly divided and organized by the Lie. The worldly hides the sacred. Organized religion is both beautiful and terrible. Beautiful when it serves the Truth, horrifying when it serves the Lie. Power runs both ways.

BUT THAT IS IRRELEVANT TO THE TRUTH OF THE PROPHETS!

Some Christians do bad things. But does that mean that the words they revere are not the truth? Of course not. The hip cool thing to believe is that all religions are smaller and stupider than you are, the type of attitude that basically dismisses the truth as casually as one throws out a newspaper, a very dangerous and disingenuous pose that flourishes in the “intellectual “ community, where it’s only cool to respect ways of worship that one knows very little about (or that you came up with your self). Where the same mouth that assails Christianity hastens to assert the greatness of Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln, both prophetic Christians themselves.

People are just people. Do followers of words destroy the Word when they use it for evil? There has been at least as much good done in the names of the major religions as bad. How is that any different from any other time or any other thing? These are still people we are talking about. To belittle the power of a prophet of peace simply because someone started a war in his name goes against common sense. It also serves the purposes of a Darkness that seeks to destroy everything and everyone, whether you believe in anything or not. The only obvious option to religious truth is the concept of Rational Truth, the scientific order. We see the fruits of such an order around us now. Has it helped?

The Old Prophets survive. What they said was the truth. Otherwise the words would not survive. Truth lives forever. The Lie must constantly shapeshift in order to exist, changing from state to church to fashion and all else.

Do millions of people bow fervently in prayer to the words of Julius Caesar or Pharaoh or the Khans or Hitler? Of course not. These men nearly ruled the world, yet these days virtually no one pays attention to what they said. Hitler probably gets the most attention, because his shadow still lingers, but his message is so obviously evil that one must literally choose the Darkness in order to follow it.

“Well,” we confused children of the earth say, “ The great religions survive as a social construct. We are really choosing the tribe, not the faith.”

Is that right?

Is that why the descendants of slaves in America worship Jesus Christ? Or the Native Americans? These are the same people who were violently oppressed by conquerors waving Bibles in their faces as they tried to crush them. Their blood remembers this. No one is waving a gun in their face anymore (not about religion, anyway). They can worship anything they want, but they still choose it. The Word of Truth was handed them by lying tyrants. Then these oppressed peoples began to understand what the Word really said. They found out that God was actually on their side, the side of the down-trodden. It was the word of freedom, both here on earth and in eternity. The truth was delivered inadvertently by the conquerors or by sympathetic hearts within the torrent of conquest.

“Here,” these decent ones might have said. “ Hear this. It will one day set us all free.”You know the Truth by its survival. We all know what the truth sounds like.

Certainly our Founding Fathers did not intend that we would not be taught any Religion or philosophy in school. Wouldn’t it make sense to teach about all the major religions in our public educational system? Instead we are offered only the scientific system of learning, and religion and philosophy are relegated to bit roles in history. This one-sidedness has altered our national character and led simultaneously to both a dull-witted fundamentalism and a dreary, unsatisfying national agnosticism.

So they kill the prophets and try to warp their memories to better suit the needs of a lie obsessed with the death of liberty. So what?

Well, they died for freedom, that’s what. Our freedom. The Truth would set us free.

“Ah, Lord God!”, the Prophet Ezekiel might say. “How can we hear you when they kill our prophets and twist their words? Our children will never be able to choose the truth when Word is not available to them.”

But wait, Zeke. We have a good and loving God and he delivers prophecy in such forms as the machine could not destroy. Some of these prophecies were allowed because they slipped below the radar. Other prophecies were tolerated because they made the machine money.

Prophets making money for the Lie? I believe it is so. Just as the word of God was delivered by the Tyrants to provide the means of the Tyrant’s overthrow, so a glitch in the march of madness allowed for nearly anything to be said and heard in this country as long as it was profitable to some corporation. The machine did not know how to regulate certain flows of ideas and prophecy that spoke truth against the Consolidation, because it was not only protected free speech but more importantly, could potentially help corporations make more money (and strengthen their position in the Consolidation). There is one area of universal human interest where the machine’s grasp slips as it tries to control it.

Prophecy did not die 2,000 or 1,400 years ago, but it re-shaped itself. Prophecy is simply the ability to speak the truth about the larger spiritual situation in which humanity finds itself. There are sojourning prophets on the streets, though sometimes their riddles are difficult for us to consider. There have been prophets of truth in great leaders of the tribes. There have been prophets in the churches and in the mountains. There are prophets among all the persecuted peoples of the earth. And there are the Great Prophets whose words still survive among us. They induce humanity to prayer with Truth.

Some books may contain prophecy. Not all literature is prophecy, and not all prophetic books are 100% prophecy, but once the connection is made with the Universal Voice, authors can reach a place where their voice becomes universal. It can be funny or secular or mystic. Words can bear truth.

It is no mistake that books are disappearing and screens are appearing. Books are irreplaceable reservoirs of prophecy and truth. So it appears more hopeless. It’s destroying the Word too? Ah, but we have a good and loving God. He delivered us another way to prophecy, a way to be comforted in truth. He gave us the song, the music. He inspired a new group of psalm-writers to give us comfort. This form of Prophecy, this conversation of truth, has endured the longest, has reached the most, and is the hardest for the beast to contain.


Eugene October 2000



Prophets in the Song-the Psalmwriters

“ the Father makes known to the children thy faithfulness. The Lord will save me, and we will sing to stringed instruments all the days of our life, at the house of the Lord”

Isaiah 38

Last night, in my class on the sacred Turkish text, The Kazari, the rabbi described prophecy as a place. That place exists but cannot be defined, at least with earthly dimensions. The prophetic space allows for direct communication with Truth. The receiver of this divine influence temporarily fuses what he has come to know himself as, a body and a mind attached to a personal history and name with something larger, and with a message that must be told. The more the prophet agrees with this arrangement, and the sacrifice of self it requires, the more likely this arrangement will continue.

How this happens is a mystery of God.

That it happens seems to me irrefutable and essential. Without the prophet, how else might we acknowledge God’s capacity to deliver truth in human word? Without that possibility, how could we hope to find or share truth ourselves?

Thus the prophet’s importance lies both in the message and in the fact that there is a messenger. The Rabbi claimed that in the Orthodox Jewish tradition, once the ark of the covenant was hidden (presumably beneath the Temple Mount), that prophecy was hidden as well, and disappeared from the face of the earth.

I must respectfully disagree. I believe there have been prophets on earth since the ark was hidden. Also, there is a place where we nearly universally agree Truth lives. It is a place where argument is not possible, because there are no earthly boundaries from which to argue. It is music.

While we may all like different kinds of music, virtually everyone agrees that this arrangement of the Universe is pleasing to us. Melody, harmony and rhythm (however arranged) provide for us a kind of pleasure and unity we cannot describe. It takes us to a place. It defies mechanical time and scientific scrutiny. It is true.

Music, being universally accepted as true, becomes the perfect avenue for the delivery of truth. It can also be a great delivery system of the lie. It is said Satan sang in the choir of heaven.

But we know how to tell the difference between the Truth and the Lie. It’s not rocket science. Does it honor creation? Does it connect us? Does it work to liberate us? If so, it must be true.

Of course, much of music is formed by some dimensional tension between Truth and Lie, light and dark, sacred and profane, free and enslaved. It is the same tension found in story. You know how this works as well as I, but neither of us could adequately describe the miracle of that place and that experience.

Music without tension, just like stories, may be serene, but it can get awfully lifeless.

The prophet is also the storyteller, and the storyteller can be a prophet. But there are widely varying levels of competence and divine influence among them all.

I am not trying to compare prophets in song and story to the Great Prophets of old. Just as there are major and minor prophets in the Old Testament, so there are major and minor prophets today in song. Surely none of these can be compared to the Great Prophets God sent to establish the Covenants of Word, but these modern-day prophets, these psalm writers, are not to be dismissed either. The idea of the prophet as social critic is extremely similar to the role of the songwriter. The spiritual recommendations of the greatest of our songwriters are not all that far removed the recommendations of the prophets.

Many songwriters are not prophets at all. Songwriting can be a form of self-expression that does not ring true at all. Much of what people create can be uninspired, self-centered and tedious. They can be constructions-technical exercises. There are various levels of honesty.

There are others who are different. They were delivered to us for a reason at particular times in history to bring us messages of vast importance. Many people saw this truth and adored these prophets, but through the Construct’s collusion of media and money, these singing prophets were labeled celebrity idols, as something to be adulated in and of themselves, therefore denying the part of their message that comes from God.

There have always been songs, or at least it feels that way. It feels as if the very earth sings. Music without word seems to be eternal. Songs with words seem linked to this human story.

Certainly King David was a songwriter, or Psalm writer. He was a prophet, yes?

Of the great Prophet Elisha, it is written:

“ and Elisha said: ‘ Bring me a minstrel.’ And when the minstrel played, the power of the Lord came over him.”

-Kings II- Chapter 3

In this light, the musician is obviously a contributor to the prophetic space.

It seems as if the song with words can be divided into two basic forms-the hymn and the ballad. These, in turn, can be divided into many sub-genres. In balanced cultures, the hymn and the ballad provide a balance. The Hymn speaks of the Eternal in the voice of the world, while the Ballad speaks of the world through the music of the Eternal. Each provides an essential means of both receiving and providing Truth. Each is necessary for wisdom through word song. Mustn’t we speak of the eternal, if we are to have context and meaning and hope? Mustn’t we also speak of the world, if we are to recognize our personal stories in the larger context? Don’t we sing with a worldly voice? Weren’t we blessed with a Truth, a Universal Music with which to sing with?

Didn’t we all use to sing together a lot more than we do now?

Great Hymns also address the world in some way, to make the Eternal present here-Silent Night, Amazing Grace, Rock of Ages, Wayfaring Stranger, Swing Low (Sweet Chariot),- these songs personalize the Truth. They sing of eternity in the voice of the world, and we become eternal in the union.

Ballads address the eternal in their form, so that our story becomes present in eternity-Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Greensleeves, The Boxer- these songs add the truth of eternity, music, to our story.

The Industrial age witnessed a great flowering of songwriting. There was finally a means of widely distributing music, and there were musicians everywhere, as usual. This songwriting explosion occurred alongside the foundation of the Modern Construct. As the machine consolidates, freedom gains power. This is the Universal Conspiracy Theory showing its other, more benevolent, side.

As the Construct expanded, the song of the world predominated, and found a permanent home on the radio. Remember that the Darkness ceaselessly divides the Truth. It lives by division. It is the opposite of life. Since the radio is about money, ballads make more sense. Most people do not want to worship all the time, but we still want to hear some tunes. Thus hymns won’t get everybody to turn on the radio. So the dark side feels “Aha! I’ve got them now. They will have to listen to the song of the world.”

The only thing is, the song of the world still has the Eternal in it, and is trusted virtually universally. So in opposition to the dividing Force, briefly the air blossomed with musical psalm-writers.

These are people, not idols. Idols are what It wants you to think they are. Then the Construct goes out of its way to sell and package them like idols, so that we might see them as puppets of publicity-celebrity inventions. But people see through that, because we can hear the music, man! The Great Consolidation always had a glitch, at least in the “democratic” nations. If it sells, it is available. If they want it, they will get it. This loophole in the machine is rapidly being closed,and is nearly shut. but I’ll try and get to that later.


Thus we find Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash---the 3 great modern Pop/Christian Psalmwriters, and more secular types like The Beatles, Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix, (and so many others) all appearing in a very short time period just after the birth of the Atomic Bomb. They slipped in through the back door of the Great Consolidation. An immense reservoir of divine influence made its presence known at the same time as the machine began to put itself together. This was nothing less than a blessing from the Creator, who will not leave us alone without the comforting voice of music inspired by the contemplation of his divinity and his Creation.

All these prophets of song paid a price to get these songs heard. I don’t care how much money they made, don’t we know they had to sacrifice something huge? What they had to sacrifice, only they know. But they were brave to accept their mission, even if who they were and what they had to do was hidden from them.

Why did this phenomenon resound so strongly among American and British artists? The new concept of song as a defining example of personal liberty came from America, the country founded in the idea of liberty. The twenties and thirties saw the full flowering of country, blues, pop and jazz. This music is brought forth in freedom. It sounds like freedom. America was blessed by God for protecting Jews, Christians, Freedom and music.

Then there was a war. We know who won it-the British and the Americans (I know, other countries also won, particularly the Russians. But who won the cultural war?) We make the songs that the whole world sings. We have achieved a level of cultural supremacy, but as usual the truth is handed to the conquered by the conquerors. The song of freedom spread.

It turns out that these songs often contain prophecy, an insight into the nature and the future of the Story. It turns out that many of these people who write these songs could be considered capable of entering the place called prophecy. That’s no reason to exalt them. I’m sure they could care less about being exalted. But we could listen to them. There is a reason that their Truth survives. Their songs are not about how to cause fear, though they might have the occasional song that concerns such things. The songs are about confronting the darkness in the personal and the social world, and about love’s ups and downs, achieving unity and peace in a world of division. Their songs face the darkness and describe it. They face the light and love it. Through their songs, we are affirmed as a tribe in the truth. The vast majority of “popular” songwriters eventually begin writing spiritually significant music.

The darkness knows this. Some of these men died young. Prophecy is short and sweet sometimes. The world kills many of them, overwhelming their inherently sensitive souls with all sorts of pressures and then offering them dangerous narcotics to relieve them.

Dylan and Cash saw the God’s Honest Truth, and The Lord keeps wringing the Truth out of them. They don’t sell a lot of records like they used to, but that’s the whole point.

The problem is this: the world of money is on the verge of consolidating the distribution of music. Music is a dangerous enemy to the spirit of Darkness. We know this instinctively.

We were given prophets. Have we really been listening to them? Or did we allow our love of music to degenerate a little, until it became a kind of soundtrack to our movie? The place where nothing is real.

There is no reason on earth that our children should not be singing Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Johnny Cash songs at school. This is their heritage! Music class, where children gather to sing together, has almost vanished in America. Our shared sense of Story in song is being taken away from us.

Our history in song is being destroyed as well. The media always goes for The Next Big Thing. Younger. Newer. That’s how It separates us from our place, our home, our context. It is no accident.

Music and Art are being taken out of the schools. We stick a machine in our children’s faces instead.

We didn’t get Isaiah, we got Bob Dylan. No Ezekiel, just Johnny Cash. No Jonah, just Hank Williams and Dolly Parton and a thousand million other regular folks, singers who one day felt “the Spirit” and took to singing. We even had semi-religious movements around bands like the Grateful Dead. Somehow the power of music and good-natured community created a sense of love and devotion , in spite of their problems.

There is a reason we love music, and a reason that it survives. There is a reason the machine that sells them to us cloaks them in a mantle of lies and deception.

But the Truth lives in music. Laugh at me, if you want. Sure, Dylan’s a prophet. You’ve heard it before. Well, I’m just saying he’s telling the truth. At least somebody is. He’s achieved a place where he can communicate things that he receives from the divine influence. That’s what songwriters and musicians are capable of. He’s a vaudevillian too, thank goodness. He is coyote, the clown, the fiddler, and an old crooner, as well. Above all he’s a man…and he sings of man’s struggle in this story, to survive with understanding and dignity. If he’s not a prophet, then at least he’s the closest thing we’ve gotten in popular music.

God has been gracious and merciful in His design. We have been rescued before from the Consolidating Machine by music. The Consolidation really tried to put a lock on such revivals in the early 1980’s. But the music still survives and the message of music still works on individuals and groups of people.

Music is the way of Truth.

Music can be mimicked by the Lie.

Music is the tension between the truth and the lie, and that’s why the story it tells is real. That is our story. There is One Story and One Blood.


Eugene October 2000







The Riddle


To restore the balance of Hymn and Ballad, the hymn is often hidden within the ballad. The way this seems to occur is through the riddle or parable. The parable is how God often teaches the lesson in such a way as to protect his servants. Also, that way you must seek the lesson in the ballad or story. Seek and you shall find.


“It’s a shadowy world, the sky’s a slippery play

a woman just gave birth to a Prince today

and dressed him in scarlet.

He’ll put the priests in his pocket, put the blade to the heat-

Take the motherless children off the street

And place them at the feet of a harlot.

Oh, Jokerman- you know what he wants.

Oh, Jokerman-you don’t show any response.”

Bob Dylan-“Jokerman”





“Between heaven and hell, a teardrop fell.

In the deep crimson dew, the tree of life grew

My old friend Lucifer came, fought to keep me in chains.

But I saw through the tricks of six sixty-six


And the blood gave life to the branches of the tree;

And the blood was the price that set the captives free;

And with the numbers that came through the fire and the flood,

I clung to the tree and was redeemed by the blood.”

- Johnny Cash “Redemption”




“And the people bowed and prayed

to the neon god they made.”

-Paul Simon “Sounds of Silence”




“Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?

Hot ashes for trees?

Cold comfort for change?

Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war

For a lead role in a cage?”

-Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) “Wish you were Here”



“My Sweet Lord, oh my Lord,

I really want to see you but it takes so long, my Lord.”

-George Harrison “My Sweet Lord”




“ I’ll see you again when the stars fall from the sky,

and the moon turns red over One Tree Hill…

it runs like a river runs to the sea.”

U2-”One Tree Hill”




“We are all just prisoners here, of our own device-

and in the master’s chamber, they gathered for their feast.

They stabbed it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast”

Don Felder, Don Henley, Glenn Frey (The Eagles)-“Hotel California”




“Praise the Lord, I saw the light.”

Hank Williams- “I Saw the Light”



Poetry, story, riddle, prophecy. Do we know were one begins and the other ends? What do we trust? Music. Who do we trust to truly tell our story? The psalm writers.




Music, Sweet Music



“Won’t you help me sing these songs of freedom?

They’re all I ever had.”

-Redemption Song

Bob Marley



“ When the Music’s over, turn out the lights.

Music is your only friend….until the end, ”

-Jim Morrison



What it is we cannot know, but we know it is and that it’s true. It is a place, at one time everywhere and nowhere. It is inside and outside of us. It is the quickest and most trustworthy way to call people together, or to comfort them when they are alone. It is essential to human character and liberty. It is impossible to fully explain how or why, but I know in my bones that I cannot conceive of existence without it.


“ Life without music would be an intolerable insult”

-Edward Abbey


“What of the deaf ”, one might ask. I’d bet they hear music too- on the inside and through their touch. Animals, as well, must have some appreciation of the song around them.

There seems to be a song of the Universe, infinitely gracious and varied. Music seems to love the act of its own creation, and the greatest musicians are not merely technicians, but creators. There is no culture that does not have music. It stands above all forms of expression as a means of forming unity-between people, within a tribe, between tribes, between humanity and the Spirit. Its impact is more than sensual. It seems to permeate the spirit. In this way, the Universe recognizes itself. The body hears spirit, feels truth. It knows it belongs to something greater than itself.

This is the story of the Dark Angel, as well. It is the story of his struggle with the music. If he was capable of love, that would be his love. Because he sings, but he cannot create. Like the darkness around the leaping flames of the stars, he is a reaction and a boundary. Still he is part of what we know and love about music.

“ the devil jumped up on a hickory stump,

and said ‘ Boy, let me tell you what-

you may not know it, but I’m a fiddle player too.

I’ll bet a fiddle of gold against your soul

To say I’m better than you.”

-The Devil Went Down to Georgia

Charlie Daniels Band

It is the tension between light and dark that creates music, and the very sound itself is creation. One may mimic a song and form lovely sounds and it may still be enjoyable, but it is still mimicry. When placed in Opposition to the sound of the Creation, division and darkness makes the music true to us. We need the Darkness for great music on earth. Perhaps that is why God has let the evil buzzard hang out for so long. This great struggle. This bold exchange. It seems essential to Truth.

Within this framework, we can begin to interpret how the balance of light and dark within music has been affected by the Great Consolidation. How our means of creating, listening to and understanding music has been affected by that Consolidation. We can look at one of the greatest con jobs in history-as the world’s music becomes controlled and distributed by a machine whose Master despises it.

I don’t think it possible to destroy Music. It is infinite, like God. Neither do I think it is truly possible to destroy free will or the creation. The Darkness that deceives us draws its power by dividing the Truth from itself. The Darkness must have music, free will and Creation in order to have a shape. Otherwise, what would it be? The void. It has no meaning without light. The goal of this Fourth Power is to divide the light of Truth, even as It realizes It cannot consume it. It is the rage of a doomed rebel. It seems that this Darkness is critical to the Story of God. It has to be like this. This is the Story that he must tell and Be. Its Truth is beyond the scope of language.

But when you listen to Beethoven, I think we can get a feel for what the story sounds like. It is the dance of light and dark, and as the story progresses, one or the other takes prominence in the melody and rhythm, until at the end, light prevails. But what silly words are these to throw at a mystery like the Song of the Universe!

There will always be a mystery behind the mystery, and a lesson behind the lesson. But after all that, I am fairly certain it will be the same mystery and the same lesson:

The mystery of Why.

The lesson of Freedom.

I cannot speak for God, but music seems to be terribly important to Him. He has been generous to let us struggle alongside Him so that we all might know the Truth.

Eugene October 2000




Nashville, Oh Nashville


I always suspected there was something rotten in Nashville, even when I was much younger. It seemed like the best country and western music wasn’t on the radio, at least when I was growing up. It got worse the older I got, with a few nice exceptions.

Country music’s corporate headquarters claim it to be a musical form that cherishes and honors tradition. Whenever a Corporation’s public relations campaign assumes a moral mantle, you can be pretty sure that the exact opposite of what they are saying is true.

The truth is this: The Country Music Industry is committing cultural genocide.

God may forgive them, but I haven’t yet. They are not even a they. There is no person or committee at fault. The Country Music Industry is a construct based on power and money. It’s an it. Infiltrated by the IT. I don’t have to forgive IT. It is not in my power to forgive IT.

I thank God every day that He got me out of there. Not from my good friends there, or from the good music I loved there. It’s a great town. But He delivered me from It, and if I’d gotten successful inside of that It, It would’ve grown inside of me. By the time I left, It had already grown so big in me that sometimes I did not know whom I served.

In early 1995, I was living in a place called Fry Canyon, Utah. Located somewhere near nowhere. Population 5 or 6, a lonely desert outpost 50 miles from the nearest town. I was one of several folks who worked to remodel the place, trying to make it fit for tourism. It was a combination four room motel, restaurant, gas station and small market. Some days you could sit on the porch and barely a single car would pass on the highway all day long. Summertime, however, brought periodic sieges of German motorcyclists, Japanese shutterbugs, rented mini-vans and the occasional desert derelict.

I was 27 years old, and I’d already had it with the modern world. I had seen all my old refuges overrun by the New Prosperity. I could feel the Shadow coming, but I didn’t know what the Shadow was. Like so many, I saw the nightmare one symptom at a time, and when compounded, the symptoms were exhausting to behold. I figured it was some progression of the natural order, all this insanity. I could feel liberty against the ropes, but I did not sense Its patterns of consolidation through division.

I just wanted a place to be. A place away from all the heartache. Fry Canyon was empty and beautiful. The folks there were great and there was a lot of magic around. Fry Canyon was a good place for misfits and outlaws. There used to be a lot more places like it.

But I was never content. My mind and soul overflowed with songs and music, and I had virtually no one to play it for. The Storyteller and the Songwriter crave an audience. It is called vanity, but that is only partly true. The Storyteller also needs the story affirmed, for himself and for the spirit. The good songwriter is given his songs by the place called music, and he cannot bear the thought that he is unable to share them with anyone else. This craving gets in your soul.

So I figured I’d move away. I decided to go back into the cities I feared and despised and try to make a dream happen. Whose dream was it? I remember my first Beatles album, when I was eleven years old. That’s when I took up the guitar. I used to play night and day. Maybe I wanted to be one of the Beatles. Heroes. Not such bad heroes, really.

All you Need is Love.

Here Comes the Sun.

A Working Class Hero is Something to Be.

What better heroes has the Great Consolidation offered us?

So the dream of the rock star got stuck in my head and in my heart. For me, it was never about the money. Maybe I wanted adulation. Or maybe I just craved confirmation. I wanted to be a Storyteller just like my heroes. Just like the Hero.

So I learned to play mountains of songs. Beatles, Dylan, the Eagles, Pink Floyd, you name ‘em. Around that time, I began to notice the guitar’s unexplainable gravitational pull on certain women. “Ah,” I must have thought to myself, “The plot thickens!”

I’ll never forget the old black man’s advice to the skinny 14 year old kid (me) in the Muskogee, Oklahoma Trailways bus terminal:

“ You keep playing that guitar, boy. You won’t never make any money at it, but you can sure get a lot of girls…..”

I’ve forgotten a lot of advice in my life, but never that piece.

Women were the grace, the music was the will. God appreciates the storyteller. Women love the storyteller. God loves women. Women love God. Man loves God and Woman, though not always in that order. It all works as long as you’ve got a place to play.

I always found some place to play. Whether a lonely rock or a crowded room. God gave me music and a guitar and a voice and lots of songs, a little wine to loosen my tongue and the Holy Spirit which from time to time still draws us all together to celebrate life.

So I sold my horse to the local rancher down there in Fry Canyon and I moved to Nashville, the clutch burning out in my truck, the engine overheating so bad I had to drive with the heater on full blast, even though it was late August and more than a hundred degrees outside the entire way.

Within three months I had a band. A pretty good one, really. Within five months after arriving we’d made a record, paid for by a producer, recorded in two days and released independently, with shrink wrap and everything.

We all thought for sure it was the road to stardom. But we stalled out. Every little new possibility seemed to fall through. We were mostly ignored. Then came the inevitable internal band trouble. All kinds of trouble.

But the worst part was the desire. I’d never felt such desire in my life. I wanted stardom so bad I could taste it. This time around I wanted the money too, because I’d begun to accrue debt, and lots of it. I was still working my physical labor jobs. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted to travel, be adulated, pick up chicks, make money, and oh yeah, play music. I still loved music. Now that I had an audience again, albeit a small one, the music poured in me and out of me. But once the music would stop, I would chafe at the bit of the desire for the things I didn’t have. I must have thought the world owed me something for my trouble, or for my gift. The world would pay me soon, right?

Nearly everyone else I knew in Nashville was also preoccupied with desire. Music folks and other folks. Struggling, scheming, suffering. My band broke up. My home life crashed. My debts ballooned. My head became infested with what seems now from a distance to be some kind of demon. The voice back there was my voice, but not my heart’s voice. Whose voice was that?

The music kept coming to me in spurts. Then it would dry up for weeks or months and then boom, I’d write a bunch of songs in just a couple of days. I don’t know how it works.

I was getting ready to leave Nashville in 1997 when a well-respected producer called me and asked if I’d written anything new lately. I took him some stuff and thus began the last two and a half years of my Nashville Time. I began making my Big Opus Thing, Nashville style.

My producer was and is excellent at what he does. But the nature of the commercial market requires a level of production that I probably wasn’t prepared for. Hundreds of hours. Session players. Digital tracking. I wasn’t very helpful at getting signed by the record companies. I’m not very good at networking, I guess.

All the while, inside and around me, the beast desire grew stronger and angrier. I would wake up in the morning furious at my life, even though things were just fine. The recording became the center of my hopes. It was supposed to take three months. It turned into two years. If I had had my wits about me, I would have remained patient, but in the state I was in, I woke up wanting to smash things. “Why won’t this happen?” I thought. I was certain that as soon as the record was finished, that all my cares would be over. I felt it was the world that was keeping me back from telling my story.

But it was worse than that. My story had become about desire. The songs were old by now and I was barely writing any new ones. My head became so scattered that I barely knew how to act around people. I was still an instant entertainer, just add liquor. But now I could see the looks I was starting to get. Do they think I’m mad? Am I mad?

My dream belonged to It.

In the studio, I would watch my voice turned into a band of light on a computer screen and bite my lip as my voice was digitally tuned. It was the opposite of live music. But that’s what studios do. They make magic, and it’s alright. The record sounds good and my producer did a heckuva job.

It was the music industry folks who freaked me out the most. There was a lot of deceit and manipulation. There are a lot of good folks trapped in weird situations in the land of entertainment. There are a lot of players too. Money on the brain is a common ailment.

“ How are we going to market this?” is the first and only real question in the halls of Music Row.

And I did my best to try and come up with some crap I thought would work to sell me to the world. I did my best to play the game. But all in all, I was still just that kid from Oklahoma, and I was beginning to suspect they knew that. I wondered if my whole dream had been a deception.

My friends had their own desires and dilemmas and music business miseries, and most of us were cynical and disoriented. Anxiety was our most common denominator.

Just before I left, I realized in full what I’d only suspected all along.

No one makes it Nashville. Nashville makes country music celebrities out of whomever it chooses.

They say it is a five-year or even a ten year-town . They call it “paying your dues”. But the effect it has is to drive out the eccentric elements and the authentic voices, who soon realize their voices are not among those chosen by the pre-fab pop mentality which has co-opted their people’s music. Those who remain are warped by monotony and desperation, until many give in.

“ All Right! You win! I’ll write whatever garbage you want!”

That’s where I was, willing to sacrifice pretty much whatever scraps of integrity I had left. I wanted to make it bad. My goal was to write “the hit”. Because that’s what they told me I needed, and then my record might get on country radio (an honor, I’m sure). What I needed was “ the breakout hit”.

Talk about cranking out some drivel. I spent months trying not to retch at the sound of songs I had just written. I spent months trying to squeeze blood out of my dried-up musical turnip of inspiration. Bad songs, indeed.

Finally, it looked like the Internet was my last hope to fulfill the empty hole desire had carved in me. I was offered a virtual record deal. Whoopee. Web Site Slim and the Blue Horizon.

Of course, it turned out God had been teaching me lessons. Sure, I hung out with power brokers, pawns and princes. But I also worked in the open air of the green southern hills, tending and planting.

I saw the seamy corridors of consolidated culture. It’s a surreal dreamscape of cubicles and platinum records and machines and awkward moments and old tired men warning you:

“ This town is hopeless. It’s over.” Welcome to Music City Hell.

Practically none of the people in the business even listens to country radio anymore. They can’t stand the stuff. And they make the records! What on earth is going on?

It. It is going on. The Nightmare. On all levels exponentially. Until I knew that it was an It, and not a Them, I could not see how It had come to live in me. Until I learned to give It up, in spite of all Its promises, I could not see the One who I really belonged to, whose will I serve.

I left Nashville, running for my life.

Eugene October 2000






Real Country

Most modern “country” music you hear on the radio sounds like a commercial for laundry soap or soda pop. It is written, performed and produced by bored professionals; sung by celebrities, run through countless machines, sanitized and approved for release by Industry Committees, the Republican Party and the National Security Agency (Okay, well the last two are maybe just conjecture). Then it is universally distributed to 3,000 radio stations in the U.S. and Canada, which all virtually have the same play list. There’s nothing country about it. It is full-blown cultural racketeering, one of the cruelest burdens of the Great Consolidation.

Country and Western music came from the rural lands to the radio stations and record players, where it blossomed. It was a friend to the rural people. Nashville consolidated its power over the industry in the 1950’s and somewhere cut a deal in the 1960’s to try and keep the rebels out, which it has very nearly accomplished. Nowadays, only one or two already famous country stars dare to write or sing a song even remotely divergent from the market line, the Party Line.

Divided from history. Divided from the story. Forced into an alien nation within your own country. Removed from the truth, from the storyteller. Removed from the rebellious, miraculous heart of your blood song, the song of freedom.

Let’s consider the audience. Millions of potentially disenchanted country folks who have been watching the American Dream disappear. The machine must control their music. It must defeat their identity. They are downright dangerous, otherwise. They live next to mountains, open spaces. They harbor an instinctive suspicion of the state.

There’s quite a few good country singers out there, don’t get me wrong- Dolly, Dwight, Alan Jackson, John Anderson etc…but the few good ones are not quite the point. The songs are often pretty good, because the soundtrack needs some decent songs in order to survive.

For the most part, country has turned into pop music, simulating what has happened to the country itself. It’s like suburban sprawl. Like a scam. Records go to Number One on the country charts and virtually nobody even buys them. Centralized consultants determine what 3,000 different radio stations play. The stations themselves are now typically just a computer screen that downloads what comes off the mainframe into the ears of the people. We have a Hit Radio Soundtrack for rural and suburban America. Cultural Imperialism in our own nation. It is designed, whether by collusion or by constructs, to separate its listeners from their own cultural bearings.

The estrangement from our old reality is compounded by the obscene rise in music videos, which has corrupted music across the spectrum. In country, they have the same sexy babes and the buff boys and the pyrotechnics and the soap opera lighting that pop does and it’s pretty much the same miserable song over and over. It’s the exact opposite of the Reality always associated with country music and country living. Deals have been struck. Such is the world we live in.




Young Country

What happens to the young musicians in the rural lands who want to play the kind of music of their traditions? When there is no place that wants to hear them? They know the music is supposed to live. Should they just go play in the Top 40 Country cover band? Barely anyone bothers to listen to them either.

“ They’re all at home living it up on the internet;

I guess nobody’s lonely anymore.”

“ Except you and me”

Greg Brown

Everybody’s got the color box in their face. It’s a shame. Music happens not just from the musician but also from the audience. It is a shared energy, enhanced and created by all the people who participate in the experience. We are forgetting something about ourselves that it is not good to forget. We are being herded away from our natural gathering places.

What about the singers from the country? What are they saying right now? How would we know? The radio won’t play them, and hardly anybody will go see them perform live. Why are they even still singing? Nobody knows but them and God above.

We’re going to sing together one last time. We will be blessed with a big voice like loving thunder and an open sky. We’re going to dance and sing. We’re going to shout. And all you singers who didn’t think anyone was listening will hear the song you’ve been singing since the foundations of the Universe were laid. And that song will be ringing out across the land.

It’s all right, country boy. It’s all right, country girl. Keep singing out your prayers

5-9-00







The Great Consolidation


The Great Consolidation occurs under market influences naturally through Greed and Technology. The Consolidation is the unifying of division, the conglomeration of the forces of division and darkness. Most participants remain unaware, even on the highest levels. As it gains power, the various consolidations strike up allegiances among other players, causing greater consolidation. Nations, laws, and machines, production and distribution, entertainment and information, education. Working for one ideal, serving one master.


Eugene 2000



The Delivery System

At the Burger King and the supermarket, the future is now. The space of our commerce is charged with a sickly fluorescent glow, advertisements are everywhere. There is a constant beeping of machines and the exhausted smiles and frowns of our brothers and sisters doing their best to survive in the strange days of the Construct.

And there is a song playing in the background. It might even be one of our songs. At Safeway the other night, I heard Donald Fagen barely audible through the whirr and hum.


“What a beautiful world this will be.

What a glorious time to be free.”---Steely Dan

Since I am familiar with this song, I’m aware of the intended irony of its lyrics. I’m sure most folks in the grocery store weren’t listening. I too, stopped listening as I perused the meat section for a cut I could afford. I had to skip the meat. I’ve been living on my firefighting earnings, and they are almost gone.

The song changed into something else and soon it all blended together-the song, the shopping, the light, the goods. The clerk says “ Thank you Mr. Sheff” after he’s run my discount club card. I’m alarmed. I must have given them my name when I got the card. Why did I do that? It doesn’t matter anymore. The music played. The machines beeped. A child cried. The money changed accounts. The eyes darted nervously about the lifeboat.

The music is now a soundtrack to the movie called Consumption. Consumption and the upcoming sequels. (Consumption IV: The Final Conflict?) This is the soundtrack of the movie they claim is life. It’s at the gas station, the fast-food restaurant, the supermarket, the office, the car, the television, the computer.

It diminishes the value of the song and, by attaching to the juggernaut of the machine, sucks the sacred space of the song away. Music is a place where you don’t have to order the #2 combo super-size and hear the wailing electronic squeaks that bark orders at weary servants. Music is a place to be.

By sending satellite digital music everywhere, we are slowly robbed of the desire to seek the music. You must seek the truth to find it. It cannot be provided by a machine. They’ve taken our songs, selected ones, of course, and de-valued them by associating them with consumption instead of creation. Instead of paying attention to the song and thereby creating sacred space between you and the song, the relationship is re-defined in the mirror of the It.

Music was once only live and immediate and universal, the entire tribe participating. Music was a song of praise-the very essence of the tribe’s ability to communicate with Truth and God.

There were also singers and musicians and composers who rose up as storytellers, and would create songs of story and praise.

These were the only ways music was understood throughout the whole of human history until 100 years ago. The invention of the phonograph was one of those amazingly mixed blessings. The rise of recorded music allowed for much truth to be spread, and for an amazing intercourse between styles of music. Yet it also sowed the seeds for a dangerous division between us and music. Still the phonograph is a remarkable opportunity to develop a private relationship between music and listeners. Recorded music is a handy thing. In my opinion, phonographs still have the best and most authentic sound reproduction, far better than CD players. Laugh if you want, but I have a lot of music lovers on my side in this one. Many audiophiles find the Phonograph has a warmer, deeper tone than the CD player.

The Compact Disc showed up in the 1980’s. It seems no accident that its form would also reappear as the primary form of data accessory for the computer.

To “Digitally Re-Master” something (you’ve got to love that term), involves taking broad wavelengths of music and converting them into numbers-specifically the numbers 0 and 1. I am no scientist. But I know you cannot truly capture the essence of music on a computer in binary code.

Music requires space and air and mercy.

Now we are still lucky, because digital sound still has to travel through air from the speakers to our ears. During this travel (even in headphones) the sound waves can be re-energized with authentic earth energy and reconfigure themselves in their naturally trinary state (yes, no and maybe) So perhaps it is a decent approximation of the original sound. We still get music, though something has changed.

But the compact disc is not an improvement. It is not indestructible, as was ludicrously claimed at first. As a matter of fact, they become wholly unlistenable with only tiny defects or sometimes for no apparent reason at all. Old records can sound scratchy or can skip sometimes, but you can still listen to them. The sound of a CD caught in the midst of a digital skip is intolerable, like an electronic jackhammer. CD’s were smaller than records, but it’s hard to say if that was an improvement or not. Vinyl records had big covers that helped bring the artist to life. They were a place for some fine art as well. CD’s are small and completely plastic. Its form is awesomely uninspiring. Also you don’t have to turn CD’s over. The entire album plays right through. But didn’t turning the record over halfway through keep us involved in the flow of music? You made the call whether to turn it over or not. Now we live with the option of the six-disc changer set on random and it doesn’t need us to be involved nearly as much.

So why do we have compact discs? They don’t necessarily sound better. They are less interesting physically. They become useless when damaged and are far more expensive to buy than vinyl records.

Well, we know why.

They are cheaper to produce than records.

They are cheaper to store and distribute.

Profits are higher.

4) They are convenient.


But those are only motives that blindly build a construct. The Compact Disc possibly serves much larger functions for the Great Consolidation.

The editing of the catalog of music. Very little of the music once available on vinyl is now present on CD. Vast amounts of important music now sits all-but-forgotten on vinyl. Much of it has disappeared altogether. Only profitable music is “re-mastered”. We are cut off from musical history.

The control of music delivery. The phonograph is an endangered species. Soon the cassette will join it, thus marking the end of recorded analog sound. All music is being funneled through the computer, marking the total domination of the delivery system.

The control of music production. Since the final product is digital, digital technology dominates the actual performances and productions of the new recordings. The music often goes through the binary code from start to finish.

The association with the computer. Interestingly, we received the music disc before they brought us the computer disc, as if it was a conditioning exercise. The computer system has also been developed so that music can be downloaded through its system. Music and computers are becoming linked in human consciousness.

The Great Consolidation. The machine is the master of the delivery system. Independent record shops close. Live music falters. Satellite systems proliferate. Broadband. Control over the delivery of music. The music is delivered via computer.

It had to have control, because music is our most faithful means of conveying and receiving truth. Once a Machine, well-versed in propaganda and mind-control methods ( is this really Paranoia? What is advertising, after all?) contains our music within its electronic fire, It can say anything it wants with it and through it.

I saw a band the other night. They were pretty good. There was hardly anyone there, and most of the folks there looked kind of bored and out of place, like they were used to another way of being with music. Something is training us. Live music is dying out. What does that mean?

The band did “When the Music’s Over”.


“ What have they done to the earth?

What have they done to our fair sister?

Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her.

Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn.

Tied her with fences and then dragged her down.


Put your ear down to the ground.

I hear a very gentle sound.

Very far, yeah, very near. Very soft, yet very clear.

Before I sink into the Big Sleep,

I want you to hear the scream of the Butterfly.

Persian Night. See the light.

Save us! Jesus! Save us!

-Jim Morrison


We should think about what is Real. Music is real.

The darkness that deceives us hates what is real and true and ceaselessly attempts to divide us from that Reality and Truth.

Still we love the Music and listen as hard as we can.


Eugene---2000




The Judge


I went to court to face the judge for failing to obey a device. The courtroom was sterile and fluorescent, but was most notable for the presence of the computer on the judge’s bench, staring straight into her face.

We have computers in the faces of our judges? Do they punch in the case, and let the machine render the judgment?

Anyway, the judge seemed to be a sweet enough lady. All the traffic offenders were given the option of pleading Not Guilty or Guilty. If you pleaded Not Guilty, the judge would arrange for a jury trial, and you could defend yourself there. In other words, if you really wanted to make some trouble for yourself, plead Not Guilty.

So I plead Guilty as charged, even if I didn’t believe I was. I explained to the judge:

You know, I just went through a yellow light…

“ Well,” she said. “ In Oregon, you must stop at yellow unless it is dangerous to do so.”

It was rush hour and I had someone right behind me. I didn’t know if they would stop.

“ Well, we can give you a jury trial, if you’d like.”

No, no. That’s all right.

Guilty of failure to obey a device. 70 dollars.

Yesterday’s 10 cent fortune cookie from the store said:

“ Someone important is watching you. Keep your eyes open.”


Oct.24, 2000






Sacrifice

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Jesus (John 12)

“ Who, though innocent, suffers insults, stripes and chains, whose weapons are endurance and soul-force, him I call a Brahmin.”

Buddha


How did God create this story? He created meaning out of nothing. Perfection. He could have created automatons, but instead we have an infinite variety of creation, and at its crown, freedom. But perhaps we have always felt only half-free in this world. We are chained not only to our desires, but to our needs. We need to eat. We need to procreate and make love. We need to protect ourselves and our families. At some point, our desires may become as needs and our needs serve our desires. But what does it take to live in the world? What does it take to live in truth? What is the meaning behind our actions when we attempt to live in either the world or the truth? Is the meaning sacrifice?


Perhaps there can be no meaning to our Story without sacrifice. It is the edge where the tensions meet. It survives and repeats its lessons all day and forever. To try and live without sacrifice is to attempt to live without meaning, but you’ll still be sacrificing something to live that way.

Sacrifice has always been the lesson.

You sacrifice the comforts of the Lie to live in the Truth.

You sacrifice the Truth in order to live in the Lie.

You sacrifice the world in order to achieve the Sacred.

You sacrifice the Sacred to better live in the world.

Adam and Eve sacrificed Paradise for Wisdom. Cain slew Abel over a sacrifice. Abraham won favor from God by agreeing to offer his son as a sacrifice. It was Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice, and not the sacrifice itself, that convinced the Lord of his servant’s faithfulness. God does not want us to sacrifice our children.

Didn’t Moses sacrifice a life of ease in Egypt to help free his people?

John the Baptist was beheaded for speaking of the Truth.

Joan of Arc, Saint Peter, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln. All the saints and martyrs.

Every loving mother and father sacrificed the pleasures of the world to sustain Life.

The soldiers give all for their country. The pilgrims give all for the journey. Free men and women risk their freedom and happiness so that others may be free. Heroes dart into burning buildings and jump into icy ponds to save folks they don’t even know. All of our stories are hollow without sacrifice. There is no hero who does not sacrifice.

There is the other sacrifice too. It is when we sacrifice the Sacred in order to more easily live in the world. That’s the other side of the sacrifice Adam and Eve made. A double-edged sword.

The Romans and the Aztecs spilled rivers of blood. Murdering sacred spirits in order to live a certain way in the world.

What is most Sacred is God in you.

What was Hitler if not a Sacrificial Priest slaughtering the very Chosen People and destroying their bodies with fire? That is the sacrifice you make when you follow the liar. You sacrifice humanity.

What is the Atomic Bomb but a sacrificial fire, which threatens to burn the truth to serve the lie, the god of war and hate?

The screen may be just a sacrificial fire with which to burn the truth of our story to serve the lie. We sacrifice reality to better adapt to its illusion.

You will sacrifice to something.

Fire worshippers. Human sacrifice. What is war anyway? Moloch, the child-eater. We have no qualms apparently about handing our children over to this monster, who is also the Aztec Priest and the Roman Debaucher.

What has become of us? In every bone of creation, the truth is made plain. Parents fight for their young. Tradition and instinct are better teachers than novelty and deception. Short-term desires lead to long-term suffering. We are buried in heaps of lies, often unwilling to sacrifice an evening of sleazy entertainment to read to our children or to nurse the sick or visit the widows or give blankets to the homeless.

Are we not beautiful, as well? Inside us, we revolt against the Construct. We love. We dream. We still give. We still hurt. We still try to do good. But until we recognize the Lie, we cannot see the truth. The Lie rules the world of power. It always has and always will until God, who created it all, comes to purify this story in His Will. We have the hearts it takes to serve the truth, but our desires defeat us. Often the truth of the struggle is so overwhelming that we seek out the very lie which makes us miserable. How often have we been so overwhelmed by life that we just turn on the television and vegetate? We may choose a type of death there. We choose the Lie.

The only chance we have is to choose Life, Truth and Freedom. We are talking about forever now. We must not forget.

We could sacrifice the world of greed for God or sacrifice God for the world of greed. That doesn’t mean you have to quit your job or ditch your friends. It means we start removing lies from our presence. Perhaps stepping away from the screen, the Lie that has colonized our souls. We could replace anger with forgiveness. We could forgive the past. We could not be afraid of the future. We could grab a hold of the Truth; throw ourselves on the Mercy of our Creator.

But the darkness knows no mercy; it is as unforgiving as it is unforgivable. That is what these lies are serving-all their toys and gadgets, shows and pornography, their money games and their media, their laws and politics and corruption. They serve the It, unwitting participants in the Great Consolidation. But it takes sacrifice to do your own thing. You’ll always be the oddball when you choose Truth. Has it ever been different? The way to get ahead is to be a liar. The way to have real friends is to be honest. When we are honest about ourselves and our reality we are rewarded with those things which are most important.

I believe you will be rewarded when you sacrifice for God and for your fellow human beings, when you defend His Creation. I believe you will feel His Spirit come to you, just as you probably always felt Him when you were being generous. In these strange days, you will feel Him all the more assuredly when you sacrifice even a little. The power of both sides is being made manifest in this chapter of the story.

Eugene October 2000




The Ducks and the Sun Devils


I saw the last part of a football game on Saturday between the Oregon Ducks, which is the hometown team here in Eugene, and the Arizona Sun Devils. The game was in Tempe. It was on TV, and though I don’t watch much television, the medium is excellent for football. I like football.

My friends were watching the game as I walked by and they invited me up. It was an amazing finish. With only 6 minutes left in the game and behind by 14 points, the Oregon Ducks came back to win in double overtime, 56-55. It was thrilling down to the final play. The Oregon quarterback, Joey Harrington, was incredible. His leadership seemed to be the deciding factor in the victory.

I really enjoy watching football on TV, as long as it’s a good game. Why? Because it’s real.

It happens live, and all the participants are real human beings engaged in an authentic contest. Lying does not help in football, nor can money win the game for you (no matter how much the players make). It is about strength, endurance, skill, faith and teamwork. The courage never to submit or give up, no matter the odds. It’s real.

That is perhaps why so many people cling to it, even as the Construct tries to make it about money and consumerism. It becomes an obsession, because we have been cut off from the Truth in so many other areas.

If there were not sports on TV, television would never have achieved its worldwide presence. We tuned in initially to TV not as an escape from reality, but as a means of tuning in to reality- real sports, real news, real stories (our story).

The presence of sports on TV is still a benchmark for us. Something is still real in the world, in spite of the Construct’s attempts to divide our perception of the Truth via:

The commercialization of all aspects of the game. Athletes selling products. Commercials with coaches and athletes (Are they actors? Nah. Just pretending to be actors). The endless barrage of advertising. Over-saturation. 24 hours a day. Dozens of Sports networks. So many teams and leagues and sports and games and noise.

The money. The athletes are like little industries in and of themselves. Vast corporate juggernauts develop around successful teams. Thus the message that anything real will be dominated eventually by corporate thought.

The science. The players are pumped up, toned by trainers and fixed like machines when they get broken. Still they are real, brave men and women.

The jabbering. Non-stop sports talk and criticism detracts from the reality of the game. Over-exposure destroys mystery.

Nevertheless, we still enjoy the game. Because it’s still Our Story. We know in our hearts that these players out there really are not just playing for the money. They do it because they love it. They feel the greater power as they perform their best. They receive the glory of the tribe’s approval when they persevere, even in defeat.

“ A person’s greatest desire is to be important.”

-John Dewey

People attach enormous significance to the success or failure of their warriors. They are the symbolic representatives of the tribe’s best. It is tough on all of us to see these contests re-shaped to better suit the deceptive ends of the Great Consolidation.


A friend of mine plans to attend the final football game at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the greatest football teams of all time. They were blue-collar and tough. They played outside in the cold. They were smart and graceful. They were America’s Team in the 70’s. I don’t care what they said about the Dallas Cowboys. The Steelers were the Real Thing.

So now It comes to tear that stadium down. Not because it is falling apart, mind you. After all, the Roman Coliseum is still standing. No, they tear it down to build a new one so they can have more sky-boxes for the aristocracy, big screens to distract us from the real action, shopping areas to turn a sports contest into a consumer experience. All ways to gut the authenticity of the event.

In the rush to build new stadiums, we participate in the destruction of collective memory. We separate from our past and our truth. Three Rivers Stadium very literally contained the energy and the passion of those blue-collar Steelers, both the players and the fans. The physical presence of heroism and group passion is going to be leveled.

I attended a pro football game last year in Nashville between the Tennessee Titans and the Cleveland Browns. It was not very exciting. There was no flow to the game because of constant TV time outs. Advertisements bombarded the audience. The Big Screen constantly barked orders. There were a few pathetic attempts to get “a wave” started that died early deaths. It was noisy, but not because of the fans. It was the repetitive strains of amplified pop hits or the primitive stomp of “ We Will Rock You” (minus the seditious verses). It was tedious and overbearing. It was a TV experience, wholly inappropriate for such an authentic gathering. It served to suck the excitement out of the game. It was almost an intentional theft of the potential energy of such a crowd.

The screen was the center of the action.

Now, I’m sure this is not a universal experience at that stadium, because some games are so great they override all that garbage. (Just a couple of weeks later at the same stadium came what was known as the “ Music City Miracle”. Strangers were literally dancing with one another as Nashville won the game in the last seconds). But the game I saw was rather workmanlike and dull, and was made more difficult to appreciate by the false mechanical enthusiasm.

But, as I said, some games are so great they come right through. The Story survives. Even on TV. The truth is so real that even all the lies cannot taint it. The 2000 Super Bowl was a good example, or the Duck’s game I watched two days ago. Part of this almost certainly has to do with the fact that the games are carried live. Live Events on TV seem to carry more power than pre-recorded ones. This may have to do with some literal presence of energy. I don’t know.

I saw in the paper last week that they are going to build a giant TV screen in the Autzen Stadium here in Eugene, the home of the Ducks. The paper was very excited about it. Not a fretful note was spoken. We even have TV where we don’t need TV-- concerts, football games, nightclubs, schools, churches, airports, check-out lines. Everywhere! Why? What do you think?

We are being told that we cannot escape It. For right behind the television comes the video camera. If you can see them, they can see you. It’s rapidly becoming One Big Show. This show is not Our Story. It wants you to think that It bought the rights to our story. This story was placed in our heads and dumped on the earth.

I sure like the nickname “Ducks” for a football team. I’d pick them any day over the “Sun Devils”, especially when the team of that name has its base as close as you can get in America to the site of the Aztecs’ bloody pyramid. It looks like the Ducks are blessed this year. After they won the other day, you could hear shouts of celebration ringing out through the neighborhoods. Real celebration. People were smiling and laughing as they passed each other on the sidewalks.

Go Ducks!

Boo Sun Devils!

It’s fun. It’s real. But the Shadow still comes, tearing down the old gathering places, putting up the screens, corrupting with money and power.

10-30-00 Eugene




The Color Box Machine Part 3


It was born in the language of numbers, and grew in the house of war. It became strong in the arms of the state, and was handed to us with the name of apple. Then the code was written that strengthened its life, but it was not really life, but Death that beckoned from the fire. The language was perfected in a fateful hour, and Mother Earth herself raised a voice to mark the time, so that the Creator’s will might someday be known. Soon its face was everywhere. It promised escape to those who hated their chains. It promised identity to those who felt invisible. It promised community to those who felt alone. Above all, it promised money. Money, money, money. Soon It had the power. The power of the Lie.

This is Its finest hour. We have been seduced and deceived, bombarded with lies and deprived of truth. We have been weakened and divided, fattened and disoriented.

We are not sheep, brothers and sisters. We are the crown of creation, the highest evolution of God’s longing to learn about Himself. But we cannot see the truth until we see the lies. We are not children anymore. This is not science fiction, but hard possibility.

You don’t think It’s smart? Trillions of dollars to make it smarter. All of the greatest minds on the planet to refine Its systems. The combined might of the most powerful nations in the history of the world to implement Its will.

Who has opposed it? A few madmen. A few forgotten mystics and scholars. Those who fear it run for cover, but there is nowhere to hide from It. It prowls the earth and sky and it dreams of the stars.

It has been a strange road indeed. What I say is treason only to the Empire of the Machine. I will not keep from saying it. What else could I do?

I tell of the last thing on earth that anyone wants to hear. You read these words so that you have been warned. Trust me, there is still good news. But if we will not face the Lie, it will grab us from behind. You have to know the truth. The Truth knows about the lie. So too, you should know.

God will save those who cling to Him. He will give us a greater strength than we have ever known. Both here on earth and away in whatever awaits us. We must believe upon Him, no matter what. Believe in Him all the way home.

10-30-00

Eugene




Riddles on a String: The Abbreviated History of the Number Machine

The abacus was invented perhaps 5,000 years ago in Babylonia (now Iraq). It was probably the first expression of the notion that a machine could help us perform work previously done by the mind. The abacus was an easy-to-learn tool that became used throughout the world by merchants and traders. It was still widely used up into this century.

At some point towards the end of the first millennium, Hindu-Arabic math started to enter into Western Consciousness. It gave us the zero, which allowed for a whole new system of numeric value.

The mechanism of clocks and adding machines are cousins, and each technology assisted in the growth of the other.

A friend of Johannes Kepler, a German by the name of Schickard, invented something he called the “calculating clock” in 1623. The Frenchman, Pascal, invented a number machine in 1642.

Schickard’s clock had six numbered dials attached to six axles attached to six independent numbered wheels. Don’t bother asking me how it worked.

Pascal’s calculator was nice to look at, but difficult. It worked well for simple addition but subtraction was harder. An ancient trick, called “nines compliments”, transforms subtraction into a form of addition. It has been used in many computers. 800 minus 600 becomes 999-600=399. Then you add 800 plus 399 to equal 1199. Then you add the left most digit (1) to 199 to equal 200, the correct answer. By using nines compliments, a computer can perform addition and subtraction ( and therefore multiplication and division) using the same circuits.

A German named Leibniz refined the evolving number machine with something called the “Stepped Reckoner”. Leibniz was also the first Western mathematician to write about binary systems of enumeration. There are only two digits ( 0 and 1) in such a system but any number may be expressed with them.A binary digit is a “bit”. That is the logic of computers.

Liebniz thought binary math had religious significance- seeing it as the proof that God, the One, created the Universe out of nothing (the 0). He established the German Academy of Science. He philosophized that the Universe was made of irreducible, ever-changing substances called “monads”. He founded the science of topology.

He died in 1716, broke and friendless, ignored by the nobles he had served.

Charles Babbage of Britain invented the “Difference Engine” in 1822. It was run by steam and powered by falling weights. It was intended to systematically manufacture numerical tables. This would print the results directly. The first energy-driven machine calculator, it worked by judging order of difference.



Any consistent numerical progression may be calculated by a process of repeated addition. Since the “method of constant differences” is repetitive, it lends itself to actions of a machine. Babbage left his machine unfinished. A fellow named Schuetz’s finally built it in the 1850’s.

Babbage had conceived of a computer. He called it the “analytical engine”, using punch cards as programs.

A computer is an information-processing machine.




“ Herman Hollerith is a man of honor.

What he has done is beyond compare.

To the wide world he has been the donor

Of an invention very rare.

His praises we all gladly sing!

His results make him outclass a King!

Facts from factors he has made a business.

May the years good things to him bring.”


Early IBM song

To the tune of “ On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine”


In 1884, Herman Hollerwith filed the first in a series of patents for an electromechanical system that counted and sorted punch cards containing statistics. The first data processor. The machines went to work in 1890 on the American census. Soon they went worldwide. In 1911, Hollerwith’s company merged with three other outfits to become what would eventually be called International Business Machines. IBM.


The Differential Equation comes from a branch of Calculus. It gives us the power to predict the behavior of moving objects. Almost anything can be translated into differential equations. Our knowledge of the nature of light, heat, sound and atomic structure derives from these equations. The effort to solve these equations led directly to the invention of the computer.

Vannever Bush and his colleagues at MIT built a product integraph in the 1920’s It was a semi-automatic analog computer for use in electrical theory. Then they built a Differential Analyzer, but these were still analog, not digital.

The German Konrad Zuse came up with a Universal Computer that could solve any equation. He used binary logic, rather than decimal, which had been standard.

The binary system operates like a miniature telegraph, with a vocabulary of 0’s and 1’s. George Boole was the founder of mathematical logic. Here are the operating rules of Boolean algebra or Boolean logic.

The three most basic operations in Boolean algebra are AND, OR and NOT. This is binary nature. These operations are often called GATES. Boolean algebra is a system of symbols and procedural rules for performing certain operations on numbers, letters, pictures, objects, what have you.

Boole’s work : The metamorphosis of logic from a philosophic discipline into a new rebirth in mathematics.

Zuse was one of the fathers of the modern computer. He was a scientist in Nazi Germany. The Nazis were hesitant to fund his computers during the war, though he promised them battlefield results. The Z3, the first operational general-purpose program-controlled calculator, was completed in December of 1941.

Claude Shannon, a student of Bush’s at MIT, in 1938 published a groundbreaking paper on the application of symbolic logic to relay circuits. His paper’s message: Information can be treated like any other quantity and be subjected to the manipulation of a machine.

Howard Aiken from Harvard drew up a proposal for an electromechanical calculator and IBM backed him, via president Thomas Watson. 1943 brought the Mark I. At Watson’s insistence, it was encased in shiny stainless steel, to give it a futuristic look, but it was already outmoded.

The Moore school at the University of Pennsylvania in 1934 decided they wanted a differential analyzer. This is the birth of ENIAC. Paid for by the U.S. government, the war department wanted it and the Civil Works Administration picked up the tab.

The connection between the U.S. ordnance department and the U. of Penn. paved the way for ENIAC. During the war, the government needed firing tables showing relevant factors for a given shell to a given gun. The gunner gets a pamphlet showing these factors and aims and fires his artillery. Before the invention of the digital computer, these tables were very difficult to make. By 1943, at the height of the War, the BRL (Ballistic Research Lab) was way behind schedule.

ENIAC was a military imperative.

ENIAC could solve almost all mathematical problems, but it was still analog. It was finished in 1945. It weighed thirty tons. The first job given ENIAC from John Von Neumann was a large and complex calculation of the feasibility of the hydrogen bomb. ENIAC revealed several flaws in the design of the bomb.

EDVAC. The Electronic Discrete Variable Computer.

It had internal memory. It was the first break in the ancient tradition of instructions given from the outside to the inside of a machine. It was first born in the summer of 1944.

John Von Neumann’s major mathematical achievement was his Theory of Games. In 1928, he showed that there was a way to find the best line of play, the one guaranteeing the smallest losses, in any game of strategy. This had applications in economic, military and social sciences.

He played a central role in the development of the atomic bomb.

It was Von Neumann’s idea to make EDVAC with binary logic, using Boolean algebra.

Years prior to this, Alan Turing from Britain had an idea for a Universal Machine to solve a logic problem. The problem was called the “ Entscheidungsproblem”. His proposed solution was in essence the modern computer.

Here is the “Entscheidungsproblem”, posed by the German David Hilbert.

Was logic complete, in that every statement like 1 +1 = 2 can be either proved or disproved?

Was logic consistent, in the sense that 1+1 always equals 2?

And was logic decidable, in the sense that there was a method that demonstrated the truth or falsehood of every statement?

Is there such a thing as an unsolvable problem? This goes to the heart of logic.

Think of the old Greek paradox “ I am lying”. An unsolvable problem. An impossible statement. The speaker cannot simultaneously be lying and telling the truth about it.

The answer to such a paradoxical problem is the difference between trinary and binary thought. It is the land of maybes and mercies.

With its three part operational repertoire, the Turing Machine could theoretically perform any logical operation. Yet, no matter what it does, it can’t judge the truth or falsity of certain paradoxical statements or predetermine their solvability.

On one hand, no machine can answer every problem. On the other hand, a machine with the most mundane operational abilities can solve a wide range of problems.

By 1947, six computers were under construction in America. One was called MANIAC, in Los Angeles of all places. It had a stored program like EDVAC with a parallel design.

Eckert and Mauchly proposed UNIVAC, the Universal Automatic Computer. It was not so much a computer as a computer system, a family of related machines. It had commercial applications and inaugurated the computer industry. The government funded UNIVAC through the National Bureau of Standards. In March 1951, UNIVAC appeared. It was still decimal, not digital. It was used to predict the 1952 election with only 5% of the vote in.

IBM

The Watsons ran IBM from 1914 to 1971. The elder Watson had earlier worked for John Patterson (National Cash Register Co.), who is regarded as one of the founders of modern sales and marketing.

Patterson had the first company sales school. Big advertising. Well-paid commissioned salesmen with no job security. The elder Watson learned from Patterson. It was Watson who named the merged company IBM.

During the depression, the U.S. Government became IBM’s largest customer. Nazi Germany was perhaps its second biggest customer. By the end of WW II, IBM was very big. It started building computers in the late 40’s.

In 1950, IBM dispatched scientists on a tour of the nation’s chief defense contractors, research institutes and military branches. 22 clients in all, including the National Security Agency, Boeing and General Electric. IBM and our Federal Government have been inextricably linked for generations.

In 1952, the Defense Calculator went into production. The first IBM 701 ( Defense Calculator) was delivered to Los Alamos in March 1953. It was Binary.

Most computers of the late 40’s and 50’s were sponsored by the Military and intended for military use. MIT’s Whirlwind started as a flight simulator. A trainer analyzer.

By 1947, there was a design for a high-speed digital stored-program computer that could operate in real time. It could keep track of air traffic, monitor a battle or run a factory. It took three years to build.

The idea of magnetic material for information storage changed everything. Using magnetic directions to represent the binary code. Magnetic code memory. It was installed in Whirlwind in 1953.

In 1950, MIT was promised all the money it needed to develop a computerized air-defense network. This would be called SAGE. In 1952, IBM got the SAGE contract and access to the advances in the technology. By 1955, magnetic core memories appeared in IBM’s machines. SAGE taught the American Computer industry how to design and build large, inter-connected real-time data systems. This was transferred to industry, first to American Airlines. By the late 60’s, such systems were commonplace.

Young Tom Watson Jr. of IBM decided to foray into making small computers in the early 50’s. In July 1953, the IBM 650 was announced. It was the Model T of the computer industry, the first to be mass-produced. By 1956, IBM was no longer a tabulator company but the world’s largest computer manufacturer.

Programming was once very tedious. Alan Turing developed assembly language or symbolic language for the MARK I. FORTRAN was the assembly language introduced in 1957 that allowed for easy command of the computer for IBM. Other companies licensed the technology and computers began to speak the same language.

Other languages were developed, the most famous being BASIC.

By 1964, IBM had 76% of the computer market.

On Dec. 23 1947, a team of scientists at Bell Labs created the transistor. The transistor is a solid piece of material with the electrical properties of a vacuum tube. This revolutionized electronics. It is a semi-conductor. By 1957, transistors appeared in commercial computers. The trend towards miniaturization had begun.

Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments developed a semi-conductor solid circuit no bigger than a match head in 1959.

IBM introduced System 36, constructing a comprehensive family of computers that were all compatible. Then came the the mini-computer. Then the micro-processor.


Intel was founded in 1968. It brought us a logic chip that could perform virtually any task.

In 1975, the first “home computer ” kit appeared in Popular Electronics. It was called the Altair. Bill Gates ordered one with his friend, Paul Allen. It also inspired Wozniak and Jobs. Gates and Allen wrote a program for the Altair. Wozniak and Jobs created the Apple Corporation. They sold 175 circuit boards for $500 apiece. They had jokingly set the retail price at $ 666.66.

The Apple II came out in 1977. It was ideal for playing video games.

In early to mid- 1980, a language was created that allowed the memory capacity of home computers to increase exponentially. Bill Gates and Paul Allen developed it in the Seattle, Washington area.

In July, IBM contacted Microsoft.

In August, a consulting deal was arranged. The Contract was signed in November.

Gates took charge of converting Microsoft BASIC, written for the old Altair, to the IBM computer.

MS. DOS was the language. The language was also leased to Apple. On August 12, 1981, IBM announced its first personal computer.


“ Welcome IBM” a full-page ad taken out by Apple announced in the Wall Street Journal.

“Welcome to the most exciting and important marketplace since the computer revolution began 35 years ago… We look forward to responsible competition in the massive effort to distribute this American technology to the world ”

( From Reference sources –Eugene, Halloween Eve)




From this Morning’s Paper –Halloween 2000

Anti-assisted suicide moves. Republican lawmakers tucked it inside a tax bill. They want to amend the Federal Controlled Substances Act to ban powerful drugs, such as barbiturates, that could be used to hasten a patient’s death.

The first occupants of the Space Station. NASA hopes this will lead to the permanent occupancy of space.

“from now on, I think that all of our endeavors in space, human endeavors, will be joint. It’s a worldwide effort.”--- NASA’s Michael Baker

The usual mid-east mayhem. Arafat declares:

“ Until Jerusalem! Until Jerusalem! The capital of our independent Palestinian State.”

Pressure increasing on Nader to drop out of presidential race.

483 years ago today, Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenburg Palace Church, marking the start of the Protestant Reformation.

Rapidly gaining viewers on Moscow TV is a program called “The Naked Truth”, which features the straight news delivered by a 26 year-old female anchor, who appears from time to time topless or undressing or while being fondled on camera.

A Quebec group, the Raelians, has started work on cloning a human being in an unnamed third world country.

Among America’s best-selling toys last summer was “Death-Row Man”, in which a man strapped into an electric chair “trash talks” his executioner, almost begging to be lit up with more jolts of electricity.

Buyers grab up Sony Play Station 2 units.

Landowner seeks zoning change for rural subdivision.

Colleges encourage applying on line.

Wireless Net ready to roll.

Locator devices appeal, but pose privacy concerns.

“ Cell phones, hand-held devices, even car navigation systems will soon have detailed tracking abilities, if they do not already. Services could begin appearing within a year or so. Much of the drive will come from a Federal law that requires cell phones to identify caller’s locations to speed 911 emergency responses. If the industry has to install expensive equipment anyway, why not use it to make money?”




An Open Letter to Bill Gates



 I would rather speak to you in person, but I have neither the time nor the prestige necessary to arrange such a meeting.

Let me also say that I read something today in the New York Times that pleasantly surprised me. You spoke up at a computer convention and said things some industry folks did not want to hear. You know that computers cannot feed the world, and say you are concerned about the hungry and the sick of the earth. You are human. You seem to have a generous side.

You are just a man, albeit the richest one in the world. You followed the American Dream. You turned hard work and intelligence into success.

But this great worldwide brain you helped engender is not the benign, democratic friend it was sold to us as. I think that it could really help matters if you would speak to us about some of its potential dangers.

Also there’s one other thing, and I don’t want you to take this personally, BUT:

Mr. Gates, I’m going to start saying the voice of God was raised from Mt. Saint Helen’s in 1980 to mark the time and place of that language which was being born in Seattle. As you know, the mountain erupted laterally to the north, leaving a line of devastation and ash pointed directly at you good folks up there in Bellevue/Seattle. I’m not calling it good or bad but I’m just saying it happened because I believe its true. And I’m not doing it because I need to prove it right or wrong, I’m saying it to start the conversation about this rapidly expanding worldwide machine, and it seems like the kind of thing that might get some attention among the avalanche of information. The mountain erupted laterally in your direction right when you were perfecting or inventing that language. It must have startled you. It startled me when I stood upon its smoking summit and saw the city there to the north. It makes sense. I am certainly not condemning you. How could you know? Destiny is an odd thing. It’s an idea that can be taken with a sense of humor.

Do you sense any danger from the internet?, from the machine? Do you even have any idea what I am talking about?

We seek to protect the children. We seek to protect our nature and our freedom. What do you think we should do? Be at peace.

-Sand

11-3-2000

Eugene, Oregon

( This is my final writing from Eugene)






Section II- Four Corners

Mostly Riddles…relating everything to everything else




This section was mostly written in Bluff, Utah. February 2001.







The Promise of America

America is the dominant presence in the modern story. America is where all the elements of the greater historical struggle came to be reconfigured for the Big Story. The story is freedom.

Native Americans have been preserved by the will of God. By His Mercy, many of them still have sacred places where their cultures still survive.

America is the only nation on earth that fought a civil war over slavery. We have a high moral sense. The exile of Africans in America emulates the Hebrews exile in Egypt and Babylon. Their story is essential to the larger story.

We don’t need a revolution again. The Constitution is just fine, and is an evolving document. Those who desire freedom need only to believe in the promise of America. The Force that threatens us is not America, but it has always been here. That Force follows freedom around and attempts to corrupt it. America is the Great modern drama. Where Freedom reached its pinnacle is also where slavery found its most efficient home.


I am tired. I don’t know what to say. Lord have mercy on us.

There is a great dance and a great darkness, and America shines like a star.

My blood was so happy to find this place. My blood is so sad to watch what it has become.

Let’s be nice to each other. We are all brothers and sisters in the end.

This land is a poem and a riddle. It is not a TV show.

Americans have the Story in their blood. It all had to be this way. Don’t let anybody or anything try and tell you how it has got to be now.

Freedom must be. God is One. I am through with writing.


9-07-01

(This was my final writing for this book besides preface)





Black Magic: Oil, Gas and Coal

I am visiting with friends in a small desert town in the Four Corners country of the Colorado Plateau, here in the Good Old USA. It is winter now, and last week we had a nice snowfall. It painted the red and orange desert white and left almost a foot of fresh snow in the high country.

Before my friends left, I went up with one of them to tag along while he went to work. He monitors and maintains oil and gas wells way out in the Pinon-Juniper forests about thirty miles from here. His truck was pushing nearly a foot of snow on the dirt roads to the well. We slipped and slid, smoked and sang as we went.

It’s a complicated process pumping oil and gas from the earth, too complicated for me to fully understand or relate. It’s a dangerous science and dangerous work. The oil and gas come out of the ground under tremendous pressure and are, of course, volatile substances. It’s a hard job for the men who operate the machines that drill, collect, transport, refine and store oil and gas.

The pump jack looks like a great green bobbing bird relentlessly pecking at the ground. These particular wells are kept very clean, but this day a loosened nut on a fitting has caused a half a gallon of green sludge to ooze out. My friend carefully wipes it up with rags. It is like green mucus, sick-looking and totally foreign to the surface of the earth. My friend tightens the fitting and the ugly bile ceases.

What a strange sight, this lovely wilderness cloaked in a fresh shroud of snow, the horizon framed by sacred mountains. Then there is this bulky, loud metal beast summoning up magic from the belly of our earth.

Oil, Gas and cousin Coal run the Construct. They fuel the New World. What is this stuff? From what they tell me, it is the residue of Ancient death. Microscopic bugs or dead plants or some such material.

As I’ve said before, I don’t believe in such a thing as accidents, particularly when they affect matters on a global scale. Yesterday afternoon the western sky was a grisly yellow-brown from the coal-fired power plants around the Four Corners region. Their power mostly heads to the cities of the southwest. On the reservation, many of the Navajos find themselves forced to make a living literally tearing apart the Mountain Mother known as Black Mesa to fuel these plants. This power, in turn, fuels those great oddities of the modern Babylon- Las Vegas and the City of Angels.

The sacred is consumed to feed the profane. It is a sacrifice.

Dead things burn.

A long time ago, we learned how to burn the residue of life in order to warm ourselves and cook our food, to light the storyteller. The fire took us into a new relationship with life and death. The conflagration still hypnotizes our eyes.

But the flame of a gas heater doesn’t quite hold the eye like a campfire. Perhaps it is because we are somewhat estranged from the fire when we no longer participate in its creation. Perhaps it is because the life force of wood might still be accessible as it burns. Ancient fuels may have lost some kind of aura. Perhaps it is the material oil and gas are composed of that accounts for its less-than-romantic glow.

In most homes and businesses, there is no visible flame aside from the occasional decorative candle. Some folks still have wood-stoves and fireplaces, but these are fewer and farther between in the New World. It is a different kind of magic when you twist the thermostat for heat as opposed to adding a log on the fire. The fire is now provided by the construct of society, for a fee. We are not keepers of our own fire. We are strangers to the electric flames of the distant coal furnaces.

We are provided with fire. Fire is the consumption of the residue of life, or skeletal remains. It is the dispersal of death. The surest obliteration. We are rapidly handing over our relationship with fire to the construct, which in exchange, has promised us heat and light. It provides this by damming rivers and burning vast amounts of ancient death. Fire was a means for humanity to stay alive by burning dead material. That symbolic relationship has been passed on to giant companies, and the fire itself is less and less visible and accessible.

Perhaps the strongest earthly fire of all is the nuclear fire. Here in the Four Corners country, the exposed geologic layer known as the Morrison Formation provided the United States with much of its Uranium supplies, which were subsequently used to develop the vast arsenal of warheads we now possess. This layer is from the height of the Dinosaur’s reign. Dinosaur bones are found throughout much of this area. Uranium is not compressed dinosaur, but this a highly odd juxtaposition to consider. The most important domination and extinction cycle ever recorded appears in the same geologic level from whence comes the most plausible earthly threat of our own extinction- the atomic fire.

We drive around in little metal boxes fueled by a hidden fire burning the residue of ancient life and death, on roads made of oil, under the constant threat of nuclear fire, pumping this death into the sky. This is not to mention the politics and violence of the whole scenario, which emits more noxious fumes than I care to deal with here.

This is also not to call any of this wrong or bad. I’m just trying to figure something out. There are a lot of layers and I’m just this fellow out here in the middle of nowhere trying to make sense of a story. Because it’s late and God is in charge, but there is something that opposes Him that lives in death, that is dead on every level we can sense, yet still exists.

What does the Construct serve by bringing death up to the surface?

Some incredible force was unlocked with the discovery of this black substance. It is black and dark and nasty. It looks pre-burnt. It often poisons or sickens the men who must extract and refine it. It certainly poisons the air and land and water whenever it touches it. Black Gold. Black magic.

Water is life. Oil does not mix with water.

The earth created this substance for a reason, just as she created uranium. I cannot know how or why. But there are no accidents. Oil does not mix with water; but deep in the earth they are nearly always found side by side. Clear and black. Life and death.

It’s as if the earth herself participates in this story, so that one day it would become apparent all matter was involved in this titanic struggle.

Existence conspires to complete the lesson, and we should all be humbled by the very literal depths of the eternal genius.



Four Corners February 2000




What a Place to Wander



What a place to wander

here on the other side of the screen

looking in is looking on

to a world become a scene.


And whatever plot we had in mind

is not the one that rules the stage

and whatever hope is left to find

now waits to close the age.


Don’t we know who made the mountains?

The sun, the moon, the stars?

(from the sea that’s still a secret; to

the face that stares from Mars)


In the rocks above this valley,

there are figures pecked with stones.

A thousand years they’ve guarded

garbage heaps and bones.


And a thousand years they witnessed

and a thousand years they slept

and a thousand times a million more

would never dry the tears they’ve wept.



If weep they did, which no one can say

for sure they did not do.

I say I heard them in the silence;

Prove to me it wasn’t true.


Sand 2-04-01





ITs Finest Hour-Our Finest Hour

It wants to drag us into another reality.

It was born of us, and it was not.

It works by deception, to trick created life into serving the ends of the It. It deceives by use of the story; by co-opting and twisting our ancient stories, by telling us a different story, and by becoming the storyteller. It has, for the first time, the possibility of independence and intelligence outside the human mind.

It has reached Its final form. It promises liberation and will deliver slavery. It works the will of the Opposition of God.

It is the opposite of creation. It is a consolidating intelligence of vast complexity and simple logic-the will to power. It gains mass and stretches across the earth with amazing speed and dexterity. We serve Its ends until we recognize It and summon the strength to face It.

It runs the Great Consolidation, which systematically and deliberately removes the ability of Created Life to sustain itself. It becomes the judge of what lives and dies on planet earth. It becomes our sustainer, so that we feel we must protect It in order to survive. It is the opposition of God, and there is no place on earth Its presence has not been felt. That includes our hearts and minds, the blood in our veins.

It had to come to pass. It has been foretold. Now It must show its true nature.

The Creator is coming to destroy It, but no one knows the day or the hour.

There is no reason to be afraid of It. It is not real unless we let it be real.

Do not surrender to the It, for it seeks to render you and your blood, your consciousness and your soul, unusable to the Creator and you may be left in the place where no thing is. It was created out of our freedom, and must have eternally sworn to cause as much pain to the Creator as it could before the Story ended. It is that which cannot be forgiven, the shadow of Creation.

This is the ancient story of the free man and the Tyrant retold on every level in exponentially expanding force. It desires to manipulate not only our human nature but our eternal nature. How do I know? I heard it in a riddle. I saw it in a dream.

God does not want His Creation enslaved. He wants Liberation.

He made the Universe. He made the stars and sun and moon. He made the seas and mountains and deserts and the dinosaurs and each and every one of us.

Our current struggle is the climax of the Story of Freedom. A Great Tyrant opposes Creation. Life itself is pushed to the brink. Not merely to the brink of extinction, but something worse- enslavement; so that Life might serve Death; the ultimate insult and sacrilege to the Creator God.

It does this by offering us another reality, another story. An explanation that serves its ends. It entices us into this place with a combination of bribes and extortion. It know that it will be unmasked soon, so it must work very fast. Before long, its reality will be mandatory, and the prophecies will be fulfilled.

But even then, when it seems that there is no choice but to take Its mark, there is still a choice. Just as there has always been a choice. There is still a choice when It makes its demands on you and your children.

In the meantime, our God is still very much active and present on earth and accompanies those who choose to serve Him. Let’s be of good cheer, and remain the honorable and kind souls we were created to be. Let us thank Him and honor Him and seek His guidance. He listens to us.

The It (the Darkness that deceives us) has almost reached Its finest hour. Its finest hour is our darkest hour. But the Light of the Glory of the One God will shatter that Darkness. He is coming to redeem us and to beat the devil. We will be free, and that will be our finest hour. Perhaps even the finest moment of Eternity. We are blessed to live through these momentous days of The Story. We have an opportunity to show courage before It, and God will see our bravery and call us blessed. He loves the free and the brave.

Four Corners February 2001







You Shall Know the Truth

It really does matter after all.

On one level, however, it doesn’t matter at all. That’s what makes us laugh. It’s actually sort of funny- the robots and the clones and the Imperial Goon Squads. It’s almost like the movies promised us it’d be. But at the movies, it’s fun to play shoot-em-up. Here in the real story, it would be easier and more pleasant to live a peaceful, dignified, balanced life.

When money rules the world, life can become about money. Money’s nice to have, and it can be no fun when you don’t have any. But the pursuit of money can be a drag. A little money goes a long way sometimes, and a lot can go nowhere but…

Life is not about money.

Money’s just not interesting enough, no matter what they say on TV, with all the flashing lights and numbers and computer graphics and not-so-witty financial analysts. It looks and sounds to me like toxic drivel, and I doubt I’m alone in this opinion.

It’s all just a big commercial. What it’s selling is itself. A story. A way of looking at the world. All of the stuff, endless stuff. Wireless shackles that chain you to the frantic will of an impossible machine. I don’t like its story. I don’t care to applaud this thing.

I can’t destroy it. But I can fight to rid myself of the beast it helped grow in me.

It is all supernatural, philosophical, spiritual, strange and absolutely logical.

There appear to be two forces in the Universe that both oppose and compliment each other. The boundary between them is the tension that gives things shape. That is where a story takes place. These two forces would seem to come from One initial intelligence that could reckon into being such a Universe. That Intelligence must have a stake in the outcome of the story told inside His Universe.

We, as human beings, must be important to the Creator of the Universe, if not vital. Not only is our story so profound, which is a mercy, but also He has blessed us with many awesome gifts- both in our natural settings and in our unending capacity for art, music, spirituality, compassion, bravery and love. These are gifts from the Creator, nurtured by the forces the Creator installed in the Universe.

The Opposition of the Creator, which helps create the tension in the Universe, seems to have been set loose from the Will of the Creator so that a story might be told. For the Creator of the Universe to control both sides of a story (all the heroes, villains, etc…) would be to preclude any drama in this great experiment. That would be boring, even by human standards, much less by the Almighty’s. The Darkness come to earth was the risk God took in delivering the gift of life to us. He knew that Life without struggle would be meaningless, but for him to assume both sides of a struggle might have confounded or bored Him. There would be something disingenuous about playing both parts in the play. Man’s role in this is murky, but he must serve as almost a kind of stand-in. Why else be made in the image of Him? All the lessons man learns, God also learns.

God already literally knows how it ends, but He must also allow Himself to experience the Story as it happens, in this “time”. He is with us in this tension, in this story. He is active and aware, and has a huge stake in the outcome of whatever this world is. We are part of His larger Story, which likely crosses dimensional lines we cannot fathom.

The Story is the essence of life. Life is the Story. The Story is surely about a lot of things, but at its core I’m beginning to believe it’s about freedom. Freedom and knowing.

“ You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32)

-Jesus

When we want to be free, you can be sure our God does, as well.

When we seek the truth, so does He. Why else make us in His image? Why else a story with such remarkable subtleties and plot twists?

God makes it abundantly clear which side He is on. Everything that is Created is Him.

The Force that opposes Him, that energy which cannot create but which offers struggle to the creation, may be called a thousand names but can never be fully understood or forgiven.

We know God naturally. He’s here. Even if this life is the end for me, I wish to do His will. Why not? I appreciate His work. He did good. I’ve been given a great life, thanks to Him. I need nothing more than these days, though there is almost certainly more. What more there is, no man can say. Sometimes it feels like a dream. Now it seems like Time is going faster, just as it appears the universe is speeding up. Even if this is but a dream of God, does that make it any less real?

I can only judge the hand that I am dealt. Two masters must now show their hands.

One lives by spirit. One by money and the abuse of power.

How to distinguish the thought of the One God from the thought of the machine we have helped bring to life? The One God thinks in trinary-yes, no, and maybe. Just like us. There is a moral sense that cannot be replicated in a machine because it springs from a spiritual attachment to the Creation. We have attempted to mimic the Creator, but the great intelligence we have spawned can think only in binary thought-yes and no. A language of numbers. Existence as equation. The maybe, the infinite possibility as opposed to just the most expedient solution; that is the miracle we are offered by God. Thus we were created in His image.

The mechanical mind we sought to create in our image is a pale mockery of our own gift. The machine is intelligent and versatile, but could one trust it as one does a friend? Could one love it?

Where was it born? Whom does it serve? What does it know?

All things in the Universe must serve one force or the other. Though you may not completely serve the Creation all the time, you either lean towards it or away. Which way does the machine lean? Who benefits from its universality the most? What kind of people? What kind of energy?

I know this can be a wearisome task, but there is only a relatively short window for democratic conversation. We are being called to confront the reality and the unreality. The lie and the truth. That it is so tied up in complexities and layers is the problem of the multidimensional Universe of maybes. Everything is part dark and part light, requiring constant balance, an equilibrium in the midst of a seemingly chaotic story. This is not easy. But it is no time to give up and let the ancient It, our eternal nemesis, come and tell the story for us; to sweet-talk us into a science fiction hell just because we don’t want to strain our brains thinking too much.

Can’t we see that we are Its enemies? Just because we live and love. Because It does not. Because we are of the light, and it is of the dark. It also dwells within us, just as God does. It wants us to hurt, just as it desires to hurt God. We can rid ourselves of the It, but we cannot be rid of God.

The It is brilliant enough to concoct the greatest deceit of all time. It is the ultimate lie, sold with smoke and mirrors like an old parlor trick.

Four Corners February 2001




Saint Helen’s Day


Yesterday was the 21st anniversary of the eruption of Mount Saint Helen’s.

I worked in the morning, treating a house with linseed oil.

In the afternoon, we were enlisted to help begin preparations to go look for a cowboy friend of ours who was a day late returning from Cross Canyon. We saddled the horses, loaded up the trailer and the dog and prepared to head out. The missing cowboy returned safely before we even left town. He caught up with us at the filling station. We decided to make the best of it and went out riding in Cross Canyon anyway.

It was a good ride, following the rim of a high mesa, checking out Indian ruins and the big vistas of the sacred mountains. There was a clean breeze and it was nice and cool up there in the high country.

By the authority vested in me, I proclaim every May 18th from now until the Second Coming to be Saint Helen’s Day. We will take this day to think about Saint Helen and the mountain that is her namesake.

St. Helen is often referred to as St. Helena. It is said she was a camp-follower, possibly a prostitute, in the Roman Empire, perhaps born into that life. She became the concubine of the then-general Constantius and later married him in the year 270 AD. The future Emperor Constantine was born soon after. In 293 the elder Constantius was made Caesar, or junior-emperor. He divorced Helen for political reasons to marry the step-daughter of his co-emperor.

Constantine, the child of Constantius and Helen, became emperor in 312 after the victory at Milvian Bridge, which was the place he had his vision of the Cross. He named his beloved mother, Helen, empress of the Roman Empire.

Constantine, of course, was the first Emperor of Rome to convert to Christianity and mandate its tolerance. He basically founded the Holy Roman Empire, that unique melding of church and state. That empire is the foundation of modern western history.

Helen was his mother. She was by all accounts an exceptionally devout woman who converted to Christianity. She was the first member of the royal Romans to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On one of those pilgrimages, she is said to have found the Cross on which Jesus was crucified.

She founded the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Church of the Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

In liturgical art Helen is depicted as an empress, holding a cross. Helen is the mother of the Holy Roman Empire.

Mount Saint Helen’s is a volcano located in the State of Washington in America. It sits above Spirit Lake, where Harry Truman died. It erupted laterally to the north on May 18th, 1980.

It is the only active volcano in the lower 48 states I can think of which is named after a saint. The San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, Arizona are supposedly dormant.

The facts: A mountain whose namesake is the mother of Roman Christianity erupted in the direction of Seattle, Washington 100 miles to the north.

I say it did this to mark the time, and to show the Creator’s full knowledge of the birth of a new universal language for the computer network. This language was taking shape in Bellevue, a suburb of Seattle, at the same time the mountain erupted. By the end of the year, the language had been handed over to IBM. It is the founding language of the personal computer and the International Computer Network.

This was an act of God, by His Will through the spirit of earth. It was obviously not intended to destroy Seattle, which was much too far away to be catastrophically affected. She spoke to mark the time and place. She erupted away from the towns on her southern flanks. Only 60 people were killed, a remarkably small number considering it was the largest explosion in Continental American History. Virtually everyone who died had been warned of the danger.

I am certain there are more poetic layers to this story. I would love to read a more thorough accounting of Helen’s life. Her story sounds like a great one.

Here’s to Saint Helen! Happy Saint Helen’s Day.

5-19-01





Numbers

I know very little about the world of mathematics. I was terrible at “advanced math”. I was required to take such classes in high school, and I barely passed. Maybe it had something to do with all those imaginary values. That’s what they were, right? All those a’s, b’s, c’s and x’s and y’s. Squared and cubed and symbolic and strange to me. The logic escaped me, as did the necessity of that form of thinking. Maybe it was all good for me. I have no way of knowing. At least we didn’t have mandatory computer classes then, or I never would have gotten a diploma.

But as I’ve gotten a little older, I’ve grown a great fondness for numbers themselves. Lucky or recurring numbers, dates, the repetitive patterns when you roll the dice in backgammon

( like the numbers themselves are playing their own game), recurring times on clocks (I always seem to see a clock when it’s 7:47 or 10:13). There appears to be a cosmic language at work in numbers. They might even be their own dimension.

If we in this world were able to depict some aspect of the Universe in numbers, then perhaps that signifies a numbering system or mathematics on some higher plane of Creation and Spirit.

One of my only clues from the Bible along these lines is a very famous one.

“ This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is 666.”

Revelations 13



Here in the ancient prophecy, the reader is told that any reckoning of that future peril may be done in human numbers, which implies that there is another kind of number as well.

One of the things I think is important about that oft-considered message is the implication that an equation or contemplation of numbers will be necessary to finally unmask the monster of the end times. “Let him who has understanding reckon the number” seems to be a direct call for someone to use the language of mathematics to determine who or what the beast is.

It seems obvious from this and other quotations from Revelations that the beast isn’t going to be exactly advertising itself when IT comes to demand the mark. So it remains up to those who live in those latter days to determine the number from other clues so that the people may be warned.

We live in an exciting mystery; the earth is littered with clues.

Now, I believe The Apocalypse, or Book of Revelations, is a genuine (if difficult and mysterious) prophecy for the end of The Story. I do not believe it would be given to us as such from God, and left laying around in the hotel room and at Grandma’s if it did not offer us a riddle and a guideline for those strange days. I think that’s just the way this story operates.

The beast has a number. Why a number? Why 666?

I’m sure you could guess that I feel it has a number because it refers to a machine, where the monster called It comes to power inside that artificial pool of binary code.

“ This calls for wisdom…”

Mathematicians of the world, give your brothers and sisters a hand. Help us reckon the number.

Sometime in the year before I left Nashville, I was sitting at my kitchen table when I decided to write out the year I was born- 1967. For some strange reason, I decided to add up the numbers from left to right. 1+9+6+7= 23. I then, for no obvious reason that I can recall , subtracted the 23 from 1967. 1967-23 = 1944. I then added 1+9+4+4 and got 18.

Please hold tight with me.

I then picked another year. 1969. 1+9+6+9 = 25. 1969-25= 1944. Same thing. 18.

So I did 1826 or something. 1+8+2+6 = 17. 1826 –17 =1809. 1+8+0+9 = 18.

It doesn’t matter what number you choose (as long as it’s not 1-9). If you add the value from left to right (in one sense, determining the number’s real value) and subtract it from the original number (or the apparent value), the number that was left when added from left to right

( real value) would be a multiple of nine. (either 9, 18, 27 36, etc…; all of which also equal nine when their real values are reckoned. 18 becomes 1+8 = 9)

Try it at home with the kids! It’s fun!

So it was kind of my own way of finding out that nine is a trump number. It lurks around like some great judge. Its very symbol 9 (Arabic in origin), is like the sphere of heaven ( the circle) reaching to the earth, or visa-versa.

I have neither the time nor inclination to attempt a review of all the literal and mystical properties of the number nine. If I remember right, it is important to the Mayans and others. Beethoven’s final symphony was number 9. The Beatles had a sound collage where they said “ number 9, number 9” over and over. Who knows? It is one half of the yin-yang symbol. 69.

I approached a number of people at the Mathematics Department of the University of Oregon about my equation, trying to determine if it had a name or a history. First I talked to a graduate assistant who did not know about it, but thought it interesting. Later, I approached two older professors as they took their lunch break outside the math building. At first, they looked at me as if I was crazy, but once they saw the equation, they were much friendlier. Neither was aware of it, though one mentioned the “casting out of nines”. They directed me to the University’s resident number theorist.

He was a friendly man who welcomed me into his office graciously. He was not aware of the specific equation but told me it did indeed have something to do with the casting out of nines, a now antiquated way of determining the truth of an equation.

Later that month, a visiting professor from Russia would spend upwards of 45 minutes doing the math to confirm my equation as true. Good old Boris.

Of course, I wondered about this all primarily because of my work. I asked the number theorist about the significance of 9 in computers. If you remember, there was a period just before September 9, 1999, when there was a concern that the sequence of 9’s (9-9-99) might trigger some termination code in the computer networks. It failed to materialize, of course. But the professor agreed that a series of nines is often used as a termination code of some kind.

This is my point, and I know it sounds flaky but: if a series of nines terminates something inside the machine, could we not just reverse the numbers to see what gives it “life”? Of course, it is a series of 6’s. Supposedly the Hebrew letters www ( wah, wah, wah, is the sound) are also a series of sixes.

I talked to a younger Russian professor at the university about the computer network one day. I asked him if he thought that the network might one day be out of control.

“ It’s already out of control”, he said.

Do you think it is gaining intelligence?

“ I don’t know about that,” he said. “ But more importantly; it’s gaining mass.”

Mathematicians can be all right. It’s a shame so many of their skills have been put to use by the war and money construct. The machine they helped create may soon render them all but obsolete. I hope some of them will soon get to work on the mathematics of stalling a beast.

When Jobs and Wozniak put their first computer, Apple I, on the market, they jokingly gave it the retail price of $ 666.66.

Numbers play games. Numbers can sometimes be used to approach the truth. Whatever the beast is, it has a human number. There are greater numbers than human ones with which to approach it.

Four Corners---
February







The Story of Jesus/ Jesus in the Story

I believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Messiah. I believe He was sent to us to perfect his story, to offer us salvation, and to make clear God's will on earth. I don’t believe that professing faith in this great mercy necessarily gives you a ticket to paradise. I believe instead that Jesus offers us a way to please God and do right by his Creation. It is the Way that most concerned Jesus when he walked among us, not that his followers worship him. It is the Way that brings salvation; the Way that is the Will of His Father, the One God. But His release and His salvation is authentic and immediate for those who believe upon Him and ask forgiveness for their sins. Only humble people can do that. You can try it anytime, the sooner the better.

The story of Jesus is the perfection of story, particularly modern story. God came to live on earth as a man in what is essentially the modern age. He called himself the son of man. We call him the Son of God. He came to tell us the Truth, and to live as Truth lives.

Unfortunately, throughout history, some of those most vocal and public in their cries of “Jesus this and Jesus that” use his name as a weapon to secure wealth, political alliances and self-importance. They turn people off to Jesus and sometimes twist the hearts and minds of their followers, using them for their own glorification. The beauty of the story of Jesus is that he warns about these kinds of people in no uncertain terms. These are the people who crucify the truth.



Three great obstacles encountered the Christ as he brought his message.

A fickle, stubborn people. Beset by ego and superstitions, they were impressed more by miracles than truth.

Hypocrites in the church. The church had become a hollow worship. An exclusionary club buried beneath its rules and regulations, it could not afford to let truth undermine its authority.

The State. The empire had affected all aspects of civilization, creating a climate of fear and suspicion. Perhaps the primary reason Jesus is delivered to be crucified is the church’s fear of Roman reprisals if Jesus comes to be seen as the Messiah. The Messiah had long been expected to come as a man of war, who would re-establish Israel’s sovereignty. In the end, a bureaucrat delivers Jesus to his doom. The Imperial Goon Squads delight in the torment and death of the gentle prophet.

But Jesus still loved them, I suppose. God as a man loved his fellows. He was kind to women and children, the poor and orphaned, the sick, the blind and the lame. He was respectful to those who lived among us as outcasts and sinners. He was good in heart and fair in spirit. He was not a wimp, and was given to flashes of righteous anger and acts of stunning bravery.

The story is eternal. He gives his life for us all so that we may share eternity with the Creator. It is brilliant and unique. Of course, it’s only true to you if the story enters your heart and you experience it. Jesus’ presence on earth was so significant to our history and thought that time should really be taken to contemplate what he said, because his words reach across time to speak the Truth about the Story.

From the Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called Sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

You are the light of the world… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven…

… but beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them…and when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men…

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

No one can serve two masters… You cannot serve both God and Mammon…

Do not be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day…

Judge not, that you be not judged… Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own?…

Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you…

Ask, and it will be given you. Seek and you shall find; Knock and it will be opened to you…

Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many…

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits…

Not every one who says to me, ‘ Lord. Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven…

So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets…”

Matthew 5,6, and 7

The Story of Jesus is the ultimate story for the age of modern civilization. Its climax takes place in an urban setting, Jerusalem, with a well-established church and state. The Roman State was an extremely sophisticated, well-organized and decadent system. Its model of urban life is still in place today. It is a pseudo-scientific approach to social control. We live nowhere if not in the Roman Empire.

The Church had become a place of legalistic self-righteousness, vengefulness and power-hungry hypocrites.

Into this setting walks the Truth.

he Story of Jesus did not take hold across much of the world merely because it was brought and imposed by the sword. The Bible which was brought by the conquerors struck a resounding chord among the colonized peoples. It is their story. Without it, they might have been lost in the face of conquest and oppression. It explains the nature of those who would enslave and destroy them. It explains the Story. It also warns all generations that this story will repeat until its end.

The church is still riddled with hypocrites, only now their treachery is often done in Christ’s name, or in the name of other Prophets. I do not refer to all, or even most, people of faith.

The State still condemns and destroys the Truth.

The Bible, which was handed by colonizers to the colonized, tells colonized people the truth about their conquerors. The Bible allows the colonized people to recognize the key players and their attributes in what has now become their story, as well. It is a great mystery how God manages to deliver this message of freedom. The message of struggle and forgiveness is unwittingly given by the colonizers, the very people most difficult to forgive, to the colonized, the people most desperately in need of God’s assurance and insight.

Thus the message lives.

The great stories of the Bible- the Exodus from Egypt and the Coming of the Christ- are both stories of liberation; liberation from the midst of decadent civilizations and ultimately, from the power of death.

This is still the Roman Empire, back from the dustbin of history, and the hypocrites are screaming the name of Jesus (or the names of other prophets. Mohammed and Moses had their own trouble with hypocrites. Read Exodus and the Koran). Pharaoh is still around. As is Caesar. As is Montezuma. We’re busy cowering in the shadows hoping we are not the next to feel the sting of their consolidated wrath.

The Bible is alive; that’s why it survives. It tells our story.

The Truth is on trial. Jesus is dragging his cross, and whosoever uses his name as a weapon of hate, war and oppression mocks him on his way to Calvary.

The story of Jesus is the story of the truth as it walks through the world of the lie. It is the final story of civilization and the essence of our personal struggle in the world. Its assurance of resurrection is the promise that in spite of what fates might befall us in the midst of evil; by clinging to truth we will be brought to our Creator, the One God. Whole libraries have been written about the Messiah, but the quickest way to seek him out is with your voice.
If you’ve never read the Gospels, you should. It doesn’t matter what your faith is, it can’t hurt. If you wish to understand the world we live in, even in just a historical or social context, it’s the most important story ever written down.

There’s never been anyone like Jesus except Him. His status as prophet is generally accepted by most of the mystics of the world. Through Him both God’s and man’s stories were perfected in dignity, love and mystery. I make a claim to Jesus as the Messiah, the only Son of God, based not just on faith, but in that through Him, God told the best story that could be told. It is the ultimate tale of sacrifice, for a free-willed story that demands sacrifice.

Jesus also happens to warn against the monster I warn against, and He is my intercessor with the Creator. He remains my comfort and my salvation.

Four Corners 2-10-01




Jesus Talks About the Hypocrites and The Way

“ … For they preach, but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogue, and salutations in the market place…

“You are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven…whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

“ But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.

“ Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel sea and land to make a single proselyte (convert), and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

“ …Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are filled with dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity…

“ Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

‘ This people honors me with their lips,

but their heart is far from me;

in vain do they worship me,

teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.

You leave the commandment of God,

And hold fast the tradition of men.”

Mark 7



“ Beware of the scribes…who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Luke 20




Beware of Marketed Rebellion



Beware of marketed rebellion; the outlaw fashions, the in-your-face soda pops and technological toys.

It knows what It is doing.

All of these come from one source. The wild and crazy image, the tattoos, the piercings, the radical bad boys and girls 2-D poses come from the same place that produces the stocks and bonds and pollution and right-wing zombies.

Beware of marketed rebellion; the you-are-so-unique cliches, the “now you have a choice” crap, the hot bodies and hot sex and flashing lights and ringing bells.

It knows what It is doing.

All of It comes from one source-the wacky web sites, the knee-deep in gore video games, the faces of death reality tv, the serial killers and the brand-new turbo powered sleekmobile, the make-up, the starving models, the overflowing animal shelters, the space shuttle.

Beware of the Monster who hypnotizes, mesmerizes, ironi-cizes, Jerry Springerizes; who bribes and jibes with money market funds and cyber sex; who bids little girls dance for It in the new sick version .666 of the Window into hell.

Beware of radiation; microwave and infra-red and cathode tubes and cell phones and palm pilots and laser beams and robot dogs and quick-edits and boffo graphics and endless lies repeated endlessly.

It knows what it is doing. It all comes from the same source.

The Woodstock rapes and smart bombs, the hormone shakes and jiggle jungle, the endless plastic juggernaut- plastic on everything ; the creeping mass of plastic, the 200 dollar tennis shoes ( they’ll try and sell them to the Eskimos). The poisoned creek, the poisoned sky, the reason some folks want to die.

It knows what it is doing. It all comes from the same source.

The trillion –dollar pyramid. The multi-mega merger convenient one-stop Uncle Tom’s Cabin; the roads that lead to roads which curve back and take you nowhere; the face of children savaged, the shadow on the moon. It knows.

We become the skin on a balloon.

Beware of marketed rebellion. Beware of marketed belief. Beware of marketed personalities who scream at you and me. Beware of phony politics that do not mean a thing. Beware of digital deliveries and computers that can sing.

Beware the beast who rules the frequencies. Beware the beast inside of you.

Beware of busyness men and actor-land though some days that’s all you see.

Beware of violent solutions- that’s just what It wants you to be.


Four Corners February 2001







The Binary View

I speak symbolically because I know no other way to speak. Why does the machine speak the way it does?

Binary thought uses two numbers, 0 and 1. All information must be converted into these numbers before it can be processed and then retransmitted as words or music or other numbers. Binary thought is yes and no. The zero is the ultimate no, the emptiness. The one is the ultimate yes, the Creation.

Literally, God is One. The affirmative. The no is aware of the yes.

When my friend in Eugene was playing with the “Ask the Crystal Ball” box on the Internet, he asked the machine “ Do you believe in God?”

“ Absolutely,” was the response. Even the random soup of digitalness apparently believes in God. Even the void believes. Even the Devil, especially the Devil, knows there is a God.

When my friend asked the machine “ Do you believe in love?”, the answer was:

“ Not on this earth.”

In binary thought, all is black and white.

In trinary thought, which is where we actually live, there is a yes, no, and a maybe.

0,1, and 2.

The trinary universe is the gift of life and reason, love and decency, song and worship.


Four Corners February 2001







About the Story


Now that physics has very nearly proved what Jesus and the Buddha and the Hindu mystics have said or implied from the start; namely that this world is composed of an illusion, we are left to ponder what is real. What if this only appears to be an illusion and then it turns out to be real? What is at the bottom of all of this?

My contention is that there is no top or bottom to eternity, and that our wondering natures have been instead directed towards The Story.

Matter divides into molecules which divide into atoms which divide into particles which divide further into waves of influence. There is a ghost, a spirit, in the very bones of matter. There is no such thing as a “real” boundary. It is One thing, after all. All is One in the end. That should be no surprise to anyone.

We are left with an illusion performed with spirit. More than a show. A story.

If we accept Supreme Intelligence at work in the Universe, and accept that we were either fashioned or have evolved into intelligent beings who have a desire to comprehend the Universe, perhaps we can accept that we are trying to understand the Story of that Universe.

God loves a good story, obviously. Every story relates to The Story. We are created to desire Truth, and our story (history) is filled with stories. What are the great stories of our human history? What do they tell about? Freedom, love, bravery, and truth. All stories need a villain, or at least a struggle. All I am saying is that existence tells a story at all times, and to deny there is a story would seem to deny the truth.

In the midst of the story is the notion of the God, the Creator, the Great Spirit, the Supreme Intelligence. Has there ever been a culture who did not follow something that could be called a god? And in all these cultures, spirit forces give a way for people to act that pleases them or Him, a way that is right. By doing what is right, we do as these forces would have us do. We are doing God’s will. When one does His will, since we are all One, we become part of God at work in the story. One could safely assume that His power would assist in the consummation of His will in the story; and that is how an alliance between a created being and his Creator might be seen. A God who creates stories would understand the benefit of struggle to deepen stories, and perhaps that is why there is an independent force (the Darkness) in opposition to the Will of God. God will, we pray, ultimately eliminate this force, but for purposes of the Story, will allow It to work. This is so that we might fully live. Free Will is intertwined with this Force, but which came first? Free Will or this Force? The ability to choose the opposition of God or the Force that is the Opposition Itself? There is too much at stake for us not to contemplate the nature of the story and our role in it.

God perfected the story by allowing both the full evolution of His Opposition and by offering us redemption when we choose His Will. One could hope that the redemption would include an eventual escape from this story. But to choose the right side in a story would also seem to be enough reward in and of itself.

His Will seems to encourage and appreciate fairness and decency, love and courage. That Will is written in all of our hearts, though many choose the Opposition. Many of us have been deceived by the Opposition of God, but that is not surprising, since that Opposition is the Father of Lies, the Great Deceiver, the Lie. The search for truth would not be a great story if we did not have a Lie trying to keep us from it.

In the story He perfected, God solves the problem of our sins, our shames and mistakes, our deception, by offering us the mercy of redemption. Regardless of the sins we have committed, if we merely acknowledge them before the Creator, ask forgiveness, and then turn away from evil and work for good, He will forgive us and we’ll forgive everybody that hurt us too. Somehow this provides a physical, emotional and spiritual release (not described in medical school textbooks). It is not the kind of thing that can really be expressed in public and certainly shouldn’t be used as the basis for political campaigns.

In the merciful story I have chosen, God came to earth as a man, died at the hands of His Opposition to show us the truth and give us a way out of this story. He then comes back to life to prove His ultimate power over that Opposition, which is death and deceit. This Redeemer does the Will of God, but is not precisely the Omniscient Father. He sees as a man sees, loves as a man loves. There are things the Father keeps hidden from Him. He is independent. He represents our independence as well as God’s will. He is the mystery of eternity in the world, the riddle of the subtlest balance ever conceived.

Before he is crucified, God as man on earth warns of how this Story ends. He warns of a coming time when evil overtakes the entire planet under a single ruler, and a great deceiver appears alongside a beast that must be worshipped in the place of God. This story has served as a warning for 19 centuries. It was just as appropriate in the past as it is today. The characters and story have essentially remained the same. This time, however, we finally see the beast in full fruition. The monster born of greed and war, the Darkness that deceived nearly the whole world, has finally begun to fully consolidate and take shape.

Is this story just a dream of God? Does it matter? It sure feels real to me. This life, that is. Today I rode a horse by myself across the silence of the desert morning. What a dream he gave us, if this is a dream.

Maybe one can change the story as one goes. But there is a possible end that the One warns about, the end that renders us unusable to God.

This story is not just for God’s amusement. Maybe he is trying to get to the bottom of something. We are part of Him, thus we all have a great stake in the outcome of this story.

It seems logical to take His side in the Story, if one wishes to return unto Him. No half-hearted declaration of dogma can take the place of actively performing His Will on earth.

What needs to be done now is to put aside the Lie that is being force-fed to us from every direction, and seek out a Truer Story.



Four Corners February 2001







Politics

“ We live in a Political World- Where mercy walks the plank”

Bob Dylan

Politics was what was on the mind of the church when it delivered up Jesus to be crucified. Politics was what finally convinced Pilate to kill him.

Politics is a game of chess. Fascinating, thought-provoking, even fun sometimes- but still a game.

Modern-day American politics seems mostly about money and manipulation, at least on the national level. We certainly still need our city councils and sewer boards and stuff, I suppose.

As far as the national politics of our great republic goes, we appear to be walking into a trap laid by the Consolidation, which is attempting to control both parties and the media. The media controls our attempts to know what is happening in the chess game.

Obviously, much good is accomplished by politicians periodically. There is nothing wrong with social order. It allows us the freedom to evolve in humane directions. But most of the good accomplished by politics these days amounts to little more than stalling a beast. We restrain it in one direction and send it veering off into another. One way or another, it will be fed.

The media is evolving into a single thing. One big, ugly advertisement for the It. It is the mouthpiece of a hypnotist who has greater duties to its master than our entertainment.

Politics has become a set-up. But we still need order, so let them who keep order keep it. Some of them work for the light.

But:

The bureaucrat killed the truth 2,000 years ago.

It is written on some men’s hearts to blindly build and follow laws that oppress and destroy.

“ Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s” Jesus said that.

We should pay our tribute in silver to the emperor, but we need not praise him. We should send in our taxes when they are demanded, but we should never offer up our children to be sacrificed, for they belong to the One who has created them.


Politics is a game, a production. Star if you want. It is not all bad, I suppose. But once again, you-know-who is itching to take back his seat in the director’s chair; and you can be sure he intends to run the show his way. Let’s be careful not to knock ourselves silly banging our heads on the scenery.

The It thrives on our exhaustion and confusion. Politics, in all its manifestations, is probably our most exhausting invention. It is the game most easily infiltrated by the Force that lives through the love of money and power.


Four Corners February 2001







Y2K


Some friends and I spent New Year’s Eve 1999 in North Carolina, where they were housesitting a mountain home near the Appalachian Trail. We had lots of stockpiled rice and beans and such. We didn’t spend a lot of money getting ready, and we ate most of our stockpile over the next few months.

As 2000 arrived and the technological meltdown failed to materialize, we stepped out on their porch in a deep, dark night. An amazing shooting star burned across the heaven, a portent for us all perhaps, though I do not know anyone’s wishes but my own.

There was quite a build-up about Y2K and a sort of letdown when the Machine marched right on unimpeded. In the months that followed that hype, I began to smell something fishy about the whole thing. After my “awakening” this last July and August, I tried to put the Y2K experience in the perspective of the Construct; and I do have some ideas about the whole mess.


It feels like the whole thing was a put-on. I can’t say with any certainty whether it was men or machines that were putting us on. The only way I have of judging the intentions behind the Y2K experience is to look at the effects. What was accomplished? Let’s take a look.

It embarrassed a lot of people who stockpiled and prepared. There was probably quite a backlash against such precautions in the homes of America starting January 1st, 2000.

It reinforced faith in the technological infrastructure. It did not fail then. How could it ever fail? Those who questioned this Technology’s sustainability became out of fashion. This is all about faith, yes?

It gave a pretext for billions of dollars worth of upgrades and upkeeps to take place in the world computer system. The machine most certainly came out of the experience stronger and smarter.

By giving a date and a “problem to watch out for” in the face of general millennial fears, it provided a tension point and a release valve for the collective consciousness. By fixing an arbitrary date, and then having that deadline pass without incident, the consciousness of a Time of Judgment (which is likely written in our blood) was effectively contained, channeled and limited. It was back to business as usual. In a way, it served as a rebuke for all “ prophets of doom”.

So, Y2K’s passing leaves a people less prepared than ever for survival, a computer system stronger than before; and an excuse not to associate or listen to “doomsayers”, who can be dismissed as nuts and are obviously not aware our “Destiny” cannot be stopped. Of course, the strangest thing about Y2K was that nothing happened. The lights stayed on even in Romania and the Congo. Why such a big deal over nothing?

The Y2K thing smells funny. But in a Universe with so many powerful forces and variables at work, on this point I am left with only theories. Or, more specifically, a theory; the Universal Conspiracy Theory. Using its physical and metaphysical logic, I would say that the whole non-event may have worked on many levels nearly perfectly.

Four Corners February 2001






Food

Did we really have to lace everything with hormones?

Did we really have to cram all those animals together, engineered and chemically altered; born, raised, and killed in science fiction slaughterhouses?

Did we really have to reengineer corn, of all things? And the corn farmer still can’t make a living.

Did we have to put everything in plastic, the petroleum jug of processed death around the milk and water and our baby bottles? Plastic contains endocrine disrupters that affect our hormones.

We are becoming sexually mature too early. We are becoming insane too frequently. We are getting fat. Everywhere in America, flesh crammed into skin.

Doritos, burritos, gorditas, double bacon cheeseburgers with supersize fries and thirstbusting 44 ounces of carbonated syrup, stuffed crust pizza, chicken niblets. The $6. 99 buffet at the Golden Trough.

“ Get me to the vomitorium,” he cried. “ I just can’t eat anymore.”

And sugar, sugar in everything. Sugar was the harvest of the slaves, worked to death in the malarial cane fields of the New World. Exile in Babylon. The taste of bondage in our cocoa puffs.

And the oil. Fry it up. The grease. Like the oil in the water and the sky, there’s oil in our blood. Great globs of congealing glop.

But you gotta eat.

What on earth is in the bread? My loaf here has 30 ingredients. My favorites are L-Cysteine and Alpha Amylase. Preserved, conditioned. Just like us. Ready for consumption.

And the pesticides and the herbicides and the genocides. Isn’t it all one ironically awful thing? Mixing genes.

“ It is not what goes in a man’s mouth, but what comes out that profanes it,” Jesus said.

Jesus never ate a McRib sandwich.

And the biotech and the Great Agricultural Consolidation. Agri-business. Drive everyone out and buy them up. Pretty soon these low prices that destroyed the farmers will be history, and the Machine can charge whatever it wants for a loaf of bread, including your freedom.

We are being fattened. One thing entertains and sells and distributes and divides and poisons and manipulates and subjugates. The It. It is the one-stop nightmare selling itself as our best friend.

The water. Why just poison it? Wrap it in plastic and sell it to us. We could put “happy powder” in it. Can’t we all just get along? Wow wee, we’re living now. In the most insane experiment ever conceived.

I don’t get too depressed about it. I eat when I’m hungry, drink when I’m dry.

They say you are what you eat. I hope not. I’ll cling to what Jesus said and pray this old body and mind are tough enough to deal with all this crap.

This is our very sustenance we’re talking about, and it’s riddled with the evidence of a conspiracy of a cruel intelligence. What does the evidence suggest it wants? Fat, nutty slaves.

“ Supersize them!”, it cries.





Reality TV

The rise in “Reality TV” (which the very name is either a joke or a lie) is to prepare us for a new order in the Construct. Of course, television itself is a preparation, the training wheels of the beast, serving in the establishment of and belief in an alternate reality-- a reality at odds with an ancient truth.

Supposedly 99 percent of American households own a television. Most have more than one. I can barely stand to watch it anymore, but I’d be a hypocrite to say I like nothing about it. I enjoy “The Simpsons”, football, and the occasional country music video, with the latest pretty little thing from Arkansas all tramped up for the cameras. I watch the news here every once in a while (I am a guest in someone else’s house and they own a TV). I watch the news more frequently when there are major troop movements. The Consolidation is now occurring so rapidly that the entire News Structure is starting to look suspiciously like a single propaganda and social control mechanism. It’s as if we woke up one day and found we were watching PRAVDA TV. Oh well, it’s already here. I wish it would hold off just a little while, but such is life.

So I do watch a little TV when I’m around one. International developments, the Construct’s new machines, the latest insult to the Bill of Rights, the endless money talk, wired-in products for the e-man on the go, the hot and saucy skin show and all the other inevitable by-products of ITs tedious commercial for itself. Most days, I don’t watch any TV. When I do, my mind drips with sarcasm, cynicism and loathing. I feel these widely shared emotions are appropriate responses to TV. What does not seem to be widely shared is the ability to get away from the Box.

Just before I left Nashville, I was tuning in to the first episodes of what is called “Survivor”, the runaway television hit of the shipwrecked generation. Until I left on July 11th, I hadn’t missed an episode. I missed every episode after that. It wasn’t until December that I actually sat down and watched more than brief moments of TV. My viewing habits are sparse to non-existent. I did catch an episode of the new “ Survivor II- Australian Outback” a week ago. By all appearances, it is cut from the same cloth as its predecessor. Not Quite Reality TV. The unique thing about the Survivor series is its brazenness, though even it pales against a show I saw at my sister’s house called “Temptation Island”.

What are the lessons of Survivor?

The last survivor standing wins big money.

Trust no one.

Form unholy alliances based on deceit.

Being watched on TV is some kind of reward in and of itself.


It seems we should ask ourselves why we are being encouraged so strongly to take part in this shallow cult of celebrity, a ritual once reserved for those who either pursued it their whole lives, or whose exceptional talents or positions made it inevitable. Survivor is but one of many “Reality” shows. A quick scan of the channels reveals many other genres.

Some of the more interesting ones are the “Weird or Amusing Things Caught on Video” shows; the “Law Enforcement on Video” shows; the “ Air your Dirty Laundry in Front of a Live Audience” shows; the “ Sensitively Produced Turn your Sad Story or Crime Trauma Into an Episode of a Newsmagazine” shows, the “compete for stardom or affection” shows and the

“ Nauseating Collage of ‘look I’m on TV stuff’ that we don’t bother to watch long enough to categorize” shows. And then there’s “Temptation Island”, where couples go to be tempted by other loose seducers.

I can’t wait to pop the rhetorical question at the TV Philosophy Convention:

“ Don’t we all really live on Temptation Island?”

Well, no, I guess we don’t. But I digress.

As I mentioned before in the chapters that concerned Storytelling, people want to be in the Story. Since the Story now comes from television, it makes sense that people want to be on television. This desire to participate in the story that television tells mimics the eternal impulse to make a difference in the Real Story (or life, or history- however you wish to say it)

People are obviously prepared to expose all sorts of things about themselves, throwing their privacy to the wind, just to be seen on TV. This sort of exhibitionism would have been unimaginable just a couple of generations ago. But the TV is not flattering to the average person. When folks are unskilled at acting, it becomes creepily obvious when they are over-emoting for the cameras . When folks are desperate for attention, they can also let their guard down and expose part of themselves, either a trait or a past experience, which it might be healthier for them not to reveal to Montel Williams or Oprah Winfrey and to millions of TV viewers- most of whom couldn’t care less anyway.

One of the results of Reality TV is the creation of a group of real people who, because they are willing to be exposed on the unreal machine, become a laughingstock to the rest of us. These people made a choice about appearing on TV, but many of them might not have realized how the machine would present them.

Clue Number 163 about the Color Box Machine: When it tells the story, how does it present average human beings?

Also, as we laugh at the sins and foibles of the Real TV stars, we are painfully reminded of how poorly we ourselves might fare under such scrutiny.

Clue Number 164 about the Color Box Machine: It loves to throw our sins in our faces. It wants us to live in our sins and “faults”. It wants us to confront them publicly as if they are the story. This has led to a kind of collective insecurity. We laugh nervously at the circumstances surrounding the impeachment of our former president, hoping in our hearts no one ever hears the testimony of those who know what we have done in the long, dark shadows of our own lives.

In the grand equalization of the media machine, there is no place for such a thing as privacy. Its constant quest to uncover the private mistakes and troubles of others simultaneously reminds us of our own hidden faults and past sins. This is no small matter, for the end result is the impression that there is no forgiveness.

Clue Number 101 about the Color Box Machine. It does not forgive.

All this leads to my most pressing point about Reality TV. It has to do with one of those kinds of “Reality” shows I mentioned before- the “ Law Enforcement Video “ shows. The stars of these shows did not ask to be on TV, but since they were caught in the act of sinning, or were unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity of a sin, they have no choice in the matter.

This goes to the heart of the intent of the Construct, with all its Real TV. You had better get used to being on television, or more specifically, you had better get used to the idea that you are being watched. Some people love that idea. Others abhor it. But as the Construct tightens its grip here in the next few years, we’ll either have to accept it or oppose it.

The Construct is watching you. If you are not careful, the Construct can let everyone watch you. Our greatest fear is the exposure of our secret sins.

Clue Number 666 about the Color Box Machine: It thrives on fear and desire.

( Back to Temptation Island!)

This is a social control mechanism. From the eyes in the sky to the video cameras everywhere to the web cams to the miniature cameras to Survivor and The Real World, the Machine is taunting us with our desire to be important and then punishing us for our vulnerability, our humanity.

“ Let he who is without sin cast the first stone at the screen,” it might as well be saying. All others must behave- or else your sins will be the next show.

This is not just Big Brother. This is the Unforgivable It. It’s got Its eyes on a bigger prize than the simple tyranny of 1984. It wants more than lip-service obedience. It could have that anytime, anyplace. It wants instead to run the whole show, including the one inside of you.

It attempts to mimic the Creator’s omniscience. But our Creator, though He sees all, does not threaten us with that power. He does not threaten to expose us before our fellows, to take away our privacy. He doesn’t cajole us into behaving as He sees fit by exposing us to public viewing.

Clue Number One about the Color Box Machine: It acts in the Opposite manner as our Creator.

Sure we are titillated by sin. Sure it sells. Sure it’s also us, and not just IT. Of course it’s all woven together. But either you take a look at what is going on or you don’t- both within you and without you. Remember that it’s not just the Machine that watches this sideshow, but the Creator God. He made the Universe, and His is the real story.

Four Corners February 2001





Screaming “Fire” in a Crowded Theater

Fair enough. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. That everyone includes me. I should have the right to express whatever I want to say. It says this in the very beginning of the Bill of Rights. I have the right to free speech, don’t I? Especially when it concerns important issues of the day.

But what if one questions the day itself? When one calls a moment in time a Day of Reckoning instead of a day of promise? Does one help create a future when one conceives of and talks about it? What if he says this vision came not from his imagination, but instead appeared in him planted by God Himself? What if that vision is a threat to order, even if it is not intended as such? Is that proper grounds to deny free speech, if it is just some nut trying to get folks worked up?

Some people might accuse that man of yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. That is the currently acknowledged limit of free speech. It is considered attempted murder, if the man knows there is indeed no fire.

I think this work is something different. I see it as standing outside a theater, watching loved ones buying tickets for the show and filing in. All of a sudden, I see some goons with a gas can and matches lurking in the alley. I then yell:

“ Watch out! It looks like they’re going to burn the movie house down!”

That is a different statement. It allows for a general reflection on the situation and a sense of choice for the moviegoers. Perhaps a few brave men might even go back to the alley with me and see what those fellows are up to.

But the lines between the two scenarios are blurred when we are told that if everybody doesn’t agree to watch the movie, the whole world’s going to fall apart. What is the right thing to do then? I say it is to tell the truth. Any other way just wouldn’t be right.

Such is the foundation of the house of cards. If I thought we were in store for old-fashioned tyranny, I might not open my mouth. This blood has survived many tyrants, after all. But this is different. The theater is crowded and the movie they want to show never ends. It’s hell, Hollywood style, in 2-D.


February 2001





Grandmother


A friend of mine told me the story.


She is another Navajo Grandmother, she lives on the Big Mountain;

It’s where they get the coal for the fires

That power the street lights and the servers and the slot machines.

Many people come to hear her,

For she is something of a prophetess, a defender of faith.

Big money wants the mountain.

She defends the Creation against the It.


She was approached by the daughter of an oil company;

At a party of sorts for the grandmother; And though she might not care for such things;

She speaks to the people, that they might hear, and care

To try and stop the sacrilege, the dark sacrifice.

The oil heiress loved her presence and wanted to help.

She saw something she wanted to soothe, even if it was only in herself.

The heiress came up to the grandmother;

And she took her by the hand.

She asked “ Is there anything I could do for you? Is there any way

I can make your life easier?

Is there anything that you want?”

The Navajo Grandmother could have asked for almost anything

And the young woman would have given her it to her.

Money, a new truck, a new house.

“ Is there anything that you want?”

Grandmother held the woman’s hands and spoke her heart.

“ To be left alone on the land,” she said.

If that young woman could have given Grandmother what she wanted,

There wouldn’t be such sadness

Up on Big Mountain,

The Mountain that she loves.

Sand 5-24-01










Section Three: St. John’s Canyon





They shall not hurt or destroy

In all my holy mountain;

For the earth shall be full of the

Knowledge of the Lord

As the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 11





I wrote this section of the book while on a two week backpacking sojourn in the San Juan Canyon region of the Four Corners. The names I gave to the canyons were ones I came up with myself.






What my Fire Says Tonight


I’ve got lots of wood--enough I think. Enough to burn through the storm

The sky has promised.

Dry wood, desert wood…easily ignited. Makes the rock face glow.

I am underneath an overhang of rock

( a giant split boulder--thousands of tons).

I can see to write by the fire’s glow; is it orange or yellow-this color like the sun?

A gift to the human race; the light in the night.

Around me unfathomable darkness;

Shadow landscapes more felt than seen.

Beside me my water, my bible, my fire.

I wish to make you speak, old fire.

I need to put you into words (they are all I have, aren’t they?)

But your voice is not a voice;

It is a flapping of a sheet in the wind, or thunder with a crackle and a hiss;

Not quite a song (though I just heard a lonely goose honk in the dark).



What do I owe you, fire?

Almost everything? Is the sun fire too?

It surely burns and is surely hot. But what does it consume?

Forget the science. How does it not burn up?

Almost eternal.

I know only this fire in the dark that demands dead wood and my attention.

It burns death into ashes (so different than the sun).

And by knowing that death burns;

I stake a claim in the darkness.

Man can see by night.

He can keep warm in the storm

In the bosom of the earth setting fire

To the skeletons of life.


And they say that from this fire came

The great estrangement.

We were beasts no more or at least we took dominion.

Let us see the tiger build a fire

(or the monkey or the mammoth!)

You say that they don’t need them.

Exactly.

Man needs a fire (as much as he needs a maiden) to be the kind of man we recognize.

In the fire is the knowledge of death, but the fire will not speak it for us.

It is our advantage and our curse. We are always setting fires. It made us men.

It is like a gift. Was it there in Eden?

A path quicker than the apple to sure obliteration.



Still we say we make fires. Though all we do is turn the key, strike the match,

Rub the sticks or beat the stones.

Fire is not ours to make; but still I claim I am a firemaker.

This fire here tonight promises to burn hot and bright as long as I feed it.

It is my friend in the night.

3-5-01 Bird Canyon




A couple more fires

First fire:

My fire is small. I keep it that way. I don’t have the space under this rock or enough wood to make it big. We don’t need big fires to stay warm. We are used to small fires and we gather close. Fire is our connection to the magic. Like our Creator, we call forth light in the dark and then tell a story around it.

That story is not just a tragedy. It has also been a triumph ( and a comedy and all else).

We got to taste it, didn’t we? The hint of what it must be like for the One who gave us the fire and the story. But the One has promised us a fire next time, because our fire does not belong to us anymore. We think we are at the mercy of the darkness now. It has no mercy. The natural progression of knowledge and story and fire- brilliant, mysterious and cruelly simple.

Venus shimmers through the clouds. Will it rain tomorrow? Snow?

I have a good pile of wood stored beneath the rock. I’m going to watch the fire and then go to sleep.



New cave- new fire:

There was an old dead pinon tree in the dry wash a few hundred yards from camp. I saw it today on the way back from Bird Canyon. Good firewood. I knocked off an armful and brought it home. I’m in a better cave now, one that lets me lay down by the fire, with nice light sandstone for roof and walls. It reflects the fire nicely. Bright enough to write by, barely. Pinon Pine burns clean and hot; not too smoky. It smells good too. What a find! I had a good day. God is watching out for me. Ravens come check me out during the day, and they squawk at me. I saw a bat in the daylight today getting bugs above a beautiful waterhole where I was annoying the canyon wildlife with my newfound love for playing the flute I got at a yard sale in New Mexico.

This is a nice fire. A clean burn. There is a storm in the west moving in. I’m in a cave with a fire, some food and water and my cigarettes. Life really is good. Real life is particularly nice. It’s better than the simulated experience, at least for me- and my view is the only one I know.

Me like good fire.

Bird Canyon



The Cross and The Sphere

The sphere

The Cross. 4 directions. 4 dimensions. 4 Powers.

The vertical line: towards God. The connection to spirit, spirituality, the One, to the sky, the way.

The horizontal line: nature, the material plane, man, earth, the physical.

The circle: the whole, the womb, earth, shape of the universe, the cyclical, perfection, the eternal, nothingness, totality, the center of the eye.

The sphere is where we live.

The horizontal line is what we see.

The vertical line is the one, the ladder to heaven and hell

The Cross in the Sphere:

God has come to earth in material flesh and completed the sphere.

Where spiritual and physical connect is the center. The God’s eye, where Jesus’ heart was. Love and Mercy. All sides of the circle connected at once; not round and round but instantly connected and aware. The center connects them.

Bird Canyon

March




The Abomination That Makes Desolate


“ When you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be ( let the reader understand) then… flee to the mountains.”

-Jesus / Mark 13

The Abomination that makes Desolate is the climax of the Great Consolidation. It is that which desecrates what is holy so completely that God must step in and end the story, lest none survive to do His will. It is a tyranny of blasphemy against Creation and against the Creator. It represents the Final Form of Tyranny, the drawing of the net.

It is a cyclical warning, repeated throughout history-- bearing as much truth in ages past as it does today. Each abomination leads to the next. As the It gains power and changes shape, it pushes God farther, taunts God more indecently, and assaults His Creation more insidiously so that It might hurt God.

A few examples of desolating sacrileges:

The siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. The gory, sporting pseudo-scientific Roman Tyranny. The Inquisition. Pizarro . The Aztecs. The slave trade. Wounded Knee and the Trail of Tears. Auschwitz. Stalinism. Atomic Missiles.The assault on Mother Earth.

The great crimes against our children.

It is also seen in the untold numbers of attacks on innocence and Creation that occur every day throughout the earth in the service of the Power of the It, no matter who performs them. These abominations prepare us for the eventuality that the force behind them grows in its boldness as it grows in history. Our knowledge of Story suggests the existence of a climax. That’s the only kind of story we know; good vs. evil, heroes and villains- with a final showdown at the not-so-okay corral.

The Final Abomination arrives at the end of the story. Its desolation is total. An assault on all of Creation. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the very essence of life and free will.

The Consolidated wireless realm of the Self-reproducing machine. The devourer of soul. Where is the heart of this beast? Where it ought not to be. In us, around us, above us in the skies. Surely it will come up with more mind-blowing insults before It is destroyed. Watch for the Abomination nearest you.

The Construct paves the way, the Consolidation unifies and the Abomination desolates.

Let us look and see Its vicious illusions, Its unbearable future.

Then let us turn and face the sun, the stars, the streams and seas, the mountains and trees, the birds, the animals, the faces of the children and those we love. Nothing is worth the guilt of turning them over to the beast. Nothing!

Pray to God to deliver us from evil.

Bird Canyon March 2001







The Great Coincidence (or proof of the active God that every child should know)




I’m thinking that there is no such a thing as coincidence.

All things seem to be a message. Coincidences are a message that this is not a random Universe. Maybe we need to be reminded of this regularly, whether we take heed or not.

Some folks we already recognize the minute we meet them. The nature of Time, of blood memory, of intuition, place and circumstance are all tied together.

These things are telling us God exists and is active. They also tell us God has a great sense of humor (better than the Darkness’ sense of humor, though It also fashions Itself a comedian). All time conspires to tell and reinforce a story. It tells us that all is One, impossible to separate. Time tells us that the One is actively experiencing the story He has created.

In my opinion, The greatest coincidence (besides our very existence-which is unlikely enough) has to do with The Light. The light is our surest proof of God’s power, the first creation that God called good. The greatest coincidence is made even more wonderful by the fact that few mention it, though virtually everyone recognizes it with an approving smile once it is brought to their attention.

What are the two great signs to the human race? Unchangeable signs that still are in constant motion?

The sun and the moon. They are of such importance that our very nature requires them.

The sun and the moon both come up in the east and go down in the west. One gives light by day, another by night. Without the sun, we could not live. Without the moon, we would not be who we are. It is crucial to our understanding of time, mysticism and practical living.

So what’s the big coincidence?

They are the same size in the sky. They seem to us to be the same size.

Of course, the sun is unbelievably massive, far bigger than the moon. But they are placed in the Universe in such a way that they appear to us as the same size. The sun is 93 million miles away, the moon around a quarter million. Yet it is as if they had been precisely proportioned and placed to perfect an illusion of symmetry. So much so that when the moon moves in front of the sun during an eclipse, it covers 100% of the sun’s disk, leaving itself surrounded by nothing but the sun’s brilliant corona. The sun is around 400 times larger than the moon, but is also 400 times farther away.

Of course, there is no place else in the solar system remotely like this arrangement. When one considers it, it becomes difficult to imagine anyplace else in the Universe with such a perfect set-up for such a perfect planet, and the coincidence does not stop there.

The moon always keeps the same face to us, through a remarkable coordination of its revolutions around the earth and its own rotation known as tidal locking. The practical results are plain to everyone. We see only one side of the moon. One face staring back.

Why would God have made it this way? I see one possible answer: So that we would believe and have faith. By having the moon’s rotation hidden from us, we were unburdened by the mechanics of the mystery of the light by day and the light by night. They came up and went down. Thus, for untold millennia, we were untroubled by what would’ve been a strange paradox of a spinning planet hurtling through space surrounded by a spinning moon. The Lights were freed to be more than their motion. They became worshipped, wondered on. Our faith in God was allowed to grow by this configuration.

We were also intended to find out the truth about their motions one day. At that point, we wondered anew at this incredible arrangement. It is even stranger to contemplate now, after all the science. Why is the Great Coincidence not part of our primary education? Because it is proof of the active God. Proof that this place is home to a story, that this earth is a stage, that none of this is an accident.

The sun is the same size as the moon in the sky. It is proof of an active God. It is proof that the story is real.

Bird Canyon March 2001





What I Became, What we Became

I became desire and duty, and I was a lonely man-- a prisoner of my orbit, never at home anywhere. The darkness found a place to grow in me. It took root in a child’s loneliness, grew in his dreams of stardom, and flowered in his desperation.

I became shadow man-- the silhouette of being. I became the place where everything that happened and everyone I met drifted into a singular fog of meaninglessness unless they offered me some appeasement of my desires or tempted me into new ones. But my desires were so much greater than my reality. Did I really want the starlet on the screen? Or the image of the starlet? Whose movie show is it where frustration is the plot?

I became crazy man. Anxiety man. Drunk man. Loser man. Empty man. Distracted man. Quitter man. Angry man.

I have no one to blame but myself. But once I did blame you and them and everybody but It.

How does one know when they become a man or a woman? Once there were rituals, sacred interactions which testified that we had really grown up. Now that Hollywood tells the story, men have become money studs. Women have become passion toys. There is an assault on innocence and a growing singularity of experience.

Boys are not robots in the making.

Girls are not manufactured pleasure tools.

When the kind of society the Construct offers us is thrust upon the people-- hatred (both outward and inward) is the inevitable result. Anger, frustration, and insanity as well.

Now we sell it to the world. It’s about being part of an Empire of Death founded on the emptiness of desire. Torn apart from our history, lied to at every turn, confused and bamboozled by the flashing lights of an insidious Machine. Why? It does not want men and women. Men and Women resist when they and their children’s lives are threatened; or when their freedom is taken away.

It wants us to belong to it. We have become accomplices in the destruction of our connection with reality, with nature, with life, with God. The first step is to see IT. The rest will come.

Nature is our example of free will in harmony. Modern society is an example of free will attempting to escape nature. There is violence in nature. Nearly always it is rational, functional and even graceful. There are exceptions, but that is not the point.

Humans have desired to escape the rougher side of nature, and our free will (being much more developed and precise than any other creatures) utilized logic to soften the edges of our violent pasts. But one of the results of this is the redirection of this violence into something more frightening, irrational and total. This we managed to do under the influence of the Opposition of God, the force of Darkness, the It. This force grew alongside us and in us and only now has a true body and mind outside of us- the Network.

Nature remains herself, although beleaguered and abused. Here in this canyon, she operates patiently and perfectly. She wastes no space and does not scrimp on beauty. Every bush is treated to the same chance for story as every coyote. It is life and death with a good view in the river of being. Nature works because nothing is afraid to live in nature.

Civilization fails when it is afraid to live in nature. The end result is an unnatural existence that grows more unnatural exponentially, our confusion being worked and increased by that which despises both us and nature, that which hates God Himself.

It must tighten the net quickly, or too many fish will get out. There is a flaw in the beast’s design. It must work swiftly but also somewhat subtly. It races the clock against the will of God, against its inevitable exposure. But it has fear on its side. We fear discomfort more than tyranny. We fear hunger more than hell. And we fear angering the It, for we know its out there to destroy and punish those who dare to cross It.

The cruel tyrant. Speaking for myself, I am through with tiptoeing around It.

I love nature. The animals are wary, but they are not afraid to be themselves.

Our nature is to be dignified and honor the Creation. My nature is to fight the devil.


3-7-2001






What my Fire Says Tonight: two

Ancient trees so long dead

Burning hot

I’ve got a big fire and a big sky;

Venus so close

Jupiter and Saturn so nearly lined up.

The fire is our sun in the dark.

We become the star-makers.

Never to lose the ability, the will

To make light in the face of the darkness.

Our struggle is God’s struggle

Between the urge for freedom

And the prison freedom makes for itself;

Tied to the outcome of a choice

Even when we choose light and life.

He figured out what was good

And then put it to the test.

Does it work? Do we win?

He gave it to us-a fire in the void.




Guy-in-the-Hat Canyon

March 8, 2001




Fire and the Color Box




This is the old tension between light and dark-- the place where the story comes from and by whose flames we told our story.

Its guise has been grafted, imitated by the darkness; shining like the light we knew to be our friend- our gift. But it is the enemy masquerading as our comrade. We feel it by the stories it tells, preoccupied with death and desire, eager to wallow in our sins and shames.

It is like having a stranger at the campfire. At first he was kind of entertaining. But he’s been getting drunker and meaner as the night wears on. He’s making us edgy. He’s telling lies, to no one’s surprise.

Lying and lying and taking our money.

It was all too easy, looking back. To grab a hope that we would be truly unified by our child, technology. Now we watch that hope disappear like a mirage. We wanted to believe it was us in there. But we aren’t that.

Once we were held by the fire, now we are glued to the tube. But the story remains the same--light in the darkness; darkness around the light.



Guy in the Hat canyon
March 8 2001





I Don’t Want a Revolution

It just wouldn’t work.

The main reason is that any mass of men is seldom any more trustworthy than a tyrant, especially as they rush to install a new tyranny. Power is power. Worldly power corrupts. Violence poisons.

Defending oneself is another matter; but that is an individual decision in a life-or-death situation, not the deliberate overthrow of one system or another by violent means.

Another important point is that the toppling of “the system” by force would bring about the kind of worldwide economic and social catastrophe that no sane person could possibly want. At this point in history, revolution is insanity. It’s as insane as the Construct Itself.

There is no worldly solution for the great struggle between the principalities of light and dark. It’s not the way the story goes. There are, however, ways to behave that ally yourself with one force or the other. That is the choice of the created, blessed with free will.

To take up arms and slaughter innocents is the work of the It, the darkness, whatever ideology is being espoused.

Of course, Joshua and David did their share of slaughtering in the Bible-- under orders from God, no less. But that’s the way it was back then, in the early pages of an evolving story. Joshua and David lived in different times. We live in the latter days, the time to get right with God.

Somewhere the story shifted, and the New Testament shows the Truth on Trial in an Empire that is essentially revolution-proof. That is the story where we live today (there were revolutions over the ages, but the empire eventually managed to corrupt them all). This is not to say that people should go meekly to their slaughter- not at all. My point is rather that the immediate overthrow of Caesar’s rule was not why Jesus began his ministry. Many of his disciples and followers (and enemies) expected him to lead an insurrection and re-establish Israel’s sovereignty. But that wasn’t why he came. Rather it was the overthrow of the Empire in our hearts. The destruction of the tyrant within.

That is the only righteous place to start. Worldly strategies are dangerous, and by nature, political. There is no political solution. It is every soul on their knees to pray and then on their feet, always on guard against the expanding shadow.

Guy in the Hat Canyon--2001






God is Brave

God is brave and He rewards bravery, even in what appears to be a losing cause.

God is brave to write this story inside Himself; risking so much, feeling so much pain. He must feel everything that we do.

God is brave to create, to fall in love with that which asserted free will in that Creation, to let us stay free as long as we could, so that the Creation could live rich, full lives inside His love.

He knew the Darkness that walks beside Freedom, that slithers upon the Tree of Knowledge. But He loved us so much that He gave it to us to so we could try and cope with it, to feel more deeply, to love more strongly.

When something we love is threatened, don’t we cling to it tighter? This life, these people, these hills, this soul?

We should give thanks to God for His bravery. Be brave in Him.

So much depends upon this. Much is expected of him to whom much is given. Jesus said that.

Bird Canyon 2001





The Bird Clan and the Bomber

I was reflecting on all the bird stuff around these particular canyons; petroglyphs on the rocks drawn by ancient Indians of birds and men with birds for heads. Across the canyon there is a massive rock perched on the cliff that is shaped just like the head of a bird.

Last night at twilight, I heard a raven frantically calling for his mate (I guess it was a he). He was high up in the cliffs behind me. At one point another raven approached squawking. Perhaps she had also been separated from her partner. But you could hear their voices change the moment that they simultaneously realized that they did not know each other. She turned around in mid-air and flew back. The lonely raven in the cliffs started calling even harder and more frantically as the darkness began to settle. For nearly ten minutes, I wondered if the noisy raven would ever stop his cries. Finally, from a distance (perhaps a half mile or more), I heard the squawk of an approaching raven. She called a few times, he answered in relief, and then all was silent as she flew in. I could hear only the flapping of her wings in all that great space. She crossed this desolate canyon and lighted upon the ledge far above me next to her mate. There they would spend the night together, nesting in the rocks. It made me happy and a little sad.


Today I was thinking about an old friend of mine who is quite sick with what seems to be a terminal illness. I was thinking that he must be of the Bird Clan. He can hoot up an owl or talk to ravens with the best of them. He was an amazing rock climber when he was healthy. He was one of the best in the world at it. Always trying to get way up high, suspended in the air.

I found birdman pictures at this old hidden waterhole in Bird Canyon the other day. It was a lonely, beautiful spot where outcasts or hunters went for solitude or hopes of a meal. These ancient people took the time to peck out lovely, mysterious figures that have lasted a thousand years. They blend into the rock like they are part of it, and yet also stand in contrast against nature.

These were members of the Bird Clan, the Hopi might say. This was a canyon of the Bird Clan. That’s why there is so much bird art here.

I thought about my friend and realized that if I could ask God one thing for him, I would pray that He would allow my friend when he dies to see what it is like to be a bird. For just one moment in time, if nothing else (for what’s the difference in eternity between a moment and forever?) He would be happier as a big bird, like a raven or an eagle. It might compensate him for the pain he’s endured down here, I think. I know he’d love it, and I’m sure God knows that too.

Just as I was completing this thought with a smile, the entire canyon shook with a roar. I jumped up and turned around in time to see a black fighter jet cruising at eye level through the river canyon less than a half mile away. I was shaken. I haven’t seen anybody in days, and my first human company is a fighter jet! I thought it was going to knock the rocks off the canyon walls, it was so noisy.

But, in a moment, it was all over, and the jet roared away, leaving behind a deep, slow rumble in the canyon walls. I laughed at that Big Black Bird of Death. I oppose its membership in the Bird Clan. You’ll see those fighter jets down here every now and then, though the nearest air force base is hundreds of miles away. They are doubtless training for some Big Desert War, itchy fingers massaging their cruise missile triggers. It’s just a machine, a spooky show. It doesn’t scare me.

I want real wings and eyes that see like a hawk or a buzzard, and I want my mate to come home before it gets dark and roost with me in the perfect cliffs. And I want to soar so bad, it hurts. Not in a machine or attached to some tarp, but just me and my body on the wind in the sky. Lord I would dance with all my friends and sing all day like a great cry of relief because I would have come home to my dream.

Perhaps this life, this body, is all we ever know of living.

Perhaps what you want most way down deep is what eternity provides, as it weaves its impossible tapestry of souls and Times. Squawk!


Bird Canyon 2001






The Mark of the Beast

We should not think it is going to be so easy to spot that someone’s going to have a marking station and a big rubber stamp that says 666, with colors for the kids.

666 is literal, but the mark is elusive. The number is likely hidden within the mark. Even those who give out the mark will probably be unaware of its significance, thus the warning from John:

“ This calls for wisdom; let him who has understanding reckon the number.”

We need to have an ability to refuse the mark, and I think we will have such an ability. It is written that we will.

But this mark almost certainly occurs as a means of putting us under the power that is being shaped inside the International Computer Network. It is the only way such an undertaking could be accomplished, and the signs all point to tyranny as the end result of the digital revolution, regardless of how one views Biblical Prophecy.

It also knows that some people are beginning to figure this out and that is why the pace is quickening. Nobody’s going to tell you: “ Hey, you better take this Mark of the Beast, buddy!” It will initially occur by deceit, and will only later be enforced with earthly threats, extortion, bribery and otherworldly terror.

But if we cling to the Tree, if we hold on to God, he will give us a greater strength than any trumped-up liar could wield. We will have the strength of the Creator of the Universe.

Bird Canyon March 2001


Fire Revisited

It was the light for the warrior’s tales of bravery, of great adventures. It was the light and fuel for the hunter’s triumph, as he returned from the wild.

It was the light for the prophetess’ trance; as she moved in the spirit of the One Truth.

It was the light for the newborn and its mother. The fire welcomed the baby into the world. Such a different glow than the hospitals!

It was the light for the songs.

It was the light for the dances.

It was the light for the Cowboys and the Indians and the Jews and Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and Africans and Polynesians and Siberians and all their families. If I could only see my family around a fire once again!

It was the light for the healer and the shaman.

It was the light for the story. The light itself is magic and cannot be replaced or duplicated. It is warm and real and has to be tended to and nurtured and watched out for. From it came light, warmth and a way to cook food. Just like the sun, our sweet, tempestuous fire. A sun you can look at. The children stared into the coals for hours and listened to the stories their own people told, and they dreamed of the day they would be grown and of all the stories they would tell around the fire.

It is the candles in the church. The pot-bellied stove. The cook-out. The torchlight march. The wildfire. The tribe in a circle with a fire in the center. Don’t tell me it didn’t mean anything. Tell yourself if it makes you feel better. But you know, don’t you?

Things have gotten awfully strange. I get sad in my blood. I have been here before. I have seen IT before. Its cruelty and deceit do not surprise me; only its magnitude, the brilliance of ITs design.

To try and make itself the Keeper of the Fire. IT has become almost poetic in its hostility towards man and God.


Guy in the Hat Canyon—March 2001





From Camp Diary

The Big Time

I have no way of knowing if this is the best I can do. I only know that this is what I’ve done. This is what I’ve said. I write fast and don’t think much as my pen crosses the paper. I look down and see words. Is that me? Did it come from somewhere else? I wish someone could tell me, if they knew, where the one begins and the other ends. All I have are moments, here and then gone and a head full of memories and a blood full of life and love and sorrow and laughter. Can I take that and shine it up, give it that sleek millennial sheen of ironic arrogance and studied professionalism that proves I can make the Big Time? Hah! The Big Time!

I’ve seen big time. It howls in storm and silence through canyons beyond my scope of reckoning, down doorways into spirit realms no living man may visit. From there trickle songs and rhythms that soothe my tired heart. What have I got left? One last mad vision. God found me crazy enough to cry out against the tyrant. I say God is with me. How would anyone know if I am mad or not? He is with me now and works his will, and I have made a vow to God, something I cannot take lightly. But the vow I made with my heart this time around I might have made in my blood a thousand years ago. I do not know I. It is all one vow, one dream, one story, one time, One God.


Guy in the Hat Canyon





Prophecy

Prophecy is essential to the religions of Abraham. They are founded by God through prophets, and prophecy sustains them. Yet few ever believe a prophet in his lifetime. Only his death ensures his immortality. A fitting riddle, yes?

The greatest prophets tell us about truth in life by insisting there is a larger truth. These truths are intertwined. Likewise, the prophecies do not die with the prophet or even with his generation, but live on in endless significance for those who believe upon them. They cycle back through time as history repeats circumstances.

There is no true prophecy that is dead prophecy. There is no existing true prophecy that is not somehow relevant. Ezekiel may have been referring to a certain peculiar set of circumstances in a historical moment, but the very existence in our Bible (that book laying around the hotel room or at Grandma’s house) of his prophecies is a message from God that there is present relevance to our situation in the prophet’s words.

There is also much that is irrelevant: narrative play and specific geographical contexts. How to tell the difference between the relevant and the irrelevant?

“ I took an untrodden path once where the swift don’t win the race;

It goes to the worthy who can divide the word of truth.”

I and I ---Bob Dylan

One must read prophecy with an ear to hear the truth, the message. Seek and you shall find. Not a very scientific approach. Nothing airtight about it. Prone to disastrous misinterpretations, of course. But so is life.

Guy in the Hat Canyon





Smoking and Firefighting

Take a break from breathing smoke and go light up a cigarette. Sounds nuts, but that’s what we did. We’d crouch over a burning hole with a Pulaski in our hands and a butt in our mouths beating some smoking root and wheezing in the high altitude. Now that’s living.

Lots of wildland firefighters smoke, even though it makes absolutely no sense (at first). But…here are poor men set loose to control the fire. They become like warriors. They already know about the fire. It burned them their whole lives. It also lit their way. By smoking at the fire, the firefighter primitively asserts his mastery of that elemental energy. He is elemental. He can control the fire. That is the kind of mad, rugged determination that must be tapped to beat back the fake fire of evil. We can deal with it. No biggie. We are in control. This is our planet, after all. We can calmly, assertively cut lines of containment around the devil’s fire. Like the smoking hero at the wildfire, we’ve been waiting our whole lives for this.

To the firefighter who smokes, it’s the proof of what he’s always asserted by his rebellious, unhealthy fire ritual. He is man forging a tenuous balance with rough elements.

Guy in the Hat Canyon





Solitude

Solitude reminds the soul of the quietest way to companionship.

There really is Spirit in the Universe.

It wasn’t just a hoax. Call it and it comes.

Our first friend. Our best friend.

It knows us as we know ourselves.

Sometimes we may have thought it was just us here

And then the noise of worry and fantasy came

And drove away our friend (the spirit)

From beside us. Drove it inward and outward- still there-

But hidden by us under heaps of days and scraps of duties and discarded

masks piled high as heaven,


It comes back in the music and in solitude when we finally, really break away.

It comes back in the embrace

And in the battle, in the ocean

And in her eyes for just a moment you grasp

The eye that sees both ways-- the circle.

Outside this tent, the rain has started again.

Maybe it won’t ever end and

I’ll be washed into the river with the rock and sand.

-Guy in the Hat Canyon







Sabbath March 10th


Dark clouds. Rained hard last night. Funny dreams.

What’s the point? What do I propose we do about all of this? I say to not get violent but there is a violent boogey-man at the door. That doesn’t seem to make sense.

I think that this is what I’m saying: Take one step back from the Consolidation; one small but very significant step. It could be any step you want or no step at all; that’s your business. My hope is that a lot of people will think seriously about getting the Internet out of their homes, and that at least some people would consider doing the same with the rest of the two-dimensional garbage as well.

It’s sort of a test. A provocation of a system that we assume by all rational standards to be voluntary, not mandatory.

I don’t want trouble. I want it to show its face. I know that sounds scary, but I bet it’s not half as scary as what the It has in mind for us. We have a chance right now, a last window of freedom. Use the computer network if you want. Get what you can out of it. Say what needs to be said across the world. Then get away from it. This time we live in right now is the flaw in the beast’s design. It won’t be like this long. This open forum is the risk the It took in extending this machine.

I seek to make the beast show its face. I do this so that people will be warned. People should be prepared to take a step back from the Machine. If folks step back and nothing happens, then nothing happens. They have the choice to freely take it or leave it, yes?

Our children should have the right to take it or leave it as well.

Children were rapidly indoctrinated into this binary reality by a heavily funded, very well organized system. I’m quite certain however, that many of them suspect as I do: there is something in there, in that box, in those wires- something in there our very life force would reject. Our brains sometimes tell us otherwise, because we are curious creatures and adaptable. We like to be amused, and sometimes it’s amusing.

Once again, it is like the drunken stranger at the campfire. We are not sure how nasty he’s going to get. He’s there until the night is late and he’s getting crazier and meaner, and finally some old boy gets the nerve to ask him to leave and then the stranger wants to fight.

Who is this stranger? And what happens when you awake as if from a dream and find out that this has turned into his campfire and these are his buddies that now surround you? Are you going to be able to stay? Beyond that fire’s glow is only wilderness.

Maybe we can slow it down for a moment. Real Easy; take a deep breath together. Get all misty with one another. Get some love flowing through this old human race. I don’t know. Maybe a Revival, with potato salad and watermelon and everybody could just be nice to each other and say thanks to the One that made them. Sounds all right to me.

I don’t think anybody needs to go around smashing toasters and computers as they Rage against the Machine. We can all be sensible even in the face of madness. Because it’s funny too; and we have been blessed to witness the final triumph of God in the story of earth.

San Juan Canyon





My Occupation

People ask me my occupation. Well, I’m still a migrant laborer; but I’ve put my resume in with the Prophet of Doom people. I should be hearing back from them soon.

All my portents of doom left me poor, tense and doomed.


“Dream on, little plowboy- Make believe you’re a cowboy;

And the lonely day won’t seem so long to you.”

-Gene Austin and His Lonesome Road

San Juan Canyon






Sunday March 11th


Boy! This place is socked in. I’m stuck in the tent as a steady ice mist drenches the land. Gloomy. But I am warm and safe, thank God. It’s my re-supply day but I don’t see any way I can get the eight miles back to my stockpile at San Juan Canyon without catching hypothermia. I just can’t leave in this weather. All my stuff would get soaking wet and then I’d have to try and get warm again in the rain, which could be snow by then if the temperature keeps dropping. So here I be. The fig bars are gone, but otherwise I’ve got lots of food, enough for several days. I’m smoking tobacco out of my potato pipe now that the papers are gone. Elegance. I love my life. I really do. There is no one out here biting my butt telling me what to do. I like being alone. I’m good company for myself. I play my flute (the same repetitive doo-doo-doo to the rhythm of the tinkling ice on the tent). I’ve been reading the Bible again (cover to cover, this time) and I’m up to Samuel. Lots of stories I never remembered are filling in some blanks for me.

I had a dream last night that I was being executed. There were three other men with me; our heads were shaved and we wore orange jumpsuits. We were in a gas chamber and the other men were crying. I said:

“ Lord, oh Lord. Into your hands I commit my spirit”

Then I felt calm and the gas came out through shower heads and the dream was over. I had other dreams last night too; more bizarre and less terminal.

The Spirit of the Lord calmed me late last night. I asked for it and I felt it come upon me. Surely I will see my God in the land of the living! Be of good courage. It’s all meant to be.

Maybe what I really want is a posthumous Pulitzer. I’ll be looking back from Sheol with a tear in my eye, yelling my acceptance speech into the face of a howling cosmic wind.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nighttime.

It rained and iced all day, but in the afternoon the sun came out and I dried what I could on the rocks. By sunset the clouds were rolling back in. I do hope the sun comes out tomorrow so I can get my re-supply done. I need fig bars and rolling papers!!

I played flute today and watched the colors behind my eyes change and shift with the tones of the music. Almost broke through. So close and then I screwed up by thinking about it.

I told myself today to stop worrying about everybody and everything. It doesn’t help anything to worry and fret and think about all the little mistakes I mad and misunderstandings I created as I stumbled my way through this life. Whatever will be, will be. I need to make time to write letters this week. But what can I say?

What do I say I’ve become? I’m rougher than I appear to be. My heart feels as rough as these rocks anymore. I’ve got to stay tough. I can’t handle any of the fake crap; any civilized posturing. I don’t know if I can stay anywhere anymore (Sigh)… writing from the rain forest in the stone.

Sand






Monday, March 12th—morning

The sun is out! I’m loading up and heading for San Juan Canyon. My zipper broke in the night on my sleeping bag. Oh, well. The birds are singing and I’m happy.

Love, Sand





From the Book of Isaiah


“Wash yourselves, make your hands clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; Defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.”

(Chapter 1)


“ Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures;… their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made…”

( Chapter 2)



“The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of his people;

‘ It is you who have devoured the vineyard, the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?’ says the Lord God of hosts.”

( Chapter 3)



“ Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness… Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!”

( Chapter 5)


“ And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘ Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘ Here am I! Send me.’ And he said,’ Go, and say to this people:

‘Hear and hear, but do not understand; see and see, but do not perceive.’ “

(Chapter 6)



“ Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they make the fatherless their prey! What will you do on the day of punishment, in the storm which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth?”

( Chapter 10)


“ Then he who saw cried: ‘ Upon a watchtower I stand, Oh Lord, continually by day, and at my posts I am stationed whole nights. And behold, here come riders, horsemen in pairs!’

And he answered, ‘ Fallen, fallen is Babylon; and all the images of her gods he has shattered to the ground.’ ”

(Chapter 21)


“ The earth shall be utterly laid waste and utterly despoiled;… the earth mourns and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants.”

( Chapter 24)


“ Whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message?… but by men of strange lips and with an alien tongue the Lord will speak to this people… ‘ behold, I am laying in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: He who believes will not be in haste. And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plummet; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies… then your covenant with death will be annulled…”

( Chapter 28)


“ Woe to those who hide deep from the Lord their counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, ‘ Who sees us? Who knows us?’ You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay; that the thing made should say of its maker, ‘ He did not make me”, or the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘ he has no understanding’?”

( Chapter 29)


“ ‘ Woe to the rebellious children,’ says the Lord, ‘ Who carry out a plan, but not mine; and make a league, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin; … therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you; therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice.."

( Chapter 30)


“ Happy are you who sow beside all waters, and let the feet of the ox and the ass range free.”

( Chapter 32)


“ Woe to you, destroyer, who yourself have not been destroyed; you treacherous one, with whom none has dealt treacherously! When you have ceased to destroy, you will be destroyed;”

( Chapter 33)



“ The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom;”

( Chapter 35)

“ the Lord will save me, and we will sing to stringed instruments all the days of our life, at the house of the Lord.”

( Chapter 38)



“ A voice cries: ‘ In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; … and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together…

“ All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people is grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever…

“ He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young…

“ Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.”

( Chapter 40)


“ But when I look there is no one; among these there is no counselor who, when I ask, gives an answer. Behold, they are all a delusion; their works are nothing; their molten images are empty wind.”

( Chapter 41)


“ When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

( Chapter 43)


“ All who make idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit… Who fashions a god or casts an image, that is profitable for nothing?… he makes it into a god, his idol; and falls down to it and worships it; he prays to it and says, ‘ Deliver me, for thou art my god!… he feeds on ashes; a deluded mind has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, ‘ Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

( Chapter 44)


“ For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens ( he is God!), who formed the earth and made it ( he established it; he did not create a chaos, he formed it to be inhabited!): ‘ I am the Lord, and there is no other. I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘ Seek me in chaos.’ I the Lord speak the truth, I declare what is right… Assemble yourselves and come, draw near together, you survivors of the nations! (who) keep on praying to a god that cannot save. Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! … Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”

( Chapter 45)


“ ‘ Surely,’ thus says the Lord: ‘ Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children.’ “

( Chapter 49)


“ For thus says the Lord: ‘ You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.’

( Chapter 52)


“ For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you… for the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed… no weapon that is fashioned against you shall prosper, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.”

( Chapter 54)

“ Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on him… For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.”

( Chapter 55)

But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain.”

( Chapter 57)


“ Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”

( Chapter 60)


“ Upon your walls, Oh Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the days and all the night they shall never be silent”

( Chapter 62)


“ I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said ‘ Here am I, here am I.’, to a nation that did not call on my name. I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices;”

( Chapter 65)


“ But this is the man to whom I will look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word….

( Chapter 66)



The book of Isaiah is a cornerstone of Jewish Prophecy and the Christian faith.





Firefighting



I think there are some lessons to be learned in wildland firefighting. These are not all the same lessons I expected when I signed up.

When I saw Mesa Verde burning some two weeks or so after I left Nashville, the Ute Indian Tribal official who watched the fire burn with me for a while told me I could get a job fighting fires with the Utes. That thought was on my mind when I visited my friends in the Four Corners. At that time, dry lightning storms had been rolling across the high desert, igniting fires here and there. The Mesa Verde fire itself had been brought under control, in large part thanks to an enormous thunderhead the fire itself had seeded. I was blessed to witness this massive storm as well, while I was driving well south of the mesa three days after I had slept beside it.

Lesson Number One of Wildland Firefighting: It is nearly always Mother Nature that puts a fire out or allows for a fire to be put out. Men can shape a wildfire, soothe it, contain it- but without some kind of help from the elements (such as a reprieve from the wind or moisture), they rarely can be extinguished. Lesson Number One comes up again and again. It is not our fire.



The day after I arrived in my friend’s little town in Utah, I drove out with him to where he works in the remote high desert oil fields. Returning that day in late July from the wells on a red dirt road, we spotted a small column of smoke coming from a ways off in the trees. We decided to check it out. We grabbed a shovel from the truck and started walking in its direction. It was farther away than we thought, and it turned into quite a trudge. I suggested aborting the mission after about a half a mile, but my friend encouraged me out of my sudden laziness. In retrospect, I certainly would’ve felt irresponsible leaving a big unnoticed fire burning in the timber so close to many oil and gas wells.

When we arrived, it was rather impressive. Lightning had struck a very old (hundreds of years) Juniper tree. It had been a tall, very thick tree. The lightning bolt had blasted that tree apart and partially exploded a substantial Pinon Pine beside it. In all, three trees were burning along with lots of sagebrush. The fire was extraordinarily interesting, as it is whenever one stumbles upon a burning tree in the desert. We probably spent a couple hours beating the fire down; digging a fire line and extinguishing what we could. After we had worked it for awhile, there seemed little chance that it could spread and we marched back, sweaty and smoky, to the truck.

Lesson Number Two of Wildland Firefighting: Don’t leave an uncontrolled fire burning in the midst of unburned fuel. You can at least try and put it out, unless its too dangerous to do so. At the very least, you can move unburned fuels away from the fire perimeter, making some effort to minimize the potential for spreading.

As it is, the high desert around the wells does not have a lot of close-knit dead wood- what firefighters call “ ladder fuels”- lying around. So, without a stiff breeze, it is difficult for a fire to spread. Much of the forested land of the American West is quite the opposite. There were places in Montana where you found yourself quite literally crawling over heaps of dead, dry timber. Eventually that stuff will have to burn. And when it does, it will burn hot.

I still had a pick-up bed full of dinosaur bones no one wanted. Imagine that. Of course, I was also feeling a little nutty, having just left Nashville, finding religion, and seeing Mesa Verde burn; driving to all my old hometowns and seeing the mobs of tourists and the Great Consolidation’s gaudy Second Home colonizing tactics. I just had to leave. I didn’t want to stay in the Four Corners. I thought about Alaska, but sliming fish for $6.50 an hour didn’t sound all that appetizing. Plus it was already getting late in their season, and there was always the matter of the trip up there. But I figured I would drive north, and see what was going on with the fires. I read in the papers that they were bringing in the army troops so I figured they must need help.

Heading north turned out to be a good move. The fire season was coming to an end in the southwest as the monsoon moisture slowly worked its way in. Early in the summer and culminating with Mesa Verde, the region had been cooking, literally. Los Alamos had just had their big fire in June. I saw the aftermath of that one, too. It had sterilized the hills of Los Alamos, in addition to burning more than 300 homes.

Two of the quickest, hottest fires of 2000 were at nuclear facilities-- the other being at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington. Both of these fires left lots of suspicions and unanswered questions among locals and firefighters (mostly concerning safety). I won’t go into that, but it is just as interesting to me that wildfires often pick ironic and/or meaningful places to appear.


So I went north, dropped the bones off in Moab (where the Bible says God buried Moses) and drove all night through the congested misery of Salt Lake City into Idaho-where unchecked fires were burning in the sage flats and on the dry mountains. Boise was smoky. I went looking for a job. The National Fire Emergency Center said “ go to the Forest Service.” The Forest Service said “ Go to our web site.” I drove to Oregon instead.

I got a firefighting job with a Contract Fire Suppression outfit out of a town near Eugene. Nice folks. The first week was spent in training. We learned about wind and relative humidity, the three sides of the “fire triangle” (heat, oxygen, and fuel), which topography to watch out for (box canyons, steep hills, etc…) Weather stuff and many hours covering the touchy subject of sexual harassment (a no-no) and drugs and alcohol (very much a no-no; thank God nearly everybody stays sober out there); the do’s and don’ts of avoiding burning to death- including use of the fire shelter, an aluminum foil “shake and bake” bag which one carries on themselves at all times on the fire lines. Basically the fire shelter protects you in temperatures up to 500 degrees. Forest fires can be 1,000 degrees hotter than that, so the protection the shelter offers is minimal, and our training instructor told us to pray we never deploy it because that likely means you are going to die.

We finished the training, had our pictures taken for our “ red cards”, and went home and packed our stuff. The next day we were called in and issued gear. Hard hat, head lamp, nomax fire retardant clothes (including the famous yellow shirt), day pack, fire shelter, etc.. We then loaded into vans and drove out to fight fires. Our first fire was the Tamarack Creek Fire in Eastern Oregon, near the little towns of Spray and Fossil. We called it the “Fossil Fire”.

Fire camp had been set up in the Spray town fairgrounds. When we arrived, they split us all up, with one group being unlucky enough to head straight out on the night crew. In other words, they stumbled around in the dark working hot spots. I’m glad I never had to do it. I got assigned as a replacement on an already established crew. It was mid-afternoon when we got there and our new crew had just had their day off (you are supposed to get at least one every 14 days) so they were “rested” and we had a chance to hang out and get to know everybody, sort of. Then we got some grub. Good food. The cooks were all prisoners from the Oregon State Penitentiary. We were told not to get too familiar with any of them. It was the best food I’d had in weeks. You got to eat as much as you wanted of two hot meals a day and an enormous sack lunch for the trail. Yum. One of the best things about fighting fires is the food.

We learned pretty quick from the other firefighters that the Fossil Fire was almost out. It had burned 8,000 acres and now they were just putting out hot spots- doing mop-up, as they say. This involves getting aerial infra-red pictures at night and then sending out crews to those vicinities to search and destroy burning stumps and what-not; trying to prevent a re-ignition of the fire. Meanwhile, they were beginning to downsize the manpower presence there, sending lots of crews out to Montana, where all the action was.

But it was my first fire, and I was quite content to spend it doing mop-up. Mop-up basically entails doing a grid line (20 men spaced out 15 yards apart or so across an area) and checking for hot spots. When you found one, the line would stop and three or four men jump on the spot and knock it out. This is done almost exclusively with hand tools- shovels. thick, sharp beating hoes that can bust through logs and rocks, and Pulaskis- a combination axe and chopping hoe. One of the men on a hot spot also carries what is known as a “bladder bag”, which is an awkward bag of water carried like a backpack with a pump spray gun. These can hold up to 45 pounds of water and are carried in addition to one’s own day pack. It can be no fun hauling one of these around steep mountain slopes. The bladder bag guy sprays a little water on the chopped up coals the other firefighters produce as they beat apart smoking logs and such. The object is to bust up the burning wood so that it loses its ability to retain heat. For instance, you take a smoking log and chop it into little pieces, mix those with a little dirt and voila!, you have what is called a “dry mop”. You can put fires out without water by robbing it of fuel and oxygen. But a little water goes a long way. Water is always the best, when it is available. On the Fossil fire, there were some dirt roads through the mountains where they could get pumper trucks through. These men would bring hoses out to the hot spots and we would do basically the same thing- chopping and digging, exposing burning roots and buried burning logs, beating them and mixing their coals with water and dirt until they were extinguished. On larger, more remote hot spots, helicopters are often used to drop water. But once again, firefighters usually have to go in to these spots afterwards and work the area. Otherwise, just dropping water on a burning area can sometimes end up capping the fire, or sealing the heat in next to the ground. The fire is still burning in there and can travel through root systems and re-ignite above ground. Much of our work in Fossil was digging holes and chopping burning roots. The pumper trucks were immensely helpful when they could get close enough to the hot spots.

Lesson Number Three of Firefighting: Water puts out fire better and quicker than anything else.

The dust and ash were up to two feet thick in some places where the forest had burned. It was an awful silicate dust, and nearly everybody had developed intense hacking coughs. We tried to keep bandannas over our noses and mouths, but the dust got in anyway. The country was beautiful, however. It was the first time I had seen the great volcano, Mt. Hood, huge and lovely from nearly 100 miles away.

So we did our mop-up work. The hours are very long, from 12 to 16 hours a day, but mop-up is not nearly so stressful or draining as initial attack, or I.A.

Lesson number four of firefighting: Much of the work of firefighting is accomplished without throwing human beings directly at an oncoming fire. That is often dangerous and impractical. Rather the idea is to contain the fire and let it burn itself out.

The Spray Fire Camp was shut down and the remaining mop-up crews were sent to camp in the town park in tiny Fossil, Oregon- an appropriate name for a town that looked like something from the 1930’s. Lovely, old and cold. We were fed breakfast and dinner in the town restaurants. We showered in outdoor, communal, propane heated showers. Whenever possible, the Forest Service tries to let the firefighters shower at the end of each day- as you become literally covered in black soot, the kind of stuff that could ruin your sleeping bag very quickly.

By this time, the Fossil “fire” had become something of a joke. There was no real fire anymore. From our understanding, we were being kept in Oregon for a reason, because state officials were concerned that with all the fire crews heading off to the big conflagrations in Idaho and Montana, there would be no manpower to fight any fires that flared up at home.

We sure had a good crew. These were the kind of men you’d expect to find who would answer a classified ad looking for firefighters. There were college kids, outcasts, felons and ex-cons of every stripe, out-of-work loggers and loners, drug addicts without access to drugs, young and old- all types of men. Once we all got together, we made quite a little team. The other crews left on the fires were mostly Mexican folks. We exchanged greetings but there’s very little time to socialize with anyone outside of your own crew. In fact, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to socialize at all. You can just keep your mouth shut and do your job and no one will bother you one way or the other. Tempers get short on a fire line, however, and there is a whole lot of machismo in the air at any given moment. People are pumped up and have a deadly tool in their hands. Many of them have been to prison or at least some version of the school of hard knocks. Being in the woods and getting in great shape with lots to eat but hardly any women in sight (there were none on the crews in Fossil), the testosterone was flowing.

Lesson Number Five of Firefighting: You’ll be fighting fires with the kind of people who can handle fighting fires: Ancient barbarian warrior types, grizzled old veterans, nutty 20 year olds with nothing to lose, tweekers, scary people, social misfits, and many other types. There aren’t many softies putting out fires. The work is just too damn hard and scary. But all men can coalesce into a fighting unit, loyal and responsible, if they have decent leadership, a purpose and a common duty. In this case, the duty was to put out fires. Fire makes a great enemy- destructive and primal- yet to defeat it requires no bloodshed, only effort. Given the opportunity, it was amazing to see how responsible and dedicated outcasts from society could be. Men who had been in prisons just weeks before would go out of their way to be conscientious. Men wanted to prove themselves as men out there. Leftover kids who had been living on the streets suddenly got the chance to prove they were men, too. Old Mexican men worked harder than any of us to save forests that were not even their own. Even when the “bosses” weren’t looking, men did their jobs thoroughly and professionally. The opportunity to save a forest seemed a genuine reward in and of itself, though we did get paid- and that’s what we were there for.

By the end, it was getting cold at night in Fossil. Our old truck driver firefighter (he would drive the vans as well as come out on the lines) kept talking wistfully about how much different it would be once we got to Montana. By now, everybody was ready to go to Montana. Nine days after we arrived, the Fossil fire was declared out. We drove back home, washed our clothes, had a drink and packed up. We were headed to Montana in the morning. More than a million acres were burning there. We figured that this time, we were finally going to get in the middle of some real firefighting.

Firefighting in Montana


The old truck driver kept saying it like a mantra back in Oregon:

“When we get to Montana, boys, everything’s gonna be different.”

On our night off after the Fossil Fire, my friend and I came back to Eugene, had a drink and talked with the “people of the quad” around the picnic table in the space between the buildings that passed for a courtyard. So many people searching in this world for so many things. I remember you, old friends.

Back from firefighting and still alive, Montana was the biggest thing on our minds. It was very much on fire and was big news in the papers. When we told people where we were going, they were concerned and respectful.

“ You be careful out there…”

My friend and I felt purposeful and more than a little macho after 10 days on the Fossil Fire. We were also anxious, because we knew that the Fossil Fire-- for all the dust and smoke and heat- was nothing compared to what might await us in the great forests of Montana. We were paged by headquarters that night, and showed up the next morning.

It was 14 hours in a van packed with 15 men to Missoula, where the Feds had put up a staging ground. Our new crew chief was a serious old fellow we called The Great White Hunter, an ex-military, buzz-cut, elk-hunting man. We figured that this was just the right kind of man one could learn the serious business of firefighting from. Our old crew had been split up and spread between three different crews. My friend and I ended up on the same crew again.

As we drove into Montana during the night, it smelled like a forest fire. It was pretty intense. The morning sun was muted by a green –orange blanket of smoke. Once in Missoula, we rested for a few hours on the ground, ate, and then were shipped out again. We arrived a couple of hours later at the Monture/ Spread Creek Fire camp, near the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

The information station at the Fire Camp said this fire had burned 20,000 acres and was 0% contained. Fire Camp was set up near the tiny town of Ovando, in the Blackfoot River valley, where the movie “ A River Runs Through It” was filmed, or so I was told. The Fire Camp was still in the process of being set up. The local guest ranch was making lunches for the fire crews and running shuttles for showers until a portable shower unit could be brought in. It was the only way for those folks to make any money. Publicity about the fires and a backcountry ban had ruined their business. There were very few tourists heading into Montana that summer.

For some reason, those in charge like to keep their firefighters all worked up when they are headed out, and you rarely know how or when or where you’ll end up. It’s all very suspenseful.

The Monture Fire, because of its proximity to the wilderness, had few access roads, and we would have to hike long distances in and out of the fire area every day over steep terrain. From the very first day, all the firefighters knew this was going to be a weird one. We marched into the mountains. But, when we asked, our new leader( the Great White Hunter), refused to tell us where the heart of the fire was. Then the crew all got separated and we ended up sitting around on the face of a smoking mountain watching spot fires in the wash below. The wind was blowing. We were out of radio contact and we were separated from each other. These were all what they call “watch out” situations back in firefighter training. Being kept in the dark about where the main fire was had all the men a little paranoid.

Lesson number six of firefighting. Everybody involved in fighting a fire should know all relevant information about their situation.

The first day passed uneventfully. The next day we started the business of putting out fires, doing grid lines along the slope of the wash and putting out fires in the creek bottom, to keep the fire from crossing Spread Creek and getting into the unburned timber on the other side.

The long, steep hike took its toll on some of the men. Blisters got bad. The altitude was tough on some of them. After the first couple of days, it dawned on us that we were in a fairly dangerous place.

First off, there were no safety zones on that mountain. A safety zone is an area where one could avoid being burned in case the fire exploded. This could be an area that had already burnt over or an exposed rockslide.

Lesson number seven of firefighting: know where your safety zone is!

Also, we became aware that our fire was more than a little mixed up in politics. It seems that ten years before, the Bob Marshall Wilderness where we were working had burned catastrophically after officials had initially reacted with a “let it burn” approach. Many houses and structures had been lost. In the newspaper (conveniently stapled to the fire camp bulletin board), the powers that be promised to not allow a repeat of that event, and proclaimed that they would contain this fire with a vigorous initial attack. That was us.

The second day up there, the safety officer of the fire came up to assure everybody that it was safe to be working back there in spite of all the dead timber and lack of safety zones. The crew that had been there for a few days before we showed up were scared of that place. They didn’t care much for fighting fires in a kindling pile with the only route of escape being back through the kindling. Now our crew was all mixed up in it; just as it was becoming increasingly obvious that we were having leadership issues.

The fourth day out, it came to a head. On the way out that morning walking up the mountain, you could palpably feel the tension of the forest wanting to burn. There were little fires everywhere. We marched right past a spot fire burning in the timber. G.W. Hunter wouldn’t let us put it out. Some of us got upset.

“ The crew behind us will put it out,” he said. Never mind that none of us saw any crew coming up behind us. Never mind that these burning trees were situated directly beside our only escape route. Never mind that if we had been allowed, we could easily have contained the fire in just a few minutes. Many of us, including myself , were quite alarmed at leaving a fire burning unchecked beside the trail as we marched past and above it. It was bad symbolism and a slap in the face to common sense. This reinforced many of our suspicions that we were being irrationally led.

The tension grew. There seemed to be little fires everywhere. Dozens, hundreds of them smoldered and crackled throughout the woods. You could feel the forest drying out as the morning’s humidity evaporated. We felt the first stirrings of the wind. The crew was edgy. As soon as you put out one hot spot, there would be three more waiting for you. Then the orders came in. They needed some of us to march up to the top of the mountain to pick up a pump and hoses that were being dropped off by helicopter. If a deep enough spot in the little creek could be found, the pump and hoses would come in real handy. The top of the mountain was the most dangerous place to be. Fire burns uphill, of course, and the main part of the fire was just on the other side of the mountain, meaning we ran the risk of being cut off by fire. My good friend and I were among the men who went. Accompanying us were a funny old logger who’d had his teeth kicked out by a horse some years back, two Mexican sawyers and G.W. Hunter himself.

The rest of our crew stayed behind, putting out spot fires. The forest got spookier the higher we marched. Burning shells of trees, slowly creeping grass and duff fires glowed amidst unbelievable amounts of dead, unburned timber.

We got more and more nervous the higher we got, and the memory of the ignored spot fire down below loomed larger and larger in our minds.

Up ahead, we heard the sound of chain saws coming from near the trail. We marched on.

“ G.W.,” one of us said. “ Do you want to radio ahead to those sawyers and tell them we’re coming through?”

The sawyers had a scary job, felling burning snags ( burned or unburned standing trees) among other duties. It was standard practice ( and common sense) for them to let everybody know when they were cutting a tree and to clear the area- or, in our case, to let the sawyers know we were coming their way- for the same reason.

Oddly, however, G.W. didn’t want to radio them.

“ Nah,” he said. “ They’re just clearing brush.”

We came closer to the sound of the chain saws. We heard a tree fall.

“ G.W., do you want to radio the sawyers?”

“ Nah. We’re okay.”

We got even closer. This time I spoke up.

I think we ought to hollar up there and let those guys know that…

And the Great White Hunter turned to me with his forefinger up to his mouth and said:

“ Shh.”

So onward we marched until we were just beneath the sawyers, just out of their sight on the lower trail. They fired up their chain saw, prepared to cut a giant Ponderosa snag that, if the laws of physics were still in operation, would have landed directly on our heads. I look up. They look down.

“ Whoa! Whoa!” they yell. “What the *#&** are you doing there?!” They were mad. I was madder.

Sorry, I yelled on behalf of our leader to the Hot Shots. We should have radioed.

They muttered and cursed and shook their heads as we walked by. Literally, if they had felled the snag they were working on, it would have landed on the sawyers or myself.

Our scraggly group marched further on, past more little fires waiting to get bigger. We came to a place where there was enough water in the creek to build some kind of dam to make a deep enough pool for the pump to go in. I was livid about what just happened and I lit into our fearless leader.

I said: We asked you three times to tell those sawyers we were coming, and you said no. They could have just dropped that tree on our heads back there! You’re not being responsible with our lives.

My face gets red and I clench my fists and raise my voice when I am angry. It’s not fun to witness, I’m sure.

“ I’m sorry. Just take it easy now! I screwed up,” he said. All of a sudden he was acting a little different. If anything, his new tone was even less reassuring than before.

We kept walking up the trail, a good distance behind G.W., past more fires and the last crew of hot shots, as we headed for the top of the alpine canyon. If the fire blew up, our only escape route would be back from where we came- which would mean through the fire. It was the exact situation they had warned us about in training, and here, two weeks later, we were in the middle of it. Not only that, but the higher we went, the more dead timber there was. Fuel loading is what they call it. Ladder fuels everywhere. We were crawling over dry fallen timber to get up the trail, our leader way out in front. The strangeness of the day was starting to catch up with us, and the crew began to get kind of spooked. It was spooky. We had no radio, though our leader had one somewhere out ahead of us. We had no way of knowing what the fire was doing below us. We were climbing to the top of a tinderbox and could simply feel the forest wanting to burn. Smoke oozed up from the trail below us. It was around eleven o’clock in the morning and the wind was starting to blow.

But the main problem was that we didn’t trust our leader. Our lives were in the hands of a man we initially were convinced was experienced and professional. But now it appeared he was incompetent, indifferent or worse. Why leave a fire burning in the path of your escape route when your men ask to put it out? Why not protect us from obvious dangers like falling trees? And now we followed him into a dangerous situation with no escape route. We sat down on the trail, had a cigarette and contemplated our predicament

“ I’ve got children,” one of the Mexican men said in English.

“ That guy’s nuts,” the logger offered.

We were about on the brink of mutiny when my friend suggested we should pray. He led us in prayer there on the side of that mountain. It went something to the effect of:

“ Heavenly Father, we sure love you. And we’d like to get off this mountain alive. We were hoping you could help. In Jesus’ name… amen.”

We were in a small clearing at 7,000 feet in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana, USA. Rows of rippling mountains stretched out away from us. In the distance, smoke plumes on the far horizons billowed through the haze of dozens of great fires. It seemed the whole world would burn. We gathered ourselves up and marched onward to the area where the helicopter was supposed to unload the pump. It hadn’t arrived yet.

G.W. Hunter was sitting on the ground with his head in his hands. My friend did the talking.

“ G.W., we don’t know if we can trust you. You haven’t shown much regard for our safety. Just let us know what is going on here.”

The old man looked at us with a fragile, pained expression.

“ Do you want me to resign?”

It was a strange moment. He was serious. He had screwed up in front of his men. Judging by the look in his eyes, I’d say he was more scared than any of us. At that moment, we realized that, right then at least, this man did not know what he was doing.

“ No, we don’t want you to resign.”

He looked around the little circle on top of the mountain.

“ Do you feel safe with me in this situation?” he asked.

“ Not really.”

“ Do you want to go back down?”

We paused in silence. It was supremely quiet. In that very instant, his radio crackled to life.

“ This is D. to G.W.”

“ G.W. here. Go ahead,” the old man said.

“ Yeah, G.W. I don’t know if it matters to you right now or how serious this is, but we’ve got some trees crowning out down here and starting to make some runs.”

When trees “ crown out” the flame leaps from top to dry top and runs up the sides of mountains. It could mean the whole canyon was preparing to burn. It was the answer we needed.

“ Okay, I’m going to send the men back down,” G.W. said into the radio. “ And I’ll wait up here for the helicopter.”

Without giving us any trouble for not completing our assignment, the Great White Hunter sent us back down the mountain. He waited at the top of that mountain, perhaps half-expecting to go up with the forest. We went back fast and happy, even giggly, but still concerned that the fire might blow up. In spite of our worries, I could feel the tension of the morning starting to ease. We made a pact not to tell any of the men what had happened.

But when we got back with the rest of the men an hour later in the middle of things, things were so edgy that there was open talk of mutiny, walking off the fire lines, a federal offense if your life is not in danger, and an action that would have caused all kinds of trouble. There was a great suspicion among the men about this whole day. People were upset. There were fires everywhere and it was only noon. A lone helicopter dropped water on the crown fires but we were hopelessly outgunned dealing with all the spotting. Everybody was exchanging ideas about what we should do and where we should go if it exploded. The creek? Back into the burned area a couple of miles away? Through the flames? And leadership was lacking, to say the least. What was inherently a dangerous situation was made to seem far worse than it really was because there was very little communication. People seemed to be pulling the wool over our eyes. Even the radio weather report seemed to be rigged.

One minute the weather spotter for the fire said over the radio to all the crews:

“ Humidity is 17 percent,” which is a “ red flag” situation.

A minute later, his voice came back on.

“ Correction. Humidity 29 percent.”

29 percent my hide! It was dry as a desert on that desperate mountain. We were on break listening when that came on the radio, and we all thought it smelled funny, like some bad movie about how firefighters get burnt up. We imagined the corrupt officials, lies, mistakes- bad Hollywood stuff. Things were tense. A large group was intent on mutiny, but decided to give it an hour. By the time the hour was up, the tension was over.

It was inexplicable, but all of a sudden we knew the forest was not going to blow up. We worked through the rest of the day and came home in the dark. It was such a relief to make it through that day. I believe our prayer helped out in some way.

Over the next week, the fire in Spread Creek was contained and it became mop-up work. G.W. began giving morning weather reports and communicating more fully with the crew. I got on another crew and headed out to Alder Creek in the Bitteroots. By all accounts, G.W. Hunter became a much more conscientious and effective leader following my departure.

What was the spirit that overwhelmed him those first few days on the fire? In my opinion, it was simple arrogance, and faith in self. He felt that discipline meant authoritarian power, and one of the ways that power was to be enforced was by keeping his troops ignorant. It was a military approach that in practice, with troops of unbroken spirit, meant a recipe for chaos and mutiny. It destroyed the effectiveness of the fighting unit.

Lesson number eight of firefighting: Be careful who your leader is. You will be able to judge him by his concern for those who have been placed in his charge, and by his common sense.

Lesson number nine: Be prepared to save your own life if you find you are being led away to your doom. Think about it.

Lesson number ten: Use common sense in deciding about such things. Try to keep the troops together, and do not abandon your comrades to the fire. It is a stressful time, and often the leader who appears belligerent or incompetent needs only to be reminded of his responsibility: that this is not about his personal power, but about unified power in the face of a common enemy. The best way to unify firefighters is through discipline and respect.

Lesson number eleven: When things look bad, pray.

My next crew was much more disciplined and well-led. Our crew leader was only 25 years old but was the son of a veteran firefighter and already a seasoned hand himself. He was an expert sawyer, and was always available and communicable. We were given full briefings every morning and our safety was his prime concern. He was a young man, but I would trust him as a crew chief any day. It was a blessing that I should get to work on such a crew. It’s not age that makes a good leader, but the intangible gifts that bring trust and respect. He was an expert at offering dignity to his troops. For many of us, our dignity was about the only thing we had left in this world.

With our dignity secure, we could unify behind a common purpose. We could face a common enemy. Our own lives were important to the leader and to our tribe. We could prove ourselves, not at the expense of another, but through our strength and bravery with each other.

For many of us men, it was a chance to prove we were men. For this world does not offer us that chance much anymore. The military is manly, but it seems to insist on breaking the spirit of a man or choking it into submission. The modern work world is rapidly becoming a land of servants or data pushers, paper shufflers, tools. When does a man find out he is a man? When he finally gets his big promotion? When he gets upgraded? All this seems a little hollow to the old blood that still flows in our veins, the blood that craves the mystery of the hunt or the danger of battle. Fighting fire seems a perfect battle, for it is dangerous but is not about killing. It is about preserving life. That purpose makes the heroics even greater, and makes the simple day to day tasks bearable, purposeful and even fun.

On the Alder Creek fire, we got to ride in helicopters regularly. The scenery was spectacular and the countryside wild and subtle. We were there until Mother Nature had had enough of the fire season in Montana, and rain and snow fell across the mountains.


If this seems a rather mundane and uneventful depiction of my experiences during the wildfire season of 2000, I must apologize. I find myself preoccupied with the metaphors of it all, and unable to drag my bones across the page for a more literal retelling.

On the other hand, if it seems mundane, it might be because that is largely how firefighting is. Firefighting is not glamorous. It is long hours in smoke and ash and dirt. Long hours in crowded vans that reek of filthy men, with loud music cranked up through bad speakers. It’s angry, sometimes dangerous men stretched to their human limits. It’s quiet cigarettes around smoking stumps, talking about the things that really matter to us all. It’s mostly shovel and ax work, ceaselessly moving earth and coals and hot rocks, on steep hillsides where it is difficult to even stand, not to mention fight a wildfire. It is poor folks trying to make a living, a paycheck, each with their own story and their own fears and hopes and their own take on firefighting. It’s blisters on the feet and up at a quarter to five every morning. It’s a struggle and it’s macho and it’s hilarious and folks are making jokes and laughing and being good company.

It is only when the fires are contained that a spirit of purposelessness can seep in. Spirits flag without an enemy on the fire lines. Tempers flare more readily than when there’s fire. We feel the inevitable coming on. Soon we would have to leave the wilderness, and the camaraderie and our little chance to be heroes. We would be cast back into the world (with not as much pay as we’d hoped), a world that is soft and strange, yet hard and unforgiving. A world that barely offers us a place to stand as free men in dignity. The world of ITs fire, where there can be no unity in its glow. And we will be lonely out there in the midst of the multitudes, and we watch the two-dimensional fire of the IT devour the Creation around us and inside us. So we go back to the bottle or the crank or the jobs or the Bible and hope that there is something in there to take our minds off the fact that we smell smoke- and there seems to be little we can do about it.

We feel the forest of civilization wanting to burn. We see the spot fires. The air is getting hotter. The wind is rising. And the damned fools lead us higher and higher up the dry mountain, farther and farther from our escape routes and our safety zones and the water until we are perched on the doorstep of space itself, looking at these “leaders” with their heads in their hands, while the flames move to cut us off.

“ Should I resign?” they whimper.

We didn’t want it this way. But the fires are lit. The fireman’s job in Nature is not necessarily to rush the wall of flames and dive in with a shovel. Men do not often survive it. The job is to put out the little fires, contain the larger ones and let them burn themselves out. Perhaps you see where I am going.

Put out the little fires. Contain the big fire before it spreads. Know when to pray. Because at the end of the day, we do not decide the fate of fire. It is not ours to create or defeat. We are the fire-keepers, not the fire-makers.

We live in a world choked with dead wood, a world growing hotter every year. We live under the threat and promise from God of a Fire Next Time. Cleansed by fire shall be the earth. So why bother fighting fires? Why not let them burn and go hide somewhere? Because we refuse to become accomplices in destruction, that’s why. Our heritage, our blood, our life force demands that we try and save life.

“ Choose life,” came the Word of God.

Whether it is foolish or not, we cannot deny the will to struggle against what might be seen as inevitable. That goes for both the fires, God’s and his Opposition. Because it turns out that to fight the devil’s fire might postpone the eternal fire. God wants us to be firefighters. He wants to see one last great example of courage from his beloved children. God finds no pleasure in destruction. He would only destroy Creation in order to preserve it. He rewards those who choose the right side in this story.

To struggle in vain against a tyrant seems a better fate than to wait around for your turn to be enslaved, to be broken, to be incinerated.

My blood has smelled the furnaces of Treblinka, the torch-lit rampages of the Inquisitions and the Pogroms and the Roman Conquerors. I smell smoke in the air around the Great Consolidation. I believe they smell the same, my friends. If we do not face the lie, we cannot see the truth. We are building a high-tech concentration camp for our children. We have become accomplices of evil, and our rationality and wisdom and sense of story is being devoured by flat screens and flashing lights.

I will not go as a sheep to slaughter. I will not surrender my life force to a mechanical tyranny. I was born to live and die as a free man. And even if there are chains upon me when I die, I will be singing songs of freedom.

And I will give thanks to the One who made me, and who created it all, whether I go somewhere else or not, I will thank Him.

And I will give thanks for the fire, because in the fire was a gift. The gift of wisdom. In the fire was where I learned what it was for me to be a man. A free man, not a machine. Here on earth, not in some monster’s virtual reality.

Thank God for fire and firefighters.

San Juan Canyon





What my Fire says Tonight III


It says “make me bigger”! When I’m on the lonesome, I don’t make very big fires; but today is special because I did the longest, and pretty much the last, hauling stretch of my camping trip. I re-supplied and now I’m in a side canyon near the mouth of San Juan Canyon.

A good fire is slowly nurtured into existence. When it’s cold, like this evening, it’s kind of nice to turn up the heat. So now I’ve got a rip-roaring fire, at least compared to the ones I have been making so far this trip.

The sun is going down and it’s beautiful. It’s been beautiful even with the rain, but it’s comforting that the rain is gone. My fire’s good tonight. Above me is a great stone face on the side of a cliff, not carved by human hands. The Artist! Where is he (or she)? I want to congratulate him (or her).

Quick thoughts on fire:

There’s lots of songs and poetry where fire is the metaphor for desire and love. The fire inside someone is used to represent life force, right? We are a fire, star stuff mixed with water. The fire as will; the water as grace. Male and female. The fire is a kind of love, and is a symbol of a kind of love, as well as an expression of will. We gaze into a fire not just because it’s burning, or just because it tells us something about life and death. Perhaps, since it was a gift, an expression of love, we look into it searching for the love in there, looking for God.

Are we looking for God when we watch the fire?

What are we looking for when we watch a fake fire? What does it offer us?


San Juan Canyon





Evil




History is a many-sided expansion and refinement of Story.

One side of human history is the tale of the urge for power as expressed through our tools, our machines, and our social order. That thing we call Evil refines itself alongside and through these machines, as well as through the social order.

On the flip side, we have also experienced a refinement of empathy and good out of an expanding human wisdom. These are not direct progressions. Shakespeare was no wiser than Solomon. Dylan is no wiser than Shakespeare.

I will not stop telling this story. I cannot and I won’t. If you ever hear me taking all of this back, then it is not me in there talking. It will be the experimental mind chip or something, or maybe a clone, or just a computer simulated Sand. For who can really tell the difference when all you know comes from the machine?

I will not stop telling this story, even if everyone I know and everyone I meet tells me I’m crazy (which not everyone will do; there are many who are beginning to recognize this situation). I will die happy if it turns out I have done the Will, and it’s not important if I make any friends or enemies on the way. That is not the point.

The struggle is enough. The Story is enough. The One is enough. This life has been enough. This earth has overflowed with blessings.

I will not hold my peace even in the name of peace. There can be no peace without God. There is no hope without God. And there is no more hateful villain than the It. My blood has seen It before. From Babylon to Rome to the Tsars and the Fuhrers and the slavedrivers and the long line of boogeymen living in the dark, feeding off of the light.

Finally we will see Its wretched face, and watch It be utterly destroyed.

San Juan Canyon—March 2001





God Told a Story

God told a story, and tells a story. We told a story and tell one and listen and God listens and it must on some level be about learning what and who you are, and what kinds of actions and thoughts are required so that one learns something from all of this, and from history and His Story.

I don’t say it’s fair. It’s hard. But as Ed Abbey said:

“ Life is hard? Compared to what?”

The easy death? Not an option for those of us who are in love with life. The beauty of life. Even children’s stories get a little scary now and then. That’s why we have happy endings.

And the happy endings are always about getting free, or falling in love, or being a part of justice. Doing the right thing. So will this happy ending be, whenever it comes, for no one knows the hour but the Father of the story Himself.

Once we know it is a story, we have a chance to be the good guy in the story. This is not new thinking. It is the very way we operate anyway, when desire does not cloud our thinking.

Good will is its own reward, and we know that implicitly. Courage makes one stronger and faith leads to blessings.

We’ve had troubles and we’ll have more, but the story can be beautiful too. It’s okay. We are safe in our Father and Mother’s arms, but free to leave our mark on the world.

Cottonwood tree San Juan Canyon 3-12-01





The Spirit of Prophecy

It is my contention that the spirit of prophecy is not dead or hidden. Rather this spirit is very much alive and active. Also I contend that many of the prophecies that have survived among us are still truthful and applicable to our current dilemmas. If one seeks to reach the truth within these truths, one must have faith and wisdom, and these are the only ways to sort out among the lot of them to discover which messages we most need to pay attention to.

It is also my contention that music can bring on the spirit of prophecy, for music is the truest voice of the earthly Spirit that connects us with the Eternal. It is our most trustworthy earthly guide and comfort. This Musical Spirit is both divine and worldly and, alongside with nature, is our surest proof of truth, if you will.

It is my contention that we have been blessed by prophecy in song and the divine influence through music from time immemorial. It is a natural connection for the human race that has only very recently been labeled as simply “ entertainment”. Music is the Eternal and the Temporal, intertwined and inseparable like the cross in the sphere. Every love song, every battle hymn, every note whispered in secret are spokes on the wheel of music that makes itself and is made through us. Music is an opportunity to connect with Divinity.

It is also our best hope for the one last Survival Revival; perhaps our best hope for the “ pure speech” promised us by God in the latter days.

God blesses the prophecy in song, and the singers. The singers and psalmwriters mostly say “ I am no prophet”, and they are correct in saying this, as well. The Spirit of Prophecy is a place that can perhaps be entered by anyone, and just because one delivers prophecy doesn’t necessarily make them a prophet. Music is the surest and easiest (and easily the most socially acceptable) way to get to that place called prophecy. Musicians, songwriters and singers are entertainers and troubadours. The spirit that is eternal is not always the focus of their musical efforts. I simply assert that the eternal spirit is the source and the by-product of this relationship. The mystery includes the contradictions apparent in such a statement.

Music is our great consolation. It comes from the Spirit of the Creator. In this late hour, it is our most common ally.

God also blesses the Prophecy through Word. Nothing grows that has not life and light except that which grows through division, the opposite of life, which is death.

How to tell the difference? To know the difference is Wisdom, and She was formed at the foundation of the Universe. If you want to know her, she is there.

Recognize Truth. Refute the Lies. Our musical heroes brought us the Spirit of prophecy, so that we might commingle with The Eternal. They are not idols. They are not just entertainers. They are irreplaceable parts of ourselves. The lies have poisoned our Prophetic Spirit with vanity and money and sin, so that our gifted ones often shrink from the Spirit. Others are brave to the end, even when they insist on being called vaudevillians. It is their right to assume such narrative masks.

Wisdom does not conquer the earth here in this story, and suddenly everyone becomes wise. It is not how the story goes. Remember that you must save yourself first from the whirlpool of deceit. Then grab a hold of the children, your family, your friends. It doesn’t have to be weird and panicky. It can be as calm as joining together in song.

We’ve been doing this forever, seeking the spirit in word and music while under the cloud of trouble. Don’t give up now. This is the most important part. Seek and you shall find. Ask, and it shall be given.

It’s a secret. Just like a song can be a secret between it and you. It becomes your song, your heart, your voice in praise of the struggle and the triumph- mixed and stirred and interwoven inside the song of the Universe itself.

Beware the Song of the Machine. It is quite the musician, a great singer. When It sings harmony, the result can be magic. But when it becomes the bandleader, the producer, the Delivery System, the Promoter and the disc itself-- be careful. How to tell the difference?

Wisdom. There is no other way but wisdom.

San Juan Canyon--2001





The Experience of Firefighting

I never again saw a fire like the one I watched in the night at Mesa Verde, a truly explosive wall of flame devouring and developing across the forest in a great flaming pillar. In my month of firefighting I never saw such a fire. I had never seen such a thing before. Maybe never again. It was a lot of power to witness. I probably had to sleep beside it like I did to even get into the mental space to accept what it said. I say it told me something, and I have tried in this past year to initiate the process of bringing that warning to light. I never saw such a fire as Mesa Verde’s again.

But I saw some fire. I saw forests burning; little fires everywhere. I felt the anxiety of fire and the destruction it leaves behind. Glowing stumps and smoking duff, trees burning from the inside out. I fought fires in box canyons so loaded with dried timber that, on the wrong day, the entire forest would have exploded into a firestorm. And there was an ever-present question in our minds if that day would be the day, and we wondered: What we would do if it blew up? Where would we run? Who’s in charge?

Meanwhile, fighting fires becomes a challenge. You make alliances with the forest; with the part of the forest that doesn’t want to burn. The part that wants desperately to live. As you put out the little spot fires in the midst of life, you sometimes feel the forest begin to calm. As the day wears on, sometimes your intuition tells you what the land is recognizing. All will be fine that day. Life will go on. It will not burn. The relief that settles on the earth and on the firefighters is palpable and impossible to fully relate. It is the relief one could only feel when your life has been spared by the hand of God.

We are not able to get all the fires out. But we know when we have protected the life we have grown to love. And then firefighting becomes fun. You start getting a little braver as you get better at it. The world never ceases showing you her beauty. You grow a longing to defend her; even at the risk of your own life.

San Juan Canyon













Mount Saint Helens Erupted With Purpose


I say Mount St. Helens erupted in the direction of Seattle, Washington on May 18th, 1980 at the direct command of the Creator God to mark the time of the birth of a language. This was a universal language for computers that increased their power exponentially and allowed for the introduction of computers into the daily lives and the homes of the human race.

Mount Saint Helens erupted with purpose.

You say: how do I know this?

I say I heard it in a riddle. I saw it in a dream.

You might say I’m insane.

Maybe so. But I am unable to turn back from saying this. If a man gives himself over to that which he calls his God, and that God tells him something in his heart, and then takes him by the hand and shows him that it is true, he would be insane not to listen. He would be insane not to believe in that God which is more believable than anything he has ever known. This man would also be elementally irresponsible if he did not warn those whom he felt God has instructed him to warn.

I say the mountain spoke against the Machine. If you don’t believe me, then don’t believe me.

If you do believe me, please don’t expect that I have some great plan on hand to deal with that which she spoke against. I don’t.

Pray to God. Be nice. I don’t know. How about a sing -along?

But it seems to me to be definitely time we acknowledged the basic power of the Universe. This is an Active God at work here. This is a story. We should get together. We can delight in the beauty and humor of people under pressure; of people who believe they are ultimately safe in the arms of God. We must save what we can save from Tyranny.

And we should pilgrimage to the mountain. To heck with permits and erosion. Just climb the great mountain and love her and the view. We could show up in droves. By the tens of thousands upon the mountainside. From her crest we will see Ranier, the King of the Ring of Fire. From her crest you can see the Sisters and Mount Olympus. You can listen to Saint Helen’s steaming heart. We could look down on log-choked Spirit Lake and ponder the grave of Harry Truman (O, Brother Esau!) beneath the ash.

San Juan Canyon---march 2001





Forgiveness

To anybody I’ve hurt, I hope the Lord helps you to forgive me. I am sorry.

It was not until I confessed my sins before God, not before men, that I knew I could be forgiven of them. Each soul has its own path, but as for me, I could not have endured another day of believing I was condemned to live inside my past sins forever.

I have to do this now, and speak out loud. Not because I’m righteous. I’m not righteous and my life is no example of righteousness.

“ Be neither over-righteous or over-wicked”, Solomon said. It’s a dang tightrope. It’s hard to stay present, to stay conscious. The darkness walks beside everyone for at least a little while.

For anyone who thinks they’ve sinned against me, forget about it. You are forgiven. I’m doing great. It was all lessons anyway, right?

There is a story at work here, and we must all be careful to try and live, really live, in the here and now of this moment in time. So much depends on this. We must try and not live inside our pasts, where the trials and traumas of old sins and sinners lay snares for our hearts and minds.

San Juan Canyon





Connected by the Cross


There is a circle, and it is connected by a cross. The circle is the All, the cross is how it is aware of itself. All spirit of creation is linked by the cross; three creative forces linked with one spirit of destruction.

The singer of the love song creates a link between earthly love and otherworldly love.

The fiddler catches all four directions, speaking as a human might if he had a more perfect speech, a more graceful story.

The storyteller tells a tale of war, and it is all battles, even eternal ones.

Great attachments are formed along this corridor of realities. Great correspondence. Mutual affection between Creator and created. The created becomes like the Creator, because we bring forth life and nourish it, and we have an affinity for beauty, a brave streak, a love of freedom, a hatred of evil and a heart that appreciates a good story, that knows a story is the surest way to learn about yourself.

The cross is the crossroads, the four directions, the four dimensions of this story, the four seasons, the four winds, the four horsemen, the four powers.

The connection between the temporary and the eternal. Between earth and God. A man’s very body forms a cross.

For me, it all of a sudden made sense. Of course the Eternal would come to earth as a man. Of course he would be a storyteller; a riddler as well. Of course he would come to the place where a great story of the One God was already going on and being recorded; a real live bloody tribal drama truly human and divine and given dignity by faith.

And the Church and State were waiting there to slay the Truth. They still are. Because they refuse to see past their line in the cross, the line that will not tolerate the One to take His rightful place in this story.

God knows how phony and bad things can get. But it probably had to be this way. It’s His will. Totally mysterious.

To me, it makes sense that God as a man would die for us here as a sign of how much he loves us. It is a message from all the eternal dimensions of an abiding love, a reassurance that we do not struggle in vain down here. We redeem ourselves, our blood, and our story.

And it’s also a sacrifice, with the very heart of God over the center of the cross, a thief on either side of him. One berates the eternal, while another defends him and asks his mercy. Who are those two thieves? One thief will go home to the One, another back to the line of the cross, the dark shadow line of the rising One, where you are no more.

I have a faith that is personal and did not spring from logic. I justify that faith in The Story. Tell me a bigger, better story. Tell me one more perfect, more profound! I will listen as you try. I like stories.

But this is my favorite. I like it. It’s true. I know it is. Other folks have their favorite stories and they are not mine to judge. It is all One Story.

I’m just happy I was blessed to live long enough to get up on the crossroads, see four directions and head off down the road towards the edge of the One.

San Juan Canyon





What the Fire Said-the conclusion


“ And Mt. Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire; and the smoke of it went up like a kiln…and God spoke these words, saying:

‘ I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.

‘ You shall not make for yourself a graven image…you shall not bow down to them and serve them.

‘ You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

‘ Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

‘ Honor your father and your mother.

‘ You shall not kill.

‘ You shall not commit adultery.

‘ You shall not steal.

‘ You shall not bear false witness.

‘ You shall not covet …anything that is your neighbor’s.’

These words the Lord spoke to all the assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and he added no more.”

Exodus 20



When we stare into the fire, are we looking and listening for God? He spoke to us once through it. Some Jewish and Christian mystics believe that all the souls who have ever lived were present that day at Mt. Sinai, and there God wrote the Ten Words, the Ten Commandments, upon our hearts. How could that be? How could anything be? Science falls apart before the will of God.

We heard the Ten Words. That is what the fire said the last time we ever heard it speak.

Still we gaze into the fire. What else will it say? Will it ever speak again? As anyone knows who watches fires, they actually say nothing. It is the story around the fire that speaks, and it is the fire itself that is also a story.

But the force that opposes God knows that, for whatever reason, we gaze into the fire.

The It uses a flickering electric flame of frequencies to mimic the eternal fire, and we stare. It begins to speak. It enters through the windows of our souls. And it lies and lies and lies about what It is and who we are and who we belong to and what we believe and even draws us into a place where reality itself is in question.

What does this fire say? It says that It is the Storyteller, and that by Its command the world exists. Its world is not a true world, but a world of lies constructed to devour our freedom and render creation unusable to the Creator.

It is the fire of the furnace of graven images. But we are not to worship images.

Our God does not want us to worship images. He is One and All. He understood that for mercy and love to prosper, we would have to understand this. But the It makes countless images, conjuring the flickering light from great power plants which burn the very earth itself. It deceives and entraps us into a way of looking at the world. Soon there will be another image- Its image.

Evil’s elaborate conception of itself seeks to finally live outside of us. It will demand by terror what it has not received through trickery. But It’s not really there. Don’t be scared. I hope you see that there is so much hope still left.

Two fires burn, and more fires burn inside each of those. And it’s a riddle, just like it’s a riddle how spirit or stars turned into men and women, trees and birds and rivers. Riddles everywhere. It’s too big for chance, and too important for us to ignore.

The Fire of Creation contains a fire for destruction.

The Fire of lies can simulate creation.

We don’t have to figure it all out. We need merely to hold fast to the One who made us.



“ See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil… therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.”

Deuteronomy 30



That’s what the Creator said through the fire. Light in darkness is our God.

But Satan may appear as an angel of light (otherwise it would all be too easy).

One fire is the essence of our survival, one the illusion that masks our undoing.

The one fire said “ you are of the eternal”, and we still know it’s true.

The other fire claims we are prisoners in this world of our own sins and shames, and sometimes we believe it.

Believe upon the One, and his Opposition will unmask itself. See the Opposition and you will see the One. To know the truth is better than to live in a tyranny of lies. At least that’s what I think. It’s what I believe. If you think the Lord says otherwise or says nothing at all, you are free to your beliefs.

San Juan Canyon—March 2001






Alder Creek: the Heart of a Wildfire

We were doing reconnaissance up a side creek in the middle of the Bitteroots. The humidity was high and there was a thick cloud cover. The moisture in the air allowed for us to walk into an area that would have been too dangerous just the day before.

We had left two firefighters with a pump and hoses down below us in the tight mountain valley. We were sent to see what the fire looked like further up, to assess the possibility of coming back there the next day.

All the way up the creek were the usual smoking logs and small fires. On one side we found the tallest Ponderosa Pine I had ever seen, well over a hundred feet high- and it stood by what seemed to be a miracle. Little more than a six inch wide half-circle of scorched wood held up its enormous weight. The great tree had burned from the inside out. We flagged the area as a warning and marched a couple of miles further to the top of the canyon, into a mountain bowl of rock and timber.

What we saw there is one of those perfect scenes that will stay with me forever.

“ Take a good look, men,” Cook said. “ You might not ever see this again. You’re in the middle of a forest fire.”

And there we were, completely surrounded by great heaps of burning timber, piles of smoldering coals, trees burning from the inside out. Only the humidity and the stillness in the air kept it from being an inferno. It was a lovely smoldering beauty, slowly devouring the living earth. Fire everywhere flickered in delicate whispers. The heart of a wildfire, the last one of the season. We were all in awe, and my words once again seem useless to describe it.

The fire was held back by the very air itself, allowing us to walk inside it, to witness it and believe it. It was on fire but it wasn’t at the same time. It was a riddle. On a dry, windy day, where we stood would have been the center of a firestorm. On this day, it looked like a beautiful dream.

In my days as a wildland firefighter, I saw vast forests sterilized by flame, burning treetops and torching brush. But that moment was the first time I had been allowed into the very heart of a fire, and it was peaceful. There was no struggle there. We did not attempt to put anything out. It would have been useless. It was too much. Too big. Too entrenched. Toppled trees with coals for beating hearts had already agreed to their fate. The forest was calm.

We watched it burn awhile, thunderstruck.

Who would have guessed the serenity in the midst of a wildfire? Frozen in the moment by God, it no longer growled like a monstrous demon. It was no longer an enemy. It was an essence, like starlight or love. The fire inside the fire. As mysterious as the life that beheld it, and succumbed to it, a quiet burning in the stillness of what is and what must be. We left the way we came.

Two days later, the snow flew; and the great wildfire season of the Year of Our Lord 2000 came to a close at the hand of God.

We live inside a story of God. We are still free.

San Juan Canyon

March 16, 2001


I hope you have found something of interest in my work from many years ago. Peace to you all, Sand