August 16th, 2002

kite descending

The coda is the part at the end with the curious "coda" notation

I'm up just before dawn, which is always such a nice time. It's still dark outside, which suggests to me that the days are a bit shorter than in June. The Liz Phair song "Go West Young Man" is running through my head right now, but there's nothing particularly quotable in the lyrics that pertains to this post. I've been browsing around journals of friends of people on my friends list. I'm always so impressed at what dense, rich lives get recorded in folks' journals. I got a very good night's sleep last night, and feel almost fully recovered from my travels. I plan to take much of the weekend off, and although I am tempted to travel up to Arkansas once again to visit with family members, I believe that I really need to spend the weekend at home with my wife instead. I must find the one library book from the Allen library I have not returned, so that odd robot on the telephone does not keep calling. In the future, we won't have to interface with any people, and they'll teach those robotic voices better conversation skills.

How to spend a glorious weekend like this one is such a challenge.
I have all sorts of nervousness exchanges to finish, poetry I want to write and format, and both my and scottm's CDs to finish. I have a number of routine chores, such as cleaning up my extra "art" room or my car, that also beckon. Yet, part of me wants to drive the couple of hours up into Oklahoma's Arbuckle Mountains.

I love the Arbuckles. They are mostly large hills, granite-filled things that are something like one imagines the hills in Middle Earth might be. I love that there is a broken cookie factory there, where you can buy bits and pieces. I love Turner Falls, a city park set in a small set of mountains, where a huge swimming pool has been carved underneath a gorgeous natural waterfall. I love that the Arbuckles are entirely magical, and yet entirely unknown. I have a melodramatic streak, I suppose. I want to be in places wholly beautiful, and yet find myself alone with self or spouse sometimes.

Appropos of something else, though, I am thinking this morning about the cool intricacy of every pastime or pursuit. Musical notation has this whole lexicon of phrases and instructions--con brio, andante, whole notes, half notes, coda, and measures.
Chess has a literature which is incredibly rich in phrase and notion--the Colle System, zwischenzug, the Fried Liver Variation of the Two Knights Defense, and stalemate. I love buying used books about indoor houseplants, and reading of myriads of out of favor and yet entirely charming plants grown in the UK thirty years ago.
The Stokes bird book has hundreds of species, many of whom cross our area, and yet my own knowledge stops at roughly 20 species or so. Fun is so incredibly complex, and that appeals to me somehow.

At the same time, though, I can hardly wait for gentle breezes to return. I have a hankering to have 1000 ft. of string and a cheap Delta kite. I know a place in Balch Springs, near where I lived during my first Dallas stay, where the weather conditions are such that a kite goes aloft and stays aloft without much need for human intervention. One needs no special codes, no special string, no special knowledge and no special kite handlers. The kite just flies. I want to be at a place in my life where the kite just flies. Flies way away. Flies way away, and the string is plentiful. The string is plentiful, and all I need do is watch in wonder--and smile.
  • Current Music
    Liz Phair "Go West Young Man"
abstract butterfly

Freedom to Pray; Freedom from Prayer

I've seen a number of posts in various journals this week about the efforts of a group called the American Family Association to attack a reading assignment of the Q'uran during a student orientation at the University of North Carolina. I went and paid a visit to the website for the American Family Association, including pages for its legal action group. The statements and descriptions there made me remember why we must never be complacent about our freedom. Anyone who wonders about the true agendae and compassion of these groups need only read the attacks on people of other views contained in those sites.

I believe strongly in the freedom of religion. I believe that neutral and free expression of religion or the lack thereof by priviate citizens is a key value. However, the religious right has taken a curious two prong attack upon our First Amendment liberties. The first prong is a repeated attempt to establish the Christian religion in our institutions. The second prong is a repeated attempt to attack any expression of non-Christian ideas through attempts to use the First Amendment in litigation.

The First Amendment has two key concepts in dealing with religion. One is that no state religion should be established. The other is that each individual should have freedom of religion. I support litigation which achieves either of those goals, such as the efforts of prayer groups to get equal treatment with bowling clubs and young Republicans in using school rooms after hours. But the right wing dual attack on the First Amendment freedom irritates me no end. On the one hand, repeated efforts to establish the Christian religion are made. One example is the series of statutes, all struck down as ignoble and obvious attempts to establish religion, that tried to force schools to teach "creation science" as an alternative to the theory of evolution. Right wing legal advocacy groups pushed hard to argue that such obviously religious teachings were "neutral". The current movement, in which right wing advocacy groups attempt to argue that any mention of any non-Christian religion, no matter how non-establishmentarian, is a First Amendment violation, is similarly without basis or nobility. In essence, the right wants us to freely air the Bible in public schools, but suppress any mention of any other scripture. As a member of the "religious left", I am deeply troubled by this.

The bottom line is that the religious right does not believe that the First Amendment means what it says. They imagine that Thomas Jefferson, who drafted it, would have insisted that they have the right to suppress other faiths while assidiuously promoting their own faith. They conveniently ignore Jefferson's own take on matters of faith and religious freedom. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson's views on matters of faith and separation are a far cry from the religious right's. The same people who argue for following the framers' "original intent" ignore altogether the broad support for freedom of religion held by many Deist framers.

I find offensive the conduct of liberal Senators and Congresspeople who leaped to joined the misguided effort to criticize the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals' decision that the use of "one nation under God" in the pledge of allegiance was unconstitutional. The record in that case clearly indicated that President Eisenhower signed the bill adding the phrase to the pledge with the express intention that children have to recite a belief in God. Although cases such as the pledge case, which involve "traditional" recitals, do not interest me very much, the Ninth Circuit's result was essentially right, and the election-minded legislators are clearly wrong when they denounce it.

One thing September 11 has taught us is the need to protect religious freedom from those who do not respect it. This is a need which requires all of us to stand up for freedom of religion, freedom from governmental imposition of religion, and freedom not to practice a religion at all.

When I see well funded conservative groups trying to dismantle our Constitution, I am reminded that the price of liberty is indeed eternal vigilance. I must figure out what I can do to try to help protect the freedom of religion, including the freedom from religion.
abstract butterfly

The Heavens open! The Sun Shines on My Waiting Face!

I just read a good poem by chevrefeuilles. Then, during the comments round (which we on LJ know to call "Endless Jeopardy"), I had the greatest idea!

I will enter the Bulwer-Lytton contest for the worst first paragraph of a novel ever written. I will practice a new plan, hip, Vegassy and so George Clooney, that nobody will ever beat. I will take one of my very own poems, convert it into prose format, and THAT, my friends, will be the winning entry!
  • Current Music
    Lonely Girls Order Coffee--cued up soon!