Saturday, December 24, 2016

Coming Out as An Athiest

Originally I planned to come out after the first of the year but a Facebook copy and paste message got me started.  It was one of those posts that say they'd rather believe in God than to find out later they were wrong.  I'm not one to live my entire known life in fear of the unknown life to come.  I reluctantly came to the conclusion God did not exist after many years.  I first settled for agnostic status because I didn't want to make the leap to atheist.

Since a young age, I knew I didn't have the deep seated conviction of God and Jesus.  I saw people around me rely on them for almost everything in their lives.  Some believed in a loving God while others saw God as vengeful and judgemental.  I didn't relate to either.  I knew I didn't have whatever these people had that caused them to believe.

Mom and Dad were, for the most part, believers and went to various churches on a sporadic basis.  Dad would go to other churches but return to the Church of God in Christ.  He said, "I don't feel like I've been to church after attending a Baptist church."  The Church of God in Christ is a lively congregation with drums, loud music, clapping, and people 'getting happy'.  We studied with the Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventist, and visited nearby Baptist churches.  When I stayed at school on the weekends I visited a Catholic church, other Baptist churches, and I think a Methodist church.  None of these churches had a message that spoke to me. 

I guess my sister and I being born legally blind may have bothered Mom more than she let on.  One day she took us to a faith healer who had an office somewhere.  She said to tell people we went to the eye doctor.  I don't remember if he prayed for my sister and me together or separately.  He put either one or both hands over my eyes and made what I considered even then stupid pronouncements.  He said there was nothing wrong with my/our eyes.  He said we needed to rest them because we'd been "Playing too much baseball".  I didn't know how much baseball was too much, but I knew I hadn't been playing any.  At that point we didn't play kickball or fist-ball in P.E. yet.  I didn't even watch ballgame of any kind on TV. 

I have always been a logical person; later I'd add science to help me reach a conclusion about things.  As a youngster I'd ask my great grandmother for coffee when she made some for herself.  "Coffee make you black," she reply.  This didn't make any since.  She was old, but she had light skin.  Besides that, I was already darker than she was.

Sunday school was always a conundrum for me.  The teacher would read a passage from the bible and ask, ''what did Jesus mean when he said that?"  It was always a riddle to me and when someone else answered with the correct answer, I still was confused.  The one that comes to mind is, "You can't put new wine in old bottles."  Many years were to go by before I got a satisfactory answer to this one. 

I didn't like getting up, getting ready, and going to church just to be yelled at.  After surviving a perplexing Sunday School lesson the minister would preach a long, drawn out, fiery sermon about Revelations, The Second Coming, Judgement Day, or burning in Hell.  I couldn't be frightened into belief.  At baptisms I'd wonder what was said to move these people to be baptized.

Mom taught us The Lord's Prayer and we always said a blessing on the food.  The food was blessed at school until it was changed to a moment of silence.  One houseparent gave us an award when we memorized The Twenty-third Psalm and John 3:16.  I can still recite them.

My first memory of not being able to trust God came when I was in the third grade.  Every morning the teacher would read a Bible story.  She read about Noah's ark and the flood.  The end of the story stated how God put a rainbow in the sky as a promise not to destroy the world by flood again.  Shortly thereafter we had a substitute teacher and she read the same Noah's ark story.  I came to the conclusion that God doesn't keep his promises.  Logically I know she read the wrong story, but my conclusion stuck with me.

I'd seen people pray for the sick, pray to find something they lost, say Jesus never failed, or help me Jesus.  If the sick person had a cold, flu, or broken bone, they got better.  If the sick person was elderly, it was hit or miss.  People usually found what they lost, and I didn't see the help they asked for.  Others continued to believe; I continued to wonder if I ever would.

My sister got baptized when she was thirteen and I was nineteen or twenty.  I felt I was missing something because I still hadn't felt the need to be baptized or join a church.

the Christmas after I moved into my own apartment, Dad gave me a family Bible.  He said I'd be embarrassed if somebody came to my place and wanted to look up something in the Bible and I didn't have one.  I wrote the names in the proper places and put it away.  There it stayed for about two years.

I'll give a bare bones account of my conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints.  I've given a more detailed account before.  I wasn't looking for religion or a church when the missionaries came to my door.  I had time to listen to them if they were finished before the guiding Light came on.  They said they would be, and they were.  I let them come back same time next week because I had time then and they were just a couple years younger than I was.  I went to an open house at the church and met a lot of nice people.  the three degrees of glory made more sense to me than just Heaven or Hell.  the lifestyle was appealing because I wasn't a party girl anyway.  I could accept extra scriptures because Dad bought a large print Catholic Bible which had the book of Macabees and another book or two in it.  Also the Jehovah's Witnesses had a Bible.  Continuing revolations also made since to me.  why would God talk so much back then and be silent now?  I was a psychology major and had already studied abnormal psych so I could logically explain Joseph Smith's visions.

I knew I didn't have the deep belief and personal witness other people do when they decide to be baptized.  I knew I believed as much as I was capable of believing.  I knew at twenty-two I should belong to a church.

For the most part between my baptism in 1983 and this year I've been a good Mormon.  There were ups and downs but, on the whole, good.  I never developed a strong testimony of any of the principles of the gospel.  I never felt a burning in my bosom, and I never thought the Prophet knew more about running my life than I did.  My LDS friends would say God is testing me.  I say why would God give me a test he knows I'll flunk?

I started to be concerned about my eyesight in 2007.  I saw the eye doctor and he wanted to monitor my vision before he said it was glaucoma for sure.  I started praying.  first, that it wasn't glaucoma, and also that whatever it was wouldn't get worse.  It got worse, and I continued to pray.  I was finally diagnosed with glaucoma in September of 2011.  I kept praying my sight would stabelize.  It got to the the point where I wouldn't go to a new place alone.  After I'd been there once, I had no quams about going alone.

I went from one eyedrop at night to a full schedule of drops throughout the day.  My sight got worse, I continued to pray.  You get the picture.

I bought a white cane when it was time to take Andrea to college.  I was flying back and didn't dare brave the airports without assistance.  I cried in the visibility Store the day I bought the cane.

After I got home from taking Andrea to school my sight went on a slippery slope.  Shopping became an almost impossible chore.  A lady from church offered to take me shopping.  I missed my stop on MARTA a few times and started using paratransit exclusively.  It got to where I didn't dare fry chicken anymore.  I enlarged my smartphone text and started using my CC TV to read mail.

By the time Andrea came home for Christmas I could no longer hide how bad my sight had become.  Before she left in August I'd thought about asking her to stay.  I couldn't do that because I knew how much it meant to her to go away to college and I wanted her to go at the same time.  I had taken a few Christmas photos for the stock agencies.  There weren't nearly as many or as varied as usual but I knew these were my last stock photo submissions.  I did set up the camera to record Andrea's homecoming.  It took far too long to set up.

I bought myself an Apple TV and a tablet for Christmas.  The Apple device was too much of a struggle to use so it went back.

Andrea and her then boyfriend, Brett, took the pictures Christmas morning.  That was the first time I could remember not taking pictures.  I had Andrea change my monitor to 600 by 800 so the print would automatically be larger.  This helped somewhat but less information was on the screen horizontally so scrolling back and forth was a real pain.

One day, I lost it.  I ran upstairs fussing and yelling about something I was having trouble with.  Andrea said something about maybe it's time for me to move to South Dakota near her.

I don't know when I stopped praying.  I know I stopped because it wasn't doing me any good.  My prayers were to stabilize, not restore my sight.  If there was a god he wouldn't or couldn't.  I couldn't bring myself to say there is no God yet.  I was so frustrated.  I'd been a photographer all my life.  I'd been an excellent computer user since 2000, why take the only things I have going for me away?  I hadn't stolen as much as a candy bar; sure, I'm judgemental, I help people when I can, and I can't even get my sight stabelized.  Also a friend's cancer had come back.  She was a good person, she fought the good fight, she didn't make it through the second fight.  How could god let her cancer come back?  I decided I was agnostic just in case.

I didn't pray about it; I decided to take Andrea up on her offer.  We looked for apartments in her South Dakota town.  there was an ad for a newly constructed townhouse development.  I called and was told they were filling up fast.  I got an application to start the process.  I called the top real estate agency in Metro Atlanta and put my house on the market.  I got an offer after four days.  No prayers on my part.  Closing was set for Feburary 29.  The townhouse people said a unit would be available the first week in March.  After bluffing and blustering my way through a delayed closing, I flew to Sioux Falls on March 9th and signed my lease on March 10th.

Before I moved and after Andrea went back my sight got even worse.  I had to abandon online bill pay and write checks using the CC TV.  It took forever to read mail even with the CC TV.  I'd heave a sigh of relief when there was only junk mail and almost jump for joy when the mailbox was empty.  Sometimes the lights would be on but they didn't illuminate; the room would still be dark with the light bulb bright.  the sky lost it's color, no more distinguishing between blue skies and gray skies.  I slept later because the outside light didn't light up my room very much anymore.

My first Sunday in Sunday School at my new Branch in South Dakota I found myself speaking out.  The teacher ask why we thought people didn't pray.  I had a lot to say as you can guess.  Later, a lady said something about having an illness or losing a child so we could learn something from it.  I asked what are we supposed to learn if nobody tells us.  And as a Mormon crutch, being tested was brought up.  I asked why test somebody who has little or no faith to begin with.  After class the teacher said I took the discussion in a whole new direction.

Now I am down to light perception and that light is getting darker.  Why would a loving god let this happen to me?  Didn't the vengeful God get enough vengence when he made me legally blind since birth?  And not to mention all the other people who suffer from terrible things due to no fault of their own?

My uncle was diagnosed with stage four bone cancer.  He was very sick, in the hospital, and not expected to live.  Miraculuiously he was cured.  He is now back home living a normal life.  Some say God cured him.  I think he was misdiagnosed.  If God cured him, how does God decide who to cure and who to leave uncured?

Don't tell me to read the bible.  Don't tell me to have more faith, don't tell me to join another church.  My life has shown me through fifty-six years on this earth that something as random as prayer and apparently, god, can't be relied upon. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Thoughts on the Oklahoma Fraternity Scandal

The fact that these fraternity members were chanting and singing about lynching "niggers" and keeping Black students out of their fraternity didn't shock me.  They thought themselves to be among like-minded compatriots; free to express themselves freely.  What did surprise me was my friends reactions.  I figured my friends would have the same outlook as I do.  My reaction was the fraternity members had been foolish in expressing themselves in such a way in a place where they couldn't see what everybody was doing.  Somebody had recorded them and sent the video to the media.  In this age of smartphones and instant internet, how could they let themselves be cought saying things like that?

Two friends I grew up with, and went to the school for the blind with had vastly different reactions than each other.  They were discussing it on Facebook along with others.  One friend is a Black man who has lived much of his adult life up north and the other a White woman who lived in the same state all her life.  My Black friend couldn't believe people still had attitudes like this toward Black people, or people of other races for that matter, in this day and age.  The idea that people with this mindset could be found in sufficient quantity to be confortable enough to express themselves seemed impossible to him.  My White friend considers this a freedom of expression issue and the students should be left alone.

For instances like this is one reason I'm not in favor of political correctness.  It glosses over and sugar coats peoples true feelings.  I believe we should know how we stand in the hearts of those we spend time, effort, and money with.  How many Black students have pledged this fraternity, gotten in, and payed dues in the past?  If they had know the true feelings of a great number of the members these students could have pledged another fraternity.  My dad used to say, "I'm not going to beg them to take my money," when an establishment wasn't up to par.  To me this sentiment goes for where I spend my time and money.  In this politically correct ere we don't know who likes us and who dispises us.  We have to pretend to be okay with issues and /or groups we disagree with.

When I'm with family and Black neighbors sometimes the conversation rolls around to things race related.  Lots of my friends, and neighbors say how White people won't let Black people get anywhere, or how they'll only let us get so far.  If somebody says he or she was treated unfairly somebody will ask if the person who did them wrong was Black or White.  If the person they think did them wrong was Black, that Black person is just trying to look good in front of White folks for some reason or is brown nosing.  If the person was White he or she is a racists.  The wrong does can't just be a terrible person or the person thought done wrong just mistaken.

If talk like this goes on in the Black community about Whites it stands to reason talk about Whites discontent about Blacks goes on to.  Talk radio is as close as I can get to it because of political correctness.  If they express their discontent or don't understand our point of view they're labeled racist.

By listening to talk radio it seems like Whites wish Blacks would stop referring to slavery.  After all slavery has been over for a hundred and fifty years.  When does it stop?  Does it matter none of the former slaves or slave owners are still alive?  Does it matter that few of us have stories of these long ago ancestors?  Slavery is part of our history and there is nothing we can do to change it now.   Because it happened is no reason to use it as a crutch for today.  My great grandmother was born in 1885 so my great great grandmother may or may not have been a slave.  I don't think she was because my great grandmother never mentioned her mother being a slave.   The Jews say, "Never forget," when it comes to the Holocaust.  Will they be told to get over it by people in 2100?  Whould they?  They shouldn't forget, neither should they use it as a crutch. 

I Black/White standards I am not prejudiced. Both my husbands were white and if I ever get another he'll most like be White too.  I grew up in both worlds so to speak and that is my choice and I make no apoligies.  But I think I am prejudiced and again I make no apologies.

Back in the 2000's when churches and such were sending things for Iraqi children I thought this was ridiculous.  Iraqi children grow into Iraqi adults.  I remember once our church was having the kids get packages ready and make homemade dolls to send to Iraqi Children.  I told them flat out the my kids wouldn't be there.     

If my daughters brought home a Muslim or Middle Easterner all hell would break loose.  I don't care if he is a medical exchange student, a nationalized citizen, or born and bred here in the USA by fourth generation American parents.  With 9-11, Isis, and the Taliban, there's no was I'd just be political correct and say people are people.  I'd fuss and fume and do everything I humanly could to break them up.  

A lady in one of the Facebook groups I belong to think education is the key to tolerance.  She thinks young children should have a class in tolerance of all kinds of different people.  Don't get me started on how much the schools expect little kids to study already.  Another subject is too much, especially a politically correct class.  I can think of several topics in such a class that would cause me to keep my kids home. 

I believe interaction brings about tolerance and understanding, not education.  Yes, you could require me to take a class to learn about all kinds of different people and lifestyles.  I could learn the material and pass the test.  Have I been enlightened?  If you ask me If I believe in gay marriage I'd say no.  In principle I'm against it.  I believe marriage should be between people of the opposite sex.  On the other hand if you ask me if somebody I know should marry another person of the same sex I'd say yes because I want them to be happy.  Did I go out of my way to eat a Chick Fil A during their bru ha ha about the owner's beliefs about gay marriage?  Yes because we all have the right to believe what we choose to believe.

As the old saying goes, "Him convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still".

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The End of an Era

Beazle's House
yesterday I was emotional because Beazle left her home of almost forty-four years to move in with my sister. Constance and I asked Mom about moving in with one of us or moving into a retirement community after her stroke in 2010. Mom always said she wanted to stay in her own home. I think she changed her mind last May, after my oldest daughter's wedding. Mom went to visit with Constance and Maria for a week or so in Louisville, Kentucky. Constance said Mom really liked it there. After that talk about moving started.

 Next Constance and Maria bought a larger place and things were set in motion for Mom's move. We had what I call our last hurrah at Mom's house.Everybody came for Thanksgiving. We all had a good time. Mom put her house on the market just after Christmas and the ball was rolling. Andrea and I came to help get the house cleared out and took better pictures for I won't go into all the details and frustrations of getting the house listed and re-listed, suffice it to say, there are some lazy real estate agents out there and I don't know how they survive alongside the go getters.

We all figured Mom's house would be easier to sell if it was empty so moving date was moved up. Now it has come and gone. The movers came yesterday and Mom Constance, and Maria headed out after the movers left. I was sad most of yesterday. It would have been sadder but I had some personal matters to attend to with my youngest daughter. I will post my journal entry for yesterday....

 I'm already emotional today. Later this afternoon the movers come and Mom, Constance, and Maria head for Louisville. It's hard to wrap my brain around the fact the Mom won't be "at home" in a few short hours. I'm really not ready for this.

I remember when Mom and Dad bought this house. It was brand new, in and not yet finished subdivision. I was ten years old. Mom and I went to clean the house and polish the cabinets and doors with red oil when she got off work in the evenings. It looked so big as we wandered through the empty rooms.

Then on June 15, 1971 Dad decided to surprise Mom by moving us there while she was at work. And now, it’s changing again…… 

I awoke early this morning thinking about Beazle's moving. I tried to imagine the house empty. I remembered little things that happened over the years. I couldn't imagine it empty; there would always be some item of furniture in every room. I even wondered what the house thinks being empty after all these years, does it miss us? I'm not holding up well and I wonder how Beazle is doing. She says she's not sad and Constance confirms it. I'm the only one who seems to be sad and the only one who thinks Beazle will be sad. I know when I left home or moved some place new I was excited. I was getting ready to experience something new. It was the same for Merritt and Holiday and I'm looking forward to Andrea going off to college. These are the things that should happen to young adults. They pack up a move off. They leave the articles of childhood behind at home. They may or may not come back to claim some of them.

Beazles Malibu
But with Mom it is so final. She sold or gave away a lot of her possessions. She was able to sell her car back to the dealership for a good price, surprise, surprise. 
We put piles and piles of accumulated stuff on the curb for the garbage man or passers by to pick up. It was poignant because I could remember when this stuff was new. Seeing half a lifetime disposed of in this way was so sad.

Why is this different from when a young person moves? To me a younger person is looking forward while an older person is sizing down due to real or perceived necessity. What she takes needs to fit into someone else's space. Her things will be mixed in with or separated from other peoples things. It's not a visit; she can't go back home in a week or two. I'm trying to see the similarities between a young person moving out of the house or moving to another location for personal or professional reasons and an older person moving out of their home of many years to move in with relatives or some retirement living facilities.

I tell myself it would be nice to sell this house and buy a condo. I look at that as just a lifestyle choice. But when I think of Mom giving up her house to live with my sister it makes me sad. In a condo I'll be surrounded with all my stuff that I decide to bring. I'll have the freedom from yard work and major repairs. With Mom living with Constance and Maria, she'll have some of her stuff in somebody else's house. Even though she lives there, and I'm sure she's welcome, is she truly at home? The anwser for Constance and Maria I really think is yes. To Mom, I hope the answer is yes. My emotions say no. Emotions aren't based on facts, they're just based on how I think I'd feel if I lived in somebody else's house with few of my things with me.

As for this blog, I don't know. I started it to celebrate Beazle and her awesome quirkiness. She is still awesome and quirky so I should continue. On the other hand, this is my first entry in a long time. I do enjoy writing it when I sit down to do so. I get discouraged when I see the number of "Likes" on Facebook and the number of reads. I don't know what I'm doing wrong but it's something. A Facebook friend started a page about her new business earlier this month. Basically she is announcing the upcoming launch of her business. Last time I checked she had 301 likes. My pages have been up for years and none have even a hundred likes.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Post with no Name

As you read this issue of The Beazler everything may seem backward.  I couldn't find a way to reorder the posts once I finished them and it felt strange to write them in reverse order.  Luckily you can read them in whatever order suits your fancy. 

I've been telling myself I need to write on the blog put I kept putting it off.  Today seemed like a good time because things have come together in a way.  I guess I can call this the USD issue, I think I will.  All the entries have something to do with the University of South Dakota. 

Blind as Eye Look Photography (that's me) took Andrea's senior pictures earlier this month.  We went to Stately Oakes Plantation the reported inspiration for Tara in Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind.  We enjoyed turing the house and seeing the grounds. Here is a link to the Smugmug gallery.  Those of us in the Atlanta area email if you'd like portraits taken.

As soon as I knew Andrea had been accepted to USD I made a master list.  Things to do before she leaves, financing ideas, lists of what to take, what she already has, and the costs there of, both estimated and actual.  I know, I'm anal retentive, detail oriented, and probably OCD.  I remind you; I planned and executed our move from Arkansas to Georgia all by myself and had no, count them ZERO, snafu, or is it snafus? When August the something rolls around next year I will have done all I can to make it happen.  And if it happens I bet it will be smooth. 

Our candy bar sales started out slowly.  We got our candy the same time as the elementary schools around here got theirs.  I won't lie; I was perturbed.  I'll tell you why.  The last time I say a school selling candy bars you could buy directly from the kids was back when Holiday was in the sixth grade.  That would have been at least ten years ago.  Until this year the kids have been taking orders and delivering months later.  The good thing is we plan to sell until it gets too hot next Spring. 

It is so nice be be able to get up and go when we please.  Andrea's having her driver's license has been wonderful.  We don't go as much as I expected because of gas prices this summer but it has been nice. 

Hopefully I will stay on the once a month schedule for The Beazler.

Online Scholarship Search Frustration

"Has anyone won a scholarship offered through Fastweb?"  I saw asked somewhere online.  I don't know but we went through the process.  We answered all their profile questions and VIOLA! seven pages of "matches" were found.  I was feeling elated.  By the time I finished looking at page seven I was feeling just pretty good.  Some of Andrea's "matches" we for graduate students, law students, students attending a particular school, employees of the XYZ company, or some other criteria not listed on her profile.  Now throw out the ones that say sighn up with us for a chance to win..., take a photo or make a video and get likes, and you're down to the ones that can be tried for.  Because I like to start early I found may sites with last years information still posted.  That is gradually changing.

I asked my oldest daughter if she knew of any good sites to check other than Fastweb.  She said Fastweb was the best one.  Doing more research made me a believer.  Google has many entries for scholarship searches; most of them crap.  Some send spam, others call you milliseconds after you click on the submit button for more information, and I even found one that wanted money; in this day and age.

How many of you have hear about scholarships for all kinds of weird categories?  Me too.   We must not be weird enough.  I thought surly I'd find scholarships that fit more of our strange categories in some way.  Where are the scholarships for children who lost a parent, children of left-handed, legally blind photographers, Children who volunteered in the Bishop's Storehouse but aren't attending BYU, children who are the go to person in the neighborhood when someone has some IKEA to be assembled, person who got all her points for parallel parking on the road test, drove across country five days after getting her license, last and definately least had five different hair colors in less than a year.  Tongue and cheek, sure, but they do advertize scholarships for odd ball things.  We only have homeschooled biracial student to help stand out in the crowd. 

Andrea will probably want to make mush out of me after the ACT.  Part of English time and Fridays will be devoted to a master essay.  When it is finished she can copy and paste the relevent parts into these scholarship applications we find on Fastweb. 

Please keep your eyes and ears open for scholarship offerings out there.  I hope we can make this happen.