News and views, as it were

When Baxter succumbs to lung cancer—he coughed up blood for the first time yesterday—I would like to adopt a rescue schnauzer in a year or two, or even a week or two, but Peggy insists on waiting several years (and even then she would prefer a dog that’s small enough to fit under the seat on an airplane). She felt the same way when our last schnauzer died in 1993, and it made life very difficult for me. Yesterday, I looked at photos of rescue schnauzers on the Internet and literally sobbed, partly out of grief for Baxter, and partly because I don’t want to be without a schnauzer.

My orthopedist called today in response to a letter I sent in which I asked if a third shoulder surgery was advisable. He said it wouldn’t help unless it was a replacement, and that I could look forward to continued pain in both shoulders even I had them both replaced. This got me down a little. It didn’t surprise me, but it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

I voted straight Democratic today, although I hate all politicians at this point. I’m sick of their lies; I’m sick of their supporters knocking on my door several times a week; I'm weary of throwing away their slanderous mail; and I'm incensed at having them call me on the phone everyday (yesterday, Peggy told one to “Fuck off”). I’m tempted to withdraw from the voting roll simply to end the harassment, but I can’t because the stakes are too high. However bad the Democrats are, the Republicans are infinitely worse.

I’m the host and de facto local leader of an international group called the Center for Inquiry (its purpose is to: “foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values”). Our first meeting was in May, and since then, we’ve been piddling along with about six people at each meeting. With five days to go until our next meeting, our membership recently jumped from 40 to 61, of which 16 are signed up to come. Only four of those have been to a meeting before, and I’m the only one who is willing to lead even part of this next meeting. I’m very unhappy about the lack of cooperation, but I can’t just sit back and do nothing. I’ve been working hard preparing my presentation—for the whole damn meeting—which is why I’m so far behind on visiting other people’s blogs. It seems that this group is poised to really take off, and that all the responsibility for its success is upon me. Without the generous support I’ve been getting from Sylvia, a volunteer in the Portland office, I really don’t know what I would do. I don’t think I would simply cancel the meeting, but I would sure be tempted.

I recently received dues notices for the IOOF and the Masons, but I’m not going to renew. Both require a belief in god, but neither define god. Well, I can say I’m a pantheist easily enough, but then it’s obvious that my fellow members define god as a supernatural entity. Furthermore, the rituals of both lodges assume that this entity is available to grant favors. I’ve hung in there for upwards of twenty years, but I’m thinking I’m ready to let it all go, although I’ve grieved a great deal over the matter.

The content of atheism and pantheism is, or at least can be, the same, but this just raises the question of why anyone would feel the need to add the extra word—i.e. pantheist. Some people do, but I’ve found it increasingly hard to do so myself. I’m even a member of the World Pantheist Society, but I’ll probably let that lapse too. I know that some of you think I’m an atheist because I’m pigheaded, but the truth is just the opposite. I did my best to hold onto religion, any religion, for as long as I could and then some, but the bottom-line is that I’m unable to accept the existence of a supernatural deity simply because I see no evidence for the existence of a supernatural deity.

32 comments:

The Depressed Reader said...

Hi Snowbrush,
Good on you for taking the initiative and organizing a CSI group in your area! I know exactly what it is like to be organizing a volunteer group, trying to get things done with little support. Everyone is happy to criticize and tell you what you "should" do, but those who are prepared to step up and actually do things are few and far between.

When it comes right down to it, I think that most people are lazy, selfish, and illogical. These three traits explain most human behavior. Getting reliable people, especially if they are not getting paid, will always be a challenge. But if you think it is worthwhile, you will do it anyway. And advancing science and reason is a goal well worth doing.

And once in a while you will find a person who is really committed and involved. It makes a huge difference. I hope you find someone like that in your area soon.

Strayer said...

I just quit trying to find helpful volunteers who actually do something. Most people who have expressed interest in helping here, with the cats, never show when they discover it actually involves work, and not just holding kittens.

It's a lot of work on you, Snow, but if anyone can "shoulder" the load, it's you. Have you tried the medical marijuana route?

Just wondered.

Le Grand Lapin said...

Snowbrush,

Any local organization I've been involved with has always had one or two spark plugs that keep the motor running and any number of hangers-on who, while they share the core values of the group, lack the courage or initiative to get involved at any level. Group motivation is a mystery to me.

I believe freethinkers-atheists-humanists-secularists are that much harder to wrangle because they so readily reject authority.

You see no evidence for the existence of a supernatural deity because you're stuck in the natural, finite world. The second you see such evidence, it ceases to be of supernatural causes. Ergo, god goes "poof" and we're back where we started from. It's all snakes and ladders until you stop trying to make the pieces fit and realize that it's a fairy tale.

Snowbrush said...

Thanks all for the support and encouragement. No, Strayer, I haven't tried pot for pain, and I haven't even smoked any recreationally for a great many years. I quit buying it when it passed $15 a lid (it might well be in the hundreds by now for all I know), after which I mooched an occasional hit from friends. The last such friend moved away more than ten years ago, and I haven't had any since. I would literally have visual hallucinattions on marijuana at times, and it was this very effect that I wanted, but it was an effect that went away if I smoked frequently, so I never had any desire to do so.

All Consuming said...

I never cease to be amazed at all the things that you take on Snow and this venture sounds an admirable one, I just wish like you, you had more support at the grass roots. It's so important to keep the mind busy when pain is a constant and you certainly do that.

I feel for you very much about Baxter, and wanting another dog soon, I can't imagine having another dog after Lardy as she's got such a strong personality, I also can't imagine being happy without a dog in my life at all. I wish you and Peggy strength and love. xxx

Christy said...

I refuse to discuss religion with anyone anymore. That has to do with family issues in that department. I will tell you I'm with you in the voting department though. I was able to vote early and did so.

I am sorry about your shoulders. Getting older and the afflictions we are either born with or develop can really have a negative effect on us. We should all take our approach from you. Still keep smiling and engaging with others. It is the only way to live.

Snowbrush said...

Christy, Oregon is entirely vote-by-mail, a system that I find far preferable to the old way of having everyone go to vote on the same day and stand in line.

Snowbrush said...

Christy said: "I refuse to discuss religion with anyone anymore. That has to do with family issues in that department."

Christy, I should have addressed this in my last reply, but I didn't know how, so I let it pass. First, I want to thank you for letting me know. Second, I want to say that I hope I haven't offended you. I often challenge people who respond to my posts, and although I try to do so respectfully, some people no doubt think I'm simply being difficult. From my point of view, my challenges are somewhat due to my enjoyment of debate, but more importantly, they are based upon my belief that my thoughts and values are important enough to deserve a fair hearing, and in all honesty, people's responses often indicate that they didn't understand what it was that I was trying to communicate.

Robert the Skeptic said...

I concur with your disgust in the political system, but I did as you, voted Democratic down the line as more of a "lesser of the the two evils" response.

Both are beholding to Big Business so really I think Ralph Nader was correct, even though there was no way for him to get elected.

Crazed Nitwit said...

Sorry to hear the sad news about your dog and you. Gentle hugs.

Thanks for voting Democrat. I'm not too fond of any of 'em but the thought of the tea party in power makes me want to hurl.

Love ya dude. Even if you are a Godless atheist......snerk.

Snowbrush said...

Nitwit said: "Love ya dude. Even if you are a Godless atheist...."

Why ARE people always putting us atheists down by calling us ungodly?! I personally know a LOT of American atheists, at least, and most of them are decent, hardworking, god-fearing, patriotic, Republicans who seldom beat their wives, rarely kick their dogs, and are typically carried into one church or another within no more than a few days of the time that somebody gets fed up enough with their smart-mouth comments to finally kill them.

Robert said: "Both are beholding to Big Business..."

After the recent Supreme Court decision about lifting the limit on corporate political donations, only those who have sold out are likely to have any hope of winning. The local Congressional race here in Oregon was between a long-term Democrat incumbent and an unknown Republican. The latter must have surely outspent the former ten to one. In fact, he spent so much that that alone made me suspicious. Of course, I would have voted for the Democrat anyway, but the thought crossed my mind more than once that the Republican simply had to have some serious big money behind him.

kylie said...

so sorry about baxter, snow

rhymeswithplague said...

Snow, in your reply to Nitwit, don't you think applying the term god-fearing to atheists is the teensiest bit contradictory? Please define what you mean by god-fearing in this context (and not just a cop-out that you fear the people who believe in God)! If you mean that you fear that God exists, wouldn't that make you more of an agnostic? (Not that I think you mean that). Maybe you'll restate your "when in Rome" argument again, saying that you're just using the term so that other people will gather what you mean even though you don't believe the concept yourself. Isn't that somewhat duplicitous? To put it mildly, I'm now thoroughly confused.

Or perhaps you're not the atheist you claim to be.

rhymeswithplague said...

For the record, I'm not planning to kill anybody.

rhymeswithplague said...

I just hate it about Buster's illness. After our 12-year-old male poodle P.J. had a stroke before our eyes, let out a blood-curdling scream that sounded like a child (it was the last sound he ever made), and died within an hour, Ellie and I were so traumatized we couldn't even think about getting another pet for four years, even though the house seemed abysmally empty. Finally, we got a white Havanese named Jethro who has become the love of our lives. But getting him sooner would have seemed like a betrayal of P.J. somehow.

You have to do what you and Peggy together think best, but don't push her to compromise too soon.

Snowbrush said...

Rhymes said: "don't you think applying the term god-fearing to atheists is the teensiest bit contradictory?"

My humor didn't work, eh? For my entire life, I have heard atheists referred to as "godless atheists," (as if to distinguish them from the godly variety), so my intention was to make fun of the term. I also meant "Republican atheist" to be humorous since I've never known an atheist who wanted anything to have anything to do with the religion promoting Republican Party. Of course, the fact that atheists kick dogs and beat their spouses is too well known to be worthy of mention. I've also known some few who kicked cats, but cats are unforgiving beasts, which makes it hard to kick the same cat twice. It is for this reason that atheists are invariably dog people.

Ah, Rhymes, my friend, my life is certainly richer for having you in it even if I make you pull your hair out with my silliness. It's a hard thing to say that I love someone whom I've never met in person, but if anyone falls under that category, it's you.

I had to look up havanese since I didn't even know if the critter was a dog or a cat. Your last pet's death was nightmarish. I've heard that rabbits scream like that, although I've never had the bad fortune to hear one do so.

Rhymes said: "You have to do what you and Peggy together think best, but don't push her to compromise too soon."

I probably would push her harder than I did last time when we went from '93 to '97 without a dog. I can see going without for one year, but three years is a bit much. However, Peggy has one strong objection on her side that I too feel, and it is that a dog ties you down if you have no one who would welcome keeping it during your absence, and you are unwilling to put it in a kennel--and I can't imagine putting my dog in a kennel. She and I also agree that we will never again have two dogs.

Well, I'm only up because of the damn pain, and the Percocet is making me loopy, so I hope I've made sense as opposed to confusing you even more.

Snowbrush said...

Christy said: ""I refuse to discuss religion with anyone anymore..."

I just realized that my response to this sentence was based upon me misreading it. I thought you said "you" rather than "anyone." It was a case of seeing what I expected to see simply because others have either said as much or have withdrawn.

Skepticat said...

I'm so sorry for what you're experiencing. Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to make something better when you can't. Do you accept comfort in the form of cyberhugs?

I'm equally disgusted with politics but I could not bring myself to vote. I'll probably blog on that today or tomorrow.

Likewise, I share your frustration about atheism. Sometimes I wonder if pantheism is a better term for me too because, when I look at nature, I get those same euphoric feelings and that sense of connectedness that others claim to get from theism. I tend to use the term "atheist" to describe myself but I don't know that the label is entirely accurate.

Snowbrush said...

Skepticat, whether one identifies god as synonymous with nature depends, of course, upon how god is defined. Since nature is amoral and non-sentient, it's a stretch for me. I will often be in the woods marveling at the beauty around me, and find it tempting to think that that beauty loves me. Yet, I know that this impression is only possible because I have a full stomach and a warm bed--things that were wrested from nature rather than lovingly given by nature. A woman died of exposure in one of my favorite parts of the woods last week when she got lost picking mushrooms. As I see it, there is nothing out there that cares the least about us or even knows that we exist. Those who worship nature worship it for their love of it rather than its love of them, and I suppose this is a higher form of worship than what most religions offer because their gods are invariably a mixture of threats and promises.

Marion said...

Ah,Snow, I'm so sorry about Baxter. When pets die, it can take awhile to love another dog for himself, rather than the comparisons which would undoubtedly arise with a quick replacement. I once had to recognize what I was doing to a new puppy who came quickly on the heels of my old dog's death. Even when he was the same breed, he was far different from my dog who had died. He deserved to be loved for himself...and I found it difficult to do so, so soon after my other dog's death. I learned not to try and replace until I had mourned properly.

Whatever you decide, here's a soft cyberhug or two sent your way...xoxo

Julie Magers Soulen said...

Hi Snowbrush, First let me say thanks for visiting me and sorry it has taken me so long to return the favor. Second, I am so sorry you are struggling with losing your dog to cancer. I have lost two to cancer in the past and know how heart wrenching it is. Third, I can honestly say you would be a fascinating person to sit down and share a beverage with. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

Kind Regards,
Julie
Julie Magers Soulen Photography

Lydia said...

Hi Snowbrush,
So many thoughts after reading your post...
I absolutely know what you are going through when you say you don't want to be without another Schnauzer. When we lost our Old English Sheepdog, Woofles, four years ago we felt like we couldn't live without another OES in the house. And we did what you are doing now...checked OES Rescue sites and were in contact with several representatives by email and phone until a man at Texas OES Rescue presented us with the idea of adopting Abby. We were thinking "male" because Woofles was male so the idea seemed foreign but as he began telling us more and more about Abby and sending us photos and lobbying on her behalf...well three years ago magic happened when she arrived by van here in Silverton. She and I are so close. She is now ten and becoming quite arthritic, and we will do just about anything to ensure she has more good years with us. I can't imagine never having lived with Abby.
I think you should try to bring your wife over to your side. She is probably expressing her own mourning in a different way than you. Sometimes the thought of more hurt down the line is something you want to protect against. But if you and she would have one-half the luck and grace in finding a needy Schnauzer to rescue as we have with Abby, well life is too short (and in your case, too painful) to not have the love and healing of the right animal around.

Interesting about the Center for Inquiry. Good for you for working to promote the group. I hope it flourishes in baby steps even. I think you would be interested in getting to know one of my closest blogging friends, Deena Stryker. Her blog is OtherJones and there you should check out her bio and her book. I am reading her book now; it is deep. She is an atheist with a brain and heart unlike any person I've known. She is highly political but not in a sense that I think would turn you off. See what you think....

Don't feel pressured ever to visit my blog. Take care of yourself and other blogging friends. :)

Vagabonde said...

You know what – you are a sincere fellow. I read an article saying that many preachers don’t believe what they preach but they do it anyway because it’s the only thing they learned and they need a paycheck, so they pretend. I guess they learned a lot about religion since it is their business and the more they learned the more they started to not believe in what they were preaching. It makes sense.

dana said...

After our 17 year old Bichon died, Joe and I returned home...to an abysmal existence. Just gathering the toys, and occasionally finding a piece of a treat under the sofa was enough to keep me depressed and push me farther down.

Joe wanted to use the "freedom" to travel. We went one place,spent the night, and returned home. Wheeeee. Still depressed.

I accidentally found my dog/child when a puppy mill got shut down. I was Beau's last chance and we both knew it.

Although I thought I'd want a schnauzer (I had them in my youth) I got the one that NEEDED me the most.

He's a 4 year old pup. The vet says that going for 3 years without ANY playful stimulation on affection, he's just as much a PUP as a 4 month old, eating up all the love and asking for more. Watching us as we move through the house with him at our heels.

AND, when my blood sugar dips too low, too fast, he has a tendency to start chewing on my arms as if he's picking fleas! A dead giveaway that I'm getting ready to start shaking and my heart going out of wack.

He could be a service dog, but I don't know how to get him "legalized". But just today he brought me out of a six hour "nap" that I had fallen deeply into because of falling blood sugar.

Don't hobble yourself by breed: TAKE THE ONE THAT NEEDS YOU THE MOST.

p.s. Is it "time" for Baxter? It's THE worst thing on earth...choosing for them...

Snowbrush said...

I didn't know I was so far behind. I've been busy with the CFI stuff (last night's meeting was a success) that I wrote about, and my blog--and everyone else's blog--has taken a back seat for now.

Dana, why not Google service dog requirements or ask your doctor if he or she knows anything? I know that some people just buy a vest and take their dog into stores and so forth, but you couldn't get on an airplane that way. No, Baxter isn't ready for death. We started him on steroids last week, and the change was incredible for about three days, and then his cough came back. He can still enjoy much in life though--including playing with his toys and taking long walks--so it would be a disservice to him to think about having him put to sleep. Whether that time will come next week or next year, I have no idea. Maybe he will even die in his sleep. Yes, it is the "worst thing" having to choose for them when they will die, and I let my last dog live far too long, so I'm resolved to avoid that with Baxter. I'm just really having a hard time right now.

Vagabonde said: " I read an article saying that many preachers don’t believe what they preach but they do it anyway because it’s the only thing they learned and they need a paycheck."

I too have read this. Seminary robs some of them of their faith, and I suppose being witness to so much undeserved heartache in their ministries also takes a toll. I would have thought that liberals were the ones most likely to fall away, but that's not necessarily true because they are also, oftentimes, the ones who expect the least to begin with.

Lydia said: "We were thinking "male" because Woofles was male..."

I read on the schnauzer site that it's males that are the hardest to place. I know that Peggy never wanted a male dog until I talked her into Baxter, and now that he's more bonded to her than to me, she has changed her mind. As for myself, I don't care about gender. Although I suspect it's often true that dogs bond the stronger with the opposite gender human, it's really okay with me to have a dog that is more attached to Peggy just so long as he doesn't ignore me altogether--that would be hard.

Julie said: "you would be a fascinating person to sit down and share a beverage with."

Julie, thank you so very much for saying that.

Marion, thank you for the cyberhug. As for getting a dog too soon, someone else said the same thing. I haven't had the opportunity to get a new dog right away--as an adult anyway--so I wouldn't know how it would work for me, although it makes sense that it might be a mistake.

dana said...

Honey, you don't have to put this in your comment section, but I was sent the following url concerning the fact that Athiests have no hymnal with Steve Martin.

It's good singing anyway you look at it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFWA1A9XFi8&feature=player_embedded

Snowbrush said...

Dana, I went ahead and posted it since you didn't tell me not to, and since it didn't contain anything of a personal nature. Actually, someone else sent me this link--Rhymes, maybe--but i never got around to looking at it. Thanks much. I really enjoy Steve Martin.

Natalie said...

Popping in to say hi to you. Sorry to hear about poor Baxter.
On looking about me, the world hasn't changed much down here, nor has it changed too much up there. Sending healing to Doggies and shoulders.♥♥

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Snow, your comments on Baxter make me sad. I always have lofty ideas for what I will do with myself when I find myself without a pup. It's always "several years."

I typically make it six weeks!

natalieanddogs said...

My Giant Schnauzer's name is Baxter too! I felt sad while reading your post. I hope you'd find another Baxter in your life.

Snowbrush said...

"I hope you'd find another Baxter in your life."

Thank you, Natalie. We still have our blind blue heeler who is now 14 and going deaf, and we got a cat after Baxter died. We named him Brewsky, and he gives us a great deal of pleasure, but he's not substitute for a schnauzer. Baxter will have been dead one year on December 10.

Snowbrush said...

Natalie, I just went to visit your blog, but you don't have one. How sad.