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.