Nothing Says Spring Like a Blanket of Snow

We had a very warm, snow-free winter this year and now that it’s officially spring, the snow started coming down heavy this morning.  But I’m telecommuting today and don’t have to drive so why not?  There were five deer in the forest outside my living room window.  I was enjoying the view until the German shorthaired pointers joined me.  They started barking and scared the deer away.  But before the fearless defenders of the castle did their job, I was watching the deer feeding.  Apparently, there are enough new shoots on trees and bushes for the deer to browse on.  Yesterday the mallards returned to the swamp and grazed on the plant life that has been available since the pond thawed out two weeks ago.  Camera Girl saw a turtle swimming around over the weekend and the sound of the spring peepers has been noticeable lately.  I put up that photo of the first garter snake and the first bluebird has made an appearance at the feeder.  So even though it looks like January 23rd outside my window I’m not fooled.  Sure, we could still get the April Fool’s Nor’easter this year and even have to break out the snow blower one last time before moving the lawn mower to the front of the shed.  But spring is busting out all over the place.  This is just the spiteful spirit of annoying New England and its contrarian position against anything normal and happy.  But it won’t win.  We just have to be a little more stubborn than the powers of death and dissolution.  There’s snow on the ground but Spring’s in the air.

Behold Arrokoth! The Jeb Bush of the Solar System

Out beyond Pluto in the Kuiper Belt, in the doldrums of the solar system, the forces of gravity were powered by a tepid gruel of space dust so thin that when this material accreted into larger bodies the collisions were so “low energy” that you end up with a dumbell formed by two nearby planetoids colliding in super slow motion.  In recognition of its defining characteristic I think it should be renamed Jeb!

Man and God – Part 1 – The Existence of God

I want to preface this by saying that I have no formal training in theology, church doctrine or divinity other than twelve years of Roman Catholic schooling and the associated doctrinal education that entails.  Nothing I say can be construed to be orthodox doctrine within any sect of Christianity.  I’m sure that several of my beliefs would be considered heretical by some Christian theologists so don’t assume anything I say is dogma for any church you might belong to.  But it is what I believe and I think it’s time people start connecting the dots with what their scriptures say, what they understand it to mean and what the clerics in their churches say and do.

For all of recorded history and as far back as we can discover, man has tried to understand his place in the universe.  Earth Mother, Sky Father, elemental forces, spirits of animals, ancestors, natural objects like mountains, rivers, stars, planets, the sun and moon, all figured into the speculations and rituals of the humans who have inhabited Earth for countless generations.  Even our predecessors, the Neanderthals had burial customs that may have had a religious meaning.

But since the Age of Enlightenment the elite of our civilization has told us that God is dead.  But by that they mean that he never existed in the first place.  And within our lifetimes organized efforts have been put in place to stamp out belief in God.  The Soviets did everything they could to enforce atheism throughout the Soviet Union and the satellite nations that they controlled.  The modern academy inculcates a hatred of Christianity that borders on the monomaniacal.  And the LGBTQ mafia and their government allies confront and persecute any traces of orthodox Christianity wherever they can.

So, it is no wonder that church attendance is plummeting and surveys polling religious belief show a growing trend toward atheism among the young.  Sensing their ascendancy, the Left now asserts that religion and specifically Christianity has been discredited and will soon disappear, being completely displaced by the godless social justice cult that they adhere to.  And as if to prove their mastery of religion they now claim to be able to observe on brain scans the phenomenon which believers experience when communing with God in prayer.  From this scientific result they deduce that humans are confusing a natural neurological phenomenon with a supernatural experience.

This is the attack on the faithful from without.  At the same time, forces within the religious community are also wreaking havoc on the position of religion.  The monstrous horror that is the Catholic Priest Pedophile outrage has done more to discredit the Church than anything its enemies could have ever hoped to do.  I include in this of course the cover up of this horror by the complicit Church hierarchy which only serves to hammer home that the Roman Catholic Church has ceased to represent the traditional religious views of its hundreds of millions of adherents.  And the other Christian denominations to a greater or lesser extent have also lost much of their legitimacy through advocating almost exclusively a message of social justice and adopting a spirit of “tolerance” that effectively eliminates the tenets of their faiths.

I don’t paint a rosy picture.  And I don’t intend to.  Because I don’t have to.  Belief in God is not a delicate thing that has to be nurtured.  The need for God is one of the fundamental psychological needs of the human mind.  What has to be done is eliminate the mistaken information that confuses the minds of people.

As an example, the problem of pain.  Countless people have wrestled with the idea that somehow God could eliminate pain and suffering but chooses not to.  When confronted by the reality of innocent children suffering and dying from agonizing medical conditions or through brutal cruelty, they deny the reality of a loving God who would allow such things.

I have thought about this often myself.  The paradox is that of pure goodness and omnipotence juxtaposed with unjust suffering.  As an answer I’ve heard that free will prevents God from stopping evil men from inflicting pain on the innocent.  Of course, this doesn’t explain why natural disasters are allowed to occur.  So, we are stuck with a paradox.  But the answer is simpler.  How do we know the limits of what God can and can’t do?  If you read doctrine of the various churches, they state that God is omnipotent.  Well, what does that mean?  Human beings have no experience of any absolute.  We live in a world that we interpret with our senses and our very limited brain.  God may be so powerful that we cannot even fathom what he is capable of but that doesn’t mean he can control every drop of rain and every quake of the Earth.  It is my belief that the concept of omnipotence is the major stumbling block to belief in God.  Omnipotence sets up this idea of a game that’s rigged against us for no reason.  That is the problem that I think needs to be removed.

But what do we know about God?  What is clear from scripture is that God loves us.  That he says over and over again.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

1 John 4:16

So, if God loves us, he does not want us to suffer.  If nevertheless we do suffer innocently then it’s because it can’t be prevented.  To me that’s clear.  Whether that means there is a malevolence like the devil or a cold lifeless random universe outside of God’s purview then that’s what there is.  But I don’t have to understand everything.  I just need to know that I’ve got someone out there who cares for me and mine.  And who has interceded to provide help and knowledge and maybe even tip the scales a little in our favor whenever he can.

To me that’s the nature of a personal God.  He is a father to us and we have some of His spirit in us too.  And that’s not all that different from feeling the influence of the parents and grandparents that raised us and taught us and gave us understanding when we needed it.  And that is like the ancestors who passed along the laws that we live by.  God’s spirit allowed them to see how his people must live and so they wrote down these laws and provided the leadership needed to teach the people how to live.

Today many people will say that all of this can occur without God existing, that a tribe will coalesce around a leader whose mind naturally resonates to the needs of his people and will formulate the laws they need to thrive.  I know no way to prove otherwise.  But that is unimportant to me.  I do not seek to convince anyone.  I believe that there is a force in this world that impels us to do good.  And what seems like a proof of its existence is that it works against the flow of the world, the flow of which, if it does not actually work to achieve evil at the very least is completely unaffected by the suffering of humanity.  Countless stories exist of individuals laying down their lives to save a stranger from harm.  This impulse is a direct contradiction of animal nature which except in the case of parental love would put self-preservation ahead of any other consideration.

God’s exact nature can only be inferred by His effect on those that experience Him.  But I think that where genuine communion is experienced the effect is remarkably positive on the individual involved and even for the surrounding community.

The problem we are experiencing today is the lack of actual Christians in the churches.  Many of the leaders of the churches are not Christians.  They do not actually believe in God and their congregants sense this and are confused and angered by the hypocrisy.  And for the young this is amplified by the atheists that they meet up with in school and elsewhere that ridicule faith and accuse it of bigotry.  These young people are under enormous pressure to denounce Christian morality in order to avoid condemnation by the LGBTQ gatekeepers in school and the workplace.

But the first step is to re-establish the existence of God.  That takes two things.  First, convince yourself that there is no logical reason that precludes His existence.  That I’ve tried to provide above.  Then find belief in God within yourself.  That you have to find yourself.  But it’s definitely something that should be explored.  As I stated earlier there is a strong urge in humans to find the force in the universe that resonates with our happiness.  If you find a quiet spot and look inside yourself you might be surprised what you find.  Start out by not calling it God.  Start out by looking inside yourself to see what’s there.  Then take it from there.

 

Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse!

Forgive the jocularity but Alpha Orionis (aka Betelgeuse) is of course of great interest at Orion’s Cold Fire.  Sporting such an alarmist title as “Is Betelgeuse About To Explode?” I should condemn this article but as a general interest essay and coming around the time of the Star of the Magi I felt I should link to it.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2019/12/25/is-betelgeuse-about-to-explode/#69d9c21d47bf

 

19MAY2019 – OCF Update – ShatnerCon or ShatnerKhan?

I was out of town all day Saturday (18MAY) and only got back this afternoon.  It was a family event and gave me a chance to see all the people who are so important to me but don’t live int he area.  Most of the discussions were family stuff that doesn’t belong on a blog like this but there was one piece of business that could be discussed here.

A small secret fanatical group of Shatner fans will gather in July to celebrate and mock all things Bill Shatner.  The agenda will include the viewing of prodigious doses of Shatner on the screen and scholarly papers dedicated to dissecting the genius, nay the divinity, of the greatest bad actor of his generation.

But the naming committee is deadlocked between ShatnerCon and ShatnerKhan as the official designation of this seismic event.  It seems only fitting that you, the audience of Orion’s Cold Fire step forward and cut this Gordian Knot.  Or something.

Anyway, the road trip has thrown me behind schedule so I will be scrambling to put up contnet for the next few days.

photog

 

Finding the Missing Link between Microbes and Men

Unless we include progressives there doesn’t seem to be any close relationship between bacteria (a prokaryote) and humans (a member of the eukaryote group).  In fact, even something as humble as a fungus has more in common on the cellular level with humans than it does with bacteria.  Assuming that bacteria were here first (which is an assumption that needs to be tested) it isn’t clear how the jump happened from the bare bones simplicity of the prokaryote to the remarkable complexity of even the most simplistic eukaryotic cell.  Recent discoveries in the organisms that fall somewhere in between these two groups (archaea) is fueling additional controversy.  According to one theory the archaea are the ancestor of the eukaryotes and therefore sort of our multi-great grand uncles.  This rubs a lot of biologists the wrong way.  There are even feuds based on this disagreement.  I don’t have a dog in this fight but I am interested in advancements in the understanding of how life evolved on Earth.  An interesting aspect of the story is that certain components of the eukaryotic cell (like the mitochondria and the chloroplasts) started out as independent bacterial cells that were ingested by some ancient organism but somehow survived inside the cell and formed a symbiotic and permanent arrangement.  And many modern biologists see similar symbiosis between the bacteria living in our intestines and our human selves.  Both species profit from the relationship and in our cases couldn’t survive without the other.  What a strange and remarkable world we live in.  Interesting read.

The Trickster Microbes that are Shaking Up the Tree of Life  by Traci Watson

 

 

17MAR2019 – Happy St. Patrick’s Day

As a native inhabitant of New York City and a parochial school inmate with deep family roots in the NYPD, I grew up with the yearly ritual of the St. Patrick’s Day parade with its kilted and bagpipes playing policemen and endless blarney about the religiosity of the City’s inhabitants.  But I still think fondly of the ritual.  Also March Seventeenth is Camera Girl’s Birthday so she is honorary Irish and celebrates by making corned beef and cabbage for dinner.  So a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to any and all Irish and other fans of the day.

The Goofiest Barred Owl Bar None

This has been a pretty weird winter weather-wise.  We have had fifty degrees and minus five so far in January.  I’ve had snow, rain, sleet and hurricane force winds all on the same day.  There have been torrential rains followed by bright sun.  Weird.  And now just to show you that I’m not the only one who’s confused our local Barred Owl has switched into a daytime critter.  This bugger was in a tree branch right outside my living room window and scarfing down mice right before my eyes.  Their ability to turn their heads one hundred eighty degrees is pretty bizarre.  But if staying up all day means he won’t be serenading me at two a.m. then count me in on the program.  These Barred Owls have one of the weirder sounding repertories among the “Children of the Night” in my neck of the woods.

I happened to have my camera there but it was equipped with the Sony 55mm f\1.8 lens.  I took a bunch of shots through a double glazed window and here they are cropped and resized out of all sanity.

Barred Owl with mouse; Sony A7 III; Sony 55mm f\1.8 lens

If you look real close you’ll see something hanging from his beak.  In the rest of the shots you’ll understand the whole story

Barred Owl with mouse; Sony A7 III; Sony 55mm f\1.8 lens

 

 

 

Barred Owl with mouse; Sony A7 III; Sony 55mm f\1.8 lens

 

 

 

Barred Owl with mouse; Sony A7 III; Sony 55mm f\1.8 lens

Later on in the day he showed up again and I got outside to try and take some shots with my 200mm macro. The effort was only partially successful but it will be the bulk of my photo of the day efforts for the next few days.  Now what accounts for this nocturnal pest suddenly becoming a diurnal pest is beyond my weak powers of deduction.  Just one more sign of the apocalypse I suppose.

Mining the Benedict Option for Practical Advice – Part 1

As I mentioned I’m seriously interested in starting some kind of local organization to allow me to impact the community around me. But other than hot air of, which I possess an abundance, I was short on practical know-how.   I started re-reading Rod Dreher’s,”The Benedict Option,” and I think it will be useful.  I previously reviewed it last year.

A Short Book Review of Rod Dreher’s – The Benedict Option – Part 2

But now I’m looking at it more as a handbook, so it will take a good deal more time to weigh the information to decide what is helpful to me.   At this point, at the very least it has given me a number of resources for researching directions to go.  If anyone else is looking for ways to build alternative social platforms I recommend that you take a look at Dreher’s book. There are definitely some useful starting points at the very least.  And even if your position is non-religious there are things to think about in this book.