Archive for September, 2010


mellow day

This morning the sun rose almost exactly in the point of a “V” of sky in the mountains to the east. From here on, by the time we see each morning’s sunrise, the sun will be higher and higher in the Earth’s atmosphere.

This morning’s sungazing experience filled me with a sense of peace and contentment that seems to extend even to my fingertips. Even though I gazed at the face of the sun longer than the time called for in my conditioning regimen, already I am finding that my eyes are readjusting more quickly to normal light levels than on the first day of the experiment.

It is a beautiful clear day today, and the temperature will probably get into the high 70s or low 80s. There is not a cloud in the sky and now that we have our new solar panels installed, there will be no danger today of running low on power. Autumn is our most perfect season in West Texas, the time of the year when good days are most bountiful.

I will be enjoying the day indoors, however, devoting most of the day to helping a friend develop website copy for a bed and breakfast he and his wife are opening. Then in mid-afternoon I’ll drive to Alpine to meet Paul so he can spend the weekend at home.

I’ve got coffee brewed and music from the thirties, forties, and early fifties loaded and playing, and I’m well on my way to having a mellow day.

I hope yours is mellow, too.


Groove of the Day

Here’s a great female voice from when I was five years old:

Listen to Teresa Brewer performing “Baby, Baby, Baby”


who’s responsible?

I woke up in an agitated state this morning. I “slept on it” and it didn’t help.

Yesterday Jordan’s dad Chris Brown called to fill me in on the latest developments in Jordan’s ever-protracting case, and although Chris shared some very positive news with me, I have come away from the call distraught that this case has dragged on so long.

The fallout for Chris in the local community is intensifying. A short time ago he’d gone with friends to a local bar—something Chris almost never does because he wants to avoid incidents like this—and one of Kenzie’s ex-boyfriends who has remained close to the Houk family tapped him on the shoulder and, when Chris turned around, threatened Chris with a handgun. The police were called to the bar, Chris told them he wanted to press charges, but the police for their own reasons refused to follow through, saying that “it would be better for Jordan” if they didn’t.

(This was not the ex-boyfriend who may have committed the murder, but another one from long ago. Before Chris, Kenzie must have been attracted to some pretty rough characters.)

I reminded Chris that this ex-boyfriend probably thought he was in the right because all he knows about the case is based on the disinformation released by the police and prosecution to the Houk family and the public which has convinced them that Jordan was the perpetrator.

No one has told them that Jordan’s shotgun and the blue blanket came back from the crime lab clean. No one has been told that only two particles of gunshot residue were found on Jordan’s clothing where there should have been thousands if the murder had happened the way the police fantasize that it did. No one has acknowledged the missing “shotgun evidence,” explained why only 26 pellets were recovered from Kenzie’s brain, nor why her head had not been blown open or completely off if a shotgun had been used as police claim. No one has explained how a shotgun could have created an entry wound so small that the police didn’t even realize Kenzie had been shot until they moved her body onto the gurney.

No impartial authority has examined the evidence to determine if it even supports the wildly implausible story invented by the police. No one is questioning why and how  Trooper Janice Wilson coerced statements from a traumatized little girl supporting a fiction the crime lab has now shown did not happen. The prosecution certainly knows what evidence they do and don’t have. They know it doesn’t add up and won’t hold up.

But another election is on and they’re saying nothing.

Attorney General Tom Corbett has neither acknowledged the case nor directed his office to act honestly based on the facts, otherwise it would presumably upset the string of “law-and-order” endorsements he has secured in his run for Pennsylvania Governor from the Pennsylvania State Trooper’s Association, the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, and the Fraternal Order of Police (among others*). Until the gubernatorial election is over, Corbett must support the vested interests of his supporters and appear to be “tough on crime,” even if it means covering up outrageous police incompetence and dishonesty.

Although he has carefully avoided attaching his name to the controversy surrounding Jordan’s case, he has nevertheless allowed his deputy Anthony Krastek to pursue these groundless charges against Jordan. Politics and official corruption have polluted this case from the beginning, and Tom Corbett has done nothing to put the process on an honest track. And this man poses himself as having the personal integrity to serve as Pennsylvania’s governor!

The Pennsylvania courts have not examined the evidence, either.

Police interpretations of the evidence—and not the evidence itself—are the only things which have been entered into the court record at this point in the process. It is unlikely that these police lies and prosecutorial deceptions will hold up under impartial scrutiny when the time comes. Jordan’s lawyers are confident that they will win Jordan’s freedom on the basis of the evidence, which clears Jordan of any involvement in Kenzie’s murder. But the time for this examination of the true facts is many months away, if not years, as the question is decided of whether this examination of the truth shall take place in an adult or juvenile court.

In the meantime, Jordan is languishing in detention and his dad’s heart is broken.

Because the potential adult court penalty of a mandatory life-without-parole sentence is tantamount to a living death sentence, it is important that the case be decided in a juvenile court. Chris told me that the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center took the lead in preparing the brief in the appeal to the Superior Court of Judge Motto’s decision to try Jordan as an adult. (A hearing date has not yet been set.) This is a very positive development because of their ability, experience, and prestige.

Yet this aspect of Jordan’s case is only a critical sideshow, a diversion from the more fundamental question of how it is possible that an innocent child could have been snatched from his bed in the middle of the night and jailed for more than a year and a half on the basis of police conjecture and theories which have been disproved by their own crime lab’s examination of the evidence. As public scrutiny is focused on the sideshow, no one is asking why Jordan was not released and why his name was not cleared when the crime lab results came back clearing him.

The most reasonable explanation is that, from the beginning, Jordan Brown has been used as a pawn in a shameless and cynical display of political theatre, first by former Lawrence County district attorney John Bongivengo who had hoped the sensational story would save him from political oblivion (it didn’t), and now by Pennsylvania attorney general Tom Corbett.

As officers of the court and playing by the rules of the court (and by not using the evidence at this time to publicly and conclusively debunk the state’s claims in the court of public opinion), Jordan’s lawyers have been allowing this subversion of justice to continue.

This case is no longer about justice, but about politics. I don’t think it has ever been about justice.

From the first day when the police jumped to conclusions, they pursued their “investigation” not following evidence and leads to find the real murderer, but to develop “evidence” that would support their sick story and hide their arrogant and contemptuous methods. As we have seen, they stooped to coercing a witness statement from Jordan’s traumatized younger sister and setting Kenzie’s family against Jordan and his dad. They even got school officials to muzzle the school community so that the people who know Jordan best—his teachers and friends—feel intimidated to speak up for him.

Now even Jordan is doing something which works against his self-interest: he is growing up.

When this whole ordeal began, he was a little kid who came up to my shoulders—he was a small boy who would have made a sympathetic defendant and answered all questions as the child that he was at the time of the murder. Now he is my height and forty pounds heavier. He has been forced to grow up fast in the company of young criminals and troublemakers. By the time his case comes to trial he will probably have pimples and will look big enough and tough enough to have committed a crime. Prisons have a way of rubbing off on anybody who comes in contact with them. The longer this case drags out and the bigger Jordan grows, the easier it might be for the prosecution to get a judge or jury to disregard the evidence and accept the word of dirty cops.

My recent experience with the David Champ case in Missouri gives me great hope that honesty and justice and the best interests of society can prevail. A child who has committed murder will have had his case properly and compassionately resolved within two months. But that is Missouri and this is Pennsylvania we’re talking about. This contrast exacerbates my frustration, and I’m dismayed that the prevailing spirit in the Keystone State is so perverse, cynical, and evil.

Holly and I both had ancestors who lived in Pennsylvania, and I thank God neither of us were born there and grew up there. Looking at Pennsylvania through the lens of the Jordan Brown story says to me that it is no place to raise children or trust the state with your family’s welfare.

I’m sorry if my words offend any Pennsylvania visitors, but I don’t see crowds out there rising up and protesting Jordan’s poor treatment. Even if he were guilty—which he is not—his treatment by the state is cruel, indecent, and unworthy.

Why is no one saying this about Tom Corbett? He’s the man responsible.

* Official Cover-Up?

Here are Tom Corbett’s law-and-order endorsements which he’d have to put on the line to act honestly in the Jordan Brown case:

Pennsylvania State Troopers Association

Pennsylvania State Lodge – Fraternal Order of Police

Also: Fraternal Order of Police E.B. Jermyn Lodge #2;  Tri-City Lodge #50; Fort Pitt FOP Lodge #1; Allegheny Valley FOP Lodge #39; Queen City FOP Lodge #10; Le-Hampton FOP Lodge #35; Wright Township Police Officers’ Association

Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association

Also: Northeast Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association; Chester County Police Chiefs Association; Luzerne County Chiefs of Police Association

 Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Constables

 Pennsylvania Narcotics Officers Association

 Firearms Owners Against Crime


Groove of the Day

Sadly, with all the drama going on in Pennsylvania, it is easy enough to forget about poor Jordan, who has one main thing on his mind:

Listen to Carole King performing “Home Again″


here comes the sun

The other day our friend “Hat” came up to Estrella Vista for a visit. Hat is a tall and distinguished gentleman who always speaks intelligently and with the utmost courtesy and care, so when he told us about one of his practices—one I’d never heard of before—I sat up and took notice.

Hat told us he had been improving his eyesight by having eliminated the use of his eyeglasses and through the practice of “sungazing.” Contrary to what we are told by parents, doctors, scientists and others from the time we are young, Hat has conditioned his eyes to look directly at the sun for long periods of time. No, looking at the sun has not burned out his retina and made him go blind, but has dramatically improved his visual acuity, he said.

Sungazing is the ancient practice of deriving nutritional energy directly from the sun by gazing intently at it within an hour of sunrise or sunset. Most sungazers follow this practice in order to achieve better mental and physical health, as well as a higher level of spiritual awareness.

As Hat described sungazing to me, it felt like a lot of missing puzzle pieces had just fallen into place. I immediately thought of my recent discovery of “darkness therapy” as a drug-free treatment for bipolarism, and the apparent role that blue spectrum light plays in resetting our internal clocks each day. I thought about the fact—known to ancient sages and modern physicists alike—that the atoms which make up our bodies were once star matter. I thought about my belief that anything that separates us from Nature (and from our true nature) makes us sick. And it made the greatest intuitive sense to me that we should, in the right-order of things, be profoundly and personally connected to the Sun, our nearest star, around which everything in our solar system orbits.

Some of the claims made by sungazers are intriguing. The most extraordinary of these claims is that it is possible for sungazers to live without food for periods of many years; they say that the sun alone is sufficient to provide the nourishment one’s body needs to live and thrive. Hira Ratan Manek (HRM), an engineer by training, has developed a methodology which he has used to achieve non-eating status for the past eight years, continuing to this day. His lectures are available free online.

This link provides a sampling of online resources available for those wishing to learn more about the practice, history, and science behind sungazing:

I’ve begun my own sungazing experiment using HRM’s methodology, and will periodically report my impressions of the effects of this practice on my health and well-being. If you are intrigued enough to try this yourself, please research it thoroughly before trying it at your own risk.

As I was growing up, I was taught that lots of things could make you go blind, and I later learned these admonitions were mostly bogus. I learned the best way to discover the truth of things is to see for yourself.


Groove of the Day

This song was playing as the sun rose over the mountains this morning, and while our roosters positioned themselves on the sills of the front and back windows of the house, alternatively crowing back and forth. It gave me a chuckle as my eyes were readjusting after my second sungazing exercise.

Listen to George Harrison performing “Marwa Blues″

George Harrison was my favorite music artist, and for me a great light went out of the world when he died. “Marwa Blues” is from his last album, Brainwashed, which was released after his death. I hope you’ll love this beautiful piece as much as I do.


something completely different

I was halfway to completing today’s post when Paul announced he was planning on me dropping him off at work this morning (and that he’d be gone until Thursday night). I had been planning to be at work on the keyboard all day.

So I put my writing on hold, and the dogs and I bundled into the car for the 100+ mile roundtrip commute. The Marathon Road was wetter than the last time, and our car is now covered in mud from roof to rocker panels. (“Makes us look bad-ass,” according to Paul. Whatever.)

Anyway, it’s now after 2:00 in the afternoon, I’ve only just arrived home in the last hour, checked my messages, and heard such good news that this morning’s intended piece will just have to wait. I have to tell you about something completely different.

The Kansas City news outlets have just broken the news that the prosecutor filed a motion this morning to drop murder charges against 11-year-old David Champ. The judge will rule on the motion on October 1st.

I’m pinching myself to be sure I’m not dreaming.

When I began working on this case, I had two great hopes for the boy: first, that all charges against him would be dropped, and second, that we would be able to get him into a non-penal and loving rehabilitative setting where David can learn to be whole, self-responsible, and happy.

Now I have just received a phone call from one of my collaborators which tells me that not only is the first of these goals in sight, but the second one is as well.

Everyone in Missouri appears to be working together to do the right things for this child. After the nightmare we have seen in Pennsylvania, the rationality and human decency shown by Missouri authorities towards David is by contrast so astonishing.

Prosecutor Mary Marquez (official title is Juvenile Officer for Jackson County) is expected to be making a formal statement to the media on Friday. People in Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, and other law-and-order states should listen in and learn a thing or two.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Cream performing “I’m So Glad″

(This just in at 4:30 pm from David’s attorneys Lori Burns-Bucklew and Megan Roth: “The groove of the day is a great choice; Megan and I are in my office groovin’ to it now!”)


by popular demand

Yesterday Paco called and in the course of our phone conversation he said his girlfriend Tonja (who reads my Diary entries to him) had asked, “Why hasn’t Dan posted any pictures of Paul? He talks about Paul all the time, but I don’t know what he looks like.”

Tonja, you’re not the first to have mentioned this recently but you are the one to have motivated me to finally correct this oversight. My apologies.

This is Paul.

Before the blog when I was distributing the Diary by e-mail as an attached document, I had responded to similar questions, posted some pictures, and told a little of the background about how Paul and I met and what the basis of our relationship has been.

I keep forgetting that so many new folks following us now have, like you, been left out of the loop.

So I’ll tell the story again now.

The way Paul sometimes tells it, I picked him up off the roadside seven years ago when he was bicycling across Texas on his way to California. This is not literally factual, although Paul is justified in remembering it this way because it is essentially true. I actually met him at the Marathon Coffee Shop, where he had come in to warm up after being stopped by cold headwinds and maybe even rain. (I can’t clearly remember the weather except that it was a very ugly day and the shop was warm and filled with the aroma of coffee and homemade soup.)

Paul and I were two strangers sitting at the large common table in the main room, and he was spouting off some very unconventional ideas. “If that’s what you’re interested in,” I said, “you should come up to the house—I’ve got a whole library of books about all that stuff.”

He took me up on my invitation, came up to the house and camped out in my guestroom, and has been with me off and on ever since.

My initial reason for being attracted to Paul was that at the time I met him I’d been researching the beliefs of a Christian youth movement of the 1920s called the Oxford Group. They believed in listening each day for instructions from God—a discipline they called Guidance—and here was Paul, a young man who was actually following this same discipline and obeying whatever the “voice” told him to do. The unlikely coincidence of Paul showing up at this particular time in such an insignificant place was so striking, I became convinced Paul had been guided to me for a purpose.

As I slowly got to know him, it began to dawn on me that Paul used to be the kind of person who would have freaked me out—or at least with whom I would have had little in common. When he was young, he was raised on an Ohio farm and hated it. In school he was an unrecognized genius and placed in classes with the “slow” kids. He didn’t read until his late teens. Later in school, he was in ROTC and loved it. He was—and is—a gun enthusiast. Paul was a hard-living party guy until he was “saved” and eventually became a member of a born-again cult run by the father of the girl who became Paul’s wife and the mother of his son. His marriage broke up because of the meddling influence of his parents-in-law, and despite having won legal custody of his son in court, Paul has been denied access to his boy for more than 11 years.

While presenting himself in the divorce proceedings, he taught himself the law and developed an understanding of the legal system under which we live that few conventional attorneys would recognize. Through his study of law he came to understand the System so that he can live outside of it. He has renounced his old identity; has no social security number, driver’s license, or passport; makes no contracts; pays no taxes; has no debts; etc. In other words, he is totally free.

I am probably the only person alive besides Paul who has met his whole family. A few years ago at Thanksgiving I accompanied Paul to Colorado to meet for the first time his birth father, his grandmother, and his half-brother Conor. Following this reunion, Paul and Conor bought a sailboat in California and sailed it from San Francisco to La Paz, Mexico at the tip of the Baja Peninsula. Though neither of them had ever sailed a boat before (“You should have seen the guy’s face we bought the boat from when we asked him how to raise the sail,” Paul said.), they made it there alive and in the process became accomplished sailors. Two things I can say about Paul: he is fearless and resourceful. Paul is also absolutely honest, unselfish, and loyal. He is very protective of me. I feel I could trust him with my life if things ever came to that. When I had my heart attacks, he returned from Mexico to help me heal.

I have tried to attach several labels to him over the years, just to explain to perplexed people what Paul is all about. Even though it has a negative, bomb-throwing popular connotation, the only label that seems to work for me is “anarchist.” If you research what anarchists are really all about, you will understand. He is a peace-loving person who just wants to be free, self-responsible, and not be interfered with.

When other people tell me about Paul, they almost always say that he is a very spiritual person. I agree. He has the entire Bible—old and new testaments—virtually memorized. He has researched many ancient and eastern religions and knows about them in ways only known by saints, holy persons, and esoteric scholars. He is able to heal illness and ameliorate physical suffering with the touch of his hands. He’s a powerful intuitive and good at reading people. He can dowse for water and energy centers in the land. Plus, he’s a damned good builder, mechanic, and inventor.

Most important to me, though, we get along. Paul’s easy to live with. The only argument I can recall having with him in seven years is whether toilet paper should hang with the flap hanging down over the front or back of the roll (front-flap won). There are never any shouted words between us—our relationship is very even keel.

I do know that Paul can hold his tongue when necessary, but when he does speak, he is apt to provoke surprise and consternation in some people. He is on a totally different wave-length than most folks, and his perceptions of reality can threaten and challenge one’s cozy cocoon or comfort zone.

I would have to say that the only area where Paul and I disagree is in world economic and political affairs. The worse the news, the happier he seems to be because each world catastrophe is taking us a step closer to an Age of Enlightenment he sees on the horizon. Paul keeps saying that men, their governments, and institutions have sowed the seeds of their destruction and that those seeds must bear fruit before the world can move on to better times.

I’m more concerned with coping creatively with the world as it is now, for better or for worse. I don’t want to see the world unravel any worse than it already has. Yet I find, despite our philosophical differences, it is easier to pursue my goals with Paul’s help than without it. I couldn’t have taken on Estrella Vista if he hadn’t signed on.

He says, too, that it has been easier for him to pursue his goals because of my acceptance and support of his unique ways. Paul says he has not experienced this before; he was always his family’s black sheep. We live as father and son and Paul’s family accepts it even if they don’t completely understand.

Damned if I can understand it, either. All I know is that this family thing between us works.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Randy Newman performing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me″


accordion time

Good things sometimes have a way of bunching up and crowding out one another. Yesterday I had just begun talking to my friend Dusty. He’d come to the phone singing yesterday’s Groove of the Day before we’d even said hello.

(“You Talk Too Much” is a funny song and it had put Dusty in a happy frame of mind—I got a kick out of the fact that he’d read yesterday’s post and had been grooving on that song.)

I had called Dusty nearly an hour before, Mikki answered and told me he was out, and then we talked until Dusty came in the door. Mikki is a curious woman and has lived with Dusty only a quarter of the time I’ve known him, and she asked questions about the old days. It was pleasant remembering and reliving those bygone times, and then it was abruptly ended when Dusty returned from his meeting and Mikki handed him the phone.

So Dusty and I had just begun settling into a conversational groove when my neighbor Whitebear stopped by for a visit, and I had to ask Dusty if we could talk later.  Whitebear had just returned from completing last week’s “Trail of Tears” commemorative motorcycle ride, and was excited to tell me about it; then Paul returned home, so I got to hear all about it a second time.

Whitebear had just explained how the more than 20-mile-long column of motorcycles made the whole 3,000+ mile trip with police escorts without stopping at a single stop sign or stoplight, but how the column would accordion—stretching out and bunching up, requiring the riders to periodically speed up and slow down—when I thought to myself that this is how the timing in my day had been going, too. You just hit a comfortable cruising speed when something forces you to speed up or slow down to readjust.

It reminds me of a funny line from the movie Late for Dinner in which Frank says that time is something that keeps everything from happening all at once. Well yes, sometimes. But for me, not yesterday.

I hope all the good things in your day today space themselves out so each one can be savored and enjoyed.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Buckwheat Zydeco performing “People’s Choice″

A mellow favorite I hope you’ll enjoy.



It’s unfortunate that our diplomats, and those of Canada and the 27-member EU bloc, walked out yesterday on Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech to the UN General Assembly because he was asserting that elements of the US government, and not al-Qaeda terrorists, were behind the 2001 demolition of the Twin Towers. Our own government did this, he said, in order to “reverse the declining American economy” and to justify US military operations in the Middle East to “save the Zionist regime.”

Isn’t the United Nations a forum intended to air everyone’s views, even if some governments may find the views of others disagreeable or even repugnant? Resolution of international conflicts is unlikely whenever diplomats stop listening.

As uncomfortable as the notion may be, Ahmadinejad does represent a body of world opinion which must be acknowledged if peace is to have a chance. In attempting to marginalize Ahmadinejad, Western diplomats are also trying to marginalize the views of millions of people who consider themselves to be informed and not part of any “lunatic fringe.”

According to a 2008 world public opinion survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland in which 16,063 people worldwide were interviewed, about 46% of the world’s people believe that al-Qaeda launched the 9/11 attacks, while 15% think the US government was behind the event, and 7% blame Israel.

In the Arab and Muslim regions of the world, surveys show significant sectors of the population believe that the US and Israel launched the 9/11 attacks to meet their own geopolitical goals. In Jordan, 31% of those polled by PIPA believe Israel was behind the attacks, while only 11% blame it on al-Qaeda. Likewise, 43% of Egyptians blame Israel, 12% think the US was responsible, and only 16% think al-Qaeda brought down the towers.

A 2006 poll by Scripps News says 36% of Americans consider it “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that US government officials either allowed the attacks to be carried out or launched the attacks themselves. In an article titled “Why the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Won’t Go Away,” Time Magazine argues that what many would seek to marginalize as conspiracy theories are “not a fringe phenomenon.”

Regardless of the truth about who actually destroyed the World Trade Center and murdered three thousand innocent people, a significant portion of the world’s population believes the US and Israel are to blame, and they and their governments will act on this belief as if it were true.

Walking out on Ahmadinejad only strengthens the impression that the US and Israeli governments are not being truthful.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Joe Jones performing “You Talk Too Much″


lord of the skies

In the last few days we have been seeing an increase in military air exercises in the area—low-altitude flights presumably in preparation for strikes against Iran in which the only opportunity for surprise is flying beneath the radar.

To anyone who thought my August 4th essay “True Faces” was unduly pessimistic about the chances for an honest and peaceful resolution in our relations with Iran, I offer as vindication the September cover story in The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg, “The Point of No Return,” in which Goldberg says there is a better than 50 percent chance that Israel will launch a strike against Iran by next July. He bases his prediction on interviews with about forty past and present high-level Israeli decision makers including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Here’s the scenario Goldberg paints, lifted directly from the cover of the magazine:

“One day next year, Israel’s national-security adviser and defense minister will simultaneously telephone their counterparts at the White House and the Pentagon, to inform them that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has just ordered roughly 100 Israeli air-force jets to fly east toward Iran. The Israelis will say they are attacking because a nuclear Iran poses the gravest threat since Hitler to the survival of the Jewish people. They will tell the Americans that Israel was left with no choice. They will not be asking for permission, because it will be too late to ask for permission.”

The biggest question in Tel Aviv right now is to what extent they can involve the US. One Israeli general told Goldberg: “We are very good at this kind of operation, but it is a big stretch for us. The Americans can do this with a minimum of difficulty, by comparison.” Official visits by Israelis to Washington are intensifying as they continue to pressure the Obama administration to do the heavy lifting for them.

Yesterday I was once again indulging my current passion for listening to choral music when I heard the sound of a jet passing by. The combination of the music and the sound of the jet reminded me of a 1963 film I’d not seen since I was a teenager, Lord of the Flies. The opening soundtrack features an English boys’ choir.

Like most other teenagers of that era, I read the book by William Golding and had uncritically absorbed its lesson: In the absence of state authority, human beings will degenerate into a condition of chaos and depravity. You know, choir boys will all become savage murderers. I was able to stream the movie on the computer yesterday, and reflected on how this allegorical tale had framed and shaped my assumptions and thinking since then.

Lord of the Flies was required reading at my school, and now I ask: Why? To what design or purpose?

Today I see that as a child I swallowed Golding’s message hook, line, and sinker.

And yet as I summarize what I’ve learned through life in the 47 years since then—today as I look around and see how Authority has betrayed us at every turn in so many critical ways—now that I understand Nature’s innate capacity for self-organization and its use of this ability to adjust to change, innovate and create, and thereby ensure its survival—I realize Golding is wrong.

Now that I’m no longer an impressionable child and have seen for myself how the world really works, I reject Golding’s story as an artifact of thought control aimed at suppressing Freedom and Self-Responsibility in the culture. Lord of the Flies is negative, defeatist, and anti-creative.

It was a cautionary tale for a generation of young people raised on Father Knows Best. It denies the god-ness that is in all human beings and the positive possibilities and actualities that emerge when people are truly free.

As I think about the fact that Lord of the Flies was required reading and consider its authoritarian message—as I revisit the movie adaptation that was so popular among my peers during its theatrical release, but see it now with mature eyes—I have the strongest impression that Lord of the Flies was administered to me and to millions of other kids like an inoculation and booster before getting some of us in line for Viet Nam.

Golding used a dead aircraft pilot juxtaposed with a slaughtered pig’s head to create a “beast” that catalyzed this marooned group of English schoolboys into unthinking, ungovernable depravity.

By the end of the story, the two most intelligent characters had just been murdered. Blinded by blood lust and their bodies covered with war-paint, savage youths were burning down their island paradise to flush out and murder Ralph, their vanquished leader. They would have sharpened a stick at both ends and put Ralph’s head on it.

Ralph is saved from this certain fate by the unexpected appearance of a naval officer in a gleaming white uniform, the symbol of Authority. Golding leaves it to us to ponder the meaning of a dead pilot as the cause of a problem, and a living officer as its solution. (Okay, I get it.)

Now the lords of the skies are practicing their attack runs in our mountains. Is this in preparation for service to the beast?

Time will yet tell if we burn down paradise.


Groove of the Day

Here’s what I was listening to when that jet went by yesterday. I was trying to decide which of these two voices I like best and realized it’s a question I can’t (and probably shouldn’t) answer.

So here are two versions of the same etherial selection from Fauré’s Requiem:

Listen to David Meredith performing “Pie Jesu″

Listen to Andrew Swait performing “Pie Jesu″


another equinox

The Autumnal Equinox occurs tonight at 11:09 Eastern Daylight Time.

It is, of course, one of two points in the year when the lengths of daylight and darkness in a day are exactly the same at the Equator. As I mentioned in Sunday’s post, this is also one of two days in the year that I make a special, purposeful effort to do things that may restore balance and harmony in my life around issues and circumstances which may be decidedly out of balance or alignment.

My practice on the solstices and equinoxes (as well as on other significant points on the runic calendar) is to observe the rising and setting of the sun and mark these points on a simple stone circle in the turnaround island in front of our house. The placement of this stone circle is unfortunate because when you stand at its center, the view of the equinox rising-point is blocked by the powerhouse. This problem will be remedied when we build an astronomical observatory on the ridge-top to the north of the house.

Because the observatory will be a tower on a high-point of land, views in every direction will be unobstructed except by an adobe collar designed specifically to block out ground-based light pollution. From a distance the tower will appear to be a natural earth formation to the casual eye; its exterior will be inspired by the giant termite mounds found in Australia. Yet the tower itself will be a precise scientific instrument for measuring and marking celestial movement and events. It will help us better understand where and how we are in relation to the other planets, the sun and other stars, and the cosmos.

Every atom in our bodies, our planet and all other bodies in the solar system—absolutely everything in the universe—is spinning and orbiting according to universal laws of balance. As an observer on a spinning object, all this spinning and orbiting is disorienting.

Yet the more an observer can understand, measure, and anticipate all this movement, the more readily one can actually see the vast distances of space from our earthly vantage.

Our observatory tower will be an experiential learning tool to make this perception easier.

In the meantime, our modest stone circle will just have to do as our basic tool for celestial observations. The power house blocking the point of this morning’s sunrise is a reminder that man’s works and creations so often obscure our vision and make balance more difficult to achieve in our lives. Precise balance-points in life usually must be found through guesswork and approximations, trial-and-error.

It’s a privilege to be living here in Nature and having the daily opportunity to learn about living in balance with it.


Groove of the Day

I overdosed on the Moody Blues in the psychedelic age, and still can’t listen to their more popular songs to this day. Here’s one of their lesser-known pieces which you may find interesting. It’s evocative of that distant time and yet timeless in its own way. If you like parables, you might even enjoy it.

Listen to The Moody Blues performing “The Balance″


wayfaring stranger

We were returning from a supply run in town and a visit to 2-for-1 Burger Night at the Starlight last night when Paul decided we would stop for a hitchhiker.  His name is Dewayne when he’s thumbing down the road and “Dixie Unit King” when he’s riding the rails. He is an engaging man in his late forties or early fifties with a neatly trimmed grey beard, bright green eyes, the gift of gab, and just three dollars in his pocket.

Before I knew it, Paul had invited him to camp at Estrella Vista for the night, and was making suggestions of how Dewayne could spend the following nights, maybe for as long as a week, at a hostel in Marathon where he could work off his food and lodgings in trade for doing work and chores.

I was surprised at how quickly and to what extent Paul went into high gear helping Dewayne. As they traded hitchhiking stories, each one trying to top the other, I could see that Paul had seen in Dewayne a kindred spirit and shared identity as fellow members of the fraternity of vagabonds. Because he had been in the same place before when he hitchhiked into Mexico, Paul empathized with Dewayne’s circumstances and was treating Dewayne as he himself would have liked to have been treated.

If just half the stories he told us are true, Dewayne is a creative and remarkably resourceful man who can think on his feet brilliantly. We had just settled into a conversation in which Dewayne was telling us about talking his way from Britain to France to join the French Foreign Legion when Paul asked Dewayne if he’d like to catch a shower down at the Lodge. So at 9:30, a time that Paul would normally be going to bed, he was driving Dewayne down to the Lodge.

When they returned an hour later, Paul laid out sandwich supplies and Dewayne made himself a couple thick meat-and-cheese sandwiches before turning in for the night.

Even though Dewayne stayed with us for only a single night, I think he came here for a specific purpose.

Dewayne is one of the few visitors who has ever recognized my runic pennants and commented on them, because he was familiar with the perverse purposes for which white supremacists have used some of the runes; he bared his arm to show me where he had removed a large skinhead tattoo from his youth by burning off his own skin—a tattoo he had picked up as an inmate in a series of prisons, the first of which was Derek’s Alma Mater in Florida when it was still a juvenile facility nicknamed “Klancaster.” This coincidence did not alarm me in the least, but was somehow reassuring not only that he and I knew the same place (though in different ways), but as graphic affirmation that people can and do change.

But the main reason I think Dewayne was sent here is so I could learn from Paul’s hospitable acts towards him. The practice of spiritual hospitality requires a deep empathy, as Paul demonstrated so generously and gracefully last night.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Tim Buckley performing “Wayfaring Stranger″