Imagine No Religion

If you believe in God, do you think religions that claim to follow His word disgust him?  Can you imagine He is sitting there up in Heaven, wanting to cry out, “Hey, you’re doing it wrong!”

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Image via Wikipedia

There are many denominations within the Christian religion that claim they are the only “true” church.  The Catholic Church, for instance, claims that Jesus Christ established them more than 2,000 years ago and that the Pope is infallible.  (He’s Christ’s right-hand man here on Earth, you know.)  Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve read the Bible lots of times and don’t remember reading anything Christ establishing the Catholic Church or giving it an infallible leader to take care of things until He came back to Earth.   I think the Catholic Church greatly misrepresents Christianity, especially when you consider things like the Inquisition and other monstrosities started by mortals in God’s name.

If you imagine a world with no religion, do you think things would be any different?  If so, how would it differ from a world that has so many of them?  Would we have less crime?  Less mental illness?  Less disease?  Probably not.  It would probably be exactly the same, except we’d have something else to blame a lot of afflictions on.  Don’t you think?

I believe in God as a divine creator who gave all of us free will.  I cannot prove his existence by using anything but anecdotal evidence, so it would be useless for me to try to convince you that he does exist if you don’t want to take my word for it.  And I believe this free will He gave us prompted mortal men to create various religions as a way to worship Him, and claim that God blessed them in some way.  It gives mortals an excuse to judge others even though the Bible expressly prohibits judging other people.

Have you ever noticed how mortal-made churches constantly contradict themselves in their teachings?  Don’t judge others, but you must reject things like homosexuality, interracial marriage, female leadership, and this, that, and what have you.  They’ve even interpreted scripture in such a way that it somehow proves that bigotry is holy…while saying we shouldn’t judge others.  What?  Really?  This type of thing is why I do not go to church.

Doomsday preachers that are predominately popular on the evangelical side of Christianity also get on my nerves.  “Jesus is coming and you are a sinner who will go to Hell for eternity if you do (insert pretty much everything that humanity does on a regular basis here).”  They always talk about the wrath of God and make Him seem to be some sort of spiteful jerk who gets a kick out of torturing people.  Who in their right mind would be tempted to follow Christ after listening to a preacher damn everyone for everything?  Do they think that scaring people into salvation is the only way to get followers?  How bizarre!

I know that I haven’t focused on any religions other than Christianity here today, but that’s because I am most familiar with Christianity and its teachings.  I am sure that there are some pretty bizarre things that go on in other religions of the world, and if you have any information about those, I would certainly appreciate hearing about them!

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We the People Need To Stop Being So Complacent

How do you like President Obama’s New Year gift to the US?  Doesn’t it give you a warm, fuzzy feeling that, while lounging around in Hawaii, he signed NDAA into law?  Oh, but don’t think he did so because he wanted to.  No, once again, President Hope and Change played the victim.  Obama signed this legislation “with reservations about key provisions in the law…”

He knew it would pass regardless of his signature.  If he vetoed it, Congress would have just overridden it and made it law anyway.  We all knew it would pass, didn’t we?

We are force-fed propaganda by our government; they tell us that they are doing this for our own good, that it will keep America safe from suspected terrorists.  If you dare protest what the government is doing, then by God you will have to pay for it.

And what will “we the people” do now that NDAA is law?  We will sit around, twiddling our thumbs, saying “well, if you don’t do anything wrong then you have nothing to worry about.”  I’m sorry, but we the people need to stop being so complacent.  We need to stop believing that we have nothing to worry about when highly paid elected officials create laws with overwhelming bipartisan support that strip us of our rights.

If Obama had some reservations about this legislation, why did he sign it?  Sure, it was veto-proof, but he could have still stood up and said that he could not support such a law regardless of what both houses of Congress wanted to do with it.  He could have, for once, stood up for the American people.  But lord knows we cannot expect someone who chooses politics as a career to actually stand up for us even though they are supposedly our “representatives”.  My voice certainly isn’t represented when it comes to legislation that ignores the bill of rights.  And you know they are only doing this because they are threatened by people in the Occupy movement on the left, and even the Tea Party on the right.  It affects us all, regardless of what our politics are.  The Patriot Act has done very little to protect us from suspected terrorists, so what makes people think NDAA will?

Ladies and gentlemen, I am mad.  And I know that I will be called a firebagger because I happen to be a person on the left who is critical of Obama.  Do you think I care?  I am a leftist who stands up for human rights this little thing called freedom that Americans are supposed to hold so dear.  My solidarity is with people like Bernie Sanders, people who are willing to stand up for we the people of the United States.  Putting our rights in a choke-hold and saying that it has to be done for our own best interest is not the American way.

 

Weeping In the New Year

Cocktail by candle light 1: "With some of...

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, 2011 is officially over.  Happy new year to all; may you have a prosperous 2012 full of joy and laughter.

Like many people, I have an old habit of weeping in the new year.  As soon as the clock strikes midnight and the first notes of “Auld Lang Syne” play, I start bawling like a baby.  It never fails.  I don’t care how many times I hear that song, or how many new years pass, I get choked up and sentimental.  This is why I think “Auld Lang Syne” is quite possibly the saddest song ever written.  The lyrics aren’t that depressing, really, but the music and the way people sing it sort of breaks your heart, doesn’t it?

Here are the lyrics if you ever wondered how the song goes (most people only know the first two verses):

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu’d the gowans fine,
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot
Sin’ auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’t in the burn
Frae morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie’s a hand o’ thine,
And we’ll tak a right guid willie-waught
For auld lang syne!

And surely ye’ll be your pint stoup,
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

The story goes that poet Robert Burns wrote the lyrics down in the late 18th century.  He did not take credit for writing it; he gave credit to an old man for giving him the words to “an old song, of the olden days, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript….”  And famous band leader Guy Lombardo is often credited for making the song popular at the beginning of the new year, starting in 1929.

The new year is a rebirth, of sorts, for us all.  It gives us a chance to right the wrongs of the previous year and start all over again.  Many of us start resolutions on the 1st (and normally wind up breaking them by the 3rd, if we can last that long).  My resolution is always to see how long it takes me to go back to my old bad habits again.  I never fail!

And being the superstitious person that I am, I bang pots and pans and make a lot of noise at the stroke of midnight to scare away evil spirits; I never spend money on New Year’s Day, and eat nothing but lentils all day long.  Do you have any wacky superstitions that you stick to at this time of year?  What about resolutions?  Which ones are you going to make and inevitably break this year?  Please let me know by commenting below!

Now let’s just hope the conspiracy theories aren’t right and that the world will end before 2013 gets here!  (What a way to end this post, right? haha.)

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What Is Art?

One of the many definitions of “art” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary is:  “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects; also : works so produced.”  I think most of us can agree that this is a satisfactory definition of what we think of as art, am I correct?

When you think of great artists, who first springs to your mind?  Monet, Da Vinci, Picasso?  How about Renoir or Van Gogh?

People generally think of art as something that is pleasing to the eye, such as a painting with beautiful colors and interesting subjects. The Louvre, the Guggenheim, MOMA in NYC,  Tate Museum, and Sistine Chapel are just a handful of places that house some of the most extraordinary pieces of art in the world.  People go to these places and put on airs, talking about brush strokes and the emotional impact of certain pieces.

And have you ever come across someone who feels the need to comment about what the artist was feeling while he or she was busy creating the work you’re admiring…or talking about?  I have.

Many years ago, I spoke with someone who shall remain nameless about the Van Gogh painting Starry Night.  He insisted that the swirls and twirls and dark colors he used indicated that he painted it during a period of great emotional stress on Van Gogh.  I replied that Van Gogh was mentally ill, after all,  so one can assume he was under a great deal of emotional stress more often than not.

Long story short, it irritates me when art snobs go around psychoanalyzing artists based on the brush strokes used in their paintings.  I dabble in art and I can tell you that I really don’t put a lot of thought into why I choose the brush strokes in one of my paintings or how hard I press the pencil against the page when I’m drawing a sketch.  The “Picasso was angry because he used red here” thing is bizarre and pretentious.  Darling, please get back to me when you’re qualified to psychoanalyze people.  I’d rather just enjoy the work and not hear some dolt rattle on about nonsense that really doesn’t matter when it comes to the finished product.

*sigh* So sorry, I just had to get that off my chest haha.  Now we can get back to what you consider art.

Do you consider this art?

Fountain from Marcel Duchamp

If you’re not familiar with the above piece, you’re probably thinking “WTH?  That’s not a work of art; that’s a urinal!”  Well, you’re right.  It is a urinal…a urinal that Marcel Duchamp picked up, signed with the name “R. Mutt, 1917”, called it Fountain, and put it in an exhibition in New York.  After stirring up much controversy (which I assume was Duchamp’s intent, especially since he had joined the anti-art/anti-war cultural movement called Dada), the piece was removed from the 1917 exhibition, but became one of Duchamp’s best known “readymade” pieces.  It’s one of my favorite things in the world.  Just because it was so bold and controversial.

Now certainly you consider Prosperine by Dante Gabriel Rossetti “art”, don’t you?

Proserpine, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

It’s a beautiful, dark portrait of Zeus’s daughter Persephone, queen of the underworld.  The model in the portrait was Jane Morris, the wife of fellow artist and writer William Morris.  She was also Rossetti’s lover for a time.  Rossetti and Morris were a part of the more respectable Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  They weren’t as controversial as the Dadaists, but if you look them up you will find that they had their own fair share of controversies, especially when it came to religious subjects.

Art is definitely one of my favorite subjects; I could talk about it forever if given the chance.  But I am going to close this post by asking, once again, what you consider art, and what your opinions are on the different movements.  Do you have any favorites?  Please feel free to tell me by leaving a reply below.

Things That Go Bump In the Night

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I had a very superstitious granny who would never go anywhere near a ladder, let alone walk under one.  She never allowed white flowers in the house, screeched like a banshee (odd considering she was afraid of banshees) if someone broke a mirror, had horse shoes over every doorway, and constantly threw salt over her shoulder.  I could write a novel more than 400 pages long about all the superstitions granny had, but I don’t have that kind of time now.  Old gran was Irish, see, and they are known as some of the most superstitious people in the world.

Did you know that in Ireland there are large plots of land and trees, called fairy trees, that cannot be touched or built upon because the Irish believe these areas are home to the “little people”—fairies and leprechauns and what not.  I’ve also heard of people putting milk and other things on their doorsteps for the “little people” to feast upon.

All these things probably sound strange to someone living in 21st century America, but I grew up used to it because I come from an old Irish family that still latched on to and practiced many of the old ways.  And while I don’t go berserk over many of the things old gran did, I’m still a bit superstitious at times.  And (I know I’m going to sound crazy, but I don’t care) I believe in ghosts.  Perhaps it’s because I grew up around an environment that encouraged these wacky beliefs, but then again ghosts might exist.  I can’t prove it either way, so I don’t even bother trying.

Have you ever had any experiences with the paranormal, the things that go bump in the night?

I’ve come across many things in my life that have completely freaked me out.  I used to live in an old apartment building, and it was said that it was built over a potter’s field (a destitute person’s graveyard).  My pets would stand by the doors and howl, and one time the doors blew open by themselves, even though all three locks on the doors were in the locked position.  I didn’t live in that apartment building for very long; the place gave me the creeps—especially after an area cop was found dead in the park right across the street.  He allegedly committed suicide.

I always had the creeps when I worked the graveyard shift for a hospital that was a mere half mile away from the old Alexian Brothers Hospital, the site of the 1947 exorcism that the movie The Exorcist was loosely based on.  The gangs took over that area many years ago, so it’s creepy just for that fact alone.  But, to me, there is a real sense of evil down that way that was there long before the gangs began indiscriminately killing people.

lemp

Image by paparutzi via Flickr

Not far from Alexian Brothers (now called St. Alexius Hospital-Broadway) is the Lemp Brewery and mansion, which is supposedly one of the most haunted places in America.  The Lemp family  was full of bad luck; some members of the family died of self-inflicted injuries, and some died in other tragic ways.  Many visitors to the mansion claim that they have seen or heard ghosts there, most notably a small, disfigured boy who looks down at them from a top floor window.  Of course a lot of things going on at Lemp these days are for show.  They give some pretty cheesy tours of the joint during Halloween.

So where are my fellow superstitious loonies that believe in ghosts?  I know you’re out there.  Please comment to tell me some of your experiences with the paranormal or any superstitions you have.  And skeptics, I invite you to come make fun of me haha.

 

Are You Living a Life with No Regrets?

no regrets

Image by Sean MacEntee via Flickr

I find it strange when I see or hear people say “I don’t have any regrets…”  Really?  Are people just kidding themselves when they say something like this, or is it actually possible to live a life with no regrets?  If you’re one of these regret-free people, I’d love to hear from you, maybe get some advice.

I happen to have many regrets—I didn’t take school seriously until I was much older; I didn’t take many relationships seriously, and I especially regret not taking better care of myself when I was younger because now I have a few preventable health problems.  I can go on and on, but I don’t want to wander into sounding too pathetic.

Now while I have a long list of regrets (and that list gets bigger all the time), I don’t try to dwell on them, or let them take over my life.  The past is the past.  I try to recognize the reason I regret doing or saying something and use it as a learning experience, and I certainly try to prevent myself from repeating the same mistakes.  What’s the point in acknowledging you did something wrong if you don’t break the pattern?

The one thing I think everyone should realize is that we are all human.  We all make mistakes.  We’re not perfect, no matter how hard we try.  In short, I am not at all convinced that there are people out there who don’t have any regrets.  How is that even possible?

If you’re beating yourself up over all the regrets you’ve collected over the years, let me make one suggestion:  stop beating yourself up over it.  You can’t go back in time and change things (even though that would be nice), so you have to live for tomorrow and try to do things better the next time.

Is there anything you would like to add to this topic?  Any advice you would like to give?  If there is, please feel free to leave a comment below!  I would love hearing from you.

 

You’ve Been Invited to Go Up and Down the Ladder with Me!

English: ladder and sky.

Ladder and Sky. Image via Wikipedia

After reading that headline, you’re probably thinking, “Why is this strange woman inviting me to go up and down a ladder with her?  That sounds stupid…”  Hmm.  Maybe it is.  But I’m willing to wager that there are some people out there who enjoy sharing the ups and downs of life with others.

Moni’s Ladder is about experiences, opinions, observations, and anything else I can cram into this thing.  It’s a personal blog, but I’m not going to rattle my virtual gums about what I had for breakfast and the fights I have with my family.  Zzz…boring.  No one wants to read that.  I plan to write about things all of us can relate to.

I like to think of myself as a “jackie-of-all-trades”; a dame who has experience in a bit of this, a bit of that, and a lot of nonsense.  I love to write, and I love to share what I write, so I think the blog is the perfect opportunity to do that.

Here are the topics you will find here:  my spin on news/current events, politics, film, music, life/society, technology, and art.  That little list covers a lot, but I might throw something else in there from time to time.  Who knows?  For now I think that’s enough.  I don’t want to completely overwhelm readers.

I don’t plan on making any money off of this, and I don’t plan on being the worldwide authority on any given subject.  I plan on being me, and if people like it, that’s great!  If they don’t, well, they can meow about how I am an amateur with a personal blog when everyone knows that personal blogs always fail at some point.  (boy, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen or heard that…)  It’s possible that I could fail, that I could burn out, but I doubt it.  I never run out of things to talk about.

Now it’s your turn.  If you’re reading this, let me know what you expect out of a blogger and blogging in general.  I am always open to suggestions so, please, give me some feedback!