11 X 11: Questions and Answers

(I got this from Stevebetz Some interesting questions to think about)

1. God exists. Yes or no?

Goodness. Start off with a tough one, whydontcha? I do NOT believe in a God who would justify hating, persecuting, or killing people in his name. I also don’t really believe that God has gender. I think there’s a Something, but if I can comprehend what that Something is, then it wouldn’t be especially Godlike. I like to think that this Something is real, but I also believe this: neither I nor anyone else alive has “it” right. I don’t know what form It takes, or if it’s a separate, sentient being, or some kind of force generated between us all. I was raised a liberal Protestant, and though my view of God has certainly changed since then, it was comforting, and still is sometimes. It’s almost a cliche to say, “I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual.” That’s a big one in AA. I’m not sure whether God answers every prayer raised by every person on earth (and other planets), but there have been times where it has given me a sense of calm. Whether that’s because of God, because of tapping into  some Universal Consciousness, or purely psychosomatic, I don’t know. Furthermore, I’m not sure I care–if it works for me, I’m good with that, regardless of the reason.

2. Religion. Source of good over history, or not?

Funny. A friend and I discussed something similar to this a few days ago. Our conversation was how Christianity has gotten such a horrible name the past few years, but how most of the Christians he and I know are good people.

To me, this question depends on how one defines “religion.” Do we define religion as the sum of a faith’s practitioners? Or as the body that rules over the organization serving these faithful? For example, consider The Crusades. Lots of killing was done in the name of The Church. But I’d posit that during those same years, most people who showed up for Sunday morning Mass were good people. They came to worship their God, and to learn and grow spiritually. Over the course of time, I would say that the number of people whose lives have been enriched by religion–those who took comfort from their religion–would greatly outnumber those whose lives have been wrecked by it.
3. Mt Rushmore. Who belongs there the most? the least? If you could add another head, who would it be?

Speaking of powerful mythologies.

Of the four heads on Mt Rushmore, I’d say Teddy Roosevelt would be the least deserving. Washington: strong leader, great general, and the dollar bill guy. Yup. He belongs up there. Lincoln? Held the country together during the Civil War? Built the Town Car? Sure. Jefferson? Framed our Constitution, bought half the country from Napoleon, and invented stuff? No problem. That being said, I’m not sure what the point was in creating Mount Rushmore. I’ve been there twice, and it’s impressive, but it seems sort of unnecessary to me. (I guess it’s a reason for people to visit South Dakota)

The second question is especially problematic. I don’t know that we could ever add another head. Not for geological reasons, but because we 21st Century Americans would find a way to screw it up. It would be debated up one side and down the other. We’d have groups saying the new Head should be a woman, or an African-American, or a Native American, or definitely another white guy. The groups would snipe at one another, and shout arguments on cable news channels. People  would sign petitions, like Facebook pages, and make crappy videos to post on YouTube. Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln are perfect choices, because they did lots of good things, and they didn’t have to deal with the scrutiny we inflict on our leaders today–most of the skeletons in their closet (and I’m sure there were plenty (not just Jefferson getting all Bill Clinton w/his slave girl)) will forever remain in their closets.

That said, if I had to pick one person, I’d say Babe Ruth. Just because he was Babe freakin’ Ruth.
4. Adult beverage. Beer? Wine? or Cocktail?

I’m assuming I can’t count the liquid Dilaudid in my IV pump a few years ago?

There’s a scene in The West Wing episode “Bartlet for America,” where Leo McGarry (a recovering alcoholic) describes, with fond reverence, the glories of drinking really good Scotch. He talks about the weight of a truly good glass, its heft and how it feels in your hand; the sound an ice cube makes when you drop it from the perfect height (too high, and the ice could chip and water down the Scotch), then the sound the Scotch makes as you pour it into the glass. This, to me, described perfectly The Ritual, a Ritual I practiced for many, many years, till it got to the point where it was no longer a Ritual, and it stopped mattering what type of glass I used, whether I had any ice, or the pedigree of the liquid I was ingesting.

Anyway, back when I was able to appreciate The Ritual, I’d have to say Cocktails, please. Specifically, Bombay Sapphire Gin, either in a Martini (stirred, not shaken (only a putz would shake a Martini)) or–in Summer–w/Perrier & lime; Ketel One vodka, rocks, w/3 big Spanish olives; or whiskey, baby, and don’t be stingy (Bourbon or Scotch, preferably really good, Ritual-worthy ones).

5. Extraterrestrial life. Yes or no? Is there intelligence out there?

To quote Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, “Pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space, ’cause there’s bugger-all down here on Earth.” Allow me to answer with a photograph:

Yeah, right. We’re the only ones. Sheesh.

This is the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image. This image reflects roughly one thirteen-millionth of the sky’s area (imagine a 1mm by 1mm piece of paper viewed at one meter: that’s how tiny a piece of space Hubble photographed). Those glowy things pictured are mostly galaxies. There are over 10,000 of them in this image. Our own galaxy contains an estimated 200 Billion stars. So. Let’s multiply 200 billion stars per galaxy times 10,000 galaxies in this picture times 13 million. I  don’t know exactly how many stars that is, but I think we can conclude that it’s what professional astronomers call “One Fucking Shitload.” Out of that 1 FS of stars, do I think it’s possible that there’s an “intelligent” life form out there?

Um…yeah. I think there’s a pretty fair chance there’s some other life form out there. Also, I wouldn’t blame them a bit for stopping for gas and coffee on Neptune, then speeding right the hell away from our inner solar system without visiting Earth. (Unless, of course, they’re dying to see Mt Rushmore)
6. Mea culpa. Who is the person, living or dead, that you’d most like to apologize to?

To R.E.A, my Little Red-Haired Girl from FSU. I was a shithead, and I’m sorry. I think of you often, and I hope you’re doing well (at least better than I am). You deserve a great life. I hope that’s what you have.

(Damn. I was going to make a joke on that one.)
7. Favorite vacation. Beach chair, ski slope, foreign city, theme park, natural wonder, or visit with family?

If I had an American Express Black Card, and I didn’t have to pay the bill, I’d buy a brand new Ford F-350 with the 6.7 liter Diesel V-8 & optional 37.5 gallon fuel tank. I’d fuel it up, and drive up I-275 till it merges with I-75. Beyond that, I’d just keep driving, stopping for fuel when I needed to, changing Interstates on a whim, stopping at a hotel when I felt like it. I don’t know where I’d go, nor do I think it would matter. My destination would be my truck and a series of hotel rooms. I’ve somehow become a person for whom the journey is preferable to what lies at its end. Sure, I’d love to visit the metro-Baltimore area, check in to a huge suite, and have my friends from DC-BLT-PA, etc, come and hang out for a night or two. Same with metro-Seattle, and a few other places. But then, I’d grab my bag, hop back in the truck, and just drive some more. I don’t really like being around people for more than a day or so, and I’m sure people get sick of me pretty quickly as well. The drive soothes me more than any beach, mountain, or other destination could. Maybe it’s the Zen of the road. Maybe it’s just that I’m nuts.
8. Meat. Love it? Won’t eat it? Eat it, but feel sort of guilty about it sometimes?

Meat is just awesome. If the ancient Israelites had sacrificed giant carrots instead of meat to Yaweh, the resultant smiting would make Sodom and Gomorrah look like a Girl Scout campfire.
9. Sports. Die hard fan, or don’t care?

The only sport I even remotely care about anymore is baseball, and even then, I’m not all that devoted. I doubt I could name all the teams that made the playoffs this year; only that the Rays didn’t.
10. Music. What is your favorite instrument to play, or would you like to play?

In high school, I played guitar all the time. I was in a really horrible garage band, but I got to be a pretty fair guitarist. I’ve played on and off for years, and I find it soothing. I hadn’t owned a guitar in many years, till I bought a lovely Telecaster Custom a couple months ago. It’s amazing how much muscle-memory my fingers retain from high school, and how–sadly–my high school dexterity didn’t make the trip.

I wish I could play piano or, better yet, a giganto cathedral pipe organ. Or a Hammond B-3.
11. The future. Optimistic about it?

Personally, all the future I can worry about is getting myself to work this afternoon. That being said, I DID just sign another one-year lease, so I guess I’m not planning on going anywhere for at least 12 months.

As for the macro-future, I’m optimistic that there will most likely be one. I think people will continue to be horrible and wonderful, contrapuntal; that the weather will be terrible and deadly, and gorgeous. That dreadful wars will be fought, and hopeful peaces will emerge from the rubble. That certain peoples will always hate each other, but that mostly, we’ll all continue to get along okay.

Most of all, I’m sure there will always be questions to ponder on a Saturday morning.

(According to the rules, I’m supposed to make up 11 questions of my own for y’all to answer. I think Steve’s are perfectly fine. Answer them. Thank you, Dr. Betz, for making me think this morning)


3 Responses to “11 X 11: Questions and Answers”

  1. Great answers! Man — great job. As a kindred spirit, my answers very much line up with yours — especially on the “big” topics. I love love love the road trip answer!

    • You assembled some really good questions, sir, the answering of which required much thought and soul-searching. I need that every now and then.

      Oh, If I see you taking Buzz out for a spin, I’ll honk & wave. (I’ll be the big Cracker in the growly, soot-spewing pickup. 😉 )

  2. Hi Tom, been a while. I actually haven’t been reading blogs around here at all. I just happened to pop into my reader and this post was such a wonderful read that I had to comment! That Hubble picture is amazing and I always love thinking about the “cosmic” perspective of things.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

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