There’s a Method(ist) to My Madness

I feel like talking about my spiritual journey, this being Easter weekend, and all. It’s been interesting so far, with more yet to come (I hope!), so I’ll be doing this in stages. Today, it’s the early part of the journey: my younger years.

: Old United Methodist Church building

: Old United Methodist Church building (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was raised in the United Methodist church. Well, technically, I guess the first part was in the Methodist church, since it was pre-merger. I grew up in a small town in southern Indiana, and it was a fairly small congregation, in a small white-frame church building. For the longest time, until a Church of Christ congregation arrived, it was the only church in town. Even though it wasn’t that big, it was pretty active. Church camps, Bible studies, revivals, various holiday gatherings, we had it all. I remember the music was excellent. There was a lot of great singers who went to that church, including my mother. My father was choir leader, and he has a strong musical background. He played in a jazz group before we moved out of the city. We even had good pianists and organists. There really was a lot of talent in that church!

Anyway, along came adolescence, and I was having some issues. I finally decided I wasn’t going to that church, and I was lucky that my parents didn’t push the issue. I was learning more about other Christian denominations and world religions, and I wasn’t comfortable with a lot of the Methodist theology. That’s where my spiritual journey really began. Through the years, I’ve kept up with what the United Methodist church is doing (although that congregation no longer exists), but I’ve never really felt any need to attend a Methodist church. Apparently, none of the rest of my family has, either. My parents started going to a Disciples of Christ congregation when they move back north (probably a better fit for my mother, who was raised Southern Baptist). My brother’s family goes to a non-denominational congregation of some sort. As for me? Well, that’s what this whole thing’s about. I’ll tell more about that in a future article.

Reach for the Sky!

Here’s a (slightly edited) photo I took of the statue, The Search, in front of our public library. It’s one of the only remaining large, publicly visible works by local artist Barney Bright. Personally, I’m not really fond of this statue. It is dramatic, though. The library’s currently using a version of this photo as its cover photo on Facebook. We thought about using the statue in our new logo (it is well associated with the library), but it was too detailed to really work.

"The Search" by Barney Bright

“The Search” by Barney Bright

On a related note, there’s a public art project going on now as part of the town’s bicentennial celebration. I believe there’s some pretty good stuff coming out of it. I’ll get some photos as things go up.

UPDATE: Turns out there are other Bright works still around. Apparently, even the Louisville Clock is back on display (now if we could get the Louisville Falls Fountain going again). I’ll have to check them out!

Headers and colors and fonts…

I’ve spent some time recently working on a header image for this site. I didn’t really like the default the theme was using, and I wanted something a little more memorable. You can see my current results at  the top.

I have had some design training, and I like working with text. It can just be a little tricky at times. For example, I use two fonts in the header image: one for the site name and another for the tagline. Originally, I had used a script-based font for the tagline, because I like scripts. Looking at it again this morning, I realized there was too much similarity between the two fonts. They were clearly different (to me, anyway), but not different enough. So I switched to a sans serif font for the tagline, and I think it looks much better. Continue reading

Created Equal

Here’s another photo I took a few years ago. This is the Memorial Building at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Kentucky. Inside is a replica of the cabin Lincoln was born in. It’s a great place to go and remind yourself of all the sacrifices made in the Civil War to ensure that we became a nation of equality for all. I took this with my Olympus on a nice spring day.

Memorial Building, Abraham Lincoln Birthplace

Happy Holi Days!

Holi Festival of Colors, Utah 2010 - Chalk Exp...

Holi Festival of Colors, Utah 2010 – Chalk Explosion (Photo credit: jeremy.nicoll)

Today is Holi, also known as the Hindu Festival of Colors. Celebrated by Hindus worldwide, Holi is a spring festival commemorating the end of winter, good harvests, and fertility. Although not really a religious holiday, it does hark back to events in the past. Specifically, it remembers the story of Prahlada, who was miraculously saved from death by burning. If you’re interested in the story, Swami Vivekananda had an excellent retelling. I recommend reading it. In the United States, probably the biggest Holi celebration is held in Spanish Fork, Utah, at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna temple.

English: Holi celebration at college of engine...

English: Holi celebration at college of engineering adoor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I decided to commemorate Holi today by wearing the brightest colors I could find to work. It was a challenge, because I don’t really own that many bright colors, although they are some of my favorites. We’re still in the 30’s and 40’s here, which is kind of unusual, so it makes bright spring colors seem all the more vibrant and unexpected. To be honest, this festival couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’m so very tired of winter. This year, Holi for me is a major psychological boost! If you’ve never paid attention to Holi, give it a look this year. You just may enjoy it.

I’ve Heard the Bigfoot Singing

Foilage I n A Pacific Northwest Nature Refuge

Foilage I n A Pacific Northwest Nature Refuge (Photo credit: bterrycompton)

Sitting here watching a television show about Bigfoot  I’m reminded of a dream I had last year. I had gone to the Pacific Northwest looking for Bigfoot  For some reason, I believed they were related to me. I was in this small mountain town, getting ready to head out. It was a really misty morning, with the sun just starting to come up. Suddenly, I heard this beautiful, unearthly singing. No words, just really gorgeous close-harmony tones. I knew what I was hearing was the song of a group of Bigfoot greeting the dawn. It really was one of the most heartrendingly beautiful sounds I had ever heard in my life. Believe me, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard a Bigfoot choir. Even now, almost a year later, I remember the dream very clearly. More than I do the dreams I’ve had this week.

I still want to go find Bigfoot.

Stars Beneath My Feet

I haven’t posted any photos recently, but here’s one of my favorites. It’s an old brick sidewalk just outside our downtown area. I really love the details, both in the way the bricks are made and the way they’re laid out.

Brick Sidewalk

Brick Sidewalk

Sometimes I really prefer black and white photography. Color can be great, but for some things, monochrome just lets details shine through. I’ve got lots of other photos, taken with a variety of cameras. I’ll start posting more of them. This one was taken with a film camera, my trusty old Olympus.

What I’m Reading Now

The Birth of Christianity cover

The Birth of Christianity

Like a lot of book lovers, I’m almost always reading more than one book at a time. Right now, I’ve got at least three going. There may be others I dip into every now and again, but I try to limit myself to three at a time.

  • Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years (Diarmaid MacCulloch – I’m having real problems with this book. It’s not that it’s a bad book, it’s just so dense! There’s a lot of information in it, and it’s very slow going. I may have to put it back on the shelf for a while, or switch to the audio version. The problem with going audio is that I don’t really like to listen to nonfiction books. Especially history, where there’s so many footnotes. It gets confusing trying to keep up with everything. Also, I like to be able to flip back and refresh my memory on different points, and that’s not easy to do with an audiobook.
  • A Taste for Murder (Claudia Bishop) – This one, I’m doing the audio version. I checked it out from our library’s downloadable audio collection. I’ve read other books by Bishop, and enjoyed them quite a lot. This one not so much. I think it may be the reader. Some of her voice characterizations are really very good. Unfortunately, I find her presentation of the main character to be kind of whiny. The story’s good, so I’ll definitely finish it, but I may avoid audiobooks done by this reader in the future.
  • The Birth of Christianity (John Dominic Crossan) – Another in my religious history reading series. This one, though still dense and slow-going, I’m actually enjoying more. Maybe it’s the writer. Crossan seems to have an easier and more open writing style than MacCulloch, at least for me. Although it’s about the same length as the MacCulloch book, it covers a much shorter time period: only the first few decades of Christianity’s history.

Well, that’s what I’m reading right now. What books are you reading, and are you enjoying them? Let me know in the comments. Thanks!

Never Been There, But I Love It!

I was thinking today I should make a list of favorite places I’ve been in my life. Then I got to thinking, everyone makes lists of favorite places they’ve been. I want to do something different. I want to make a list of favorite places I’ve never been. So, in no particular order, here’s my list:

  • ImageTokyo: I’m fascinated by all things Japanese: from the people, to the arts. I doubt I’ll ever get there, but I’d love to visit Tokyo, even if it’s just for a little while. Ideally, I’d like to stay a year or more and really try to get into Japanese culture, but I’d settle for just a weekend.
  • Rio de Janeiro: Brazil is another country that fascinates me. Rio has such extremes of wealth and poverty, and such a mix of culture that it would be a very interesting place to spend some time. Besides, the weather’s got to be better than it is here!
  • Montreal: A little closer to home, I’d love to see Montreal. I’ve been told it’s the most Parisian city outside of Paris itself. Besides, Canadian French is a wonderful language, and I’ve never (yet) met a French Canadian I haven’t liked.
  • Berlin: The home of so much German history and culture, I really want to see Berlin. The new restoration of the Reichstag building is quite simply stunning. Besides, Berlin is supposed to have a fantastic gay community.
  • Haifa: I’m a major Judeophile, and I’ve always wanted to go to Israel, but not necessarily to Jerusalem. Tel Aviv might be too contemporary, but Haifa looks just about right. The Bahá’í gardens in particular are very beautiful.
  • Uluru: What can I say. Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock) is special. as Bill Bryson points out in In a Sunburned Country, it’s one of the most distinctive features of our planet. Aliens could use it as a landmark. Beyond that, I just really want to see Australia. In fact, if I could live anywhere I wanted to, it would probably be Australia.
  • Reykjavik: I don’t know why, but I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland. Reykjavik is the obvious destination. It’s a small, very attractive city in a small, very attractive country. I don’t know about winter, because short winter days really start to bother me after a while, but it’d be a great place to spend a summer!
  • Chawton: I know. What’s so great about Chawton? Where is Chawton? Well, it’s a small English village in Hampshire. It’s claim to fame is Chawton cottage, the house Jane Austen lived in for the last eight years of her life. I’m a huge Jane Austen fan, and would give just about anything to see it.
  • Istanbul: The crossroads of Asia and Europe. As Byzantium, the capitol of the Byzantine empire. There’s just so much history and culture here you could spend years and never take it all in. From the Hagia Sophia to the Golden Horn, there’s so much to see and do I wouldn’t know where to begin. But I’d love to try.
  • Cape Town: South Africa is another country I’d like to see, and Cape Town would be my choice of places to see it from. It’s the center of the Afrikaans language in South Africa, as well as an attractive city in a great location. 

So there you are. Those are my ten places I love even though I’ve never been there. If you have  places you’ve always wanted to go to, let me know in the comments!