Paladins, celibates and other abominations

Moderately abominable paladin: Not so gay, but very very celibate.

One shall read much before the eyes pop out. I recently read an article by Dennis Prager.

This Prager fellow is spoken of with the greatest respect by my conservative friends, one would almost expect him to be some kind of hero of our time. Well, I suppose this may be the case under some circumstances.

In any case, it is strange how pieces of puzzles fall together as one lives one’s life, an effect often called “synchronicity” these days.


Does anything ever begin? But we can make a beginning on the day when I was quietly reading Dante’s most famous work, the Divine Comedy.  Now in the (so far slowly) declining years of my body, I am reading up on some timeless classics which every civilized person ought to know, but which I don’t. I mean, I am so busy now that we have all this spare time, so there just hasn’t been time for the pillars of western civilization. This includes Dante who pretty much defined the folk theology of the late Middle Ages. Some of his concepts, like the circles of Hell, have become part of common speech.

While reading my Dante, I found a drive-by reference to “Orlando” and his horn. This sounded vaguely familiar, but something was off. Could Orlando be, apart from a place with an airport, also the Italian name for Roland? Wikipedia sure thinks so. And Roland was someone I vaguely knew from my childhood. Well, not in person, but from the Norwegian folk song “Roland og Magnus Kongjen” (Roland and Magnus the King), also known simply as Rolandskvadet (song of Roland, see also the much longer French “Chanson de Roland”.)

No points for guessing why that particular song lodged in my memory.

Over the next days, I spent some hours reading up on medieval literature. I realized that the peers of Charlemagne’s court were the original paladins, which spawned not only a deluge of romance stories but also some legends that are more comparable to modern superhero stories or the Greek and Norse mythology. These men were seen as larger than life. Though at least some of them were real men from history, they were transformed into archetypes as the centuries passed. Legend became myth.

What does this have to do with Dennis Prager?  Less than he thinks, I would say. He referenced my beloved paladins in his article “Judaism’s Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality”. In this, he argues not only that the paladins in Chanson de Roland were gay, but that celibate men (and women) are less than human.

I can defend myself, but I would encourage Mr Prager to keep his hands off my paladins. It’s bad enough with the yaoi fangirls writing gay paladin fiction without a renowned Conservative adding fuel to the fire.


Now, I don’t think people and their works are generally pure good or pure evil. I like to think I am more nuanced than toddlers, people with borderline personality disorder, and American political bloggers. (I will assume, despite frequent anonymity, that these are three distinct groups.)

And Mr Prager’s article certainly has its good points, and is a welcome – maybe even necessary – contribution to the debate. In particular, someone had to point out that the ancient world was not like USA in the 1950es. Young people today may not know, but the world where Judaism first appeared was horrifyingly alien. Civilization was still young and somewhat experimental. Notably, women were literally treated as slaves: Not in the sense that hubby went from the dinner table straight to the couch without doing the dishes, but in the sense of being shipped off to some unknown house around the age of 9, there to be brutally raped and put to hard work, and harshly beaten if the work did not please their husband / owner and his family. Boys were somewhat better off, but were still subject to sexual abuse by older men on a regular basis. You may remember from history class that in ancient Greece, there was an elaborate system in which men of the upper classes would induce barely pubescent boys to love in the physical sense as well as the more romantic adoration or idealization. This was less regulated in other cultures, but the man-boy love association was a staple of coming of age in early civilizations.

From the dawn of civilization, religion has sought to exert a civilizing influence on human sexuality, among other things.  (Food being probably even more prominent.) In Bronze Age religions, this sanctification of sexuality took the form of temple prostitution and also public religious rituals of a sexual nature. In other words, rather than have the men roam freely and rape anything that couldn’t fight back, the Bronze Age religions encouraged them to instead visit the temple and have sex with one of the temple priestesses or cute boys (or sometimes sacred eunuchs) residing there.

Dennis Prager is, understandably, horrified by this practice. So was Yahweh’s prophets, and there are several references to these things in the Bible, some oblique and some pretty explicit. But if you  travel with your mind back through time, you will realize that the Bronze Age religions (usually centered on fertility goddesses) did what little they could to tame the male beast. In the stone age, people had lived in tribes where everyone knew everyone and most people were related. With the break-up of the small tribe, people were cast into a world of strangers, and the male libido, no longer under mom’s wakeful eyes, went wild. We have been working on getting this creature integrated in civilization ever since.

Be that as it may, a new age dawned in the Middle East with Judaism. Marriage already existed, but it was mainly a matter of ensured paternity, not a mutual union. Men were still visiting prostitutes as a matter of course. You will find this mentioned casually in the early books of the Bible. Judah impregnated his son’s wife thinking that she was a prostitute, and thus begat the lineage that would lead to King David and ultimately to Joseph of Nazareth. Samson, the Biblical hero who redeemed himself by killing himself along with a couple thousand infidels and a public building, had a well documented habit of sleeping around, which was fine as long as he stuck with prostitutes and did not get attached to them. When he fell in love with Dalilah, things turned nasty. But sleeping around was OK. Sometimes a man got to do what a man got to do.

The prostitutes are still among us, but they are not employed by the churches.  And the boys are definitely not accepted. (Contrary to some liberal media, the altar boys are generally not there for that purpose.)

Judaism, then, moved the “sacredness” of sex out of the temples and into the home. The sacred union of man and woman was now not a temple ritual, but marriage itself, which had before had a function more akin to slavery.

This is pretty much as far as we have come even today. It has taken its sweet time. Kings and the upper class used to have courtesans and concubines well into the middle ages, if not modernity. (It was usually more discreet in recent years.) The teachings of Jesus Christ about not even ogling other women have few adherents even 2000 years later, but I feel sure its time will come as well. We are talking about changes to basic human behavior, so millennia may be needed to complete the transformation.


It is an irony that the focus on homosexuality in the past century has sounded the death knell for the kind of deep affection between men which was idealized not just in the medieval paladin literature, but well into the cowboy age. A bond of love that is not sexual, but intimate in the ways of the soul. When modern liberals read about love between men in ages past, they naturally suppose that they are seeing gay characters, but this is not necessarily the case. Certainly I would have wished that at least conservatives would still be able to recognize this, but even that time may be over.

It is, incidentally, the same with children. Today, a father cannot even bathe his own children for fear that he may be imprisoned as a child molester, should he ever have a fall-out with his wife.  Women can still be affectionate toward each other and children, long may it last.


The sanctification of marriage necessarily means that any other lifestyle becomes suspect. Prager is not the first to bring up this. I was still young when I first read the Rabbinical saying that “a man who is unwed after the age of thirty is under God’s curse”. Certainly this was also the prevailing attitude of the Christian Church, and one of the reasons why I slipped out of there. (I still think of myself as a Christian, but not a Churchian, unfortunately.) Even if a man was celibate in word and thought (this was supposed to be possible, albeit only with divine intervention), he was still depriving a woman of a husband. This was a sin, unless one had a really good excuse.

Prager brings up the point that single men commit almost all coarse crime, like violence and drug crime. He seems utterly unaware of the possibility that the causation could be the other way: That most women would hesitate to marry a notorious criminal. (Many of them have girlfriends, though. I guess these are not the marrying type.) Even so, I think he may be onto something. Having a wife waiting for you at home may really make you less likely to do something that could get you imprisoned or dead. Conversely, the need to constantly impress new girls may be a powerful force to push young men into crimes.

That’s still a bit from assuming that being single means you have given your heart and soul to the powers of Death. It may be the Rabbis who think so and not Prager, but this is hard to say for sure from the text of the article.

Is a bachelor actually only half a human until he finds the woman who will make him complete?  I think that is the case for some. One of my friends, a good and admirable young man (though less young than when I first met him) certainly seems very troubled by it. Another is more quiet on the topic, but still hatches plans to get hitched. A third… actually, I cannot remember if there is a third. I think the rest may be either married (or nearly so), or still young, or… non-mainstream in various ways as regards their intimate behavior. And even among those, there are some who feel incomplete.

Not I. Well, perhaps a little. Like 98% complete or some such. I enjoyed hanging out with my female best friend a couple times a year, as I did ten years ago.  But being half a human? Dear complete humans, no offense, but don’t you already have your work cut out for you to keep up with the happiness I have been given, no matter how much sacred sex you have in your marriage? You better amp it up already.

And may Light have mercy on us all if I actually were to level up to my supposed human potential. ^_^

Roland set horn to bloodied mouth, and blew it in his wrath;
rent was wall and marble stones for a distance of nine days’ march.

-Roland & Magnus the King.

So, King Magnus, did the earth move for you too? ^_^

Immunity to sadness 2

…a person who is like a doorway into a realm of light?

At least the graphics are much improved, compared to my original “Immunity to sadness” entry, on October 14, 1999. Yes, it really is that long ago, less than a year from the start of my archives.

Back then I observed that I mostly had only two moods: Happiness, and fear of death. Happiness most of the time, and then when I was sick it turned to the other. But there were no other emotions, at least worth talking about.

Things are really not much different after all this time, as I mentioned in my previous entry. I am not absolutely sure the overwhelming feelings of joy inside are more intense now. I would think so, but it is hard to remember clearly how one felt more than a decade ago.

Actually, when I looked at the picture above, I remembered that entry, but not in detail. I did remember my strange comment that I was more afraid of the brightness inside than the darkness inside.  And as you may guess from comparing the pictures, this seems even more relevant today. As if inside me, still locked in the basement, there is this person who is like a doorway into a realm of overwhelming light. And I am not sure whether it is me or not.

Obviously I mean this figuratively. I think there is very small chance that I will spontaneously combust. Less chance than my computers doing so, certainly. In a physical sense, at least. But there is, I think, a definitive risk of what is described in another of my favorite Japanese songs:

My thoughts will some day reach my destiny,
and I will discover my overwhelming strength,
in the infinitely distant sky


Once I see the pleased looks on everyone’s faces, I become happy as well. It is better than beer and Danish pastries!

I don’t remember if I came across Happy Science when I searched on Google for “happiness science”, but I know it was just around that time. Most people who look for such a thing are probably unhappy, so unhappy that they seek a change in their life. Certainly I read that this is a common reason for coming to Happy Science (the Japanese sect of that name).  For me, however, it was the opposite. I was wondering: Why am I so much happier than my friends and random people I meet?

These days, you can even read about people’s feelings on their blogs and “social media” like Facebook or Twitter. This has really brought home to me the fact that many people, perhaps most people, are unhappy. And not only evil people, but nice and friendly people who you would think fate would reward with joy in their hearts, even in the midst of the trials of life.

There are differences, of course.  The old are happier than the young, except for the very old who suffer massive breakdown of their bodies and brains. Married men and divorced women are all happier than unmarried men, with divorced men the unhappiest of all. The middle class is happier than the seriously poor, although happiness does not increase with money from there on up. Europeans are happier than Americans, and people in northern Europe more than those further south. The happiest of all are the Danes, but then again they start the day with a beer. I wonder if they would beat Norwegians if you could find enough sober Danes to run the survey on them… Well possibly. They have the pastry, after all!

And now I come to the point. For my search was not in vain. I believe I have learned what caused me to be bursting with joy most of the time when I am not sick and getting sicker.  No, it is not pastries, but we’ll get to them soon.

Ryuho Okawa may have pointed out something obvious, but I had never heard it before:  Happiness comes from having read many books, more specifically books by high spirits (great souls, geniuses in the classical sense). Having done this, high spirits in Heaven (or your subconscious) can draw near to you, and their being close brings happiness.

Note that I use the religious and psychological viewpoints interchangeably. True religion and true psychology are one, as there is only one truth if you go deep enough.  But often we cannot get all the way to the bottom, and then there will be different truths.

So your library is your doorway to years and years of happiness, a life overflowing with joy.  Or at least if you are like me or Ryuho Okawa when he was young.

Another interesting teaching of Happy Science is that humans exist at different spiritual levels, based on the number of dimensions they inhabit. This is eerily similar to the theory of Spiral Dynamics, but actually originated before it.  Unlike Spiral Dynamics, Happy Science uses religious imagery in explaining this.  You may find it easier or harder to understand that way, but let me briefly mention the main levels as seen by Happy Science.

The 4th dimension: Time.  All sane adults and children above the toddler age or so have access to time, in addition to the three dimensions of the material world.  They are aware that their body and their social relations change over the course of time.  A person whose highest aspiration lies within the four dimensions of space and time can be said to live on this level.  Such a person may aspire to physical fitness, or wealth, or popularity, or other things. But their aspiration does not go beyond the boundaries of the material world of space and time.

For a 4-dimensional person, happiness will consist in acquiring more of what they aspire for in this world.  This could be the pleasures of the senses, of which Danish pastries probably come in near the top along with chocolate and sex and any combination of these.  But it could also be some more lofty goal that is still within the domain of space and time.

The 5th dimension is spirituality, or objective goodness.  This is called the realm of the good, because good people go beyond “it is all about me” and begin to see themselves from outside.  By having your highest mind in the fifth dimension, in spirit, you are able to reflect on yourself, as if seeing yourself from outside. Those trapped in the fourth dimension cannot do this. So being able to reflect on yourself is a dramatic breakthrough.

Those who belong in the 5th dimension derive joy from gratitude. When they see the joy in other people’s faces, they become filled with joy themselves. This is an awesome thing!  A large portion of the human population, although probably no more than half, has come to this.  It should be encouraged, for it is still easy to sink down into the world of space and time. Advertising and political propaganda and even some modern education try to drag people down this way, and the joy of being happy together with others is lost.

Paradise, as we normally think of it, is a state of sharing pure-hearted joy with other people.  One must be without hate to enter paradise, and find joy in seeing other people happy. Those who feel joy in seeing others suffer will not last long in paradise even if they get in.

One should bear in mind that paradise is not a place, like another planet, but a state of mind.  We have to get there NOW while we are alive. But if you derive happiness from seeing the smiles of everyone, you are there already.

The 6th dimension is Truth. It is also called the Realm of Light.  Again, this is not some other planet or something, but a state of mind. Those who belong in this realm derive an intense pleasure from learning the Truth. I mean that in a most literal sense.  Their soul thirsts for insight in the same way a body may thirst for water if wandering through dry places for a long time.  To find it is pleasure that spreads from within to draw the body along with it, resonating in the pure joy. It is a feeling that is sensual only by resonance, the body resonating with the mind.  We who belong in this dimension with our highest aspiration go “Wheeee!” when we discover a new piece of truth.  Most true scientists obviously belong here.

The 7th dimension is altruism. This is the realm of saints and bodhisattvas, people who no longer care about themselves except for the good of all others. They eat to live, so they can be of service to others. They learn to become wise, to be of service to others. These no longer do good because the joy in other’s faces make them feel good. Even if they are misunderstood, even if their goodness is repaid with hate or scorn, they don’t falter.  They wish nothing for themselves, except the joy of love, which is the joy of giving.

There are hints of this life in the ordinary, for instance a mother will not throw out a baby who screams, but try to comfort him even if she does not feel like it. But these are just shadows. It is hard to imagine a life of pure giving, the life of a saint.  Even at my age, I only see this from a distance. I don’t really live that kind of life myself, and I wonder if I ever shall. Possibly, if I live long enough. But right now it is pretty distant.

So I won’t go any further than that.  As you see, there are different happinesses for different people.  For some, the greatest joy in life is to eat Danish pastries. For others, it is to be surrounded by happy friends who can laugh innocently together.  And for some of us, it is learning about the hidden things in nature of in the human mind. And then for a few, happiness is entirely outside themselves, in the act of giving unconditional love, or compassion.

(Note that you don’t really move from dimension to dimension, you add them. So even if reading the Wisdom of Solomon makes you want to dance with joy, that does not mean you suddenly dislike pastries, or beautiful music, or friendship. You add new and ever stronger sources of joy to what you have. You grow.)

There are actually different layers within each of these rough groups, of course. So there is a wide range of things that can cause happiness. Conversely, when people fail to live according to their highest aspiration (perhaps because society tells them they should seek something else), they become unhappy. And this is very common today.

Reflect on yourself, what is it that truly makes you happy?  What does this tell you about who you really are? It is still possible to change, while you are alive. But first you need to get to where your heart is, before you can start moving forward. Hopefully that does not mean a massive investment in Danish pastries and beer, or you would probably not have been able to read this entry.

800 calories

Not quite spring yet…

This morning there was more snow; luckily it was light and fluffy. But it adds up. And with so long a path to clear, it took me over an hour and burned about 800 calories. That will take some time to replace. That’s two liters – half a gallon – of cola, for instance.  That comes in addition to what I normally consume.  So obviously that won’t happen in one day.

It will probably happen, though. Not calorie for calorie, but if I lose enough fat, I will get hungrier. That’s how it works. I understand that many people are supposedly hungry even when they are fat. For me there is an obvious difference when I go from the top end of the “normal” (shouldn’t they move normal up to what used to be overweight, now that it is normal to be overweight?) to the lower end of “normal”.  At the lower end, I am hungry day and night, including after the meals. At the high end, food feels like a convenience rather than a necessity sometimes. And that’s how I like it. I have a lot of other interests, if I should not spend my days constantly thinking about food.

Although I would probably get more readers if I wrote about food frequently. It is one of the things I still have in common with all humans. We all eat.

Bubble after bubble

I want those wonderful days to return! And PIIGS will fly…

I don’t speak much about the economy anymore. I think everything I said beforehand is more than evident now. I wish I could tell you what is to come, but neither can I, nor would anyone listen this time either.

It began even earlier, at the time of the so-called “Asian crisis”, when then Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan made the decision to use the power of the American economy to pull the world back from the brink of a very serious recession. The cost of this would be overheating the American economy, but the alternative might have been worse. If a Great Depression had set in at that time, when the developing world was still weak, the entire civilization as we know it would likely have suffered greatly.  Today, many of the emerging economies really are emerging, developing etc, and rely not at all on western aid.

The event people still remember, I think, is the “dotcom” bubble. At this time, credit was cheap, as a result of the earlier decision by the central bank. An air of optimism held sway.  The Internet was the new electricity, the new railway, the new thing that would change everything. The old restraints had been broken. Traditional economic laws no longer applied. Finally the trees could grow into the sky.

As we know, that was not quite what happened.  Generally, the Internet has made it easier for people to shop around, and pressed the margins down, so that businesses have to compete harder and earn less.  Of course, a few have profited, such as Amazon and Google, but their day is a continuing running to stay in place, for competitors constantly try to overtake them.

When the recession began in early 2001, half a year later than I had predicted, I believed that we would get the necessary correction to get the feet back on the ground and start growing from a realistic position, once the recession had run its course.  I realize now that this might not have happened anyway. But we will never know, because that fall a black swan flew in and changed everything, with the Fall of the Towers and the beginning of the “War on Terror”.

Perhaps Bush and his advisors really thought that the support naturally given to a president in wartime was a mandate also to his economic policies. Or perhaps they just decided that money did not really matter as long as they were fighting a war. And the “war on terror” was, by its  very nature, eternal. Short of mind-controlling the entire human population, terrorism simply cannot be entirely eliminated. Certainly not by military means.  The Bush administration had basically written itself a blank check, allowing them to disregard the economic consequences of their politics.

But government was not the only factor in the disaster. Perhaps it was not even the most important.  Unwilling to the let go of the fantasy money from an imaginary future, banks and their customers alike found a new bubble to blow. After the dotcom bubble came the housing bubble, far larger and more widespread.  Continued cheap credit allowed people to borrow more and more to pay more and more for the same houses. The longer this continued, the higher the values of the houses, and the larger mortgages could be taken out on them.  It was as if people really literally believed that the houses were growing, like plants. In reality, houses are more like bicycles, which can last long if maintained properly, but will eventually become useless. The time horizon is just so long that people don’t care – most houses will last for a lifetime or more.

Again we saw fantasy money, based on a fantasy future. In this future, houses would continue to be worth 10% or 20% more for each passing year, even though wages and salaries barely budged.  It is hard to imagine the stupidity necessary to go with this, but greed makes people as stupid as necessary.

When the dotcom bubble burst, a recession began but was quickly fended off by a new fantasy.  When the housing bubble burst, a new Great Depression began, but was again fended off. What we have now is a government bubble. The government has taken over the debt and guaranteed for the fantasy money from the two previous bubbles, and is even now adding its own. The Economist slaughtered the Obama administration’s forecast as laughable in its lack of realism. (Bear in mind that The Economist magazine had actually supported Obama in the election. We’re not talking about Forbes here, from whom I gleefully appropriated the term “government bubble”.) There is not, nor has there been, any credible plan for paying back the ever increasing loans. There is not even a credible plan for stabilizing the borrowing at the current high level. There is just the assumption that cheap money will last forever.

And PIIGS will fly.  (PIIGS is the abbreviation for the European countries that, beginning in 2010, have had trouble servicing their national debt.) In a way, Greece and Ireland can count themselves happy to have they government bubble burst this early, when the outcome will likely be no more than a long and painful recession. The alternative is far worse.

Think of it. We dodged a recession and got a depression. We dodge the depression and what?  What is the next step?

Hopefully not a return to the dark ages, or something like that. But the risk is there.  When a bank fails, there are usually other banks. Are there other governments?  Not unless you emigrate. What happens when a nation cannot pay its police and its military? We actually know that, because it has happened occasionally in developing countries. The guys with the weapons are not the ones who are going to go hungry. Not as long as they can get food by simply pointing their weapons at others.

Of course, those are goddam ni… Africans. It won’t happen in MY country. Right? Right? When there is no money to pay them, the police will continue to do their rounds, the firefighters are going to continue to fight fires, public schools will remain open and the roads will be maintained. We are good people.

Nobody wants to think the unthinkable. That is understandable. But then we have to do the unavoidable. To the same degree that we have spent more than we earned, as a society, so we will have to do the opposite. To spend less than we earn. We can debate whether to eat the rich or let the poor fall by the wayside, or just cut everything with a thousand small cuts. But we can’t continue to party on fantasy money.

Happy Science on air

OK, perhaps not quite as literally as the two young happy scientists flying in the anime “The Laws of Eternity”, also by Happy Science.

Actually, “Happy Science on Air” is the new broadcast / webcast from the optimistic little Japanese religion. It is in English and is broadcast each Friday morning in New Zealand. You can listen to it for a week on PlanetAudio.

I want to say a few words about the first ever broadcast, which was this Friday. It was, naturally, a bit of an introduction to Happy Science.  I particularly enjoyed his explanation of love based on his own life. It was spot on and memorable.  There is a lot of suffering in the world because people want to be loved, instead of just loving another.  Obviously when you are a small child, you need to be on the receiving end of love, or you die. As an adult, however, you need to be on the giving side of love. This is the law of life.

The weakness of the program was that, despite the best intentions, it basically preached to the choir. If there were any curious listeners who were not already familiar with Happy Science, I feel pretty sure they turned off quickly when Mr Bellingham asserted that Ryuho Okawa was God and Buddha. It may not be obvious after some months in the sect, but this really is an extraordinary claim and requires extraordinary proof. It is certainly not something one simply states as a fact and then goes on.

Because of this, it would probably have been better if they had skipped the whole “Ryuho Okawa is God and Buddha” thing at this point.  Especially since it is not something he used to bring up on his own in his early books.

Let me add something of my own here.

I have 17 books by Ryuho Okawa, and ordered another. I would have more if they were publicly available.  There are a number of interesting titles which seem to only be available in temples, presumably for members only. Perhaps those are where Okawa goes on in some detail about his divinity, because it is little more than implied in the books I have read, in many of them not mentioned at all. He does bring it up a few times in some of them though, but never in the form of requiring any kind of service or worship from others. Rather, he brings it up as an explanation of why he has dedicated his life to serve the world.

Of course, you can dedicate your life to the service of mankind without being an incarnation of the highest God.  Well, to some degree you can. Actually if you are filled with love for all people to an extreme degree, you cannot avoid being an extension of God, but let us not get into that level of detail here.

Anyway, if you are curious and have half an hour, follow the link. It is pretty simple, certainly if you understand my writing you understand Happy Science on Air even more easily. Whether you believe it is another matter. I hope at least you take with you the understanding that love is something you give, and this is how you become happy. In that regard at the very least, their science of happiness is spot on!

White winter again

Not very kind to the furniture, but it gives an idea of how much or little snow there is.

Those of you who live in the warm parts of the world may enjoy seeing this picture of snow. I think it is about knee deep on average, possibly a little less. It is hard to say since the snow was quite light this time, and the wind was blowing the whole time. So much of it ended up in drifts, while other parts are fairly bare.

Incidentally, this means that even if I clear a small road through the snow, it will disappear again after the wind has done its work, but only in certain stretches.

The first thing I did about it was make a path to the riverbank, which is not far from the house. It is twice or thrice the height of a man, so I can continue to dump snow down it and it stays down.  I wish I had thought of that the first winter. But even though I don’t need to move the snow uphill, it is still a lot of work.  I like to think of it as negative calories. And in fact, while some people put on weight in the winter, with me it is the other way around. I lose weight during the winter, although not a lot.

Time to repent again

“Pent and repent as necessary”! It is simple, but not easy, which is why we tend to wait until something horrifying happens. Can I budge that trend?

I was leaving the supermarket when my conscience, or some other helpful voice in my heart, brought up my current food shopping habits. Like the small stack of svele (small thick Norwegian pancakes), a meal of which costs the same as a large bread. There is nothing wrong in buying these as such – they are harmless to the body, and a traditional Norwegian food produced locally, something one might want to encourage. However, along with most of my other food, it is unnecessarily expensive. My food costs are not extremely high, since I never dine out these days, and rarely ever buy even weakly alcoholic drinks (alcohol is taxed extremely in Norway). But I buy small portions of ready-made food, like the afore mentioned pancakes, and desserts, and these are quite expensive.

“You still have debt from when you moved a year ago” pointed out the voice in my heart. “Yes, you are paying it down, but slowly. You think you can live with it, but can you die with it? In the spirit world, almost everyone who has lived – and even most who are alive today – have lived in poverty. How will you feel coming there and leaving a debt on Earth because of your gluttony? Does this bring glory to the Name?”

I think that is a valid point. I have a conscious practice of not living as if each day was my last, because I believe our expectations tend to influence us. But I think I have taken this too far. I could spend half as much money on food and still never be hungry, and would probably be healthier as well.

Gluttony is a bit of a moving target, but when I look at the world today, I get the impression that it might be wise to move pretty far, pretty fast.

If anyone actually read this, they should now have one of two questions: EITHER “Why are you so sanctimonious?” OR “Why didn’t you think of this years ago?”

Here we have to understand that my religion or philosophy is not one of rules.  There are those who live by rules: If they stick to the rules, they go to Heaven, otherwise the opposite. (There is usually some provision for forgiveness in case one fails a little, but generally the rules rule.) This makes things simple, at least once you got the rules memorized. As long as you don’t break the rules, you can do what you want.

I, on the other hand, can’t do what I want. I mean, I do what I want, but I can’t do that and know that I have done my best. I can never rest on my laurels, or have a perfectly good conscience. I am, in the manner of speaking, experimenting with my life. Or exploring it. Or perhaps trying to become myself. If that doesn’t make sense to you, then probably nothing I have said today will make sense. But there are many other days! Thousands, in my archives alone.

Good hardware, bad brainware

On February 9, barely a week ago, the video card stopped working on my XP machine. When I pulled the plug on it to fix it, I accidentally broke the power supply to my Vista machine, which runs The Sims 3.  I had to use Ubuntu Linux to get it up and running again at all, and then Vista spent some time repairing itself, restarting once or twice.  When it finally worked again, it would not play several of my Sims 3 savegames, including the latest. I don’t grieve overlong over little computer people, so I started a new game, which I have been chronicling briefly in my Sims journal.

Today I got the package with the new video card. It was cheap, being only a mid-range card after all, but even so it is easily the best I have had. It seems that even though computers have not made much progress these last three years, video cards have.

Me, I have not even made progress in a week.  When I unplugged the computer to put in the new and better card… yes. I accidentally pulled the plug on the Vista computer. I had to use Ubuntu to get it running, then it spent a while repairing itself. And as I suspected: When I started Sims 3, it had no idea how to run the latest savegames.  Or their backups. I have the same software, running on the same computer under the same operating system, but it has no idea how to run the same saved games it ran last night. Good job!

If I for some reason have to take apart the main computer again, I will probably crash the Vista computer again. These things are not very high on my list of things to remember, I’m afraid.

Actually, I should probably not be afraid of that. There are more fearful things in life (and afterlife, presumably) than that.

But at least I think this brings home my lack of perfection, eh?

Short dream

I dreamed that I was in a house. The foundation was in bad repair, cracked and with pieces falling out at the lightest touch. I feared that the whole thing would collapse soon.  But in the living room there was some amazing hi-tech furniture that should not have been invented yet, or at least not outside NASA.

I think the moral of the dream is glaringly obvious. I just have no idea whether it is about me or us all.