Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Existential Jesus


Karl Heim said, "A proposition or truth is said to be existential when I cannot apprehend or assent to it from the standpoint of a mere spectator but only on the ground of my total existence."

Soren Kierkegaard said that "God in human form is an absolute paradox which can never be anything but a stumbling block for the human mind… The paradox in Christian truth is invariably due to the fact that it is truth as it exists in God. " (Alec R. Vidler)

For Kierkegaard the fundamental fact of man's spiritual and moral position was sin. There is a radical difference between God and man and good and evil. For Kierkegaard life was a matter of 'either-or'. The only deliverance from this life in shadow was the transformation of the whole life of man, which could be accomplished only by an act of faith, a spring into a new relationship with God. It was a new creation. It could not be arrived at safely by thinking or speculation. It could only be reached subjectively in the conflict of personal experience. (Alec R. Vidler)

Kierkegaard said the truth could be apprehended only by someone "who lay struggling for his life upon 70,000 fathoms of water."

Kierkegaard taught that Christianity preached in the state church was an apostasy from the Christianity of the new Testament. It was an attempt to make a fool of God. The clergy were only government officials, bound to do what was pleasing to the government. The whole idea of "Christendom", of making Christianity official and respectable and conventional , was criminal. It concealed from the people what Christianity really was.

He described the minister as "a time-server, a man of the world, a clever and successful ecclesiastical politician, who 'had the pleasure of declaiming in the "quiet hours" on Sundays, and then covering himself with worldly shrewdness on Mondays".

Kierkegaard said, "Truth is always in the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority as a rule is formed of those who really have an opinion, while the strength of the majority is illusory, formed by the gang who have no opinion."

"the only way of deliverance is by a living faith in Jesus Christ."

Kierkegaard said, "The thinker who is devoid of paradox is like the lover who is devoid of passion."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday




Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Palm Sunday Service. Laura and I arrived on the Harley late. That way we miss the children's part of the service at the opening but then we're seated in the late section beside the family section. For 12 years I've watched infants become toddlers and then children who go onto to be rather pleasant young people. The kids in church aren't on drugs or stabbing adults so it's a nice change from the media presentation of children. I can see why the parents keep these.
The choir is on best behaviour for Holy Week. Their voices are so divine it's almost like Rupert Lang has invited some angelic intervention. I loved the brass. There's always brass for the C&E crowds. Us regulars don't get enough of it the rest of the year. Makes us almost tolerant of those droves of Christians that get in just this side of rapture and receive an Easter blessing so they can mess up the rest of their year. Anglicans.
The Catholics are better sinners and take communion almost desperately and daily. The Baptists are more stoic and go months without bread or wine at times just to show how long their purity will keep. The United Church, however, is still testing the shelf life on grace.
That said I arrived cynical and left almost peaceful and jubilant. It gets to me how that happens in church. It's not like I want to give up my cudgemudgeon. I look about and there's as many people with that before communion look which has a spiritual equivalent to the before coffee look one sees on the subway.
Volunteers from the parish did a dramatic reader's digest synopsis of the events leading to the crucifixion and resurrection. I was impressed. It still gets me that people just like me preferred a murderer and rebel to a rabbi. And these were jews. Moslems or Catholics weren't even in the bidding at that stage. But Barabass lived and Jesus died.
Briefly, the story goes, that Jesus was this man who did miraculous things and taught peace and was thought by himself and his disciples to be divinely connected. He was jewish so that's no surprise as that arrogant lot has been calling themselves the chosen people for a dog's age and they're not even from Ireland or Scotland. Jesus came into Jerusalem and was tried by the authorities who killed him on the cross. Three days later he resurrected and asscended into heaven after being seen by hundreds.
I don't doubt this divine man existed. Some say he was a rabbi and others say his teachings were the "Q" texts of history. It's pretty clear that he wasn't in favour of war or weapons or accumulation of wealth on earth. He was definitely spiritual. The secular and religious authorities of the day considered him a threat to their personal power and killed him.
Only a hundred years ago Anglicans were locked up for dressing in the wrong robes. Recently it was suggested I cut my hair and wear a three peice suit to be better doctor. Galileo and so many others were almost axed by the authorities. Women who wouldn't sleep with authorites were called witches and burnt. People in power commonly abuse that power. The government today almost killed everyone with nuclear weapons. So this government would likely kill Jesus if he were here today.
And frankly, I'm not sure I'd do anything about it. If he hung out with me and was a friend, faced with torture by the RCMP or FBI or KGB or even the mafia or maybe even Revenue Canada or the IRS, I'd say I didn't know the guy. If someone from Visa or the bank called and asked if I knew an outlaw by the name of Jesus, I'd say "I don't know any Mexicans."
That's what his disciples did. He died alone but said "forgive them because they know not what they do." I'm not particularly forgiving so I don't think I'd be saying such a thing if I was being beat up by my enemies. I've tended to think of the most hienous ways my enemies could die instead. I'd certainly take the opportunity to tell them what I'd do with them and their genetic strain and forgiving would not slip off my tongue if I was in pain.
Jesus's most controversial message though was "love your enemies". He said "Love God" but that wasn't new and he also said "Love your neighbour as yourself" and that Golden Rule is found in almost every religion. Not that anybody pays attention to it. But it's not original and when Jesus said that, that was the essence of the Bible of his day. But they didn't have today's Palestinians at that time.
"Love your enemy" is however pure Jesus. My best Jewish friend says 'revenge' or 'avoid' but don't 'love your enemy'. He says "forgive' is fairly Judaic but 'love your enemy' he thinks is insane. Given the recent holocaust I don't judge him. I'm not a loving sort myself. He's far more loving than I am. Father, kids, grandkids, a real mensch. But don't cross him. He's not into loving his enemy.
I pray for my enemies everyday. It keeps the list fresh in case God changes his mind and says loving is out this week and you can revenge all you want. I'd be the first off the blocks hacking and butchering with glee. I'm always worried that the minute I become loving too, others will take advantage. It's also tough too to be loving because it increases the risk I'll get killed some government. The Dalai Lama wasn't a bad sort but even as a kid the Chinese were set on machine gunning him to death for his loving nature.
The last thing the authorities want is for love to spread.
Meanwhile I do think 'love your enemy' is the basis of the idea that Jesus was a 'homo spiritualis' the next stage of human evolution. We'd better get beyond tribalism or all we will have is the 'other world'. I'm happy with the 'other world'. I'm 'otherworldly' but this world is already here. We'd better learn how to not kill each other and everything on the planet soon or even Aliens won't ever visit us. I suspect the aliens are out there waiting for us to be toilet trained before risking a visit. They see what we did to a man who was probably God.
Rev. Patrick Blaney lit up the service with his account of the significance of holy week with the stations of the cross. He then told of his becoming a Christian. He sat outside church unable to bring himself into enter into congregation and communion. He was afraid someone would see him. He described the fear he had at making this first step into a church. He felt someone would shout."What are you doing there Patrick. You're not a Christian." He was seriously worried that entering a church would change his life. He said it was like "worrying about the pharmacists coming on the overhead anouncement calling your name to pick up some personal product." Rev. Blaney appears to have stuck with that unwholesome personal product called a relationship with Jesus.
I remember myself being embarrassed to be a Christian as an adolescent then marrying a non Christian and getting caught up in the yuppie world of secular glitter and mirrors. I never stopped being a Christian. I just stopped talking about it in general. I became a doctor because Jesus was a healer and I wanted to be like Jesus. If he'd been a GI Joe maybe I'd have ended up with M2 rifle. I had lots of such secular alternatives. I watched Perry Mason and might have been a lawyer. Perry Mason wasn't on MASH and didn't have Hotlips though. Jesus was my kind of Buddha, Gandhi, Einstein, Shakespeare, all rolled in one, the greatest story teller, teacher, and miraculous healer. I wasn't sure about the 'redeeming my sins' part. I just knew that the guys making nuclear weapons weren't my kind of hero. I did like the NASA crew and still hope they're get off the ground and find some adult supervision for the guys messing with the world, causing poverty and killing anyone they can.
All that my Mom and Aunt taught me about Jesus was that he wasn't a bully but a friend. The minister came across as a bully and I didn't consider him a friend. But my Sunday School teachers were kindly and later when I studied theology all of those teachers were Christ like in their own way.
I found I could call on Jesus and when I called his name or even called on God when I was frightened and alone I'd feel better and things just seemed to get better. I studied the Bible too and for a dirty book it was pretty good reading.
I also studied medicine with the most religious of men, not just Christians, but Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Hindis, and come to think of it all my very best teachers were theists. There was an occasional aetheist but they didn't stand out. Maybe they were in administration. But they say there aren't any aetheists in foxholes and I didn't find many in the trenches of the bedside either.
It was the missionary zeal and self sacrificing natures of my favourite medical teachers and mentors who most touched me and caused me to strive to be my best.
Were it not for them I'd not have worked in the most dangerous and least serviced areas, the north, the country, the university and the inner city. I 'served' and saw my work as a 'calling' and the people I most admired in my field saw it similiarly.
Being in church listening to the sermon, then listening to the choir, singing along, remembering times I've sat with the priests here, talking about life and spirituality, the spiritual direction, afternoon meetings, communion, community, it all felt good.
There was this little boy who was with his parents and I thought he's going to grow up one day and probably become like Jesus too. His parents were that sort of caring.
What is strange to me is that the Roman army became Christians and forced Constantine to accept Christianity as the 'state' church or else. What is it about Christianity that causes the likes of St. Ignatius to lay down his sword. The church has it's share of cowards but it's not a religion for the cowardly. All over the world Christians are persecuted. I've been persecuted just for being a Christian. Being an ecumenical Christian I've always been tolerant of other religious groups but that's not been reciprocal.
I understand Peter denying his relationship with Jesus. It's in Holy Week we ask ourselves if we want to be like Issaac Newton, Einstein, Carl Jung, and St. Theresa and believe in God and the spiritual. Just what do we think of community, morality, and things like the 10 commandments of Moses or the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus. Should the 'meek' inherit the earth or should it be 'survival of the fittest' , the most fit having the most toys and guns? Is Christianity a religion for losers run by priests who tow the line so they don't offend the secular powers? It's been a long time since a Pope or Iman or Canterbury Bishop got crucified. They seem to be thick with the G8 crowd wanting land and buildings and not questioning authorities. Were it not for the likes of Bonhoffer German Christians would have collectively looked bad in Nazi Germany. How can one be a Canadian Citizen and still be a Christian is the kind of question Holy Week insists we ask ourselves. Right now my vote is with Barabass and like Patrick Blaney I'm a little afraid to be going to church this week since for all I know I might end up in jail if I really take Christianity seriously. Thankfully crucifixion is politically incorrect in Canada.
Now I figure I've got to see Mel Gibson's movie. I'd rather watch a story of vengeance, all the cop shows, all the war shows, all the good girl gets even with the bad girls, all the loser wins in the end movies that I really enjoy watching. Right now I'm reading Churchill's River Wars about Christians bashing Arabs. That's what I like to read but Mel Gibson's ,The Passion doesn't have Jesus riding triumphant home to the girls who didn't write dear john letters to boys in Afghanistan.
In this story the hero gets it in the neck. Then he disappears in the air. Later everyone in the civilized western world believes in him and civilization occurs in the west lead by his words. C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity reading on the BBC radio during the Battle of Britain helps change history. The inspiration of the Bible is the best of the justice code. All the 'hotel d' dieux' hospitals in the world care for the sick and suffering. The monks and monasteries and the nuns and Christian teachers laid the basis for education in the west for nearly 2000 years. We've only been on a get rid of the Bible and outlaw God experiment for maybe 20 years. It's too short a time to tell but so far I've personally not seen a whole lot. Sure, the preists were the 'winning the hearts and minds' message of the Spanish Conquistadores but no religion has any better record than Christianity. Man has been killing each other in the name of God in every language and religion in the world. It's not surprising that God might get his own back with the occasional tsunami or hurricane. I personally believe that God is loving and that this is just part of life. Life isn't safe. No one gets out a live.
What does God want me personally to make of this story. Is it really just a way to frighten me and make me follow Gordon Campbell, Harper and Obama? It's the most frightening story that would keep the most timid in line. Or is it really true that there's an "otherworld", maybe the laws of which are as spiritually true as the scientific laws we know.
Should I work on 'loving my enemy' or get a cruise missile and a glock pistol like my government and my tv cop show heros? Holy Week is a kind of time of reconsidering all one's life choices and asking if what I'm doing today is Christian. Am I being the best person I can be? Should I put material wealth before integrity? Can I have my cake and eat it?
It was all so clear to me when I was in Jerusalem. Walking on the Via Doloroso I walked with Jesus. At Bethlehem I was touched as so many times in my life I've had that moment when the divine seemed to be present. Then there's been the dessert times and the lonely times.
Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week. It's that time to get close, real close and watch out, you just might hear your name called. Christianity is a personal product.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Staten Island


This is a very special movie. Naturally I thought it was a mobster movie. It's what it looks like. Shoot em up. Gangsters. Molls. That's what I expected. What I got was something a whole lot more. Yes there were mobsters, and shoot outs and a whole lot of suspense and excitement. But there was also this story, this very spiritual and telling story. It's hard to believe it was there all along but the mystery just doesn't come clear till the very end of the story and then there's "aha" and a warm fuzzy feeling like you don't get at the end of mobster movies and gangster movies but you get at the end of this movie. It's brilliant.


Ethan Hawke's performance is truly amazing. Vincent D'Onofrio is poetic. Seymour Cassel is perfect. James DeMonacao's writing and directing are truly extraordinary. This is a unique movie. One of a kind and well worth seeing.

Unholy Saturday

Good morning, Saturday.

Are you part of Holy week?

Or do you look with envy on those days of celebration?

Serves you right, considering kids will still use you for soccer,

Others for errands, and some for dances,

While Monday remains a Third World Day despite it's origins,

And Tuesday is always heaped with work and neglect.

Next Saturday is holy so Saturday today is likely unholy,

Waiting for the Sacred, begging for redemption,

But nonetheless on the path of faith.

Filled with hope, you say, Make my Day,

Saturday before Holy Week!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Adolescent Male Comedy Sketch

There are gender differences and this came to mind as something that boys would find amusing while girls wouldn't necessarily see the humor in it. The idea for a tv comedy sketch came to me as I sat down on the toilet wearing my Harley helmut, not seeing any reason to take it off.

The EFS SKETCH

At the urinals,

"Charley, I just saw Billy go into the stall wearing his football helmut."

"Oh no, We've got to get out of here fast"

Charley running out the door being followed by Henry as bits of stall and toilet rocket out behind them to the sound of the loudest fart as Billy flies through the air following them.

Sign: Children remember to wear your helmut when going to the toilet. You never can tell when you may have EFT 'explosive fart syndrome."


 

 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Old Dogs


http://disneydvd.disney.go.com/old-dogs.htmlWalt Disney's Old Dogs movie with Robbin Williams and John Travolta is best watched in an intensive care unit. I personally choked on my coke laughing. Laura cried so hard with laughter she needed a transfusion. It's that kind of movie. Beware. Don't go there without an Oxygen Tank.

Max's Delicatessan and Bakery




http://www.maxsdeli.ca/ A decade back I lived around the corner from Max's Delicatessen and Bakery. As a result it became my favourite place for coffee and often the source of my lunches or dinner. In spring and summer I'd sit outside with my dog on his leash while all the other dogs visitted us. I think it was because of Max's and all the dog lovers who came here that they've opened a dog grooming spa on Oak.


I moved away and only got back occasionally till recently when I've begun visitting again with a friend who lives nearby. I can't get over how nutritious the dinner's are. I've eaten the lasagnas, the chickens, the quiches, the hot potatoes, the salads and too much of the incredible pastry. If you leave out the pastry the food is really healthy for the body whereas the pastry lifts the heart. What's as astonishing is the price. I come away with a whole meal that's literally home made and it costs as little as a fast food combo. The thing is, the delightful staff are almost as quick.


The only difference seems to be that Max's is busier. They've increased the staff and they've also added a fireplace.


And I love it. Tonight I had salmon steak with vegetables By not looking to the left where the pastry resides I was able to get away without indulging in the blueberry creation I've already had a couple of times this month. It can be done.

Methadone and Psychiatric Medication Interactions

Methadone as discussed here is related to 'methadone maintenance treatment' for substance, usually heroin or opiate, addiction. Methodone can be used for pain management but there the further confounding factor of what the primary pain inducing illness make that a potentially very different discussion.

Because methadone has a long half life (length of time it takes for half the methadone to be metabolize) it's breakdown can be affected by other medications which are metabolized at the p4Because methadone has a long half life (length of time it takes for half the methadone to be metabolize) it's breakdown can be affected by other medications which are metabolized at the p450 site. Medications can 'compete' for this site and slow down the metabolism increasing the risk of overdose and respiratory failure. Methadone can further prolong the QT interval and cause cardiac arrhythmias.

Contraindications and cautions regarding concommittant drug use are not wholly inflexible rules but advise clinicians to be very aware of the risk benefit ratio and to consider alternative medications where possible. In methadone maintenance however it's always a "risky" business because the person for whom treatment is being initiated is already using dangerous street drugs of highly questionable origin and dosage. In addition they are not uncommonly using street clinics, sharing prescriptions and despite best intentions not necessarily being totally honest with the addiction doctor. Further, when a medication is listed under 'contraindications or cautions' it may be related to the dosages of medication used. A medication safe at lower dose in combination with another low dose medication may be associated with increased risk at increasing dosage.

Those psychiatric drugs which are contraindicated in combination with methadone are as follows:

  1. Ziprasidone – zeldox – can cause constipation/paralytic ileus, CNS depression, psychomotor impairment and QT prolongation,and cardiac arrythmias
  2. Phenothiazines – antipsychotics – thoridazine, fluphenazine, perphenazine, chlorpromazine, - can cause constipation/paralytic ileus, CNS depression, prolongation of QT interval, and cardiac arrhythmias. Here the consideration is most concerning if a methadone patient were given a long acting depot injection such as 'modecate'. The phenothiazines are not as commonly used to day but loxapine is and it's closely related to thorazine and chlorpromazine.
  3. Pimozide – antipsychotic – may cause cardiac arrhythmias – this is not a commonly used antipsychotic. It still has a special place for 'monosymptomatic delusional disorder' and has been used most recently when other antipsychotics have not been effective.
  4. MAOI's – atypical antidepressants – may increase risk of serotonin syndrome. These are rarely used these days and usually only after other antidepressant medications have been tried. It would be unlikely for a methadone patient to be started on an MAOI but it is possible for a person on MAOI's to seek methadone treatment.


    Caution should be used with these psychiatric medications:


    Buprenorphine – naloxone – revia – it may precipitate withdrawal in opioid-dependent persons increasing the risk of CNS depression and psychomotor depression. Naloxone is used as an opiod antagonist in the emergency but emergency doctors are well versed in the various scenarios where this might be problematic and the emergency is equipped to handle the consequences. The only community based place where this might arise is the use of Naloxone for treatment of Alcohol or Cocaine dependence.


    Clozapine – this is an atypical antipsychotic - it may increased the risk of paralytic ileus, CNS depression, QT prolongation, cardiac arrhythmia and hypotension. It's not unlikely that a person using clozapine might seek methadone treatment, however clozapine treatment is most often closely monitored and the patients on clozapine are mostly managed by teams with greater likelihood of awareness and prevention.


    Haloperidol – antipsychotic – commonly used especially in psychiatric emergencies – orally and IM routes of administration – it may increase risk of severe constipation/paralytic ileus, CNS depression, psychomotor impairment, hypotension, QT prolongation, and cardiac arrhythmias.


    Quetiapine – a commonly used antipsychotic , also used at low dose for sleep, became increasingly popular because it is one of least likely to cause tardive dyskinesia. It may increase risk of QT prolongation, cardiac arrhythmias, hypotension, CNS depression and psychomotor impairment. This is dosage related.


    Tricyclic antidepressants – these were the most commonly used antidepressants before the advent of the SSRI's, ie Prozac. The most commonly used are amitriptylline, desipramine and clomipramine. They've had a resurgence as a number of patients aren't responsive to the newer antidepressants and the tricyclics have shown benefit in pain disorders and depressions with psychosomatic aspects. The combination can cause severe constipation/paralytic ileus, CNS depression, psychomotorc impairment, hypotension, QT prolongation, and cardiac arrhythmias. This occurs as a result of additive effects.


    Venlafaxine – effexor – this is a very popular effective broad spectrum antidepressant which has been called 'side effexor' only because of it's tendency to have increasing side effects at higher dosage. It's use in combination with methadone can due to additive effects increase the risk for QT prolongation, cardiac arrhythmias, serotonin syndrome, and neuroleptic malignant syndrome.


    Other psychiatric medications which should be monitored include:


    Carbamezapine – this is an anti seizure medication which has been used for manic depressive disorder, bipolar mood disorders, impulse dyscontrol syndromes and for violence. It is the drug of choice for rage attacks especially those triggered by alcohol. It can decrease methadone levels and precipitate opioid withdrawal symptons.


    St. John's Wart – this is an effective antidepressant that has been demonstrated in evidence based studies in Europe. It's available here from over the counter health food stores with questionable dosage and quality of preparation. It is however used commonly in winter months here as an adjunctive treatment or alternative treatment and for those who are more sensitive to seasonal affective disorder. It may decrease methadone levels and precipitate opioid withdrawal because it induces hepatic metabolism.


    Acetominophen – Tylenol – pain killer – may increase risk of CNS and respiratory depression, profound sedation, and hypotension. Problems are a result of the additive effects and dosage related.


    Anticholinergics—atropine, benztropine, scopolamine - these can be used in parkinson's disorder and in combinations with antipsychotics to treat the side effects of antipsychotics. They may increase risk of severe constipation/paralytic ileus and other anticholinergic adverse effects as a result of the additive impact.


    Antihistamines – used for allergies, over the counter, and sometimes used for sleep – combination with methadone can increase constipation/ CNS depression, and psychomotor impairment – dose related additive effects.


    Benzodiazepines – ativan, clonazepam, diazepam, valium – may cause vasodilatation, severe hypotension, CNS and respiratory depression, psychomotor impairment – additive, dosage related response in combination with methadone.


    Cannabinoids – pot, hash, marijuana –also medicinal dronabinol - when combined with methadone can increase risk of CNS depression, psychomotor impairment , dosage related and additive


    Ethanol – alcohol – may increase risk of CNS and respiratory depression, and psychomotor impairment, effect is dosage related.

Citalopram – commonly used and relatively safe SSRI – may increase risk of serotonin syndrome.

Fluoxetine – Prozac – commonly used antidepressant - may increase methadone levels and increase risk of QT prolongation, cardiac arrhythmias, serotonin syndrome, and neuroleptic malignant syndrome.

Ginseng – may increase risk of sedation – additive

Loxapine – may increase risk of severe constipation/paralytic ileus, CNS depression, hypotension, and psychomotor impairment – additive effects

Mirtazepaine – may increase risk of CNS depression and psychomotor impairment.

Olanzepine – zyprexia – may increase riks of severe constipation/paralytic ileus, CNS depression, psychomotor impairment, hypotension – additive effects.

Paroxetine – paxil – may increase risk of serotonin syndrome and neuroleptic malignant syndrome

Pregabulin – used for pain disorders - may increase risk of CNS depression – additive effects

Rispiridone – very commonly used atypical antipsychotic – may increase risk of CNS depression, and hypotension

Sertraline – antidepressant – may increase risk of serotonin syndrome and neuroleptic malignant syndrome – additive effects

Trazadone –antidepressants and also used as sleep aid - may increase risk of CNS depression, psychomotor impairment, - additive effects

Valerian – used as an anti anxiety tea – risk of CNS depressants - has additive effects.

Valproic Acid –Divalproex – increased risk of CNS depression and psychomotor impairment.- additive effects.


These are just the psychiatric medications interactions known to date and he cautions associated. Mostly the effects are dosage related.

There are countless other medications that have be be monitored carefully espec ially in the antibiotic and cardiac and respiratory medications.

As some drug user 'sample' the drug cabinets of places they visit without consideration of the dire consequences that might occur the initial phase of methadone maintenance therapy is one of potential high benefit combined with increased risk. Patients often want dosage increases to be rapid but the standard recommendation is to start methadone at 20 mg daily witnessed use then increase by 5 and at most 10 mg a day. This allows for increased safety during the period of stabilization. It 's also a time of education and a time when clinicians and patients get to know each other and establish a therapeutic relationship with the inherent trust and increased disclosure and cooperation associated.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mt. Baker Harley Davidson






Mt. Baker Harley Davidson http://mtbakerharley.com/ used to be called Bellingham Harley Davidson but it's now under new ownership. They've changed the name and they're doing a great job. We stopped by after staying at the Best Western Lakeway Motel.



We loved the Best Western Lakeway Inn http://book.bestwestern.com/bestwestern/productInfo.do?&srcPage=SelectHotel&isMapOpen=false&selectedHotels=undefined after a night drive down from Vancouver. I got to use my enhanced driver's license which serves as a passport crossing the Canada/US border by motor vehicle. The Best Western had really friendly staff letting me park my motorcycle right out front safe in the light. The Oboe Restaurant served superb filet mignot . Norma was a delight. The beds were huge and firm. We slept like babies. Waking we walked groggily down to the Jacuzzi for an executive work out in the amniotic fluid. I flexed my eye lids for a bit. The fresh coffee in the lobby helped us gather our wits before we gathered up our gear.



Back on the bike we made the treacherous adventurous expedition at the high speed of 30 km/hr the 1 to 2 mile distance to the Mt Baker Harley Davidson. A half dozen bikers had already gathered in front of the store on their Harleys to witness our arrival. When asked how far we'd come, I described in detail how I'd changed into second gear taken 3 gps checks and come all the way from the Best Western Lakeway just a few blocks away. Cruising isn't racing. I wouldn't want to get saddle sore on such a fine sunny first day of spring. It was time for a break.



The service department instantly solved my vision problem. My visor was so scratched that I'd not been able see for weeks. I'd just known something was missing in that high speed freeway ride down to Bellingham the night before. It was thoroughly amazing how a new helmut visor could take a whole lot of challenge out of motorcycling.



Laura got a pink bling Harley cell phone accessory. She's always texting her kids, cousins and nieces. While she and Marla were looking at all the Harley Davidson fashion wear I drooled all over the new 2010 Harleys.



We really liked their selection of everything. It's amazing how each dealer taste shows and while there's so much the same there's just still so many surprises. Harley has so wide a variety of inventory that it's clearly hard for anyone to stock it all. Marla was a pleasure to deal with.



Leaving one of the managers came out and helped take our picture when I was doing the proverbial Harley self timer running between the fast moving cars that thoughtlessly kept interfering with our picture by our bike in front of another Harley dealership. This one we really liked and look forward to returning to. I can't get enough of the incredible the coast rides between Vancouver Canada and Seattle and Portland. This has got to be some of the best Harley riding in the world.

Marina Park Boys and Girls - Television Series/Movie Proposal

This is a television series proposal for a North Vancouver spin off of the classics "trailer park boys"/gas station corner/seinfeld in the rough/friends without too much education/office without typewriter/and the in the city northern town series. Hawaii 5.0 figures into the dog chase scenes along with Sex in the City with overalls.

It is set in the Mosquito Creek Marina which is First Nations owned. The Roman Catholic Cathedral run by the Oblates stands in the background. Pop Eyes the second hand Marine exchange store stands around the corner. The cafe in the Marina is a truly funky little place run by a great motorcycle riding chef. The marina is stock full of real life characters. No money has to be spent on actor training, costume or make up making this a truly low budget production with high appeal.

First Nation chiefs and war canoes. The political French Canadians who believe that Chretien is the Messiah and claim he had a virgin birth and get into trouble with the locals trying to erect a statue of poor Jean and insist that all radio communication on the coast be in French and English. The really hot Lesbian solo sailor has a stocker for an ex husband.. The wry Jewish survivor of the israeli wars with ptsd lives isolated on his converted fishing boat and attends sexaholic anonymous. The old English second brother of the Earl has seen better times, and is always drunk. Bimbos in high heels loung on the decks of fancy motor yachts with big engines. All manner of down to earth craftsman with sage wisdom pass in and out of the series. There's Barry the Welder and his loveable wife Andria. Then there's the quiet genius rigger Stewart from Pro Tek. The backwoods ski guide , sometime Tugboat Captain has the gorgeous brilliant erotic Emily Carr art professor girlfriend. The boat lift operator, a truly savy character, knows everyone and everything. Nobody messes with him. He's the friend of the good guys and doesn't tolerate the arrogant. There's off shore sailors, weekend sailing idiots, power boat stock brokers and tobacco boat criminals. Alongside this mess are the good and bad boat dealers shady as the proverbial used car salesman. People are routinely buy used boats without parts while the new yacht sales man has too much integrity to make any profit

The Marina Park Boys and Girls are a rag tag collection of boat owners and wannabes. It's illegal to live aboard. Some are and some are outfitting their boats so are there but aren't. Some have jobs. Some live on pensions. There's dogs and cats and boa constrictors. It's an amazing and vibrant west coast community. The stories are hilarious and it's a constant circus of entertainment. The weekday guys are handy and the weekend guys are clutzs. The weekday 'molls' are heart of gold seen alot of life sisters while the weekend girls are innocent silly newbies wearing tevas and white shorts.

There's grease and broken hearts and tiffs and soap opera with all the drama usually left on afternoon tv.

The series open with the terrorist bomb weilding drug smuggling tobacco boats and the RCMP along with First Nations constables saving the day. The police dog poodle actually saves the day. The cammo coloured nasdiq wearing suicide bomber women refuse to go through with the bombing when they learn what Canada will do to their husbands and how they will be put up and given an education at Simon Frazer if they in their C4. They were conspicuous in the west coast marina. They've not had the cultural awareness training and not fully prepped for the bombing/theft of the amazing Jimmy Pattison yacht with helicopter pad situated outside Canada Place. The Chase scenes go around Coal Harbour and end in running chase through the white haired lawn bowling in Stanley Park.

Another scene involves the mysterious exploding Electroscan shitter Zapper.

Another scene involves the "new boat owner".

There's the party with the Jim Byrnes band to raise money for the new war canoe. The war canoes are used for a ceremonial taking over of the Parliament Buildings of Victoria to object to the polluting of the salmon run waters.

There's the Tall Ships going aground in the marina. Scuba diving and saving the killer whale expedition. The fishermen and the forest fire water bombers. Definitely there's an Irish story telling doctor and some displaced Newfies. There's the loggers living on boats and working the north shore. There's the muffin lady.

There's the moving of the sea walrus out of the harbour because thier loud love making is disturbing the evangelicals - naturally a war takes place between the Oblates and the Evangelicals whose community church is always frowning on the First Nations ways. Meanwhile Jesus actually walks on water in the harbour and the government says it's a metereological phenomena.

Aliens land in the marina and take some of the things they find in Pop Eyes saying they didn't know they could still be found anywhere in the galaxy and that they're absolultely necessary to fixing their spaceship. Barry the welder fixes a strut on the landing gear.

Meanwhile some of the guys have been working on a bathtub for the annual Nanaimo Vancouver bathtub race but there's is a unit that will pass inspection initially but has the underwater carriage to take a jet rocket removed from a ski doo to give the entrants an edge. The guys from Trinity have surreptitiously helped while the jewish guy turns out to be a computer engineer who did counter terrorist rocket propulsion stuff in the middle east. He falls in love with the Oblate nun who cures his sex addiction for Jesus. There's alot of problems with the rocket propelled bathtub that almost make it into the Darwin Awards. The only one who will drive the thing is a Chinese Chiropractor who says it's just like riding a Buell. He works out of his houseboat. In the end its disqualified but he technology is bought up by Jimmy Patterson who uses the computer technology to develop a new safe car that is produced in Canada and puts Volvo out of business because the Canadian car is safer and sexy.

There's a scene too where the Canadian label clothes designer decides to have a modelling film shoot using the dock for a run way. Some spectacular dunks occur with Italian models falling in the brink with spectacular rescues by locals. Beginning of love stories and more deck bling.

That's the gist of it.

You really wouldn't have to be too creative because the characters with their grow operations, home made wine, AA meetings and religious conversions after bizarre events are a daily feature of the Mosquito Creek/Lynnwood Marina scene.

I know. I've lived there. I got rid of my television when I found out I could just sit and watch the dock and get much more entertainment from my friends and all the local flavour. There's Shakespeare and Billy Graham, John Rauls, Keynes and Virgina Wolf all vying for attention on a daily basis. The comedy is incredible. Of course great comedy always occurs in the midst of tragedy but the laughter always surpasses the tears in the marina. Hurricanes are a fact of life as are tsunamis. The laughter gets us through.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bernard Cornwell








I love really good historical fiction. It's one of my true joys of 'light reading'. Not only is there a good romp but I invariably learn something too. Bernard Cornwell is truly one of the masters of the genre. I got hooked on his Sharpe series and now have just finished his book Azincourt.




Azincourt follows the story of an archer who in the 1400's lives in England before becoming part of King Henry's army that invades France. His personal story with the 'coming of age' elements and the most poetic romance intertwines with the famous 1415 Battle of Azincourt.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azincourt




The English "long bow" naturally features strongly in this story. It gives the English a technological edge not disimiliar to the edge that the bored rifle gives the hero Sharp in that series.


Bernard Cornwell is a prolific writer and his books have gone on to be television series which I've enjoyed as I have his books. He's just a very good story teller with a fine appreciation of the human character, an appreciation of history and the value of research, as well as an endearing sense of humor.




Methadone Maintenance Therapy

I first came across Methadone Maintenance Therapy in my Community Medicine residency in the early 80's. As part of my formal training I studied the effects of methadone maintenance in Europe. It was obvious there that people who were IV heroin users with increasing difficulties benefitted greatly from the stabilization offered by methadone. Their individual health improved because they did not have to invest so much of their time in seeking money to meet the needs of their habit.

Addiction has been called the great 'eraser' because it takes so much out of one's lives, the friends, work, assets and eventually all pleasure. People in the end are using just to feel.


On the methadone programs patients began to keep appointments, care about their health and appearance, take pride in accomodation, and often return to work. For many methadone maintenance was a stepping stone to abstinence programs. (see "comment" regarding this.-WH) It was a community medicine program and the benefits for the community were as great as for the individual.


Heroin is a principal source of revenue for criminals, especially those in organized crime. The money doesn't go to churches or hospitals or schools. It supports those elements most actively antisocial. Increasingly heroin trade has been a source of revenue for terrorist organizations.


Individually a heroin addiction can cost $100 to $200 a day. Given that a rule of thumb for theft is that the thief only gets 10 cents on the dollar, those who steal to support a heroin addiction, need to steal $1000 to $2000 daily, 365 days of the year, meaning a cost to the community from crime of roughly $400, 000 to 800,000 a year. Once a person is in a methadone maintenance program even if they use a 'little' they are not a principal supporter of the criminal element. Freed from their dependence on the criminals and what the criminals want, patients on methadone maintenance can participate in programs, address psychiatric and physical health needs, get education, and job training.


Because of the spread of disease through IV use, especially sharing needles, and generally poor health care and association with criminals, methadone maintenance programs serve the community by dramatically reducing the spread of infectious disease.


As a psychiatrist I saw many individual patients on methadone maintenance observing their progression of horrendous chaotic lives back to something resembling normalcy. It was obvious that methadone was beneficial for these patients.


Later I formally trained in the use and history of methadone for my Addiction Medicine subspeciality examinations. As an addiction medicine specialist I saw heroin addicts but mostly worked with those whose illness was not so far progressed. They were able to enter abstinence based programs like narcotics anonymous whether or not they used methadone as part of that transitional process.


Finally I took the British Columbia Methadone training and preceptorship. I was most impressed with the course materials and course. The preceptorship was excellent and the College staff were extremely helpful. On one hand I thought I was very qualified when I entered this process but at the same time was amazed at the hands on information that simply isn't covered in courses or text books. I'm still learning. Working in a methadone maintenance clinic I see the improvement in peoples lives and admire the doctors, nurses, counsellors and staff for their committment to the health care.


When I've told people that I work in a methadone maintenance clinic I've been interested in the responses. First off, there's been that stigma that's attached first to the heroin users, and secondly those with illnesses associated with heroin use, hep c and HIV. Even though people who knew I worked in addictions somehow considered the 'methadone clinic' as a less 'savoury' place. Stigma that's attached to a disease is also attached to the caregivers.


When I left family medicine for psychiatry there was tremendous stigma. I remember being told "You're a top doctor. You were in a surgery residency. You don't need to work in psychiatry." When I subspecialized in addiction psychiatry I heard it all again, even from psychiatric colleagues. "You've got a great psychiatry practice, why would you want to make trouble for yourself by treating alcoholics and addicts." Finally, "what's a nice guy like you doing in a place like that" goes with the move to methadone.


For one, I like the other doctors who work here. I've known them for years through referrals and individually and they're the other end of the stereotypical 'cosmetic surgery' hollywood doctor. I'm in good company that is. But the patients are stigmatised. If health care is about helping people who are most unhealthy then this is where the rubber meets the road.

Gabor Mate wrote so well about some of the indivdual patients in his recent book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. "There but for the grace of God, go I." None of these people decided when they were born that they wanted to end up with a heroin addiction but they did. In the Methadone Maintenance Program they're taking action to get healthy and return to society. They're amazing survivors and their motivation is tremendous to see.


Others have asked me why methadone needs to be controlled. Only weeks ago friends told me about a young kid who was given methadone at a party. Because its such an unpredictable drug he died with his first 'hit'. It's a controlled substance because it's dangerous and we are taught very well to be very careful about iniating treatment. As doctors we work with a lot more dangerous drugs than methadone (heart meds, insulin, some psychiatric meds, etc.) and in our care methadone is properly administered with the least possible risk.

Diversion is where a drug goes out of the program where it is supposed to be used and ends up being sold on the street. Because of the danger of the drug all of the training and 'control' is in place to prevent it's misuse. Despite all of this, kids at parties get given methadone, possibly stolen, and die.


Most methadone is dispensed in pharmacies with the dispenser observing that the medication is taken on site. When people are well stabilized and have established their trustworthiness they are allowed to take a small supply, at most a few days, away with them to allow for weekends away for instance. This is where methadone can be stolen and diverted.

Methadone is also an amazing pain medication and used in cancer treatment for one. The patients receiving methadone for pain have more freedom with prescriptions and it is these patients whose methadone can also be diverted especially those endstage where friends, relatives or care givers can take the medication more easily.


All the checks there are for the best. The Health laws in this regard are really wisely considered.


People then ask if methadone doesn't interfere with people becoming abstinent from drugs and alcohol. It's not the 'first' line of treatment. Intake goes through trials at quitting in detail. The Intake sheets for assessing a person's appropriateness for methadone treatment are extremely well thought out and refined. There's none of the stupidity that went with "Reefer Madness". Medical doctors treating a medical illness with a medical treatment are doing so with the greatest concern for the individual and the most serious concern for the community. The agencies in place for the reinforcement of the protocols are doing their best too.


Methadone for so many is the last hope. The big book of Alcoholic's Anonymous was going to be called 'a way out'. Someone else had used the title so the book and organization became AA. For so many methadone is just that , a 'way out'. It may not be the last step but it's certainly a very commendable first step. It's certainly going in the right direction. And that alone says a whole lot for it.

Methadone Maintenance Program of BC

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia administers the Methadone Maintenance Program under the authority of the Health Professions Act in accordance with Health Canada's Drug Strategy and Controlled Substances Program.

Methadone was discovered in 1938 by German scientists, Bockmuhl and Ehrhart. In 1947, Harris Bell and colleagues found that it was beneficial in treatment of opiate dependent patients.

Ingeborg Paulus and Dr. Robert Halliday, working with the Narcotic Addiction Foundation in Vancouver established the first methadone maintenance treatment program in the world. Their results were published in the CMAJ 1967.

Since then many studies have shown physical, mental and social benefits for patient on methadone maintenance and consistently a reduced risk of communicable infection for those participating in methadone maintenance programs. There is a 3 to 4 fold increase in death rates for those discontinuing methadone maintenance. This latter figure is related to the high risks of illegal IV drug use.

Because methadone is a controlled substance, physicians prescribing must have authorization from the federal Minister of Health. Full authorization in BC requires training in methadone workshops, preceptorship with a physician approved by the MMP, review of prescribing profile of the clinician, interview by the College staff, continued medical education in addiction medicine, willingness to be on call, and agreement to undergo peer review within the first year.

Methadone is a long acting synthetic opioid that is primarily a mu receptor agonist. The half life of the drug is extremely variable averaging 24 t0 36 hours at steady state but ranging from 9 to 90 hours. As a result of the long half life methadone may accumulate. It takes 4 to 5 days for methadone plasma levels to reach steady state. Methadone metabolism is primarily by liver enzymes involving cytochrome P450. Because many drugs can act on this site there are significant drug interactions.

Information for the above is found in the Methadone Maintenance Handbook, December 2009, a publication of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia.


Albert Ritschl (1822-1889)

D. F. Strauss (1808-74) reconciled the conflict in Christianity between the orthodox or literalist interpretation of scripture and the rationalist or reasonable interpretation by putting forward a mythological explanation. To him the historical Jesus became a focus of myth which transcends the individual experience to become a community 'story' perse. Christianity in this way is reviewed in relationship to other myths of history, the 'virgin births', the 'resurrected', etc. Certainly Robert Graves and Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung would go on to explore these ideas at greater length in the 20th century adding to the richness of the experience of the Gospel.

Meanwhile F.C. Baur (1792-1860) would argue that the Scripture could be better understood as a Hegelian process in which the reconciliation of the Judaistss and Universalist interpretation of Christianity is explained and resolved. He argued that the original apostles were Judaist, narrowly interpreting Jesus claim to be the Messiah as him being the Jewish Messiah alone, the God come to free his chosen "tribe". In contrast Baur argued that Paul saw more clearly the Universalist truth of Jesus, his message of salvation being for Jews and Gentiles. He then saw the resolution of the metaphysics of thesis and antithesis, this conflict, as the Roman Catholic church which was a synthese incorporating the universalist message of Paul with the Petrine (or Judaic) new 'religion' with it's new priests and new laws and new rituals.

Albert Ritschl (1822-1889) rejected both these ideas as less than the true revelation of Jesus. He argued most adamantly for the "separation of theology from metaphysics" He was "determined to distinguish the Christian revelation from all forms of speculative theism" and considered great harm had been done to theology by it's alliance with philosophies, whether Platonic, Aristotelian, Hegelian or other." He argued that this was forcing "divine revelation' in to 'alien intellectual systems'. While Kant argued that we could not truly know things only their appearances, Ritschl argued that "things in themselves can be known through their action upon ourselves and through our response to them."

He argued that "value judgements" were as valid as "fact judgements". Facts he saw were what philosophers and scientists attempted to look at how objects stood on their own but Ritchl believed that this could only be done in relation to how these objects "evoke in him feelings of pleasure or pain, of satisfaction or dissatisfaction."

Ritschl believed in the Jesus of history. He argued that Christians in so far as faith was concerned had nothing to learn from other religions and was against the appeal to the mystical experience. Ritschl in contrast to Strauss felt that the reality of Jesus was faithfully transmitted by the scriptures. Ritschl saw the Godhead of Christ in his 'work' and his 'work' was the founding and building of the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God and the Redemption to Ritschl was the central element of the Synoptic Gospels, namely the Kingdom of God and personal redemption by faith.

"God is love and the purpose of God for the world is the building up of a kingdom of free spirits of every nationality and race who are bound together in a moral community and in brotherly love."

It was the vocation of Jesus to set the Kingdom in motion. The Kingdom was 'ethical'. The object of Christ's redemption is not the individual but the community. To Ritschl the Church was the Kingdom on it's knees in prayer whereas the Kingdom standing was the Church on it's feet with tools for work and weapons for warfare. One of the reasons for condemming mysticism because it cause individualistic detachment from the moral and social tasks of the Kingdom of God.

Ritschl most clearly express the centrality of church and scripture. In a Biblical sense he is the most "Martha" of theologians. He was a Lutheran who would be challenged in the 20th century by another Lutheran, Frank Buchman, who'd argue for the restoration of "Mary" in theology. Buchman advocated that Christians needed daily "quiet time" in which they listened for the "revelation" of God. The reading of scripture and the doing of Good Works as acts of "love" needed to be combined with individual adoration of God in silence.

Key Reference for quotes, The Church in an Age of Revolution, Alec R. Vidler (Pelican History of the Church 5) 1789 to present day, Penguin Books, 1961





Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Anarchist Cookbook

I remember first seeing the book Anarchist Cookbook years ago. It was like checking out the stacks and finding that the old science journals actually gave the details to developing a nuclear bomb. Then there was the Fabrio hacking pages teaching reverse engineering on the internet. Finally there was free downloads of everything and two tier society at the bottom not so different from that at the top, those above the law and those below the law. All feeding on the middle class. I remember feeling like food.

The Susman movie Anarchist Cookbook seems to document the shift from the dope smoking free love 'anarchy' to the 'coke' nihilism. It suggests a left to right swing but ultimately Stalin and Hitler were both sides of same coin. Extremism is always about the ends against the middle.

I've always been a moderate and explain that you know you are in the middle when you have holes on the front and back and sides. The only guarantee you're in the middle is that everyone shooting at you. Most people are either afraid or too uncomfortable to be there. They opt for right or left of centre and claim they're really 'in the middle' because everyone else is on 'either' side. The loneliest place is being centered.

When you're really in the middle you're the outside or inside. Alien or God. They kill God here. That's what all the shooting is about. Not quiet desperation but sheer terror. No wonder Jesus said, 'Do not be afraid."
If anyone had listened he might well be alive today. But then that sort of immortality went with the garden. We're still waiting for new Jerusalem.

The movie anti hero is "Johnny Black" , pretty much a psychopath. The hero is a college drop out. I just heard on CBC yesterday morning driving the truck to work how Muslim extremists recruit pretty much the same way. The disenfranchised well to do student looking for something different. Patty Hurst with a twist.

Lame ending. But isn't that what today is about. Pacman reality. The hole inside isn't God shaped but corporate and taxable. It's really about consuming. The one who dies with the most toys wins.

I remember my own Johnny Black at the commune I stayed once. The cellist and the journalist showered naked in common with everyone else. And they were beautiful and we were beautiful and the beer was 50c a can from a coke dispenser. I got drunk in Alberta. My Johnny Black stole steaks and I didn't say anything even though I was taught not to steal. Probably the worst Grade A steaks I ever ate. He presented them as a 'gift' to the commune. I learned the word "entitlement' a whole lot later. Even later still I found out there was a 'victim competition'.

There are three major classes of drug abuse. Downers , of which alcohol and benzos are the classic. Opiates probably rest best with the downers though they can be hallucinogens as well. Then there are hallucinogens, the lsd, mushroom, pot or cannibis set. Finally the speed groups of amphetamines and cocaines.

I can still remember the shift. All around me the men of the war drank beer but some moved to hard liquor. Then there was the european wine set and some moved to hard liquor. That was the early 60's. And maybe someone smoked a joint once in a blue moon or tried lsd or mushrooms. That was the late 60's and 70's/ You could count the times. But there were those who stayed out trying not to come back. And those whose daily reality turned to drugs and alcohol. Finally there was the speeds and cocaine. That was the 80's and 90's. More people began to die then. Belushi, for one. More organized crime. More 'war on drugs'.

There were guns and anger and violence and finally it didn't matter what the drug was, there were guns and anger and violence.

(The 'berserk' was a mushroom stone for the masses in the wars of medieval times. Robert Graves researched the shroom. Imagine whacking neighbours on shrooms but then the assassins used hash. It's easier to see violence with an adrenaline rush either from amphetamines or cocaine. Nicotine too. Now there's a real killing drug. I drink coffee though. )

So the movie moves right wing and twists back to Republican somehow. Odd american stuff. Or rather, only in American. I got lost as a Canadian or maybe as a northerner. I didn't recognise some of the moves that followed.

A Texas movie. Close to Mexico. Down where it's really hot and there's oil and bull. More and more movies coming out of the south.
In the end it's California. Don't know what that's about. I went to California in the 70's. Maybe that's a play for Hollywood. Let's not go to Sundance, Cannes or Balliwood but let's go to Hollywood. Sweden comes up in the movie alot.

I know I got out of adolescence long before they started spiking trees. I'd been raised on Billy Graham and Gandhi so I went back to school too. But the movie brought back alot of that time when naivite and wisdom are all intertwined. The next quarter century or seemed to be separating the wheat from the chaff.

We're a work in progress. One day movies like this will be playing on Turner Classics. I might enjoy a second childhood.

Daylight Saving Time

daylight saving time:


waking in darkness,

promise of light at end of day,

I believe that ,

but remember other promises:

3 day workweek,

universal health care,

education for all,

peace,justice,eternal life,

life after death, love;

waiting for the light,

I still have hope for life and love.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Paul Johnson, Historian







Paul Johnson has been for years one of my favourite writers and historians. I first encountered him through his History of Christianity written in 1977. I was amazed at what I learned about Christianity thanks to him. It would hold me in good stead over the years as different self proclaimed prophets would insist on their personal view of the church without consideration of "history" or "facts" for that matter. Thanks to Paul Johnson I would continue to study history, not just of the church, but of medicine, science and various subjects enjoying so much the view point that historians can give to diverse subjects.




Paul Johnson was a Roman Catholic born in Manchester in 1928 who graduated Magdalen College, Oxford. He went on to be editor of the New Statesman. Today in his 80's he's a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and New York Times






The next Paul Johnson I read was Modern Times, 1984. This was a remarkable history of the 1920 to the 80's and served for me as an almost prescience of the next two decades of political activities in the world.






I loved his History of the Jews 1970 because frankly I didn't expect to learn that there were Jewish cowboys and Jewish gangsters. He did a marvellous job of dashing stereotypes.






His book Intellectuals 1988 was truly an eye opener. So often at the university we are taught the thoughts of philosophers without consideration of their lives. Like advertisements by sports figures who claim that a particular soap or tampon is the best, we wonder what they actually use. Intellectuals did just that, telling us what these great men of history had done in their private lives, juxtaposed with what they said in their writings. .






The life of Sartre, Marx, Russell and others were laid out next to their words. "Practice what I preach and not what I do," might well have been the 19th century rationalist motto. This very idea of 'transparency' simply wasn't a consideration long before the advent of modern media, gossip columns and Facebook.






It wasn't until much later that I learned he'd had a long term marriage to psychotherapist Marigold Hunt with whom he had 3 sons and a daughter. His own affair in which his spurned mistress divulged that he liked to be spanked became public knowledge. Certainly his wife developed his appreciation for the unconscious which tends to muck up the rationalist view and explain all those "character defects' of the mere human. However one might have hoped that his own short coming might have made him more merciful to the likes of Bill Clinton who he rather hypocritically criticized.






Johnson admitted to his affair when his 50 year old mistress went public



but said that he still believed in family values while acknowledging himself a 'sinner'. His wife, like Mrs. Clinton appears to have been less judgemental and more merciful. Perhaps that has something to do with his stating that there are strong arguments for ordination of women as priests . Ironically he continues to favour celibacy in male priests. His conservative Catholic position has made his a strong critic of Dwarkins.






I read his book The Creators 2006 in which he eulogized Walt Disney for one but overall I found it somewhat dull and certainly less racy than Intellectuals. This may well be because the really good and creative among us aren't so prone to exciting distractions.






I've just now finished his Churchill (biography) 2009 and as usual simply loved reading this truly gifted writer. He's been amazingly prolific writing more than 40 books and countless articles. A truly erudite man he began as quite radical and ended up such a conservative that George Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006.






As a man of letters it does speak well for him that Tom Stoppard is his friend too. What a remarkable life and contribution he has made. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Johnson_(writer)






Space Buddies



Walt Disney has done a service to all dog lovers. This movie is a thorough delight. Hopefully private enterprise will take over where Obama's cuts to NASA spare programs leave off. The movie gives forth that hope. Private tourist flights to walking on the moon but in the movie it's stowaway talking dogs who are the first canines there. The queen and her corkies watch with rapt attention as the yellow lab pups and Sputnik the senior Russian dog cavort in space. I loved this movie! Definitely 5 paws.http://www.disneymovieslist.com/movies/space-buddies.asp


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Victorian Christian Orthodoxy

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 to 1834) believed adamently in divine revelation of the Bible. However he placed great faith in the importance of the church. "My fixed Principle," he said, "is: that a Christianity without a church exercising spiritual authority is vanity and dissolution." He felt though that loyalty to the truth itself was paramount. "He who begins by loving Christianity better than truth, will proceed by loving his own sect or church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all."
It was a Coleridgean maxim that men are mostly right in what they affirm and wrong in what they deny.
Frederick Denison Maurice (1805 to 1872) observed that the general of thinking in theology and philosophy was "their mistake was to assert their own truth exclusively against others." This is a thought more common in today's ecumenical Christianity than in the rationalism of Victorian days.
Maurice would eventually be expelled from his King's College professorship for his essay, "Eternal life and eternal death". Victorians loved the images of 'eternal' damnation with all the beastly burning and torture and weren't willing to give this up. Yet Maurice argued that "eternal life' was not an expression of 'duration' in the earthly sense of time but rather a spiritual statement of "knowing God and Jesus Christ". Similiarly "eternal death" referred not to the worldly caricature of a hapless hell but rather the theological meaning of "separation from God". Both were "present realities".
Modern day ,Phillips in "Your God is too small" speaks to the "love' of God over the 'fear' of God and quite frankly says that it mustn't be a very attractive God that must be sought only out of fear. Certainly the movement of the "Love of Jesus" in Biblical sense is from the quaking fear of the reality of the Old Testament "judgemental" God to the Good News of Gospel.
The idea of Spiritual Laws as referenced in the 10 Commandments and Sermon on the Mount is that like Physical Laws 'breaking the rules' ie 'ignoring gravity' come with consequences. They're inherent in this 'World' but not a 'punishment' in the sense that the Greeks and Romans thought of their pantheon of emotionally labile deities.
Maurice argued with Pusey that we are born to Christ and baptism is the sign that we are whereas Pusey felt it was only through the sacrament of baptism could a person be 'rescued' from the demonic nature of the world. I'm again reading the Jewish psychiatrist Victor Frankl who survived Auschwitz and went on to write "Man's Search for Meaning".
It seems today that questions of first principles are ignored and avoided while a kind of tremendous leming like energy is devoted to various business enterprises without question of their validity or ultimate aim or even the origins. It's fascinating to read of the Victorians struggling with these central keys to understanding. I'm sure that it occurs today. There's just this cacaphony of competing interests and as always God's voice seems 'wee and small."
Meanwhile caught up in the "business" of my life I fear I have so little time left for "listening". I hurry my meditation in the morning. I love that the American College has shown that specialists are now expected by law and demand to do 90 minutes of activity in 15 minutes slots of time. It's as if the State and the powers that be as always want us to be hamsters in a cage and running so that they can make more and more money off the sale of cages. It feels like that most days but then that's my doing. Hell and Heaven, as Maurice says aren't about the 'future' or even 'life after death' but rather, today will I or will I not choose to be connected to God and Jesus. Will I love today or live in fear. Will I be 'present' or 'distracted'.
Victorian Christian Orthodoxy remains as individual as universal. I pray today that I remain true.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

CAA - Open Mike and Silent Auction

Our president Margaret Hume was away and our Vice President, Bob, author of Soldiers of the Horse, did the honours of leading the literary rabble. Before long Jane, author of the Red Wall, was slamming books to restore order. Give a group of authors an open mike and sheer bedlam follows. Needless to say, everyone had a say. In the silent auction Bob stole my chocolates but I won out big time with a Ben Nuttall Smith painting of Cambie Bridge. Patrick Taylor will be at the June CanWrite Conference in Victoria. He now has 4 Irish books on the best seller list. Anthony Dalton signed his latest book Rver Rough, River Smooth, the ink hardly dry from publication last month. It was highly entertaining evening of wordsmiths plying their trade and hawking their wares. It seemed everyone left with a book door prize of their choice. Next month a major newspaper literary critic will present on what they look for in a book. Meanwhile the rest of us will be taking a page from Michelangelo and searching for the book in ourselves.
video

Monday, March 8, 2010

BC Boat and Sportsman Show, BC Hunting Show





This was a great outdoorsman event at Abbottsford Tradex. Amazing variety of outdoors contributors, boats, 4 wheel drive vehicles, all the angling and fly fishing accessories, fishing and hunting guides, destinations, carvings, leatherwork, cooking gear, waterproof equipment, bows, rifles, tents, RV's, telescopes, binoculars, Yamaha, Italian Hunting Store, Steveston Marina and all the organizations like BC Wildlife Federation. BOW, Being an Outdoors Woman, program was highlighted too.
The signage to the Tradex continues to be confusing but we found it despite arriving on the motorcycle in heavy rain. I was thankful to an East Indian woman in a gas station and my GPS unit on my iPhone. I triangulated all the information I had to go on and arrived at Tradex to really enjoy hot coffee and all the presentations and booths.
Laura and I loved the Tradex show but the rain had only become heavier when we left with early afternoon darkness from the low overhanging clouds. Soon my visor was fogged and dripping rain. I lifted it till semis passing sprayed my glasses with dirt forcing us off the freeway. Hard driving with pelting rain. We drove to Fort Langley, stopping for an expresso, cleaning visor and glasses and reconnoitering back woods trails with gps and map, finally taking the #10 to King George then over the Patella Bridge to follow Kingsway back to Vancouver, cold and very wet.
Laura and I felt we'd not only visitted the outdoors show but participated in the full outdoors experience. Thank god for the hot Chinese home delivery food and a hot shower at the end of the ride!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oasis Coffee and Bistro , Agassiz






Oasis Coffee and Bistro, Agassiz, BC is a serious biker breakfast stop. That's is if you don't want whiskey in your coffee. There weren't any fights for entertainment either. It appealed to the woman in a pink Harley hoodie riding on the back of my bike. There weren't a lot of leathers in the bistro. There was white hair and the occasional cane. The waitresses were young and gorgeous.



The chef was amazing. Came out and asked us how we liked our breakfast. Felt like a visit from a Parisian cordon bleu. If she takes that interest in her hashbrowns which were incredible I could only imagine how she'd do a souffle! She did threaten Laura with the information that she'd just baked some pastries. Laura fessed up child abuse. "I used to buy pastries and tell them they were for my children but I ate them all myself." I'm not going to call the Child Protection right now but her granddaughter should be informed that she's at risk.



What's in a breakfast. Eggs, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, jam and toast. Americo coffee's. This was $17 for two. Some trucker stops have the same for $10 for two these days. I remember when coffee was a dime and eggs and bacon cost a $1. Taxes were fixed at 10% and politicians weren't supposed to lie. Armies went to war for defence and kids learned to tie shoelaces because the world didn't come in velcro. The older I get the more expensive the world and life becomes. Quality though costs. This was a special breakfast. Everything fresh and country. Everything nutritious and delicious.



Country music playing in the background. Lots of windows. Light and space. Washrooms were clean. That doesn't seem to come with the cheap truckstop breakfasts. Cleanliness costs. Everything was wholesome. It had the flavor of a West Vancouver Starbucks, that Kitsilano Blenz and Vancouver Waves d├ęcor but somehow country inspirational. Local paintings on the wall for sale. Upholstered comfortable seating. Internet connection. No rush. Visible parking lot for motorcycle. Across from the Agassiz train museum.



Agassiz is this small farming bedroom community 6 miles from Harrison's Hotsprings at the junction of highway 7 and 9. I don't remember seeing anything but houses and apartments years back when I drove through. Now it's really taken a tourist turn for the best. Parks and storefronts have had a facelift. It's become a proud community. Tourists are as important as cows. Still the community is farmer friendly. Tractors drive through town with aplomb.



Despite the leathers and my looking like a criminal on my passport photos we were really treated well. I think they've had to deal with cowboys so long in this town that bikers aren't that different.



Oasis Coffee and Bistro is definitely on my favourite's list.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Motorcycling Highway 7











Trev Deely Harley Davidson Dealership had my Harley ready for me yesterday. I trust the Deely mechanics. So the bikes ready for another great season of road trips. Today was the first.
Laura had to find her Harley coat and chaps while I searched high and low for the cable lock and cargo bungee.
Road Trip/Road Trip. Road Trip/Road Trip. That's the sound the Harley made as we drove down Hastings Street heading for the Barnett Highway and Highway 7. All the other bikes on the street that weren't going off to the country simply withered as we passed.
Tork Communications on Hastings wasn't open so despite having the new Tork blue tooth motorphones for wearing in our helmuts, and despite figuring out the installation, couldn't get them to work. Even if Tork had been open they couldn't very well have helped us because some silly light didn't come on because a silly fellow hadn't charged the silly battery.
Laura and I continued on then returning to our "default" communication mode. Shouting at each other. "What did you say? What did you say?I couldn't hear you?"
At one point she was trying to tell me I was going the wrong way on a one way street but then the driver of the truck coming at me clarified what she was shouting. It was one of those silly intersections and I was turning anyway so I really wasn't going that way but the driver and Laura seemed confused about my plans so I belatedly put on my turn signal. The Tork communications might well have helped then, especially if the driver of the truck happened to be on our network.
Opening up to 70 k on the Barnett Highway was a jolt. I had the vent open on my coats so my nipples instantly froze at windchill minus 50. I was trying to use one hand to pull them and communicate with Laura by slapping her hand to get her to pull my coat down since when I tried to pull the zipper it only exposed my belly button. In Port Moody I pulled over and dressed myself, thankful for having made the decision to wear long johns. The sun was spectacular and blue skies went on forever but it was still cold in the shadow of the mountains.
We stopped to converse with a Shetland pony and Emu. They were as interested in us as we were in them. Laura said, "I'd love to write a children's story with them as the main characters. I'd name the pony Wilson and the Emu, Clarabelle and describe all the adventures the two of them got up to, and get my sister to paint it." Clarabelle and Wilson were quite taken with the idea and posed for many pictures I took with iphone. I spoke with their agent and am sure that they would do the movie of the book for a moderate number of apples.
At the E Cafe we stopped for breakfast having sausages and eggs right next door to the fireworks store. It was all I could do to resist buying more explosives. I have disturbed neighbours and campgrounds with fireworks at odd hours irritating their parents and pleasing the children of friends and strangers. A dog barked all night one time after I blew off some rather spectacular firecrackers at a lake.
The roads were thick with motorcycles. When I took out my insurance the lovely insurance lady told me "a whole lot of you people are doing it early this year." So there were everykind of motorcyle on the road with a whole lot of Harleys ridden individually or with couples.
I'd phoned ahead for accomodation in Harrisons and found several places we'd stayed at before were fully booked. It's Spring Break so all the kids are out and that's why all the parents and grandparents have escaped to Harrisons.
Executive Hotel had one cancellation so we felt ourselves fortunate to get reservations. I don't know how I'd missed staying here because it's turned out to be one of our favourite hotels. Superb service, great rooms, excellent meals, beautiful view, in the town site and the public natural spring pool a walk across the street. There's even a jacuzzi down the hall in the exercise room which I have yet to use. (I plan to use the jacuzzi not the exercise room in case there was any confusion there.)
This motorcycle road trip is rough and tough and I felt I deserved to languish in the hotsprings for an hour becoming some kind of human glue that was offended by gravity when I oozed out of the pool.
Now I am utterly exhausted by typing so will go check out this jacuzzi. Tomorrow we are off to the BC Boat and BC Sportsman and BC Hunting Show at the Abbotsford Tradex. Laura insists that I can't buy another gun because there's no room on the motorcycle. I suspect if we found something that we absolutely needed we'd find a way to carry it on the motorcycle. There was the palm tree that I carried on the scooter.