Uncle Thor's Lessons, Anecdotes and Humor

22
Feb

Miracles or Mundane?

Forget the miracles promised in scriptures. They are tall tales, not much different from Paul Bunyan stories. It is best to regard them as folk tales rather than religious history. Real miracles are the ones we make for ourselves. This is not to say that miraculous things do not or cannot happen. They do. But they do not happen with a flash of light or a burning bush. The best miracles come quietly, unnoticed until after they have happened.

The greatest miracle is the human spirit that transcends obstacles and circumstances to work its wonders.

The fact is that miracles work out through mundane circumstances.

It is widely said: “Coincidences are the Gods working anonymously.”

Many a miracle and many a plea is answered through people. It is as if a higher power extends the blessing to others by having them participate in the miracle.

God / the Gods can only do for you what they can do through you.

16
Feb

Beyond Gun Control: Solving the Problem of Deadly Violence

A long time ago up the country, hunting seasons were a time for firearms. Our family had several hunters and a variety of rifles and shotguns. They were in the closets when not out on a hunt. We were taught not to touch them when we were very young. When older, we learned gun safety and how to shoot. We were taught never to point a firearm at a person, and always to make sure that where you pointed it was safe. That meant looking to be sure there were no people, pets. livestock, roads or buildings in line of sight.

In those years, when firearms were everywhere, there were no reports of gun crimes. Even accidents were rare. They only happened every few years. The number of accidents increased only when more city people came North to hunt. That is when there were reports of someone’s cow or big dog being shot.

Even in the cities, shootings were uncommon then. Physical fights were uncommon, too. As a rule, people did not slug it out in the street.

Gun control sounds like it would work, but it does not. Chicago has the strictest firearms laws and is an epicenter of gun violence. The problem will not be solved by laws. It will only be solved when we go after the mentality that misuses firearms and other weapons. We need to bring back a sense of individual responsibility for one’s actions and knowledge of the consequences of one’s behavior. We need to instill in the young the value of life. And we must once again teach them that their hurt feelings and their whims and wishes do not justify actions that adversely affect others. Because without instilling that sense of responsibility and self-control, no amount of laws will prevent more outrage. The guns are already out there and the cat is out fo the bag.

Guns are not going to go away, even if we stopped making them. Laws do not prevent the mentally ill and the criminal from acquiring them. For a lasting solution ,we must go to the hearts and minds. Any doubts? Look at Chicago. Look at Oakland and East LA. We cannot legislate our way out of this and hope to end the shootings. The solution takes more work, takes longer and the results will be gradual. But if we persist, the results will become widespread and even permanent. Most of all, we do not need to wait for the government to solve the problem. We can begin the process in our own homes and neighborhoods. If we do not make the first move, nothing will get done.

Stop waiting for government to stop the problem. Become part of the solution. Take the initiative to instill in the young the principles that would make gun violence a thing of the past. That is the only way to make a lasting solution.

Any doubts? There are millions of adults in this country who know how to use a variety of weapons. Many of them also know how to make effective bombs, mines and booby-traps. Yet they do not cause shootings or make bombs. These are present and past military people (veterans). They were taught responsibility for handling and using weapons. I am one of these people. We were properly trained not only in their use, but were taught how to handle this knowledge responsibly. Do not think instilling responsibility and the value of life is insurmountable, because the militaries of the world have been doing it for years. Again, stop waiting for the government to pass a law that solves the problem. Start implementing the solution where you are, now.

08
Jan

What Makes Great Science Fiction?

What Make Great Science Fiction

Science fiction should be more than entertainment. Great science fiction should make you think. It needs to challenge the status quo and ask questions that many fear to ask. Science fiction should not only show the range of possibilities, but also consider their ramifications. This is why certain books, movies and television series make an impact. The old classic “Forbidden Planet” was a space opera on the surface, but it came to a point where it asked deep-seated questions of the psyche and the possible consequences of tapping its power. That is why it endured. The original Star Trek series was an anthology wrapped around a central story line and cast of characters. Each episode tackled different subjects, from time travel to bigotry. The crew, star-ship and “federation” were but a milieu to tell those stories. Though the special effects, uniforms and aliens are hokey by today’s standards, the stories still hold.

Great sci fi challenges us to think. Robert Heinlein’s “Starship troopers” (the book, not the movie) questions why men fight. Philip K. Dick’s dystopian Blade runner questioned the issue humanity and technology. The old classic “A Canticle For Liebowitz” questions nuclear war and humankind’s repeated attempts to annihilate itself.

Yes, science fiction can be entertaining. Movies like “The Fifth Element” and “Valerian” are a romp through fantastic worlds. However, they merely entertain, though they entertain well. The truly great sci-fi asks and inspires.

It is truly said that the idea is not to have all the right answers, but to ask all the right questions. Great science fiction does just that!

09
Dec

Are You Somebody?

The purpose of life is to express the individual that you are. In order to do that, you must be somebody. Though being somebody is really simple, many people never get it. You do not have to try to be somebody. You do not have to strain. Relax into it, because the great secret to being somebody is the realization that you are already somebody.

You are a unique and distinct individual. You bring that uniqueness into this world. Only by being your unique self do you make your destiny. You are somebody. You are not a nobody. No matter hwat anyone else does or says to the contrary, you count. You have value. Expressing that value that is you is your purpose in life.

You have a brain to think, emotions to feel, intuition to guide you and instincts to keep you alive.

In a nutshell, this is the purpose for living.

This life is to be lived. It is not a test for placement in an afterlife. It is not an ordeal to purge you. This life is the one you are to live. And if you live this life, then your place in the afterlife will take care of itself.

Fret not about the afterlife. It is not a punishment or reward for the deeds of this life. The afterlife is just a continuation of this life in another place. No Heaven for the Good, Hell for the Bad or Purgatory for the Marginally Naughty. Life goes on, and that is that. You ought not put your present life on hold for some nebulous claims about the afterlife.

Live. Do. Be the unique individual that you are. Express yourself. We see that the Universe around us expresses itself in diversity. You are part of that expression.

Think of Supreme Being as a verb rather than a noun. Being is existence, and Supreme Being is the totality of all existence. You are part of it. You are an element of Supreme Being. Now express yourself as part of it!

You count. You are somebody. Embrace that right now. Be the somebody that you are meant to be.

26
Nov

Heathen’s Peace

The peace to accept science without first reconciling it with theology

The peace to live without the burden of dogma.

The peace to accept and enjoy this life as it is.

The peace that we can focus on living this life, knowing that the afterlife will take care of itself.

The peace to know that there is no judgement day, just Wyrd. And that Wyrd is as active here as it was in the past and will be in the future.

The peace to know that our mistakes can be amended free of divine disfavor, without spiritual stigma (i.e. sin).

The peace to know that our Gods regard us as adults, and not as spoiled brats who must be punished, cajoled and rewarded to gain divine favor.

The peace to know that we can believe or not without fear of incurring the slightest scintilla of Godly disdain.

The peace to live free of crackpot taboos and silly superstition.

The peace that we are human beings, meant to stand tall. We are not unworthy; we are not worms. We do not grovel. We do not humiliate ourselves when facing the divine or the mundane.

The peace to be free of self-deprecating religious attitudes.

The peace to enjoy the good of this world.

The peace to know that we have found our spiritual home.

The peace that comes from living a life without the need for apology or explanation.

The peace to express joy.

23
Nov

The Power of Gratitude

Gratitude is an attitude that works. Every year at Thanksgiving, Americans take note of those things for which they are thankful. This all sounds like a nice sentiment, but there is a pragmatic side to it all. And these days, both the sentimental and practical aspects of gratitude are more necessary that ever.

We are beset by an increasing, annual flood of greed as we enter the Winter Holiday season. Whether you celebrate Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah or no particularly holiday at all, you are exhorted to spend yourself into debt. The manufacturers and retailers and purveyors of stuff ramp up their marketing earlier and earlier in the season. In effect, they are urging you to buy so you may give. Within their messages is an implication that to show one’s affection, one must spend more extravagantly. In other words, they are saying Stuff = Love and Stuff = Esteem.

Stuff cannot buy love or esteem. Stuff can only buy a flimsy parody of love and esteem. Real love and respect come as they will, and stuff has little or nothing to do with either.

Once again, the merchants of greed are opening their stores earlier than ever before. Again, they are opening on Thanksgiving Day to draw a glut of customers. And as in recent years, there will be a stampede of greed-fueled patrons hoping to get the small amount of goods that have the lowest discounts. In the start of the season which is promoted as a time of goodwill by most religions, people will push and shove, grab and brawl to save get a discount. In effect, they sell out their dignity for a few dollars.

Gratitude is the antidote to greed. Gratitude acknowledges and appreciates what you have. It does not moan over what you had in the past, nor pine for things that you want for the future. What you had before is just a memory, and what you think you want is just a wish. What you have today is real. When you are grateful for what you have, you use it and get the most from it. Should you focus on what you have lost or what you want, you are fixating on things that do not exist for you.

I am reminded of a quote from The Magic Story by Frederick Rensselaerr Dey

“Man should not be blinded to whatsoever merit exists in the opportunity which he hath
in hand, remembering that a thousand promises for the future should weigh as naught
against the possession of a single piece of silver.”

What you have now is everything! Gratitude is appreciation. It looks not only at stuff, but the things in life that cannot be measured by material means. Gratitude includes the people, places, good fortune and other assets that fill a person’s life. Gratitude recognizes such unmeasurable things as love, kindness, friendship, health and beneficial circumstances.

If you are not grateful for the people, places and things in your life, you can lose them. The sad fact is that people without gratitude do not realize how much they appreciate something until it is gone.

To whom should you be grateful? You can be grateful to a God, Gods, Destiny, good fortune, the goodwill of others, or no particular thing at all. The important thing is to keep a thankful attitude for that which is yours. Thanksgiving is an appreciation the good in one’s life and experiences. It is the antidote for greed and many other ills.

********

I heartily recommend The Magic Story. I first came across it almost 40 years ago. The story itself is embedded with wise advice for those who will heed it. Should this be your first encounter with The Magic Story, read it several times during the next month. There is a reason this little story is still being passed around. Here is a link to a PDF copy for you:

http://www.thortrains.com/UncleThors/Rensselaer_Dey_-_The_Magic_Story.pdf

19
Nov

The Path to Wisdom is a Hard Road: My Insight

I had been cursed with bad luck almost from birth. I was put up for adoption as an infant. My adoptive family turned sour by the time I was 8 years old. They liked to take their problems out on me. Add to that the problem of high intelligence. It almost guarantees an outsider status. As time progressed, other adventures happened. I lost everything a couple of times, for instance. And there are other losses I will only share with those close to me.

I will not go through all the troubles of the ensuing years. Things became peaceful after I met my wife. For many years, we had peace. Then, in 2003, I was hit with a monster. I had a heart attack. Since then, I have been on a cardiac adventure.

I have faced my demise on several occasions over the years. Some incidents were quick, others slow.

Has it all been miserable? Of course not. I outgrew my circumstances and rose above them time after time. I have met extraordinary people and learned from some very wise individuals. I have pursued spirituality and have had experiences from Alchemy to Zen and back again. I have meditated with the Zen people, prayed with the religious folk, touched great Power with metaphysics and joined in arcane rituals in smoky, torch-lit chambers. I have invoked the Gods of my genetic ancestors and learned how to cast the future. And through this, I have overcome my own flaws of character and found truth that transcends everyday reality.

One of the byproducts of all this is wisdom. Through the troubles and triumphs and the search for Spirit, an unexpected byproduct is wisdom. This is a thing that comes not with an easy life, but a willingness to learn, experience and observe.

If there is one thing I can say, it is that wisdom is not so much adding new ideas but subtracting ideas and attitudes. In many ways, it is more a great unlearning where the false falls away so as to reveal the truth. One must be willing to let every idea, notion and belief be challenged to stand up to the barometer of truth. One must be willing to a be a fool for a short while so one can be insightful for the long haul. You must never be afraid to appear stupid, because many around you have no idea of what you are doing.

Never be afraid to make a mistake. Fear of mistakes keeps many in bondage. Be willing to be wrong so that you may learn to be right. (A turtle only moves forward by sticking his neck out.)
Not all people are given to this work. Those who are not driven here are no less valuable. One learns that whatever a person’s journey through life, he or she is a valuable part of the whole. Wisdom only makes a man wise. It does not make him a master of all of life’s tasks.

You take wisdom where you find it. The most unlikely person may be the one to share an insight of great value. The wise are not aloof ascetics, nor are they ostentatious and haughty. Wisdom comes where you find it, and you most often find it where you would least expect it. Part of this is knowing to whom to listen, to whom not to listen, and when you have heard all you need from that source. You are not alone in this endeavor and you are not the first to undertake it.

You are doing this because deep within, you know you can do nothing else.

Welcome to my world.

14
Nov

2017 – Pre-Yule Message for Heathenry

This message is for Heathens (Asatru, Odinists, etc.)

It is that season again. Merchants and manufacturers are ramping up their advertisements. Stores are preparing their Black Friday greed-fests, opening earlier and earlier. Many now open on Thanksgiving Day! The message is the same. Show someone that you love them by giving the most extravagant gifts you can acquire. They infer that it is perfectly fine to go into debt just to give the best gifts.

It is a message that you can buy esteem, love and gratitude. The message confuses spending with that which is meaningful. This message suits those of whom it can be said, “They know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.”

Yule is not Christmas. Yule is not a time for extravagance, nor is it a season for greed. Yule is a time for family, for love, for happiness and warm traditions. Yule should be an expression of joy and well-being.

Let us not treat Yule like Christmas. Control your wallet. Let us minimize the shopping and emphasize the meaning. This means foregoing the Thanksgiving Day sales and the Black Friday mania. It means ignoring the advertisements. The value of Joy shared among loved ones must prevail.

This year and every year, we must reclaim Yule. Be steadfast in maintaining the integrity and happiness of your Yule celebration.

03
Nov

Religion and The Heart

The woman had been a member of a notorious cult for years. She had served it faithfully. Her husband, also a cult member, had been having troubles. The woman was told to go to the place where he had been working. On arrival, she was told that her husband committed suicide.

Several of her co-religionists stood by while the distraught woman cried inconsolably. Not one went to comfort her or show the least bit of compassion. Compassion, care and love are not part of that cult. Even then, one might expect at least one of the cultists to show the woman some kindness. Yet not one moved to her side.

Perhaps it is religion, but it is devoid of spirituality.

We perceive divinity as deities rather than abstract principles. Life is more than a set of processes. That which is divine is more than an aggregate of automatic spiritual laws akin to the laws of science. Love, inspiration, wisdom and joy are as necessary as the principles by which Spirit operates. By extension, religion should be loving, inspiring, wise and happy. Without these attributes, religion becomes rigid, morbid and abusive.

One has to wonder how a religion can be so devoid of Life as to lack an iota of kindness. The path of spirituality should not be an entirely intellectual exercise. Religion should be a vehicle for spirituality. As such, it needs more than a mechanical procedure.

One of the sure signs that a religion or supposed path to spirituality is false is that it ignores the heart. A loveless religion is like stale cookies, stagnant water and flat beer. To be spiritual, it must be felt as well as understood.

Your spiritual path should feel like a comfortable garment. Not too tight, not too loose…in the words of Goldilocks,” Just right!” It should feel like that comfortable glove that keeps your hand warm yet lets you move your fingers easily. It should be like that old jacket that fits better than all the rest. The key word here is FEEL. Intellect can inform, but like home, it is the feelings that matter most. This is an instance where intellect can misinterpret but feeling rings true. Though it is normally best to put intellect over emotion, there are cases where the opposite is preferred.

Your spirituality should give you the means to deal with others both intelligently and emotionally. Our existence demands that we experience our world both mentally and emotionally. That includes the people in our lives.

There are times to be tough, times to be firm and times to be strong. Likewise, there are times to be kind, times to be caring and times to be joyful. Religion without Love is a religion without Life.

Your place in life, ideally, is to express the unique individual that you are. That means expressing the mind and spirit. Life is an all-in thing. Love, laugh, enjoy! That is the expression of true religion in which abides a genuine spirituality.

28
Oct

Dreams Realized

Dreams Realized

Many years ago, I knew a fellow named Howard. He was a bus driver. Howard was about my age. One day, he told me about his dream job.

Howard had always wanted to drive a bus.

Then Howard told me a revealing fact. He had made the front page of the local newspaper some years earlier. I remembered the article, but had not made the connection. A teenage boy, age 15, had stolen a bus on at least three occasions. Each time, he rode the route and picked up and dropped off passengers. That was Howard!

Far away across the Atlantic, an English boy named Chris wanted to be a Guardsman. As a boy, his parents bought him a little red uniform complete with the fur busby hat. Years later, he joined the Army and became a Grenadier Guardsman. He wore the red uniform and busby. That was his dream, and he fulfilled it.

Some people do get their dream jobs, after all.

I am intrigued by it.

There is gratitude in knowing that for some individuals, their lifelong dream job has become a reality.

We have our dreams.

Some become a reality. Howard and Chris realized theirs.

Maybe it is for the best that some do not. Before I was old enough to go to school, I wanted to be the guy with the hot dog cart. And then there is my brother in law, who as a little boy wanted to be a garbage man. The closest I got to my dream was selling burgers at a booth at a local event for my American Legion Post The nearest my brother-in-law got to his was taking out the trash. Better it is that these dreams never materialized.

And so the point. Some dreams, when realized, bring satisfaction. And some youthful dreams seem good at the time, but are best not fulfilled. Time and wisdom exposes them as less than ideal. For those of us whose childhood dreams were best unrealized, it is nice that others can have their dreams come true. Howard and Chris remind us that there are dreams worth having.

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