Uncle Thor's Lessons, Anecdotes and Humor

24
Nov

Zombie Month

The popular monsters of recent years are zombies, also known as the “walking dead.” The name comes from Haitian Voodoo lore. Modern movie and TV zombies are humans who have died but became reanimated due to a strange disease. These walking, rotting beings meander about aimlessly unless something calls their attention. Then the zombies focuses on the stimulus, form into a mob and proceed towards it. Zombies seek to eat human flesh.

In most of the Zombie genre, the monsters can only be killed by destroying their brains. They have to be shot, stabbed, slugged or chopped in the head.

The zombie is a fitting analogy for many people today.

How many people actually do their thinking for themselves? Fewer than you think. They are content to let someone else do the thinking. It may be the media, celebrities, political parties or popular causes. The people are content to let these various entities tell them what they should think, how to vote, what to do, and what and where to buy. The people themselves are content to take the messages at face value rather than look into things for themselves.

Like zombies, the minds of many wander and meander aimlessly, waiting for direction. Just as a sound or movement may draw the zombies to it, so the people react to the directions given by their favorite marketers, politicians, celebrities, etc. They do not take time to question the directions. Instead, they follow almost instantly.

From Thanksgiving night to December 24th, hordes of modern people make their zombie-like journeys to the markets. They buy as directed by advertisers, rushing into the malls and department stores the way fictional zombies rush after fresh flesh. And like the zombies, they seem insatiable.

The only cure is to help them reclaim their minds. That is easier said than done. Many prefer to give the responsibility for their choices to someone else than make the effort to choose for themselves. Then again, we have generations whose parents were willing to cede responsibility for moral education to the schools and television.

The Winter Holiday Season shopping is a large-scale example of the insanity of people who yield their mental responsibility. The buying frenzies, the hunt for bargains and people spending themselves deeper into debt are symptoms of a deeper problem. The simple truth is that the people are not thinking, but following the lead of other entities. In doing so, they are causing themselves difficulties. The folks providing direction to them do not care much about the consequences for these willing sycophants. The politician cares most about getting the vote, the marketer cares most about making more profits and the celebrity seeks to perpetuate his or her popularity. They do not care if people following their lead drive themselves into bankruptcy.

Those of us who make responsible choices based on doing our own thinking can appreciate the benefits of mental self-reliance. Those who cede their will to other entities need to take a good look at themselves and the things that influence their choices. That is the first step to reclaiming their minds from the clutches of marketers, politicians, etc. Normal people do not spend themselves into debt over things that are not necessities. Normal people do not agree to do something just because an entertainer endorses it. Consider that.

*****

The flesh that the zombies consume is like the insatiable consumption of goods that are unnecessary and whose cost is burdensome. Mindless eating = mindless buying. You can be sure that someone is profiting mightily from the careless expenditure of income. By the same token, those who spend harm themselves by placing themselves in needless debt over trifles.

23
Nov

Thanksgiving Message, 2016

To Begin: Happy Thanksgiving and Joyous Holidays to all. Joyous Yule to the Heathens and Pagans, Merry Christmas to the Christians, Happy Hannukah to the Jews and Happy Holidays to all.

The first Thanksgiving has turned into a legend and a cute story. It originated as a festival of gratitude for the first harvest in the New World. The images are of early 17th Century people, Northeastern Indians, turkeys, maize, and pumpkins. Many images of the men are sporting the blunderbuss, a crude ancestor to the shotgun.

In recent years, there have been attempts to debunk Thanksgiving and the original colonists. These new, dismal views of history have cropped up since the late 1960s when revisionists tried to re-write history.

Thanksgiving is a national day of gratitude, a family festival and the start of the Winter Holiday Season. The usual repast includes a turkey with bread stuffing, corn and other vegetables, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving coincides with the time of year in the temperate zone of North America when the last harvests are brought in and the hogs butchered for the winter.

From a personal viewpoint, I remember Thanksgivings up the country when there was a large meal. Hogs were butchered. about that time. The extended family was there. It was big and it was fun.

When I left home for the Army, Thanksgiving changed. At least, the technical side changed. The mess hall replaced the family’s large “knotty pine” room and I ate with friends instead of relatives. In subsequent years, I rarely had the opportunity to eat with family. Work schedules and other things prevented that. No problem there. I ate with friends. Whether it was turkey sandwiches in a gin mill or the chaos of friends trying their hand at cooking, it was all good.

Since my Audrey and I are together, there have been Thanksgivings with friends, Thanksgivings with family, Thanksgivings at restaurants and Thanksgivings at home. Had they not closed the Hofbrau Haus in Atlantic Highlands, we would probably still be going there for Thanksgiivng. We liked that place. Yet wherever we ate, it was good.

There is a tradition at Thanksgiving of recounting things for which a person is grateful. This year has been a tough one and it has not gotten easier. A series of medical misadventures has knocked me for a loop. So one thing for which I am grateful is that I am alive. I am most grateful for Audrey, my wife, who has gone through this with me. Her love and care have made all the difference.

M y experience has been that a good Thanksgiving is not about a home-cooked meal with all the trimmings. It can be happy wherever one is. Whether you get a meal of many courses with turkey and all the trimmings or nothing more than a turkey sandwich, it is all good. Be thankful and take joy in it.

*****

Gratitude is an attitude with benefits. When you are grateful for something, you appreciate it and make the most of it. If you are not grateful, you tend to ignore it and maybe even become resentful of it. If you are grateful, you find that you have more than you need to do what you must.

*****

My funniest Thanksgiving involved a woman I had met at work a long time ago. She was from another town. She was likeable and started hanging out with us.

At one point, the woman and I took an interest in each other. We spent time together and did things. However, every time I tried to move things forward, she backed up and said she was not ready yet.

After two months of seeing her, things seemed at an impasse. I figured we were getting close to “make it or break it” time. She seemed to warm up a little and invited me to her home for Thanksgiving.

I arrived at the appointed time. Most of the guests were her friends. We had a pleasant time. Dinner was excellent. The only thing was that the woman did not sit near me. I figured she wanted to sit nearest the kitchen so it was easier to bring things to the table.

Desert came with coffee and conversation. I was halfway through my coffee when the conversation turned toward her. She was talking about her hopes for the future. In the course of it, she explained that she wanted to be involved with an artist and visit sidewalk cafes and that lifestyle. The type of man she described was very different from me, and everyone knew it.

Everyone at the table was a bit embarrassed for me. I wanted to be out of there five minutes ago. However, I finished my coffee. After thanking her for her hospitality and wishing everyone the best for the holidays, I began to leave. One of her relatives brought me my coat. He walked me to the door downstairs. Our of earshot of the people, he said, “I’m really sorry, man, I had no idea she would do that.”

“No problem. Be well and enjoy the holidays. I know when it is time to go home,” I said
.
I walked out of there proudly. I was neither going to slouch nor stride off hastily. The thing that stood out was that this woman could have told me at any time that there was not going to be anything more between us. She could have told me a week earlier. The odd thing is that why spend all day with someone with whom you do not wish to be? By the time I got home, I felt like I got away from her just in time. And there was that nice Thanksgiving dinner and desert, no matter how it ended. I laughed.

And as I found out later, I got out just in time. She was the type who went through people’s lives like a tornado. I had not yet seen that side of the woman, but some friends had. So there was something extra for which to be thankful.

12
Nov

The Congregation that Works

Continue Reading »

10
Nov

Protests or Millennial Temper Tantrums?

The protests by Millennials in the wake of the Presidential Election are exercises in futility. They will not change anything. What they illustrate is the large number of crybabies who throw a college-kid version of a temper tantrum when they do not get their way. This is part of the same thing where Millennial college students ask for “safe space” to protect them from rhetoric that offends them. And somewhere in there is the trend to give everyone a trophy whether they won it or not.

This is not to say that all Millennials are a lost cause. Look at the young people who are joining the military and serving honorably. There are young people who have backbone. Unfortunately, it is the supposedly-educated weenies who are getting the most press because they are making the most noise.

At age 17, I was getting harangued by two drill sergeants while I reassembled my rifle. And I was not alone. Millions of Americans have had the same experience. There was no “safe space” in the Army. There was no “safe space” around town. There was no “safe space” in the gin mills or the job sites or the trade shops. In fact, the colleges and Universities also had no safe spaces them because they wanted students to encounter opposing views and free speech.

As for trophies, well, people of my athletic talent did not get them. That did not stop us from playing. And I did not get awards in school for academic achievement. That did not stop me from learning. People got awards for doing something better than others. For instance, I got my Expert Rifle badge in the Army because I was a good shot. People who did not shoot as well got Sharpshooter, Marksman, or nothing. Awards meant something because they were earned.

The result of this wimpification of young people is going to a be a bunch of thin-skinned weenies who require constant validation through meaningless acts of praise. Their fears of being offended will make them marginally effective at whatever they do. Meanwhile, tougher individuals will excel because they are not hamstrung by fear nor the need for constant reaffirmation. These people will be more self-reliant and capable of taking the initiative and creating opportunity. So it is that the fearful ones are already on the path to mediocrity while the fearless will make themselves a highway to achievement.

**********

The knee-jerk reaction of Millennials to protest at every little thing has diminished the power of protest. A protest is only powerful if it is meaningful. Needless acts and those with petty causes are at most a nuisance, and at best waste of effort. Then again, it is the nature of spoiled brats to throw their tantrums whenever their feelings get bruised.

31
Oct

Isa Rune Brittleness

A trait of the Isa Rune is brittleness. It solidifies like water to ice. This hardening is usually temporary and can be fragile. Brittleness is a problem that contributes to the temporary nature of Isa hardening. It is not limited to ice. Metals like iron can be brittle and fragment easily. To counter brittleness, the process of tempering uses heat and cold. It imparts enough flexibility and softness to keep the metal from shattering. To the coldness of Isa, it’s reciprocal – heat – must be applied. Of course, improper tempering can go the other way and make the iron too soft and bendy.

28
Oct

Yule is Not Christmas, 2016

Yule is not Christmas

Once again, the Christmas advertisements pop up on television. It starts a few weeks before Halloween now and continues until December 24th. There was a time when these advertisements were not seen before Thanksgiving.

I am reminded of a funny movie entitled “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” In the story, Halloween and Christmas somehow got confused. That is what happens in October. There is a push by marketers to sell their Halloween wares and begin pushing for the Christmas shopping season.

There was even a small bit on TV news about what holiday items to buy now!

For the Heathens among us, remember: Yule is not Christmas.

Retail greed has gotten worse during the past ten years. Stores open early for the Black Friday sales. Some open on Thanksgiving. Mobs of people crowd the front ,waiting for the doors to be opened. What happens next is pure savagery. The crowd rushes through the doors like a stampede. People make a beeline for the goods that are on a special sale. Of course, there are usually not enough for everyone. Then the brawls begin. Last year, a grown woman was shown on the news trying to tug boxes from under a little girl’s arm.

People sell their dignity to save a few bucks amid a feeding frenzy of greedy shoppers.

My response to these sales: stay home. The supposed savings are not worth the loss of dignity. If you get caught up in a pack of people behaving like frenzied animals, it’s hard to tell you from them.

Yule is not Christmas. Yule is not cause for a shopping blitz. Yule is not an occasion to show how much you care by the extravagance of the gifts you give. Yule is about family, friends, traditions and the changing of the year. We do not cheapen it with tawdry gifts and seasonal silliness. Our gifts should be meaningful and heartfelt, with an eye to the happiness of the receiver. They are tokens of esteem.
Our holiday decorations should be tasteful. We need to preserve the dignity of the occasion. Ostentatious displays and the like detract from the holiday itself.

Yule is not Christmas. We have no place participating in the Black Friday banzai charges and the battles to get the goods. Ignore the advertisements.

Part of the problem is that there are actually two Christmases. One is the religious holiday celebrated by Christians. It is easy for us to avoid. The other is the secular Christmas with its Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus and chintzy decorations. The secular songs and characters seem harmless enough. Many are innocuous, being more seasonal then reflective of the religious side of the holiday.
Heathen parents need to be careful here. We are not alone in confronting the ramifications of the secular Christmas. Jews, Buddhists and other non-Christians have also had to make their choices about the holidays.

One of the problems is the character of Santa Claus. He is a little too close to the Yule Visitor of various Heathen traditions. Granted, Santa is not Thor, Odin, Freya or Perchta. Do parents tell children that Santa equates with one of our Yule Visitors? Should they explain that he is a different character altogether? And in the matter of gifts, ought Parents explain them as delivered by Santa, or should they tell children that their gifts were bought by family?

Eight Reindeer? Eight-Legged Sleipnir? Maybe Santa is supposed to be a Sami or someone from Finland?
These choices will have to be made by each household. Secular Christmas is a bit more insidious than its religious counterpart. It is easy to pare out the obvious Christian songs and motifs, from Silent Night to Nativity scenes to the “Little Drummer boy.” It is a harder with things that are not so obviously religious. While we can enjoy the secular side of Christmas, we do best to set limits.

One problem we face is the matter of relatives. Most of us have relatives who are Christian to one degree or another. Even if they are not particularly religious, they probably dip heavily into the secular side of the holiday. While having Christmas dinner with the extended family is not much of an issue, other things might be a bone of contention. For instance, your nieces and nephews may have been told that Santa brings the presents. If your household prefers the Yule Visitor and tells the kids that the gifts come from parents, there may be conflict with some of the relatives. Family at holidays is enough of a minefield. Throw in religious differences and it is like walking on eggshells. Just be prepared for it and handle it tactfully.

Holidays are supposed to be fun. Merchants want to make them occasions to fleece us, thinking that extravagant gift-giving is a substitute for a good time. It is not fun if you have to go into debt to “enjoy” the season.

Get a free copy of our booklet, “Yule Thoughts for Heathens,” with any purchase of our books or other products over $25.00 Our items for sale are at www.trollwisepress.com

26
Oct

One-Way Choices: The Crux of Decision

Many choices in life are such that in choosing one thing, one must give up the other. You cannot have both. If you try to keep both, you gain nothing. There are decisions that entail gaining one thing but forsaking another. Sometimes, you can reverse your decision. Just as often, you cannot. If you reverse, you still have to give up one thing to get the other.

Recovering alcoholics are an example here. They have the choice to drink or not drink. For them, there is no “partial drinking”. The same goes for Recovery from other problems. There is no middle ground. It is either all or nothing.

Religion is often a matter of choices. People may get confused because of the eclectic nature of the New Age. However, the New Age is little more than light versions of esoteric, metaphysical and occult teachings. It is “pop religion” for timid people. The reality is that in choosing one path, a person may have to forego many others. While the diluted teachings of the New Age make it seem that all the teachings are compatible, the facts say otherwise. You cannot be a Native American Shaman + Old High German Runecaster + Hoodoo Potion Maker + Kaballastic Numerologist all in one. Each of these things requires a single-minded devotion. Choosing one means that you will have to forego anything more than superficial interest in the others.

There was a woman who claimed that she was both Christian and Pagan. She had bundled together parts of Wicca and parts of Christian and Biblical lore. In fact, she was neither. Christian and Jewish belief both demand singular adherence to the Biblical doctrine. Their own commandments demand that they have no other God. Paganism answers to the spiritual and physical forces of Nature, not a Church doctrine nor a scripture. Trying to be both means not being much of either.

This is not to say that you must jettison all the things you learned along the way to your current spiritual path. All lessons are valuable. You may be able to do some of the old things without a conflict. Still and all, there will be a time that you must make a commitment.

Many have tried to cobble bits and pieces of spirituality together. They dabble in one and the other, but never commit to any one. Such people coast across the surface, blown hither and yon by their own whims and the crossweave of Wyrd. At some time, a person has to commit to one thing and give himself time to get good at it. Once rooted in one tradition, he has the means to better appreciate the others. He can then opt to stay where he is or move on to something else. The difference is that he has learned and grounded himself. He has developed understanding and ability.

We all have stood at the Crossroads, needing to make a decision. Often, it takes time before one feels sure enough in which path to follow. The obvious thing is that only one path can be chosen. You can tread only one road at a time. You may turn back and opt to try another road or you may continue on the one you choose. Either way, you can only tread one path at a time. Choosing a path means not taking the others.

And no, boys an girls, you cannot be Heathen and Christian at the same time. Choosing one means foregoing the other. They are incompatible.

*******

It pays to get grounded in one system to the point you understand it and can apply it. You need not become a high-ranking initiate or expert. The important thing is to know it well enough to explain it and use it. Do that, and you will have something most folks never get: consistent results, experience and understanding. From that point, you can stay where you are or move on to something else. The difference is that you will have already established yourself with a good foundation for future work.

*******

Bible Quotology

Where I grew up, the dominant denominations were traditional Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal and Dutch Reformed. They may have used Bible passages in their liturgies, but the Bible was rarely quoted in everyday life. The closest anyone came to that was catechism class as a child. Even then, the quotes were not held up for us to repeat.

Things were different when I was stationed in the Southwest. It was a different kind of Christian religion out there. The major influences were Fundamentalist, mainly Southern Baptist. I ran into people who would make a point by quoting a phrase from the Bible. They apparently felt that the Bible quote added verity to whatever they were trying to say. Mostly, they reinforced their whims with a quote. Indeed, any fool can find a quote in the Bible to support him.

Orthodox Jews, especially the Hasidic and Litvak, are also bound to their scriptures. Most of the men would rather spend all day studying the lore than work a regular job. They seek a scriptural precedent for whatever is on their mind. The strictest among the Orthodox make everything they do gibe with the scriptures.

I get the impression that those who like to quote scripture in everyday life believe that doing so empowers them. Actually, it diminishes their validity. The quote is a crutch to support their own words. If anything, it shows doubt in one’s own ability to express himself. Rather than relying on his own word and his own authority, he has to borrow authority from somewhere else. Ironically, those who do not accept the authority of his scriptures find such quotes nonsensical.

An adult should speak for himself. Quoting an authority, religious or otherwise, undermines his own validity. There are limited circumstances when a quote may be acceptable, but I find that in most cases, they are not. Maybe the religious quoters think their own words are unworthy and they need Jesus or someone else to speak for them.

Before you quote any spiritual text to emphasize a point, ask yourself if you are not actually giving up your power. Speak for yourself. When you accept the validity of your own words, you speak with the authority of one who knows. When you quote a scripture, you cede your authority to the book you just quoted.

After all, who makes your choices: you or a book?

14
Sep

What a Person Really Worships

The origin of the word Worship is in old Anglo-Saxon: Old English worðscip, wurðscip (Anglian), weorðscipe (West Saxon) “condition of being worthy, dignity, glory, distinction, honor, renown,” from weorð “worthy” In other words, worship is giving worth to something.

Many claim to worship the God or Gods of their understanding. Cognate with God is Good. We can say that Good is “Of the Gods.” This a is not some far-off good, but the good we can feel here and now. We can appreciate good music, good food and good company as having something in common with the Gods.
Good also entails virtues and concepts such as honesty, trustworthiness, fairness and integrity. One who truly worships a God or Gods of his understanding would naturally express such attitudes in the way he lives and treats others.
There are those who claim to worship the Gods, but in fact they actually worship something else. They make a show of worshiping their Higher Power but in fact are really serving themselves. Worship of the Gods is not worship, but a means to worshiping their own wants.

Actions speak louder than words. What one does says more than what he claims to do. The man who claims to love his wife, but betrays and humiliates her does not love her at all. He has contempt for her. The politician who claims to honor the public good, but gets involved in corruption actually honors his greed and ego. The woman who claims to honor the Gods, but pilfers funds with which she is entrusted actually honors her pocketbook.

What a person claims to worship may be very different from that which he really worships. It is what he does that tells the tale.

Actions do indeed speak louder than words.

11
Sep

Cricket Crossed Over

This is when it hits home. I gave the cats their afternoon treat. I split a can of wet food among them. Cricket always preferred dry food, so I would give her a handful of dry treats. Now, just five bowls of food. No shaggy calico making her run to her spot under the kitchen table. That is where she liked to be fed her treats during the day. At night, she wanted them at the end of the book case.

Goodbye, Cricket. Rest easy `til we meet again.

****

At the bottom of the back porch Audrey found something portentious. It was a large, fat cricket. We have not seen crickets out there in a very long time. Take it as an sign that Cricket the Calico Cat has crossed over successfully and is well in the next world.

09
Sep

Cricket the Calico Cat Passes

She was missing for a couple days, but tonight we found Cricket. The long-haired, formerly-feral calico had crawled into a space in the basement and died. There was no hint of sickness. No sign of trauma or suffering. Cricket was 8 years old. She had been one of several cats that frequented our backyard. Her mother, known as Mommacat, was a feral who had several litters.

Cricket got her name because she loved to rip into crickets.

Cricket had four kittens of her own. Two did not make it. We took in one, a nutty calico named Penny. Another was taken by a friend. We had Cricket spayed, and as soon as she got back, she headed for the backyard. Not much later, she followed Audrey inside a couple of times. Cricket found the bowl of food and water and decided to stay.

The kitten we gave to a friend came back here. The friend turned out to be allergic to cats. We call him Buster. Cricket, Buster and Penny liked to sun themselves in Audrey’s office upstairs. (We also have three old black cats. Two of them were born in the yard.)

Cricket crawled in a place she liked and passed. We will miss her. She was a happy cat who liked to be brushed. loved getting treats, and would wake me up if I fell asleep in the chair.

Fare thee well, Cricket. Thank you for choosing to be part of our family. Until we meet again….

© 2016 Uncle Thor's Lessons, Anecdotes and Humor | Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS)

Design by Web4 Sudoku - Powered By Wordpress