Future Shadow

I have a little future that goes in and out with me, but what can be the use of it is more than I can see.

If people dealt with shadows the way they deal with their future, would they be any better off? If people dealt with their futures the way they deal with their shadows would they be any better off?

One thing that can easily be predicted is that when there is light, there is potential for a shadow. By making this prediction one implies the forward progression of time. Futures require planning, so do shadows; as a retired lighting designer I know whereof I speak. You can be dead and still cast a shadow, but your future is gone. There will be a future for your bits and pieces that rot back into the earth, but you are no longer present.

The ways in which your future and your shadow are alike or not:

-As a matter of practicality you cannot touch either of them. They are illusions that have been given names for the sake of convenience so that we may discuss them.

-You can see a shadow, but not a future.

-Both may be changed constantly for a multitude of reasons.

-Neither are moral, they are merely natural occurrences without moral intent or purpose.

-The sun provides most shadows and has the greatest influence on our future. No sun, no future, no shadow.

-Future sublimates into the past not pausing in the present, while shadows exist at the speed of light. They are modified by the addition or subtraction of even a single wavelength of the visible spectrum.

-Light, the defining element of a shadow can be every color: white, or a combination of wavelengths of color, while a shadow is devoid of color: black. The future seems inclined to follow this trend.

-Shadows are a result of the eternal nature of geometry and wave theory; they follow rules. The future is an element of time that we can only experience in the present moment. We recall the sequence of present moments and call it the past. Our experience of possible futures is limited given the vast nature of the universe and the short time of humanity’s presence in the Universe.

-We can anticipate where a shadow will fall due to the consistency of geometry. We can anticipate a future in less precise terms. For example, the illusion of the sun rising in the East and setting in the West seems to be as consistent as geometry. Is it? The sun may burn out or explode, a volcano or nuclear winter may obscure the sun for years, the Earth may change poles or shift to a different axis. Our whole existence could be thrown into upheaval, but the geometry for a point-source of light to create a shadow will never change as far as we know. We have a very clear understanding of a temporary area lacking illumination from a particular source of illumination.

-Our primary tool for understanding the future is the example of the past. We use our understanding of science, the laws of physics and geometry and math, etc, to anticipate the future. Billions of human brains have worked to improve our understanding of the rules of existence. The more we learn the more we find we need to learn. We will become extinct before we understand everything. So far, we can calculate a shadow, and construct a skyscraper, but not predict the future with accuracy. The only things that prevent an accurate prediction of shadow projection are the variables of the future. Will enough elements of the past remain viable in the future to reliably accommodate the use of accumulated knowledge from the past? Architects design buildings that last for decades based upon this expectation.

-So, in anticipation of retirement one is advised to save money using economic investment plans. These investment are like believing in one of the 2300 gods mankind has invented since history has been recorded; the plan is an article of faith. Some new plans are created, some fade away into obscurity and you have to believe in one of them strongly enough to put your life savings into it to prepare for the future. The choice of an investment plan is nothing like the certainty of predicting the nothingness of a shadow or an architect’s engineering knowledge. There is no certainty similar to the maths of geometry or physics that guide this enterprise. There is only soul-less accounting ruled by those who honor greed as a virtue.

-With confidence in certain studied aspects of science a building can be built. This is a marked contrast to the economic bubbles our economy is using as a foundation. The building will still stand, but I would rather put my faith in the empty void of a predictable shadow than an economy under this immoral speculative gamble. The past shows that banks lie, cheat and steal. Wall Street bears and bulls itself constantly. Tariffs on steel and aluminum will begin a trade war. Fine print, hidden fees and deceitful salesmanship are as scary as any natural element of the future. Reliance upon any of these bubbles may be futile. Money itself is a bubble.

-As I write this the US East Coast is preparing for yet another winter hurricane/northeaster. My Island will take years to recover from the two record-setting back-to-back Cat 5 hurricanes last fall. Across the globe weather is changing and scientists have been telling us about it, but we have ignored them. We seem to have stopped learning from what we know; we have chosen ignorance, similar to the Evangelicals, Rush Limbaugh and commercialism. Consequently we are stuck with a know-nothing President running us headlong into natural disasters unheard of in our short history. Scientists, engineers and architects build for what is known, we are causing a spectacular unknown with the climate, and yet we expect structures and society to survive based upon what? The void of a well-described shadow?

Trump Gunners

Trump Gunners are a class of classless politicians who are owned by Trump-touting corporations and the NRA. They are for sale to the highest bidder. They wear a fake religious facade, offering prayers not action. Their hearts are made of stone and self interest. They repeat lies. Please vote them out.

Trump’s approach to the recent high school shootings is to condemn mental illness. The implication of this approach is that those of us with a mental illness must be dominated by his authoritarian powers, monitored and controlled. This is not the approach mental health advocates support. Trump has proven himself to be a broad category kind of guy; the variety of folks in the category of say, immigrant escape his awareness and are painted with his big brush of bigotry. He has proven to be unreliable when it comes to making the more refined distinctions involved in the discussion of something like mental illness.

The end result of having our bigotry-inclined president talking about mental illness with his lack of empathy is likely to have a frightening and devastating effect on the image of mental illness in the country. This is not the time to launch an assault on folks who look or act differently in school as his recent statements seem to suggest. Trump is a bully so his authoritarian permission to challenge the odd or unusual people is going to do more damage than good by encouraging other bullies.

Mental health is different from Trump’s deformed bone spurs. Both are a condition of being human, they are examples of many maladies that affect us all. He used his particular malformation to get out of military service, but it didn’t limit him with regard to golf, tennis, or walking around. Society doesn’t cast aspersions upon bone-spurred folks the way it does the mentally ill. We sort out the severity of the circumstance and draw a line: soldiers march, so no bone spurs. It is a clear delineation between what is and what isn’t a limitation. Mental health issues are far more difficult to define, diagnose and regulate. Physical problems like a broken bone can be quickly identified, reset and healed. Depression, anxiety or any other diagnosis in the massive DSM with all of their myriad permutations are highly subjective, so treatment is often trial and error and takes more than plaster and time to heal.

Body chemistry is difficult to understand especially with regard to the brain. Psychiatrist have become pill-pushers and no longer interact through talk therapy; counselors do the therapy but can’t provide sufficient insight to the psychiatrists who spend minimal time deciding what to prescribe. Patients themselves may not be able to articulate the circumstance of their situation with clarity to the intercessory counselor who may not know the right questions to ask. It is hard enough to try to decipher an existing situation without the expectation of predicting future behaviors. So de-bugging the health care system is a real good idea, but it is not the solution to the problem of mass shootings. To use language Trump might understand, there is no collusion between mental health care and the ability to predict violent behavior. (Collusion is the wrong word, but he sure uses it a lot so I assume, given his mental capacity, it is a good substitute for correlation.)

The more pragmatic solution to mass shootings is to limit access to, at a minimum, military (human target) assault guns. Politicians who take money from the NRA, the Trump Gunners, should be voted out of office on that point alone.

The Buttress, It Flies!

Could Love Be God?

A Re-Post

Think of the theological rules against the use of condoms in relation to the cold hard reality of HIV. I am sure lots of study has been done on the theology of pregnancy and I do not care to address it. Whether you argue for contraception or against it you still fall into the trap that most of us fall into. We start playing the game by institutional rules.  Ancient institutions have set the stage for all discussion by establishing ownership of the issue through the body of scholarship they have generated. The tone and quality of debate always reverts to the institutional model because it is the familiar, go-to resource for discussion. Most of us are novices in this environment despite the familiar seeming context and are easily dismissed by the professional scholars of the church.

They have created a structure of theological scholarship that is based upon a central assumption: God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost actually exist. And, that the Jesus third of the triumvirate once existed in human form from a virgin’s unwitting supernatural pregnancy, died, was reborn in mystical form, and sits on God’s right hand (cue the eyebrows). This central mystery of the church is its foundation which guides all discussion.

I respect the right of anyone to have whatever belief they choose. I am not qualified to judge the validity of one mystery over any other. The appeal of mystery is that it is mysterious. It’s the bureaucracy that flows from the belief in a mystery that is the problem.

The Christian religion is an inverted pyramid resting on this central point of belief: Jesus exists. Early practitioners of what became Christianity took all the best elements of all the popular religions of the time and re-packaged them under this marketing tool: Jesus really existed, he is not just a myth like the other gods. The metaphorical conception of “god” became actual. The fledgling church merged all the various start-up versions of an “actual” deity into one by codifying the basic myth and dogma. Paul managed to get them all on the same page through his letter-writing campaign that has become the bulk of the New Testament. Over time, layer upon layer of argument, justifications, rules and edicts were built up on top of the point of belief guided by the ‘revealed’ word of a deity. For


example, the concept of a ‘Trinity,’ was added to the pyramid in the fourth century, it is not mentioned in the scriptures. The rational for each theological question requires academic answers that reach deeply into the bureaucratic structure for justification, latching onto preceding ‘revelations’ and arguments based upon the central assumption at the inverted pyramid’s point. Each answered question and its associated scholarship solidifies into a new layer of the structure extending slightly beyond the previous layer making an up-side-down pyramid shape. The inverted pyramid manifests as a striking facade, even though it is constructed solely from rhetoric based upon belief in a mystery. Followers refer to the prior massive volumes of rhetoric as if the bulk of the rhetoric itself verifies the belief. The rhetorical weight is so precarious that even a mere bird landing on the top could throw it out of equilibrium; all that weight pressing upon a point of mystery makes it unstable. External supports are necessary to keep the facade from collapsing under its own weight. The inverted pyramid now rests on those supports; it no longer needs the foundational structure to balance all of its proclamations. The new foundation provides a solid, material, footing so balance isn’t required. The Church has become fully supported by buttresses. The tiny point of belief in a mystery has done its job, it is now a point of reference, not of structure.


[For those who don’t know, a buttress is the structure on the outside of the cathedral that counters the weight of the arches in the roof. Stone cathedrals require a big interior space, but a roof covering that much empty space is too heavy for walls alone to support, so architects created the buttress which holds the weight. One type of buttress acquired the name “flying buttress” because they look like wings attached to the exterior wall of the cathedral. The Presbyterian church of my youth had small buttresses that didn’t really fly and were purely ornamental; the building had a steel superstructure that did not require a buttress. These superficial flourishes of the architect were a facade applied to the structure to make it seem more grand than it really was. As an architectural design feature, it enhanced the feeling of awe as one approaches the building. Even the facade of the church wore a facade.]

Now that the inverted pyramid of Christian religion is a structure resting on buttressing supports independent of its foundation point, all sorts of irrelevant arguments can be made that are totally reliant upon buttresses alone. The inverted pyramid continues to grow but each argument based upon a buttress diminishes the significance of the main point.


As I write this description I can’t help but envision what a picture of it would look like. First, we take a photograph of one of the great pyramids of Egypt, cut it out of its background, flip it over and have it rest on a new surface. As we try to do this we realize that the point is missing, it has been worn away over time so you have to position the pointless image so that it appears to rest upon the empty space where the point would have been if it still existed.  At this moment the image looks rather surreal — like a rock or bowler hat in a Magritte painting — just floating above the ground. Then, we find pictures of cathedrals and copy just the buttresses (flying or otherwise) and paste them into our image so that it looks like the buttress holds the up-side-down pyramid off the ground.

Okay, so, now we have a Magritte-like pointless pyramid inverted over the ground, being supported by an odd combination of whatever buttresses we could find. As we look at our collage we realize that the missing point metaphorically describes the theology of the church inaccurately.  So, we need to go back and examine what the point actually is.

I became a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church for a few years. I like their philosophy to an extent because it encourages its members to find their own spiritual path and it avoids dogma. There was a major controversy in our small rural congregation about a sign one of its members had donated. The sign said, “God Is Love.” U.U.s don’t deny the existence of God but they don’t require belief in it either. The Humanists in the congregation objected to the sign and the believers defended it. I was on the Humanist’s side saying that the sign should read: “Love is god.” My version supported the possibility that a god did exist but didn’t state it directly. Our version converted their declaration that: “God is …” to the suggestion of a metaphorical god which includes the possibility of an actual God. Maybe this conflict provides a solution to our pointless problem.

If we are going to finish our collage-style illustration we will need to fill in the missing point. We will need to illustrate “God, Jesus & The Holy Ghost.” That is, after all, the point of this hodgepodge of supports and structure. How are we going to do that? We could photoshop some more rocks into the shape of a point and paste it into the picture but that would be like saying that the point is the same thing as the structure: argument, dogma, justification. Is God & Co. the same as the church? Is God & Co. an unwieldy compilation of arguments built upon itself then supported by supplemental constructions?

I am going to ask you to imagine as John Lennon did in his song “Imagine.” Imagine “Love” as the new point of the pyramid. Love is god. Is that too radical an idea? What happens if we just go with the possibility that love is love? Would the church structure change? Take for example the condom situation, if love is love then there is no longer justification to deny life-saving condoms to lovers. That would take a big unnecessary chip out of the pyramid. All the other arguments built upon those justifications would become invalid too, causing a large destabilizing gap.

The thing is though, buttresses have staying power. The buttresses in this metaphor are the assets of the church: its buildings, its gold, its art, its power, and the appeal of its ritual and its bureaucracy. These tangible assets support the inverted facade of an ancient religion.  Only surface appearance seems to matter because that is what is celebrated in the mass. The substance behind the facade is hidden and it is used to protect child rapists; it is corrupt. Its own “Theo”-logic has whittled away its point. Faith clouds more than academic judgment here because it ignores genuine love of fellow mankind: our children. Wouldn’t Love provide a more substantial point to start from?

Imagine if we get rid of the old structures and change the shape of our new construction from a pyramid into a ball of light like the sun and make the center “love” then place this ball of love in the middle of a radiant matrix so that every idea, justification and person could have direct access to the center instead of some intercessional bureaucracy. What would that be like? Could you then wear a condom if it kept you from dying? Could Love be God?



Messin’ with our Metaphor

Neither in the closet, nor coming out have the same meaning as they did when I was a child. I’m not ancient (yet), but the use of a closet as something to come out of really didn’t make an appearance in the language until the late 1960s. A closet was either a small room where clothes and things were kept or a small, cell-like room where a monk might live. It did not mean an LGBTQ person’s sheltering place until gays started looking for a metaphor to describe their situation. Closets seemed to be the perfect metaphor of a gay person protecting certain truths behind a door, but in plain sight next to costumes, clothing, and other personal affectations that are stored waiting to be used for whatever purpose required.

My father had a rifle from his younger days when hunting was a common thing for kids in his rural community. I never saw him use it. He kept it in his closet, disassembled, with parts in different shoe boxes. We kids were fascinated by the non-functioning wooden stock, trigger and dull metal barrel. The parent’s closet was full of fascinating items of personal memorabilia and so, a place of curiosity for the kids. The closet was in my parent’s bedroom on the second floor of an elaborate Victorian mansion that was being used as a Funeral Home on the first floor. Their closet was also connected to an adjacent closet for the children’s room so it was really a hallway that stored stuff. This made it tough for the parents to keep non-kid stuff like guns hidden.

My Grandparents used the first floor of their Edwardian mansion in the neighboring city as a home where the upper floors were divided up into apartments available for rent.  That place had all kinds of secret passageways, hidden staircases and secret rooms. Many of the closets were old servant-stairways to the upper floors no longer needed, and blocked off with plywood walls.

Growing up in those two environments shaped my concept of what a closet was as well as what a home is. A home is a place of business that respects other folk’s privacy while they intrude on your own privacy. Once the third kid was born it became impossible to keep all three of us quiet, so we moved out of the Funeral Home and into a normal residential neighborhood house where I had my own room and my first normal closet ever. It was boring in contrast, but private.

The concept of gays ‘coming out’ of a ‘closet’ had evolved into general usage at about the time I reached puberty in the 60s. Mart Crowley’s 1967 play Boys in the Band seemed to be the crossover point from sub-cultural reference to more common usage in the population at large. So, I don’t know when I first heard of it, but I stayed in mine until 1975. My concept of closet was almost surreal, it included: passageways, staircase, multiple exits, a path to something unknown, and temporary obstructions of something that continues. It was a steep staircase leading to a temporary partition. No matter what shape the closet took it was stifling, but I knew I could get out one way or another.

Nowadays, Olympic LGBTQ athletes make big news by coming out and refusing to talk with Mike Pence. While at the same time the phrase is no longer exclusive to the gay community. It has unfortunately grown to encompass any hidden behaviors. Look at all the spousal abuse perpetrators in Trump’s administration; hell, look at Trump! Right-wing moralists are the ones defending those poor abusers who are forced out of their self-imposed closets-of-shame against their will. These are indignant voices defending those hard working Harvard-educated lawyers who have been accused of beating their wives with photos and restraining orders attached as proof. What they really need is a high ranking evangelical to sell them a mulligan like Trump got. Talk about revenue stream!

A skeleton in the closet refers to an embarrassing fact that one prefers to keep secret in order to maintain a level of credibility. We all have them. They represent the past and don’t involve the current actions of an individual the way existence in a closet on a continuing basis does. No one is actively doing anything about the great uncle who shot his big toe off to avoid serving in the army. It is a skeleton in the closet, but has no real daily impact. A skeleton is an embarrassment while actively ‘being’ in a closet addresses shame, a more serious concern.(This paragraph is an update 2/15.)

A closet can be a sanctuary for good people to protect themselves until they are ready to come out. Bad people cower in them to avoid the cost of their crimes. Good people use them for positive growth and finding courage, while those closeted cheaters and abusers know they are bad and use closets to surreptitiously avoid punishment. They are being protected by other cheaters and abusers in our current White House.

Dudes, you’re messin’ with our metaphor! Knock it off.

An Authoritarian’s Authority

What authorizes an authoritarian to be an authority?

There are two ways to be an authoritarian: one is to be the follower of a particular authority, the other is to be the authority. The passives submit to the authority and defend the authority’s stature in society. They don’t lead, yet with extreme devotion they blindly follow those who take charge. They mimic the arrangement within their own families, using the tradition of a man in charge, and the women and children who submit to his will.

Gigantic evangelical super-churches with thousands of members who flock to highly populated services where they passively follow the show-biz leader’s televised, amplified, melodramatic moralizing illustrate the Evangelical authoritarian theology. They present glossy showmanship and scripted passions. They speak to the ‘audience’ not the individual. People enjoy the show-like ‘service.’ They don’t want fellowship, where everyone knows their name, they want the society of a fast food joint. They walk in, encounter strangers, watch some moralish show-biz presentation and then leave. No muss or fuss. Passions are best raised when someone else is being condemned. Pick on outcasts to develop serious passions and genuine animosity in the crowd. It sells even better than speaking in tongues! The audience walks away having felt something significant. Their prejudices and fears have been justified. They shared a commonality with a big room full of strangers. And guess what, no thinking! This wan’t complicated, it was simple and powerful. The band was great, the lighting spectacular and the sermon was funny and did you see that hairdo? And, Oh yeah, they said, “Jesus” a lot.

Rock Religion

Church or Rock Concert?

This whole event accommodates the anonymity of those in attendance. The edge of the stage, which serves as a barrier between performer and audience prevents genuine interaction. The social pressures of ‘political correctness’ can easily be dismissed in this environment. So, while the spectacular service is a far cry from a KKK rally, similar sentiments can thrive. They condemn the LGBTQ population with a particular vehemence that parallels the rhetoric of the KKK. This creates a specific “us” (the Christians in the room) and places them in opposition to both the specific, and often un-named “others” who exist “out there.” Muslims? Fags, People of color? Immigrants? Whatever frightens you are the enemy. Evangelicals get away with blatant bigotry under the guise of a moral, god-sanctioned, charlatan-lead, feel-good scam. Want fries with that?

I have spent my life in showbiz, both commercial showbiz and fine art, non-profit theatre, ballet and opera. I know the high-end tricks of the trade so to speak. I know the cheap tricks too.  We use the full range of theatrical techniques to accommodate the needs of what is being communicated; we search for subtext and implied meanings of the presentation to find the appropriate level of spectacle required. Rock shows are all spectacle. Industrial trade shows are meant to sell something, they use gimmicks and cheap theatrics and spectacle. Serious art uses the sophisticated, subtle dramatic effects sparingly, only in accordance to the needs of the show and not for the sake of spectacle alone. When a church starts using mindless spectacle to sell its product, that is the sign of a lack of substance and a commercial intent.

Now, a glorious cathedral with incense and music and costumes and grand architecture and cannibalistic rituals (eating the body and blood of a man/god) is a spectacle. But, this spectacle is focused on the teachings of the church, it is the same at every performance whether five or five hundred people attend the service. What ever opinion you may have of the event, it is always coherent and purposeful. The showbiz spectacle of megachurches seems to be focused upon a more commercial intent. Their goal is numbers and dollars and if some moral imperative is not popular, like say divorce, well it kind of disappears from the program. The people on stage aren’t interchangeable the way priests are. The personality is the draw; so star personalities are the selling point not the principles of the faith.

I have been going to USITT conferences since the mid 1970s. This is the US Institute of Theatre Technology. At some point in the 1990s perhaps, I recall, a major shift that added the category of ‘religious theatre’ technology to the concerns of the Institute. It was a clash of cultures to start, but once the realization that money was readily available from evangelical churches for equipment, technology and employment they started to fit right in. Rock-shows had always been the big money innovators in lighting and sound technology. Suddenly, these churches had more cash and desire to buy the tech than fine art theatres did.

So, a Mass is a Mass, but a megachurch is not another megachurch, they are selling different

pay to sin

entertainments and their message is flexible. A lot of money is involved and their flexible moral foundations allow for mulligans for horny politicians the way Catholics sold indulgences in the middle ages. Trump is the perfect star for this kind of production. His salesmanship and showmanship provide the ultimate con for gullible and unthinking followers. Trump is the Pied Piper of the submissive authoritarian Evangelicals.


So, while the Catholic Church is authoritarian in the sense that it is autocratic, dictatorial, tyrannical, draconian, oppressive, repressive, illiberal, undemocratic; disciplinarian, domineering, overbearing, iron-fisted, high-handed, peremptory, imperious, strict, rigid, and inflexible, it relies upon adherence to a legalistic and clearly defined set of rules. The head of the church is more or less trapped by the established codes and mandates of the 2000 year old institution. His status has been achieved by surviving a political bureaucracy.

anti-gay megagay

The cult-like following of a megachurch leader is personality-driven and that translates into dollars. The codification of the theology is in its infancy so there is no permanent legalistic formula for compliance. The charismatic leader is likely to teach what he feels rather than what some academic theologians have concluded so the theological infrastructure is already on shaky ground. When times get rough, hate rhetoric is the tie that binds the allegiance. It is more emotive than say, God is Love; they may agree with that aphorism but faggot enflames them to the core. Passion = dollars and butts in pews.

Anti-Gay Tract

It takes a lawyer to read and comprehend the details of Pope Francis’ APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION on LOVE. He did make an effort to dress up the language, to make it readable, but that merely confuses the vile attitude toward LGBTQ folks in the document. The Catholic approach uses a thinking person’s bigotry as a foundation while still relying on the awe of the cathedral, the smell of the incense, and the glorious music to sell their spiritual bureaucracy.


The Evangelical approach is pure passion, no need to read or translate anything. This is from a 2010 Guardian article on the Saddleback Megachurch:

…popular evangelical Christianity is religiously vacuous. It is directed to secular ends which, arguably, should be promoted by secular means. Saddleback is religion for people who don’t like religion: transcendence is not on the menu.

Evangelicals live in Madonna’s Material World and they are material girls (metaphorically). Her song is about choosing a mate but the criteria is cash, and love is never mentioned. Donald Trump is the ultimate material guy. Trump needs God the way a material girl needs love. She doesn’t.