Thursday Bag o’ Godlessness

godless heathen bagA friend visited last night and talked us into streaming a couple of episodes of Saving Grace, a cable TV series that ran from 2007 to 2010. We’d never seen it and our friend gave it rave reviews, so I found it on Amazon Prime and we settled in to watch. I loved the lead character, Grace Hanadarko (played by Holly Hunter), a lusty, hard-living Oklahoma City cop with personal baggage and bad habits. The redneck crimes Grace and her fellow cops investigate are deliciously tawdry. If the writers had stopped there, with a gritty police procedural about cops and trailer trash criminals in flyover country, it would have been a great show, right up there with Justified.

But then they had to mess it up by having God send a guardian angel to straighten Grace out. It wasn’t a cop show, it was a God show. I’m a non-believer, and there’s only one way I can watch God shows: by pretending they’re harmless fantasies. Which I can’t, because most of them are far from harmless. Take Saving Grace, for example: if God would send an angel to help one person, why wouldn’t he send angels to help everyone else? Why would he ignore those who plead for and could really could use His help and intervention, innocent victims of abuse or cancer or starvation or genocide, and instead pick one out of millions, someone who didn’t ask for help and doesn’t have a bad life to begin with? Does God run heaven like the Powerball lottery? If I still had a scrap of faith left, questions like these would kill it off.

There are plenty of shows and movies based on the idea of a non-religious afterlife (like the older TV series Dead Like Me, which was about a small group of recently-deceased people who watch over those about to die). I just finished a short novel called The Brief History of the Dead, which revolves around the idea that the dead go on living in another dimension, at least as long as there are living people in this world who still remember them (and then, when the living die, finally die themselves).

I don’t believe in any of this stuff, but I can watch these shows and read these books by accepting the imaginary afterlife as a wouldn’t-it-be-nice fantasy. But add a capricious God who would help Grace Hanadarko but not Anne Frank, and there’s nothing nice about it. It’s a cruel, evil fantasy, an insult to everything I do believe in (which you can basically distill down to the Golden Rule), and I reject it.

Damn, time to lighten up.

I’ve been messing with a Twitter app called Vine, which allows you to make six-second looping videos to post on Twitter or Facebook. My efforts to date have been uninspired, but I like this one of Schatzi and Maxie at doggie dinnertime:

Every afternoon around five they start watching me. They might look as if they’re napping, but they’re on full alert. The second I even think of heading toward the kitchen, they spring into action. Schatzi grabs a toy, runs in circles with it, then brings it to me. Maxie barks, sometimes so hard her little body is forced backwards. It’s impossible not to think they’re trying to hurry me into the kitchen, Schatzi through bribery, Maxie through vocal encouragement. As soon as I feed them, they’re back to normal.

The fun part is whenever I play this video with the sound on, Schatzi starts barking and goes looking for Maxie.

I’m back at the air museum every Wednesday, walking around on my new knee. When I stand still for more than a couple of minutes, as I do in front of certain aircraft on my route, my knees stiffen up, but as soon as I start walking again they loosen up and feel normal. So one recovery goal has been met: I can do my air museum tours again. Another goal was to resume our Monday night walks in downtown Tucson, which are about two-and-a-half miles long. Done. Another was to be able to ride my motorcycle. Check … not only that, but in three weeks I’m taking off on another mini-Gypsy tour of Nevada and Northern California. My last goal was to be able to ride my bicycles again, but unfortunately I’m not quite there. I can ride the stationary at the gym, but when I try to ride a real bike my new knee screams every time it goes over the top of the pedal arc. I’ll try again today, this time with the seat post all the way up. That might work, but it’ll make it tricky to start and stop because my feet won’t reach the ground. First world problems, what? If I didn’t have health insurance I’d still have the bad old knee and wouldn’t be able to do any of this stuff. I’m duly thankful for Medicare, and for voters who so far haven’t allowed the Neanderthals to kill it off.

Speaking of the air museum, here are three things that caught my eye yesterday:

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McCulloch HUM-1, one of two left in the world (photo: Paul Woodford)

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Shvetsov ASh-62, Soviet Wright Cyclone copy (photo: Paul Woodford)

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Clerget 9b rotary engine, used in WWI Sopwith Camel (photo: Paul Woodford)


© 2013, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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