Tag Archives: Nature

The Bible for Travelers

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Maybe Hotels could put that little Blue Book in their rooms? Or, better yet, we could leave the books in the drawers and read the Great Book of Nature.

Via Friendly Atheist, this LA Times story has some Real “Good News.”

Hotels aren’t putting so many Bibles into guest rooms.

My questions:

Why would someone want to sit inside and read a Bible (or any book, really), when the Great Book of Nature is all around them?  Would you sit inside and read an ancient book while staying in Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Smoky Mountains, or any place with Nature nearby?

And, if you ARE a believer and you love your holy book, wouldn’t you just carry your God-Pages around with you while travelling?  Do you need a hotel manager to loan you a copy?

“The percentage of hotels that offer religious materials in rooms has dropped significantly over the last decade, from 95% of hotels in 2006 to 48% this year.

Among the reasons for the change, according to industry experts, is a need to appeal to younger American travelers who are less devout than their parents or grandparents and to avoid offending international travelers such as Muslims or Buddhists.”

And why Bibles in these public places anyway?  Here’s what Gideons is out to do in their quest to make the Whole World Christian where everyone reads only One Book:

“Bibles started to become a hotel standard in the late 1800s when three traveling businessmen founded Gideons International with a plan to spread the Gospels by placing the Bible in hotel rooms across the country.

The nonprofit group now has about 270,000 members in 200 countries. In its latest fiscal year, Gideon International spent about $100 million to distribute Bibles to hotels, prisons, hospitals and other locations, about the same amount as in 2015, according to the group’s financial statements.

Jeff Pack, Gideons International’s director of communications, said he isn’t sure why the STR survey shows a decline in religious material in hotel rooms, considering that the distribution of Bibles by his group hasn’t dropped.

“The decline of religious materials in hotels, as cited in the survey, is reflective of increasing secularism and independence in the world,” he said. “This has resulted in an erosion of spiritual awareness.”

OR, there is “an erosion of spiritual awareness” because too many are thinking of other worlds and too busy proselytizing and too busy reading “spiritual books” to give a care about the goodness, beauty and wonder of this world.

I’ll never really understand the Bible Believers (or Qur’an Believers. . .or any other Book Believers)


No Baptism Like Rain

 

With great relief. . .in this smoky fire season. . .the return of the RAIN!


Daily Scripture

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Light Leaf

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Likeable Lichen

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Lightbulbs with Feet


What’s the Buzz?

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In Butterfly Territory, Asheville, NC

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Intense Concentration, Asheville, NC

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In Eleanor’s Garden, Hyde Park, NY

All Photos by Chris Highland


Hearing the “Voice of God”

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Thundering falls on a thundering day (Dupont State Forest, NC)

I used to listen for the voice of God–any God–in a church, in a forest or in my head.

Now. . .the “voice” of Nature is wonderfully enough.


Sacred Secular Streaming

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This reflection was just posted on Secular Chaplain.

{I’m using the term “sacred” in the new “secular gospel” way. . .in other words, I’m borrowing the “holy word” from those who think they own the terms, meanings and “special knowledge” that come with experiences of wonder}


Burning Holy Books or Burning People?

My story of the terrible killing of Farkhunda in Kabul had over 1300 views.

As one whose “spiritual ancestors” (Heretics) were burned for their beliefs or non-beliefs. . .I will never stand by and watch a person put down or raised up to disrespect, harass, injure or murder in the Name of a Religion or the Name of a God.

If your “holy book” is more sacred, holy, revered and respected than a Human Life, than Reason, than Freedom. . .you are dangerous and you will be met by the force of Truth and True Justice.

I don’t condone the burning of holy books (though we shred them for free on this site).  But if the choice is to burn pages or people. . .a freethinking person will leave their books and Live the Words.

Think about it:  Did any of the so-called Great Spiritual Teachers (Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius. . .) carry a holy book around?  Did they ever say Scriptures were more Sacred than a Human Being?  Of course not.  They were writing the holy books with their lives.

Remember Farkhunda.

Maybe burning her was the real desecration of a living holy book.

Remember Farkhunda.

(and Hypatia, Narendra Dabholkar and all others who have suffered for Free Speech, Freethought and Human Rights)


Another Baptism in Heaven

Looking Up at Water Coming Down

Looking Up at Water Coming Down

Splashing on me and the camera.

Waterfalls have never been something to simply see or hear. . .but to touch. . .to participate in.

Almost “spiritual”. . .like a “baptism”. . .like “heaven”. . .but why call it anything?


Greener Pastures

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After some hard rains, I’m looking out over the pasturelands and the Bay beyond.  Last week the arches of color, the rainbows, appeared.  There’s now a small stream flowing through one pasture and quite a lake in another.  I observe the birds.  Flocks of fowl.  Many of them are residents of these hilly lands and open plains.  In a few minutes of observation I notice the diversity.  I see gulls and geese, crows and ducks, turkey vultures, egrets and a great blue (heron).  Hummingbirds rise and fall above small trees where their nests are deeply hidden.  Hawks circle high over the land (the other night on our walk we saw a white owl swooping between eucalyptus and pines.   Later we heard great horned owls hooting in the dark oak hills).

All live and move in this field and the field of view.  All rising to swoop and spy and play, I guess; all descending to eat while they chirp, squawk and chatter. . .or make music, as I hear it.  When they aren’t standing silent and still.

This is a wonderful scene with the watery green backdrop of late autumn.

And it leaves me wondering what we could learn from this Life in the Pastureland.  We are another species–earthbound without wings.  So we share the same pastureland, the greening earth, going about our days seeking food and safety and rest and other things we cannot name.  With birds as our teachers, our guides, how can we become their students?  Would we be better at being human?

I have no doubt of that.


John Muir’s Heaven

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

My wife and I just returned from 5 days by (and IN) Lake Tahoe.

Walking, biking, swimming. . .but mostly just looking at the beauty.  You can’t help yourself.  The view, the colors, the sound on the shore and in the pines.  You sense you are a part of this great piece of liquid art (unless you’re jetskiing or powerboating or cranking up the boombox on the beach with your barking dog. . .but that’s the OTHER stuff we’ll leave aside for a while).

“The Big Blue” as I call it.  You never tire of gazing over this 22-mile lake and all that comes from your mouth, if you care or dare to speak, is, “Beautiful.”  Yes, full of water, full of light, full of mountain particles and full of pure beauty.  It’s like the sky has poured into a mammoth canyon of the highlands waiting to be discovered, seducing discoverers. . .like John Muir.

Muir called Lake Tahoe “the queen of lakes” and the “water heaven” where all lakes eventually go.

From the John Muir Exhibit (Sierra Club) website:

-Muir first visited Lake Tahoe in October-November of 1873, calling it the “queen of lakes” and writing his friend Jeanne Carr that he had “sauntered through the piney woods, pausing countless times to absorb the blue glimpses of the lake, all so heavenly clean, so terrestrial yet so openly spiritual.” He wrote further, “The soul of Indian summer is brooding this blue water, and it enters one’s being as nothing else does. Tahoe is surely not one but many. As I curve around its heads and bays and look far out on its level sky fairly tinted and fading in pensive air, I am reminded of all the mountain lakes I ever knew, as if this were a kind of water heaven to which they all had come.” [Source: Letters to a Friend, 1915]
-Muir returned to Tahoe several other times in his life, enjoying its “delightful” beauty.

My mind is still up there in the alpine country breathing the fresh pine air.  Even with the unclean air, noise and nuisance of city living, there’s something refreshing that stays with you when you’re that close, that immersed, in Beauty (what some would call God, the Sacred, or Heaven).

As I am fond of saying, Why wish for, why imagine another world, a “heaven above,” when it’s all right here, right there, if we simply go look and wade in.  We’re all in Heaven, and it’s so much better than anything we’ve ever been told.