Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter Storm Approaches

It is thundering now. It's not too often you hear thunder in winter. The weatherman has predicted 6 to 12 inches of snow for our area.

Gail came over this morning for our weekly piano practice. We practiced our piece for this Sunday at Restoration plus several other pieces. I will be giving the talk, but with the weather the way it is, we will just have to wait and see if we even have a service. This Sunday's talk will be the first of a three-part presentation. The first Sunday of the month is always Humanist Sunday at Restoration.

Saturday night the Methodist Church had a chili competition. There were several kinds of chili to choose from. There was even chicken lasagne, which is what I ate (plus a bowl of chili). For desert, I had three pieces of chocolate covered peanuts (homemade).

We made a trip over to Tulsa this afternoon for a doctor's appointment. Afterwards we ate at The Cheesecake Factory. Our next stop was Hardesty Library where J got a book, and I checked out some CDs from the Teaching Company on the music of Robert and Clara Schumann. The course is taught by Robert Greenberg. I have heard other music course by Greenberg, an excellent teacher.

Ice is starting to coat the surfaces of anything it falls on. This brings the danger of power lines breaking and the loss of electrical power.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Toward a Naturalistic Spirituality

The following text is copied from the World Pantheist Movement web site.

In the WPM we revere and care for Nature, we accept this life as our only life, and this earth as our only paradise, if we look after it. We revel in the beauty of Nature and the night sky, and are full of wonder at their mystery and power.

By spirituality and spiritual we don't mean any kind of supernatural or non-physical activity - we use the terms in a wider sense. We mean that part of our lives that relates to our deeper emotions and aesthetic responses towards Nature and the wider Universe - to our sense of our place in these, and to the ethics that these feelings imply.

We take the real Universe and Nature as our starting and finishing point, not some preconceived idea of God. We feel a profound wonder and awe for these, similar to the reverence that believers in more conventional gods feel towards their deity, but without anthropomorphic worship or belief that Nature has a mind or personality that we can influence through prayer or ritual.

Our ethics are humanistic and green, our metaphysics naturalist and scientific. To these we add the emotional and aesthetic dimensions which humans need to cope with life's challenges and to embrace life's joys, and to motivate their concern for Nature and human welfare.

Our beliefs and values reconcile spirituality and rationality, emotion and values and environmental concern with science and respect for evidence. They are summarized in our Belief Statement, which embodies the following basic principles:

Reverence, awe, wonder and a feeling of belonging to Nature and the wider Universe.

Respect and active care for the rights of all humans and other living beings.

Celebration or our lives in our bodies on this beautiful earth as a joy and a privilege.

Realism - acceptance that the external world exists independently of human consciousness or perception.

Strong naturalism - without belief in supernatural realms, afterlives, beings or forces.

Respect for reason, evidence and the scientific method as our best ways of understanding nature and the Universe.

Promotion of religious tolerance, freedom of religion and complete separation of state and religion.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Grave of Franz Liszt

Here is the grave of Franz Liszt in Bayreuth, Germany. This picture was taken sometime in either 1972 or 1973.

At Stan's place

This picture was taken five or more years ago. Seated at the table (L to R) are Bettye Visher, Dawn Bradley, Randy Bradley, myself, and Marie Staley. Marie is from Jones, OK and used to drive up to Tulsa to attend some of our meetings. I haven't seen her in several years.
Stan would occasionally host a dinner at his place. Sometimes afterwards he would show a movie. This is one of several tables at his house.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Contest results

Tonight I announce the results of the "name the pictures" contest from a few days ago. Scroll down my blog to have a look at the two pictures, if you are unfamiliar with this contest. My parents correctly identified the Eiffel Tower in Paris as the first picture. The second picture was taken in England, but they could not narrow it down more than that. Likewise, my granddaughter recognized the Eiffel Tower in the first picture, and she said England was the locale of the second.

The second picture is of the roman bath in the city of Bath, England.

Thanks to all who participated. Another name the picture will be coming soon. By the way, I was the photographer for both of those pictures.

Last night I typed a reply to Galen's blog, but for some reason when I went to save it, it disappeared. Oh, well, I will just send him an e-mail.

The web site "" where I record the books I read was down when I tried to log on just a few minutes ago. I will try again later. I finished reading Atheism: A Very Short Introduction by Julian Baggini last night. It was a free download from Kindle. There is a whole series in the "Very Short Introduction" books available to Kindle readers. There are 100 books in the series, from Classics (1) to Evolution (100).

This morning we returned to the fitness center where I got in my morning two-mile walk. Next we went by the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, and then it was to the day old bread store for some buns.

I received an e-mail from Larry Roth (new Sec./Treas.) that he had opened up a new P.O. Box for HAT in Tulsa, not far from where Randy lives. I will soon go close the box we have used the last several years.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day's events

This morning we went to the Fitness Center and for 40 minutes I walked around the basketball court. We returned home and in the afternoon I took a nap.

After dinner, we watched the State of the Union address. It was more civil than some past addresses I can recall.

After the President finished his speech, I finished reading Atheism: A Very Short Introduction by Julian Baggini. It was a free download on my Kindle. The book concludes with these words:

Atheism is about moving on and taking the opportunities that life affords, and that carries with it risks of failure and the rejection of reassuring illusions.

It is this realism that means atheism cannot ever be presented as an undiluted, positive joy. Real life is about accepting ups and downs, the good and the bad, the possibility of failure as well as the ambition to succeed. Atheism speaks to the truth about our human nature because it recognizes all this and doesn not seek to shield us from the truth by myth and superstition.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Brief summary of the day

Here at the end of this day, I will summarize what happened today. First, Gail came over and we practices piano for two hours. Next, we went to the SA Fitness Center. I walked two miles there. Next we went to Subway for lunch. In the evening we watched Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. Then I studied Russian for a while.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Is this Earth your true spiritual home? (from WPM site)

Is this Earth your true spiritual home?

Are you searching for a path that focuses on this Earth rather than some imaginary beyond, that makes saving the planet its focus not saving your eternal soul, that respects individual choice rather than pushing prejudice down people's throats, that values reason rather than fanaticism? Do you find it impossible to believe in supernatural beings, and difficult to conceive of anything more worthy of reverence than the beauty of Nature or the power of the Universe? Do you feel a deep sense of peace and belonging and wonder in the midst of Nature, in a forest, by the ocean, or on a mountain top? Are you speechless with awe when you look up at the sky on a clear moonless night and see the Milky Way strewn with stars as thick as sand on a beach? When you see breakers crashing on a rocky shore, or hear wind rustling in a poplar's leaves, are you uplifted by the energy and creativity of existence?

If you answered yes to these questions, then you will feel thoroughly at home in the World Pantheist Movement.

From the DemoOkie web site

Comment found on DemoOkie web site:

If religion wishes to interfere with public education by teaching God-driven science, maybe public education could return the favor by teaching religion. A good introductory course could be an introduction to the Biblical canon--how the books in the Bible came to be there, who wrote them, what changes were made, how people who disagreed with the church fathers were treated, etc. There's lots of controversy; so the course could be a perfect complement to what Kern is proposing.

Q. Who wrote Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?
A. We don't know who wrote them. The names of the authors were attached to the books long after they were written.

Q. How many original texts of any parts of the Bible do we have?
A. None. The earliest texts we have are all copies of earlier texts.

Q. Were transcription errors made?
A. You bet. There were the unintentional and, more importantly, the intentional. As one example, the Trinity doctrine (God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit) is questionable as such wasn't present in the earliest manuscripts.

Q. How many changes have been made to the New Testament?
A. More changes than there are words in it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Books from Amazon

Today I received a shipment of books which I had ordered from Amazon. Two of the books were music books: Hymns with a Classical Touch arranged by Cindy Berry and Hymns with a Touch of Jazz arranged by Phillip Keveren. I had been playing the piano when I saw the mailman drop off the mail. I went out to the mailbox and saw the box from Amazon.

I opened the box and looked through the contents. I had ordered a few instructional books on the Russian language, plus the two music books. I used the gifts cards I received during Christmas and still have $25 remaining.

I will continue this tomorrow.

Scene 1

Contest: Can you identify the location of the picture above (Scene 1) and also the location of the picture below (Scene 2)? Send answers to me at djnindex at aol dot com. I will wait a few days and then announce the results.

Scene 2

Journey of the Universe

Click on the link below to view a trailer for "Journey of the Universe."

Approaching 30

Here is a picture of me taken when I was about 28 or 29.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Passport photo

I was 25 years old when I took this photo for my passport.

Rescuing Christianity from the Christians

Listen to Frank Schaeffer speak with Rachel Maddow on the evangelical subculture:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Library, Borders, and more

Today we went to the library where I had some books waiting on me to pick up. After we got home, we got back in the car and went to Border's in Tulsa to get a gift for my son whose birthday is coming up shortly. We were going to get him a book, but we decided it would be better to get him a gift card. That way he can pick out what he wants to read.

While there, J looked at the eReaders. She is thinking about getting one. I still love my Kindle. I spend time with it every day. I take it with me and read it while waiting for appointments.

Do you know about the World Pantheist Movement? You can read about it at I find that it fits in well with my outlook on life. Take a look at the site. You might want to join.

Tonight I worked on some talks which I will be presenting at Restoration starting in February.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Stand By Me

Here is a collection of voices singing "Stand By Me."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dinner together

Nick and his family came over for supper this evening. Nick and Jen brought over chicken and rice. All six of us enjoyed a meal together. They left soon after the meal was over. Luke was not feeling well this evening. Normally, he is a firecracker. This evening, he languished.

I placed an order with Amazon for two books of solo music and four books on the Russian language. (As Christmas gifts, I received $85 as gifts to buy items from Amazon.) Forty years ago I had some minor proficiency in speaking Russian, but I have not kept up my skills. As a New Year's resolution I intend to become more proficient in the Russian language.

View from the motel

This is a picture taken from the hotel we stayed at in the summer of 1963 during a biology field trip to the Gulf Coast. In the background you can see the pier going out into the water. Far off in the distance, you can see an island in the gulf. We traveled out to this island to collect specimens by means of using a seine.

Poolside, Summer 1963

The man on the right in this picture is Danny Joe Maxey, my high school biology teacher. I took biology in the summer of 1963. All summer long we mowed yards to raise money to pay for a trip to the Gulf Coast.
The woman in the center of the picture is Maxey's wife, whose name I don't recall. The boy on the left is a fellow classmate, Tommy Cummings, who wore a leg brace due to having had polio when younger.

Frolicking in the pool, Summer 1963

Biloxi, MS motel pool, Summer 1963

At the pool, Summer 1963

Walking to the motel restaurant

Jerri Lowrimore, Summer 1963

On the Beach, Summer 1963

From Bernie Sanders's Newsletter (Jan. 2010)

Today, in the United States, while the middle class collapses and poverty increases, the richest people in our country have never had it so good. In 2007, the top one percent earned 23 percent of all income in our country – more than the bottom 50 percent. The top one percent also owns more wealth than the bottom ninety percent. While in recent years we have seen a huge increase in the number of millionaires and billionaires in this country we continue to have, by far, the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In the deep freeze

It was cold here today. Temperatures for tonight are supposed to get down to 5 degrees.

Tonight we watched as the President spoke at the memorial service in Tucson. It was an impressive ceremony.

Also, tonight I played some pieces at the piano. The pieces I played were from the book Classical Hymns by Cindy Berry, who is a native of Lawton, OK. Selections from this book would be appropriate to be played at Church of the Restoration. I also practiced some of the pieces that Gail and I play together.

I went out to the library and picked up a book which had come in for me. On the way home I stopped at Braum's and got milk. We like the taste of Braum's milk so much better than any other brand.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow falls

We got our first snowfall of the year today. Today was Monday -- the day for our weekly piano duet practice. Gail came over and brought with her a meal for J and myself. We had lemon chicken with scalloped potatoes and jello with mandarin oranges in it. I would say what the occasion for the gift of the dinner was, but I can't do so just now. Anyway it was delicious, cooked by Gail herself. It was sufficient for two meals.

The repairman from the service company came shortly after noon and fixed our washing machine. A part had broken. The part was replaced with a new part -- a circular piece about the size of a silver dollar right at the bottom of the washer in the center.

It was too cold to get out today. I only went out to move the trash cart back to the side of the house. We had blowing snow but very little accumulation. I watched the inauguration ceremonies at the state capitol on TV today.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Time to catch up

It has been several days since I posted my previous blog. I need to get caught up.

Something significant happened this past Wednesday, but J will not let me write about it. So I will move along.

Yesterday, I was washing clothes when all of a sudden the washing machine started making a strange noise. We shut the machine off, and I took the clothes that needed washing to the Prattville Laundromat. Monday we will call a repairman to come fix the washing machine. We have had this machine for several years. It may be time to get a new one.

I finished reading another book on my Kindle tonight: Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins. I can now move it to my archives. I gave it four out of five stars on It seems I read more books on the Kindle than I do in conventional books. I still have two books on my "To Be Read" shelf on Good Reads. They have been on that shelf for a long time. I need to finish them up.

In addition to reading books on the Kindle, you can also play games. One of my favorite games is "Every Word." In this game, the player is given six or seven letters from which you form as many words as you can. You have to solve the longest word to advance to the next level (10 levels in all). Your score is tallied as you play. My "High Score" is 33,440.

Monday, January 03, 2011

New YouTube video

This morning Gail and I recorded this YouTube video. The piece is titled "Walnut River Rag" and it was written by Melody Bober.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

First post of the New Year

This is my first post of the New Year. Fireworks are still exploding as I type these words. We have made it to 2011.

While in Springfield this past week, I downloaded several books to my Kindle: a book of chocolate chip cookie recipes, Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope, Jean-Christophe by Romain Rolland, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne, One Hundred Best Books by John Cowper Powyrs (the inspiration for the downloading spree), Vanity Fair by Thackeray, and The Wisdom of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton. These were all free downloads.

This coming Sunday is Humanist Sunday at Restoration. Dr. Visher will be speaking at the 11 am service. Gail and I will be playing a piano duet. I have a few other parts I will try to assign tomorrow.