Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 8 of 8


[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] The Final Doorway The payoff of going through the transition from the House of the Tribe to the House of Humanity is very large. If we can make it across the painful threshold from our small but formerly comfortable dwelling space into this new and grander place, we gain an entire fascinating WORLD of people. People to learn from, to visit, to photograph, to love, to sing to, to listen to, to argue with, to trade with, even to combine … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 7 of 8

[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] The Houses of Man (cont.) As you’ve probably already figured out, there are other steps in this bigger-house progression. At some point we discover the door to yet another Outside, and find that our original family home is only a small part of a bigger place – our neighborhood or culture. For want of a better name, call this dwelling place the House of the Tribe. Again, there’s an uncomfortable period of adaptation in settling-in to … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 6 of 8

[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] The Houses of Man Picture a house. Not a real house, but a kind of metaphor-house, the place where your inner life takes place. The rooms inside are furnished with your everyday thoughts, feelings and understandings. In this particular house, there are secret doors. People can tell you that they’re there, but you never believe them, because you can’t see the doors, or any hint of them. Picture every little boy who has stoutly declared … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 5 of 8


[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] Molly (cont.) This kind of thought wasn’t completely new for me – I confess I’d dwelt many times on the fortunes of other men, wistful and envious of the assets they enjoyed. “What would it be like to be him?” I had asked myself, him way up there with all that money, with a daddy who provides private airplanes and the family’s own airport, with new trucks and horses and jet skis and scuba diving lessons there for the … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 4 of 8


[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] Molly For eight years in my 20s and 30s, I was a draft horse teamster at a resort-town ranch, driving a two-up hitch of massive blond Belgians or coal-black Percherons, on a huge hay wagon for mid-summer meadow rides, or on big sleighs that would glide over the high-mountain snow on moonlit winter nights. Molly was one of the ranch dogs. She was no particular color – a little black, a little brown, a little gray, all mixed up in a dark … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 3 of 8


[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] Cutter After seasons of proving myself at many of the other chores of branding, on this day, I’m in charge of castrations. After the calf slides to a stop and both the heel rope and the top man are firmly in place, I step forward and kneel down by the calf’s belly. I stretch out the scrotum and slice across the lower third of it with a sharp knife. The testicles usually pop out on their own, but sometimes you have to fish around, pressing … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 2 of 8


[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] Cowboyin' The early end of the beef industry involves a lot of labor at identifying and altering young bovines from their original, mint-condition wholeness to something more in line with human designs, as they make their first transition from free beasties to hamburger-on-the-hoof. The work can be done in sheer industrial efficiency, with metal chutes and shock prods and unconcerned hourly workers, or it can be done by working cowboys, in … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 1 of 8


[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] Somewhere above all this, all the roiling newness of the growing atheist and progressive community, there’s an overview. I’ve tried very hard to see it. It may be that there are plenty of people smarter than me, more educated, innately broader of understanding, who already know what it is we’re all working towards. But I have yet to read their books or hear their talks. I look out and see ... pieces. A chopped salad of efforts … [Read more...]

Nothing to See Here, Move Along

This is a little nothing-much, posted mainly to see how I feel about posting. If you've been following my recent exploits, you know I'm just a week into recovery from surgery – the minor-but-major removal of my gallbladder – and I haven't felt much like writing. Or even turning on the computer. But today I felt pretty good. Woke up at 7 a.m., lay in bed thinking and reading until almost 10 a.m., then got up and … well, got a great deal done. … [Read more...]

Connecticut Shooting: Warm Lies, Cold Truth, Free Minds

This is a reaction to some of the goddy rhetoric surrounding the shooting in Connecticut: Even as an atheist good with words, I can barely express how repulsive I find the claim that those children are in Heaven, skipping along beside Jesus as he gives them a tour of Heaven. Yet we’ve heard exactly that, and more than once. When I posted on Facebook a day or so ago about a mental image related to the tragedy, one of my readers told me she almost threw up when that same image came to her: the … [Read more...]