Nine Things I Think

Nine Things I Think May 18, 2014

Nine Things I Think is an irregular feature whenever I have a list of things I want to talk about that aren’t long enough for their own individual posts.  There’s no theme, just nine things I want to bring to your attention.  Feel free to expand on any of these topics in the comments section.

1) I’ve lived in Texas for twelve years and as I wrote last month, it’s time to stop thinking of Texas as “where I live” and start thinking of Texas as home.  So I borrowed one of Cathy’s history books:  Gone To Texas by Randolph Campbell, a history professor at the University of North Texas in Denton.  It was exactly what I was looking for.  It starts with the arrival of the First Nations about 12,000 years ago and runs through the election of George W. Bush as President in 2000.

I knew the highlights of Texas history:  the Spanish missions, the war for independence and the Republic of Texas.  Cotton, slavery, and the Civil War.  Spindletop and the oil boom, TI and the tech boom.  LBJ, John Connally, Ann Richards, and the Bushes.  But that was about it. You can’t understand the history of a place by reading one book any more than you can become a competent Druid or Witch by reading one book, but this really helps me understand why Texas is what it is.

2) I’m now convinced that the Republic and the State of Texas were founded by pirates, in both the romantic and the realistic sense of the term.  There’s something admirable about people who say “screw your rules, I’m taking what I want” particularly in this land that can be as harsh and unforgiving as any sea.  It is entirely understandable why the Texians rebelled against the Mexican government and somewhat amazing they succeeded.  On the other hand, when “what I want” includes wiping out the Natives, keeping people in slavery and near-slavery, exploiting the poor, and demagoguery to keep the rich in power, it’s a reminder that sometimes pirates are just thieves and murderers.

Stephen F. Austin comes across as an honest man but only Sam Houston comes across as a statesman.  Everyone else comes across as a pirate concerned only with themselves and their close associates… and the legacy of piracy continues to this day.

3) One thing that stands out from the pre-Civil War era is the way in which many people who believed slavery was a great moral wrong defended it as necessary and insisted that it could and must continue forever.  Of course, there were also plenty of people who never saw past their own benefits and concocted various philosophical and religious rationalizations of why slavery was perfectly fine.

The end result was a horrible war and a century in which the South lagged the rest of the country in virtually every aspect of life.

I see the same thing happening today with peak oil and climate change.  While there is no moral equivalence between slavery and fossil fuel use, in both cases otherwise-intelligent humans are willfully blind to great forces simply because acknowledging them would require us to change familiar and comfortable ways of living.

4) I’m convinced the majority of humans will continue to ignore peak oil and climate change until it smacks them in the face.  I’m also convinced we’re well past the point of taking effective action – it’s now time to figure out how we’re going to deal with the changes.  I’ll be OK – I’ll be gone before the worst of it hits, I have a few financial resources, and I live 630 feet above sea level.

I worry about my younger friends, and I’m extremely worried about their children.  And I’m concerned for the hundreds of millions of people who live within a few feet of sea level – the vast majority of whom do not have the resources to deal with displacement.

5) OMNIA has a new album out titled Earth WarriorTheir website says:

Welcome to the year 2014! The climate has changed, the polar ice is melting, the sky weeps acid… Our beautiful Earth is under constant attack… the time for the Earth warriors to rise up has come!

OMNIA’s 14th independent production is a studio concept-album all about the Living Earth and the fight against her destruction by humanity, containing 14 OMNIA compositions written in varying acoustic-musick styles, from classical, country, bluegrass, hard rock, jazz, Native American, Celtic-folk, Balkan, all the way to OMNIA’s original PaganFolk.

The title track “Earth Warrior” is the best of the album.  I’d love “Call Me Satan” if it had a different title.  The song is a nice tribute to the Horned Gods and the only connection between Them and the Abrahamic Satan is medieval propaganda.

If you like OMNIA’s other music, you’ll like Earth Warrior.  If you haven’t heard them yet, they have a large presence on YouTube (though not yet for this album).  Check them out yourself.

6) The only downside to attending the Pan Druid Retreat was missing the NFL Draft.  I’m not a draft junkie, but I do enjoy watching the strategies of the various teams play out, at least through the first three rounds.  And I find it interesting how the experts grade drafts immediately after they’re done, when you can’t really assess a draft until at least the end of the season, and better after about three seasons.

The Texans made the smart move picking Clowney at #1.  If he decides to make football a priority he’ll be a Hall of Famer, and if he doesn’t he’ll still be very good.  Manziel to Cleveland was a good move – he’s undersized for a quarterback and he’s shown some immaturity off the field, but he strikes me as someone who wants to win badly enough to do what it takes to win.

I’m generally happy with Dallas’ draft, but it all comes down to how Demarcus Lawrence turns out.  A 3rd round pick is a lot to give up to move up in the 2nd round, particularly when you need as many upgrades on defense as the Cowboys do.  Would they have been better off with two players at #47 and #78 than with Lawrence at #34?  Time will tell, but I would not have made the trade.

7) I was happy to see Michael Sam drafted by the Rams.  It’s close to home, a defensive scheme that’s a good fit for him, and a coach who won’t put up with nonsense.  I know his combine numbers weren’t very good, but you don’t get to be defensive player of the year in the toughest conference in college football if you can’t play.  Michael Sam is a football player – given a chance, he’ll do well.

I’m not so sure allowing a film crew to document his training camp is a good idea.  Yes, the first openly gay player in the NFL is a historic thing, but he needs to devote his full attention to football between now and January, and a film crew will be a distraction.

8) I’ve done more traveling in the last five months than in any other time in my life, and much of it has been religiously motivated.  Trips to visit family, Druid gatherings, my first visit to Pantheacon, and the big trip to England, Wales, and Ireland, plus some local gatherings.  It’s been great, but I’ll be happy to stay home over the next few months, and I’m really looking forward to the upcoming three-day weekend, for which I currently have zero plans.

I’m working on a Sunday service for Denton UU in August titled “Pilgrimage and Convocation” on the value of religious travel.

9) Remember that Facebook is throttling all posts and only showing about 5% of posts from pages.  A simple way to make sure you get all the posts from Under the Ancient Oaks (and the other blogs on Patheos) is to subscribe by e-mail.  Simply enter your address in the box on the right of the screen.  You’ll get e-mail notifications when new posts go up, and you won’t be signing up for a boatload of spam.

That’s what I’m thinking – what about you?

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  • Next read some Molly Ivins. Molly may no longer be with us, but I think a thread of Texas populism lives on. 🙂

    • I remember Molly Ivins well – she was syndicated to some of the Tennessee papers. Brilliant lady.

    • Martha Pearce-Smith

      Oh yes! Molly is a great recommendation….

      Something I learned while living in Texas for 12 years is, being a Texan is not an accident of birth, but a state of mind. 😉

  • Wendy Leung

    John, I thought you might like to know that the author of GONE TO TEXAS, Randolph (Mike) Campbell, is husb of DUUF’s past hospitality chair Diane Campbell. Mike was honored last Fall as an Outstanding Faculty (forget title) by UNT at an awards banquet we attended. Mike is a very nice guy.

    • Yes, I remember. Mike spoke at DUUF several years ago, on Juneteenth, if I remember correctly.