A few blogs I like

You’ll notice I have links to a few blogs in the blogroll to the right, and there are a few of those that I find particularly noteworthy that I wanted to call a little attention to.  Not all of them are church, or religion related, and some are maintained by friends of mine.

Ed’s Photodoodle Blog is a great site from a creative photographer friend, showcasing his talents.  Also, he likes to rant about religious people who make him angry, and so if you like a good rant, visit his Two She Bears blog.

Cameron is a fellow who just found my blog and let me know that he visits churches and writes about it too!  It’s a good read.

Pastor John McLarty is a Seattle-based Seventh Day Adventist pastor who I met for coffee after reviewing his church and had a great conversation with.  He’s just about the only liberal Seventh Day Adventist you’ll ever hear about.  He’s also a really nice guy.  His blog is here.

Chris Owens is a former Methodist pastor who has recently been promoted from preaching to supervising and helping other preachers.  I’ve never met him in person, but we have mutual Facebook friends, and when it comes to religious arguments, he’s really kept me on my toes.  His blog is here.

If you want to visit Alaska, or just want to read about it, an old High School buddy of mine can give you some advice with his blog.

And finally, my favorite teacher in the whole world, who I haven’t been face to face with in over 30 years, writes about her childhood in California.  It’s a fun and interesting read.

There will be more church-stuff this weekend!

St. Luke Parish

Well, it’s been a few weeks, I’ve been enjoying my summer, and a little break from posting on the blog, but now I’m back at it.

Yesterday morning, my girlfriend and I went up to Shoreline, just north of Seattle, to visit a Catholic church.  I’ve already done a Catholic church, but that one was only a Thursday morning mass, not the full show, and so I’ve been wanting to go to another Catholic church for a while.  This one is near a friend’s house, and we were invited up to breakfast after the service, and so it was  a good excuse to make the trip.  Not that the trip was very far.  Shoreline is the city immediately north of Seattle, and we live in the northern part of the city, so it was actually fairly close.

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I Would Like To Hear Your Opinion

Paperback_Writer-45rpmThis isn’t a church review post.  It’s a request for feedback.

I’ve been seriously considering writing about my experiences and observations in book form, but before I do, I’m wondering if there would be any interest in it.  The book would be a lot of what is in the blog, but more in-depth, and would include an exploration of the faith in terms of its ritual and dogma, and would also include outreach.

One of the things I’m continuously told I’m missing, is reporting on the good things that churches do with their money and their time, and I think that’s a fair criticism.  I’d love to write about that, but that sort of thing takes a lot of time and effort, and I’d like to get paid for it.

I have no idea how to publish a book, my first thought would be to try to self-publish using a crowd-funding mechanism like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo or some such.  The book would be cheap and electronic.

So, here’s where I need your help.  Would you buy such a book?  If not, why not?  Would you be willing  pay through a crowd funding vehicle?

And also, if you are interested in this kind of thing… what am I missing?  What do you think should be included that I haven’t mentioned here?

If you don’t want to create a WordPress account to respond in the comments, then hit the “Contact Me” link and shoot me an email or tweet.  I can’t promise to respond to all messages, but I can promise to read everything.

Oh, and if you think this is a dumb idea, I’d like to hear that too.


Horizon Oasis Lodge, Ordo Templi Orientis


OTOlogoSunday night I went to view a Gnostic Mass performed by the Horizon Oasis Lodge.

So, a little personal history here before I dive in:  I’m a former Freemason.  I haven’t been active in a few years, in part because I decided it was okay to be an atheist, and atheists can’t be Masons.  Previously, I had identified myself as a deist, and sort of believed in the possibility of a God, but when that changed, I no longer had the qualities required to remain a Mason.

Why am I mentioning this?  Because Aleister Crowley, also a former Freemason, had joined OTO and sort of transformed it with his own beliefs and rituals, and he allegedly included a lot of masonic stuff in there.  Knowing this, I’ve always been really curious about the OTO.  Presumably, the first, second, and third degrees of OTO are the same as the ones in Masonry.  I’ll never know for sure, because I don’t intend to join and go through their degrees.  I’m just going to go to their public rituals.

This means that it’s not likely that I’ll be able to give them a score.  But given what I think I know about their degrees, they’d probably score pretty highly on my humanist scale.

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Saint Nectarios Orthodox Church

snecs2This morning, I got up early, put on my Sunday best, and went to church.

Last week, I had a little trouble because I was improperly dressed.  Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, this morning I put on some nice slacks, a nice button-down shirt, and a tweed jacket.  I didn’t put on a tie, nor did I put on my dress shoes, opting for black sneakers instead.   So I guess my manner of dress would be somewhere between “business” and “business casual.”

Turns out putting the sneakers on was a good idea.  Not only because I walked a little over a mile to the church, but also because you don’t sit down during an orthodox service.   You stand.

Like last time, I went to the front door, and like last time, it was locked.  I guess they’re not used to people walking up to their front door.  The back door, which opens off of their parking lot and into a common area with a kitchen and tables, was open.  There was a lady there pulling stuff out of her car, and I stopped to help, grabbing a box of cups and bringing it into the kitchen for her.

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Coming up on Doubting Mark

alienI’ve got two churches on the schedule for a Sunday visit.  One of them is a Christian church, and the other isn’t.

I’m not going to mention them beforehand, because I don’t want a repeat of being told to buzz off like I was at the Saint Germain “I Am” temple.

I haven’t exactly settled on which Christian church I want to visit, there are several possibilities in easy walking distance of my house.  Some of them hold services quite early, so I’m going to base my decision on how late I feel like sleeping.

Regardless of where I go, I will not dress like a Seattle Slob.  I wouldn’t want to get kicked out or denied entry because of my clothes again, either.   This part should be easy, it’s going to be cool this weekend anyway, and shorts and sandals won’t cut it.

The non-Christian church holds its services later in the day, and I’m really excited to be going there.   There’s a bit of my own past that I haven’t talked about yet, that sort of ties into this place.  I wanted to go last weekend, but there was a family thing going on that was more important.

And lastly, I’ve made contact with another non-mainstream group and they want me to read stuff before I go any further.  Sound familiar?  The reading of the books is kind of  a filtering process.   I guess if you read some of their stuff, and then decide that it’s not for you, it saves them the trouble of kicking you out.  By going through the filtering process, they know they’ve got someone who’s not as likely to question what they’re presenting.

And, quite frankly, if they feel like they have to do that, then you just know that their faith is … way off the mainstream.  I think it’s safe to say that this new group is the farthest off mainstream I’ve yet encountered.   And given how far off the mainstream Saint Germain and Scientology are, that says something, doesn’t it?

So, I’m going to read their stuff, and write a review on it as well.  But I’m not going to post it here until after I’ve made some kind of progress, and have something interesting about which to write.  The Saint Germain guys cut me off before I felt like I was finished, and I’d rather that not happen again.


Epic Life Church


epiclifeMy morning began a little too early.  I had friends over last night, and I’m afraid there was both whiskey and beer involved, and this fact made my six hours of sleep a little less productive than I might otherwise like.  I managed to crawl out of bed and into a large french press full of coffee, which helped my mood considerably, but I was hardly at my best.  I needed a shave, I probably needed a shower, but mostly I needed the proper attitude to care about these two things.

I threw on some clothes, and started on the 1.1 mile walk to the Orthodox church.  The walk turned out to be very therapeutic, and after a while I began to feel a lot better.  On the way there, since I was very early, I walked through the Oak Tree Shopping Center, where the Epic Life Church meets in a theater.  Even though it was more than three hours before their services started, the theater doors were unlocked, and there was activity within.

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All church and no play makes Mark a dull doubter

… so I’m having a light week, with respect to posting on the blog.

I have secured my ticket for the Sunday Assembly, an “atheist church,” but that’s not happening for a few months.  It’ll be interesting to give them the same treatment as I’ve given theistic churches and see how they measure up.

Next Sunday is tentatively planned to be include a visit to an Orthodox Church.  In between now and then, it will probably be pretty quiet on the blog.

The Saint Germain Foundation Told Me To Buzz Off

I turned in my library book this morning, and I was told that I could not progress further because I am not a believer.

Which I guess is understandable.  They don’t like the idea that I’m blogging about it, and they don’t like the fact that I don’t believe in it and that I’m really not likely to start believing in it any time soon.

I will say that the conversation I had this morning was a nice one, perhaps a bit tense at times, but pleasant enough.  I don’t think I’ve ever been told to buzz off as nicely as I was this morning.  I did feel like the person talking to me was genuinely concerned, not just for his church, but for me as well.  We parted on, I think, reasonably congenial terms.

So, no score for the Saint Germain Foundation.

From my reading and my conversations, I don’t get a sense that they support going out into the community and “doing good” in the sense that they actively participate in things, so I think my humanist score for them would probably not be very high in any event.  And there’s a chance there’s something in there that I might find harmful.

They went out of their way to tell me that there is no cost associated with any of the seminars and services the church offers.  But their history is one of a church where the parishioners are not just encouraged to give money, but actually encouraged to give up all of their worldly treasures.  And, there was a recurring theme of hoarded treasure in the book.  Whether they still do that or not, I just don’t know.  I was looking for evidence of it.

I didn’t find it, but my search has been cut short.

Their focus on the self, on attaining a sort of enlightenment and ascendancy might well have generated a positive score from me.  Being good to one’s self is one of my criteria.

So, their hypothetical score range would be from -1 to 1.  That’s the best I can do for now.

Maybe someone who’s been a member of the Saint Germain Foundation can add to this.