Hippie church was good. Small group, maybe 20 in person and another 10 online. I was impressed with the videoconferencing integration. They put some thought into it and had figured out a pretty good setup that allowed flow of communication. Having done online RPGing with a variety of implementations, it's much harder than one would think to coordinate a meatspace group and an online group where one doesn't dominate the other. Sometimes the tech won't cooperate, sometimes people won't cooperate. Maybe it was just a lucky day but they seemed to have nailed it. Impressive.

In many ways it was just normal church. Some hymns were sung, sermon was given. I'm not a fan of praise songs. I dunno if it's the lyrics or the limp noodle melodies or the overemotional hype but all of it rolled together is roughly the equivalent of skunk spray to my ears. I despise it. I despise the people who raise their hands and sway back and forth so they attract visual attention ("lookit me, I'm feeling everything so deeply because I'm so spiritual"). I despise the people who take it as an opportunity to show off their high school choir skills. I despise the worship leaders who try to play fake rock star. I basically hate the whole dog and pony show and the older I got the more I resented being guilted into singing. Eventually I decided I wasn't going to sing anything I didn't for sure believe, because it felt like lying or being coerced. I got it in my head that a song was sort of like a witchcraft spell and by singing it you give it power over you (I guess that's just a hyper dramatic way to look at propaganda/indoctrination/whatever). So I don't sing things I don't 100% agree with. I especially dislike the whole heavy submissive/subservient vibe aimed at the female portion of the congregation. Frankly I don't like the whole concept of "worship" (and this is one of the best things about astrology IMHO, there's no praying or worship required). I have no interest in advocating helplessness and I feel like christianity inevitably leads to glorifying martyrdom and victimhood. If everybody gets hammered with the message "the more trials you can tolerate the more godly you are", well, what do you think is going to happen? The ingredients for abuse are baked in from the start. Anyway, eventually I couldn't bear to sing any praise songs at all and by then I could make my own choice to not attend church. When I flip through radio stations I can identify a praise station in a few chords because there is just a vacuous bland obedient undercurrent in all the music that puts my teeth on edge. It's hard to articulate exactly why it's auditory herpes, but it is auditory herpes. So when I say the hymns at hippie church weren't that bad and I didn't find it objectionable to sing a bit, it means they weren't trying to force indoctrination down my throat and that is a positive. But I generally find older hymns preferable to modern praise songs anyway.

Would I prefer no singing? Yes. But it wasn't that bad. Like, one of the hymns was roughly "let's all build a nice land where everyone can have justice and freedom" and I have no objections to that. Sounds great! I am okay singing that "spell" into existence.

The sermon was somewhat open ended and about the old question of "if god is good and all-powerful, how come he allows evil to exist." The pastor(?) pointed out that the world was built with rules that also have negatives. Like for instance, a hot fire used to cook food can burn someone, or an axe to cut wood can also wound. Which personally I think is not the greatest argument (I mean god could have fixed it so we digest raw leaves and grass, and then we wouldn't need fire to cook, but whatever) but I get the idea that free will is a positive thing god wants us to have. But with free will comes potential for negative consequences. Some people brought up that a hard struggle in their life ultimately led to positive life lessons they were grateful to learn. Some people brought up that they still didn't understand why god would allow small kids to die of cancer. Some babies are born into such cruelty and unfairness from the start - what good purpose could that serve? There was some general discussion and service ended.

I know the answer from my perspective, but I didn't want to walk up to the microphone and be like "let me lay some truth down on you bitches" on my first visit. Tacky. I'm not much of a "share with the class" person anyway, in my experience all that does is out me as a giant weirdo and make it harder to connect. Generally with other people, the less I say the better. I'm a blabbermouth in my entries here probably because in the real world I keep my observations to myself. I either bore people silly or emphasise how we're not thinking the same. People generally don't react like, "oh wow, a new perspective, how fun and interesting" it's more like, "I can't identify with you therefore I don't want to be around you," or "only one of us can be right and I've already decided it's me," or "I'm not going to listen to you because I need you to be beneath me in the social pecking order and I would rather reinforce that hierarchy." It stinks, honestly. Every once in a while I'll meet someone with a mental connection and I can tell pretty quick we'd probably get on well. But most of the time it's just a passing exchange. Spouse is a rare find - there is a reason why we bonded so thoroughly despite unfavorable circumstances. Because we think on a similar wavelength. Once you recognize it, you don't want to let it go. Because the world can be so lonely.

Anyway, if I'd gone up to the microphone I would have said that I have an unshakable belief that the universe (god) is ultimately fair in the end. Maybe it's because I have so much libra or whatever, but I've gone round and round and I just cannot believe otherwise. And the only way a tragically unfair lifetime makes sense is if we have multiple lifetimes, multiple chances to learn lessons. We accept karmically unfair burdens (like childhood cancer) to be teachers to others. We all have horrible lifetimes and blessed lifetimes. We switch from oppressed to privileged, powerful to powerless. And the whole point (at least from my point of view) is to make a conscious choice to opt out from the cycle of abuse that powers the material world. Stop using the abuse we experience to justify passing it on to others. Stop ignoring it when it happens to faceless strangers. We have free will. When we start seeing the cycle play out, we must make sure we don't give it power. One could say that abuse is a manifestation of evil. So the whole point of living over and over is for us to come to this knowledge organically and make a choice. I'm not going to participate in abuse. I'm not going to impose my will on others and deny them their right to choose for themselves. I am not interested in dominating others (excessive will) or submitting to others (relinquishing will). Maybe one person alone making this choice is a poor fool. But millions of us making this choice will remake humanity. So the hard part is to keep choosing to be a poor fool even when you have no company, right?

So does god allow evil to exist, therefore making him not good? Or does evil exist beyond his control, making him not all-powerful? Or are we just fixated on the good/evil axis when we should be thinking about freedom/control? 'Cause when you add in the abuse factor to good/evil, things get interesting. There is most definitely abusive, controlling "good" (looking at you, christianity). In the sermon the pastor made a brief connection to freedom being love. God is love, god is freedom. God gave humanity free will. Is he waiting for humanity to give free will back to itself? Will the lifetimes keep going until we collectively figure our shit out and quit passing misery on to each other?

That's the bones of it. Basically, hampering other people's free will should be avoided. "But people do bad things that could hurt me/my family, so we have to control those threats with laws and punishments." Nope, because this is one lifetime out of many. Material wealth and physical injuries don't matter anyway. Your kid isn't "your" kid. Maybe your kid this time, maybe your brother or a total stranger next time. There is no ownership of others. The material meat world is just a vessel we pass through. When we start accept that and start living with the idea of multiple lifetimes in mind, maybe we'll finally get over ourselves and start doing some real good. Who cares if I get a 10 year lifetime or an 80 year lifetime. Maybe I get murdered, maybe I get cancer, maybe I die in my sleep. I get many lifetimes and many endings, fair and unfair. It's the collective arc of my choices that matters. It's the me that steps from life to life. And maybe, if I get some real wisdom, I won't need to take so long to "remember" who I am and what I'm really about. I'll just be, in whatever vessel I find myself in.

But it doesn't matter if I tell others this or not. If it's true, people will have to figure it out and accept it for themselves on their own terms anyway. Like, if it's REAL than whatever I say or don't say is of no consequence. I may as well be a grasshopper buzzing in the field. And if it makes my current existence better in some way, then it served its purpose. That's all. Doesn't matter if I'm the only one who believes it, or if there are many others. Doesn't matter. No need to convince anyone. In fact it's probably best if there's no attempt at "convincing".

It's interesting to think of god/love/freedom being one concept, and that's the main bit I took away. Christians say "god is love" a lot but I have never heard any of them make the connection to freedom. (Freedom is kind of a tricky concept these days. I mean, where does the whole mask/vaccine thing land. Obvs I've had some investment in not catching covid. Seemed like common sense to wear a mask so it's tough to understand the masks=tyranny viewpoint. I wish this weren't political and people would just do what's sensible to keep the disease from spreading, but "freedom" has become a buzzword for "I need to feel like I have control and that means I need to be free to be stupid and selfish or THE OTHER will trample all over me". But our current turmoil could potentially be a healing event. So much awfulness has come to the surface. It might get considerably more awful. We are in the process of confronting the consequences of our individual lack of responsibility at the cost of others, on multiple levels, built up over decades and centuries. We never even healed the issue of slavery properly. We couldn't fully absorb the consequences of that lesson. Of course it's horrible now. Logic has been shat on. Convenience is king. The only rule that seems to matter is "whoever has the gold makes the rules". Rich people are literally practicing to leave the planet, because they can. Is this the "evil" expression of freedom? Can we recognize it and move past it? Will there be anything left?)

Shit, I gotta go. Not as much time to make posts anymore as I have been flogging myself over inktober. Like a giant dummy, I added extra difficulty to this project by deciding how I was going to display it at the end and in doing so I have locked myself into 1) following the official prompt list, which I sometimes hate, and 2) setting a certain standard for the results. I'm not really doing what I want to do, I'm doing what I think other people would want to see if I told them I finished inktober and here it is on my wall. Def extra frustrating. Why do I do this to myself. But I'm determined to push through so I never have to do this dumb challenge ever again. It's not much fun and going very slow and I am behind. Fight, fight, fight. Struggle, struggle, struggle.

Tried some new art supplies with positive results. Got a "sand eraser" by tombow that works on ink by scouring the top surface of the paper. Worth it for removing smudges and imperfections. I'm using some liquid watercolor in bottle and brush marker form (brand: ecoline) and it's a really quick, easy way to add some interesting tone and color. The bottled product is great for applying in larger areas, and the marker is especially good for quick small highlights that can be manipulated afterward with a wet brush. I like to ink with platinum carbon ink paired in their desk pen, which is a cheap fountain pen. Platinum carbon ink is the blackest waterproof ink available - it is the tits and if you like to ink at all you NEED to try a platinum desk pen (get the medium point because the extra fine is too fine). The ink is available in cartridges or a bottle - works fine with a dip pen, the fountain pen just adds convenience. So I've been working on strathmore mixed media toned papers in grey and tan. Nice paper, heavy enough for watercolor washes with little warping. So I ink with the waterproof ink and then add the wash, and then finally add the white highlights with a gel pen. I've tried various white inks and for me, either cheap white acrylic craft paint or gel pens give the best results.

I've used viva paper towels for art stuff, but it's been hit and miss finding them by the single roll in stores since the pandemic. We have been using bar/flour sack towels in the kitchen and it's dramatically cut down on our paper towel use. So I thought maybe I could do the same with art, and I bought some plain cotton burp cloths. Thick and absorbent - anybody who has done a lot of inking knows that the ink soaks through thin paper towel and stains your fingers. The burp cloths seem thick enough to prevent that. They seem to be working as well as viva so far. I can wash them with the kitchen towels and not worry about the ink staining anything important. One less disposable paper product to stock. Feels like a win.

I'm happy with what I've done for inktober, it's just a slog and I'm really good at getting my heart set on complicated compositions. Like, for instance, the prompt "stuck". Well, what do I think of but the lyrics "clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you". And then I can't not do it, so I'm jamming four figures in a 5" square. Probably the most amount of work I could give myself for one prompt, and then I'm mad at myself for not being able to come up with anything better (and simpler).

That's basically my whole inktober experience in a nutshell. Making extra work for myself. I just want to finish it so I can mark it off my bucket list.

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