I’m a long-time fan of Tom Robbins , having resonated with with his first book, Another Roadside Attraction, in the ’70s. In fact, I fancied myself one of the characters in the novel: Plucky Purcell, former college football star and sometime dope dealer. Actually, that description fit pretty well at the time. Therefore I was truly excited when I learned Robbins was scheduled to speak at the Jubilee! Celebrations this morning. And Tom didn’t disappoint, reading about his spiritual (not religious) awakening at age 13 from his memoir, Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life.Tibetan Peach Pie

Being baptized in the Rappahannock River in Virginia by a Southern Baptist minister did not bring Robbins any nearer to Jesus than he had been previously (not very). However, after seeing a Natalie Wood film at the age of 13, he says his “scruffy whippersnapper heart opened like a sardine tin … radiating such a vortex of woo woo love it would have made Saint Francis of Assisi seem like a mink rancher.”

Jubilee! Minister of Ritual Howard Hanger and Robbins have been friends for some time, and it was, of course, at Howard’s request that Robbins delivered the weekly meditation.

FYI, Robbins was born nearby in Blowing Rock, North Carolina and both of his grandfathers were Southern Baptist preachers. In 2000, Robbins was named one of the 100 Best Writers of the 20th Century by Writer’s Digest magazine, while the legendary Italian critic Fernanda Pivano called Robbins “the most dangerous writer in the world”.

Finally, a few bits of Tom Robbins wisdom throughout the years:

Tom Robbins at Jubilee! Photo by Peg Heup Pillsbury

“Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.”

“Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is sign on as its accomplice.”

“The trickster’s function is to break taboos, create mischief, stir things up. In the end, the trickster gives people what they really want, some sort of freedom.”

In 2003, George W. Bush hornswoggled this nation into an “illegal, immoral, ill-conceived war against Iraq.” A few years into the occupation when public opinion was turning against the war, the Bush administration argued that a bloodbath would ensue if we pulled our troops out before the Iraqi government and its armed forces were prepared to stand on their own. At that time I wrote: “If the warring factions in Iraq are intent on more sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing, keeping our troops there only forestalls the inevitable,” a prediction that has proven chillingly accurate.

Now, once again, some of our so-called leaders in Washington are absurdly calling for intervention in Iraq’s current internecine savagery. One definition of insanity: “Continuing to do the same thing over and over, each time expecting a different result.”

For a review of the lessons learned from our most recent  military misadventures, check out “When will they ever Learn? America on Brink of another Military Engagement.”

In light of current events in Iraq, I’m reposting a piece I wrote in 2007.

George W. Bush’s ill-fated decision to frighten this nation into an illegal, immoral, ill-conceived war against Iraq, a country that posed no real threat to us, will haunt him throughout history. Now most Americans believe the U.S. should never have undertaken this calamitous military misadventure and support bringing our troops home.

Let’s look at the current reality in Iraq. Thus far in April, an average of 25 American soldiers have died each week, a rate that could bring the total to more than 4,000 by year’s end. The unrelenting violence currently claims approximately 50 Iraqi lives daily, with total civilian deaths estimated at more than 60,000. Our allies in this conflict are drawing down their forces. The various factions in the Iraqi government continue to squabble rather than deal with pressing issues. (more…)

In honor of our 15 years of married life together, an encore post of the story of how Shonnie and I met and fell in love.

I first laid eyes on Shonnie Lavender in 1995 when we both joined the Austin Fit Green Training Group for the Austin Motorola Marathon. It was August, and as usual, hot as Hades in the capitol city of Texas—highs in the upper 90s to lower 100s. Of course, Austin runners (about ten percent of the city’s population) are accustomed to being thoroughly sweat-soaked through and through by the time they hit the quarter-mile mark.

Between 20 to 30 intermediate-level runners in our group met early each Saturday morning at Town Lake. With the support of our coaches, we ran increasingly long distances on the trails around the lake (ultimately up to 20+ miles) in preparation for the marathon that would take place on February 18, 1996. For the record, there were also beginning and elite runners groups that trained on Saturday mornings as well.

Austin Fit Green Group

Austin Fit Green Group

After running together week after week for longer and longer distances, the size of our group dwindled to seven runners. Shonnie was the only remaining woman. My first recollection of the single feminine member of our group was of a very attractive, assertive woman of indeterminate age who looked pretty damned good in running tights. Our group’s theory was if we were running too fast to chat, we were running too fast. So after many hours on the trails around Town Lake, we got to know a bit about one another, and I soon learned Shonnie was in a relationship as I was at the time. (more…)

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