I was sitting in one of my favorite watering holes a few years ago. Next to me sat a young man in his twenties. We had known each other for a few years. We met in this pub, and had no relationship outside of it.

We often enjoyed talking about all kinds of things. The list included life in general, politics, sports, women, religion, history etc. We disagreed on most everything except sports and women.

That’s quite interesting, now that I think about.

One subject we are very far apart on is religion. He knows I am a Christian. How does he know this? In the midst of one of our discussions he asked me. I did not announce it, I simply confirmed what he thought. Actually, now that I recall it, his question was as much an accusation as a question.

I enjoy talking to people about politics, religion, love and marriage and such. Most people become emotional about these subjects, especially if you disagree with them. That’s no doubt why it is said, that you should not speak about them in bars.

Now I have called the same building a watering hole, a pub and a bar.

This goes along with why I disagree with the premise, that you should not talk about these things in bars.

There… I’ve decided on a name. It’s a bar.

Knowing a little bit about the history of our Country causes me to take this stance.

In the 18th and 19th centuries there were buildings that served as bars, hotels, restaurants, stagecoach stops, hardware stores, and more. They were even used as courtrooms, and people were married in them.

It was these types of buildings where community affairs took place. In the 18th century much discussion took place about how our new Country should be structured. The Military even used them to recruit.

Many people could not read or write, so these gathering places served as a communications center, where people learned what was going on in the world.

Sure there were misunderstandings and arguments. Andrew Jackson was supposedly often involved in such behavior.

Well, for some reason we’re not supposed to do that today. We do it anyway.

The young man and I were deep in discussion, enhanced by the big head start he had on me in the beer drinking contest. We weren’t having a contest, but he didn’t seem to know that. The subject was religion. Once again it wasn’t my idea.

I don’t even remember what year it was, but I do remember that he kept insisting, that he didn’t believe in God, and that he was an agnostic. I tried to explain to him that if he truly did not believe in the existence of God, then he was an atheist. I told him that an agnostic didn’t believe it was possible to prove the existence of God. He was having none of it, and like anyone who has no basis for his position, he changed the subject. In his mind he probably didn’t think he did, but he did.

He pointed at a Crucifix hanging just to the left of the bar mirror.


Why does almost every bar have a mirror? Is it so you can see what you look like when you are drunk? Maybe it’s so you can see what other people look like when they are drunk. Actually, I think it’s so you can check people out, without having to interact unless you choose to. It’s kind of like electronic social media.

At any rate he said,”You probably like that cross, don’t you”? He’s one of those people who think the word God should be erased from our money, and buildings, and I guess our entire culture. I’ve told him simply not to look, but that’s not good enough.

“Joe”, I told him. “That’s not a cross, it’s a Crucifix.

“Cross- Crucifix, what’s the difference?!”

“I told him a cross is a shape, and a Crucifix is a cross with the body of Christ on it”.

This banter went on for a while, and the people within earshot probably thought we were stupid for even getting into this discussion.

He never could get my point, and I left soon afterwards. I’m sure he won the beer drinking contest.

The odd thing is, the bar owner bought the bar from his family. He was raised Catholic. The Crucifix was left over from that era. He’s an atheist now, and I’m surprised he hasn’t taken it down, since he once told me that the word God and all religious symbols should be removed from money, and buildings, and all public places.

I have reminded him, that our ancestors etched that name, and those symbols in stone, and forged them in bronze, and other materials,  strongly implying that they were very important to them. It would also be a very difficult task to remove them all.

Did you ever hear of the Reformation?

I never did ask him if he knew the difference between a cross and a Crucifix. The question would make him angry.

Psychologists tell us, anger comes from fear.

Why is he so afraid?

Picture credits go to Wikopedia




There is a modest flat around the corner from this building. I stayed in that flat for two weeks, while visiting my daughter and roaming around Edinburgh Scotland, and as much of that Country as I could figure out how to see.

On the first morning I began the twenty minute walk to see her, and passed this place and it caught my eye. I don’t know if it was the red doors or the architecture or perhaps the trash cans.

At first I couldn’t tell what the building was used for, but then I noticed the brass, gold looking letters, that said, ” Cloisters Bar”. Now, I was very interested, and saw the ” All Saints Parsonage ” on raised letters above the door. Really, every single Saint?

I hurriedly fetched my camera and took this picture. I wish now that more time had been taken, because it’s a beautiful and quaint place.

After a long day On the town, with darkness approaching and a thirst coming on, I stopped by, and hesitantly entered the red doors. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Where I come from if you put up a sign that says Bar, it is mandatory to have neon signs in the window that say Budweiser, or Coors or something close to that.

Now, what is a Parsonage? It is a place where the Minister or Parson lives. There are older definitions, but we shall save them for a later snooty blog, that shows off my knowledge of History, Religion, and, well, you know; JUST HOW AMAZING I AM!

Inside the atmosphere was pleasant, with a lot of wood and brass, and interesting pictures and posters, and a wide choice of beers and whiskeys. There was a large chalk board on the wall that was changed daily, and told about the beers and whiskeys available. It listed their alcohol content, ingredients, and of course price.

This is common in Scotland. You can learn where the ” Nectar of the Gods ” originated, and be guided towards something that suites your taste. The bartenders are extremely knowledgeable about their products, and can explain how climate, proximity to the sea, and soil and weather, affect the taste of the drink.

I stopped in there several evenings and, met laborers, professors and of course the bartenders. There were many nice people and some wonderful discussions. They even had a special beer, that a local brewery makes for them,
called,” The Holy Grail.” I bought a T-shirt that says, ” I FOUND THE HOLY GRAIL AT THE THE CLOISTERS BAR “.

So, there you go. Secularism creeps in , and a Parsonage becomes a Bar.

My daughter attends a church, that was once a retail shop. From the outside you can’t tell what’s inside.

Nothing stays the same.

I’m just glad, I found “THE HOLY GRAIL” at The Cloisters Bar.

Inchcolm Island

Scotland 10-11 Randy 214Inchcolm Island

This an Augustine Abbey In the Firth of Forth, which is an inlet from the North Sea just a few miles from Edinburgh Scotland. The island on which it is built is roughly twenty acres, and of great historical significance.
There is proof of the presence of Christianity for nearly sixteen hundred years.
The name of the island comes from The Scottish Gaelic ” Innis Choluim”, possibly meaning Columba’s Island. I got this last sentence from Wikipedia for disclosures sake, although I have visited the island twice and all photography is original. I have also read much more than could ever be included here.
As you can see, it is breathtakingly beautiful, even on a cold windy day.
There are stone ruins that date back to the dark ages.

Scotland 10-11 Randy 204

St. Columba himself is believed to have visited the Island in the sixth century. It wasn’t named after him, until around the twelfth century.
What took so long, and who kept track of all this stuff? And isn’t the name of the island redundant. If Inch meant island, then why is it called Island of Columba’s Island?
Since most people couldn’t read or write, or keep up with all the changes of reading and writing for sixteen hundred years, maybe I should cut them a little slack.

The truth is, the Abbey remains the most well preserved Monastic building in Scotland and St. Columba brought Christianity to those pesky northern Pictish Kingdoms. Shakespeare even mentioned it in Macbeth.

” That now Sweno the Norwayes King craves composition
Non would deign him burial of all his men
Till he dispersed at St Saint Colmes
Ten thousand Dollars,to our general use.”

Some of the most beautiful Sea Glass in the world can be harvested from that beach.

Just Bee-Cause

Em's New Flat 9-12 @ more 018

These beautiful flowers are growing in “The Edinburgh Botanical Gardens” in Edinburgh Scotland. I don’t know what they are, but they have long stems, with dozens of those purple blooms that are shaped somewhat like bells. When viewed in a photo like this, separated from their surroundings, they remind me of a forest of flowers. They were among the most beautiful sights I saw all day.
Sometimes I have a knack for stumbling upon interesting discoveries in a casual manner.
O.K. so that’s serendipity. I could have saved so much typing, but then I would have missed the opportunity to brag a little.
Pretty much dead center you can make out a bee doing his thing. In the far upper right corner another is also busy.
Noticing the bees led to the next photo.

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I didn’t realize it then, but looking at these pictures now, these bees remind me of us humans in so many ways.
Where in the world did they come from? Did they hatch or something like that from the ground or near by trees or even in the ruins of last years crop of flowers? Did the season with it’s temperatures and humidity entice them to morph into
such beautiful and useful creatures? Did the arrival of these particular flowers spur them into action?
How big is they’re world really? Is it just this flower garden or do they know about yummy things on the perimeter. Maybe they don’t even know there is a perimeter. Perhaps they aren’t aware of the Solar System or the Universe or that there is an infinitesimal chance that there could be other bees out there like them or at least similar.
We think they know nothing ,but survive on sheer instinct. They have been on this planet longer than we have, yet we think we are the smart ones.
My one hundred and sixty four year old dictionary says this.
Smart… sharp stinging pain: pain of grief; hurt feelings: to feel such a pain: to be punished { with or for}. Secondary definitions are;Clever: active: shrewd: trim, well dressed, fashionable; to make more spruce.
Wow; who are the smart ones here?
They wake up every morning looking that beautiful, while I have to shave and shower and dress, and shop for clothes etc. I had to walk two miles that morning, then ride a bus for twenty minutes and hike around for well more than an hour just to happen upon them already in their element, and not giving a damn whether anyone showed up or not.
I bring all this up, just Bee-Cause.