Last August’s Safari

Prior to this trip I had been to Africa three other times. Those visits involved some hunting but nothing like a planned and coordinated outing.

When the opportunity to take this trip presented itself I was a little hesitant because of my prior experiences in Africa. As anybody who has been there can tell you there are countless opportunities for things to go poorly. So I approached this visit with not a little trepidation. Still my desire to face down a cape buffalo took precedence over my fears . A trip like this has been a dream since my teens, reading Capstick and Bell and Ruark and Foa.

So I listened to the people guiding me and followed their instructions carefully. There was a lot of preparation work that had to be done, documents that had to be acquired and filled and certified. I had to case up the rifles properly and decide what needed to be packed and how. I had to try to prepare myself so that I was at least capable of keeping up.

Luckily I had the ability to stay in constant communication with my guide and pH Siegfried Osmers. I’m sure I asked him a million stupid questions and he patiently answered every one. When I got on that plane I really felt as if every detail had been taken care of.

And it had. Siegfried and Zandre
met me at the airport and held by hand almost literally through the process of importing my guns, then carried my luggage and guns out to the truck and we were off. After essentially 30 hours in the air and in airports the truck and the highway were restful and I slept for a good deal of the trip to the hunting lodge.

I have done tent camping in Africa and while this seems and sounds adventurous and romantic this couldn’t be further from the truth especially if you are not a healthy and nimble 18-year-old. I was relieved and in fact extremely pleased discover that I was going to be sleeping in a very comfortable bed in a very comfortable room with my own bathroom and daily maid and laundry service. Each room at the lodge where I stayed had its own heat and air conditioning. I slept in exquisite comfort every evening.

As an aside, yes I had come to Africa to confront and measure myself against nature red in tooth and claw, and of course horn in my case, however I didn’t see any reason that I couldn’t do this and also have a decent night’s sleep. And Greater African Safaris certainly came through in this respect.

The very first day, jet lagged and thrashed I slept until damn near 11:00. I felt really bad because my hosts were waiting for me to wake up before they themselves had a chance to eat. I tried all week to dissuade them from this practice but they were perfect gracious hosts every moment.

We walked out on the very first afternoon and hunted Impala in what I would have considered heavy brush. I was lucky enough to be able to participate in a little bit of herd management in that we took animals that were either at the end of their life cycle or needed to be taken from the herd for other reasons. In the case of the Impala it was missing most of a horn. Not the type of animal a trophy hunter would want to bring home. But I was extremely excited about the opportunity and pleased to be able to help maintain the strength of Integrity of that specific herd.

On my first full day when I woke up at a reasonable hour we went out looking for buffalo. It was certainly not difficult to find them and again there was a specific animal my hosts had in mind. We were very close to the herd, close enough that if I had a lick of sense I would have been terrified out of my wits. Siegfried and Zandre and our trackers were very much on their game and knew exactly how far we could go and what we could do. I was completely at ease with them at all times because very early they demonstrated their skill and experience.

We didn’t have any luck that day getting the specific animal into the open where I could have a clear shot. And while the walking did not confront me standing for long periods of time was murderous to me. I mentioned this to Siegfried over dinner and the next day they modified their strategy to accommodate my comfort level. We found the herd again and Siegfried was able to maneuver us into a position where I had a clear shot at the animal in question. With my rifle propped up in the shooting stick I hesitated only long enough to ask the Creator to make my aim true and I took the shot. I took a second shot just for insurance purposes and Siegfried backed me up with that magnificent Mauser he carries as if it were an extension of his own arm.

Taking that big 500 Nitro to the range can put you in for a punishing afternoon. I’m a recoil junkie and even I go home with bruises on my shoulder. Admittedly those bruises are canceled out by the smile on my face.

When you are hunting cape buffalo it is different. You never feel the recoil and you never hear the shot. You just look into the eyes of that animal and know that in a couple of minutes one of you is going to be dead. And the only guarantee that it is going to be the buffalo is your aim and the skill and experience of your PH and trackers.

Every other animal I have hunted, when they hear the shot they scatter. This was not the case with cape buffalo, they gathered around as if conducting an investigation into the death of one of their number, eager to visit swift retribution on the miscreant. When the vehicles returned to the area and chased off the rest of the herd I was finally able to walk up and see the old girl, witness the wear of her teeth and see where she had begun to lose weight. It was the perfect animal for this hunt and I felt as if I had done a service. It was a great feeling.

When I return which I will most assuredly do if I can, I hope that there is a similar opportunity to engage in a hunt that will benefit the herd as this one did.

I had really wanted to shoot a warthog with a 357. It just never worked out like that and they ended up all over the place and we never got close enough to one to take a decent shot. Even sitting in a blind didn’t bring us any luck though we did see all manner of other creatures which was magnificent.

The area we Hunted was teeming with plains game. There was never any question that we were going to be eating macaroni and cheese at night. Unless of course I had wanted macaroni and cheese in which case I’m certain that our cook Liesel would have been more than willing to accommodate. And speaking of Liesel, each day brought a new culinary adventure. I have enjoyed wonderful meals on four continents and my waist size will attest to the fact that I am very good at eating. Every single meal and every single snack and in fact even the coffee exceeded my expectations dramatically. And it was enjoyable to have a gracious and well spoken lady to counterbalance a hunting camp full of Scruffy bearded men.

A companion piece which will also piss off a bunch of people

Every once in a while I get drawn into a discussion about Catholicism and it always ends up leaving me wired and pissed because so damn few people even understand what the hell it is.

I am way off the reservation on this, and there are probably a hellish number of people who disagree with me but I have a feeling that I am closer to the truth on this than just about anybody.

First and foremost we must establish a simple truth that nobody can reasonably disagree with. We are human and the essence of our humanity is to be flawed. Some are flawed more greatly than others some have flaws that are barely detectable but we are by our nature flawed. The story of Adam and Eve is the biblical seed of this imperfection. Whether you ascribe to that or not is not important. No person can point to any other person and say that they are perfect. It may be that they appear perfect to everybody, and thankfully this is not uncommon- because we all need things to aspire to- but in the iron dark even the most perfect people of faith ask the Creator for forgiveness for sins that maybe the rest of us cannot even fathom. Because we are not gods we cannot see what is in other people’s hearts and minds.

Second, if you are a Christian and you have read the Bible in any of its forms you understand that only one perfect person existed and that was Jesus Christ, perfect because of his dual nature of being a human and the son of God. This is pretty much the core tenet of Christianity.

So two important and critical Concepts, the perfect nature of God and the flawed nature of humans.

Jesus understood this, obviously with Crystal clarity. In Matthew 16:16, addressing one of his most loved and loyal followers, he said Peter you are The Rock upon which I will build my church and the Gates of Hell shall not Prevail against it. No matter what you’ve been taught to think about this, Jesus said it. And then just a few verses later, in 16:23, Jesus says, again to one of his most loved and loyal followers, get thee behind me Satan. Why did he say this? He said it because Peter was being a dumbass. Because Peter is a human and thought from a wholly and completely human perspective. Flawed. Fallible. Fallible means capable of failure for those of you in the cheap seats. Remember this, there’s going to be a test.

Jesus was letting us all know at that moment that even the very best among us are capable of being dumbasses. And there’s probably nobody who has escaped being a dumbass at some point in their life. And the more powerful a human being is the more people you can affect with your dumbassery.

At the beginning Christianity was a handful of people spreading a message of love and Redemption and of accountability. In its most basic iteration it was a way of dealing with other people that stressed loving kindness. It expected everyone to understand that they were accountable for their own mistakes. And that by the selfless Acts of the savior Redemption was available.

The early church grew at least in part because of this message. It is perhaps an oversimplification to say that this religion offered a better return on investment than many others but for the sake of this discussion that will do.

Nothing can grow like the early church grew without structure. The structure was provided for by Jesus in the form of his disciples, and as they spread the word they also spread the structure.

Anybody who has ever played the kids game chinese telegraph will understand that as the word spread, it was very easy for it to become diluted and changed and devalued. It was simply quality control to establish a standardized dogma. The ecumenical councils were convened and established to get everybody on the same page and using the same Playbook so to speak. Remember what we said earlier about humans? Guess who wrote those playbooks? Is there any question that those ecumenical councils screwed things up? We probably don’t have any actual way of knowing, but I’m guessing being human they got some shit wrong. They were all humans no matter how well they were inspired. Remember, Jesus reminded us that everybody, even his closest friend- the man he left in charge!- could be a dumbass. And you can bet that in every ecumenical assembly there were a statistically significant number of dumbasses.

One of the things that Jesus did that spoke clearly about what he thought of those disciples was to wash other people’s feet. He intended for those he sent out to spread the word to be the servants of his word and not its masters. But anytime someone assumes the mantle of authority, even reluctantly, even inspired by the Creator himself, that mantle of authority becomes an object of desire for those who seek power. And so, inevitably, people take up that mantle who pay only the merest lip service to the greater calling and follow only the call to personal and political power.

In the early church as now, there are and were wonderful inspired and inspiring people, people who fought their own demons to bring Christianity to others and to help others to understand it. And the very best of them were flawed. And there were plenty that were nowhere near that inspired or dedicated to anything but their own advancement. Humans. Remember? Fallible humans.

We have been blessed with magnificent religious figures through the years. Some of the Catholic popes were downright amazing. Some of the ones in my lifetime- and there have been six so far- have been great men and some have been absolute dumbasses but everyone was a human being and therefore fallible.

To keep the word alive in people’s lives, parishes around the world are operated by envoys of those original disciples. Some of them are inspired, some of them are dumbasses some of them are Probably actually, evil.

So here’s the first sacred cow to go up on that altar. I have mentioned this before much to the dismay of many people I know. The clergy of the Catholic church is a monarchy. They are not chosen by parishioners, they are chosen by other clergy. They are expected to be educated at a specific level which is different for every discipline but clergy itself is an appointment. Certainly, lip service is paid to the concept of being Servants of the parish and undoubtedly there are clergy out there who are devoted Servants of their flock. But it is still a political appointment. I am reminded by people better than I, that at the parish level, priests are generally younger men who have worked hard and studied long to attain the position, and this is absolutely true and for this reason I feel that the least political/monarchical level is that of the Diocesan or ordered priest. But even they are appointed and approved by the monarchy. Unlike a lot of Protestants you can’t just go to Divinity School and hang up your own shingle to be a Roman Catholic priest. You must be approved and appointed by other Roman Catholic Clergy. The obvious reason for this is to make sure that the clergy toes the official line which makes very good sense. Otherwise everybody is off the reservation in a generation.

Because these clergy are the most visible it is an easy mistake to make to confuse them with the church. They are not the church. But anytime the clergy as fallible human beings do something fallible or stupid, that fallibility, that stupidity, is assigned to the church. Some tonsured Dominican idiot decides he can raise money to repair St Peter’s Basilica by selling bogus get out of hell free cards to his wealthy parishioners? The church is selling indulgences!

No. The church never sold indulgences; that’s not what the business of the church is. A flawed and fallible human, desirous of political power, sold indulgences. A member of that appointed monarchy.

I am reminded That the Sale of the indulgence was technically a donation which provided for people who prayed for you. It wasn’t actually a “get out of hell free” card, it was an opportunity of redemption based on the prayers of other people. This was not something you will hear very often. You also don’t hear very often that The Dominicans were allowed to sell indulgences whereas the Augustinians ( Luther’s order) were denied this cash cow

The church is not the pope. The church is not any bishop or any priest or any individual parishioner even. The church consists of the body of the faithful. Let’s be very clear on this: the people who have faith in the Living God and Jesus Christ his son are the Catholic Church. They are also human. They are also fallible. We as humans screw up. It’s one of the things we do; some of us are Masters at it.

When Luther trotted up to that door and nailed his stupid list up, he was pissing in the faces of the church, the faithful. Whether anybody will admit to it or not, he did this because he desired the political power, And he hated that he had been denied the opportunity to engage in the money making scheme of the Dominicans.
If this were not the case. he would have done so anonymously and nobody would ever have known of him. He would have worked within the church to plant the seeds of a reformation, which happened eventually anyway. The worm always turns. Instead Luther became exactly what he claimed to be railing against, a fallible human telling lies to the faithful so that he could acquire that political capital, and boy did he. So thousands and eventually millions abandoned the flawed human leaders of Catholicism not to become followers of Christ but to become followers of Luther, another flawed human being. And this evil spread, because the most powerful weapon Satan has against the faithful Is to divide them against one another, Satan moved on from Luther and brought us Calvin and Wesley and by now the fragmentation is practically fractal. The 56 tongue speaking left-handed snake handling Pentecostals in Pascagoula are absolutely convinced that the 83 tongue speaking right-handed snake handling Pentecostals in Moss Point are all going to hell.

People talk about the popes but we have had some dumbass popes. Hell we probably have a dumbass pope now, only time will tell what damage he can do, I still pray that he steps into the light and properly fills those fisherman’s shoes. But he might be a punishment that we must endure. No, there isn’t technically an unbroken line of popes back to Peter, ( Unless you discount all the anti popes.) although the office stands; it has been filled by idiots, criminals, and lord knows what else. One thing is certainly true. If you could use a time machine and talk to one person or another all the way back until the time of Christ, there are millions of unbroken lines from every modern day Catholic, their faith passed from parent to child from mentor to student from brother to brother from one person to another all the way back to Jesus Christ himself. Lutherans can only go back to Luther. Calvinists can only go back to Calvin. Sorry if this ruffles your feathers but that’s just the way it is. When you choose Schism you choose to separate yourself. And if your parents chose schism or your great great grandparents, they have chosen for you a path carved through Humanity by Satan. Because they abandoned what they saw as flawed teaching, or flawed Dogma, to cleave to a Dogma or teaching created by- you got it – another flawed human being.

But be not afraid. Much to the dismay of those who would set us at each other’s throats for our differences in Dogma, Christianity shines through. Christians – real Christians, of which sadly I think there are very few- distinguish themselves not by cleaving to one Dogma or another, but by their Christianity. I know an awful lot of non-catholic Christians and some of them are pretty damn good Christians. I hope that someday they will understand how this all happened, and separate themselves from the bizarre transplanted bush and reattach themselves to the rootstock of Jesus Christ which is and will always be the Catholic Church. Incidentally for reference sake I feel that the Orthodox churches are still attached to the original rootstock as well, you certainly can’t blame them from wanting to separate themselves from some of the early Catholic popes.

Anyway enough of this for now.

Well Rosie I’m back

I don’t know how long this will last but there are some times things that I need to post that are longer than Facebook can maintain and I’d like for them not to be stuck there. At least here I can back everything up very easily and it’s easier to go back and edit etc.

It will probably take me years to get back up to what little readership I used to have here but maybe if I continuously link from fart book I will get some of my regulars back. We’ll see if I’m good enough to keep posting here anyway

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