Fri, Jul. 27th, 2007, 11:23 am
And sometimes like this tree
Thu, Jul. 26th, 2007, 11:07 am
Sometimes I feel like an Eel
Mon, May. 21st, 2007, 04:59 pm
I think in many respects, the idea of an afterlife has been more damaging to societies than has helped. Would there be terrorism (from both sides) if those conducting did not believe they were ordained from God himself and will be rewarded in heaven? Would not people be more conservative with regards to natural resources? I still don't know what the hijacked right has beef with global warming. Who cares if we pillage and waste the earth - we're going to heaven soon!
And complacency. Why should I care, I'm just one person and can't make a difference. Actually, I don't know if they think this far. A better example would be, "I'm going to Heaven."
What if our thought was that heaven was what we made here on earth and we only had one shot, constrained by a limited time. Some say I'm a dreamer.
The definition of Freedom in the United States is “your sovereign country will willingly allow our companies to do business within your borders or else we will take action, military force if necessary, to ensure that you do.“
“Oh my god, wait Mom. I can’t find my iPod.”
“I really want to get a Razr. I’ve been asking my mom to get me one.”
Two statements I heard yesterday….mother’s day, 2007. My 14-year-old niece made the first statement and the second spoken by my 15-year-old nephew. These comments occurred hours apart and in completely separate geographical locations.
Both comments exemplify the distaste I have for our current cultural and why I found “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill” refreshingly significant. Here is a man that looked society in the eyes and said, no, I will not conform to what you say my life should be. He had the courage to say he was not going to meander through life working some meaningless occupation only to scrape by in society’s standards. Nor was he going to do whatever it takes to attain material wealth. He chose to go his own way. To define for him what a satisfying life could or should be. What would the word be like if today’s Christians lived like this? Would there be any Escalades in the church parking lot on Sunday? Maybe he is a representation of the courage we should all have. Am I truly satisfied working for Super E, negotiating contracts all day? No. Could I ever be? Having said that, do I appreciate working at a University? Of course – If I were to be doing this for a soulless for-profit Corporation, whose mission was to push unnecessary product, I would have gone bonkers by now.
Mark related more to the birds than he did to people. This is something I think about too – not just birds, but other animals as well, as I am daily bombarded with the ignorance and selfishness of my fellow homo sapiens. The couple that procured the real estate, allowed Mark to live there for a few years, only to toss him out so they can renovate and profit from the space represent this. I imagine them living their shallow, egotistical, materialistic lives. What is the purpose they are striving to reach? Upgraded real estate in San Francisco. I picture the cute yuppie couple 15 years ago renting that 1 bedroom apartment for $1500 a month until one day they had amassed enough green to purchase their $2M dream home. They allowed Mark to stay because it was a novelty to be kind…and he was harmless (and popular with the local citizenry). The kindness can only last so long before the stench of profit becomes too great to ignore. In addition, how is the couple able to afford this property and renovation to begin with? Told we are not, but I imagine through the very same medium Mark has stood against his entire life. The woman does not work – she lives to spend. The man has spent his career ripping off unsuspecting, trusting people while stepping on and stabbing the backs of his coworkers, so that he can live the life of his, and her, dreams.
the main character was homeless on his own accord. It is not mentioned nor is it apparent, so I have to make an assumption here, but I assume he is not hooked on crank or alcohol. He's not mentally handicap or unstable - unstable like the grisly bear pooh sniffer guy - from Girsly Man or whatever that documentary was called (yes Connor my blue headed parrot, what a nice poop. That's his poop, it's part of him. I'm going to put it on my yogurt and be Connor.) None of that.
In today's volume, I shall discuss why I am opposed to the Indiana "In
God We Trust" license plates.
The "In God We Trust" license plates fall into the state (government)
sponsored religion category, a category of which I am in direct
opposition. Albeit, one does have the choice between the "In God We
Trust" license plate and a standard issue plate this year, the problem
lies with the fact the State is offering it as a choice to begin with.
In addition, is it a matter of time before it is not a choice?
(Especially as an overwhelming number of those putting their trust in
God choose this plate without thinking of these issues)
Faith is the cornerstone to religion. Likewise, faith in a particular
religion is not uniform across all people. The god you are
putting your trust in may not be the god your neighbor is placing their trust.
This is a reason, and a good one, for separation between church and
state. Why else do we not want the state sponsoring a religion?
Ask Moses while he was in Egypt. Ask the Germanic tribes as the Romans overtook
them. Ask the Romans as they were invaded by the Turks, and the Turks
as they were invaded by the Romans (the Crusades anyone?) What about
Galileo; imprisoned at the hands of state sponsored religion for
proving the Earth was in motion? (Why the church was so opposed to this is an
interesting study in itself). This list could fill pages, but you get
the point. History has demonstrated repeatedly that state sponsored
religions are useful in accomplishing the goals of the government -
goals that are not in line with what is good for the people - while
distorting and corrupting the very faith they sponsor. Taking a
religion and manipulating it in such a way that you can convince the
masses to not only forgive, but commit the most heinous acts
imaginable.How else can you explain Manifest Destiny, the belief
held by early American settlers that this continent was given to them by God and it
was their God given right to wipe out the natives? How about Muslim
suicide bombers willing to kill themselves while taking out "infidels"
in order to inherit the kingdom of heaven. You take those who have
faith in that which is unseen, and you manipulate that faith, that is
how. Hey, if pesky slaves start seeking humane treatment, point
them to God's instructions that they are to obey their masters - a heavenly
award shall await them in the afterlife. If that does not work,
lob off their heads.
As a side note, most aspects of Christianity in our society really
bother me. From what I have read, the way to show trust in God is to
give up your possessions and follow a certain fisher of men, not slap
the phrase on the back of your SUV (and all the negative connotations
associated with *SUVs stringently implied).
*Negative connotations include but not limited to the following:
harmful to the environment, wasteful, glutinous, materialistic,
First, I will say that yes, the recent incident at Virginia Tech was a horrible tragedy. Nevertheless, let us be candid, horrible tragedies are a part of life. Always have been, and here is the key, always will be. Do we need to keep hearing that campuses should be safer? Do we really believe that if the technology were available to send a message simultaneously to all students on a given campus that it would prevent this type of incident? I do not think so. How many times does something like this happen on a college campus in 5, 10, 50 years? I would rather do without the knee jerk reactions and “capitalism” frenzy and take my chances. If anything, Virginia Tech, while tragic, is nothing more than an example of the ridiculous social frenzy perpetuated by corporate media. In 2 weeks will this still be an issue? I'm afraid it will until the next "big" thing happens.
I was thinking today that if the news of Virginia Tech was read as a simple statement on local news and then moved on to other news what would happen? What would happen would be exactly what should happen. Nothing. When would something happen? When US college campuses began to resemble the University of Iraq-Baghdad and these sorts of things happened on a routine basis. Then I would agree it is time to get worked into a frenzy.
And another thing. Just THINK about the ramifications of sending a mass text message to every single student on a campus with a large student body. You'd have 40,000 screaming out of control maniacs simultaneously running out of lecture halls. Vigilante, testosterone filled 19 year olds with guns looking to be hero. The campus malls would be filled with people screaming and running - all this AFTER the "incident" has taken place. I say the best solution is the one we already have. An incident occurs, someone calls the police, and the police quarantine the area - lock it down. Again, I'll take my chances.
Occasionally as I get older I see things in myself that are much like my father. Sometimes it’s physical and sometimes it’s a personal characteristic – it doesn’t really matter. Today I wondered if there are things about me – really deep dark secret things that I don’t share with anyone – that my father has similarly experienced. I wonder if my father regretted his marriage but eventually resigned himself to it. (While I’ve never considered it and have no real reason to suspect such, the thought wouldn’t astound me.) I wonder if he secretly relished the knowledge that women found (find?) him attractive. I wonder if my mother were similar to the child that I married, and if his innate desire to help (fix/correct/instruct/improve) people made her seem perversely appealing. Again, I could certainly imagine it, though I’ve never thought about it before. I wonder if the authoritative propriety that I’ve known since I first knew my father masked the sort of human thoughts and feelings that I also try to smother. I always thought he was the oldest man I ever knew. At 35 he could have been 60, save for the dark brown hair. His entire wardrobe was 25 matched suits, shirts, and ties, and wingtips along with one pair of jeans, one pair of white tennis shoes, and a drawer full of white t-shirts with brown armpits that had formerly accompanied the suits. He worked hard. Not in the construction-worker sense, but in more of a Donald Trump sense. At one point in my childhood we owned seven homes, six of which were rented to others. Despite this, both my parents worked full time (or more) and we lived in the hood (as I found out in high school). His job allowed him to do more than one thing at a time and he grasped the opportunity with both hands. But at 35 all I knew was a stodgy and stiff man. At 40 he was practically a cadaver. He spent his personality during the day and at night he read the paper in his underwear and needed to not be troubled.
I can see an alarming amount of that in myself. Save for the fashion choices, this describes me wonderfully at 29. And more than ever I am academically curious if he has the same kind of secrets that I do. Experiences, ideas, feelings that I’ll never share with anyone because they would shock or hurt or people wouldn’t understand and what I shared would feel diminished as a result. I wonder if I will soon (if I haven’t already) settle into ping-ponging between a couple of hobbies to occupy my waking hours in order to replace a feeling of personal happiness or fulfillment. I wonder if he ever had thoughts like this. Somehow I doubt it, but then again I have a lot of thoughts that I doubt anyone else would ever guess.
I sometimes meet with a group of would-be thinkers. As it turns out, so far as I can label any of them they’re all Humanists. Explicit, practicing, prostheletizing Humanists. I’ve fallen into remarkably similar circles before and eventually become a thorn to all parties concerned, though it’s usually been out of a combination of my own pride and a tremendous joy in poking arrogance in the eye. While I (deeply) enjoy sitting and discussing a topic with a group of people who think for themselves, I am finding a great similarity in the conspiratorial and oppressed feeling that groups of this sort enjoy.
I should say that throughout my life I have moved quite freely among Christian groups of many flavors (though, often not without being much less of a thorn). Speaking very generally, as of late – and I can’t tell if it is because of a changing political mood or perhaps the heightened level of fundy-ness of the particular groups I am near – there seethes beneath the surface of evangelical Christians a pervasive believe that Christians are somehow oppressed in the United States. Even as one who wishes to one day honestly wear the label of Christian (as opposed to one who bandies it about willy-nilly), I can only imagine that these people believe that they are oppressed because they are not permitted to do with the backing of the law anything they please. That because public schools still hire Muslims, because the government conspired to kill terry Schiavo, and because people insist upon teaching sex education that covers more than abstinence, that this Christian nation, this one nation under God, this city on a hill, is rapidly going the way of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Similarly, this particular group of 20 or so Humanists seems to believe that Fundamentalist Christians are quickly annihilating anything resembling social or intellectual freedom along with any separation between church and state. That intellectuals and thinkers are on the run, forced to endure the oppressive 50.5%, and if left unchecked we will soon reside in a totalitarian Theocracy.
What’s more, members of both groups speak with the same judgemental disdain for the members of the other. They recount lurid tales of the ignorant/faithless along with hurtful encounters and betrayals which lead into gross generalizations of the opposing group. And both groups think they are working for the good of everyone – if they would only accept that we are right!
And here I stand, a foot in each circle, not really belonging to either.
My beliefs fall nicely in line with the Reformed Church. But the image of Christianity in this nation at this time repulses be. Empty-headed regurgitators living the Contemporary Christian lifestyle (look like the world, act like the world, shop like the world, but know that despite your actions you’re really different) while bouncing between a feel-good church service where you will wear your piety on your sleeve for an hour on Sunday and a Wednesday night praise service that works you through the emotional gamut again and again so that when you leave you will know that you “felt the Spirit.” It’s not profound, but this is not the Christianity of the New Testament.
Meanwhile, I believe. I have faith. And sometimes – sometimes – it moves. It moves so hard the it overcomes the inertia of my apathy and selfishness and arrogance and pride and raw self-centeredness and makes a tiny thump against something that is akin to the quantum forces in an empty beer can lining up and coming together from within to spontaneously bump it onto its side once every few millennia. And yet it happens. And I know this. And it’s real.
I know who God is and I believe who God is. God of the Hebrews and the Israelites, God of the New Testament that became flesh that suffered and died. God that moves in men. That dwells among us. That provides. That gives us the words that we cannot think of in a time of need. God that loves. God that forgives. God that pours out mercy upon the unforgivable. God that is person and personal. God that brings the most analytical stoic to tears.
So I cannot fathom standing with those who have cast their lot with Satre and Neitzche and Martin Gardner. Who are resigned to the notion that this is all there is. Not because I do not respect the process that has brought them to where they are, because I very much do and I quite enjoy their company, but because I cannot relate to where they reside or the ways that it influences them personally. It is an immeasurable task to grapple with the possibility that there really is nothing and that this life really is all there is. But somehow I think I may have emerged from this struggle with the tiniest, sickliest bit of faith. Or maybe my human-ness has grown tremendously in the fight. Or maybe the fight is ongoing.
And so I remain, not sitting on the fence but straddling it, one leg on either side, loath to loose my balance and be forced to tolerate time on either side.
Aside from my wife, there's not a single person I have developed an intimate friendship with, one that is outside of work and on ongoing frequent basis, after 1997.