Archive for May, 2008

Politics and Religion

Posted by on Friday, 30 May, 2008

As I’ve said before, I have not been paying attention to, well, much of anything really of late. For whatever reason, I decided to take my head out of my butt for a little while yesterday and somehow ended up spending most of the day watching YouTube videos of interviews with various combinations of Bill O’Reilly, Stephen Colbert, David Letterman, Madonna, Hannity and Colmes, Richard Dawkins, Michael Moore, Ann Coulter and Al Franken, among others. Needless to say, by the end of the day I felt that I was far better off when not paying any attention to political matters. Of course, I then began to wonder why I should care what any one of those people has to say about anything, especially since, in retrospect, the majority of them talk more about each other than about any specific political issue.

No doubt, more than a few of my readers are wondering, “Is YouTube really the best you could do for political information?” To which I humbly reply, “At the time, yes, it was.” Which brings me to another point. Back in college I sometimes had to read certain things that I might not otherwise have had occasion to read, and I was confused and slightly alarmed by more than one indication that blogs were considered a legitimate source of news. On one occasion there was an implication that self regulation within the blogging community holds blog writers to a higher degree of journalistic integrity than the (obviously liberal biased) mainstream media. Does that sound plausible to anyone else? Because I have a blog, and I say whatever the heck I want. Occasionally I will go to the trouble of checking facts first. On a really good day, I might even proofread before posting. They probably were not talking about me though, because I am not actually a part of the so-called “blogosphere.” Firstly, because I think that word incapacitatingly silly and want nothing to do with it. Secondly, on a more technical note, my blog contains zero links to anyone else’s, and as far as I know, no one links to mine. (I do not have anything against people linking here, I am merely not aware of anyone who does.) Thusly, my blog is a completely independent entity. I also do not know or care who Cory Doctorow is, despite the fact that I see the name rather frequently in my internet travels. Ultimately, I do not take myself or any other blogger seriously as a writer, and do not understand why any one else would, especially an actual published journalist.

Anyway, I would like to comment on some of the videos I watched, however, having already declared that I do not care what they think, it seems hypocritical at this point to assume that anyone would care what I think about them.

To switch gears then, I was on the freeway last week (which is rare for me these days) where I twice saw the bumper sticker “CoeXisT,” Where the “C” is a Muslim crescent, the “X” is a Star of David, and “T” is a cross. U2 made a dramatic spectacle with this during their last tour. It did not bother me so much then but seeing it on these cars (perhaps in combination with other stickers, because in both cases it was only one of many) rubbed me the wrong way. I looked it up this morning to see if the idea originated with U2 or not and found that Bono is the spokesperson for a clothing line that (not unlike “Not Of This World”) either uses t-shirts to spread a message or uses the message to sell t-shirts. I am not really sure which. I started to read an interview with the guys who started the thing, but it made me a little sick and I had to stop. The problem I have with this, and with the idea of “religious tolerance” in general – and let’s throw in “Separation of Church and State” just for fun – is that to me they seem to be really saying that your religion, or at least specific details of your religion, are not that important, so why fight about it?
A parallel example: some people are concerned with protecting the environment while other people want to be able to produce and/or consume goods as inexpensively and efficiently as possible. These are both reasonable goals, can’t these two groups coexist and everybody gets what they want? Well, no. As it turns out, these two goals are, on a practical level, mutually exclusive.

As a side note, I find it ironic that “tolerance” is being presented as the highest virtue of the day when the word actually refers to (in the medical sense) the degree to which you can endure something that is harmful to you. “I have a high tolerance for that poison because it has just as much right to be in my body as my own blood.”

I noticed recently that one of my friends had something unusual under “Political Views” in his Facebook profile. I say “unusual” because back when I was filling out my profile, there was a menu with about five choices in the range from “Very Liberal” to “Very Conservative,” plus “Other,” which I was forced to pick because mine was not listed. I am just as turned off by one side’s arrogance as by the other side’s ignorance. And finding myself both ignorant and arrogant, I am caught in the middle and there is no political label for me. Apparently you can now write in your own answer. Actually, that was probably the best choice for me because, in reality, I try to avoid openly stating my political affiliation. But I suppose I can tell you what I don’t believe.

A few years back there was a proposition on the ballot that would somehow effect the way elections work. All five political parties in California (did you even know there were five political parties in California?) opposed it. So I voted “Yes.” F*** ’em. In college, I gave a speech (some might say a sermon) where I went item by item through the official Republican Party platform and explained how each one went against applicable Biblical principles. My point was to criticize Christians for blindly voting Republican, but I never once even suggested that there were any better options to vote for. (I don’t believe that there were any other Christians in the class anyway.)

So what are my political views? It so happens that I am a registered Republican, but it actually has nothing to do with either my political or my religious beliefs. As you may or may not know, you are required to re-register to vote every time you move. In 2002, a friend and I were leaving the grocery store when we were accosted by a fellow who claimed that whoever he was working for would make a donation to a certain charity for every Republican voter he registered that day. I am really not sure if this was A) true or B) legal, but I had recently returned from Arizona and needed a good re-registering anyway, and my friend was not registered at all, so we both did it. I figured that at the least, I would have the satisfaction of voting against Bush in the 2004 primary. Incidentally, Bush ran unopposed in the primary, so when the day came around, I had to write in a candidate. I really did not know many Republican politicians, but while I was living in Arizona, I had once heard a radio interview with one of their Senators, who had impressed me as a guy who knew what he was talking about. Therefore, I wrote in John McCain. Funny old world isn’t it?

My Subconsciousness Says The Darndest Things

Posted by on Tuesday, 20 May, 2008

I don’t really have an internal monologue. Internal dialog, maybe. Internal berating is more like it.

I was driving to work last week- I admit that it was early and I was not fully awake yet- but I was reflecting on the idea that life is the sum of your experiences and whether or not you would change any of them. It is an idea that has come up more than once recently in conversation and sermons and so forth. And my thought was, “Well, right off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything good that came from my mom killing herself.”
Woah! Hey, WOAH! Your mother died of CANCER, remember?
Oh, right. Well, that sucks too.

I do not know if any of my loyal readers would remember this but I seem to recall that awhile back I changed the name of my blog for like a day, or maybe a week or something. I do not even remember what the new name was. I had just reached a point where the title did not seem true anymore so I came up with a different one, but then when I got those emails about “New Comment On: [whatever that title was],” it made me sad so I changed it back. (I don’t blog to make me sad.) Well, I changed it mostly back. I digress. The point is, I was sitting at work listening to another dude talk about the things they talk about at my work, and I started thinking that perhaps it was time to consider a new name again. Heck, when I get around to writing anything, half the time its about music anyway. And then, completely uninvited, came the thought:
You’re closer to God than you ever have been.
Huh. You know, I don’t really see how that would be true.
Because at least now you’re being honest.
What? Who’s honest? Are we talking about the same me here?

Then there was that cryptic and slightly condescending: You didn’t tell her. Man, I didn’t tell who what? You can “honestly” kiss my…

Malfunctioning and making s[tuff] up, I tell you.

OUR mother.


Posted by on Thursday, 15 May, 2008

I was working at a Women’s conference a couple of weekends ago, when at some point I happened to think that the speaker sure was talking about God an awful lot. Of course, given where I work, how is that unusual? Perhaps she was describing God in a more immediate and intimate way than most speakers. Or maybe I was just paying more attention than usual. Regardless, I immediately began to question how I had the [audacity] to work there when I really do not believe any of this.

Later, as she was giving her story, I could not help but wonder how many of the elders/prominent members of my church sexually abuse their daughters, and that perhaps my issues are not so bad after all. But of course nothing like that could happen at my church… Anyway, the speculative sins of unidentified other people are not my problem. Something else she said caused me to become a bit perturbed. “Oh yeah? Well in my experience, God doesn’t heal people and He doesn’t heal relationships, so what is the point?” And that, on the other hand, is my problem.

That evening, at 8:30, it seemed like things were getting ready to wind down and I was excited about finishing early. But the speaker continued to talk for much longer than most, and then transitioned to a time of prayer and (being a women’s group) crying while the band played. “Oh no, not again!” I thought, for the last time that happened, the band continued to play for a good two and half hours after the main session. It then occurred to me, you honestly do not care about the spiritual well being of a single person in this room, you just want to go home! As i said in the beginning, how dare I have this job.

You really don’t care about anyone but yourself, do you? You know, upon reflection, I am not sure that that is a fair statement. You really don’t care about anyone do you? Perhaps not.


Posted by on Friday, 9 May, 2008

I encounter a certain young lady from time to time, and whenever I see her, something in the back of my head tells me that we once dated. Yet how can that be? I don’t even really know her… she is just a friend of a friend or something, I do not think I have ever talked to her, much less dated.

Do you really not remember? How could you not remember? Of course I remember certain details, but it is all so hazy now… surely that must have been somebody else? Besides, this part of me that says these things is the same one that tells me that I used to be in a circus, or that I once went to school to learn how to build guitars. Having previously come to the conclusion that my heart is a wicked liar, I now consider the possibility that part of my brain is malfunctioning and perhaps just making crap up.

Infants have no concept of “object permanence,” i.e. they do not understand that things continue to exist when not perceived. An extreme form of “out of sight, out of mind,” if you will. I find myself having gone in completely the other direction, to a condition that I can only describe as, “As it is, thus it always was.” The perpetual NOW. (There’s probably a more official name for it, but I do not know it.) Things are now as they always have been. Thus, I never had a mother, or a Subaru, or a guitar with all six strings on it, and I am immediately skeptical of any evidence to the contrary.

As a weak explanation, ever since the crash, part of me has secretly suspected that I am really dead on the side of that mountain, and all of this has been a hallucination. But the fact is, it is actually everything before that point that is unclear, which opens the door for even stranger metaphysical possibilities.