Archive for August, 2011


Posted by on Friday, 26 August, 2011

I was listening to Christian radio last week (because: Surprise! I still listen to Christian radio sometimes) and the DJ was reading a “letter” that he had received from a young girl (I have to assume that it was really an email, if we accept the premise that little girls actually send messages to radio DJs at all) whom, as I recall, was wheelchair bound for an unspecified reason. I do not recall how much was in the original letter and how much was his own commentary, but the gist of it was that “the world” convinces you that you have no value if you do not fit into a particular mold, but God/Jesus/The Bible/The Church (whatever the term used was) says that you do have value even if you do not fit the mold.

At that moment I almost wanted to pull the car over and throw everything down. I finally had the answer for which I had been searching for eight years:

Christians spend a lot of time talking about nonsense with no basis in reality.

What church was this guy talking about? Oh, I buy that the church will accept you if you do not fit into society’s mold. In fact, they probably will NOT take you if you do fit in to society’s mold (at least their interpretation of it). But you still have to fit into the church’s mold. I can not even say how many people were, for lack of a better phrase, “forced out” of my church group precisely because they did not fit the mold. No one would admit that, of course. In fact, I have no doubt that if you asked anyone involved in any of these incidents, they would genuinely claim they bent over backwards trying to accommodate the person, but that it just did not work out. Of course it did not. Because they did not fit the mold. There is nothing to be done.

I know, I know. Maybe I just went to a bad church. That is a very real possibility. Hell, I felt compelled to lie to almost everyone that I knew for years and years as a condition of attendance, so I am not exactly what you would call “objective” in these matters.

Last weekend I went to a certain local establishment with a friend. I recalled that the previous time that we had been there, we had been accompanied by a third person. I do not want to go into details, but let me summarize by saying that the individual in question spent an unpleasantly long time arguing against a comment that I had made about a specific socioeconomic matter. Yet I remained unconvinced by his arguments, and more annoyingly, completely unsuccessful in my attempts to shift the conversation to another topic.

Some people just really like to argue. I do not understand where that comes from, but I know that is is there. I do not care for arguments and debates. If in the right mood, I do like to try to understand other people’s point of view, but if and when I do bother to state my opinion on anything [like, on a blog maybe?] I do not generally spend additional effort trying to convince someone who strongly disagrees with me that they are wrong. (Alright, I admit that sometimes I can not resist a good sarcastic jab just to mess with someone’s perceptions every now and then, but that is the extent of it.)

Anyway, I was out with my friend again and wouldn’t you know it, this very same guy shows up again. He and my friend proceed to get into a lengthy debate about faith. I am ashamed to say that I pretty much hung my friend out to dry on that one by not saying anything the entire time. I could point out that this man was really an acquaintance of my friend in the first place and I had only ever seen him three or four times, and also that it was my friend’s fault for encouraging him in the first place. Yet still, are not conversations about faith and doubt kind of “my thing”? Not that day. Not with that guy. For one thing, they were not even talking about theology exactly, merely discussing hypotheticals. It seems silly to criticize, given that my post just a couple of weeks ago was one giant “what if”, but I did not see the value in what they were discussing. I could not even confidently predict a likely outcome in the real world of the scenarios they were debating, let alone offer any conclusions about what that outcome may or may not say about God.

A different friend recently wrote a lengthy post; the first part was an anecdote about the struggles of a certain individual whom she had known at some point in the past, and the second part was about what God showed my friend through that experience. It was the sort of thing that you can not argue on facts. That is, I suppose that you could argue the details of the story, and I recognize that there is a slight possibility that the entire thing was invented for a school assignment, but I think that it actually was a true event. However, you can not argue the second part (which is really the whole point of the post) on facts simply because there are no facts. Here is what God showed you? Here is what you feel about this and that? That’s… nice.

I certainly would not say that feelings have no value, but they are not evidence. A feeling can be a good starting point, but if that is all you ever have then… it simply is not enough. [Hold on a moment, the kettle is calling. “Yes? This whole post, you say? No? The entire BLOG‽ Well that’s disappointing.”]

In my bolded statement above, “nonsense” is the wrong word. Nonsense has no meaning, no value, and is possibly even made up on the spot. Christianity is none of those things. No, the word that I wanted is “fiction.” Fiction can be entirely self-consistent and even remarkably accurate to real life, either by intention or coincidence. That does not make it true. On a practical level, I find that Christianity largely amounts to empty platitudes and unprovable assertions. It sounds good. Consistent even. And if it gives some people hope and strength, then good for them. For me, at the end of the day, at the end of eight years of days, it is not enough.

If there is one simple thing that I should have asked my contrary acquaintance above, and perhaps my friend can use this in a future encounter, it would be this: Who would you say has a better knowledge and understanding of whom? Is it my knowledge of God, or His knowledge of me? Presuming that the answer to that is self-evident, therefore if God thus far has not revealed Himself in a way that I am able to comprehend… why is that my fault?


Posted by on Friday, 19 August, 2011

It dawned on me earlier this week that it has been so long since I “got over” feeling the need to be a productive member of society that I can not remember when or how it happened.

I do sort of have a job, but it is not consistent work and it does not pay well. Although having some kind of income is obviously a plus, I think one of the main reason I do it is just so that when people ask me what I do, I can have an answer. (Although I do sometimes claim that I am “unemployed” depending on my mood.) Unfortunately, sometimes other people at that job ask what I *really* do for money, and that is always awkward.

It so happens that one of the full time employees there just up and quit recently because his mother has been having a lot of health problems. It also happened to be on one of the days that I was working. Not that it matters, but I was actually the one that discovered the envelop containing his keys and resignation letter that had been unceremoniously dropped through the mail slot in the door. Later that day there was a casual discussion of the various pros and cons of his departure and the topic of his mother dying was brought up, on which point I crudely offered, “That’ll mess a dude UP.” I then added that it happened to me six years ago and I never recovered.

Six years ago I was going to school, I was going to church, I had a social network and romantic relationships (or at least, an interest in romantic relationships)… now, not so much. It might not be a direct cause and effect. After all, your mother dying is something that happens to absolutely everybody (unless you happen to die first and then THAT is the real tragedy). Most people find a way to get on with life. I can not say that I planned this, but I have managed to construct a lifestyle in which I never *have* to do anything that I do not want to. I mean, of course I still have bills to pay and errands to run and that kind of thing, but on any given day, if I do not feel like doing anything productive, it does not really matter. And I have a lot of days like that.

It bothers me sometimes how irresponsible I have become, and especially how much more responsible I was at twenty than at thirty (and counting.) I am pretty good with individual events. If I say I will be someplace, then I will be there. (I probably will not be *on time*, but, you know.) Individual tasks… I will probably get to it… eventually… it depends on who it is for, and if it is just something for my own benefit, probably not going to happen. For tasks that have to be repeated at regular intervals, I am pretty much useless.

Lately, I am starting to feel like the debt has come due on my carefree lifestyle as it seems that everything is falling apart around me.

A pipe sprung a leak under my bathroom back in February and I went five weeks without hot water in the house, because I was just too lazy to fix it. It was another month or two before I finished the plumbing and completely restored water to every faucet and fixture in the house. The sprinkler system is STILL non-operational. That one bathroom still has no tub, no toilet and a big hole in the floor. Lest I sound like I am trying to solicit charity, I want to be clear that it is not a money problem. It is a I-want-to-do-the-work-myself-except-that-I-don’t-really problem. There are some other maintenance issues around the house as well, but they are hardly worth mentioning.

Yesterday I blew a tire on my truck. That happens. However, I knew it was going to happen, because I noticed an unusual bulge in that particular tire over a year ago, but I just never bothered to do anything about it. Oddly, that is the second time in the last month that I was in a vehicle when a tire blew out. The first time, a friend was driving and he lost control of the car and we did a 270 degree turn off of the freeway. I blew out my tire on a mountain road, but I did not spin, and I did not leave the road. That makes for the second – third come to think of it – time that I probably should have died on a mountain road and yet did not. That seems strange.

Future Racism

Posted by on Friday, 12 August, 2011

Long before I had any interest in Christianity, I became skeptical of evolution, as the whole idea seemed rather far fetched. I never looked into it though, and as the topic is still fairly taboo among Christians, it was easy to put the question aside when I entered the church some years later. The question of whether or not evolution is (for lack of a better term) “real” is simply not important to my daily life, and my faith or lack there of does not hinge on that particular issue. (Though from the passion I notice in others, I have to assume that my attitude toward this topic is atypical.) That said, I only offer this post as philosophical speculation, not well grounded in anything at all.

I happened upon a video online a few weeks ago on “ring species.” One definition of “species” is a classification of organisms that can successfully interbreed. Horses and donkeys are separate species, for example, because while they can in fact mate, the resulting mule is almost always infertile. Also, ligers and tiglons which I found out just now* are actually NOT infertile, so bad example. [*Via the internet. I was not personally attempting to breed them immediately prior to writing this post.] Still, ligers and tiglons, everybody!

A “ring species” is, to my understanding, when a “species” becomes geographically separated into a number of distinct populations. Population A can successfully interbreed with population B; population B with population C; C with D; and D with E; however, population A is NOT able to interbreed with population E. The question then arises, are populations A and E the same species? The video that I saw was actually presented as a challenge to creationists. Many creationists accept “micro-evolution” within a single species (i.e. breeds), but “macro-evolution” (one species evolving from another) is right out.

If any creationists out there would like to address this then be my guest, but as I said before, it is not my concern. I do not give a crap about birds or salamanders or even dogs. Yet I idly wonder: does this happen with people? Can, say, an Australian Aborigine and a Scandinavian produce viable offspring? Probably… but when you get right down to it, I am not really sure.

Switching gears slightly, the movie Idiocracy postulates that natural selection favors stupid, irresponsible people and that in the future, there will be no intelligent people left. While I did not care for the movie itself, I always felt that the underlying premise was extremely plausible. However, at some point in the recent political-economic climate, I began to wonder if this was inaccurate. What if natural selection does not, strictly speaking, favor the unintelligent, but rather the underprivileged? Furthermore, what if the opposite group (the “haves” as opposed to the “have-nots”, if you will) did not actually become extinct, merely a smaller and more isolated population? That would result in a situation much more like the one presented in The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. It has been a great many years since I read that book, but the gist is that the time traveler discovers in the very distant future that humans have evolved (or devolved) into two separate species: the Eloi, who live a carefree lifestyle on the surface of the earth, and the aggressive Morlocks, who live underground, tending to and feeding off of the Eloi. It should also be noted that both the Eloi and the Morlocks are significantly less intelligent than modern humans. No one is disputing that.

Flawed (feat. MF-ing GUITAR SHOW!)

Posted by on Saturday, 6 August, 2011

I went to a guitar show last weekend. I had been looking forward to it for some time. I have been wanting to start collecting/investing in guitars for quite awhile now, yet I have been reluctant to pull the trigger on buying anything.

Part of the issue is that collecting and investing are not really the same thing.
Collecting means buying guitars that I personally would want to have, and probably (though not necessarily) would not want to sell. Investing in guitars is just like investing in anything else: buy low, sell high.

It is the “investing” part that is tripping me up. Last year, I bought a big book full of guitar prices. The value of guitars is a lot like cars: a 10 year old one is not worth very much; a 20 year old is worth practically nothing; but somewhere around 30 years old, it changes from “used” to “vintage” and the price starts to go up again; and at 50 years, it is worth quite a lot.

Key then is to buy something that is on the downward part of the curve and then wait ten or twenty years for the price to go up. However, every time I find something that looks good, either online or in person, the seller wants way more than my book says it is worth. Who are they kidding? Is anyone really buying vintage guitars in this economy? I would think it would be a buyer’s market.

I had been to this same guitar show last summer and been slightly disappointed. Sure there were a lot of nice guitars, especially a lot of high end and vintage guitars that you do not generally find in the average guitar shop. Yet, while they did have a number of guitar models that I was familiar with but had never actually seen in person, there was not really anything new and unusual to me like I had been hoping for.

This year, the event was at a venue much closer to where I live and I went fully planning to walk away with something. I do not know if it was the change in venue or the economy or what, but there were not nearly as many booths this year. Still, even on a casual first walk through I noticed several promising guitars. A few more when I really started looking carefully at each vender. Most were again in the way more than I would want to spend range, but not all. I could go into details, but I doubt it would mean much to most readers.

There was one interesting guitar that I kept coming back to in my mind. Great guitar? No. Nice looking guitar? It was actually in pretty bad shape cosmetically. Worth what the asking price? Debatable. But an interesting guitar. A guitar that wants to be played, not kept in a case in the closet. A guitar with character.

However, for a number of reasons (or should I say, “excuses”) that do not seem that important now, I ended up not buying it, and walked out empty handed and more than a little annoyed with myself. I did not even take note of the dealer’s name, which might have left open the possibility of buying it online.

This is not so much about buying a guitar or not buying a guitar. I already have a lot of guitars. I also in general struggle with buyer’s remorse and just plain “clutter” way more often than I have regret over NOT buying something. This is really about having an idea and not following through. It is about not being able to make a decision in the moment. I keep thinking about that guitar that I am never going to have and it reminds me of so many other opportunities that I have missed because of my overall lack of CERTITUDE.

To add extra an extra layer of futility: after spending hours walking around and dreaming of possibilities, did I play any guitar when I got home? I did not.