Friday, September 23, 2016

More Podcasting With Beyond The Pale


This past July we three Hackman boys headed back to Shelby Township, Michigan to bid a final farewell to the Hackman Homestead.  My parents, after 40 years on Woodbridge Drive, are doing what most retirees in Michigan do... move to Florida.

While there, my Hong Kong based brother and sister-in-law brought out their podcasting equipment and we sat down with some adult beverages to record an episode.  This was the second time they have had me on their show, Beyond The Pale.  Like last time, our conversation was long enough to justify it being split into a few episodes.

As always, we had a great conversation.  However, this time had the added benefit of my wife chiming in about half way through.  Mary Lee and I have similar, and very different, tales to tell about our journeys out of the evangelical faith we were brought up in. I am glad we were able to include some of her story in our conversation.

You can listen online here:


Episode 021: Time For Christians To Grow Up with Andrew Hackman



Bonus: Race In America



Episode 022: "So I Married A Heretic" with Marylee & Andrew Hackm...

and our previous conversation last winter...



Episode 004: My Brother's Journey to Atheism (Pt 1)



Episode 005: My Brother's Journey To Atheism (Pt2)



If you are an Apple user, you can find Beyond the Pale at ITunes.

You can also keep up with Beyond the Pale on Facebook

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Trump - San Dimas High School Football Rules!

I have been a teacher for 24 years.  As such, I can't help listening to Donald Trump with a teacher's ear. I get a student or two like Trump every year. Trump is that student who doesn't study or prepare for a presentation, but skims through the material for a few key words.  He then stands in front of the class and BS's his way through, hoping that getting a laugh or two from his fellow students will distract from the fact that he doesn't know his material.

Trump is the alpha bully student who has the admiration of his fellow trouble makers.  When they insult minorities, women, and the disabled, they get in trouble. But somehow, when he does it, he gets away with it. This earns him a backwards form of respect from the ne'er-do-well.

Trump is the high school jock at the end of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure... mumbling through an ill prepared history essay.  Having nothing of substance to offer, he throws up his hands at the end in a victory salute and shouts, "San Dimas High School football RULES!" This brings the student body to their feet in applause, while the teachers roll their eyes.

But this isn't high school. We aren't voting for prom king. Popularity and adolescent adulation are not going to get the work of the United States presidency accomplished.

Trump is no more qualified than Biff Tannen for the highest office in our land.



Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Perfect Storm for Trump


Trump literally knows nothing when it comes to the issues he would handle as president. Yet, that does not matter for much of the electorate because he taps into some fear or red meat point that they cannot resist. He :

1. has team support. For many republicans, it simply does not matter how unprepared he is - there is an R next to his name, end of story.

2. has "frat" boy support. Certain personalities love alpha male bluster. His tendency to upgrade his trophy wife every decade or so and bling his name everywhere is seen as a sign of strength.

3. has the racist/bigot crowd. From the blatant David Duke to the person who starts every bigot rant with "I'm not a racist, but..." These folks get all warm and fuzzy every time Trump announces, "I am NOT politically correct!"

4. has the xenophobes. America is a country of immigrants where many fear the latest batch of immigrants.

5. has the bumpkin vote. Trump will get the vote of every moron who resents people who have a high vocabulary. The more ignorance he shows, the more they like him - he speaks their language.

Any of these groups, on their own, do not have a lot of voting power. But for the first time, we have a candidate who can appeal to all of those subgroups. Their combined awfulness may just get him in the White House.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Children and Religion



The video above is an enlightening watch. As I viewed it, I had a number of flashbacks to my own childhood. I traveled in religious circles and attended a school where being "slain in the Spirit", as shown here, was very normal.

The expressions on the faces of the children are so telling - Is this what I am supposed to do? Am I supposed to fall? Is that what you want? Should I be scared?

You can see which children have not yet been brought into the culture and which ones know the game.

And it is a game. It has rules and rewards. You can play it well and you can play it poorly. Acceptance and popularity within the community are determined according to your participation. Whatever one's flavor of religion, you are often instructed from your youngest age how to navigate the culture of your religious community. There are behaviors and rituals which will give you words and looks of affirmation if you partake. There are also ideas and practices which solicit community dismay.

This can sound nefarious, but I don't think that is necessarily so. Impressionable children accept these things because the community encourages it... but likewise, the community received the same directives when they were children... and so on... and so on.

I do think parents can instruct their children without indoctrinating them.  Parents can present information impartially and teach their children to make reasonable judgements. However, it takes a lot of intentionality.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

See You At The Tee Box!

It took until my late 40s, but I finally am into sports. Playing that is, not watching.  Also, it is only one sport.

Disc Golf.

My love of disc golf, like most things in life, happened by chance. I went with some friends one evening to give disc golf a try.  They had played before, years ago, and wanted to give it another run. I did not imagine that I would particularly enjoy the game, but it was something to do.

One game led to another game, and another.  I became interested enough to buy my own discs. I watched some videos to improve my throw.

Before I knew it, I was hooked.

As I thought about it, I realized it grabbed me on a few levels:


1. It is a chatty sport - I enjoy conversation and this was a sport that let me do that.  I grew up playing baseball, and baseball was enjoyable, but not very talkative.  Most sports are all about the game itself.  Disc Golf is another way for me to further conversation.  I have played a few rounds solo, but this sport is best when played with friends.

2. It makes me walk - Most of my pleasures in life are pretty sedentary.  Disc Golf gets me moving. A course it typically 2-3 miles of walking, often at varying elevations.


3. It is FREE - Well, mostly free.  I have invested a few hundred dollars in discs and bags, but to go out and play a round only costs you the gas to take you there.

4. Disc collecting - I have a strand of my personality that likes collecting things.  Discs tap into that. Discs have three distinct purposes -  Driver, mid-range, and putter.  A disc will then vary according to a scale on how far it will throw, and where and when it will turn.  There is quality of plastic. They also differ in weight from 130-180 grams.  Then there is color and print.  I presently have around 40 discs... which is probably 25 more than I actually need.
Disc golf is often compared to traditional ball golf, but I actually find it more analogous to miniature golf.  In disc golf, you spend a lot of time going around, under, and over obstacles.  Big, open power drives exist, but probably on less than a third of the baskets.  Some disc golf courses exist entirely within the woods.

By the way, disc golf goes great with beer.


Sunday, June 12, 2016

It Doesn't Matter. It Just Doesn't Matter.

After Donald Trump hugged the American flag yesterday I created this meme.  My brother questioned why people were offended by his hugging the flag.  I replied that, in my case, there is no offense but plenty of recognition of pandering... on a dark comedy level.

There is this great scene in House of Cards where Kevin Spacey's character, a senator, has to say a few words at a funeral because it is politically expedient. The senator has no particular interest in Jesus or religion... but he took the measure of the crowd and when he spoke to them, he LOVED Jesus and the bible and God above....then he left the podium and turned it right back off again. But the crowd loved it.

Donald Trump loves the spotlight. However, in all of his years seeking the public eye, I don't think anyone would have used the word patriotic when describing him. Patriotism has never been a marker of his public persona. There is nothing in his business practices that shows he would put dedication to country over dedication to profit.

But when he stepped up to the podium, he took the measure of the crowd, realized what would get their juices flowing, and he went and hugged a flag.

Things that would disqualify most folks don't matter to his base.  After every pandering episode or outrageous pronouncement, I hear the chant of Bill Murray at Camp North Star- "It doesn't matter!  It just doesn't matter!" Degrading comments and behaviors toward women? It doesn't matter. Racism? It doesn't matter. Display of thin-skinned pouting? It just doesn't matter.

That is why it will be a long and painful election season. We have many more of these episodes to endure.  Last year if he had hugged a flag, I would have been sure that using Old Glory as part of a political stunt would have ruffled the feathers of a fair amount of his audience - but I know better now. I knew yesterday when I saw that picture that it would have no negative effect. It doesn't matter what Donald Trump does, it just doesn't matter.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Morality Over Obedience

One of the questions I often get as an Atheist is, if I don't have a deity that I worship, where do I get my morality? I contend that receiving a moral code from an authority is always going to be problematic.

People who receive their morality will always be living with contradictions - what they have been told and what they have experienced. In addition, if people have a deity and a holy text like the one I had, they are going to struggle with their authority being inconsistent.

I find that non-belief gives me a much clearer playing field and encourages me to engage my ethical code in ways that I did not when I was a believer.  When I was a theist, I was concerned with whether or not I was obedient.  Now I am concerned with how much help or harm I bring to my world.
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