Saturday, July 02, 2022

You Terrible Sinner

This is the kind of stuff one regularly gets in a Conservative Christian bible study or Sunday school.  These ideas are routinely preached.  On the last Sunday my family attended church, the pastor made such proclamations from the pulpit.

Who are you... really?  A TERRIBLE sinner.  And yet, God loves you anyway.  You should be so grateful.

Similar things are said by the drunk dude in a ragged t-shirt clutching a belt over a whimpering child.

I used to think of myself as a sinner. I thought of how often I let God down. I believed wrong behavior was my defining characteristic. 

Then I discovered it was all contrived. Once out of the faith, I realized it is massively infrequent when I cause pain or harm to another human being.... in fact, most of my day is spent giving good turns and encouragement to everyone around me.... yet I spent decades believing there was something inherently wrong with me.

I have covered this topic on my blog a few times in the past.  A Christian wrote me, expressing sorrow that this has been my experience in Church.  They told me Jesus loves me and is not the god I had been told about.

I went to their church website and listened to a random sermon.  The pastor went on and on about our sin and that it is only through Jesus that we can become acceptable to God.

Like a battered and bruised woman telling the cops that her husband really does love her, this Christian could not help but declare God innocent - all the while enduring abuse from the pulpit.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Abraham Piper addresses why, "Do you believe in God?" isn't a great question.

A popular god here in the States is Jesus.  When people ask the above question here, they usually mean him.  However, someone might just as easily mean Vishnu or Thor... and this could affect the answer.

But even if they meant Jesus... does that really help?

I have often argued that the reason Jesus is so popular here in the states is because his name has been franchised.  Catholics, Mormons, Quakers, Evangelicals, liberals, conservatives, and moderates all claim Jesus.

Do you think there are some pretty different visions of Jesus across that spectrum?

My brothers and mom are all believers in Jesus... and just amongst the three of them, there are fairly substantial differences.  If you got their three versions of Jesus together in the same room, you would never mistake them for the same person.

As Mr. Wednesday said in American Gods-
"For every belief, every branch, every denomination... they see a different face when they close their eyes to pray."

Of course, I think Piper is being a little cagey.  The real question being asked is, "Do you believe in MY god?"

For me, that answer is the same regardless of who asks it... no.

BUT, beyond that are questions like what do you prioritize, what do you value, what fills your soul?
People are never going to agree on their gods... but there are a lot of places the Venn diagrams of our lives overlap.


@abrahampiper Not believing in *your* god doesn’t make anyone an atheist. 🤷‍♀️ #atheism #god #nonreligious #exchristian #exfundie #exvangelical #philosophy #illogical #logicalfallacy #loadedquestion ♬ original sound - Abraham Piper


Thursday, June 16, 2022

A Constitution Without Error

A couple years back, a friend of mine was pleased to hear that they read the Constitution on the floor of Congress. This friend waves and wears the flag a lot while trumpeting our need to be Constitutional.

I agreed that it was a good move... except that they literally skipped over the bad stuff like it wasn't there.

"Bad stuff?! What bad stuff?!!!" She was offended. I might have well as said The Bible had bad parts. 

I told her that they skipped the part in article one section two where the three-fifths clause is discussed. This condoned slavery and stated that some humans are inherently inferior (as opposed to all being created equal).

The conversation stopped there and I was defriended not long after. 🙂

Her way of viewing politics is similar to how many Evangelicals process their faith - strong loyalty to ideas on which they have sketchy knowledge.

There is nothing wrong with having sketchy knowledge. We all have areas where we lack depth of information. However, there is something in certain believers and "patriots" that cause them to form rather large and loud belief structures on foundations of sand.

Many Evangelicals will get angry/offended if anyone insinuates the Bible is not perfect - yet, they have never actually entirely read it (often only a mere fraction). They have never learned HOW the Bible came about. They just KNOW it is perfect.

In the end, these steadfast declarations are not made to demonstrate knowledge but to display loyalty. All the Bible and flag-waving is like cheering for one's team in a stadium. And similar to that crowd behavior, every call made for our team is good. Anything called against "us" is booed.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Knowing vs Doing

I have been trying to figure out how they got the 1.2

That is the thing about math mistakes.  They usually aren't random.  There is a logic to them.

I deal with this in 2nd grade all the time.  We use interactive remotes which anonymously put student answers on the board.  We often see clumps of wrong answers.  This is because students are making the same kind of error.  The most common is "flipping".  A student who encounters 352 - 159 will often choose to subtract the 2 from the 9 rather than regroup (borrow) off the 10s.

What is interesting to me is how often students revert back to flipping.  Even once they understand why flipping is incorrect, it can sometimes take quite a while to fully break the habit.  It is not uncommon to find, on a test, that a student will correctly regroup half the problems... and then flip the rest.

Knowing something is true does not mean you will always execute that knowledge.  🙂

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

High Stakes Testing

A little thought about high stakes testing... especially for little kids -

I teach 2nd grade.  We are wrapping up state testing right now.  The work these students and I have done all year will come down to about 40 multiple-choice questions.

This is, of course, absurd.

Let me give one example.

I noted that one student of mine got a number of questions wrong on her math test today.

Distressingly for me, quite a few.  🙂

She will probably pull a "70ish" percent on this test.  The powers that be will wonder what was lacking in my instruction that caused her to score such.

Here is what they do not know about her.  She is actually one of my brightest students.  She is a leader.

But she processes out loud.

In class, she often gets to work in groups.  She talks through her thinking.  She often catches her mistakes when she is explaining her thinking to everyone else she is working with.  Her process becomes more clear to her as she bounces it off a classmate.

When testing, she gets none of that.  She sits quiet... clicking answers on a computer screen.  She is denied the engagement of her classmates.  Her initial inclinations, which would normally be processed in the group, are her only option.

In the real world, 15-20 years from now, she is going to shine like the sun!

But presently, our ranking system can only wonder at why she doesn't score higher on these tests.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Narcissism In Written Form

I really had to work at reading someone's comment on Facebook recently.  There was no punctuation or paragraphs.  No sentence structure.  Misspellings everywhere.  It took me a few read-throughs to derive the point they were making.

I run into this a lot on social media.  People rant in 100-word sentences to tell you how frustrated they are on this or that issue.

For the longest time, I assumed that these folks were merely uneducated and writing structures were simply not available to them.

I am wondering though if there is more to it than that.

We know that empathy is the ability to truly connect with another person, to understand THEIR perception of an event.

When I write... even a simple post... it will often go through a number of revisions.  I read it over, looking for redundancy, repeated use of a word, and clarity.  If my daughter is around, I will have her give it a proofread.

I want the reader to be clear with what I have written.  I want to minimize the possibility of misunderstanding.  A lot of times, I just want to make sure I am not being an asshole.

However, I don't think the narcissist cares to do any of that.  What they wrote was clear to them... end of story.  Why re-read?  Why check for errors?  Why consider how to make the position more clear?

I understand that poor writing COULD be a matter of education... but given how often I see it pop up with certain personalities... could it not be narcissism in written form?

Saturday, April 23, 2022


This happens to me every day teaching 2nd grade.  Be it their math book, interactive remote, or box of crayons... it goes down like this -

Me: Ok, take out your math book, remote, and a pencil.

Student: Mr. Hackman someone took my remote.

Me:  Could you do me a favor and double-check?

Student: Nope, it's not here.

Me: Could someone sitting next to him check his desk, please?

Student 2:  Nope, it's not there.

Me:  You do realize, in a moment, I am going to walk over there and pull the remote out of the desk, right?

Student: It REALLY is not here.

I then walk over, reach in, and pull the remote out of the desk.  The students stare at me like I just accessed an extra-dimensional wormhole.

This is why I don't put a lot of stock into 2nd grade state-standardized tests.  🙂

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Your People Know Their Jobs

I was rewatching Star Trek: The Motion Picture since they re-released it with upgrades on Paramount+.  Such a great movie.  One scene stuck out to me particularly.  The Enterprise has gone through a refit and Kirk has taken command away from its present captain.  Kirk is in a rush to get the ship out and wants to head to Warp speed.  Scotty and the former captain advise against it - more tests need to be run.  Kirk insists that they move forward on his command nevertheless.

Bones, ever the wise adviser, leans in and says quietly to Kirk, "Jim... you're pushing... your people know their jobs."

This reminds me of the state of American education.  There are few places in public education where people are trusted to "know their jobs."

I have it fairly easy.  I get a decent amount of control over my job.  The Utah legislature is forever overstepping, but we have a fair amount of local control.  The parents in my building are supportive.

I know that is not how it is around a lot of the country though.  I can't imagine what it is like in areas where the Q-Anon crowd is the norm.  Reading about the parents and legislatures in these areas, no wonder teachers are abandoning ship.  What would it be like to teach in an area where every legislator and parent is a Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz wannabe?

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Viewing God Properly

This is a response I gave to a friend on a Facebook thread when he challenged the notion someone of even being an atheist.  He shared an article that stated that atheists fail when they simply reject the vision of God they have contrived and are not open to other visions of God. When folks on the thread did not want to engage in that line of reasoning, the response was "As usual, atheists have no answers when questioned."

I get some version of that rather often, typically from liberal believers.  Anyway, here was my response:

The problem is that they are rather specious questions. Where is the scientific experiment conducted by Leprechaun-deniers that definitively proved that "There are no Leprechauns?” How did they define the Leprechaun whom they state doesn't exist? (I quoted the article, substituting Leprechaun for God)

I do not lose any sleep over not answering such questions. If someone wants to feel they scored points on me when I don’t, enjoy. I have no motivation to spend the effort to believe in Leprechauns when there is no reason to. I don’t believe in Leprechauns… but if I saw one, I would be happy to have been wrong and I think the event would be amazing. It is the same with deities.

To speak of God properly…” Mr. Hart shows he is playing with loaded dice from his first statement. In this sense, he is no different from the varied other theists I have encountered in my life. From the Hell, Fire, and Brimstone preacher, to the pentecostal healer, to the prosperity pastor… they all want to tell me how to view God “properly”. Even believers whom I respect such as Borg, Spong, and Rohr have their own take on viewing God “properly”. In the end, I don’t think these people are telling me about God, they are telling me about themselves… but that is another thread.

I once had an ex-Mormon friend of mine who said, “Mormonism really is a beautiful belief structure… but you have to stay within their box of thinking to make it work.” Many of the arguments made for theism, or against atheism, have this kind of set-up… you have to accept certain premises in order for the argument to work. If someone tells me – “Here is what Atheism is!” and it doesn’t line up with how I think about my atheism, all of their arguments thereafter are meaningless. (I think the reverse is also true, so I rarely go after someone on their theism and stick to my problems with harmful dogma.)

It is similar to when my 2nd-grade students want to tell me a joke/riddle that starts with a question. When I answer in a way they had not anticipated, they start over and instruct me on how to answer “properly”.  In order for the joke/riddle to work, I have to give the right response. When it is over, they are gleeful with their joke/riddle telling skills and I play along, but it is a contrivance.

Any argument where I have to accept a very narrow (or very vague) premise from the get-go in order for the argument to work is a contrivance. Such arguments work for the already convinced, but to those outside the acceptance of the foundational premise, it simply doesn’t sell.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Holy Gwappo

Like Deadpool's buddy... don't count on me to not spill the beans.  I will sing like a canary.

I had a kidney stone that had to be retrieved. They put in a stent and removed it a week later.

Let me tell you... next time I'll keep the kidney stone.

I knew this was not going to be good.  The nurse said he was going to give me a numbing agent... but it shouldn't hurt.

And yet, it did.

So already this was following the pattern of a bladder scope they did on me a few years ago.  They too said the numbing agent wouldn't hurt.  They too said that the numbing agent should keep me from experiencing any real pain from the scope.  So when they told me today that I shouldn't feel much, I broke out in a cold sweat and fought the urge to run from the room.

And yep... it hurt.  Needle being pushed through your urethra hurt.

Apparently, other humans get numbed by the stuff they shoot up your willy... but me not so much.

I was breathing like a woman giving birth and blurting out uncontrolled gasps as that stent grabber pushed its way toward the target.  A procedure that should only be a few minutes seemed to be taking forever.

"We're past your bladder... almost there!" my doctor encouraged while the nurse told me to slow down my breathing.

Then it hit.  THE pain.  The most I have ever felt.

"HOLY GWAPPO!!!" I yelped.

"Holy gwappo??" the nurse and doc said in unison.

"I have no idea what that meant," I laughed painfully.  "Apparently years of elementary teaching filters out swearing even under the most ardent stress."

I have a feeling for the rest of the day I was known as the holy gwappo patient.  🙂

Anyway, that experience made me think of this scene from Deadpool.  I would totally be like TJ Miller's character.

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