Friday, December 30, 2022

Ya Did Good 2022!


Looking back, 2022 was an AWESOME year!  After the doldrums, stress, and tragedy of the pandemic, it was great to have a year where pretty much everything went right (minus a bout with kidney stones).

Started the year with a Ghost/Volbeat concert!  Hit a lot of movies, played disc golf.  Mary Lee got teacher of the year at her campus.

Got to see Sponge in March.

Joined my brother to visit my mom in Florida and had a great time with my cousins!

Saw Jesus Christ Superstar.

Wrapped up my 30th year of teaching then drove out to Cali to see a reunion concert of one of my favorite bands of all time – UNDERCOVER!  It had been about 20 years since I had last seen them.

Then I accompanied ML to a student medical competition in Nashville.  We spent a week at the biggest hotel I have ever seen.  During that week I got to see Lori and Marianne, two of my oldest and dearest friends (somehow, I don’t have one picture of us together… must be on everyone else’s phones).

A week later, after many attempts, I finally made it down to Mazatlรกn!  Paradise!  A day after that trip, Kathryn and I headed to Vegas to see the legend – Frankie Vallie!

Then my mom came into town and we caught two concerts and saw some wild ski jumping in Park City.

The fam did a guided hike in the mountains toward the end of summer and Jake and I got in some pool time.  I also taught Kathryn to play chess on a giant board.

Then our friends the Merrills took us on a tour of Capitol Reef.  I had been there a number of times before but these spots you can only get to via Bronco.

I got to spend most of September as a character in “The Mousetrap”.  I had so much fun in that show!

Then the wheel of time took a big turn as our darling daughter struck out on her own and moved into an apartment. 

I had never been out to Lake Tahoe before, so I spent fall break there disc golfing.  So beautiful!

The fam spent Thanksgiving in San Diego – we went to the Zoo, the USS Midway, lots of beaches, and plenty of amazing restaurants.

Went with my buds to see Bill Burr… no pictures in the arena… they sealed our phones at the door.

“Coffee Church” has become a Chreaster fellowship, but we still had an excellent Christmas party!

A walk among the lights of Luminaria heightened the holiday spirit.

Finally, our Christmas Eve tradition of hearing the choir at the Cathedral of the Madeline.


Thanks 2022!  Ya did good!


Saturday, December 17, 2022

Bring Them To Church?

I read this on Facebook:

"Bring them to church‼️‼️ Saturate their lives with the Word of God. Even if they lay on the floor. Even if they need 437 goldfish and a sucker to be quiet. Even if you stand in the back swaying back and forth holding them. Even when it’s hard. Even when your row looks like a small hurricane just came through. Bring them to church. Let them see you worship. Let them see you pray. Let them see you running toward the Savior ... because if they don’t see and learn these things from you, who are they going to learn them from? 

The world will teach them it’s not a priority. The world will teach them it’s okay to lay out, not to pick up their Bibles. The world will direct them so far off course, confuse them, and misinform them that just being “good” is enough. The world won’t teach them about Jesus. That’s our job. 

Bring them to church‼️‼️"

Oh... the messages of conservative/fundie Christianity. ๐Ÿคข๐Ÿคข๐Ÿคฎ  When they start using the phrase "the world" as a pejorative, you know you are about to enter a dark episode of the Twilight Zone.

"The world will direct them so far off course, confuse them, and misinform them that just being “good” is enough."

There is so much wrong with this sentence... and it sits at the core of the unhealthiness of this form of Christianity.

First, it is an invitation to a lifelong mental hampster wheel.  Jesus said that his yoke is easy and his burden light... but this perspective is anything but.  It keeps the believer in a perpetual state of feeling they don't measure up, that they have never done enough, and even what they have done is somehow tainted.

Second, it makes "good" suspect.  A believer of this stripe gets to negate the work of their fellow humans.  In my faith community, the work of great people doing great deeds was routinely brushed aside as having little value.  A life of character formation founded on good behavior and good deeds often gets replaced with vacuous piety. 

Third, the insecurity of never being good enough becomes a bludgeon that leadership uses to keep congregations in line. 

Lastly, it creates a chasm that divides the believer from their neighbors.  Under this thinking, the believer really only feels comfortable around those in their faith- as "the world" (everyone else) will only try to confuse them, misinform them, and direct them off course.  Responding to life this way sets up a vicious circle of behaviors and attitudes in the believer that make them want to separate themselves from their neighbors... and makes their neighbors happy to let them do so.

And then these believing parents encourage one another to drag their children into this.

Monday, December 05, 2022

Going Back To Christianity?

 


The latest podcast from Bart Campolo is an interview with a man who deconverted from the Christian faith only to convert back later.  He refers to his time out of faith as atheism.  

I am always suspicious of this declaration while simultaneously being hesitant to doubt the declaration.  I was a Christian for about 30 years and many Christians interpret my leaving as evidence that I was never one in the first place.  Would I not be doing the same thing to doubt his conclusion?

Perhaps.

Still, I wonder if it is merely a misnaming of an event.

I live in Salt Lake City and I know a number of folks who have deconverted from Mormonism.  However, not all of them became Atheists.  Many ended up in some other Christian denomination.  Others slipped into less definable spiritualities focused on energies, crystals, and auras.  

There is a difference between leaving "A" faith - and leaving faith.  For about a year or so after I left Christianity, I researched other religions.  Yes, I had left Christianity... but I had to be something... right??  My belief in the supernatural and "something else" being out there was not gone.  Even once I had made the mental transition to atheism, it took a while before my heart and the superstitions burned into my psyche were on board.

So, when I listened to Josh's story... I don't hear a once atheist.  I hear a guy who became less than dazzled by his faith... had his 40 days in the wilderness... and then landed in a different version of his faith.  

I suppose people can be atheists and convert back to faith.  

But, more often than not, I think describing one's transition time as "atheism" just adds drama and street cred to the story (whether the teller is intentionally doing so or not).

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Why? Why? Why?

 

Piper mentions that non-believers have better "tools" for morality at their disposal... but he doesn't get into it.  I'd be curious about what he thinks those tools are.

One of the things I noticed as I was exiting faith is that I used the word "Why" a lot.
 
Why do I do this?  Why do I think this?  Why, why, why?  

I was like a 5-year-old again.

It occurred to me that I really didn't have much of an ethical system... I just had a bunch of mores that were often particular to my subculture.  Upon inspection, most of them had nothing to do with ethics, and much of my life guilt was completely non-sensical.

In my subculture of Evangelicalism, "morality" was a big deal (not so much in the Trump era), and we talked a good game... but in truth, there was little moral instruction.

Take, for example, a sermon I heard by a popular Evangelical preacher.  He was assuring the congregation there was a Hell and everyone but "the saved" are going there.  He went on to say, "If there is no Hell, I'm going to the strip club tonight!"

This is a common thought line among the religious... if it weren't for the "judgment of god," I would behave completely differently.

That isn't morality... it is obedience.  It is social pressure.  It isn't a true belief in right and wrong - and it collapses fairly easily when challenged.

This is why every other week, another mega-church leader is caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  Jerry Falwell Jr. didn't have an ethical system he lived by, he had social pressures he adhered to.

I often tell my students that they are not being a friend if they allow someone to copy their work.  It is the equivalent of watching someone else exercise and expecting to get fit.  When the moment comes for them to demonstrate their ability with a math problem, they will be unprepared.

Religion often leaves people morally and ethically unprepared... because they have been content to copy someone else's answers to life's important questions.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Behaviors Are Not Age-Related

 

When we adults think of children, there is a simple truth which we ignore: childhood is not a preparation for life. Childhood IS life. A child isn’t getting ready to live; a child is living. The child is constantly confronted with the nagging question, ‘What are you going to be?’ Courageous would be the youngster who, looking the adult squarely in the face, would say, ‘I’m not going to be anything; I already am."

Professor T. Ripaldi

I teach 2nd grade.  People often talk about "childish behavior".  For example,  I have students who care very deeply about their position in line.  They get aggrieved if folks "butt" them in line yet shrug it off when they do it to someone else.  Sometimes it gets so intense, tears or fists come out.  Although this kind of behavior can be broad-brushed to all children, only about a third behave this way.  Most of my students couldn't care less.

On the other end of the spectrum.  You will often hear people assume all "old folks" think in similar ways.  The comedian Bill Burr does a whole routine about this.  He questions why the family was surprised when Grandma said racist things. 

"They're old!  he jokes.  "What didja think they thought?"  

People often use old age to shrug off racism or homophobia... as if it is just part of being old.  Yet, we all know plenty of old folks who don't hold these attitudes.

I think, as the professor says above, people already are.  Little Johnny may move on from caring about who stands where in line, but that core pettiness will probably just transfer to other things.  Later in life, he may care deeply that he has a better car or house than the person behind him.

Behaviors are not age-related.  One of my students can nurse a grudge for weeks... while another has let an offense go by recess.  They will most likely become adults who carry those same traits. 

The thing is, if we become an old person that is STILL racist or STILL petty or STILL holds grudges, etc... then life passed us by and we didn't do the real work that needed to be done.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Man Finds Former Self Embarassing

I am in season 5 of True Blood... and I am starting to mourn that it will end in two more seasons. I wrote earlier a few weeks ago on Facebook about how much I have been enjoying it... and my perplexion as to why I didn't enjoy this when it first came out in 2008.

It occurred to me the other night.

It's so gay.

By 2008, my conservative faith of 30 years had swung pretty liberal... but I still had a lot of hang-ups. Decades of conditioning do not turn on a dime. If you had asked me at the time, I would have said that I loved and supported the gay community. I probably would have taken umbrage if anyone had suggested otherwise.

However, looking back, I can recognize that gay representation made me uncomfortable. I could view thousands of heterosexual kisses on screen... but two men kissing once would have made me feel that an "agenda" was being "pushed." Do what you want in your own bedroom, but keep it out of the public sphere... after all, will someone think of the children??

Your previous self can be so... embarrassing. Folks don't like to reflect on it (I don't). It took me til Season 5 to put 2 and 2 together as to my initial distaste for the show.

We cringe... so we don't want to remember. We clean up our histories, we gloss over our scriptures, and we don't tell our children about family issues.

I hope MLK was right about the moral arc of the universe. I hope we really are getting better.

Monday, August 08, 2022

Crackers!

I was reading a thread about folks being upset with Cracker Barrel for offering Impossible Meat on their menu.  One comment was essentially, "I just want a restaurant that is normal, with normal food on the menu!"

The thing is... his menu selection was not impacted.  They didn't REPLACE the sausage in his breakfast with Impossible Sausage, it is merely an option now for those who would like it.  He NEVER has to order it.

Yet, its availability to others sticks in his craw.  So much so, he is refusing to go to Cracker Barrel ever again.

To many of us, this is simply insane behavior... but for swaths of Americans, it is the norm.  A good chunk of their voting and candidate selection is based on this frustration. They grind their teeth and clench their fists when people choose items off of life's menu... as if they are being forced to partake as well.

Friday, July 22, 2022

For Me, Not For Thee

A Facebook group I am in is arguing over religious freedoms presently.  Someone had posted a Christian prayer.  Some folks said it was off-topic and perhaps should be posted in a religiously themed group.  Others argued for free speech and religious freedoms.

Here is the part I saw coming a mile off- Shortly after the prayer post, someone posted the Seven Tenets of the Satanic Temple. Predictably, many of the same folks defending the prayer had the dead opposite reaction to the 7 tenets. Comments such as "small-minded", "loser", "grow the phuck up", "shame on you", "disturbing", etc.

I don't know what the real-life percentages are... but in my experience, those who most often shout for religious liberties are usually only doing so for their sub-group.  They have little real interest in religious liberty as a fundamental right... rather, they use it selectively as a shield to protect their interests.

The most perfect example of the 180 people can do came from a person who said,

"To all that criticized the religious post… I mean seriously, couldn’t you just scroll by?"

However, on the Satanic Temple post, she commented,

"You should grow the phuck up, you’re behaving like a spoiled child. Shame on you"

Moving the goal posts is a real and regular thing.

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

Do You Believe In God?

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. ๐Ÿคท‍♀️ #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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.  ๐Ÿ™‚

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.  ๐Ÿ™‚

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

Wormhole

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.  ๐Ÿ™‚


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.  ๐Ÿ™‚

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


Sunday, January 30, 2022

You Have To Believe SOMETHING

When I first recognized that my faith was really slipping away, that this wasn't a phase or a path I could retreat from, I admit I felt a little sense of panic.  For a number of months, I wrestled with the question, "If I am not a Christian, what am I?'  Agnosticism seemed too vague, and I wasn't yet ready to abandon the idea of some form of deity.

So, I started to do some casual research into the more Eastern, meditative, god-as-the-force kind of religions.  For a while, I was becoming very interested in the Bahia faith... but then I read about their negative beliefs concerning homosexuals, and that was an immediate shutdown.

At some point, I realized that I was feeling an obligation to "Believe" something... and that maybe, just maybe, no such requirement existed.

Teaching Is A Conservative Profession

"For a full century now, conservative politicians have attacked teachers to score easy political points. This, despite the fact that teachers, as a group, tend to consider themselves “moderate” (43 percent) or even “conservative” (27 percent), and their political views have long tended to match those of their local communities. Nevertheless, scare tactics about subversive teachers have been too tempting for politicians to resist. But although targeting teachers might score a short-term payoff at the ballot box, those attacks have always harmed public schools by driving teachers away."

--------------------

This article is an interesting history of political attacks on the teaching profession.  It is funny because, as the article states, the profession itself is fairly "conservative".  Regardless of a teacher's personal religious or political beliefs... they just want to get through the material for the day.  There is enough drama and excitement in a school without trying to create any more of it.

I will say that the present state of affairs is the worst I have seen in my 30 years.  Principals used to have stacks of resumes on their desks from would-be teachers.  Substitutes (mostly wannabe teachers) circled the buildings like vultures looking for an opening, hoping to make a good impression on the staff.

Now, there are no subs.  Principals have to beg and plead for a resume or two.  Universities are scaling back their teaching programs as student applications plummet.

Well, politicians... you have done it.  You used lies, exaggeration, and outliers to enrage the public and fill your campaign accounts.  Schools are holding on by a thread.

Now, what are you going to do?

Sunday, January 02, 2022

The Meaning of Life

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”  -Alan Watts

A friend posted this quote this morning and it tracks perfectly with where I have been at the past few years.  In the religious circles in which I traveled earlier in life, there was great emphasis on "living a life of meaning" and finding your "purpose".  I suppose that doesn't sound bad on the surface, maybe even noble, but what I discovered over time was that it was like, as the book of Ecclesiastes says, "chasing after the wind and feeding on it".  It was never-ending and never satisfying.  It keeps you running on a hamster wheel.

In recent years, I have been learning to let go of the rushing... saying no to the panic.

In the book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Ford Prefect saves his friend Arthur from the destruction of the Earth.  When Arthur realizes he can't go back, he asks, "What do I do now?"  Ford shrugs, "You come with me and enjoy yourself."  Ford's suggestion has become my life tagline.

In an episode of Rick and Morty, Rick gives the family a device that allows them to see themselves in other universes - lives in which they had made different choices.  They grow depressed and angry as they see how their lives could have been "better" had they chosen different paths.  Rick tells them they would have been happier watching TV with him and Morty and that they, "clearly backed the wrong conceptual horse."  Later, Morty's sister is going to run away due to her frustration.  Morty gives an explanation of why she should stay and ends it with, “Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, and everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV.”

For myself, I have spent enough time on the hamster wheel chasing after things and never arriving.  I think Watts had it right.  My time is better spent creating, enjoying, and breathing.  There are good conversations to be had, meals to enjoy, stories to listen to, and walks to take.

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