Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The War That Never Was is Long Since Over

Hi, my name is Jason.

When I said that I just told you everything I know about science. I took physics my senior year and spent most of the time shuffling a deck of cards and doing magic tricks, circulating ridiculous petitions and covertly staring at pretty girls (just in case you forgot what those look like I gave you a link to my new favorite pretty girl). Those are all of my science credentials.

Despite my dismal record you can put all of your faith in the following statement: There is no contradiction between faith and science.

Here's the thing, almost everyone in the entire world believes in a Higher Power (92% to be exact). Most of us do not supress that innate sense that He is out there. BUT, a good deal of us have been lead by the nose to believe that there are tensions if not outright contradictions between faith and science.

This is impossible. God created the world, he did it in a particular way. We as humans are able, to some extent, to observe the ways and methods He chose to employ. Whether it was six literal days, or we started as apes, or primordial goo, or He started 6,000 years ago or 6 billion--none of it matters. We'll probably never know for sure. What we agree on is that we're here, and that there is a God.

When there is something that looks like a contradiction between what we know of God and what we know of science it is due to one of these two facts: Either the science is wrong (which has happened many, many times in the life of science), or the theology is wrong (which has happened many, many times in the life of the Church).

For some reason these assertions make people uncomfortable. These used to make me uncomfortable. But embracing my assertion is one of the most freeing things you can do for yourself. Embracing my assertion means you get to relax, unclench, smile. There is one principle, and one alone, that will help you get where you need to go:

We live in a universe shrouded in mystery.

We make our home and do our work in untraversable mystery. We know so very little. The best scientist, the best theologian, their minds are but ants on the sun that is the incomprehensible mind of God. Trying to square up every fact and make it all fit--all your verses, all your science, all your feelings--it is only a recipe for insanity (and to be a bore at parties). It wasn't given for you to know it all.




You're sitting in the palm of God's hand.

No matter How he chose to bring you here,

You're here. Drink the mystery,

Swallow it and then laugh in awe at its beauty and unceasing wonder.

Please know that I understand everything that I'm glossing over. I know what my team thinks of Genesis, and I know what I need to say about Genesis if I want to stay in good standing with my team. The problem is, it's all crap. You can believe it's literal, metaphorical, poetical--and you can cite endless solid reasoning to support your position. I don't care anymore. I happen to believe God wrote us a love letter called the Bible, and we'll never fully understand and apply everything contained in the love stained pages. Never. We can get a lot of mileage out of it, but it didn't tell us everything about everything--and even everything it did tell us--well we're still working on getting that all figured out. It will always be so. If it were simple then we should suspect it wasn't ordained by an infinite God.

Anyway, all of this was inspired by this piece in USA Today roughly saying everything I just said. But I still get points because I didn't just rip off what I read, the piece reminded me of how passionate I feel about these facts for a few years now and it's high time that I share them with you fine people.

Monday, August 29, 2011

My Spiritual Blog-Child

Six months ago I did a post which turned into a bit of a contest/giveaway. I know you probably have the whole thing memorized by heart, but on the off chance that you don't you may review it here.

Anyway, on offer was the blog title "Delighted but Confused." All you had to do was post a comment that you had grabbed it up. It was snatched immediately, but for these six months we've all lived many long nights and cafeine fueled days waiting for the blog to emerge.

Wait no longer. My friend Kathleen has truely emerged as the "reader perceptive enough to snatch it up"!

Please frequent and tarry at her blog as she regales you with her forays in the foreign and strange land of Norway. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you,

Lost Baby

I don't know, it just struck me as insanely funny to take this picture and pretend that it was just some random baby on a beach.

I think the key to the humor is in the hat.

And thank you to my son Nolan for being a good sport and allowing me to sort of abandon him on a beach for the sake of art.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Temporarily Avoiding Self-Destruction

Yesterday I lit onto the page with a self-righteous tirade that tore apart one of the main sub-cultures I belong to. Every word of it was true.

Then I stopped for a moment and asked, why do I do this? I am constantly into self criticism, and even worse, criticism of the groups I belong to. I'm obsessed with justice (though of course I skew it, because I am, after all, a member of the human race), and it keeps me up at night to think that I or someone I know might be getting it wrong.

This is no way to make friends. This is no way to build a blog following. People want to be reassured, not torn down. And I'm not being pedantic or condescending when I say that. I totally get it. It takes more effort and mental work to engage with something that is critical of you, your beliefs, your culture. That kind of work isn't what a lot of people are looking for when they do some blog reading.

Why the impulse to alienate my reader and potential reader? Is there a demand for such treatment? As usual, not a lot of answers, but there are some questions that I find interesting.

Google Image's representation of self-destruction.

Here is one of mine.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

American's Are Selfish

I read a recent poll from the Peinman Newsire that just took my breath away.
42 million Americans were asked the following question: "Would you detonate a nuclear bomb if you thought it would help and not hinder your career advancement?"
67 percent of the respondents looked deviously from left to right for less than five seconds before saying, "probably."
Totally unbelievable. Apparently I am one of the few Americans with the moral courage to stand up and say no, I will not set off a nuclear bomb just to improve my station in life.
67 percent of America, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Modern Barbarism

Why do I get more annoyed and animated over people who like and celebrate horrifying reality programming (Jersey Shore, Things containing Bret Michaels etc.) than I do about sex trafficking, modern day slavery, genocide etc.?

I want to say that it's messed up, but I don't think I can say that truthfully because I clearly don't care enough, yet, to make a change.

I know it's heavy, I know it's not fun, and I know it sounds like one more thing to feel guilty about. It can be, if you want it to, but us feeling guilty isn't going to help anyone.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Truth and Tattoos

One time a man I had never met told me he was an honest guy—and right there in that moment I totally believed him. I remember considering the proposition for a moment, and then believed with him that it was so.

I had just moved from my home town and was getting my first apartment set up. Wet behind the ears is certainly a given, but on top of that I’m not a very good judge of people on first impressions, either. He was the maintenance guy, and he was explaining that I could either have maintenance done by appointment, or I could sign his little paper which gave him the right to enter the premises when I wasn’t home so he could do the work. I think he noticed me doing the calculus, was this worth the risk, saw me sizing him up and so on. He looked at me and said, “It’s ok, I’m an honest-John.”

There was no reason for me to believe him. I didn’t know him, anyone can make that claim—it’s essentially meaningless. He had a huge tattoo—tattooed men scare me. Large, visible tattoos mean you’ve lived a semi-rough to rough life and you’re probably a maintenance guy because you’re an ex-con. But there was something about the earnestness in his face, and his choice to use the term “honest-John” (now that I think of it, he could have said “honest guy” which would actually make a lot more sense), and so quite easily I decided to trust him.

And everything was fine. He did plenty of work in our apartment and, despite his tattoos, nothing ever went missing.

What’s the point? My point is that you should never believe such a huge claim as someone telling you they’re an honest person when you first meet them. In fact, whenever someone insists on a point like that when they first meet you (I’m honest, I’m not crazy, I’m not a murderer) it’s usually pretty strong evidence that they are the opposite of what they claim.

But…perhaps sometimes, you just know.

Wonder & Mystery

I've spent this lunch break trying to track down anything and everything the internet contains of Robert Farrar Capon, which is not much. But I came across the following quote, and as a bonus I link the page it's from because it's worth wasting several minutes reading the beautiful words.

We are so impressed by scientific clank that we feel we ought not to say that the sunflower turns because it knows where the sun is. It is almost second nature to us to prefer explanations . . . with a large vocabulary. We are much more comfortable when we are assured that the sunflower turns because it is heliotropic. The trouble with that kind of talk is that it tempts us to think that we know what the sunflower is up to. But we don't. The sunflower is a mystery, just as every single thing in the universe is. --Robert Farrar Capon

Monday, August 8, 2011

America is Broken and Cannot be Fixed!

There are two ways to garner attention: Be creative and talented and professional, or be sensational. With this post I have chosen the more immediately rewarding of the two paths.

Incidentally there is no truth in my claim.

More breaking of the news soon.

Sufjan Stevens Interview

Things that stop you in your tracks should be shared. Here is a paragraph that I don't want to get over, taken from a long interview with Sufjan Stevens recently:

"It’s such a relief for me to acknowledge that because I feel far less possessive of my own music, and I feel lest earnest and less despairing about its worth, or its value, and more willing to just make it, create it, do my best work possible, and then give it away."

Yes, I can see how that would be a freedom giving perspective.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Adventures in Hypotheticals

If an alien ever walks into your home and offers you a tell-all interview you should forget the fact you're not a journalist and do it anyway.
This is applicable to certain other scenarios as well. Definitely drop me a line for advice if you feel you're in just such a situation.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Disagree With Ebert, I Feel Better Now

A few months ago someone retweeted an Ebert post; it was interesting and so I started following him, and my life has never been the same. No, it isn't that dramatic, but I find him incredibly insightful, especially for someone I'm not predisposed to agree with (see the Unbridgeable, Inexhaustible Divide Between Liberals and Conservatives*). But he loves his books and he loves his movies, so it was fated from the foundation of time that I would love him. He posted a blog the other day and I'm going to share an excerpt that I completely disagree with which is the source of my current joy:

"My house is filled with books. I read every day. I willingly enter older, slower novels by Balzac, Dickens, Hugo. I love Henry James for the very reason many find him unreadable, the texture of his language. The style of a writer is important to me, and the language is more important than the story. It is how it is about it, not what it is about it [emphasis added by me]. I like Faulkner and McCarthy because their prose is al dente. And Cather and Simenon because they write as clearly as running water."

I read and enjoy books for exactly the opposite reason. I don't much care about the way a writer writes—I judge a book by the level of insight it has, the things it makes me think about, the strength and imagination of the story, if I find the philosophy compelling/interesting etc.

I have a lot of anxiety over my intellectual capabilities. I like Dostoevsky, but I like Stephen King, too. So when I don't dig Dickens all that much, I just automatically assume it's because I'm deficient in some way. Ironically, when intellectual titan Ebert states stridently that style is much more important to him than substance, I feel flooded with relief. This is the way I see it: If such a smart man can value style over substance, then I know it isn't sheerly a matter of intellect that determines what you will get out of a book. I don't understand why someone would care more about style than story, but what I know for sure is it isn't due to any kind of deficiency or shallowness. Naturally by extension the same would be true for my preferences (especially because I see my own as, subjectively of course, superior).

So there you go, I feel better, QED. Thank you, Ebert.

And that headline was just to be provocative, we don't really disagree, we just value different things in a text.

*Intended to be sarcastic—I believe in our ability to listen to and love one another.

Monday, August 1, 2011

And Now, to be Simplistic and Pointed

What most men basically say to their wives in times of trouble or conflict: if only you were more like me, everything would be ok.

Myself included.