Archive for August, 2005

Wrinkled Knickers
28 August, 2005

The responses to my issue with proselytizing, both online and off-, can be divided into two groups: those from Christians and those from non-Christians. Unanimously the Christians feel that it is approriate to try to convert the non-Christians and the non-Christians feel that it is not.

From the commentary it appears that the Christians believe they quite literally have a God-given right to convert the non-Christians, whatever it takes. The Christians do not appear, however, to believe that the non-Christians have a right to choose their beliefs or have that choice respected. Nothing at all implied that the Christians are trying to offend or impose. Rather, I believe that all of the Christians from whom I heard feel in their hearts that they are doing a good thing, a holy thing, by trying to convert others. It is just that the others' opinions on that subject are irrelevant.

There was also nothing at all that implied that the Christians are willing to consider any alternative or have a dialogue about this. It appears that this is, again quite literally, an item of faith. As such, it is not open to discussion.

I will admit it: I am an optimist and a libertarian. I believe in religious freedom, not just religious tolerance. As I respect others' choices on such important issues as religion and politics, I expect others to respect mine. This apparently unreconcilable chasm between Christians and non-Christians saddens me. In fact, I disabled comments on this entry because I feared the flame war it might ignite.

Sigh.

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Untwisting my Knickers
25 August, 2005

My spouse is good friends with a neighbor lady and my kids are friends with her kids. Recently her husband left his job and accepted a position as pastor at a local church. In what I considered to be an act of thoughtfulness, she asked my spouse if his working for the church would affect our family's friendship. I chose to view his career change to be a desire to help others manifesting through his belief system. Live and let live.

This morning my spouse tells me that the neighbor and her husband extended a personal invitation to an “outreach” at their church. When my spouse asks, the neighbor admits that there will be a sermon at this “outreach”. There may have been more to the story than that but I admit that I was too mad to catch the rest of it.

An “outreach” with a sermon?!? What the fork happened to thoughtfulness? They know my history with Christianity. They know my opinions of churches. They know that I choose not to attend even the programs that lack sermons. How did they think it would be anything other than offensive to me?

Intellectually I realize that insensitive zealots plague all causes, not just the Christian religion, but this is precisely the kind of self-righteous behavior that pisses me off. I am very familiar with Christianity; I spent the first twenty years of my life in the Christian church. Frankly I fail to see how anyone could be raised in the U.S. and not be familiar with Christianity. My choice about Christianity is an informed choice. But even if I was not informed, it is my choice to make.

If they did not know my position on Christianity, it would be a different thing. We all like to share what we like with others. But the fact that they know, and have known for years, my position on Christianity makes this another episode of “I'm smarter than you”. Actually, no, they are not smarter than me. I have absolutely no doubt that God is not limited to their branch of Christianity. I would stake my eternal soul on it. And I have.

This is the kind of in-your-face proselytizing that makes Christianity offensive. I have never, ever had a Hindu, Buddhist, or Jewish friend try to force their religion on me. Not all of my Christians friends try to, but it is only Christians that do it. I do not know their justifications but it certainly comes across as “you are too stupid to make your own choices so we'll make them for you”. If Christianity was so great, would I not be bugging them to find out more? Perhaps the reason that Christians have to shanghai new recruits is because their behavior is off-putting.

As you can tell, this has really pissed me off. I do not want to cause a rift in my wife's friendship or the kids'. But I am having a hard time getting past this.

Am I overreacting or do I have a right to expect people to keep their religion to themselves?

Trey Baker: Oregonian Quaker
22 August, 2005

We went to see Valiant at the local cineplex. While waiting for the munchkins I noticed a Mennonite couple walking down the hall. I got the giggles wondering whether they were there to see The 40 Year-Old Virgin or Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.

P.S. Yes, I know that Mennonites are different than Quakers but it was hard to rhyme a normal-sounding family name with "Mennonite" and they both have full beards.

Update

P.P.S. Yes, I am a complete clown. It is the Amish, not the Quakers, that share a full beard with the Mennonites. My apologies to my Society of Friends brethren and sistern.

Duh
20 August, 2005

How did it take me this long to get this icon?

The Alphabet Meme
20 August, 2005

From by way of :

A- Age of 1st kiss: I was five when I had my first kiss. She was in her twenties. 😉

B- Band you are listening to right now: Dream Theater.

C- 1st Crush: Kristina Goddard, first grade. In an indication of things to come, I first started crushing on her after she beat me in a foot-race during recess. I have had a weakness for tall Amazons ever since.

D- Dad's name: His given name was Richard but he went by Dick. My mom says that even back then “dick” was a term for a penis. Given his personality, I bet he enjoyed the opportunity for double entendre.

E- Easiest person to talk to: Any of my closest friends. Depending on the subject, one may be easier than another. But overall they are equal.

F- Favorite ice cream: Tillamook Mudslide. (drool)

G- Gummy worms or gummy bear?: Gummy bears although it does feel cannibalistic eating them. I actually prefer gummy frogs.

H- Hometown: While I served a decades-long sentence in Hell, I consider Hillsboro my hometown. It is so not my fault that the stork took a wrong turn at Albuquerque and it took me years to escape.

I- Instruments: Musical? I started with the piano at around age nine, moved to clarinet at eleven, switched to guitar in college, and finally accepted that I have absolutely no musical talent at all. I can, however, carry a tune vocally ('tis the Irish genes from my father's side) but belong in a choir at best.

J- Junior high: My mother was vice principal at my junior high. Need I say more?

K- Kids: I have the two best kids in the world. But two is plenty; I think another would kill me.

L- Longest car ride ever: The vacation trip on which my dad died.

M- Mom's name: Billie. My grandfather really wanted a boy. Sigh.

N- Nicknames: In bytespace, Sarge.

O- One wish: That my dad was still alive.

P- Phobia[s]: Spiders.

Q- Quote: “It's not your job to make things turn out the right way; it's your job to make the way things turn out right.” — Me

R- Reason(s) to smile: I am nowhere near as nuts as I once was.

S- Song you sang last: The ABC Song (I am working on the alphabet with my youngest.)

T- Time you woke up today: 0400, 0500, 0600, and 0630.

U- Unknown fact about me: I appeared in two episodes of a television show.

V- Virgin: I am still not sure what records and airplanes have to do with each other but Branson is bonkers.

W- Worst habit: Worry.

X- How many X-rays you've had: A couple when I broke my arm and cracked my teeth and a couple more for the braces.

Y- Your least favorite person as of right now: At the moment the former manager who is a pathological liar and has made life miserable for several of my friends leads the pack. But the rest of them know who they are.

Z- Zodiac sign: Gemini and Earth Monkey.

Would it help to confuse it if we run away more?
17 August, 2005

I have a well-developed, if not over-active, instinct for self-preservation. That being said, I find that I have an admiration of the gallant sacrifice, the hopeless defiance of impossible odds. I find it disquieting that I find nobility in rushing to one's certain doom.

This surfaced most recently during my viewing of The Last Samurai. Being the story of the end of feudalism in Japan, and with it the traditional way of the samurai, the film depicts a fair share of noble (and stoic, of course) sacrifice. Both times that I have watched the film I have been quite moved by those scenes.

I find this disquieting because I believe that life is a precious commodity not to be given up lightly. I oppose the taking of life unnecessarily, including one's own. The intelligent course of action is, of course, to run away. (Also known as “strategic withdrawal”.) Discretion is the better part of valor, fight again another day, and all that.

My mother's family is from the South. (Okay, some of them come from the southern end of the Midwest, but culturally they are all Southerners.) I was raised that the Gray was the righteous side in the War of Northern Aggression. The Yankees share the nadir of the pantheon with the English.

Given all this I suppose it is unsurprising that I can not help but find Pickett's Charge gallant. Pickett's Charge seems to be the very antithesis of self-preservation. Those brave souls marched in plain sight across an open field into the very center of the opposition's defense. Even after getting flanked on both sides they pressed on. They even breached the first line of defense before being driven back. Incomprehensible.

Maybe I am overanalyzing this. But I worry that I have a hidden weakness for self-sacrifice that will manifest at some really inconvenient time.

Or, worse yet, that can be used against me by my nemeses.

Oil of Botulism?
16 August, 2005

I just saw an Olay beauty product commercial for some skin cream. I got the giggles because the actress portraying a dermatologist had so much botox done that she resembled a stroke victim more than a happy customer.

Questions Five
11 August, 2005

Memetic from :

1. What do you like most about your chosen career?
The opportunity to constantly learn new things and the support of the employers to learn them.

2. If you weren't doing that, what would you be doing?
I would be writing fiction of some sort. (Oh, and naughty limericks for fun.)

3. What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday?
Reading next to a window through which the soft light of a cloudy day shines and on which the gentle sound of rain patters.

4. What would you change about yourself if you could?
I would remove the psychological damage from my childhood. Yes, I know that would mean that I would be a different person than I am today, but that's a trade-off I am willing to make.

5. Oh, frivolous…what's your favorite snack food?
M&Ms. 😀

It Pushes in the Corners
11 August, 2005

I live out in farmland so it is not uncommon to encounter tractors on the roads. Because tractors are designed for power, they have torquey engines and low gearings; tractors go nowhere quickly. So it is not uncommon for people to pass the tractor on the straightaways. The tractor drivers invariably look a bit embarrassed.

Today I saw a tractor get passed…by another tractor. That must be rough to live down at the grange.

Return of the Yogi
9 August, 2005

Last night marked the return of Ricky Williams to the NFL. Normally this would be something of a “Who cares?” moment. Except that Williams skipped last year's football season. (Technically, he retired a year past and unretired last month.)

During his time away, Williams traveled abroad and took classes in Ayurvedic medicine and yoga. When asked about his sudden retirement, Williams cited the year-round commitment demanded by professional football that prevented him from these other activities. (To be fair, Williams also faced disciplinary action for using a little too much of the chronic.)

Having followed Williams since his college football days, I have found him an enigmatic but ultimately sympathetic fellow. I think he is much smarter than most people assume and I applaud his desire to know himself and become a balanced person. While I would not have made the choices he has, all the interviews I have seen show an authentic, questing spirit.

What really irks me is the continued umbrage taken by the mediots who cover professional football. They were infuriated when he retired originally and continue to be even after his return. They heap what they intend as insults upon Williams, epithets such as “freaky” or “kooky”. When he first retired I attributed their venom to an attempt to increase ratings via fabrication of a crisis.

But now I realize that their hatred of Williams is driven by a much more fundamental issue. By leaving fame and millions of dollars behind in order to better himself, Williams has called into question everything for which they stand. He inadvertently attacked the pillars of their philosophy: that to be rich and famous is the goal of life. They appear to be incapable of understanding that someone might prefer to be enlightened but impecunious.

Sad, sad, little men.