Monthly Archives: October 2013

Whiskey at midnight: The Can’t Sleep Cronicles, Part 1

I guess I’m not getting any sleep tonight. I rolled around for as long as I could stand it, until it was time to get up and do something. It is 11 PM and I am watching the Oprah interview that has been all the rage in the non-believer community. Oprah interviewed Diana Nyad, a self-proclaimed “atheist in awe.” Nyad described her love of the world and humanity in a very “Saganeque” way only to have Oprah tell her that she couldn’t consider her an atheist because she recognized a sense of transcendence in herself (I’m paraphrasing here). It isn’t really Oprah’s fault that she would think that way, although I do feel strongly that if you’re going to interview somebody you should make yourself well informed about the subject matter, it is just a common misconception that atheists are emotionless voids of repressed hatred and hot chaos.

The Pew Research Center responded quickly with a completely unhelpful list they published in an article haphazardly titled “5 facts about atheists.” The article fails to define it terms, and I’m assuming that is the result of surveys that failed in the same way, so that nothing is really said at all. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life is a great resource, normally. The articles they publish have been a great boon to me (who says boon?), but when it comes to the irreligious they seem to be confused. What the Pew Forum on Religion and Public life needs is a committed non-believer that is informed when it comes to religion, and public life. I checked their site and it looks like they are hiring a Human Resources manager, but no research analysts. I’ll have to wait my turn.

I have a career right now and everything is going as planned I suppose, but for some reason I can’t take it seriously or think of it as a real life-goal kind of a career. Honestly, I know the reasons but I won’t bother listing them. It would be too obvious. I remember being told that I would have to straighten up and get things right for middle school because everything would be serious business then. It wasn’t. The same was said about high school, college, and my current starter career. Disappointment and incompetence at every level.

How does this relate at all to Oprah and Diana Nyad? It doesn’t. 

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Goodnight.

 

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Book Review: Elaine Pagel’s “Revelations”

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The Book of Revelations is commonly attributed to John, the apostle, which Pagels quickly disagrees with. John of Patmos was most certainly a different author, if he was the author at all.  A large group of early church fathers condemned the Book of Revelations and were convinced it was “written not by a disciple but by a heretic named Cerinthus” (107). We come to find out that a large number of early Christians felt The Book of Revelations was just blasphemy and nonsense. Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Bishop Amphilochius of Iconium all intentionally left Revelations off their lists of authentic books.

The Book of Revelations is full of symbols, some of which border on the absurd, like the seven-eyed zombie Lamb which takes a scroll and is told by a loud voice it is worthy to open it, or the pregnant woman that wraps herself in the sun while a seven-headed, ten-horned dragon impatiently waits to eat the coming baby. The main thing to take from all that silliness is the polarity it espouses. In Revelations there are the saved and the damned and that is it. God’s elect, and Satan’s minions. There is no room for anybody else in the cosmic battle. It is ironic that the author demonizes Babylon because it is very likely that the concept of a cosmic battle between good and evil was inherited by Judaism from the Babylonian religion during the Jew’s exile there. Babylon was a symbol of evil that the author of Revelations used to symbolize Rome. Babylon is now used to represent whatever and whomever a church might happen to disagree with.

Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria is almost solely responsible for the canon we recognize today as the Bible, and for the inclusion of the Book of Revelations, and he added it for political reasons. Athanasius was a charismatic and ambitious Bishop who had stolen his position with a well-timed endorsement letter from the Emperor while another 200 or so Bishops were trying to decide who would take the position. He immediately began seeking out what he called “heretics” which included any Christians that felt they were outside the Catholic Church. This included the thousands of monks that had congregated in small monasteries under the leadership of an ex-Roman Soldier named Pachomius. They had no need to fall under the leadership of any Bishop and saw the rank structure of the church for what it was, the Romanization of Christianity. They also kept large libraries of works Athanasius would condemn and was eager to destroy. Luckily, one of those Egyptian monks at Nag Hammadi, buried a large number of scrolls in a cave used for meditation 1500 years ago. They were uncovered in 1945 and have contributed greatly to our understanding of the Bible since then. Elaine Pagels was among the first scholars to begin studying the Nag Hammadi scrolls.

Athanasius apparently condemned any book that allowed for the personal search for God through asceticism. The Book of Revelation spoke out many times against heretics within the Church and Athanasius was able to use it against many of his opponents. Check out Pagels herself being interviewed about the book: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/2012/02/24/february-24-2012-elaine-pagels-on-the-book-of-revelation/10372/

What should disturb most people about this is that even today this book is being used to spread hatred and intolerance. The Young Turks say it better than I could. Check out this video:

 


 

sigh… I guess that’s one way to solve the population problem, but reducing the human population to 144,000 would just make a big mess. So spread the word; the Book of Revelations is a bunch of fear mongering nonsensical delusional Iron age gibberish, stop electing people that think its prophetic!!! Time to start paying attention to the House and Senate Elections.

 

 

Ice trays

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I used to hate ice trays, but I’ve discovered that had more to do with sharing a living space than the task of emptying and refilling the trays. I am living alone for the first time in many years. Actually, I’m realizing right now that I’ve always had roommates. Before my current job I was a college student and always shared at least a common area with at least one other person. I had roommates early on in my career and went from there to married life. That chapter is closed and so this is the first time I have lived entirely alone. It isn’t a completely foreign concept though, I used to spend hours thinking about how nice my own apartment would be, mostly while lying awake at night in a dark cloud of frustration and resentment. And now here I am! I have a nice little two bedroom apartment with a breezy patio. I’m even walking distance from several restaurants. Getting my office set was the priority and it is coming along swimmingly. I can comfortably spend hours in there. I really like my kitchen as well. My Sunday morning clean up ritual has occurred each time with a continued rise in efficiency and efficacy, something that never quite caught on in my previous living situations.

These things came to light because I recently finished reading Going Solo by NYU Sociology professor Eric Klinenberg. He explores the recent rise in people who choose to live alone. I hadn’t thought about it as a choice before, it seemed more like a punishment considering my post-divorce circumstances. But I was reminded by Klinenberg that there are benefits to living alone. The freedom to go and do things last minute has been nice. I can get up early and start my day without wondering why everyone else is being so lazy. Or I can sleep in and nobody will bother me.

The only current drawback to this situation is the physical distance between me and my awesome kids. I miss them all the time and I am constantly reminded of the hole in my life that only they can fill. It seems selfish put that way, but I’m sure if they were older they could describe my absence in similar terms. Klinenberg knows that living alone, for most people, is a temporary phase. Maybe my kids will choose to live with me when they are old enough to make that terrible decision, (a decision I had to make too). Or maybe years from now I will have a partner who wants to share living space. I’ll just make sure I only consider cohabitation with someone who understand the tranquility of well maintained ice trays.

Scared of a Seven Year Old

The last time I was intimidated by a seven year old I was probably a little kid, maybe four or five. That makes sense because bigger kids can seem mean in a distant confusing way. But now I’m 32. I’m not scared of anybody, not in the way a little kid is anyway. So why does the idea of my daughter visiting give me anxiety and a confusing kind of fear? She is seven and little. I could totally take her out. Let’s reason through this together. Here are some thoughts I have considered:

1. It has been almost eight months since I have last seen her.  Maybe I feel guilty on some level, even though I had no control over the situation. Maybe the real guilt comes from knowing I had such a great year while I was away from her, a year she was almost no part of whatsoever.  I should have been miserable, but I wasn’t. I should have sent more things, but I didn’t. I should have called more often, but I didn’t. I should have, I didn’t.

2. Maybe I am worried her visit will be awkward or that she won’t have a good time. I’ve made some plans for things we can do, but I kept away from over planning as well. I have lists and even considered (briefly) making a flow chart to follow in case we couldn’t decide what to do.  I am most worried that she won’t want to come back next time, that she will tell her brother it wasn’t fun or sigh disappointingly the next time her mother tells her about plans for her to visit. Having a kid is inviting emotional torture into your life. Somehow it is both wonderful and terrifying, (numinous even, thanks Rudolf, are you sure it was God you were thinking of?)

3. Maybe I am worried that we’ll have such an awesome time that sending her back will be traumatic, for either or both of us. What if everything is even better than I imagined? What if we strengthen a bond I thought was weak, she confesses she is miserable at her mother’s and wants to live with me, we have an uninterrupted series of Hallmark moments and then I have to put her on a plane alone again and send her back while watching her eyes fill with tears? OK, that was a bit dramatic, but you get my point. It’s shitty whether she loves hanging out with me or hates it, and I’ll feel guilty either way!

Conclusion: I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not fit to be a parent. Everything is meaningless chaos. I want to say that I’ve placed too much importance on what somebody else thinks of me. If she were an adult, I’d brush it off. What do I care? I am me, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. But that doesn’t work when its your kid. For some reason their opinions are immune from attempts to be dismissed or rationalized.

There is one thing I will get right during the five days she will be here. During the years leading up to my overseas vacation I spent most nights juggling multiple classes and reading as much as possible. It was important for me to be the best in each class I took, and I was interested in the material so it wasn’t that difficult to keep up. But it was time consuming. I turned down reading bedtime stories more often than I should have and when I occasionally caved in it was grudgingly. I am going to read her to sleep every night that she is here.

Maybe that’s all I can do. I’ll just try to make up for lost time but I’m not going to force it or get bent out of shape if things aren’t perfect. That’s what this writing is for anyway, a pressure value. Yeah, I feel better already. A drink wouldn’t hurt either though.


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Scary right?