Friday, November 18, 2005

The Things I Have Learned

The following is the last entry from my last journal. I wrote it on March 1, 2003. I think there are some gems in there, but for the most part it reads like one of those crappy email forwards. Please do not forward the list to anyone. Ever.

This journal is nearly full. Who am I now? What have I to say? For much of my life I have been Oholibah. For much of mlife I have been Joshua. I am a man, like any other, who has built himself of faults and successes, vices and victories. I have made accomplishments no other man will ever make. I have admitted defeat to the same demons that work over the souls of so many other men, as is told in this babbling book. I am ordinary in many respects and extraordinary in others. In short, I am a nobley average man. I see my ugliness. I see the destitute I am without Christ. The discarded infant kicking in the dust covered in the blood of birth. I see the adorned wife, the spotless bride of God. Both of these I know in myself. I am the pheonix. I am the leper, the blind man wincing at his first glimpse of day. I can feel the tapestry of my soul spun into golden robes through the stitching of the spirit of God. I think back to who I was when I started this journal, and I see how far I have come. I have come to terms with my ugliness. I have taken up smoking. I have known the cleansing of forgiveness. I have felt the opening stages of romance, and survived the death of a passion. I have learned to watch the world again, to feel the earth around me. I have acknowledged my sin as I have acknowledged my mortality. I am pleased with myself, but not proud. I am a sinner. I am a saint. My greatest victory of late has been in understanding that comfort is unrecognizable without discomfort.

Fallen men know no joy wihtout the threat of pain.

The hideous tail of love is loss. The trick is to learn not to fear. Fear neither love nor loss, joy nor sorrow.

Fear not the extremeties in life, for the give birth to one another. Learn to embrace them both, not as friends, but as inevitabilities.

Our lives here are largely based on causality and patter recognition.

The trick to living is to be content.

Be content in suffering so that you recognize joy. Be content with joy in order to outlast suffering.

Growth causes pain and pain causes growth. If we run from either, we experience neither.

Paradoxes are not meant to be solved, merely known.

Beauty is an essence, not a construct, and love is a choice, not a chemical.

Plenty of people on this earth will live with aversion or possession as their only goal. Do not listen to these men.

The rich are blinded by their lust. The poor are blinded by their thirst. Listen to neither of these men.

True friends are to be trusted and then forgiven.

Take your life as it comes to you and ask it where it comes from, not where it is leading you.

The words of men who publish themsevles are seldom genuine ;)

No man attempts to do evil.

No man wants to be wrong.

The glass half empty is full of water and air.

The abundance of a thing does not make it non-existant.

Learn to observe.

Walk slowly.

Drive in the right lane.

Do not envy anyone, chances are they envy you.

Love everyone, and everyone will love you.

Dogs that bite are taken out back and shot.

Keep secrets as they are given, but do not ask anyone to bear the weight of keeping yours.


Listen to glad music when you want to least of all.

Be thankful for everything.

Anger is never appropriate.

Maliciousness is never intentional.

Violence is always reactionary.

Forgiveness is the sharpest sword and the fastest bullet.

Every man blows his nose and cleans his ears, no one is above this.

Wealth is an illusion, if you are unconcerned with it, you will find that you have it.

Sadness occurs because we choose to focus on the voids in our lives.

Faith is stronger than belief.

Hope is stronger than possession.

Love is stronger than fear.

Pessimists are lonely, optimists are stupid.

Lies are contagious and water themselves.

Complaining is fatiguing.

Labor makes rest more pleasant.

Worry is unproductive.

Talk to strangers.

Tell everyone that you love them.

Youth is never wasted.

Innocence is never lost.

Watch the people you are talking to our you won't know when to shut up.

Never interrupt someone, chances are they won't listen to you either.

Love the people no one else loves.

Fear God.

Traps set for foxes catch bears, traps set for bears catch foxes.

Incorrigible children are in need of love.

All men are selfish, so give yourself away.

Make faces in the mirror.

Sing in the shower.

See if you can hear the stars.

Man has yet to destroy the sunrise.

Traditions are useful.

Never take the lead and it will be given to you.

Pray for everyone, just in case.

Be a good host.

Cleanliness is overrated.

Messiness is distracting.

There are at least two thousand individual scents in any given room.

Learn people's names.

Be content with who you are, but never finish.

Dead people don't cooperate.

Love and violence are circles that interrupt each other.

No matter the evil, you are forgiven.

"Five is a sufficiently close approximation of infinity."


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Get Serious

The state of Kansas in their attempts to call evolution into question, has decided to redefine science. No kidding. They came up with a new definition for the word "science." Their definition claims that Science is "a systematic method of continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena." This instead of the previous "Science is the human attempt to find a natural explanation for what happens in the world."

I guess the reasoning goes like this: If science finds the "natural explanation" for where everything came from, then our "supernatural explanation" will be in jeopardy. So, Kansas redefined science.

Thank you Kansas.

This type of thing really gets me fired up because of what the world hears. The religious right is so much louder than the religious moderates and the religious left. Why can't the religious right realize that God very well could have made the world through evolution? I mean, what is more beautiful, finding that science supports the creation account described in Genesis? Or tossing God and science in the ring? How foolish does the rest of the world think all Christians are because of what a few Christians in Kansas have done?

This is precisely the thing that makes me ashamed to be a Christian sometimes. If being a Christian means I have to be afraid of science... if being a Christian means that I have to stand on the street corner and tell you that you're going to hell... if being a Christian means that I have to like George Bush... if being a Christian means I have to support the war in Iraq... if being a Christian means I have to hate people for cussing, drinking, smoking, and having sex... if being Christian means I have to wear a shitty "Abreadcrumb & Fish" tee-shirt, if being Christian means I have to click my tongue at you when you do something I wouldn't do, if being Christian means I have to talk about beating up the devil, if being Christian means I agree with everything my pastor says, if being Christian means bombing abortion clinics, if being Christian means going to church on Sunday and then doing whatever the hell I want to do the rest of the week, then count me out.

On the other hand... if I'm allowed to be a Christian and read a book... if I'm allowed to be Christian and drink a beer... if I'm allowed to be a pacifist, a philosopher, an artist, a postmodernist, and a democrat, then count me in. I know I'm not the only Christian in the world who believes in evolution, smokes cigarettes, curses on occasion, listens to the radio, watches movies, and loves people. Why are we all so quiet? Why do we allow the religious right to define Christianity to the rest of the world?

There are so many people in the world hating Christians because the Christians with their heads on straight are all hiding in the closet saying "I'm not like all the other Christians." It's time for us to make a stand. It's time to tell the world that Christians are intelligent, loving, and that we are indoctrinated in the culture. It's time for Christians to stand up for themselves and let the world know that we belive in Christ, and that we don't hate them.

It's time for the rest of the culturally minded Christians to get out of the closet and tell the world that being Christian isn't something we're ashamed of. It's time to let the world know that the intolerant religious right is the red-headed step child of Christianity. It's time to stop being defined by the most brazen, impatient, inconsiderate, and intolerant members of the church. Come on... if we bum rush the 700 club all at the same time, we'll knock 'em on their asses.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


As I am sure many of you know, France is dealing with the largest eruption of civil unrest in thirty-seven years. For several weeks now Parisians have been burning cars and hurling rocks and make-shift bombs at responding police officers. It appears as though the riots started in response to the accidental deaths of two teenagers who were hiding from police. But, now they seem to be the result of rising tensions over higher unemployment and lower wages in Parisian immigrant populations. Fortunately, the riots are not organized. There is no group leading the riots, and they are not based in any particular ideology.

That is why I am curious about how the media is reporting on these riots. I have been reading in several news sources, and each report has phrases such as: "The rioters are claiming no religous overtones." And most reporters are going so far as to tell us the ethnic background of every interviewee. In yesterday's article in the New York Times, we read that among the interviewees are a two French-Africans, one French-Arabian, an elderly Jewish-Romanian woman, and a Maltese boy.

I found both of these similiarities to be curious. Why would the media need to tell us what an event was not? Why do we need to know the ethnic background of all of the interviewees? The answer might be a bit self-abasing.

See without being so crass as to say it out loud, the media knows that unless we are told otherwise, we will assume that these riots are being carried out by Islamic terrorists calling a Jihad against Paris. The media has picked up on our prejudice and in their attempts to report news accurately, not only do they have to tell us what is going on, they have to tell us what is not going on.

When I first realized that the media was doing this, I thought that the media was being a bit racist in it's coverage of the story. After thinking further however, I realized that the media is telling us something about ourselves. When the American people hear, "bomb", "riot", or "violent protest", we immediately turn our minds toward Muslims. The media knows that we do this, and in response to the racist tendencies of the American mind, the media is dispelling a rumor before it takes off.

I understand that we are not entirely to blame for this. Fanatic Muslims have generated a prejudice within us through their increased terrorist actions. However, I had a bit of a wake up call this morning when I realized that the media was speaking directly to me. Until I was informed otherwise, I, myself, believed that the riots were being sparked by Islamic terrorists. I see myself a person pretty aware of my own prejudices, and I think I try not to indulge in them by any measure, but I was more than a little surpised to find myself confronting a prejudice of which I was unaware. I am glad that the media is working to dispell this prejudice, and for the first time in a long time, I applaud the media for taking what seems to be an ethical step forward by being proactive and working against a prejudice. Even if it is a prejudice which they may have had a strong hand in forming.

I just hope that the introspection is not limited to myself. I hope many of us realize that we have the same prejudice, and I hope we work to destroy it. If we continue to assume that every riot and bombing is carried out by Islamic terrorists, if we assume that the riots in France are about fanatic religion, and not about de facto racism in the French economy, we will fail to learn from the French rioters. Afterall, the American economy is just as unfavorable to immigrants and minorities as is the French economy. Hopefully, America will take a cue from the French rioters. Hopefully we will be a little more proactive about our economic divide than were Mr. Chirac and the rest of the French Government. What is true of ancient history is also true of recent history. If we fail to learn from it, we will be doomed to repeat it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Just in case some of you missed this story in the New York Times:

"The Labor Department's inspector general strongly criticized department officials yesterday for "serious breakdowns" in procedures involving an agreement promising Wal-Mart Stores 15 days' notice before labor investigators would inspect its stores for child labor violations.

The Labor Department reached the settlement in January after finding 85 child labor violations at Wal-Mart stores in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Arkansas, involving workers under 18 who operated dangerous machinery, including cardboard balers and chain saws.

Wal-Mart settled the investigation by agreeing to pay $135,540, but it continued to deny any wrongdoing."
- Steven Greenhouse, 11/1/05.

Just to catch you up.