Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

High School Sexual Culture

The trip had begun like most of our church youth group trips had, with me working on the 1970-too old, Dodge Crap-O-Van. Was it a new water pump that time or a bad alternator? I can’t remember. I do remember the crunch of gravel under my feet and the singing of the cicadas from the church parking lot’s only tree, so I know it was in August. I remember praying to God for the strength to get through the whole repair without using sinful language, but I prayed that prayer frequently working on old vans.

I can’t remember what the trip was for, either. Were we going to some Bible college? A Christian rock concert? Or was it the trip to Denver where we spent two weeks doing vacation Bible school puppet shows? It’s been so long since then, but those youth groups trips were incredibly important to me, at the time. My father’s post traumatic stress and my mother’s agoraphobia created a home where friends weren’t very welcome. We lived deep in the cornfields, where dad could shoot paper targets until the fear went away and mom could drink in the sun and trees until the strain of normal life was lifted. I came of age not at school, not hanging out with my friends, but at Bible camp, in Sunday school, and on the sticky vinyl seats of our church’s 15 passenger van.

For whatever reason we’d gone, I will never forget the trip back. We were exhausted, and all of us were fading in and out of sleep. The engine was a continuous roar, drowning out conversation and the tires droned out a hypnotic hum down the interstate. I was in the first passenger seat, in the middle between several thousand dollars of sound equipment on the right, and Darcy Trigg was on my left. I laid my head against the cold, hard fiberglass of the roadie boxes, and closed my eyes.

We hit bump and I awoke, conscious only of scratchiness across my face. I moved my hand up to the scratchiness, and confusingly found something soft and warm. The fog of sleep clearing, I realized that in my sleep I had turned away from the hard case, and turned instead to Darcy. My eyes fluttered open, and I froze. The scratchiness was the collar of Darcy’s sweater, stretching across my face from chin to widows peak. Not only had I turned to her in my sleep, I had laid my head on her chest and slid down. One eye looked down the front of her sweater, but the other was on the inside, her ample breasts and white satin bra, cast a warm pink by the sunlight shinning through her top.

She must be asleep, I thought, and there is no way, that if she wakes up she is going to believe this is an accident. She’s going to to know what a disgusting pervert I am, and no girl will ever talk to me again…I will be “that guy.” I closed my eyes, and very carefully and very slowly moved away, sitting perfectly straight, and not opening my eyes until I was in a position to stare straight ahead. Then, and only then, did I slowly turn my head to Darcy.

Her chin was in her left hand, her elbow on the window sill, watching the cornfields shoot by. She’d been awake the whole time! Clearly she hadn’t pushed me off or woken me because she was mortified with embarrassment. I was so ashamed, and yet I didn’t want Darcy to think that I thought she was ugly. I wanted to say that I thought she was beautiful but at the same time I was terrible sorry for violating her. My mouth was dry and I felt shaky.

“Darcy..” I whispered loud enough for her to hear, but too quiet to carry over the road noise to any other listening ears, and leaned towards her for greater privacy.

“I…I was asleep…I…didn’t…” I stammered.

She turned to me slowly, her eyes big and kind, bashful from underneath her brow, a slight smile upon her lips. She leaned toward me, closing the space between us I’d made by sitting up straight, and laid her hand on my knee.

“I didn’t mind,” she said softly. She searched my eyes, her serenity and kindness pitying my confusion and fear. Squeezing my knee, she sighed contentedly and returned to watching the landscape out the window, giving me a last over-the-shoulder smile.

I sat in total confusion. Darcy was the kindest, most gentle soul I knew at the time. Growing up in a world that divided women into nice girls and sluts, Darcy’s credentials as a nice girl were impeccable. She was quiet, demure, modest, and serious. She knew the Word, and walked the walk…and she told me that I had done nothing wrong and she enjoyed me having my face down her shirt. I realized then that maybe good girls did want to be kissed, held, and touched. Maybe, just maybe, good girls might have sex drive, and maybe a girl could want me, the geeky guy with the thick glasses, because I was OK, and not because she was screwed up.

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November 11, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, feminism, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Open Marriage

I’ve been meaning to write a blog about open marriage for a while.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post it on this blog or an anonymous blog I maintain, and I decided I wanted to share this openly. (If you read both, please don’t reveal that here.)  It’s a sensitive topic, and I’ve waited so long to write about it to make sure I said exactly what I wanted to say.  I want to say why this topic matters to me, even though as anyone who knows me is aware, my wife and I are now, as we have been through out our marriage, sexually monogamous.  We have every plan of being so for the rest of my military career (to do otherwise would be a violation of the military code of justice, Article 134).

To understand why open marriage matters me, you have to know a little bit about me.  A man is the alloy of his past.  I am not just an atheist.  I am an atheist who used to be a Christian.  It is doubtful to Christians, I’m sure, that a man who can look at a sunset and say honestly, he sees no fingerprint of the Almighty, once believed that in the same God they do, and did so with all his heart.

I was never good at it, but I sought Christ and to be his follower with all my heart. Despite my later de-conversion, I was as sincerely a Christian as I could be.  God ways were at the core of everything I thought, and when what I wanted overpowered want I knew I should do I felt an agonizing guilt.  Thus at the advanced age of 12 I decided I needed to start looking for a wife!

It was only logical. The Apostle Paul said in First Corinthians 7:9 it is better to marry then be consumed with desire for sex, and around puberty I was consumed.  The fact I was 12, unemployed, and hadn’t even started (let alone finished) highschool wasn’t import.  God said it was better to marry then to burn, so I needed to marry.  This was especially important since I looked lustfully at women and masturbated. To obey God fully, I needed to poke my eyes out and cut my hands off.  (Mathew 5:27-30). I felt terrible for so lacking in faith that I couldn’t make myself obey God with regards to mutilation.  By seeking marriage, I was able to obey God, yet not hurt myself.

I thought I would never be able to wait till I got married.  When as a young man, I was in my first serious relationship (that is to say one where the woman was in as big-a-hurry to get married as I was) I was able to refuse her. Later, when I would meet the woman I would later marry, I found a new dimension to desire that I hadn’t known before.  We were both interested in the institution of marriage to get sex, so desire was obviously a component, but there was something else.  There was this feeling that I was incomplete and I wouldn’t be complete until I was with her. You’d think that would have made us hop in the sack, but actually it made it easier to wait, because it was something special and we didn’t want to wreck it.

Like all good Christians, waited till we were married.  It was (and is) groovy and I don’t regret it waiting for it.  The thing is, both of us approaching marriage as God’s blessed vehicle for sex, we didn’t really get the intimacy aspect of it.  We’d wanted sex so much, but we’d wanted it as novelty, the way person wants to drive car they’ve only read about.  It took us years to understand the intimacy aspect, the way you could love someone so much that you needed to be part of them in the most intimate way possible.  When I’d first met my wife, as a product of my Christian upbringing, I didn’t understand how you could feel love and lust for the same person at the same time.   Eventually, I would understand the line between merely hungering for sexual release with someone I cared about and needing to drown in her soul.

What of open marriage? Well, my story begins, as I’m sure many men’s do, with my wife’s best friend.  She wasn’t just that though. She was one of my best friends too. She was an aunt to our child.  She called me brother and I called her sister.  She was family, by choice and not by chance.  She was part of our life, we all loved one another.  I’d been terrified at first, when I realized I loved her, but how could I not? My wife loved her, she loved my wife, she loved my daughter, my daughter loved her.  What was I so scared off?  Scared of getting hurt? Of disappointing God or myself?

I turned to the Bible, seeking to understand God’s heart about love.  What I found was that what made the church different was love. The Bible never says “don’t have close relationships with people of the opposite sex you aren’t married to” that’s a decision the church has made because often such relationships often end badly.   Being who I am, that wasn’t enough for me. Morality means doing whats right, regardless of the personal cost.  Doing whats right only when its costless is the morality of a sociopath.  God commands us to love on another.  So…I did.

It was beautiful.  I hurt when she hurt. I was happy when she was happy.  She was a little ray of sunshine in our lives.  A source of continual surprise to me was that I had no desire to have sex with her.  It turned out I could love a woman and not be consumed with a desire to screw her! I was ecstatic to learn that.  It was wonderful to learn that I wasn’t as broken inside as I thought.

She was a very physical person.  She hugged a lot, play fought a lot, flopped onto one of us on the couch a lot, and all the normal things that people who love each other do.  It was all just good, clean love.  When I finally realized I did want to sleep with her, it was such I totally different feeling then I had expected that I didn’t know when it had started.

I didn’t want to screw her.  I didn’t want to ruin what we had or even just have a sexual release with her.  I just wanted all of her.  As a young man I wanted sex with a woman I loved as a guilt free upgrade from Rosie Palm.  As a man who had been married for several years, I wanted sex with a woman I loved because of the incredible power that sex has to bond people who love each other together.

I knew such an act would be a sin, of course.  Though the Bible does not forbid polygamy, the Bible does say you must follow the law of your land (Romans 13:1-4) excepting when it tells you to sin (Acts 5:29).  Polygamy is illegal in the US, so it would be a sin to do it.  What I also knew was the desiring her was not a sin.  I didn’t want anything wrong.  I wanted to be more deeply bonded to a woman I deeply loved.  As I had felt that for my wife, I felt it for our friend.  My wife and I talked about it, frequently.  When guilt snuck up on me, she would remind me there is no such thing as a bad feeling.  Feelings are good, it’s the actions we take that are good or bad.

Eventually, this feeling became so strong that I had to tell her about it, not because I expected her to be comfortable with it, but because there comes a point where if something is on your heart, you have to share it with the people you love.  To do otherwise becomes a sort lie by lifestyle.  Though I didn’t want tell her, I told her.  Knowing it made her horribly uncomfortable which was fair and reasonable.

What wasn’t fair and reasonable we her insisting the desire was wrong.  I didn’t mind being told “no” or “Ew gross”.  I minded very much being told that I was somehow broken for wanting to be deeply connected to a woman I was in love with.  We worked things out but, not perfectly.  At some level, she thought I was a pervert for desiring her.  When the person you love looks at your insides ands sees damage in the places that make you love them, well that hurts a lot.  We drifted apart over the years and my atheism (when I de-converted) broke her heart and scared her.  As an atheist, I wasn’t just a man who desired her, I was a man who desired her and no longer had the holy spirit to help control his lusts.  Again we tried to keep going…but in the end it just hurt too much.  We got sick of hurting each other, and parted ways (mutually and peacefully) each hopping the other person would change.

So, in the end, loving two woman (even though I was only sleeping with the one I married) didn’t work out.  Nor do I think it works out for most people.  Why, oh why, would want to talk about this?  Because I loved.  Most relationships don’t “work out”. Very few of the people we are friends with are going to be there forever.  People move. People change. People grow.  People live and people die. That’s life, and life is better when we love.

I feel for her because I let myself love her.  There is an easy solution: I would have never wanted to make love to her if I hadn’t let myself love her first.  I could have had safe, empty, riskless, shallow “friendship”.  Instead I let myself love, and that love and my honesty about it ultimately cost me the friend.  But I would have never had that friend in the first place if I had never loved.  The three of us had a great three years together.  I wouldn’t trade that for three years of nothing with no heartbreak at the end.

I loved courageously.  It was beautiful. I won’t do it the same again, and I highly, highly doubt there will ever be another like her again.  I will probably die having never made love to any woman but my wife, and I am totally OK with that.  It’s just, I understand now how two people could love someone else so much, that they want that person to part of their marriage.  It was so great, even in the little, chaste way we experienced it, I would love to meet a person like that, even as I am at peace with the fact the chance of it is nigh impossible.

October 27, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Government, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Feminism and me

So, I mentioned previously that I am trying learn about feminism.  My wife is taking a minor in woman’s studies for her associates degree because (aside from the fact she is truly interested) it’s a study path that gives her the most credits transferable to her bachelors in political science. So, I’ve been reading her textbook and some of the recommended supplementary reading.

So, here (at my currant level of ignorance) is my opinion of feminism.  First off, I think feminism makes a lot of valid points.  It asks questions that it wouldn’t occur to most people to ask.  For instance, most people are probably aware that women, in general make about 75% of what men make.  Some people are aware that women primarily make less because they work less hours, for fewer years, with more frequent career and work site changes.  Adjusted for this, you would find that women make 93% of what men make.

Feminism, looks to the fewer hours, for fewer years, with more frequent career and work site changes and says, but why? Because we have a two tier job market: One tier for people who have no other imperative responsibilities but servicing the job (most of whom are men), and a second tier for people who might need to change hours, or be absent from time to time (most of whom are women).  Now, lest you think the first tier exists to provide good employment, it doesn’t.  The high wage earning man can be fired at any time.  No, the first tier exists to service the industry, and the second tier exists (with poor wages) to subsidize the industry of  first tier and not the people in it.  Factories can’t keep churning if the (predominately men) on the line have to nip off to pick up sick kids.  Nope, thats the woman’s job.  Women make less because if they don’t take crappy jobs that let them take care of the kids in addition to work, their husbands will get fired.

Bravo feminism! I would have never noticed that on my own.  The perspective of women showed me something I, as a man, would have never thought of.  It turns out that there is a lot more flexibility of hours (and far less hours all together) in Germany and France, and better social protection (ie, getting paid even when you can’t go to work) yet according to the UN and CIA those countries have as-good-or-better a standard of living as the US.  So, a system with less hours, more flex, and more social protection doesn’t even have to hurt.

But then, I randomly run into these perspectives, under the umbrella of feminism, that are just bat-shit insane. Notably, that Marxism could fix everything if it was just given the right chance, that the phrase “blaming the victim” is a magic spell that can be invoked in any context to absolve the victim of any responsibility whatsoever* and that a the media, and not a person’s choice to believe all outlets of the media are a fount of truth is the cause of bad self image.

*I note here, there in some cases the victim has no responsibility; Rape is such a case. Child abuse is such a case.  Poverty is not. Poverty has many causes, some are systemic but some are personal.  The people of the US, and the government they elect has not even scratched the surface of the systemic causes of poverty, but that policy failure does mean that we can ignore the personal issues.

I am glad there are feminists out there, and their probably needs to be more.   I think feminism is imperative to the healthy functioning of democracy. If I had a sum of money to give away, I could give it to some feminist agencies with clear conscience.  I support the goals of the movement.  I support the spirit of the movement.

But if Marxism is the answer, what was the question?

October 18, 2009 Posted by | feminism, Government, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Transportation, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The coming blue funk

Ok, so I am almost done with my Health Care V post.  It’s a honking 2k words and I need to edit the crap out of it.  I’ve actually found some false conclusions and mis-facts that I hadn’t caught the first time, but I will probably leave those in because the concepts are right, and the type of polishing I need to do will probably be part of larger project where I rewrite the whole US system. It probably doesn’t have a chance of getting published but I would like to do the kind of editing that published work gets, so you all get the 2nd draft instead, in a couple more days.

Being a full time student has changed the way I view the passage of time. My life is broken down into 8 week blocks, and I can keep alot better track of when I feel good and when I feel like crap.  I am nearing the end of pretty pleasant 3 weeks.  This Monday I just couldn’t get excited about going to work.  The day drags on, I seem to get head aches easier, and I am tired all day, but then can’t sleep when I get to bed.  The petty irritations of social interaction with strangers weighs on me.

Times like this…

are when porn seems like a great idea. Porn is a substitute but not a very good one.  The way I feel after hitting up porn because I am sad is the same I way I feel when I haven’t eaten all day and late in the night eat a bag of Dorittos.   Satiated, but still empty.

are when I wish I could go home.  I’m not sure why, but I checked out when I was around 15.  My parents did their best to make a home, but from about 15 all I could think about was leaving.  I’ve been on the run from myself every since.  It’s only been very recently I decided that when my enlistment is up I am going back to Iowa and I am going to build a real life there.

are when I wish I could still pour my soul into a six string the way I used to.

are when I wish I could be as broken on the outside as I feel on the inside and be taken home by a well meaning woman to sleep pathetically beside her. Me feeling blessed by her presence, and her by my tears.  It’s a primal feeling that I can never entirely shake.  It’s not about sex, just acceptance.  (The strength of that feeling is why I don’t get drunk, and why I don’t frequent bars, btw.)

are when I wish I could still go the community art class I took in highschool, and turn out delightful abstract nonsense on the potters wheel.

are when I wish the claims of religion had evidence, so I could believe them.

Some of these things have consequences I will not risk.  Once upon a time, these feelings made it hard for me to hold down a job, but I’ve learned to live with them.  It is rare, this early in my blue swing that I will wake up tomorrow and feel better.  Once this starts it takes about two weeks to work out.  But, it will get better.  There will be moments of dark clarity, moments of where melancholy poetry is possible, moments where, because of frailness a single kind word will carry me up to the sky.

It’s not bad to be me.  Sometimes it’s just harder than others.  I will not say there is something wrong with me because this happens to me.  I’m not damaged, just different.   Sometimes I look at sunrise and I see the glory of a new day.  Sometimes I look at sunrise and I try and find those happy hopeful thoughts, but all I can feel is the pressing blackness of another day of struggle.   Regardless of whether I see darkness or light, I’d rather be the me I am then try to be someone else.

Maybe that someone else, that perfect Christian self who didn’t feel those ways was the person I was running away from for all those years, and “home” was wherever I didn’t think I had to keep up the masquerade.

September 1, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Miley Cyrus is not a pole dancer.

Just a quick, throw away post about current events. (Health Care IV will come soon.)  Ok, I don’t follow celebrity news, if fact I don’t follow celebrities at all.  I’m a big believer in Cintra Wilson’s theory “Celebrity reexamined as a grotesque, crippling disease” .  But I feel a need to weigh in on this one.

Miley Cyrus does not disturb me.  What deeply, deeply disturbs me is what the world has done to her.  She is a goddess of sexless purity.  Parents make her hero to their daughters because she is pure, and clean, and good.  We know that she is pure, and clean, and good because she is unsullied by any sexuality whatsoever.  She has no sexual identity.  Her gender exists completely in following social convention.  She is the plastic, sexless ken doll of the age, to be dressed and positioned however the narrative of her sexless perfection demands.

The problem of course, is that I am describing a fictional character.  This is not the flesh and blood Miley Cyrus, but the highly successful Miley Cyrus brand.  Let me steal from Wikipedia here…

Careful brand management, supported by a cleverly crafted advertising campaign, can be highly successful in convincing consumers to pay remarkably high prices for products which are inherently extremely cheap to make. This concept, known as creating value, essentially consists of manipulating the projected image of the product so that the consumer sees the product as being worth the amount that the advertiser wants him/her to see, rather than a more logical valuation that comprises an aggregate of the cost of raw materials, plus the cost of manufacture, plus the cost of distribution. Modern value-creation branding-and-advertising campaigns are highly successful at inducing consumers to pay, for example, 50 dollars for a T-shirt that cost a mere 50 cents to make, or 5 dollars for a box of breakfast cereal that contains a few cents’ worth of wheat.

Ford doesn’t really have a personality.  Diseny doesn’t have a personality.  These are massive, multinational conglomerates.  But people treat brands like people: they have personalities, values, wishes, etc.  And the key to the $3.5 million per annum Miley Cyrus brand is the perverts’ idealization of childhood: A perpetual thirteen, one foot poised on childhood, one foot poised on sexuality.  Perhaps Britney Spears said it best with the song “I’m not girl, not yet a woman”.  Unfortunately for the Britney Spears brand, a perpetual gum chewing, curl twirling 13 year old did not appeal as much to the brand’s name sake as growing up.  Britney Spears first real controversy?  Her development of full breasts.  She went, as most young women will, from a B cup to a C cup.

The spokes person of the brand shattered the sick fantasies of nation by having hormones.  The response? Unchecked rage, which only grew worse as she committed such horrible sins having sex drive, or having adult relationships.

Back to Miley Cyrus.  Her first controversy was a “topless” photo in Vanity Fair.  The words “child pornography” were thrown around.  Pornography has a fascinating entomology, being Greek for “Writings about whores”.

cusl02w-miley

If this image is pornographic to you, you need to talk to a therapist.  There is nothing sexual about this image at all.  (See comment).  Unless you’re a pervert.  But by doing this photo, she make clear that she had intentions of becoming a woman. That at some point in the future there would a person who was experiencing sexuality instead being totally oblivious to it.   And for that, all the perverts were up in arms.  They wanted her to stand between girl and woman so they could desire her, but tells themselves it was a pure healthy desire.  The image forced them to admit they were sexually attracted to her.  And for causing that revelation, she had to become “bad”.

But the point here is Miley Cyrus’s most recent flub.  SHE WAS POLE DANCING…SEE

miley-cyrus-pole-dancing-teen-choice-awards-03

Words like “pole dancing” “leather clad”,  “provocative” “dressed like a hooker” were bandied about.  Of course, the less popular version of this photo is this…

Miley-Cyrus-pole-dancing-20090810212121

Yeah, see she wasn’t “pole dancing” she was hanging onto a pole on top of a moving cart so she wouldn’t fall off.  It’s called a “stage show”.  Her ability to do that, while lip syncing, dancing, smiling, and not smudging her make-up, is one of the reasons she makes a couple million a year and most of us don’t.

But the public has to do this.  When ever Miley Cyrus the person (who actaully exists and has needs and desires) conflicts with Miley Cyrus the brand (which is pure fabrication to sell shitty merchandise) society at large must lose it’s pathetic little mind.  Because if Miley Cyrus isn’t child anymore, she forces people to admit they are getting old and their attraction to her is a bit perverse.  Thinking she is “dirty”, “slutty”, or “bad” is much easier then admitting they have problem.  Miley Cyrus’s (TM) owners however, make a lot more money if this pathology is encouraged.  Tellingly, the first person called in when she was accused of making child porn was not a lawyer specializing in anti-liable cases, or even a PR rep, but Disney brand consultant.

Oh, and my original thought, before this turned into a multimedia, decently researched post? Just because someone is famous, doesn’t mean they are a role model. In fact, it might  just mean they’re not.

August 29, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, feminism, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Health Care Debate III

I thought this was going to be an easy post.  I thought, hey, the insurance companies are a bunch a bastards, but it turns out insurance companies, while not blameless, are not quite the devils I’d thought.

Basically, health insurance is expensive because (1.) Continual, long term expenses are a really stupid thing to pay with insurance. (2.) Hospital bills are really high and require high premiums.  Could insurance be improved? Certainly, but it is not the real cause of high medical bills.

So, then I went into why hospital bills are so high.  Basically hospital bills are high for a few reasons. (1.) Fear of litigation, rather than litigation itself, causes a lot of unnecessary stuff to be done.  (2.) Hospitals are a skilled labor intensive industry, and skilled labor is very costly. (3.) The existing socialized care costs the hospital about 15% loss off of net, or about a 40% loss off of gross.  Could hospitals improve administration and information management?  Certainly, but those are marginal gains compared to over-treatment and labor costs.

So, can hospitals be run cheaper?  Yes.  Should they be?  Should is a surprising long word. Every war in history has been fought between the S and the D of should. Should implies is an ideological question, not an economic one.

So lets talk about ideology.  First off, do you have a right to health care?  Absolutely!  You have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Rights are tricky things though. The First Amendment says you have right to freedom of press.  Does this mean the government has to assist you in setting up your own news network? Or merely that the government is forbidden from preventing you from doing such?

You do have a right to life. You have right to not have the government forbid you from seeking health care. You categorically, do not have the right to have them provide it for you.  If you believe that health care is a right and the government must provide it, you must logically believe that government must provide printing presses to those to poor to afford them,  protests marches to those to poor to organize them, and guns to those to poor to buy them. (Your first and second amendment rights, respectively.)

Clearly, your right to life means the government cannot prevent you from seeking health care, not that it must provide it. So, accepting that fairly obvious fact, what is the health care problem? The fact the health care consumer is complaining health care costs too much really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.  Consumer think everything cost too much.  Producers think everything goes too cheap. Demand drives prices up, supply drives them down. So, what’s the problem?

Two possible ones: false expectations and market failure.

First false expectation?  You are entitled to long life.  Actually you’re not. No one is. Long life is combination of four things, genetics, choices, luck, and health care.  You know what the leading cause of death is in the United States? Heart disease. You know why that is pathetic? BECAUSE 80% OF IT IS PREVENTABLE THROUGH LIFE STYLE CHANGE!  That’s right, 80% (Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Nutrition)  Over 600K people died in 2006 from heart disease,  480,000 at the end of a series of stupid ideas.  Even if the US had the best health care in the world, even if by some economic miracle it was free, 20.8% of all fatalities would have happened anyway because people found health care more attractive than responsible living.

Second false expectation? The Law of Diminishing returns  doesn’t apply to health.  Actually it does.  Moving the age of mortality from 45 to 55 takes pennies.  From 55 to 65, took much more.  Surgery is a risk. We choose the risk of surgery when it is lower then the risk of not having it.  Unnecessary surgery means risk for no reason, and that means expense and injury.  Which leads me nicely into the…

Third false expectation: Doctors will make decisions dispassionately, and never expose patients to extra risk just to cover their legal rear.  Actually, doctors are people too.  And the fear of litigation hangs over them like anvil on string.  They order to many tests, and treat too agressively for fear of malpractice suits.  Which leads finally, to the…

Forth false expectation: people are entitled to a risk free life, and are entitled to compensation when risk has consequences.   No.  Just plain no.  Life is risk.  Hospitals, treatments, etc, all have risk, and if a person is made aware of the risks and choose the course anyway, they aren’t entitled to any form of compensation.

That just leaves market failure.  I try to keep my blogs under 1000 words, so I will have to write that one later.

August 27, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Pharmacology, Politics, Science, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Triumph of Existentialism and Atheism

Every kid wants to be a hero. We all ran around the house with a bath towel cape at one point, thwarting our imaginary nemesis, enlisting an annoying little sibling or long suffering family dog for our trusty sidekick. At some point, we lose the towel and the spider-man underoos but for at least few the dream never dies. Some us do grow up to be everyday heroes: firemen, cops, EMTs, etc., but most of us don’t.  We go to college or get a good union job in the local factory and with time we stop thinking that we sold out. We change our definition of success until the daily grind meets it.

For me the desire to do something great and noble that I could truly be proud of never left me. I believed in a great story, written by the unerring hand of God and that God had a role for me in his unfolding drama.  God was the decider of human affairs. If I was to amount to anything in this world, it would be by the hand of God. I’ve been a very relational person my entire life, always aware of my emotions and the emotions of others. I could be carried up to the heavens with a single compliment or beaten down with a single harsh word. However, I had deep sensitivity to reality, an almost hyper-awareness of how feeling that something is true does not make it true. I poured myself into Christianity because it was the only context I had for greatness.

Adolescence didn’t cure me of these thoughts, but it did change me in two ways that weren’t compatible with Christianity. First, I became sexually aware. I thought about sex constantly and frequently while masturbating. Also, I began to struggle with occasionally despondency. God’s commands about sex and sexual fantasy are clearly withing marriage, and a Christian should be full of peace and joy, even in the midst of anguish, echoing Job’s “The Lord gives and takes away. Blessed be his name.” Relational as I way, this deeply concerned me. Love is shown in actions, sin “nails Christ to the cross again” so every time I was lusting I was hurting my friend and savior. I wanted a girlfriend and friends, and had none and few respectively. Christianity teaches that ones relationship with God is the fount from which all relationships flow, so when I was hurt, and lonely, and blue my pain was magnified by my additional failure to be totally content with God.

When high school was over, I was a full blown neurotic. The only thing I knew that I wanted to do with my life was to be great.  I had heard college was full of sex, drugs, and rock’n roll. To me, my inability to shut off my sexual desire showed my lack of self control. I knew the guilt that I would feel if I partied and slept with strangers, and out of fear of suicide in response, I went to Bible college instead.

Like so many young men away from home for the first time, the next part of my story begins with “So, I met this girl.” She was a little blond butterfly, social, friendly, and bouncy. I was so proud that she would even talk to me. At the same time, sensitive as I was, I knew she’d be hurt badly, torn apart inside. I could see it on her like a shadow.  Now in part I pursed her because she was cute, in part because she was aching. And I pursued because she was wounded in part because I wanted to help her, but in part because I hated myself. I thought I was trash, and thought when she realized what a filthy, disgusting person I was, only if she was desperate for man, only if she was broken inside, would she not leave me.

However, in the end, I broke up with her, believing her not to be a part of God’s plan for my life. I came home, and got a crappy job, followed by some random college classes. This became a pattern: work pointless jobs and fail out of college classes. I worked talentless, pointless jobs for almost nothing. I did it for two reasons. First, because I believed this was my path to greatness, from the lowly and humble to the top of the company by hard work and godly decisions making.  The other reason I believed this was because I still thought I was trash. I needed approval so badly and handled rejection so poorly that I took jobs any sane person would have turned down, because only when my peers were drug addicts, the developmentally disabled and the mentally ill did I feel I was appreciated enough in comparison.

During this time, I met the woman I am now married to. We did marry for love, but alloying that love was lot of desperation. For sex on my part and to get started having babies-for-Jesus on hers. I failed out college a last time, saying God needed me somewhere else, not that I hadn’t been proactive enough with my advisers about my needs as a student.  We were called to an inner city mission in Kansas City. The pain of previous failure would be worth it when we got to partner with God to save the city from Darkness. My daughter was born.

We went to that inner city saving church for 2 years. In many ways they were good years, but in the end, the church was a lot more interested in feeling like they were changing the world then changing it. Also the work environment I was in was filled with pornography, dirty stories, drugs, and cursing. To obey God and flee temptation, I quit my job, fully expecting God to give me a job that paid better, perhaps one SO nice, we wouldn’t have to take welfare anymore. The whole church prayed for us, but no one would help us.

Needing to hear that I had done the right thing, I called my brother, a pastor. He called me a fool and said that I was a failure as a father and husband.  I hung up the phone and sobbed like a little girl for three hours. When I could breathe again, I walked outside and sat on the porch. I looked at the clean new Cadillacs and broken beer bottles. I watched the drug dealers and the prostitutes mingle. I thought of my little girl upstairs. And the weight of it hit me. I was twenty five years old. My life was a third over and I had shat it all away.

In the words of Social Distortion “Well I’ve searched and I’ve searched/To find the perfect life/A brand new car and a brand new suit/I even got me a little wife/But wherever I have gone/I was sure to find myself there/You can run all your life/But not go anywhere.”  It was all my fault. I had done this all to myself. I was everything that Christianity said I was supposed be, possessing all the values that the Bible said I should have. I had lived in constant, slow, misery trying to find my place in God’s plan. I said out loud “American Christianity is a black hole. It’s never going to change anything. I’m going to find God on my own, and I am never trusting anyone else to take care of me or my family again. I’m never taking anyone’s word on what Truth is again, because the people that told me to obey God are sitting on their asses with good jobs and safe homes and I am sitting in fucking hole with loaded shotgun behind the door.” Three months later, the Air Force paid me for the privilege of moving all of my belongings to a prestigious a training school in Southern California.

I kept a promise to myself to truly understand scripture on my own. I read the Bible cover to cover and investigated the history of the early church.  A child could tell you it’s all just make believe. I didn’t make the cut in the 95% fail rate program, and for the first time in my life, the failure didn’t crush me because I didn’t care. I’d made my decision, I’d done my best. I took another career in the Air Force. I studied more and more about the Bible and began to study the things the Bible had argued with science. Science won.

And then I told my dear sweet wife, the one who had married me to raise sweet little Christian children with that I was atheist. It broke her heart. She would not have married me 5 years previous if I had been an atheist. I told her she could leave me, if she wanted a divorce I would give her one and she could have any portion of my income she wanted as long as I got to keep my daughter with me. She declined, and instead we began to get to know each other. And she fell in love again with the new me.  The me that didn’t think it was sin to sleep with other women, but chose her anyway.

And with time, the questions she had always had about Christianity became insurmountable to her. She progressed from Deist, to agnostic, to atheist.  For the first time in our lives, our future was what we made of it, not what our God ordained leaders said it was, not what the Bible said it should be, not what the Church said it was.  Our future was whatever we made it to be.  We worked our asses off. We got out of debt, became full time students, and began saving money. We started writing our own story.

That’s the key to atheism. I’m not a nihilist; I don’t think life has no meaning. I’m an existentialist. I think my life has the meaning I give it. For the first time in my life I am writing my own story. The things I did, the things I valued never belonged to me. Atheism has not cured me of occasionally struggling with despondency or even the rare depression I fall into. Importantly, neither did Christianity. Atheism gives me the freedom to accept occasional bouts of blue funk without feeling like a moral failure. Nor does atheism require to me to reject my emotional sensitivity and relational orientation as not manly enough. It takes away the right for others to tell me the best way to be…me.

Am I happy? Yes and no.  As I said, atheism and existentialism have not cured me of situational depression or high strungness. What is had cured is my belief that I need to be cured of my own identifying characteristics . I will make no apologies for what I am anymore, and ultimately, being content with who I am is a long way toward happiness. My whole life I wanted to do something great, something noble, something worth remembering. Now, I am. I am making something wonderful: me.

I am worth working on.  And starting from that single point, my dreams matter and are worth making real.

July 31, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Breakup poetry.

Ok, seriously, I have to stop posting my random, mostly high school-ish poetry, but I am having so much fun I can’t stop.  Haiku time, kids.

In breakup we both

lost some one we truly loved.

You lost more than I

July 28, 2009 Posted by | poetry, Self discovery, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sister in Christ

labelle-medlove

Brother this and brother that
Hold me I’m scared
and have I gotten fat?
Love should be shared

So tell me your prayers!
I’m ever so blessed
To have brother who cares
when I feel distressed

When I feel depressed
eyes stained red
Kind words confessed
He kisses my head

His white armour does shine
This man I love, “brother” of mine

Truly, I loved you
There could be no denying
My heart surely was true
But, a bit I was lying

Strong passions raised by your pining
I first feared your kindness
But you told me of love
How holiness makes blindness
Purity, gift from above

Would descend like a dove
And I believed
I fell for your drug
My heart was relieved

You were my “sister” appointed by Jesus
Divine friendship crafted to free us

Never had I loved with abandon
Trusted so completely
I wasn’t my way. I planned
relationships discretely

Scared to let love defeat me.
But you, I loved madly
Without contract or treaty
It couldn’t end badly

With the Lord as our daddy
Holy union, perfect, platonic
Life couldn’t go sadly
Love was our tonic

High on Jesus, love, and each other
I was truly happy being your “brother”

But a line had be crossed
A road had be started
The switch had been tossed
The train had departed

To and fro my emotions darted
I couldn’t shut it down
I became broken hearted
Needing more of the sound

Of your voice, heard round
Me. And every part of you.
needed to be around
I wanted all of you

I need to have all, the whole.
Union of flesh as well as the soul

Every time you touched my face
You called me brother
And I felt like disgrace
Because my feelings were other

Skin hot like a lover
You affection was damning
My smile a cover
Of the pain you were fanning

I hated my standing
Torn on the fence
One foot on your landing
The other intent

On running away from your sighs
and the adoration plain in your eyes

I didn’t know how to feel
I loved you so much
Not knowing how to deal
With hunger for your touch

Was it love or lust?
That drew my eyes
To your petite bust
And voluptuous thighs?

Wrong or right to despise
Myself, to feel a louse
For wanting you to abide
In my own house?

Torn up, I told you my feelings
You went sick, your stomach reeling.

I, your “brother”, no less
Wanted you for more?
This was plain incest
And I was a whore

The bands of union tore
You offended, left with a fight
your friend  no more
Because I didn’t love right

Years since that night
I’ve thought and thought
Relationship’s a rope tight
Upon which we walk

You told me to love you free
And did and loved indeed.

I would have gone back
And kept lying
At first when it was black
and felt I was dieing.

But after much sighing
I now know my statement
It was true love shining
And not abasement

Finished with self effacement
I wanted your body for your soul
Not for lusts enchainment
Intimacy means loving the whole

person, flesh, spirit or other.
Fear of love, not love, made you call me brother.

July 26, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, poetry, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Usual crappy poetry.

magdalen

A fallen women

I still dream of you sometimes, and I don’t know why.

Sometimes I am positive the only thing I want from you is the sex we never quite had.

Other times, I think I miss the companionship that we lost in the end.

I don’t know my own mind about you.

And I haven’t known you for so long, it doesn’t even matter anymore.

But some nights, I dream about you.

I wake up in the morning, and you are long gone.

And I miss you, in some way.

July 21, 2009 Posted by | poetry, Self discovery, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , | 11 Comments