It’s not complicated.
I do stupid things, from continuing a first date after hearing, “I smoke weed every day,” to marrying a drug addicted whore, to impregnating said whore, to divorcing said whore, to paying thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars to said whore, because I refuse to live a life without control.
“It’s just a first date.”
“I’m not breaking up with you because of deploying, and I’m not leaving a listless whore behind so she can get lonely and cheat.”
“We’re married. Why not do the kid thing?”
“I am NEVER going to allow circumstances to develop which may lead to this feeling again.”
“No judge. No court. No third person is ever going to tell me that I owe a whore money. I don’t care if that costs me more money than otherwise. I would not be able to live with myself if it was within a universe where someone can tell me to give her money. She has to ask. Like the whore she is. That universe, dark as it is, makes sense to me. Now you know, so leave me alone.”
As I write this I cannot deny that the word “depression” is all over it. It’s embalmed in the stupid decisions, it’s buried in the stupid reasons. It’s born by the stupid title.
(It feels good to add that confession. Smart.)
I’m not depressed. I’m not. I love life. I’m a freakin’ professional pilot. I get to fly with the eagles for pay. In fact, just the other day I breezed past two bald eagles on different occasions while up at about 1000ft. Can you imagine being an eagle and just climbing up and up and up? I can. And I can imagine it more accurately than you because I know what the eagles never think about. For all its apparent freedom, the sky is a pretty restricted, rule-ridden realm of the planet–if you’re human. But if you’re the eagle? He just soars. And I got to see him do it, looking right and looking down.
They were each surreal moments and are now treasured memories.
I’m not depressed. But I am angry. I am angry at the LORD. I am angry that, in all his infinite wisdom, he has put this woman in my life. For what? Or, KJV style, wherefore? Why?
To be determined, I guess.
I have never met anyone else like her. I’ve met blacks. I’ve met Mexicans. I’ve worked alongside ex-cons. Studied alongside killers. Worshiped with immigrants. Pimped prostitutes. Laughed with liars. But I’ve never met anyone else like her.
I guess I should be happy she’s only one entity. It could have been worse.
Still, I wish I had never met her. She is a black hole of malicious nothingness wrapped in a wrecking ball. I cannot even begin to imagine what her parents think of her. And to hear our daughter speak of her brings sadness every time. Sadness, because she lies to our daughter.
She lies to our daughter. She lies to our daughter. Oh yes, she lies to our daughter.
The reckoning is coming. I cannot wait.
She lies to our daughter. Oh boy, she lies to our daughter.
Does she not know I taught our daughter to read? Not just to sound out the words, but to actually read.
No, I’m not depressed. I’m excited.
She lies to our daughter. The reckoning is on its way.
I have faced the reckoning. Probably five of them by now. Hers is on its way.
Who lies to a child? Maybe before literacy among the three of us doubled, it would’ve worked. But our daughter knows how to read. I made sure of that.
Right or wrong, I do stupid things to stay in control. But teaching her to read was not stupid.
I’m so tired of leaders who attempt to dupe us with this, “It’s a marathon not a sprint,” talk.
Everyone knows the only reason they say it is they know they are making unbelievable decisions with obviously disastrous consequences. The analogy fails for a few reasons, but the most glaring is that there are two elements to the races mentioned: speed and distance. An analogy works best if there’s only one element.
Maybe it is obvious to you, but I don’t even know which one they mean. Do they mean, “Don’t worry about my leadership, it’s gonna be bad for a long time?” Or “Don’t worry about my leadership, it’s gonna be bad for many more miles?”
I know, I know, you think there’s no way they mean “miles”. Okay. So let’s look at the time comparison.
The world record for a marathon is run at a pace of 2m54s per kilometer which is 174s. Divided by 10, that is 17.4s per 100 meters. The world record for the 100 meter dash is 9.58s—so about twice as fast a pace.
But by now I’ve thoroughly confused myself because I don’t see the point anymore. Is the leader saying “Recovery is going to take twice as long as you think?” If that was all they were trying to say, I’d think they could say it—and follow it up with data on how long we think it’s going to be and how long it’s actually going to be (and that it’s double). And then I get suspicious because if they won’t say the “twice as long” thing in plain terms—no analogy—then I want to know why.
As I figured this, it came to mind, that with a sustained 17.4 second hundred meter dash for an entire 26.2 mile marathon (421+ sprints), I hardly think anyone would suggest the marathon runner is giving less than his absolute best effort every single step, every life-giving breath—no different than the sprinter. Both men are running their absolute fastest for the duration of the race. Hmm. Duration. Are they simply wanting us to acknowledge the problem is a long one? Why not just say that? I know, because it doesn’t make sense. Because then they’d have to define the problem. Because in their inability to define the problem, they’d look weak. So rather than look weak, they’re going to try to dupe us. Here’s a sarcastic big thumbs up.
Now it’s my turn to use the analogy. Hey, leaders! We’re not stupid. But we also aren’t seeing all that you are. So you have some advantage. Please do your best—including the way you communicate to us. For now, stop using this stupid analogy as if it means something.
I’ve swung back-and-forth quite a bit during this pandemic. The two ends would best be characterized by denial and anxiety. Today something new is bubbling up. I’m beginning to feel like I’ve been bamboozled.
It started as I considered this notion of “essential”. Actually, it started by reading what exactly was “essential” according to the government, and seeing how markedly it differed from my previous understanding of the word.
Now, it continues to build as I focus on how this is exactly how a socialist economic system works: Central planning. In other words, someone, not me, decides what I believe is essential.
Before the pandemic, Americans were doing just fine determining what was essential for their life. If we made a lot of money, we couldn’t live without extravagance. If we didn’t make any money, we survived by driving for Uber.
We were never satisfied with our fancy cars and ever changing diets, or we were eternally grateful to be able to make more money at will.
Now, the government is both feeding us the horrifying information about the disease and determining which parts of our lives are essential. This is a problem.
More pointedly, I just want to repeat that Major League Baseball is essential to summer.
Hey, You! Sleepy-head! Wake up! What is essential to you?
This post is tricky for two reasons. Firstly, the child I’ve been observing could someday read it. Secondly, while it’s true that you’re reading this, I’m not sure you’re ‘literate’.
To cancel out any negative repercussions possible within the first reason, I want to clarify that my intentions are to simply record an observation that is interesting to me. There’s no judgement here. You didn’t cause yourself to be illiterate.
Regarding the second reason, I consider literacy to include the actual ability to imagine that you’re someone else. Literacy is not about lofting the sounds of symbols into the air. It is about understanding the author’s written ideas, their point-of-view, inasmuch as they can be understood by a reasonable person.
Quickly, then, the word of the day is “mimic”. That’s the best way I can think to capture the process. I have now watched for many months a unique-to-me case of an illiterate child growing up. They look just like us. Dress like us. Eat the same food. Drink the same beverages. But when it comes to talking, they exhibit a totally different pattern. Without having been read to in the womb, without having been read to as an infant, without having been read to as a toddler, without having begun to read in kindergarten, without having been reading on their own for the next three years, the illiterate child can only mimic sounds.
Think bird calls or mating calls–nature style.
I suppose in the pre-television/pre-entertainment-on-demand days this might have been an acceptable path to wisdom. But in our day, what this can mean is the child picks the reaction they like best–say laughter–and then begins to mimic or simply repeat the words which the characters uttered which preceded the laughter. Again, think about how a young animal might learn to imitate its parent’s audible warning or mating calls.
The important, and new-to-me, thing that I want to draw attention to is the lack of thinking. At the illiterate level, the child makes noises to obtain desired responses. Maybe crying for food, age-inappropriate jokes for laughter, coughing for a hug, gulping loudly for encouragement–all things that would be missed by a deaf parent.
Even more to the point, the illiterate child can start to use words instead of sounds, but–and don’t miss this–to the child the words are still merely sounds. They are empty words. If another set of words accomplished the desired goal, the illiterate child would use those. For the illiterate child, achieving the desired response is the only thing that matters.
Put inversely, coherence has no place. Truth has no place. Consistency has no place. Particulars have no place.
Again, for the illiterate child, achieving the desired response is the only thing that matters.
There is a flip-side, too. If I’m right, it means that for the literate there is something more in life.
My most recent pastor loves to commend believing in the Bible even when you don’t understand it. (Most recently, this was communicated in response to Old Testament saints’ polygamy.)
My father wants to write a book about the value of dreaming–not during sleep, but the kind of dreaming where you let your mind just freely choose a desirable future, no matter how likely, and then enjoy the accompanying sensation for as long as you can–even if it that future never comes true.
My wife is woefully unaware of Western Civilization’s most recent two and a half millennia of history, and simultaneously is one of the most happy and hopeful people I know.
My best friend, who is the most principled, and therefore inspiring, person I know, wonders if the coronavirus coverage and government and extra-government response is actually a strategic, coordinated, and intentional effort by those who oppose President Trump to prevent him from winning reelection.
Put another way, I think it’s time to escape for a bit. Will you join me?
I like to escape by focusing as hard as I can on something, anything that catches my attention. No more keyboard. No more blog. No more computer. No more news. No more family. No more house. No more job. No more planet. No more universe. Just me and the idea.
Today’s idea is making a vow.
The vehicle which delivered this idea to me is the passage in Judges where one Judge, Jephthah, vows to the LORD to sacrifice as a burnt offering that which comes out of his home upon his victorious arrival–if only the LORD will grant him certain victory. If you’re unfamiliar, his only daughter is “that which” comes out and he sacrifices her, with her encouragement.
I can imagine that some people would point to this story as reason to question scripture’s status as “worthy of study”. To them I would offer this reminder, “Jesus saved my soul. Jesus commended scripture. I’m sticking with Jesus.”
I can imagine that others would draw some ridiculous and irrelevant points about “vowing” and different “covenants” or more simply, “That was then, this is now–there is no need to dwell.”
Then, I can remember that at the end of a recent translation of Homer’s Iliad, or some other ancient classic, the critic commends it for containing characters who behave so inexplicably and unpredictably. In other words, the critic lauded the story for its messiness. The critic, I think, loved the story because it made the reader think, “Hmm. What would I do?” or “Hmm. Would I do the same thing? Have I done the same thing?”
Vowing is an interesting enterprise as it essentially brings into focus our integrity as individuals. Within “vowing” the group, the community, disappears.
In the account recorded in Judges, the situation’s tragedy is compounded by the daughter’s urging her father to keep his vow, his integrity–even though it would mean that she dies because of it.
Keep in mind that these people don’t know Jesus. There is no “personal relationship”. It’s back in ancient history and it’s over in a part of the world when what we call “theocracies” were at least normal, if not the norm. Also, keep in mind literacy rates in bible times and the chance that the daughter knew anything about Yahweh, other than he was her father’s god and some rote memorization of the most memorable laws, would be very difficult to defend. In other words, I think we could insert any other deity’s name and the story would present the same.
Despite all these words, I can’t untangle myself from the two questions, “Why make the vow?” and “Why fulfill the vow?”
Integrity. That’s why.
Okay. Escape over.
It was okay. But I got an email from H-‘s school district about COVID-19 during the attempt. Remind me to close that tab next escape-attempt.
The email contains a link to a “comic” on NPR’s website to use to help kids stay stress free. Pictographs? Really? We’re going to survive the pandemic because someone drew pictures?
What should schools do right now? The same thing they should always do, the same thing which they never do. Pack any children you can see into buildings and teach the kids how to read words. Make it clear that we expect everyone of any age to always fight through any sickness. Keep the posture that because of literacy, if you get sick in America, you don’t die. But most importantly, teach the kids how to read words. Teach the kids how to read words. Teach the kids how to read words.
We don’t need stress-free kids. We need literate adults.
And I just received another email.
I’m over it.
Two emails in less than one hour and four minutes counts as hysteria. This is embarrassing. Every single teacher and administrator involved in public schools should be embarrassed and ashamed for furthering this hysteria.
The New York Times recently published the diary entry of one Yale Professor Extraordinaire, Dr. Claudia Rankine. The title: “I Wanted to Know What White Men Thought About Their Privilege. So I Asked.”
Read it for yourself (if you’ve enough free articles remaining) here.
Or, if you’re short on time, and, like me, really don’t care what other people of any community think (I mean ‘ambivalence’ in the most noble way, of course), here’s the summary: Through many displays of academic prowess and charming intellectual honesty, Professor Rankine adroitly conveys earnestness. She really is curious. (Mind you, her judgement–and sentence–have already been pronounced.) But she really, really wants to learn. And so, what does she learn? She learns that White Men are aloof about their White Privilege.
Most of you know that I was an officer and pilot in the United States Air Force. As my uncle, himself a retired sailor, opined regarding my desire to join the Air Force as a pilot, “You will walk on water.” He was right. We pilots walked on water. (Incidentally, I’ve been tightening-up my understanding of the sky, and there is one very concrete sense in which we pilots do tread on water.)
That is to say, I believe this Jesus-like trait of mine is evidence that Professor Rankine would happily include me in her research sample.
Why did I read her piece if I really didn’t care what she thought? Well, I like to be a good communicator. I like to make people laugh. I like to be approachable. Mostly, I like to talk.
So I reasoned that maybe there are other “Claudia’s” living in fear of big, bad Pete. Maybe they are snooping around, cowering just out-of-sight. Maybe they are just waiting to pick up some cue that I won’t mind chatting about my not-just-internal narrative of White Privilege. I thought that maybe I could learn that if I wear the right clothing, or have the right glasses, or smile, or don’t smile, or stare, or never make eye-contact, or tap her on the shoulder as I cut in line, or have the right book out, maybe, just maybe, she’ll become courageous and chat me up.
But then, no. That’s not how fear works. Fear breathes; but it inhales only the decayed air of windowless rooms. Fear sees; but it is blinded by light. Fear feeds; but it consumes only lies. Fear is curious; but it never learns.
And so, sad as it may seem, I will be left unmolested. Because I am not afraid. But you, Professor Doctor, are.
(But you shouldn’t be! Just talk to me.)
(But watch out!)
It was the fall of two years ago, putting me shortly after my thirty-sixth birthday. I was in the midst of some men who were mostly fifty plus years old.
The particular interrogator I faced carried his ninety-seven years venerably. He was respected by all, by which I mean all jumped at the opportunity to serve him–even the seventy year olds who were twenty years his junior. Most often, if the short time I spent with him indicated anything, the service rendered was simply bringing a blanket to keep away the cold.
His topic of inquiry: Origins. Beginnings. Genesis.
He asked me because he had heard me say that I studied such things.
I didn’t know what to say.
Reader, don’t misunderstand me. I had my answer at the ready. Yet I was quieted by the emotional aspect of the stated query. This elder is about to meet his maker. Possibly that weekend. And he’s not only respecting me enough to see what I’ll say (though I have always suspected he’d cast a fool’s line), he’s maintaining his tight grip on the joy of investigation.
The content of his question eludes my memory, but it was something to do with the peoples of earth that the Bible characters met and from where they spawned. I told him, “I don’t know.” But I went on to tell him, “No one knows. Moses didn’t tell us. And we should be very careful when listening to someone who makes a claim otherwise.”
Today I will add that this, as with Paul’s comments on another profound topic within Beginnings talk, “This mystery is great.”
I couldn’t tell if he approved–of either my answer or me.
My reason for sharing this experience here is to give a glimpse into what I think is one of life’s pleasures which is unique to Christianity.