I Had It All Wrong
I used to think of emotions, instincts, logic, reason, and other types of decision making as choices. I had it all wrong.
Now, I don’t know if there is a hierarchy, as in, “Reason is better than emotion,” for example. I don’t know if there is ultimate worth, as in, “At least I can say that reason guided my life.” I cannot say for sure that these traits are building blocks, as in, “Only after mastering emotion can you learn to reason.”
What I do know now, and know for certain, is that for those who do not act upon reason, it is not because they are avoiding reason. It is because they cannot reason. For these folks, using reason is as unavailable as flight is to a jack rabbit. Sure, they might end up “reasoning”, but they certainly didn’t flap their wings.
This is unfortunate.
But it is not the end of the story.
Life goes on. That’s the end of the story.
What shall be done in the time remaining? How should one communicate with those without reason? How should one live with them?
It calls to mind a line from Tolstoy. He wrote something like, “I could not follow any of the two women’s conversation. But I knew it had to be about something because it was unending.”
Next blog: What to do if your wife is happy everywhere but at home, and then invites her non-English speaking mother to stay at said home with no departure date?
Levels of Stupid
There are levels of stupid. Unending levels.
I Hate That
Click bait, surely. But I don’t know how else to describe what happened.
I have two babies right now. A- is 2.5 and J- is 11 months. When A- was younger, I wanted to get her the classic shape sorter game/activity.
If you don’t know, they have many versions these days. The old red and blue one with yellow pieces is retro.
The one I decided upon is a blue dome with a knob or button thing on top that rotates the top half. So the shapes change each time the knob is depressed. A square/cube area becomes a top half triangle, bottom half cube. And the oval piece changes to top half concave thing, bottom half oval. You get the picture.
Anyhow, my wife and I have been embattled for some time now. (Not ever going to go into details here, sorry.) Almost every conversation becomes an argument. Well, I get on the floor with the babies tonight and start to play. I have been working a ton of late and this is a rare event these days.
I see my wife helping J- to put the cube in the cube space.
Good, I think.
Then I see her encouraging him to put in a wrong piece that happens to fit sideways into that same hole, but is clearly (by markings on the pieces themselves) not meant for that spot.
“That doesn’t fit there,” I exclaim, as if I believed the LORD could actually prevent J- from becoming Special Needs at this point.
“Yes it does,” my wife responds.
“What?” I ask, dumbfounded. “It may fit, but you don’t train the baby to put it there. The entire point is the right piece to the right spot.”
“Are you sure?? Because it seems like you just told me that ‘it fits’, even though it doesn’t?”
With Metallica’s new album and tour announcements, I have been mentioning to a coworker that I may text him some songs as he is uninitiated. I haven’t yet. It’s actually a daunting task to share something so intimate.
As I wait and consider songs, I found myself listening to the radio today, and a perfectly poetic—in the “eternally powerful” sense of the word—rock song came on. It’s main lyric is, “I hate everything about you/why do I love you?”
This got me thinking. I know exactly what he means. Not because I hate everything about my wife, but because it’s a killer lyric. Here’s my attempt at a killer lyric.
I want my wife to think/She never thinks anymore
I hate that my wife won’t think/When she does think, I have seen good results—like with most people/I think
Why won’t she think?
Teaching our son the wrong way to do the game is tantamount to abuse
Abuse/Not because the game matters—though it does
Abuse/But because other kids (her son for example) didn’t or don’t have games
Abuse/Because it’s a complete waste of an opportunity
Abuse/And I hate that
3 Reasons Youth Basketball Is Better Than Church
I am kinda the last Boy Scout. I am definitely one of the last pilots of the last male-only squadron of the USAF. And I think my generation was the last one which didn’t turn youth sports into the all-consuming beast that it is.
I’ve mentioned how easily my own 12 year old went from 2 practices a week and five tournaments in 12 weeks, to Mon-Fri practices/games, in addition to the 5 weekend tournaments. It’s been crazy.
I’ve also mentioned how my attempts to join a church have been actively rebuffed. One church’s staff member actually told me I could watch but not speak at their Wednesday night youth service. Another church’s head deacon invited me to coffee to suggest now isn’t the time to join his church.
Keep in mind that I have a “Graduate Certificate In Biblical Studies” which means that I certainly care and also that I certainly have studied the Bible and Christian History (history and philosophy in general too) more than any rural Christian member (or Pastor) ever could dream to have. (Only slight hyperbole.)
I have done light internet research into the topic, “Youth Sports are better than church” and the only or main results are articles written by Christians which offer tips on how to navigate the two worlds.
That said, it’s time someone tell the truth.
Here are three reasons youth basketball is better than church.
1. Basketball is fun.
Attend any youth or children’s activity at a protestant Christian church and you’ll find adults trying to make said activity fun. Well, with basketball, it is fun.
2. Basketball, win or lose, instills youths with desirable life skills.
Attend any youth or children’s activity at a protestant Christian church and you’ll find adults trying to persuade kids that the Bible has eternal life skills within it. Well, with basketball, life skills (perseverance, growth, not to mention hand-eye coordination) appear like wetness with water. No advocate needed.
3. Basketball games provide a perfectly indirect (safe) way to make new friends, both for kids and parents (me).
Attend any youth or children’s activity at a protestant church and you will not find parents. If any parents are there, they are too occupied to talk, what with making speeches to kids that church is fun, and that church will endow them with life skills.
Put simply, as a Christian man and parent, now that I’m involved, honestly, I am not afraid to report that youth basketball is better than church. Sometimes the games are on Sundays. Sometimes not. I’m not recanting my faith; Jesus Christ is Lord forever and ever and ever. Glory. Hallelujah. Amen.
But I won’t ever feel guilty for recognizing that basketball is the better activity for my kids and I and skipping church.
Our Little Exvangelical
Of all the annoying words that unfortunately carry usefully definite meaning, I have to say “exvangelical” is my least favorite. But I just listened to the “Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” podcast and so it is now in my lexicon.
In any case, this is a word which upon one hearing the meaning is clear. Or rather, in one use we can tell what it does not mean. It isn’t denoting apostasy from Christianity, it is just expressing that the tenets of evangelical Christianity are too much too bear.
Well, tonight I discovered the exvangelical roll has an additional name.
My step-son, A-, is twelve, as I have mentioned. That’s seventh grade.
He is playing traveling basketball, which here in rural Minnesota is not quite insane or indicative of his abilities or desires. It’s just what they call the most base level of youth basketball. Two practices a week. A few three-game tournaments.
Traveling basketball as a term is also useful because, we have learned, there is another kind of youth basketball being played in the winter months—school ball.
Long story short, since hearing that there is such a thing as school ball, A- is now practicing or playing basketball 6 days a week. What can I say? Basketball is something A- enjoys. I’d rather see him do something he enjoys than yell at him for being (fill in the blank with undesirable qualities) all day and night.
For my part, too, I have been fascinated at comparing my youth basketball experience with my local church experience.
Remember my, “Guests cannot speak. Not even me.” post? That was church world. Now, in youth sports, as of a few weeks ago, I am coach of the B Team.
Why did they let me? What are my qualifications? Did I go to the equivalent of seminary for basketball, you may ask?
I simply had to display interest and availability.
Next thing I knew, I was choosing tournaments and directing where the money should be sent.
Back to our little (and new) exvangelical.
Tonight at dinner, keep in mind it is Wednesday night, I said to A-, are we still aiming to make YTH tonight? (Out loud you would’ve heard “youth”, but the trendy multi-site Assemblies church calls it YTH.)
“Oh,” he says sheepishly. “I kinda forgot about that.”
I then said, chuckling, “Well, now you know what it feels like for every other Christian in America.”
I haven’t been shy in lamenting some recent marriage and family woes to you.
Today, I want to counter this and slightly elevate the conversation.
Back in 2019, as I took my step-son under my wing, you might say I went a bit overboard in used book buying.
eBay and I were quick friends and used book sets were my specialty. I bought the Children’s Book of Knowledge set, and all 10 annuals. (That’s thirty books.) I bought the Journey’s Through Bookland 10 volume set. And I even found a three volume Family Treasury of Children’s Classics set.
(That’s 43 books—he was 10.)
Anyhow, as my daughter, A-, who is now 2.5 yrs old, arrived, I began doing what I do, which is reading aloud from these classics.
The first volume of the Family Treasury opens with all—and I mean it is the actual collection—of classic nursery rhymes that we all struggle to find in Barnes and Noble’s.
A- is at the age when she is starting to talk and use multi-word phrases. Because I have a knack for these things, I began to test her the other day.
“Mary had a little-”
“AM” she concluded.
“Its fleece was white as-”
“NOOO!” she roared laughing.
Most of you have done similar and we should rightly be applauded.
The other day I came in from a long day of driving. My wife and step-son who, generally speaking, are opposed to learning are sneaking a quick movie since I wasn’t around to stop them.
Mission Impossible III is on the screen. One of my favorites.
I head to bed. I’m tired and not in the mood to point out that my step-son is still not ready for such a film.
The next day, my wife says to me out of the blue, “I didn’t ever know that’s why he said Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.”
To your ears, you probably would’ve heard her thick accent, and it’s very likely she didn’t even say what I wrote. But that’s what she meant.
Despite my having understanding of her meaning—regardless her actual words—I still had no clue what she was talking about.
“Huh?” I asked.
“What?” she asked.
“You said something about him saying Humpty Dumpty?”
Now at this moment in recent conversations, she will look at me and using all her feminine intuition do her best to determine whether I’m in earnest or whether I’m mocking her and usually conclude the latter by saying, “Never mind.”
But this time she said it again.
I still honestly had no idea what she was talking about. Like the Bible, she was not giving me to the antecedents I needed. Who was “he”, I wondered?
She finally said something that made me realize she was talking about the movie and then I recalled the scene was TC drops off the wall as a priest.
“Oh, you’re telling me that in the movie last night you finally understood why he said the Humpty Dumpty line, because A- says it all the time in our reading. Is that what you meant?”
Keep in mind the relationship is still on edge.
I then say, “That’s what happens to everyone the more we read, Mistiye (or “Mee-stee-yay” which is the phonetic spelling of the Amharic (one Ethiopian language’s) word for “my wife”). Every new book adds to every other book. Reading makes everything better. That’s why I am always telling you to do it.”
A normal husband would stop there, probably acknowledging he had gone too far already.
“That’s what school did to the Bible for me. When I hear Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, which has the infamous ‘For God so loved the world’ line, I can no longer NOT hear the book of Numbers. I can’t even see how it means anything unless it is involved in what Numbers says.”
The question for you, dear reader, is what precisely happened to my wife in the Humpty Dumpty MI:3 moment? She didn’t get wiser. She didn’t get smarter. It wasn’t an increase in her knowledge. What was it?
So What That She Was Wrong?
So what that she was wrong? So what? She’s two and a half. How many times is little A- gonna be right at such a tender age?
Here’s how it started. A big winter storm was forecast to roll through over the night. (She couldn’t have known this, obviously.)
Then, this morning, as I surveyed the damage, I noticed it wasn’t quite as much snow as I feared, but I also knew more was on the way.
During breakfast, a certain sound, a bit like crackling, began as I monitored A-’s progress through her bowl of oatmeal and strawberries.
Focus in here: I wanted to test her meteorological knowledge. You see, she’s been the daughter of a pilot her entire life and school is always in session.
So I asked, casually, “What is that sound, A-?”
Simple enough question, right?
Apparently she hasn’t kept up her studies over winter break.
After turning towards the window, “Water?” was all that she could guess.
Much like you, when I heard this answer I naturally thought, “Wrong!”
To bring out the lesson, I got my phone, opened up ForeFlight, and read off the current METAR for the nearby airport, here redacted for national security purposes.
031415Z AUTO 01011G16KT 2 1/2SM UP OVC008 M03/M04 A2968 RMK A02
Obviously the only important part, the part she had neglected in her studies of late, was understanding just how broad a category “UP” was.
Sure, there is a certain sense in which precipitation of an unknown type and water are synonymous. But she was supposed to know the answer verbatim. Ver. Batim.
Maybe I’m being too hard on her. I don’t know.
So what that she was wrong? At least she heard the question. At least she considered it and gave an answer that reflected as much.
Vomit, A Joint Review of Triangle of Sadness and Ticket to Paradise
As I resumed Triangle last night, it happened to be at a scene when the seas were angry, dinner was served, and the passengers were beginning to vomit all over the place.
Apparently, my wife had said she was, in fact, not working last night, and next thing I know she is awkwardly standing in the room wondering what in the world I’m watching and why I am suppressing glee.
This holiday season has to be one of the worst of my life. Other’s have likely had worse moments, but on the whole, this one has been the worst. Stuff is just going poorly.
So I say, “Oh. Well, I don’t have to finish this. We can pick something else.”
She sits down and we begin the chore of scrolling.
I had in mind the new George Clooney rom-com, but said nothing.
After a good fifteen minutes and one false-start, she said, “There’s a new Julia Roberts-”
“-I was actually thinking the same thing.”
So I finally find it and we press play.
(Keep in mind, our relationship is at a low, and the film is about a divorced couple about to fall back in love.)
Within minutes, the law-degreed-college-graduate daughter—on a trip prior to starting a career as a lawyer—is lamenting to a random pool boy in some shit-hole country that she has to continue on the law path otherwise she’ll disappoint her…her…her parents.
That’s when I vomited. In my mind. And went to bed. Alone.
Truth is Translatable. Lies are not.
Conservative thinkers are abuzz lately with the news that some retards at Stanford released a list of English phrases that need to go.
These thinkers were shocked and dumbfounded.
But the sober truth, the way to keep blood pressures normal, is to recall that English is but one of many languages. And any rules attempting to stifle the language reveal inherent impotence during any attempts to translate them to another language.
As a parting plug for the Bible, this too is why the Bible can be trusted. It can be translated into any language. The translation is never easy to understand or interpret. But a cross is a cross. Jesus is Jesus. A mountain is a mountain. Burning bush is a burning bush. And most importantly, blood is blood.
As a Christian, I twist certain questions into truer questions.
“How can there be a good god and so much suffering?” is twisted into, “Can I really find peace?”
“Is the ability to understand the Bible really only available to certain humans?” is twisted into, “Does the Bible say I can’t access its god directly, one-on-one?”
“What do you think verse x means?” is twisted into, “Do you know the range of historical interpretations of verse x down through history, offhand? If so, can you share it succinctly?”
“You do know the Bible was written by men, right?” is twisted into, “Do you know that I am open to some of what I’ve heard about Jesus, but I feel like a fool for saying so?”
“In Amos, the LORD says that he directly controlled the crops/harvest in order to judge his people, itself in order to call them to repentance. Does that mean if there’s a bad harvest this season, in 2023, the LORD is likewise judging whoever is affected by it?” is twisted into, “Given the empirically grounded interrelatedness of world markets, do you believe the ‘farming’ events recorded in Amos mean that current bad harvests indicate that we are all, always constantly under judgement and a call to repentance?”
Those are the big ones recently on my mind.
Comment below if you have any questions you’d enjoy having twisted into their truer version by a Christian.