Tagged: relationships

Good Writing Compels Writing

Earlier today, while on shift on this day of unflyable weather, I began trudging through the Gateway to the Great Books essay by Friedrich Schiller. I began it back on November 14th. He calls it, On Simple and Sentimental Poetry.

It is a far longer entry than all others in this volume, Volume 5, “Critical Essays.” And it is rather boring. His vocabulary is far broader than mine and he employs it from on high, without looking down, without slowing down. But I wanted to finish the article, so I reread the introduction, re-caged my gyros, and plodded on.

Finally, the relationship blossomed. Check out this criticism of a man (hitherto unknown to me), Klopstock.

His muse is chaste.

Wow. Stops you in your tracks, no?

Got me to smile and want to share the sentence with you all. Hope it was worth it.

Onward and upward.

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Christian Twistings

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.

Trying To Help Somalis At Open Gym

So I took A- (12 year old step-son, immigrated to America at 8–not my 2 year old daughter of the same initial letter) to the community center earlier today so he could horse around playing basketball.

Being the overbearing, meaning perfect, step-dad that I am, I initially wanted to work on his individual skills—like last Saturday—but he clearly indicated that he just wanted to be a kid today. Whatever.

While there, I witnessed the typical community center basketball court open gym scene. One of the two courts had a 5-on-5 pickup game going. The other two hoops had free shooting. Oh, and big dreams could be seen every time a kid made a basket.

Next, two Somali kids barged in with a decently loud presence. They headed to the wall where some gymnastic pads were hanging and it soon became clear that some sort of mischief is afoot. Behind the mats, emergency exit doors. Two Somalis soon grew to four. Isn’t that always the case, Minnesota?

(Switching to present tense, for effect.)

I yell out, “Hey. Why don’t you just pay?” (It’s $3.)

“What?”

“Why don’t you just pay?”

I live for these moments. Everyone has to decide what’s appropriate. Escalate? De-escalate? Either choice requires a decision that the entire world witnesses.

The kid says, playing it cool, “We don’t have the money.”

I shake my head. They walk away knowing I’m watching them. For a second I feel unresolved. I’m not interested to get them in trouble. I’m interested to get them to improve. At this moment, I’ve lost. But I won’t give up hope. What can I do? What options do I still have to achieve my goal?

I walk over to the bench where the future inmates are getting their shoes on etc. I say, “Hey, where are the two guys? I’ll pay for them.”

“Huh?”

I take out some cash like a big shot.

“It’s only six bucks. I’ll pay. Let’s go up to the front.”

Only one of the criminals follows me. That’s enough for my purposes, I figure. The entire mosque will know who I am soon enough. These illiterate people have a knack for oral histories, I hear.

He patiently waits as I explain the situation to the young ladies at the desk.

He even said, “Thank you.”

*****

What do you think, dear citizen? Did I waste my hard-earned money? Did I buy a jihad? Or was this the best path imaginable? Is Jesus knocking at their hearts? Maybe something in between?

Without Hesitation, I Pointed

I’ve had a short car ride to consider the matter and I have resolved that, next time, I will simply step out of line, open the luggage, and begin to rifle through the contents until you people learn.

But this morning, all I did was admit to myself that if it was a bomb, if today was the end, then I’d rather go out without panicking or making anyone else panic. And I was so close to the left-alone-luggage that I was actually happy that it would probably be instant, painless death, instead of painful injury, followed by opioid-addict life.

Truth be told, I only treated the situation as terrorist-dramatic because I like to test myself. Sure, the lady who just decided to stop pulling her carry-on right next to the 40-min long TSA security line was BIPOC, brown to be exact. I’d guess from India. Huge strike against her, and for travel terrorism. But she had a child with her. And she clearly was pissed at her husband. He was—somehow—the one lagging on the trip through the airport. In my experience, men usually drag their wives. But given the end of the holiday weekend, and given the packed nature of the airport, all I guessed was that she was doing the classic dumb-wife move of being mad that they might miss their flight (perhaps it was even his fault) and then compounding that anger with the fact that her husband was not reacting with the emotional interest that she expected. When exactly did remaining calm become an undesirable quality?

Anyhow, taken together, I was not afraid, but I was shocked. Dumbfounded. Who is left on this planet that is stupid enough to walk away from a piece of luggage at an airport?

That’s why I say that next time I will just attempt to shame the person by exposing their messy undergarments to the general public. If they haven’t learned nicely, then shame is the only remaining tool, in my book.

Today, however, I was consoling H- who, when we reached the “end” of the security line and discovered it was double-wrapped in a way we had not experienced before, had begun to cry. Despite my later-proved-to-be-accurate claim that “we’ll be at the gate before they even begin boarding,” I couldn’t prevent the water works.

Anyhow, that is what distracted me from going the “open-luggage-to-shame” route, and instead just notice it—notice it and focus unrelentingly until a worker came by shouting instructions for the line who then added, “Whose is this?” All I could do was point. But I pointed with a force that said, “That dumb mother fucker over there.” Then I laughed to myself and low-talked to H-, “I pointed! Ha. Didn’t even blink. Just dimed them out. Funny.”

Guess maybe I, too, was getting tired of watching a woman make stupid decisions after a long holiday weekend with one.

Oh well. At least you and I are ready for next time.

Don’t wait. Find out for yourself if it’s a bomb.

Again, Machiavelli Has Resoundingly Won and Yet I’m Not Dead: A Short Account of a Good Day.

My YouTube feed includes political memes, for whatever reason.

I just watched one which had President Biden, back in 2006, stating adamantly that marriage was between a man and a woman.

Apparently today, in some form or fashion, he supported the opposite.

If you haven’t read The Prince by Machiavelli, I don’t know that I can recommend it to you. But to summarize it must be equally as bad, so I’m not sure what to do. Proceed at your own risk, I guess.

The rock and hard place that we live between may best be illustrated by calling your attention to this event (Biden saying whatever is necessary to win—even directly lying) and also to the decision and technological capability to comprehensively investigate the missiles which landed in Poland before invoking Article 5.

Machiavellian leadership is rooted in evil and yet we have remained short of WW3 in a world which is ruled by it.

At this point, I wouldn’t trade one for the other.

Hack Life Out of the Wilderness; In a Word—Work Hard

I married a woman from Ethiopia.

For the purposes of this post, the single cultural trait in focus is polygamy. Ethiopians are only generations away from the practice of polygamy. The mooslims still do practice it.

This manifests itself in the fact that they currently live in multi-family homes. I don’t mean apartments, I mean one larger home wherein many family members are supported by a few family members. My wife might tell me, “There aren’t enough jobs, so only my brother works,” to describe this particular living arrangement.

In our family, my wife and I’s current blended family here in the good ol’ US of A, it has become clear that she does not want to work hard. The way this has appeared is that she has chosen to take a minimal wage, part-time, night shift job rather than be a stay-at-home mom with her two babies.

Don’t mis-hear me. I’m admitting, confessing, and asserting that being a stay-at-home mom with two babies is hard work—far harder than any minimal wage part-time work. I’m knocking my own wife, to support the archetypical stay-at-home wife.

She hasn’t quite said the following, but indirectly she has indicated that if we lived in Ethiopia, then our two babies would be passed around all day, every day. “Okay, I need a break, you watch them. Okay, I need a break, you watch them. Okay, I need a break, you watch them.” Then rinse and repeat until they find themselves passing around their own babies.

As the dad, as the father, as the patriarch of my family, I want my children to be the strongest adults possible. Warrior poets. Scholar athletes. I want fearless giants. To be sure, I want pilots. (Forgive me, I couldn’t resist.)

I’m here to tell you that fearless giants are not possible if raised like an Ethiopian, fearless giants are not possible if raised by polygamists.

In the passing around of the children, something else gets passed around—responsibility. And accountability. The lack of responsibility and accountability is the direct manifestation of laziness.

“He did what?! That’s not how I taught him when I had him for two minutes of every morning,” the third cousin, twice removed on the mother’s side says, feigning to be indignant.

I didn’t see it coming when I proposed this marriage, but nearly every day of my life, I see more and more why American culture is the dominant one on Planet Earth. Today, I see it in terms of monogamy as the one and only producer of giants. Polygamy went away, not because of the New Testament or because of some other philosophy. Polygamy dropped off the earth because its offspring were weak and incapable of hard work. Polygamy is not practiced by Americans because the children raised by only two people, by only one man and one woman are more capable adults. Where did Americans learn to work hard? The wilderness. Americans hacked life out of the wilderness. And that took hard work. You should thank your national ancestors.

Children need to see—from their first breaths—that hard work is good, hard work is rewarding, and hard work is rewarded. And children cannot see that if they don’t see their fathers and mothers working hard to raise them—all day, every day.

As for this fearless giant, this pilot, as for this American? I’m a man who believes in hard work. So I married a woman from Ethiopia.

I’ll Say It Again, Trump Should Use Bird Signs This Time Around

The first bald eagle I saw this morning was orbiting dangerously close to traffic on the two-lane highway upon which I drove home after my night shift.

I’m telling you, the bald eagle has no fear. A glorious bird.

Then, I first saw what turned out to be the second bald eagle of the day from a much greater distance on that same drive. Here I confess though, with shame, that I didn’t immediately recognize the feathered sentry. But I have to believe that mistaking him for a large bird’s nest is fairly flattering in its own way. Like you, for most of my life the description “he’s as big as a house” has been reserved for use on only the strongest of us humans.

Add to this fact that in my own front yard, the fall season and the resultant leafless trees had revealed a rather large bird nest near the top of one of the trees and you’ll understand why at first—only for a second really—I didn’t recognize the winged friend for what it was. I figured, “Oh, a nest just like at home.”

But I was wrong. It wasn’t some random, unused, and derelict bird’s nest. It was a living, breathing, and rather chesty member of the stately, all-seeing protector of America.

Now as I approached I did my best to make eye-contact by leaning forward at just the right moment to briefly look up—while not losing control of the car.

I can’t report with integrity that we made eye-contact, but I can report that I saw the end of the slightest nod signifying “carry-on citizen” as he moved his gaze from analyzing my approach in particular back to the Minnesotan horizon in general. And I can definitely report that my heart warmed.

Your inescapable delight in reading the above over any other journalistic drivel is what ties this post to Trump. I like that he wants to be successful and wear the American countryside while doing it. All I’m suggesting here is he should model his campaign after this post and the rhetorical archetype itself, if he wants to seal the deal this election. It’s a gimmick, surely. But what isn’t in contemporary politics?

Finally, and with more than a merely temporal connection, I want to include that on this self-same commute, I was listening to a podcast in which I heard avant-garde writer Yuval Noah Herari exclaim, “What will the future history student’s answer be to the question, ‘What was America’s second civil war about?’ I mean the difference between the two ‘sides’ is nearly non-existent.”

I shook my head and thought, “Obviously this heady, wannabe-De-Tocqueville Mr. Herari hasn’t seen a bald eagle. The two sides are as clearly defined as sky and earth. Any true American knows this.”

But I can admit to my readers now that it seems that this vista only becomes apparent when one of these birds is in view.

You’re Next

That’s the title of a sermon I’d like to give.

“You’re Next?”

Intriguing, no?

“Next what?” you wonder.

Whoa, back up a sec, I say.

“Who am I giving the imaginary sermon to?” That’s the first question.

My answer: This is a real sermon, for a real congregation, at a real church.

Most folks in the audience, then, believe they’re “in”.

This eliminates my ominous assertion “You’re Next” from meaning (to these faithful few) something positive.

Instead, I mean, literally, concretely, and practically, that I believe I am talking to people who—like all the rest—are the next to leave Christianity.

“No I’m not!” some of you might respond.

“Now we’re talking!” I exclaim. “You’re not next after all. So why aren’t you gonna leave? Let’s talk about that and see if we can’t communicate all the reasons you’re hanging around to those who are not here today.

“For example, I’m not going to leave because I can read my Bible. And when I read the Bible, I see that, specifically, theology has mucked up what it says. Doctrine begins with Scripture. Doctrine does not prevent taking the claims of the Bible in kind.

“That said, you’re not going to hear me proclaiming ‘doctrine’. Not unless we do this together for decades and I need to speed up the point I want to make. Decades. Not this week. Not next week. Not next year. Not even next decade.

“Open your Bibles with me, then, to the Gospel according to-”

“-Excuse, me,” one of you interrupts. “But how will we keep false teachings out?”

“Good question. By using our god-given minds to determine what the Bible says. If this makes you nervous, it means that you’re not sure you know how to read. That’s fine. I’m sure I can teach you. More than that, I’m sure you’ll agree that you learned how to read.

“Any more questions before we begin?”

Life Doesn’t Have To Be Hard, It Turns Out

I think I enjoy the competition. I enjoy challenges. I like to prove myself. I like to prove that I am better than you expected.

Yes, I think that is why I have lived life in a way that I (and others) might sometimes define as “hard”.

Wearing a boy scout uniform was hard. Witnessing to non-christians as a pre-teen was hard. Being a diver on the swim team was hard. Going to a college where I knew no one was hard. Entering bodybuilding competitions as a teenager was hard. Getting good grades was hard. Becoming an Air Force officer and pilot was hard. Arguing with every living person has always been hard.

These activities have also been fun, but that doesn’t mean they were less hard.

But I have recently spent an inordinate amount of time with people from a different culture and I have come to realize that life doesn’t have to be hard.

The trick to this type of life, so far as I can tell, is to not understand anything.

My goal—if this post has one—is to distinguish “ignorance is bliss” from what I’m talking about.

“Ignorance is bliss”, to me, has always been said by those who are not ignorant. It has always lived in the same semantic domain as “the thing I like about high school is, as I get older, the girls stay the same age”.

I’m not claiming to have rediscovered that concept.

I’m talking about hard vs. easy. Like the “work smarter, not harder” realm.

And I’m saying here I have been living a hard life and enjoying it because I thought that over time I am working smarter and smarter which means more and more work being done, but it turns out, I’m still living a hard life.

And I’m admitting that I just came to the realization that life doesn’t have to be hard.

Let me put it this way.

In the “work smarter not harder” proverb, there is implied that if you’re dumb, life is hard.

There’s another proverb I’ve heard, “being dumb doesn’t kill ya, it just makes you sweat.”

With me yet?

I think I’m saying that these aren’t true.

If you actually don’t understand life, then life is easy. Lillies of the field easy. Birds of the air easy. You know, easy.

Just be and in most cases food makes it to the table.

Just be and in most cases the Nike outlet will have a marked down pair of shoes in your size and on the very day that you went shopping there!

Just be and your kid can’t possibly turn out with low character because he is also only a receiver of life.

Maybe I’ve misunderstood the “just makes you sweat” part and it has always meant “working hard is dumb” to the wise.

Or maybe, just maybe, I have been working my tail off to provide a good life for my new family and the only actual reward is the knowledge that they prefer their old, easy life back.

And to think that for all these years I thought life had to be hard.

Eagle Eyes

“Nose?”

“Yes, A-, that’s your nose,” I responded, unsure what prompted this resumption of the body parts game.

“Nose?”

“Yes. You’re right. Good job. That’s your nose,” I answered loquaciously, aiming for victory.

She took off running towards the open door.

“Hey!-” I started, futilely. “Why do they always need to go where they’re not allowed?”

She came back with a tissue at her nose and as I met her, I saw the box of tissue all the way in the far corner of our bedroom, on the nightstand.

I shook my head.

“H-!” I called to my older daughter. “You’re not gonna believe what A- just did. She saw the tissue box all the way from across the room and that’s why she started saying, ‘Nose? Nose?’ Ha. This kid has eagle eyes-”

“Watch out, A-!”

Before I could finish a father’s proud, ocular appellation, certain death in the form of unkempt toddler toys, almost met our far-sighted easy-breather.