Tuesday, June 28, 2005
I work with several religious fundamentalists. None of them inspire the slightest desire in me to be likewise. If these particular people are an example of what it means to be “Christlike”, then I want no part of it.
All of them, without exception, have a smug attitude, that their way is the only way, end of discussion. It’s like the bumper sticker I see every so often, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it!“ They display an aura of smirky scorn to anyone who might believe differently, as if to disagree is to be sad and hopelessly confused.
None are able to articulate with any precision just why fundamentalist religion is important to them, let alone why it is the “one true way“. Any time I’ve asked why, I first get exasperation, as if it should be self-evident to any intelligent person. Then they regurgitate canned cliches which they’ve learned by rote.
I’ve always wondered why most people who turn to Christianity become fundamentalists, instead of embracing one of the more thoughtful, mainline denominations. I suspect the reason why “Christianity Lite” is so popular is precisely because of its simple black and white format. Everything is neatly explained in unequivocal terms, and there’s none of that pesky, complicated theology that makes a person have to think and -- perish the thought!-- question things.
One of the men at my job wants to become a Pentecostal preacher. It couldn’t possibly be because he wants to help people, if his behavior at work is any indication. He has no empathy for others, nothing that would inspire people to confide in him.
He joins with others in ridiculing one of the other drivers. The other driver is good-natured, but rather simple minded, and he’s short and fat with no teeth. He’s ten years younger than me, but looks old enough to be my father.
This would-be preacher sees nothing wrong with jeering at this poor man, who simply smiles like a deer caught in the headlights because he doesn’t have the mental capacity to fight back.
He frequently tells me that sex is to be reserved solely for marriage, though he himself has fathered two children out of wedlock by two different women. I just laugh at him and continue on my merry way.
He has no plans to attend a university to study theology, psychology, sociology or anything else that might be useful to a church leader, as he feels as if it’s unnecessary to someone who has a “true calling”.
I’m guessing he wants to become a preacher for the authority -- it’s the power that turns him on. I see this same lack of altruism in many others who have become fundamentalists -- they’re in it solely because they believe it’s their ticket to heaven, period. It‘s all about them.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United Federation of Planets, and to the galaxy for which it stands, one universe, under everybody, with liberty and justice for all species.
This sentiment in no way violates the spirit of the original, and something similar to it may well exist in the far future, once humanity has found a way to accomplish interstellar travel and has been in contact with people from other planets.
There's nothing wrong with patriotism, but it should never be of the knee-jerk, jingoistic variety.
Rather than suspending this boy, the school should be applauding his creativity and use his adaptation as a springboard for a discussion of how democracy might evolve and exist several hundred years from now.
In other words, make a learning experience out of it. Instead of being indoctrination centers teaching kids how to conform to society as it is, they should be teaching kids how to think in order that they might improve society when they grow up.
While reading this story, I was reminded of something that happened when I was in high school.
One of my female friends had a homeroom teacher, whom we thought was a little off kilter. There was something not quite right about this guy, but we couldn't put a finger on just what it was.
On one Monday morning, my friend was running a bit late, so that after she entered the homeroom, she sat down to organize her books and notebooks for the day ahead.
Every morning, all students were expected to stand while the national anthem was played over the intercom. My friend, who was still fumbling with her stuff, was late to stand once the anthem started playing.
The teacher went postal, yelling and screaming, calling her a "dirty, rotten Commie who ought to move to Russia". My friend, totally appalled, stood there in slack-jawed shock. She was sent to the office, where she was suspended.
The next day, her parents went to the school to lodge a protest. They urged the administration to have this teacher evaluated for mental illness, as it was obvious to them that he had a problem. Not surprisingly, the principal declined this advice, telling the parents there was "nothing wrong with him."
Three weeks after we graduated from high school, this teacher killed his dog, his wife, then himself. I can't help but think that things might have been different if the school administration had listened to my friend's parents.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
That’s three people from my old shift in the space of a year, not to mention two others who‘d died. Combined with my brother’s recent stroke, all these reminders of mortality has been a sobering thing.
I’ve been asked quite a few times about what happens to an old libertine. Some have speculated that I will one day “settle down” into a monogamous relationship, once I get past a certain age.
Mostly, I’ve tried to avoid thinking about my old age, partially because I’m not entirely sure I’ll even have an old age, given my family’s average track record on longevity. I’ve basically thought it was going to be a “live hard, die young, and leave a good looking corpse” kind of a deal for me. But I know it’s quite possible that I’ll live to be old, and the idea of being alone and at the mercy of my son in my old age is not a particularly appealing one.
So, lately, I’ve been thinking some about my old age. I’ve always planned to continue with my lifestyle as long as I remain virile, which I expect to be for many years to come. That plan hasn’t changed. As long as I’m able to attract lovers and am able to perform, I intend to live my life as I always have.
But I concede there may come a day where I’m no longer able to continue this lifestyle, for whatever reason. Someday, I might end up in a de facto monogamous relationship (thought never a de jure one). However, it would be by default or circumstances -- it would never be a choice I’d make freely as long as I have other options and am capable of living as I always have.
Hopefully, I'll recognize when that day has come and will not wait until it's too late.
To some extent, this is true. But only partially true.
On one hand, I can be rather unemotional when it comes to my more casual lovers, as these relationships aren’t about love. Those who call themselves polyamorous claim they love every one of their lovers, but I personally think it’s more realistic to admit that I don’t fall in love with everyone I sleep with.
More to the point, I’m rather cold when it comes to family. I’ve never quite understood why a person should automatically love someone, simply because they share common DNA. I’ve read stories about children, siblings, parents who have put their family members through living hell, yet the person telling the story always insists that they love this person, anyway, just because they are family. This attitude is one that has always baffled the hell out of me.
Other than my parents, whom I deeply loved and respected, and will mourn for the rest of my life, I am curiously indifferent to most of my family. I have no real issues or animosity toward my siblings, but neither am I close to them. I’ve not seen them in ten years, nor do I really miss them. I don’t wish them any ill will, but I’m not terribly interested in their lives, either. I’m hoping my brother gets well soon, but if he’d died, I’d not have traveled the 700 miles to attend his funeral. It would have been pointless, as he’d not be there, and I feel nothing for my sister in law, nor their children.
And this is also true of my relationship with my son. I wasn’t in love with his mother, nor did I want to have children. I accepted the inevitable when she became pregnant, but never embraced the idea.
When I held him in my arms for the first time, I did not feel an overwhelming rush of love for him, like I’ve heard many parents describe. Nor have I ever really bonded with him in that way.
After his mother abandoned us, I took on the task of raising him myself, simply because it was the right thing to do. But it’s been a hard road. We have conflicting personalities, and my son has been oppositional to me since his earliest days. Today, we merely tolerate one another, instead of having any abiding love for each other.
I can’t say that I really resent him, though, as one person suggested to me. Nevertheless, I cannot summon up feelings for him that just aren’t there. As with my siblings, I don’t wish him any ill will.
My relatives thought me cold because I did not keep a 24/7 vigil at the hospital when my father had his heart attack, and after his funeral, when I went off with a lover, instead of enduring the insincere sympathy of relatives at the after-funeral family gathering.
They could not have been more wrong in this instance. I loved my father and cared deeply about his welfare. Simply because I chose not to display my feelings in front of them didn't mean I didn't care.
And this brings us to the other hand. I have feelings like anyone else, but I limit with whom I share my deeper emotions. I do not trust others quickly or easily, so most people only see a tip of the iceberg of just who I am.
For what it’s worth, this was a difficult entry to write.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
She looked at me very carefully, then asked me my name. After I told her, she said, “You’re my father.”
I looked at her incredulously. “Whaaaaaaaaaat?" Then, “How old are you?”
“I just turned 18 a few weeks ago.”
“What makes you think I’m your father?” I asked, noting that her hair coloring and texture was quite similar to mine. “And why did you come to me now?”
“I didn’t know myself until I turned 18,” she explained. “My mother told me she’d had an affair and that you were my father.” Taking a deep breath, she continued, “My parents went through an ugly divorce not too long ago, but she waited until I turned 18 to tell me that my Dad wasn’t my Dad, so that he’d continue to pay child support.”
“Nice of her,” I commented under my breath. “What’s your mother’s name?”
She told me, but it didn’t ring a bell. I asked her if she had a picture of her mother. I looked intently at the picture she showed me, but I still couldn’t remember this woman, let alone sleeping with her.
“I’m sorry, I have no idea who this woman is,” I said. “I don’t remember sleeping with her.”
I waited as the implications of what I’d just said sunk in -- that if I were indeed her biological father, then her mother’s “affair” had been no more than a one-night stand.
Though obviously crestfallen, she took a deep breath and said, “I want us to take a DNA test, to prove it.”
“No,” I said. “I’m not interested.” After a pause, I continued, “Whether or not I contributed half your DNA, the man who raised you is your father.”
It was quite possible that I had indeed sired the young woman standing before me, but that was beside the point. I felt nothing for her and I didn’t want to be drawn into that particular family’s drama.
After I showed her a picture of my son, she left, obviously disappointed. She called back once, asking me if I’d changed my mind about the DNA test. I told her I hadn’t. I'm hoping this will be the end of it.
I hope she is spending today with her father -- the man who raised her.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
While in the car delivering pizzas, I've found myself listening to the Radio Delilah show. I happened across her show, while turning the dial one night looking for something to listen to. In my area, the choice is mainly country or rap. The rock station I normally listen to had been playing less and less of the classic rock I like, so I was hunting for an alternative. The station that hosts Delilah plays a lot of 70s music, so that's how I found her.
I dislike about 80 percent of the music she plays, but I find myself listening, many times in disbelief, to her talking to callers in between songs. She's like a train wreck -- I'm often appalled by what she says, but I can't help but listen.
Most of what she says to callers about love and relationships is perfectly tame and unremarkable. People call in and tell their relationship stories, usually wanting to dedicate a song to someone. All well and good.
But there's a strong current of judgmentalism on her show, stemming from her religious fundamentalism. The other night, she was talking to this mother of two children who wanted to dedicate a song to her "boyfriend". Delilah jumped on the word "boyfriend" immediately, saying, "What's wrong with this picture?", wanting to know why they weren't married.
The caller went on to praise this man as a kind and considerate mate, a good father, etc. In other words, there WASN'T anything "wrong" with that picture.
Many times, I've heard Delilah berate women who are not legally married to their children's fathers. Who is she to decide what's right for everyone, especially considering she's been divorced two times herself? Yet, she continues to insist that marriage must be a "lifelong commitment" to someone you will "spend the rest of your life with", and that it should be the goal of every romantic relationship.
She also refuses to play dedications for those who are in nonmongamous relationships, chastising anyone bold enough to call and ask. Nor have I ever heard her play a dedication for someone involved in a same-sex relationship of any kind.
Her slogan is "Love Someone Tonight". She just doesn't mention that those who desire anything other than lifelong, legal, heterosexual, monogamous marriage need not apply.
I've been strongly tempted to call in to her show one night, tell her all about MY sex life, ask to dedicate a song to several lovers, then wait for her to start sputtering in indignation. I get a lot of perverse pleasure just thinking about doing this.
Friday, June 10, 2005
However, my father really wanted me to go, saying it would mean a lot to my son if I went. My father never asked much of me, so I decided to honor his wishes, to grin and bear it for one night.
My son and I drove up to my cousin's house, meeting my father and his wife there. I didn't bring a "date" with me, as was my habit on the rare occasions I attended family gatherings. Considering what happened next, I'm thinking I should have brought an entourage of lovers with me.
But I digress.
After enduring a few awkward moments engaged in small talk with my relatives, it was time for dinner. My cousin had put place cards by each seat, and, to my dismay, I found that I'd been seated at the children's table, the only adult to have been assigned thus.
I was thirty-five with a son who was then twelve years old. I'd say that qualified me as being an adult, regardless of my marital status. I had to wonder if she did this simply because I was unmarried or because she just didn't approve of me? I never knew, exactly.
I left immediately, after asking my father to bring my son to the house when he went home. I went to a lover's house and got laid, which is what I really wanted to do in the first place, anyway.
I've never spoken to that cousin again, nor have I attended any family gatherings since that time.
Thursday, June 9, 2005
"I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death." - George Carlin
"Making fun of born-again-Christians is like hunting dairy cows with a high-powered rifle and scope." - P.J. O'Rourke.
"People who are willing to give up freedom for the sake of short term security, deserve neither freedom nor security." - Benjamin Franklin
"If you obey all the rules you will miss the fun." - Katherine Hepburn
"Nobody realizes that some people expend a tremendous amount of energy merely to be normal." - Albert Camus
"Those who are ready to sacrifice freedom for security ultimately will lose both." -Abraham Lincoln
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke
"Immorality: the morality of those who are having a better time." - H.L. Mencken
"Man's mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions." - Oliver Wendell Holmes
"I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones." - John Cage
"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence." - Albert Einstein
"Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups." - John Kenneth Galbraith
"Heresy is only another word for freedom of thought." - Graham Greene, 1981
"Better is one's own law, though imperfectly carried out, than the law of another carried out perfectly." - Bhagavad Gita
"When the people fear the government you have tyranny...when the government fears the people you have liberty." - Thomas Jefferson
"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted" - Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Tuesday, June 7, 2005
What are three things you notice first and/or snoop into when you visit someone's home?
That's an easy one for me:
I like browsing other people's bookshelves, as seeing what people like to read is a good conversation starter and helps you to get to know that person. The same, to a lesser degree, is true of CDs and DVDs.
And it's also a very telling thing when I visit a home that does not contain any reading material whatsoever. For one thing, it tells me very quickly that I have very little in common with that person and that we won't have a whole lot to talk about. A sterile and barren home is one that has no reading matter.
And one without any form of music is equally deficient. A lack of DVDs isn't quite as telling, as many people limit themselves to rentals.
Name three forms of technology you'd take with you if you were sent back 200 years in time.
This one was a bit tougher, as there are so many possibilities. Here are the ones I came up with:
1. Electric power
2. Heat/Air conditioning/Refrigeration
I'd considered indoor plumbing, but then realized I could live with outhouses. I thought about having a car, but where would I get the fuel, unless I could also bring an endless supply of gasoline with me as well? I'd also thought about modern medicine, but again, a modern hospital and a supply of modern medicine would be a problem.
Sweating in the summer and freezing in the winter was something I'd not want to endure, nor would I want to sit in candlelight at night. Of course, there would be no internet in the past, but with sufficient software, I could still enjoy my computer. A portable generator to provide enough electricity for one home wouldn't be as much of a problem as providing the things needed to keep a car running or to provide modern medical care.
Let's hear your ideas.
Monday, June 6, 2005
She said she couldn't understand why I'd pick a lover from that age bracket, that "I think as a libertine..and someone who is in a relationship just for sex...that would be an age group you'd be very cautious of..simply for that fact..that they are LOOKING for husbands/kids/white picket fences.."
Well, for the most part, she's right, but in this instance, I'm most definitely thinking with my small head, as the young one and I are highly sexually compatible.
If I were the monogamous type, however, I'd not be in a relationship with someone that young. She's a fine young woman who will make a good wife to someone her own age one day, but she and I are at different stages in our lives. I've already done the kid thing...rather unwillingly, I might add...and I don't want any more. Hell, I don't want any grandchildren, let alone more of my own.
I then told J (who I've known 2 years and is 41) that most of my lovers are between 30 and 40. She replied that this was no big surprise to her, that "the 30-40 year olds are the married moms busy with the husband and kids...just your type...no strings...no committments" and "they are busy with them so they can't be bugging you all the time...very loose relationships...no demands on you...and..they have someone else to meet their emotional and financial needs".
Ah, she knows me well. That is precisely how I think. And I think this is the reason why Infamous J is very, very special to me: she knows exactly how I am, yet she loves me anyway.
Today, while surfing the net, I found a site with various types of interesting personality tests.
Here are the results of several of the tests I took:
FREUDIAN INVENTORY TEST
Freudian Inventory Results
|Genital (56%) you appear to be stuck between a progressive and regressive outlook on life.|
Latency (50%) you appear to have a good balance of knowledge seeking and practicality.
Phallic (83%) you appear to have issues with controlling your sexual desires and possibly fidelity.
Anal (40%) you appear to have a good balance of self control and spontaneity.
Oral (53%) you appear to have a good balance of independence and interdependence.
personality tests by similarminds.com
Hmm, this test pegged my libertinism fairly accurately.
The Enneagram is a system which divides all human behavior into nine personality divisions. Your conscious type (main type) is whichever of those nine behaviors you use most, in your case Type 9w8. Your unconscious type (mean type), Type 7w6, is who you are unconsciously, based on the sum influence of all nine behaviors.
Most Enneagram books and tests focus on main type and use an additional "variant" classification (instead of mean type) to account for the influence of all nine behavior types. This is the same thing as mean typing, except instead of 9 delineations, there are only three. Based on your test results your variant is Sexual. So when reading other Enneagram books or websites refer to the Type 9w8, Sexual variant descriptions.
ENFP - "Journalist". Uncanny sense of the motivations of others. Life is an exciting drama. 8.1% of total population.
Your Type is
|Strength of the preferences %|
- slightly expressed introvert
- moderately expressed intuitive personality
- slightly expressed thinking personality
- moderately expressed perceiving personality
Hmm, that indicates to me, that I'm strong on the "NP" part, but right near the border for E/I and F/T. Works for me.
And last, but not least, were my result in the Famous Leader Test:
Sunday, June 5, 2005
Humanity has three major racial groups: whites, blacks, and asians. In two of these groups, among those who are racially unmixed, there is uniformity of hair and eye color, and hair texture. Both groups have naturally black hair and dark brown eyes, with black people having curly/kinky hair and asian people having straight hair. Among whites, however, there is a great deal of variety in these three traits: hair can be black, plus various shades of brown, red, or blond. Hair texture can be straight, wavy, or curly. Eye color can be brown, blue, green, or hazel.
Why do these various combinations exist in whites, where they do not in the other two races? Because all three races can have black hair and brown eyes, it would seem as if this is a strong human genetic preference. What purpose do such traits serve?
Some racial variations have easily explained reasons. Black people, who originated in Africa's hot climate, have dark skin as a protection from the sun. Whites, who originated in colder climates, have lighter skin in reaction to that.
But the reasons for hair and eye traits aren't so obvious. I've yet to find any lengthy explanation for why variations exist in whites, but not in the other two races.
Another thing I've wondered is why humans did not advance technologically at the same pace all over the planet. When Europeans first came to North America, they had brick buildings, written language, universities, ships, carriages, and so on. The Native Americans they encountered had none of these things, not even the wheel. Some cultures to this day live at a stone age level. I'd always wondered why this was so, as I was sure that people all over the planet were equally intelligent.
Fortunately, I have some of the answers for this particular question, as I encountered the book John Sherck mentioned in a recent blog entry: "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond, which explains why societies around the globe have developed at different paces. I'm hoping to one day find something written about the first topic I mentioned.