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  • faith hope tv

    I think the switch over from analog to digital TV over the air signals is a good analogy for the way different people operate in relation to faith.  Some people can have an incomplete percentage of faith in God and still derive some hope out of it.  Others, like me, can not.  This is similar to how in the analog days one could, with a decent fractional percentage of signal, get a serviceable though imperfect picture.  In the digital days, not so much, it’s either 100% or nothing.



  • life

    In a calculus proof the outcome is subject to the laws of mathematics.  Christianity is not like that.  Whether Christianity is true is itself incarnational.   The only way you show it to be true or false is the way you live your life.  This is why youth directors and even the Jars of Clay are dead on people listening to Nine Inch Nails.  Because Trent Reznor is such a powerful voice who earnestly sought God and found nothing.  This is why his first two albums are the ones Christians like the least.  Pretty Hate Machine in particular is all about apostasy.

    As for me I have earnestly sought God and found nothing.  And gotten handily rejected by the church.  And I am a pretty virtuous person.  People on the spectrum have much higher rates of non religiosity than the general population.  We don’t have the capacity to concoct God!  The fact that God could just be all in your head is an affront to Christians.  But if Christianity were really true wouldn’t the people who couldn’t concoct God be the ones that found him the most easily instead of the least easily?

    As I have gotten older I’ve lost the parts of myself I would need to exist to be faith filled.  That doesn’t mean God doesn’t talk to me, it’s just that the conversations normally revolve around wanting me to commit suicide.



  • War Doodle

    I’ve lived in an unstable country. I was nine years old. My father was a pastor of an English speaking church for expatriates in San Salvador, El Salvador. It was not a very stable country to begin with. There was an imitation Burger King we went to once that some guerilla blew up with a car bomb. To be fair there were really no good guys, the El Salvadorian government fighting these guerillas would kidnap, kill and torture dissidents and even sympathetic clergy and intellectuals. But once the Soviet backed guerillas saw the Berlin wall fall they knew their funding was going to dry up soon so this was their last chance to try to take the capital.

    We lived in a walled complex that included the church my father pastored, a gift shop, and a parsonage we lived in. The day of the first night of the offensive we had been warned by a church member high up in the military to stay home and cancel all church activities. We were nervous. I was playing a space invaders clone on a Commodore 64 with a green monitor. Then the shooting started. At first it was far away but as the night drew on it got closer. You are probably familiar with how you have to go to a certain part of the house in the event of a tornado. It’s similar for a war and the place furthest away from stray bullets was the hallway that ran through the center of the house. Our family dragged our mattresses out to the hall way and tried to sleep there. We kids were told that we were Americans and guerillas wouldn’t dare kill us because of the repercussions for their movement (as Americans funded the El Salvadorian government). This argument doesn’t make any sense to me now but I accepted it then and kept me from being as scared as I probably should have been.

    My drawing book changed from surfers and T&C Surf designs to more serious imagery very quickly.

    Our church had a large window facing a mountain (I think it was a dormant volcano) where the guerillas were holed up. You couldn’t really see the fighting but you could see flares that would go up sometime

     

    November 16, 1989 (lines in pencil)

    Guns went off Saturday night. From then on we’ve been sleeping in the hall.
    We got a color TV.
    Nobody can go on the street from 6pm to 6am

    Yeah we were under marshal law. From the start of the war until we left only one parent at a time would leave the compound we lived in. That was because having them both killed would be a lot worse than just one of them. The seemingly innocuous line “we got a color TV” is darker than it sounds because we got that TV because the guy we knew was killed by a stray shell while closing the gate to his compound. It was either his or his friend’s (who left the country quickly) TV.

    November 18, 1989

    It’s a little eerie the seemingly trivial statements in colorful marker like “I like Monopoly” interspersed with bits about the war zone all around us. But I was nine and probably on the autistic spectrum so was immature for my age. But the statements remind us all that even in a war zone the seemingly trivial things of life go on. It was also amazing that the power stayed on most of the time (I have always slept with a fan and was particularly overjoyed about it during that period of my journal). Running water also continued to work though it was never safe to drink.

    Nov 20, 1989

    I got a radio clock and guns went off again. By now some nights we would sleep in our rooms and then move to the hall way if the gunfire got bad. Also our new color TV worked great with our Commodore 64 so we’d the kid’s favorite video game, California Games.

    November 22. 1989 (in pencil)

    Guns went off a lot Tuesday.
    I saw a flare!
    We went in the gift shop Tuesday
    We’re moving
    We took today off.

    The day before this entry was perhaps the scariest part of the whole experience of instability. We lived less than a mile away from the presidential palace which was often under attack. Someone was launching mortars. We all lined up and then went down to the gift shop which had the most reinforced concrete over it. For some reason I remember watching cartoons there, but I don’t know if this is a false memory.

    Another drawing from the time, not sure if it’s supposed to be a bullet or not.

    This is from the drawing book after we moved to Costa Rica. It shows the dates when there was the most fighting.

    This is the passport stamp of our leaving El Salvador.  We got out of there to our grandparent’s house in Costa Rica as soon as the airport opened though my dad stayed another 3 weeks.

    We were lucky that we were American citizens and had relatives in Costa Rica which was a lot easier to fly to then the U.S.



  • Accurate Self Assesment

    In 2004 I was offered a church janitor job.  At the time I thought I was way above it.  But this was because I had incomplete information.  I didn’t know I was dead on arrival in interview situations due to my thick glasses.  Giving me accurate information about myself would have been useful in this situation.  Yes it would have lowered my self-esteem and given me poorer self-image.  But sometimes an accurate assessment of ones self is a necessary thing even if it causes more emotional pain in the short run.



  • my dad says part 2

    One of the things my dad used to say is, “it’s only money”.  Basically we have always been poor (at least for Americans) and so much of what one needs to advance in life requires significant financial outlay.  For example going to school to get another degree or even getting a therapist that specializes with adults on the spectrum.  I was also thinking about this today because there is a great recipe API I could use to make a site for people with food allergies but its cost structure is such that I could never make the site free.

     

    hockey

    The second had to do with actively verses passively failing.  Basically existentially trying and failing feels worse than not trying at all.  People talk about taking “social risks” and such but they don’t often speak of the emotional fallout of repeated failure.  It took me seven years to find friends here and some of those years I just quit trying.  It was just luck, not effort, that brought me the few friends I do have.  Getting back to the point people romanticizing trying often gloss over the fact that some people (especially as you get closer to the bottom) are going to fail so much that for them it would have better if they hadn’t tried at all.  Not something I’d put on a motivation poster but true.



  • Shaming Unworking Men

    NYTimes article on men not working:

    Mr. Eberstadt would also like to intensify social pressure on the cadre of men who have stopped looking for work. “Why haven’t we had the same sort of conversation about stigmatizing or shaming unworking men that we had 20 years ago about mothers on welfare?” he said. “They were not idle; they had little kids.”

    Hahahahahahaha!  As a man without a real job I get shamed all the time.  I’ve been called a charity case by my brother and law and my closest friend from college dropped out of my life because I’m low status.  One of the conservative tropes I do think is relevant is “culture of work”.  My family and friends have a huge culture of work.  If I was in a different situation where few people worked perhaps I wouldn’t feel so bad.



  • ArtPrize Piece

    orphens

    Amazing ArtPrize piece taking up a whole wall of Monroe Community Church on Congolese orphans.

    ArtPrize has had a lot of pleasant surprises this year.  For colorist fiends like me Fifth Third Bank, Park Congregational Church, and The Waters Center were great.  For more introspective stuff Monroe Community Church, Fountain Street Church, the City Water Building, and Western Michigan University (by the bus station) were good.  And I hear there are many more good venues I haven’t visited.



  • Close Call

    Just had a close call with a tornado warning.  A strong system was headed towards us but luckily it didn’t touch down in the city proper.

    We had to go in the basement and the only thing I took from my upstairs room was my medication.  Not my journals, diaries, computers, or letters.  I guess I’m not really attached to anything besides what sustains my sanity.

     



  • Guilt Drowned Out By Shame

    I think I have a poor capacity to process negative emotions.  For example most of my life my radar has been jammed by shame (for looking/being different, not having a job, a place, and SO, etc..).  This has drowned out the guilt I’m supposed to feel that would goad me towards Christianity.  The Christian message, at least in the traditions I’ve been in has gone something like this:

    • You aren’t perfect and should feel guilty about this
    • Luckily our religion will wash away your guilt with Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross
    • Well not really, we were kidding about that.  Guilt is the lever we’ll use to keep you in line (because you’re still not perfect and you still should feel guilty about this fact).

    (Christian traditions vary mainly by how disingenuous they are about the facts above)

    The problem with this whole thing (at least for me and I suspect a lot of people) is that our negative emotion “radio” is not well developed enough.  Shame comes in on the same channel as guilt and drowns the guilt right out (because, at least in my case, the shame is felt much stronger).  I suspect that in earlier times when Christian mores were more prevalent, shame was used a lot more in keeping people away from things like fornication and alcoholism.  However that’s receded, now shame is pegged to mostly consumeristic metrics like money, status, pleasure, etc…