Tuesday, 22 April 2008


Y'know what I hate?  I hate that atheists, particularly those of a scientific bent (scientific fundamentalists, if you will, closed in their minds and hearts to any world views and stories to explain the origin of the species that don't satisfy them on a psychological level, dogmatic and on an obvious crusade to eliminate the possibility of dissenting voices being heard, seeking to get the whole world to recant its failing suspicion that perhaps not only the left brain should be allowed to speak on the subject of truth) expect me to sit idly by and let them tell me what faith is. 
     Ask two thousand atheists for a definition of faith, and there are two words that I guarantee you they will never include in their definition: "evidence," and "substantiation."  They tell me that a faith is a religion.  They tell me that faith is a blind leap.  They tell me that faith is people making stuff up and pretending it is true.  They tell me that faith is the antithesis to logic. 
     Well, using the definition of Paul the apostle, none of those things are worthy of the name, none qualifies as faith.  Faith is, according to Paul, the evidence of things not seen, the substantiation of things hoped for.  It isn't making up stuff.  It is discerning, seeking after, and one day laying eyes upon something we can't as yet see though it is actual and imminent. Everyone lives this way.  We can't see (or prove) that we're in love, when an injustice has occurred, that it is time to do something, or not the time to do it.  We can't see or prove the significance of things.  
     Our decisions are not merely what we give afterward as their justification.  We decide things with our spirits.   You see, faith is an action of the spirit.  And you know what?  Atheists, who claim to have neither a spirit nor a soul, are quite confident that I'm going to let them define what those terms mean too.  They expect me to accept as they do, that spirituality is an airy, emotional, impractical seeking after intangible experiences.  
     The thing is, according to any biblical definition, the spirit of a man is nothing more or less than that part which is the seat of will, decision-making, and judgment.  In essence, the spirit of a man is closely tied with wisdom and intellect.  Spirituality is willing to move forward into paths one judges to be good, on one's own personal agenda.  Will is the power of one's spirit manifest in action or restraint.  
    The whole thing is seen in wise or foolish judgments.  The spirit provides timing and direction. The people who invented English were well aware of the actual meanings of these words, giving us expressions like "dispirited," and "low spirits" to describe when people's wills flag, and "high spirits" to describe when people are full of mental energy and optimism.  Naturally the emotions ride along too, responding to whether a day, in fact, a life is headed somewhere the person feels to be good, or if it is headed nowhere at all.  
     When a person engages in something which is good for his spirit, he becomes clear-eyed, filled with resolve, and he feel like he is thinking more clearly than before, like the fog has lifted from his brain. 
     So, tell me that I am mistaken as to what I feel I discern to be real (an on-purpose universe in which entropy is held at bay by carefully balanced systems, and interrupted and mocked by something we do not begin to understand the origin and nature of: animating life).  Insist that I not believe anything but what I'm told.  Insist that only things that can be dissected in labs are real.  Behave as if only I have to justify my views, while yours are widely accepted and self-evident.  Tell me that this discernment which I feel to be faithful is actually nothing more than wishful thinking and childish stories and nonsense, and feel free to cling to whatever origin myths you find most comforting and fulfilling, but do NOT tell me what faith is, and what spirituality is, especially when you claim to have no truck with either, which therefore hardly makes you an expert on the subject.  
     Faith is seeing with your whole brain, even when a thing isn't an "atoms" thing, or it hasn't passed in front of your eyes yet, to reflect light (something wholly immaterial which we really have no idea about either) back to them.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Ravenous Intake

My friends are generally not available for comment lately, being wrapped up in buying homes and raising kids.  Meanwhile, I grow weary of my ravenous intake of obscure TV and movie stuff.  I get more into reading books on theological and philosophical subjects, yet get ever more picky about which ones I'll read. My nephew is a month old now, and is almost 14 pounds, which is an insane size for a family of modest-sized folk such as we.  I like to hold him to give my sister a break.   My mom and dad are very good at that, but I'm not without skills in delaying how long before the vacuum pump needs to clamp on again.

Monday, 7 April 2008

teaching political ideologies

Here's how I tend to teach the definitions of liberal vs. conservative (as prep for showing Bowling for Columbine).   I teach a simple, basic system: liberals focus on the future and bringing about change to old crap, and conservatives focus on the past and not wrecking or disrespecting that good old stuff that we have the honour of protecting and maintaining. Manson focusses on being a free individual, and Heston refers to "the country that a bunch of dead white guys invented." The fact that Heston died last weekend added an extra note of interest to it. I feel good about presenting the film as something I agree with, with the proviso that Moore is absolutely up to propaganda and oversimplification, and I pointed out what facile connections he was asking us to draw, and left it up to them if they felt these were fair connections to claim the existance of. The typical textbook stuff always presents liberal views as "in the middle" or "moderate" while it presents conservative views as "right-wing." I presented the idea that everyone thinks his or her views are moderate and perfectly reasonable, while everyone else's need special labels, evidence and consideration.

Sunday, 6 April 2008


Friday was busy. I committed to going to a concert by the Hilotrons, who are doing pretty well lately, and the lead singer of which I used to do music with (well, he was an engineer in a studio I recorded in, and he engineered a couple of tracks for me, and also played keyboard on a song for me.) I'd already previously committed to supervising the school's Neon dance as well, so I arranged to still do that, but leave a bit early. A teacher buddy of mine didn't want to go see the Hilotrons all alone, so I offerred to check out the show with him.
     First I tried out my "Poetry Scavenger Hunt" idea at work, and it worked well.  It works like this:  I give a sheet which askes the kids to go through the dusty poetry books in the classroom and find three poems about a) animals, b) nature, c) romance, d) death/dying. Then I got them to write what they'd seen according to the formula "Animal imagery is clearly seen in Poet Guy's poem Name of Poem, when he writes, "The poetry stuff that he wrote which shows that animal imagery is seen in his poem." Most teachers just make kids "answer numbered questions" about everything, which they are trained to do like dogs, but which doesn't show up their numerous specific and troubling areas of incompetence, nor demand that they try newer, more useful, real world, harder things. I know, poetry analysis isn't very "real world," but I have this idea that writing something that sounds like it could be read by someone sometime, even if only a poetry circle or scholar trumps writing answers to questions that even I don't want to read. Then I came home for an hour, picking up my concert ticket from the high school near my house where my teacher buddy is working right now, and returned for the dance.
     I supervised the dance, mostly talked to the cops, left, and met my teacher buddy at the club in Ottawa just in time for the opening act. The opening act wanted to be Bjork with an art rock/neo-punk band, in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The lead singer chick was a graphic right out of Rock Band or Guitar Hero, wearing torn black leggings with bare feet, a red dress, red feather boa, and with bangs pulled over one eye, hair dyed magenta and teased to improbable size, and with white plastic swim goggles on her head. They were enthusiastic, obscure and eclectic, but not very engaging.
     The Hilotrons had a roomful of fans, who were ultra-hip. A lot of grim young women in their 30s with belligerantly ill-advised hairstyles proclaiming to the world "I will NOT look good. I will NOT and no one can make me! Excuse me, I'm ovulating and I haven't had anything pierced for a few weeks and that always makes me...anxious." I was interested in what the Hilotrons did, though their music isn't my first choice of entertainment. They had a real Talking Heads/Devo thing going on with a bit of The Cars tossed in. Mike's singing style with this group is all Ric Ocasek hiccups, falsetto, little sudden screams, rising growls and an interesting (natural vocal, not electronic) effect which sounds like a kid wobbling the volume knob off and on all the way really quickly. He also has a vocoder microphone hooked below his regular vocal mic, so he can switch to it, and play a little keyboard that's mounted on the mic stand, to pitch the ensuing robot-voice to whatever note he plays. He did a fair bit of singing in the regular mic, and then echoing what he just sang, into the vocoder. Art music by robots.
     Saturday was a whole lot of watching the extras from The Mighty Boosh DVDs Troy's wife brought him back from England, and buying groceries and doing laundry. My latest book of Christian liberalism is in, and it isn't as good as the other. For one thing, it is trying to talk to conservative Christians and make them all liberal, and I'm not conservative, so the points sound all obvious, and I also hate it when people try to write a book to revolutionize, well, anything. I also watched the rest of Dexter season two, and the new episode of Battlestar Galactica. Dexter was pretty good and made me think. Battlestar Galactica continues and did not. A couch potato day. It was nice. Today perhaps I'll go into the city.