Friday, 31 October 2008


You know that across our great land, some Christian kids have to stay home, and some Christian teachers call in sick or otherwise refuse to work on Halloween, because they feel Halloween is a religious holiday (for paganism,) and they will, therefore, take the day off so as to not sully their souls with it?
That's fine for them, but I personally don't approve, not that they care.  They are doing what they're doing, and they have that right.  Ironically, I think it reflects badly upon Christianity and Christ, and is exactly the sort of thing that would make the average person even less willing to listen to anyone speak on the subject of what they feel their relationship with God to be.  Some seem to show a spirit of bigotry, and others, a spirit of fear.  I'm sure no one wants me to point out that a spirit of hate or a spirit of fear is hardly given by God.  The bible actually says outright that, if you have a spirit of fear, God has not given it.  It's coming from elsewhere.  Anyway, I dressed up as Russell Brand (tried to) for Halloween at school this year, and looked more or less like this picture I took when I came home, right before washing all the black colour spray and hairspray out of my hair.
   So, I took a nap, and woke up, and some guy I don't know who added me as a friend on Facebook this week saw my "Mike is wishing everyone a hallowed evening" status, and as his read "J______ is We must obey God, He does not want you to give Satan the victory by celebrating Haliween..."  he decided it was time to contact me for the first time.

J_______ Hi how are you? 

Mike alright. And you? 

J_______ good. Have we met? 

Mike I doubt it. I think we're both Facebook friends with G____, though. and some others perhaps. I'm from the Ottawa area. 

J_______ What are you planning to do tonight? 

Mike I got a friend request from your account and accepted it as you seemed to be friends with G_____. Well, what I was really hoping was that someone could give me a big, annoying lecture about "Halliween." You up for that? 

J_______ What kind of lecture? 

Mike I thought you were trying to find out if I was going to celebrate Halloween or not, and that you would give a lecture if I was. Maybe I'm assuming too much. maybe you're not the sort who gives lectures at all. Are you? 

J_______ Look at my status tell me what you think. 

Mike well, yes, your status does make you look like the sort of person who gives annoying lectures. You're not, though, right? Because that would suck. 

 J_______ Well are you a Christian? 

Mike I mean, you're not really misguided enough to think that what the Lord most wants from you this evening is to find out if I'm a Christian, and if I am, give me a prepared Halloween lecture, and if I'm not, then preach to me to become one. Ask Him if that's what He really wants your first interaction with me to be, and then listen to what He says, instead of assuming you know what He WOULD say, given your own feelings on the matter, and the argument you have put together (or had put together for you by someone else.) 
J_______ I can't really give you a lecture if you are not a Christian, so you are going to have to tell me. 

Mike so you can give me a lecture? Then I won't tell you for sure. 
J_______ Why do you want me to give you a lecture? If you are not a Christian then become one and you will have true happiness. He will accept you no matter what you have done. If He can forgive me, He can forgive you. 

Mike I really, really don't want you to give me a lecture. I was just filled with the sinking feeling that you felt that was an appropriate thing to do upon first Internet "meeting" someone. Now I'm afraid my only options are "Don't admit you're a Christian and put up with his preaching, or admit it and get a Halloween lecture from someone who can't even spell "Halloween" correctly." 
J_______ Do you want to become a Christian? 

Mike you are preaching to the converted, brother! 

 J_______ What is your answer? 

Mike I was just avoiding telling you I'm a Christian, because I felt that your intention was to give me (someone you don't know) a lecture on Halloween, when your expertise and level of informedness on the subject doesn't extend to spelling it correctly. and so I told you to ask the Lord if that's really what He wants you to do, because I can't picture that being what He wants your first interaction with me to be. (a lecture) 

 J_______ I won't lecture you, just do what God wants you to do ok? 

Mike I am, thank you. because that's how I live my life. thanks for not lecturing me (much). Happy Halloween. 

 Then he came back on later and asked me "Has God ever told you to get out of your comfort zone to do something brave for Him?" and I told him about how God insisted that I stop going to church.  His response was "I have to go, bye"

I realize that it takes a lot of bravery to not celebrate Halloween (well, no, it doesn't.  In many cases it just takes being eager to make a spectacle of yourself, while trying to stir up some consternation and persecution from society at large so you feel more than usually Christian, as your self-image as a Christian is completely based upon "others not understanding," and, if you're really lucky, saying or doing something mean so you can feel like you're being martyred in some small, pathetic way.)
    I realize that sounds like an outsider's uninformed judging, but I can tell you EXACTLY how much bravery it takes to not celebrate Halloween, as I grew up not celebrating it.  Well, I dressed up once or twice when I was very little (as Steve Austin one time) and then Dad cancelled our dressing up.  We always gave out safe, tract-free candy, though, standing at the door answering questions as to why WE weren't dressed up, or out trick or treating like the other children.  
   I also know what it took to take black construction paper, scissors, glue and a stapler, and make a Darth Vader mask while the grade 5 teacher was teaching so I could wear it for the rest of the day.  To his credit, although he was angry when he found out that I'd done this, my dad didn't punish me for it.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Video Games

(this is a montage that I made of video games, starting with arcade versions, then switching to the feeble attempts of home consoles to duplicate them, then pefecting sound and graphics beyond them)

I haven't posted in a while.  Mostly, this is because I've been doing a lot of teaching, and I don't blog about things that happen at school, because kids can read about that here.  Suffice it to say that today these words came out of my mouth: "Try coming off as smart instead of stupid.  You might like it."  Too many stupid things to recount (or even count) happen each day.  And I'm doing some of them myself.  Also, heart-breaking and great things happen too.

I've been building up my collection of  footage of  video games.  When Troy hasn't owned something (like an N64, a Playstation or a Playstation 2) I have picked them up used on the cheap, and some used games.

I am a hard sell on finishing games.  My attention is held only long enough to beat a couple of levels.  The latest PS2 ones are pretty engrossing, though.  Lego Star Wars II, Guitar Hero, Siphon Filter: The Omega Strain, Medal of Honour: Frontline, Burnout: Revenge and Return of the King are very cool.  I am the envy of my married friends, who are about a decade behind in video games (as was I, only last month).

I am having many interesting arguments and adding many interesting and unlikely people on Facebook.  Religious arguments can be as nasty as they can be pointless, usually simultaneously.  The weather is drippy, grey, damp and cold and has been for some time.  My friends are all off wherever it is they go until they need to talk to me again after a few months have elapsed. 

Monday, 6 October 2008

Science Again

Having proved that two people read this blog, I soldier on.

At a party on the weekend, someone was talking up how cool science is while stroking a cat.  Conversationally, I said "Wanna hear a limit to science?"  

She stiffened and said very coldly "There are LIMITS to science?!"

I said "No veterinarian or biologist can tell you what's making the sound when cats purr.  Y'wanna know why?"

Everyone wanted to know.  "Because dead cats don't purr, and when you vivisect a cat to find out what's making the sound, it stops."  

The response was "Well, that's not a limit to SCIENCE, that's a limit to our ability to understand science."  That sounded a lot like a limit to scientific method being adequate to uncover facts to me.  Too much of science is about cutting, crushing, smashing, boiling, dissolving, freezing, irradiating or otherwise ruining things to really be an effective way to learn much about living things, while they're still living, anyway.  Maybe that's why we feel we understand the process of a living creature suddenly ceasing to live and gradually turning into dirt, but can't turn dirt into a living creature of any kind, nor do we really understand much about what happens to make matter live or die.

The words "That's a lot like saying 'It's not that there's anything the Pope gets wrong, it's just that we fail to correctly understand his teaching' " were rising toward my throat along with "You realize you're being all religious about science?"  But before I got a word out, she held up a hand and said "And that's all I've got.  I couldn't really argue about it, because I've said more than I can competently argue."

Fair enough, right?

I was going to point out that, rather than viewing numbers, letters, mathematics and science as human tools, created by people and used to understand our world in the same way that religion is, she believes that the universe is in some mystical way, accidentally yet definitely MADE of numbers and inarguably yet coincidentally built out of the magic bedrock that makes up the occult permutations of science.  She appeared ready to punish the unorthodox.  

I doubt she thinks the universe is make of words and letters, but she wouldn't be the first person to tell me confidently that the universe is made out of numbers, and is built out of scientific principles, but no one built it, nor invented science.  Science and number are star stuff, and are behind the mystery of life itself, by happenstance, the story goes.  That's starting to sound nearly as metaphysical as quantum mechanics!