Sunday, 28 March 2010

That's It!

That's it.  I have been repeatedly hearing people use the word "spiritual" as a euphemism for "imaginary" lately, and I'm sick of that.  I'm especially sick of Christian people doing it, or sitting by and smiling while someone else does.

"Spirit" doesn't mean "imaginary."  The word "spirit" refers to breath (inspire: breathe in,  expire: breathe out/die/wear out), and it refers to that which makes the generation of fresh ideas likely ("I was inspired by...").  It refers to the attitude (orientation or direction) of a person or group of people ("The spirit of the group was one of critical negativity").  It refers to the will ("She has a lot of/a very strong spirit", "This movie is about the indomitable spirit shown by the men on D-Day.")  Things don't have to be physical (have molecules) to be "real."  Gravity, sound and light are examples of things that, as far as we know, may not have molecules, but are real things that affect them without being made of them.

Like most things that matter, you can't vivisect anything spiritual, can't make it happen in a Petri dish, but you sure can feel it, and it sure does change your day, your life and the whole world.  The bible never uses the word "spirit" to mean "soul."  Everyone has a spirit, and to talk about "spiritual" things is to talk about what inspires us, what our attitudes and the attitudes of others are, and about our judgement, our decisions, things we resolve to do.  Everybody talks about that stuff.  There are addicts sitting on the front stoop of a crack house right now talking about these things.

But people say "You're spiritual" (rather than "spirited" or "inspired") and they say "I'm not religious (into ritual and rules) but I like to think I'm spiritual."  And then wacko-ish people say "I'm VERY spiritual" (by which they mean they are able to believe any number of superstitious things, and all at the same time, too, even if a number of things they believe are quite contradictory.  Then I have to trip over people thinking that's what I mean if I use the word.  Well, everyone is "spiritual."  Some are more spirited or inspired than others, and some people are more irrepressible than others, but everybody's got an attitude, a direction, ideas and so on.

The body, of course, isn't a bad or shallow thing.  We are weird hybrids, though.  We are physical, and yet the "spiritual" things (love, justice, will, direction, ideas, distinctions, connections etc.) are very real to us, and the interplay between what we sloppily view as the "merely physical" and what we are willing to call "spiritual" is far more complicatedly interwoven than we want to admit.  The bible says nothing bad about the physical, but talks critically of people who seem to live as if they had no judgement, no will, no ideas.  "Carnal" (meatish/fleshly) living or thinking is living like we can't aspire to fairness, to excellence, to insightfulness, to empathy, to selflessness.  We're supposed to let both work.  I think a big part of children maturing is about them learning to be able to deal with ideas and sense and judgements, rather than just acting on impulse.  You can't play a "long game" strategy unless you have impulse control and can delay gratification. Those who can't, haven't matured, and seem to be what the bible is talking about when using the word "carnal."

The human emotions, and the hormonal, chemical, cardiac components which are tied to them, causing them and being caused by them in such a integral way, are kinda caught between awareness and flesh.  The direction of one's life, one's attitude, one's best judgements and ideas, these affect the physical self profoundly.  The physical component of the self shapes one's life, one's attitude, one's best judgements and ideas just as profoundly. (ask a heroin addict with no aspiration to get clean, and then ask one who is determined to get clean)

On that random note, and without tying the thing together with a bow at the end, nor exploring this in more depth, I'll put it out of its misery now.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Missed February entirely

Somehow.  It just happened that way.

Started the new semester at school after the usual being chased around by kids who hand things in at the end of the course and don't fail.  My newest classroom dealie is to lay out foam mats, each representing a decade of the 20th Century, and then have the kids correctly place items from a bucket of artifacts and toys, in the correct decades.  The trick is to refuse to let them guess, and refuse to help them find the right decade (they have computers, after all):


My montly routine is nicely broken up by taking a team of kids to compete in the regional Reach for the Top competitions.  This is like Jeopardy for high school kids, on local cable.  My kids beat every team they played the other week.  They is smart.

A hard drive of mine crashed this weekend.  It had important stuff in it.  I'm looking into getting the data recovered. Pricey, but almost worth it in this case.  A lot of edited and partly-edited video that I use in the classroom.  My mp3s and videos.  School stuff.

My nephew turned two this past weekend.  It was, therefore, fitting that I get him a plastic viking helmet and foam sword to run around with.  He got a riding toy and toy hockey sticks. He felt he needed to wear the helmet when using any of those and says "wear helmet" of his own accord very clearly for his age.