Be Afraid…Very Afraid

I’m an American. I like being an American. I’m even (though I actively attempt to avoid cliches) proud to be. As an American, I believe passionately that one should never be afraid of their government. And that, for all of my patriotism, is where I become disillusioned.

As we approach an important election, I’m sick of the fact that I must assume a politician is lying every time his/her mouth opens. I’m sick of the fact that one’s primacy in a given political party is gauged by how much money they have raised instead of the issues upon which they stand (once again, the grand experiment of capitalism has failed). I’m sick of politicians forgetting that their job is one of public service (meaning they should be paid the same as other public servants…say, the equivalent of a teacher or police officer, perhaps…that would weed out those who are there to serve instead of become wealthy). But moreover, I’ve grown to be afraid of the antisocial bullies that are currently lording their power over us in the Bush administration, robbing us of freedoms while simultaneously pursuing their personal vendettas against other nations.

I’m afraid because that is the reason we have no clue as to the whereabouts of Bin Laden. I’m more afraid because it was the beginning of the Iraqi smokescreen that caused America to forget about Bin Laden in the first place, focusing (by force of media manipulation) instead upon Hussein.

A couple of days ago I stumbled onto this interesting article about the U.S. perspective (and, some would say, vendetta) against Iran. While I disagree with some of the political perspective (I shudder at the thought of our ever failing to support Israel), this is not the first time political commentators have flown the flag of caution about Bush’s burning desire to start a war with Iran.

I’ll shut up so you can read it. It is compelling.

And conducive of fear.

Nearly as great as the fear of America’s complacency and comfort causing us to let the warnings fall upon deaf ears.

Life Minus Feeling Squared

Karen and I were watching Numb3rs a few nights ago. We don’t do much television: most of it is incredibly mediocre, and inspires no thought whatsoever. For some reason, though, this show always gets my curiosity flowing, even though there isn’t much original to it after you get past the premise.

See, I’m the guy who had horrible grades in math. I begged for passing grades in high school, and successfully avoided it through college and grad school. If it weren’t for Quicken, I couldn’t balance my checkbook. I cringe at people who use mathematical formulae to express the human condition. It’s blasphemous and insulting to me, because I don’t think the human soul can be reduced to numerical values. For that matter, I barely believe that the actions we take can be. So, since we’re both thinkers, that led Karen and I to a debate: did we create numbers and math, or did God?

I think mathematics is our invention, an attempt to measure the things in the universe. When I have occasion to hear someone discussing math, though…especially higher math (who came up with the idea of mixing numbers and letters, anyway?)…I find it laughable that there are all these rules and laws which are “inviolable.” Sort of reminds me of the excuse for a legal system we’ve created.

I read Tillich’s definition of idolatry today, coincidentally, and I can’t help but think that we’ve idolized math, turned what we’ve created into something it isn’t and can’t be. That explains why so many in our culture are deprived of being well-read or artistically well-rounded, and are trapped in a confining linear thought process. As we’ve industrialized our culture, we’ve emphasized math and science, and all but ignored the humanities, the arts, literature, and faith. Life for our students is about the objective, and the subjective is minimalized.

And when I look around during my average day, I can’t help but to see the results.

What do you think?

How Could He?

I overheard a question this week; well, I suppose it was more of a statement, really. In any case, it went something like this:

“I don’t believe in God. If there was a God, why would He let us live like this?”

As usual, things that I see and hear tend to meld together with other things I’ve seen and heard. I say that because I also read a quote this week; I can’t remember it exactly (or find it with a cursory internet search), but it spoke to the effect of our being our brother’s brother, and that what effects one of us directly effects the rest of us indirectly.

One seemed to be the answer to the other to me. I think the reason that God would allow us to live like this is because we choose to live like this. The artist understands perhaps better than anyone else the creative impulse of our freedom to choose, freedom to move in the direction we choose, freedom to do and say what we want. I suppose that any parent (I’m not one, so I can’t relate, but I’m guessing) can understand all too well the pain of raising a child in the best wisdom and values they can, knowing that the child has the freedom ultimately to make poor decisions as an adult, and to see them make those feared poor decisions years later. I think it is like that with God: He designed us with the bittersweet creative knowledge that we were endowed with the same freedom that He is; that we can choose to see Him or remain blind to Him, to accept Him or to trick ourselves into believing that He is a product of our imaginations, to follow Him or say “no, thanks.”

Unrequited love is the most painful. We are all vulnerable to it, because when you love someone, there’s never a guarantee that they will love you back. Worse, one’s decision to hate instead of love has a “butterfly” effect. Our decisions do not, cannot, exist in a vacuum; they have repercussions, good or bad, for both ourselves and others. So we can’t control others’ actions any more than we can make them love us. And, often, if we do love someone, it leads us to not control their actions. I think both apply to that ultimate question.

He won’t force us to love Him back.

That’s why He can allow us to live like this.

I’m wondering how it is that we can continue to do so?

Rock N’ Roll Dreams

Karen and I were sitting in a restaurant Friday night, and there was a family behind us. They had a daughter…I’m not sure how old she was, but I’d guess around 15. The daughter was talking about music, and she suddenly mentioned the band Skid Row.

Have you ever had one phrase stop all the other sounds around you, so that you could only hear the person who said it? That’s how oddly impactful that name was to me.

See, I went through my metal phase in high school, and Skid Row was one of my favorites during that rebellious period. I can’t still scream out the chorus to “Youth Gone Wild” with little thought involved. It was just funny to me that someone of that age would be conversant with 80’s metal (although I think Skid Row released a new album about a year ago).

Today, I saw a boy, younger than 15 by my best guess, wearing a Guns N’ Roses t-shirt: the one that corresponded with their Appetite For Destruction album. Anyone else able to recall the edgy “Welcome To The Jungle,” or the seducing guitar line to “Sweet Child Of Mine”? Again, I was amazed.

Also a little disturbed that oldies music for them is what I grew up on. Geez, this smells like a mid-life crisis.

Seriously, though. Isn’t that funny?