A Letter from my Daughter

This afternoon, I left my home office and rushed to the elementary school to meet my bride, who had been at a meeting about Frederic’s (11) teacher (more about that in another post…it’ll be juicy). I left behind a gaggle of kids, with at least three friends who had walked home from school with them. More kids could have been in the house, but they had probably hidden themselves until they smelled dinner, leaving me to incredulously field frantic texts from their parents. Sometimes, having six kids with multiple layers of friends, each, has it downsides.

I arrived at the school, made an appearance so the new principal would know I was only a sort of absentee father (more on that later), shot off a couple of jokes, then drove home.

We were met with the following letter, hanging at the door by a long strand of Scotch tape, written by our eldest, who is 13:

Mommy and Daddy read this!!

I really really wish this family was nicer to each other, but that’s not my biggest wish. My biggest wish is that Mommy and Daddy spend more time with us. I know the reason why when Daddy asks us kids what we like about him the best, we always say something about him spending money. They only say that because Daddy and Mommy don’t play with us.

Everything felt perfect when Daddy was playing a game called “4 Corners” with us. I have never felt happier, not even when I found out I was going to Horse Camp.

When us kids ask you guys to go on the trampoline with us, you make up some excuse. Daddy always says he has to work, and Mommy says she can’t because of her incision, which makes sense. That also includes when we want to play games. And Mommy, I love it when I’m crying and you come and hug me, but it has not happened in a long time. I understand if it takes you a while to improve this, but could you at least try?

I have been trying to change some things about myself. I try and stop singing when you ask me to. I love you both very much! I’m not making you change this part of you, I’m asking. So please try. I love you guys.

With lots of love,

Your daughter

Hot damn. I have some work to do.

If You Cannot Answer the Riddle, You’ll Burn in Hell

I responded to one of Tom B’s comments in I Can Kill My Children if God Tells Me To. He responded back to me again. His words caused me to whimper in pity. I respond to him below:
Christianity isn’t supposed to make sense to us, God doesn’t need it to.

Why? Why doesn’t God need it to? If, as the Bible says, we are supposed to figure out the riddle of salvation, the eternal consequence for our finite non-mastery of the subject being burning in hell forever, shouldn’t it be imperative that the supernatural being who set the whole thing up, give us an unequivocal path to eternity away from burning?

The answer to that question is actually the reason why, even if the Bible god was real (which he cannot be), I would want no part of him. And this answer is exactly what Tom believes – God has no imperative to be reasonable with mankind. He can set the rules as he sees fit. He can remain as mysterious as he desires, never revealing his true self or nature, guaranteeing that only a select few will ever enter the kingdom of heaven. The Bible supports this. “Wide is the path to destruction, but few there be that find the way of salvation.” Couple that paraphrase with the idea that God is all knowing, all powerful, and present everywhere, and my point is made.

God set up rules and boundaries and gave us one a (sic) mission, to glorify Him. If we don’t obey Him there’s (sic) consequences and if we do than (sic) we’re rewarded which sounds an awful like raising children, pets, or the law of our land. Play by the rules and everything is fine, screw up and turn your back on your authority and there’ll be consequences. It’s simple.

Yes. It really is that simple, if you stick with that horrible narrative. But that’s not how good parenting works. That’s not how good employers treat their employees. According to Tom, authority is the end all and be all of life. Everything in life is structured in an hierarchical manner. Everyone has someone to answer to – and must answer to that someone without question.

This approach to life has two problems (among a myriad others):

First, unquestioned authority leads to abuse of power by the individual or group in charge, especially, as Tom dictates here, if that authority plays by zero rules of fairness or logic, both swear words in fundamentalist Christianity. Secondly, the individual under authority has no ability to disagree with the authority and be respected for that disagreement, even to the point of changing the authority’s mind. Yes yes, I understand that Bill Gothard, Tom’s favorite golden boy, puts together an appeal process, awash in the power of the authority figure, shining a harsh light on the utter helplessness and weakness of the victim.

All I knew of parenting was my mother’s awful heavy-handed authority. But, over and over again, I was told to respect and obey her. I was beaten, as were my siblings, sexually abused, mentally abused, brainwashed, cussed out, and finally had the gumption to “escape” at the age of 19. I was a child.

Yes. If I disobeyed my mother, there were consequences. That was how the game was played. Yes. It really was that simple.

But it wasn’t right. Not in the least.

Any system that sets up an artificial rule book, leaving no room for the nuances of life and the minute-by-minute circumstances of the color of humanity, is bound to fail, leaving hopeless victims grasping for something – anything – that will lead them to understand their own individual value.

I am still scraping my mother’s shit off my brain and heart and learning that, while I am here on this earth to love, protect, clothe, feed, and teach my children about good sex within consensual boundaries, they can still shove their finger in my eye, and tell me that I am wrong. And Tom, many times, they are completely and utterly incorrect. Sometimes not. And yet, they are beginning to discover that I am pliable, that life is about their individual voice – NOT the voice of the collective, following lock-step, to a set of unquestioning rules.

It’s really that simple.

Finally, the god you described in that last paragraph does not deserve my glorification. He doesn’t even deserve yours. Someone who stands by, waiting for you to break a rule, doling out predetermined consequences should you fail, is exactly the opposite of someone you should love and adore. A focus on your sins, rather than a focus on your goodness. Pathetic. That god is an asshole.

Obama’s Nuclear Option for the Supreme Court Vacancy Appointment

The Republicans are in near lock-step in obstructing Obama’s nomination for Antonin Scalia’s vacancy. Moments after Scalia’s death, the politic du jour was the same we have been seeing for the last seven years from the Conservative side of the aisle – if Obama is for it, we’re against it, even if it would help our cause, or we used to be for it when our guy was in charge. Then, after the obstruction is begun, figure out a good message, especially if damage control is necessary.

Then, on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, Obama nominated Merrick Garland, Chief Justice of the DC Court of Appeals. True to form, Republicans and conservative groups alike stonewalled. In fact, Garland, having “been praised by Republicans in the past,” was a centrist choice for the President, a veritable olive branch to those who were against his pick, whomever it was, a position that was completely transparent and truly translated to, “We will not allow a liberal justice to be nominated to the court.”

Garland was problematic because Republicans and Conservative lawmakers and groups were unaware of the totality of his record, leading to sputtering tired platitudes and talking points. In fact, many Conservative groups actually fell on their swords, stating, “We don’t care who the President nominates, even f we don’t know the guy and he seems bloody decent, we know who Obama is, and we hates him, so we hates his pick.”

So I say to the President, call their bluff. Pull back the nomination of Merrick Garland. Nominate a serious Conservative. A strict Constitutionalist, whatever that means. Not to actually carry through with the selection, but to show the nation that the Republicans are nothing more than two-bit placeholders, caring naught for their constituency, but only for the perception to their voters that they are against Obama. So much so that they will fall all over their rhetoric about the court being weighted against their “principles,” the nomination being perfect for them.

Nominate David Barton.

Looking Behind the Shell of a Dour Old Codge

I swear, this is neither brown nosing, nor back scratching.

I have been reading P.Z.’s blog for years and have loved his factual and lengthy pieces on science, his frothing anger at people who should know better, his easily ingestible ideas of free thought, and even his bad taste in music. But what has kept me coming back are his pieces where he let’s his guarded shell down, cracking it just enough to let his readers see the pile of mush inside.

Like his latest article about his wife: Asymptotes get in my way

Pardon me while I go make sure I get another few years with my bride. Enjoy.

Stop Acting Like Trump Actually Knows What He Stands For

As I was driving around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area last night, I had Minnesota Public Radio on. They were irritatingly dull about the primary elections. All they discussed was numbers. Polls this, polls that. Blah blah blah. It got old.

But then, something caught my ear that made me run my car off the road, knocking over a fire hydrant – which was good, because I saved money on a badly needed car wash.

The hosts were discussing the voters’ in Michigan, a week earlier, who answered an exit poll about US foreign trade. Overwhelmingly, Michigan voters were either skeptical of trade or were dead set against it. Then, the focus turned to the campaigns from last night, surmising that the issue wasn’t really about trade, being that Hillary won Ohio with a convincing win. Hillary is pro-trade (unless she isn’t).

But here’s the problem:

What exactly does trade mean? Are people against the United States exporting goods and services to other nations? Are they against imports? Are they specifically against the TPP, NAFTA, or the like? Do they even know what those trade deals are, other than the acronym?

Those are the sorts of hard-hitting facts I would love to hear during election season. I don’t give a rats rear end about the percentage of people who think something. I want to hear why.

Then, the fire hydrant hitting comment came out of the MPR host’s mouth:

“Donald Trump is against trade.”

I had to laugh. Donald Trump wouldn’t know what “trade” was if he was sitting on a Chinese tanker ship, headed for the port of LA, full of Walmart supplies. He proves that, every time he opens his mouth and says, “Mexico’s trade deficit with the US is $58 billion. They can afford to pay for the wall. Believe me. I can tell you.”

Dude. Orange headed goon. Trade doesn’t work like that. A trade deficit does not mean a country owes us money, nor does it mean that we are “losing” or, in Trump’s words, “aren’t winning anymore.” It’s simply a dollar comparison on what we consume (imports) vs. what we export. Quite frankly, a high trade deficit needs other economic inputs to determine if that parameter is indicative of an unhealthy economy, or, as Trump would say, “Get that guy out of here!”…oh wait…I can’t find the right soundbite in this gaggle of a word salad.

And yet his followers eat it up. And numbers hungry media hosts report on the shallow crap of purported positions.

The kids, playing in the rain

IMG_2719It rained and they decided to go outside. Fuck homework.  I’m happy. And my eldest got a damn iPhone 6S, which is better than mine. So I’m pissed off.

Here was our iMessages conversation after she left the Verizon store:

Her (13): “Hi!!!!!!!!!!!”

Me (35, nearly 36): “I [redacted] hate you.”

“I know you do!”

“You got a 6S. That’s better than mine.”

“I know!!!!”

“Go to hell.”

Now she’s behind my chair, gloating and laughing at me. She’s enjoying this. I need a Johnny Walker Platinum with an orange rind in the glass.

Wow…thank you for your comments

My last post, titled, “I just want to play and build games all day,” was a simple plea to get some other ideas on how to be a better dad to my son, Frederic. I figured you all would take a passing glance, shrug, and move on. But…

…damn.

Thank you for your comments. I’ve been reading them all day and sharing them with my bride. In turn, she’s been telling me to leave her alone at work. But we’re going to be talking about many of your ideas tonight, including possibly sending Frederic to a Waldorf-esque un-school. That sounds expensive, though.

Anyway, thank you so much for this engagement. I look forward to your comments as I write more.

 

“I just want to play and build games all day!”

My son, Frederic, is in 5th grade. He’s struggling in school, as he always has been. He has been diagnosed with high-functioning autism, but I attribute every one of his struggles to my utter ineptitude at parenting. After wallowing for a decade in the bowels of religious instruction on how to be a godly dad, which led to complacency in shittiness, being I had the rule book at my fingertips whenever I needed to crack open the Holy Bible, I finally decided to step outside of myself and learn a few things from good people, lacking dogma.

Yesterday, Juaca Baby (Fred) brought home a grammar test for his parents to sign. We were expected to sign the thing because he got 32 out of 32 wrong. It quickly became obvious that he randomly selected the multiple choice answers. After all, a line of symmetry is most definitely not a three-sided shape.

I soon found out that this was actually the sixth time he had taken this exact same test. The students were expected to get 100% before they could stop taking it. It was direct preparation for what would be in the state-mandated testing material.

Needless to say, I was beyond frustrated. Worse, Fred didn’t want to talk about it, no matter how excitable my pleadings to the value of education were.

Enter my bride.

She got The Boy to talk and soon discovered that he was indifferent, nay, antagonistic toward his education.

“Fred, do you feel math will help you get a job?”

“No.”

“Science?”

“No.”

“Reading and writing?”

“No.”

“What do you want to do for a career when you grow up?”

“I just want to play and build games all day!”

Then, my wife went into how getting a good job, these days, especially in the field of computer science, nearly always requires a Bachelor’s degree, which includes science, mathematics, and plenty of reading and writing, even if the job duties don’t require a substantial knowledge in some of those disciplines.

She did well, yet, in my estimation, Frederic shrugged off the logic.

Anyone else have a better suggestion on how to excite him? Quite frankly, his teacher sucks this year, seemingly hell bent on humiliation and intimidation – two things Fred does not respond to well.

I can kill my children if God tells me to

I wrote a post, yesterday, titled, I am more powerful than God. The point of the post was to say that, since God is supposedly all powerful, all knowing, and present everywhere, being accused of “turning others away from Jesus” with my words was a false accusation. If I am able to best the god with all the myriad omni-characteristics, then I must be more powerful than him.

I’m actually okay with that. The logic of the Bible-god is completely ridiculous and I am left incredulously shocked that intelligent people still believe in a glorified Santa Clause or Tooth Fairy.

Enter a young gentleman who I grew up with. We’ll call him Tom B. He’s half my age and brainwashed into fundamentalist Christianity by his parents and the decades of a carefully constructed apparatus for true believers to be well-versed in apologetics and the “us vs. them” false dichotomy.

Only he doesn’t know this. And that’s by design. Fundamentalists are taught to view themselves as using superior logic to anyone that may be their detractors. Hell, the Apostle Paul set this up by saying, “The truth of Christ is foolishness to the wise.” That’s a paraphrase, of course, but you get the point. Anytime you are faced with doubts or a redress of your belief system, you are well within your spirituality gold star chart to reject all arguments as foolishness and Satanic.

Tom’s response:

If what you’re saying is true, it’s a really good thing that the reality of God is not who humans make Him out to be. Because, if that’s really who God is than (sic) even I would’t believe in Him. The thing is, humans can say anything they want about Him. They can attempt to find His flaws and make Him look bad. But in the end we’re judging Him by our standards of who we think He is. If you really want to know who He really is read the book He gave us.

My response was two-fold:

First, no. You don’t get it both ways. You can’t tell me that it is not possible for the human mind to fathom the realities of God, and then in the next breath, tell me that my human mind has the capacity to fathom the realities of God if I only read his book. You get one. Not both.

Then I mentioned Ole’ Abe. I told him that I’m morally superior to God, including Abraham, being that I wouldn’t kill my kids if some jerk-off told me to, no matter how powerful he thinks he is.

To that, Tom B. responded:

In Abraham’s defense. If you made a beautiful wooden chair and placed it in the dinning (sic) room nobody in the world can rightly take that chair out and burn it unless you gave them permission, because it’s your chair. In the same way God (who made man) gave Abraham the permission to “burn the chair”. Of course he wouldn’t let it happen because He loves us too much. But since God is the author of all life he has the right to do what He needs to with it.

I especially love the part where he conjectures, “Of course, [God] wouldn’t let it happen because He loves us too much.” Really? And in the next breath, people like Tom B. will tell you that you’re going to burn in hell for eternity – just like the millions, nay billions upon billions of souls before you.

But damn….God loves you.

I fear for his kids. And, being a quiverfull fundie, he’ll have a whole gaggle of them.