Weekly Godless Check-In: March 18, 2016

  • I yelled at Jack (7). He lost his shoes. I treated him like shit. I apologized and gave him a hug.
    • Don’t humiliate your kids, parents. They don’t tend to like it.
  • I bought a new lawnmower on a credit card after having a zero balance on my cards for a few weeks.
  • My credit score hit 825 on an 850 scale. That’s super depressing. I have nowhere to go but down.
  • I began researching, in depth, the Jamar Clark story. No, not the Minneapolis Police Department version, though that will be cross-referenced for posterity. I will be writing my findings here.
  • I sat on a couch of a good woman and a cat and talked Canadian politics for an hour, drank Canadian beer, and ate Cadbury Caramel chocolate bars
  • I began writing for Freethought Blogs!!!!!
  • I finally took down the third-floor Christmas tree. We’ll burn it soon.
  • My daughter wrote me a letter
  • I gave advice to someone. They rejected it. They were fine.
  • I drank two bottles of wine in two nights. $6 Costco branded wine. It was the best wine I’ve had in years.
  • My bride and a dear friend of hers ripped up our living room carpet, exposing the bare, hardwood flooring. We had installed that carpet five years ago, for $3000. That money is now rotting behind the garage.
  • I was leveraged for a second, simultaneous project at work. I feel like I’m being sprayed with a fire hose, all the information they’re shoving into my brain. This was in lieu of calling my contract. I guess they like me. That’s nice.
  • I wore a t-shirt and shorts, then a winter coat and boots, all in the same week. It also rained.
  • I watched my daughter get a better phone than me.
  • I rollerbladed with my oldest girls, Renaya (13) and Laura (12). I’ve never rollerbladed before. So, naturally, I challenged them to go down a steep ramp by a local church. They mocked me as I screamed like an excited goat.
  • I began the foundational steps of starting my residential demolition company. I wanted to call it Home Wreckers, LLC, but someone already took that name. I think it’s Fabio.
  • I drank too much coffee.
  • I switched my bed sheets to flannel and slept like an old person in a nursing home with nothing better to do.
    • Don’t ever let someone say they slept like a baby. Baby’s don’t sleep.
  • I flirted with my bride. Once, I even touched her in a platonic and loving way. That’s very new for me. I need to learn it, though. She craves touch, but not always sexual touch. I crave compliments and smiles, a woman melting into me. By the time we’re married for 50 years, we might just be compatible.
  • My bride went and talked to Fred’s (11) school and hacked out an agreement to make life better for him. He is amazingly happy now. More on that in a future post.

I Urge You, No…I Compel You to Break Stupid Rules

Response to Tom B. Posts:

I Can Kill My Children if God Tells Me Too
If You Can’t Answer the Riddle, You’ll Burn in Hell

 

I’ve been writing a few posts (above), responding to a gentleman named Tom B. Now, I’m going to take a step back, sit down by this fire and have a chat with a little boy. Tom, you’re a little boy. You may be 20, but you have no idea how to live in the real world. Your rigid ideas of life may make you a disciplined young man, but it won’t go far in your relationships with the rest of humanity.

Tom, you learned quite well, the idea of authority and rules. In fact, life for you is so simple – follow the rules set up by God, and you don’t get hurt. Don’t follow the rules and pay the consequences. But what happens when the rules mean that you hurt others? Yourself? Your family? Let me give you a few examples:

When the rules say you must kill all gay people, should you kill all gay people?

When the rules say you must sell everything you have and follow Jesus, is that always wise?

When the rules tell you that gay marriage is wrong, but you know that it hurts absolutely nobody, yet gives human beings, different from yourself, a joyful life, do you prevent them? What does that help?

When the rules tell you to cover the head of a woman and keep her silent, is that respectful?

When the rules tell you the proper way to own and treat slaves, does owning another human being as property suddenly become a fair idea?

When the rules tell a husband to rule over his wife, is that intelligent, especially when the woman may be better suited to take charge?

When the rules tell you to beat your children, because beating them with a rod will make them wise, and studies show that hitting your children hurt them more than it helps, do you ignore the wisdom of good people?

When the rules tell you to never leave your abusive husband, do you stay?

When the rules tell you that a suffering child must continue to suffer, his lessons to be learned through his suffering, do you walk away?

When the rules tell you to continue a pregnancy, even when it is ectopic, nearly guaranteeing the death of the mother, do kiss your wife goodbye and trust God’s plan?

As you read through the listing of rules above, I understand that your mind is both spinning the rules to be reconcilable with your personalized brand of religion, or you are rejecting some of them altogether, concluding that I am ignorant to ideas like the Bible being a single organism, not being under the law anymore, or Jesus provides grace and mercy, nullifying the necessity of death for earthly sins.

What you fail to see though, is the fact that you get to reject and mold rules because, just like those who don’t believe that they receive their morality from an ancient book, you subconsciously understand that all rules in life are malleable, allowing you to make choices that benefit those you care for the updated rules to benefit, especially yourself.

If you take away ONE thing from this post, please let it be the following:

Making choices in life that benefit you and you alone is not inherently bad.

Don’t ever forget that. Once you learn to love the boy-man that you are, outside of the sphere of influence where others tell you who you are and who you should be, you will much more easily be able to be empathetic toward others and discover what true love is.

And true love is NOT requiring rules to be followed or face the consequences – the greatest of which is permanent separation from your love. He who loves greatly does not set up rules that end in you burning for eternity. That is not love.

Sometimes Lying Makes the Littles Giggle

“Daddy, did you and Analisse go to the Children’s Museum in a bus last night?”

Felicity (8) was standing next to me, her eyes pleading with me for this not to be true. Her younger sister getting to go somewhere fun while she slaved away at school, the perfect and gifted student.

“No, we actually went on an airplane!”

“Nuh uh, Daddy! That’s impossible! You wouldn’t get home in time!”

“Well now, it was a fast plane! We flew over a jungle and watched tigers run below us. Then we watched cats herding cows. They were surprisingly deft at the task. Cows are very subservient to a nearly inaudible ‘meow’.”

“Daddy!!!,” Felicity was beaming and giggling uncontrollably. Analisse (The Freak) (5) was laughing, wondering how she was going to prove the truth of my story, her eyes flitting from person to person in the room.

“Then we landed in a muddy cornfield and made skunk sandwiches. They were surprisingly good! Unfortunately, Ani got a live one and it sprayed her in the face! I washed it with a tomato.”

Laughing out the words, Analisse yelled, “And I wiped my face off!”

“No. I licked the tomato off,” I retorted.

“Then I wiped the pupato off…”

“No, I handed you a cat and the cat licked you clean.”

“Then I wiped the cat’s spit off,” Analisse giggled.

Felicity was smiling ear to ear. “Daddy, what time did you get home?”

“Just before you got home from school,” I said.

Felicity laughed, an exasperated shaking of her arms, straightening them at her side. She looked at The Freak, her eyes glinting with mirth.

“Now get your asses in bed!”

Needless to say, they’re still up.

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.