Sunday, April 29, 2012

Some Truth

So.. maybe it's unfair to say it's that blatant... but I've certainly felt this way in the past.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Charlie Chaplin Speech

I found this touching and relevant

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

168 hours

A recent conversation I had sparked my interest in understanding exactly how much time we have in a week. 

Everyweek has 168 hours.  Ideally, I spend 52.5 of those sleeping (7 1/2 hours per day), which leaves me with 115.5 hours left. 

I also eat eat - averaging .5 hour meal and 3 meals per day, that gives me 10.5 hours per week.  If you include preparation time, I could easily add probably add 7 hours per week.  So 17.5 hours per week for food. 

I work, that's 40 hours per week, 45 when you include drive time. 

Showering and general maintenence for the day adds another 7 hours per week (1 hour per day). 

So after sleeping, eating, working and showering I would have spent 122 hours, leaving me with 46 hours left to do whatever. 

That "whatever" includes spending time with friends, family, running, reading and pursuing my other hobbies and interests.

Most weeks I want more whatever time.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My History of Voting

Today is an election day.  It's an odd year and chances are that people are much more concerned with what will happen in 2012 than they are about the elections that will take place today.

To be fair I have not always participated in my duty as a citizen.  However, in November of 2004 I adamantly checked a box indicating I wanted another four year of Bush Jr.   It was my first presidential election that I had voted in and I was proud to be a part of it.  I was voting for my candidate of choice because he was an evangelical and pro-life.  I'd like to tell you I did a lot of additional research beyond this, but I really didn't.  

Two years later (in 2006), I checked a box making it more difficult for gays to have the right to marry in the state of Wisconsin.  At the time, I was defending the sanctity of marriage.    

That was only 5 short years ago.

It's amazing that my views have changed as dramatically as they have in this short span of time.  I see my earlier views as being single minded.  The institutions of thought I was involved in gave me the answers and I didn't need explore my own reason.  This imposed ignorance to my own capacity for thought is one that eventually left me hollow.   

I'm thankful that now my mind is a comfortable place to wander, even if that has made the "answers" more complicated.

It's my hope that my ballot decisions of the future will reflect a broader view and consequentially wind up on the other end of the spectrum.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My faith or lack there of (part 4)

Previously to discovering the prayer study, I had been cautious about what I exposed myself too.  There were a couple podcasts I wouldn't listen to and books I wouldn't read.  Not a long list considering what some christians will avoid, but I considered my faith was "fragile" and I wanted for emotional reasons to hold onto it.  After the study though, the desire to understand the truth became all to strong and I dove in to reading and listening.

In a sort of last ditch effort I attempted to listen to Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis on Audiobook.  The arguments for God struck me as being solid, but not infallible and the arguments for Christianity were non-convincing.  I stopped listening when I got to the argument for why men and women were treated differently... because there basically was none.  It basically said men and women are different so therefore they are treated different... no further explanation.  Why are they different? What about the despairity in treatment?  Why are women unable to be clergy? nothing!

I also found a podcast called Reasonable Doubts.  This was perhaps the most detrimental to my faith (or most helpful to my skeptical mind - however you want to look at it).  They broke down many of the arguments that I had originally accepted to favor Christianity.  Including phychological explanations behind what might of caused my "spiritual experience". 

As the "research" continued, the Christianity I once knew and accepted as whole was failing to hold up to scrutiny.  Even a modified more liberal version of christianity while perhaps tolerable in lifestyle seemed illogical to me.   

Eye opening as it was, it was also leaving me a bit empty handed emotionally.  What of my community?  Much of my life was centered in the christian social network, and I really didn't know where to go.  I made a couple of earnest attempts at attending churches that I might be able to tolerate but nothing felt right or stuck.  It took time and energy to re-establish my social framework.   

So what do I call myself now?  Probably the term "atheist" is most appropriate.  I find very little reason accept any sort of anthropomorphic "god" notion.  However, I also pride myself on being intellectually honest and accept that we can't prove "lack of existence" of anything.  If there is a God, he should probably start answering prayers on average if he expects people to believe in him.

I've kept this information largely silent to my friends and family, though some know and I'm sure more have put two and two together.  I really struggle revealing my true colors on the issue... doubt and skepticism are not revered in the cultures I came from and most of the time I don't know even how to begin.  While I feel like my walk out of faith in christianity was a long process, I'm sure some of my friends will see it as more sudden.  I also have felt some sort of desire to protect them from losing their own faith as the process isn't always easy, though some of that sentiment has waned as of late.

This story is mostly complete but I feel it's important to not that I've left out the role that my previous marriage and relationship with my parents may have played in this process.  Those are stories in of themselves, and while interesting and relvant, I felt might be a bit of distraction to the original topic.  I hope uncover aspects of those stories in future posts.  I could have written a book if I had wanted to uncover every detail along the way, so I tried my best to stick to the highpoints.         

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My faith or lack thereof (part 3)

In my desire to find this merger between maintain my faith and feeling comfortable with who I was, I hit a lot of bumps a long the way.  My ability to make the decisions was compromised on some level and through a complicated series of events I fell into a crisis (The crisis deserves it's own post, so I'll just leave it at that for now), that shook me up pretty bad.  I took on all blame for what happened and I was sick to my stomach, with feelings of pain, regret and general lack of any kind of self-acceptance.  I can't really describe to you how bad I felt then, but looking back it probably was similar to some sort of depression.  I had just come home from college for holiday break at the time and this didn't help because I felt very alone.  There were no classes or distractions to drowned out my negative feelings.  Naturally, I sought refuge by attending a new church group.  At this church group a woman prayed for me - and, no lies, I experienced this "Epiphany" or existential experience...I know it sounds a little ludicrous but I felt as though a physical burden had been lifted from me and that new life was brought in.  At this time, I very much believed that this was God was working through me in a powerful way to reshape my then then fragile belief I had in him. 

Naturally, this was a bit of a turning point in my life and I decided to set aside much of what I was considering as doubt and move forward with Christianity.  Due to the nature of the experience and the issues I was struggling with at the the time, this turning point didn't just encourage me to continue with Christianity I knew but to redefine it for myself.  Basically, I was able to let go of some of the "judgement" and expectation aspects of the faith and attempt to come into my own a little.  I slowly walked a way from a ministry I was involved in and I like to say "I dabbled in Catholicism" for a while.  Compared to my previous version of Christianity I actually found Catholicism quite accepting and more compatible with science.  They would sometimes get together and talk their faiths and there was room in these discussion for people to have different expressed views.  I actually found it slightly uncomfortable at the time, but also likable.  The group I was involved with was quite welcoming and I even went on a mission trip with them.  My "epiphany" happened one short semester before I was done with college, so my contact with the Catholic group diminished when I was done with school.

Post college, I struggled to find myself.  I didn't feel at home in my career despite having loved college and my degree program.  I continued to look for fulfillment via church groups and Christianity and found a church that was extraordinarily social indeed.  They had put a call-out for people to start social groups at the church and I decided to start something I called "coffee-colloquium".  The goal was to bring people together to discuss important issues within the Christianity at large and share our unique was perhaps a bit reminiscent of my experience in the catholic group.  The group had somewhere between poor and no attendance the entire time I hosted it, which was at least a year.  While I didn't take it personally; I did take it as a sign that there was marginal room for that type of discussion within the boundaries of church and it made me question my role in "church" as a larger institution.

At this time, my interest in other viewpoints continued to grow.  I also felt that a belief that was untested was not worth anything, so I began to consume information in various ways.  Most of my "seeking" continued to be done through internal sources, but I found that I was getting more liberal on what I would accept.  One book that crossed my path at a Christian book store no less was "I Sold My Soul on Ebay" by Hemant Mehta.  In it, I found myself agreeing with many of his insights and as a result decided to check out his blog.  This was at a time was I trying to figure my views out.  I would spend an hour listening to NPR and then and then (try to spend) an hour listening to Right-Wing talk radio.  I was trying to let all sides have a voice. 

For reasons I hope to go into later, I found most of Hemant's blog rather benign.  It was interesting and curious, but didn't really strike at my faith.  It wasn't until a post about a study where prayer was being shown to be unhelpful via statistically relevant data that I actually "cracked.".   Previously, it had been easy to write off many of the scientific claims as biased or wayward... but with my engineering background I knew statistics couldn't lie.  The study followed a group of patients and in the cases where prayer was used, the group of patients declined in health (as opposed to increase).  I just didn't understand why a god wouldn't heal people on average statistically. Obviously, I understood at this point that he let some people struggle... but why wouldn't he help people via prayer on average.  It frustrated me and I couldn't let it go.  It drove me to read more and more...