Monday, July 30, 2007

So for those who are interested, I think the interview went well but you never do know. I should find out this week if I'll be called back for a second one. This is a job I'd be pretty excited to have and it has some great benefits including some serious help paying for grad school so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. In the meantime, I'm continuing to look elsewhere too.

On the religion front, I again attended mass at the same Episcopal church today. The service was a nice tradtional service once again but I overall found everyone there, particularly the greeters and leadership to be too friendly. They were very in your face with insisting on knowing your name and engaging you in conversation. Right now, I'm still trying to figure out where I stand with things. I really sort of want to just sit by myself, do my own thing, and leave. When it comes to religion, I believe in meeting people where they are. I think you should let people move at their own speed. I'm sure these people had nothing but the best intentions, but it rubbed me the wrong way. Aside from that, I did once again enjoy the mass. What I really want to know, and am deciding whether to ask, is what their position is regarding blessing gay unions in the church. I know there is another Episcopal church nearby that does it, but I'm fairly confident this one does not. In light of that, I'm not sure I want to get too close to a church that wouldn't do it. It is one of the things that drove me away from the Roman Catholic church after all.

As one final note, I wrote the other day that I was listening to Jupiter from Holst's The Planets. Ironically, a day or two after that, I saw a new Reese's commerical that uses Jupiter. I have to say, that's a combination almost as good as peanut butter and chocolate.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ahh...foiled again!

So, for the first time this summer I was planning on finally heading to our vacation home. It was going to be only me and the grandparents there. It was going to be quiet. I could sit on the beach and just relax and hang out with a friend who rents a house nearby. But no, I happened to get called for an interview today. I've been keeping my whole summer free so far to deal with that kind of thing, I finally decide to go relax, and of course, I get called for an interview. The voice on the other end of the phone of course asks if I can interview tomorrow. The response in my head was a combination of "YES!" and "Damnit!". The out loud was, "Yes, what time were you thinking?" Don't get me wrong. The interview is for a job I'd be pretty excited about. It's not surprising of course, that the one time I figure it's probably safe to be away from home a for a few days, I get a call for an interview. Oh well, at least they called today and not after I was already away.

In other news, for reasons I'm not sure of, I all of sudden decided I wanted to listen to Holst's The Planets. Right now, I'm listening to Jupiter on repeat. Just over three minutues into the piece there's a really really cool part.

Monday, July 23, 2007

No Lightning?

So for the first time in months, I set foot in a church yesterday for a Sunday service. Much to my surprise, I was not struck my lightning immediately upon entering the door. In fact, overall, it was a rather pleasant experience. For those of you regularly following this blog, you'll have probably gathered that me and the Roman Catholic Church are no longer on speaking terms. The pope seems to have lost his marbles and overall I've found the church to be like the brick walls Rob Bell talks about in Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith. They spend so much of their time making rules and regulations and dealing with doctrinal things that they build this wall that tends to fall when you remove a brick and is very good at keeping people out. In light of this, but because I do enjoy a combination of more liberal social ideas but more traditional services, I attended a service at an Episcopal church. It was a nice service in a beautiful old Gothic church. It also had a kick-ass organ which always makes me happy. It's someplace I might consider going back to.

In other news, I've finished Dodd's My Faith So Far: A Story of Conversion and Confusion. It was again a good read and draws some of the same conclusions at Bell. Essentially, questions aren't a bad thing. Ending up in the middle is ok. My own conclusion, the journey isn't a waste. Just because you end up somewhere completely different than you intended doesn't mean the time you spent elsewhere along the way wasn't valuable.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gotta Love the High

So the first half of the week, my visits to the pool were largely to catch up from being really busy last week and not really getting to the pool like I should have. Today I was back up to my usual distance in the pool and had a great workout. Serious runners speak of having something called a "runner's high" when during a good workout you get an endorphin induced high where you feel like you're in a real groove and like you could run forever. Well, the same thing happens to swimmers and probably to others who participate in highly aerobic endurance type activities. So during my workout today I actually had one of those swimmer's highs and ended up making my set a little bit longer than I'd intended because my freestyle was just feeling really really good. Eventually of course, I did get tired, but it was a good tired.

Aside from that, I decided to pull out a book I read a few years ago for a paper in an Intro to Religion class. We had to select a book for the paper that was not regular course material. One of the two professors for the class reccomended the book and it turns out the other one could be found in the acknowledgments. It was a great book then but seems more appropriate to my current religious situation. So, in any case, I'm re-reading Patton Dodd's My Faith So Far: A Story of Conversion and Confusion. It's a brutally and comically honest autobiographical book about Dodd from age 18 to 20 and his journey from being forced into religion until he was 14, dropping the subject, and then somehow ending up a part of a crazy charismatic Pentecostal megachurch in Colorado Springs at 18. It chronicles his journey from there, including a year at the (in)famous Oral Roberts University. It's a good read and deals a lot with defining oneself as a Christian and what that really means. If nothing else, I can't spend all day on the job search, so I'm enjoying trying to have something on hand to read.

Bullet Points

Ok, so I'm not really less tired than my last post, but I'm going to try to do some bullet points from Velvet Elvis of things I really liked. This will probably only be a partial list. Again, if you want to read it, it's...

Bell, Rob. (2005). Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith. Michigan: Zondervan.

  • Atheism is a belief, not a lack of belief. Just as Christianity is a belief in a higher power, atheism is a belief that things got this way by chance. In either case, you still believe something.
  • The Bible was written in a time when each town or village had one copy of the Jewish scripture (the Torah) and it was read in group settings. People came together to hear it read and to discuss it. Radical and "innappropriate" interpretations were quickly shot down by having this kind of group discussion. The Bible was written with this in mind (and a long time before the printing press) and so we should read it with this in mind. It really ought to be discussed.
  • Faith should be like a trampoline, not a brick wall. The springs of the trampoline are the doctrines that hold up the whole but they are not the whole. They simply are jumping off points. In many Christian churches, there is a brick wall approach where the Bible is used to create bricks of doctrine. When you remove one brick, the whole wall crumbles. In this case, the individual doctrines become the whole and you miss the point. There's no room for discussion or questions. The brick wall shuts people out. The trampoline invites people over to play. And really, who cares who has the better trampoline. They're just fun to jump on.
  • Anytime you say anything about the Bible, it's an interpretation. In fact, even the fact that we're reading it in English involves interpretation from the original. Unless you happen to be God, you're interpreting and you really better not claim to have all the answers.
  • "Christian is a great noun and a poor adjective (84)." You are a Christian. Do what you do and do it with passion.
  • Ask questions. Ask more questions. Keep asking questions.
  • Genesis starts with God separating light and dark. The rest of the Bible is God showing people how to distinguish the two (86).

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Book

Ok, so as promised, this is a follow-up to my last post. After chatting for hours with my friend about religion the other day, I've realized that my real issue is more with specific churches than with the actual ideals of Christianity. Love your neighbor isn't something I have a hard time with. As I also mentioned in my last post, this friend gave me a "reading assignment." I have a lot of respect for him, particularly in this area, so I took him up on it and bought the book Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. This guy somehow nailed down just about every thought I have about religion in a way that anyone could understand. It was a book I was excited about cover to cover. I actually read it with a pen in hand and made a mess of it with underlining, bracketing, notes etc. Bell has an impressive and unusual way of talking about faith in a way that is compelling and makes anyone feel like they could fit in and in fact, do fit in. At some point when I'm not so tired, I'll make note of some of the ideas I particularly liked.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Yes, I'm Still Alive

Sorry for my short hiatus. I've been very very busy the last few days and unfortunately haven't had much of a chance to post.

Given all the stuff I've had going on, I also slipped and have not been going to the Y like I should. I'm going to get back on that this week.

The big thing that has happened of interest has been on the religion front. I had a long conversation the other day with a friend of mine that I've known for years and years. He had always been a crazy conservative Christian and even during my Catholic days, we just sort of agreed that there were certain things we weren't going to see eye to eye on, but that it was ok. We chatted in person for hours the other day, about religion and other things. I was impressed on how much his views have moderated since we last spoke. I've slowly been figuring things out on my side, but he seems to have been doing the same. It was a great conversation, and we both left with book reccomendations from the other and I think feeling a lot better about things. I have picked up the book he suggested and at some point, when I get through enough of it, will post on that.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Least Attractive Thing Ever

Ok, so yesterday's post was about one of my big pet peeves. Today's is about the one thing that any cute guy can do if he wants to do something that is a huge turn off. That one thing, is smoke. I was at a function today with several people from my high school. One of them is a really cute guy. I've known him for years. He's a few years younger than me and I hadn't seen him in awhile. In addition to being physically attractive, he has a great personality. He had the whole package, or so i thought. Today, after said function, this guy got into his car to drive away, and as he did, lit up a cigarette. He went from like a 9 or 10 to a 4. It's hard to explain just how terribly unattractive I find smoking to be. This kid also attends one of the top colleges in the country, yet smokes. While I have a very good grasp of addiction, I still don't understand the thought process of very intelligent people who start using a substance. I feel bad that you're addicted, but not too bad. It was your choice to start using whatever substance you're addicted to. This is especially true in a time when everyone knows the dangers of smoking. There's no such thing as making an uneducated decision.

In other news, because I care about being able to breathe, I was at the Y today and had an unusually good swim. I did a fair bit of medium to long distance freestyle and it felt really good. My stroke just seemed to be all in place. It's actually starting to get fun again.

Monday, July 9, 2007

So You'll Be Here When Exactly...?

One of my biggest pet peeves in the world is when you have some household item that needs repair and the person coming to repair said item tells you something like, "I'll be there between noon and 3pm." First off, why can't you just tell me a time you're going to be there? It's called an appointment, and is how the rest of the world functions. Second, if you give me a three hour (or larger) window, that's a huge amount of time for me to hang around just waiting for you. In light of that, you had darn well better be there in said window of time. But, of course, the technician coming to make some hardware repairs on my Dell laptop (by the way, I will never buy another Dell as long as I live) of course managed to come at 3:40 pm. My whole day was pretty much a waste thanks to it. The guy who did show up was a nice guy and quite competent, but the half hour of repairs should not have required my full day, especially not when everything was under warranty.

Speaking of repairs, my car started making a noise today that it definitely shouldn't be. Unfortunately, getting home at 10:30 tonight, I won't be able to deal with it at all until tomorrow.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Boring Saturday

I literally did nothing today. I helped my parents with a few little things around the house, went for a short swim (pool is now on summer hours and closes earlier than I'd like), and watched two episodes of MythBusters, which is actually great television. It turns out you really can save your buddies' lives by jumping on a grenade. Also turns out you could accomplish the same thing by throwing the grenade into the nearest bucket of water and you might not have to die in the process. Good life lessons for the next time you're in that situation.

Since I don't have too much in my life to talk about, I thought I might bring up an article I read in the news. Some guy in Massachusetts who took the MA Bar Exam and failed, is suing the state. It turns out he didn't answer one question and only failed by one question. The question this dumbass refused to answer, involved a question about the financial assets of a married lesbian couple (cuz you can actually do that in MA). He is suing MA for both failing the bar and for compensation for their homosexual agenda and their abandonment of religion. Well hear this buddy, I'm sure there's a very special place in hell waiting for you. Aside from that, if you want to practice law in a given state, then it is your obligation to be knowledgeable about and uphold ALL laws in the state.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

On the job front, I found two more jobs to apply for. One of them I'm not too sure I'd actually want, I'd need more information, but the due date to apply is tomorrow so I'm safer sending a cover letter and resume and then making a decision later. The other one looks kind of interesting and like a job that would be good to do while going back to grad school.

I made it to the Y again today, and was rewarded twice over. While I was leaving the locker room at the end of my swim, I ran into the same cute guy from the other day. The real fun though was the guy who decided to swim in the lane next to me. I could swim circles around him, but not at all a bad guy to look at. He really needs to learn though, that if you want to swim laps, board shorts really aren't the best choice for your swimming (or my viewing).

Aside from that, no particularly exciting news to report.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Fourth!

Happy Fourth of July!! Usually the fourth is one of my favorite holidays as I like holidays during the summer. Unfortunately, the weather was pretty lousy today. Thankfully, my weird town had our fireworks on Monday night, so I didn't really miss out.

Unfortunately last night I was slightly distracted by some kind of party or something nearby that involved lots of screaming at very innappropriate hours. It eventually became concerning enough and annoying enough that I called the police department and asked them to drive by. Shortly after that, it returned to normal suburban quiet. This distraction is partly to blame for me not posting.

For those of you following the blog, I've posted a few times on my attempts to get back into shape with regular swimming workouts at the Y. Although the Y was closed today for the holiday, I did get to go on both Monday and Tuesday. Yesterday, for the first time, I finally saw a guy there that required me to stop and take a second look. He looked to be part way through college or just graduated. I think he should come and workout again while I'm there. Along the same lines, Jay over at Jay + Gay = Me (a blog you should be reading if you're not already) has come up with a way for him and some of his fellow bloggers to be held accountable for their workout goals. We're posting what our goal is for the end of September and helping each other stay motivated and on track. I happen to think it's a really good idea. I definitely know how difficult it can be sometimes to keep motivated without a little help from other people. If you're interested in jumping in on this, you should check out his blog (

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Promised Blog (or Land)

Ok, so I'm still getting used to the idea that blogs are really designed for you to express your opinion regardless of what other people who read it might think. But, I am getting used to it and so this post might make some people a little bit annoyed at me. I'm going to go ahead with it anyway.

I have read or skimmed a fair bit of the debate I linked to in my previous post. A very brief background is that Sam Harris is a well-published author and atheist arguing against the existence of God. He is debating well-published author and pro-religion Catholic Andrew Sullivan. On Page 4 of the debate, they finally get to exactly what my problem is and I have to say, that from as objective of a viewpoint as I can get, Sam Harris crushes Andrew Sullivan. The quote below is Sullivan (pro-religion) responding to Harris (atheist).

You wrote:"What would constitute "proof" for you that your current beliefs about God are mistaken? (i.e., what would get you to fundamentally doubt the validity of faith in general and of Christianity in particular?)" It's a good question. It prompts me to say something I've been reluctant to talk about for reasons best expressed by Wittgenstein. But here goes anyway.I have never doubted the existence of God. Never. My acceptance of God's existence--of a force beyond everything and the source of everything--goes so far back in my consciousness and memory that I can neither recall "finding" this faith nor being taught it. So when I am asked to justify this belief, as you reasonably do, I am at a loss. At this layer of faith, the first critical layer, the layer that includes all religious people and many who call themselves spiritual rather than religious, I can offer no justification as such. (

This quote shows the obvious problem. There is very little evidence to support the existence of God but yet, there is nothing that most people of a religious faith will accept as evidence that God does not exist. How can you have a debate if one side won't accept or acknowledge evidence to the contrary? If someone wants to jump in with good evidence that God does exist, I am more than willing to consider it and spend some time thinking about it. I am at a loss to offer much in the way of evidence myself. I can however, offer much evidence to support the idea that God does not exist, yet I think Harris and Sullivan are both right, when they suggest that it wouldn't do any good. I'm already aware of it and those with faith don't care about it.

Ok, so that was me pissing off the religious crowd.

A Link

Ok, so I absolutely promise I will post on this in the near future. In the meantime, for anyone remotely interested in my posts on religion, this is fantastic. Read some of the debate even if you don't have the ridiculous amount of free time required for the whole thing.