Long Time Coming

Well, that was bound to happen eventually.  A long period of no updates.  It wasn’t really intentional.  It just happened.  Sorry, I’ll try to do better.  I probably won’t actually do better though.

I think I’m just going to write sort of an update, mainly for the folks who are unfortunate in that they don’t get to see me all the time due to living places that are not southern California.

Still looking for the next job…  it should be just around the corner, but nothing just yet.  Not too much to say about that really…

I am in a period of great sadness due to being so close to the happiest place on earth, while having lots of free time, and being unable to go there.  Alas, I must power through the next month and a half or so, and then I can go again!

I continue to press on in my read through of the Bible.  I have made it all the way to Jeremiah, and so the end of the Old Testament is in sight!  There’s still a few big books to go though, so, we’ll see.

And… I spend way too much time playing Final Fantasy XIV and various other games, such as DOTA.

And now I’m enjoying an iced Americano outside of Starbucks.  Not bad.

I guess I will also mention, I am once again making a go of the slow carb diet.  I had some unexpected stuff throw me off last time and so I did something else for awhile and then eventually just did a terrible job of sticking to that, so, we’ll see how this goes.  As usual with it, 6 days on, 1 day off.    I’ll even try a little accountability experiment.  Once per week (yeah, I’m hoping I will post here at least once per week) I will include whether I have stayed on diet, have mostly stayed on diet, or have failed miserably.  We’ll see how much I care what you think of my ability to stay on diet… 😉

Until next time.


I mentioned in one of my early posts since rebooting this blog that a very long post would be coming.  This is that post.

This is a very personal story.  Obviously, if I weren’t ok with all of it being common knowledge I wouldn’t post it here.  As with most things here, it is mainly for the benefit of my own reflection, but I hope that it might help you in some way.  Also, it represents one side of a story, I’m sure there are differences on the other side.  Probably only a handful of people know the story in its entirety, but here it will be very complete.

5 years ago, life was very different for me.  I lived in Maryland.  I worked as an integration technician for a government contractor.  Oh yes, and I was married to a girl (yes, I think girl is an apt description) named Holly.  I was generally quite content with life.  Then something happened.  That’s kind of the setup for most stories.  We have our hero, and all is well in his world, until one day, something happens that threatens the wellness of his world.  Not that I’m a hero, but, well, screw it, I’ll be a hero in my version of this story.

As was the norm, I woke up and got ready for work.  The night before Holly had seemed a bit down.  I approached her about it and she told me she was just tired, so I had decided to let her sleep, and left the bedroom so as not to disturb her.  However, that morning was not particularly memorable.  I’m not a morning person, so I’m sure that has a bit to do with it as well.  I do remember that we drove separately that day.  Oh yeah, we worked at the same place.  She was the receptionist in the building.  No, we didn’t meet there, I had helped her to get that job when I learned it would be opening, but that’s not important to the story.  Anyway, driving separately didn’t seem that significant, sometimes either she or I would be running late and rather than both of us being late, we’d just do that.  So, that day she seemed to be running late.  Fair enough.

At some point during the day, she told me that she wanted to meet and talk somewhere after work, and we decided to go to Baker Park. I arrived there first, and sat on a bench by the road and waited for her to arrive.  After several minutes, she drove up and walked over, sitting on the other side of the bench.  She told me that she wasn’t happy, and that she needed some time apart to think about things.  She also handed me a page from her journal that she had written the night before.

“I can’t sleep.  This is the first time I can remember something bothering me so bad I can’t sleep.  I keep thinking… about the countless nights I go to sleep alone.  About how far apart we truly are.  We still have our pet names and hold hands and kiss, but it’s all just habit.  For the past 7 months I think both of us have tried more than ever.  To understand, to love each other as man and wife.  My patience is waning.  How much longer should we try and hope against hope?  How much more can we put ourselves through?  What are we missing in the meantime?

The last time I had this gut feeling was 10-14-2005

It’s not very fair to either of us to go on like this.  How much happier would he be with someone who likes LOTRO and games and movie theaters and his friends?  How much longer can I tell myself “No you fit in.  It’s all in your head.”  Do I want to let my pride win by saying “I don’t care the cost, I’m going to stick it out.”  Even if it costs both our happiness.  I’m going to prove to everyone we’re going to stay together.  Even if we would both be happier with no one at all.

When we first started dating we said if we ever split up, it would be mutual.  I wonder if he still feels this way?

Also, if this would really be better for both of us… why do I feel that knot in my throat?  Why do I feel more pain now than when I left home?  Is it because I’m overreacting in PMS or is it because I’m facing a truth I’ve known about and ignored for years?”

At some point in the conversation she talked about how she had left the room after I came down to bed, because she hadn’t been able to sleep.  She said she hoped I would realize she had gone, and come up and talk to her, almost as though the fact that I didn’t was a sign of some kind.  For my part, I don’t recall her leaving the bed, and so I can only assume I was already asleep by the time she did so.

Oh yeah, an explanation is due concerning that date she wrote.  That refers to when she left her home in Texas to come and live with my family in Maryland.  She had… not the best home life, which no doubt contributed to this situation.  Anyway…

I can’t remember what I did say, but I do know that I was taken completely off guard, and needed to gather my thoughts.  After all, just maybe a month before for Easter she had given me a card in which she wrote “I love you more than ever.”  And generally by all appearances things seemed to be getting better between us, and not worse.  Regardless, we agreed to meet up the next day to talk.

That night was pretty rough.  I don’t think I slept much, and I thought a lot about what I wanted to say to her, and really what I could do to make things better.  I was determined to make things better.

The next day arrived.  It was a workday.  Being that I was miserable, I called in to say I couldn’t make it.  I can’t recall what I did that day, but I do know that when I tried to get Holly to meet me, she said that she wasn’t ready, and so, we didn’t meet that day.

Here is where I’m going to interject a bit of history.  This is a part that I don’t talk about really ever, mainly because even if the fact that I was married comes up in conversation (which is pretty rare), this part certainly doesn’t.  Very shortly after we got married, I found out that she was talking to some guy online, which included “cybersex” and the like.  This bothered me, and I confronted her about it, and it stopped.  It then went into the past.  Ultimately, it was only an online thing and she didn’t really know this person, so it wasn’t quite “real”.  I don’t recall exactly how much later, perhaps a year, maybe a bit less, and I again find out she is talking to someone online, doing similar things.  This time with a guy that was from her hometown.  I can’t recall exactly how I initially stumbled upon it, I think I was using her computer for something , but at any rate I saw something and then started digging and found several damning conversations.  The thing that actually bothered me more than anything about it was how hateful and mean a lot of what the guy said about me to her was, and that she didn’t defend me at all.   But, to make it as short as possible, this time there was a bit of a bigger blowout, but it ultimately resolved again.  Then there was the third time, just a few months later, but this time not online.  I still don’t know for sure how far things progressed, but it involved intimate talk and at least some physicality for sure (this is to say, I don’t believe they went so far as to actually have sex, but I have no way of knowing for sure).  This was with a person at work, who I worked with.  This time I was pretty enraged by the whole thing.  It’s hard to remember all the details, and summing it up it sounds pretty simple, but, after some time it sort of got patched up, with an understanding that it just simply couldn’t happen again.

Obviously, in hindsight, it seems odd that this would happen with any regularity and I would be caught off guard that something was wrong some 7 months later.  However, it is those 6 months in which I genuinely felt that things were getting better and better.  As she had said in her letter, we had both been working on it harder than ever, and to me it seemed to be working.  Evidently not to her, though she never told me about that prior to this letter.

Ok, so back to the part where it’s basically the worst day of my life and she’s telling me she’s not ready to meet up the day after she gave me the letter.  During this time, I later found out, she was in fact with a guy that she had been talking to and hanging out with (not secretly, I knew she was friends with the guy, and aside from one day when she was just gone an exorbitant amount of time I was perfectly OK with it).  Turns out, she had decided she might want to be more than friends with him.  So, that day she was spending with him.

We both went to work the next day.  Walking past reception was more than a little awkward.  Being in the back room with the guys was also uncomfortable, as I was fairly certain they knew something was up.  Over instant messages, I asked if we could talk at lunch, and she agreed.

We met in the cemetery  (fitting, I suppose) where she liked to walk around sometimes.  As a reminder, this is less than 48 hours from when she said she wanted to spend some time apart.  Apparently that day with the other guy was all that she needed to figure out that she didn’t just want time apart, she wanted to be divorced, and there was no room for any discussion on the matter whatsoever.  It was quite a departure from what I had been led to believe from our previous encounter.  We were going to talk about things, and from the sound of it try to work through some issues with some distance between us.  In fact, she had referenced our agreement to end things amicably if we had ever parted ways.  I realize that might seem a bit odd, because I don’t think most people make such agreements, but, it was something that I took pretty seriously.

The actual wording of what we agreed was that if we broke up, we would do so by mutual agreement.  Here is what the agreement meant: You can’t just get pissed and bail, or for any reason just leave without sort of giving the other person a chance to convince you otherwise.  The whole point was to convince the other person that it was for the best.  That she referenced it, and then made no attempt to abide by it was a bit shocking to me.  She basically told me what she had decided on her own before talking to me, essentially told me that she didn’t love me, and, in fact, had never loved me, and gave my back her ring.  Then, she left.

It’s difficult to describe exactly how I felt.  I wanted to be somewhere  that felt hopeful, and so I started to drive to the spot that I proposed to her.  It’s not a difficult spot to find, and I went there often enough, but my mind was such a flurry that I  kind of got lost, it took me quite a bit to get there.  I don’t recall much of what I did once there, but then I went to a mutual friends place to tell them what was going on. To that point, no one had known anything about the separation at all.

That night was, I believe, the most torturous night of my life.  I’m positive that I didn’t sleep at all.  There has never been a moment of more intensive self-examination in my life before or since.  I knew that it was possible that I had fucked up in some way without realizing it, but I was going to fix it, no matter what that meant.

Then a few days later, my cousin received a phone call and learned that Holly was in an accident.  As it turns out, Holly was so shaken by it that she accidentally called the wrong person (my cousin shares the same first name as the person she intended to call).    I was on my way to work, and I in fact got all the way there, but then, conflicted about whether or not I should go to the hospital, just went, because I decided that was what I really wanted to do.  It was at this point she was a bit shaken up, and she seemed to loosen on her apparent resolve to end things.  We had a pretty good conversation there.  I don’t recall the specifics of most of it, but the phrase she said that I remember taking away from this was that “you’re still my best friend”.  If that was true though, she had a funny way of treating her best friend.

We talked a few more times, with my primary goal being to understand the situation, because it just didn’t make any sense to me.  Her ultimate statement was that she needed to find herself.  She wanted to know who she was as a person on her own.  Due to her past infidelities, I had some suspicions about this being over some other guy.  I in fact specifically asked about this at that point, and she told me that she was not seeing anyone, and she didn’t want to see anyone.  She wanted to be alone.  I accepted that for that moment.

Shortly after this she informed me that she wanted me to basically not talk to her for a month.  Given what she had said before, I reluctantly agreed to it.  During the course of this month however, I learned from mutual friends that while she was telling me that, she was telling them that she didn’t want to speak to me ever again.  The reason for that was entirely unclear, and ultimately lead to our mutual friends no longer being her friends, because the reasons were unclear to them as well.

Also in the course of this month of not talking to her I discovered that she was in fact seeing that aforementioned guy.  I did not take that very well. I recall sending some very angry text messages her way because she didn’t answer the phone.  I also recall that her first response to me telling her that I knew was “Oh, so I guess we don’t need to do counseling then.”   (I guess I left that out earlier, at some point I had convinced her to reluctantly go to counseling, but it never actually happened.)

It was at this point that I took the unsavory action of informing friends and her family of exactly what her actions were, because, well, I was pissed, and I wanted people to see her for what she was.  In hindsight, it’s not the best possible action I could have taken, but, I think it was understandable and justifiable.    She was not happy about it.

I guess not much happened for a while following this.  I wrote an enormous letter which I still have a copy of on my computer…  I’m not sure whether or not she ever read it, but I am sure that she never replied.  It was sort of my last-ditch effort to show her that I genuinely cared about restoring the relationship despite everything.    It’s a little hard for me to understand why at this point.  As much as I would prefer that none of this had ever happened, as it did happen, I don’t know why I still wanted to be with that person.

After that not too much happened for close to a year, and then out of nowhere she sent me an email asking if I would be willing to meet up and talk.  Of course I was willing.  After I agreed, she sent another email asking if I could bring a copy of the marriage certificate.  I can’t remember why she said she needed it.  Anyway, I brought it and spoke with her, again I was trying to understand the situation, and again she said that she would like to be friends.  We spoke one more time, and then shortly after that conversation she sent me an email saying that she in fact did not want to be friends.  Well, OK then.

It was at about that time that she started up the divorce process and had me sign papers. At the time I was happy to sign them, because honestly I just wanted the process to be over with since it was clear that she was not going to try to make anything work.  There’s a small part of me that is a little bit vindictive and wishes I would have not signed them so she would have had to wait another year for the divorce, because as it turns out, while during that last conversation we had she told me that she just didn’t believe marriage was for her and she would never get married again, she did get married again.  Less than a year later.  Probably so that she could go to Germany with the guy that she married (he was in the military, so my understanding is, if she was not married to him, she wouldn’t be able to go with him).

Anyway, that’s the main thrust of the story.  There are lots of little bits that I do remember that I guess don’t have much bearing on story overall.

So it’s 5 years later, since we were separated, and functionally divorced, if not legally (legally divorced closer to 4 years, I don’t even know the exact date of that).  How do I feel about it now?

Well, I still feel like it is the worst experience I have ever gone through.  It was absolutely miserable and lonely and painful.  I also think it’s caused me to grow more than anything else in my life to date.  I am most certainly “over it” at this point.  I don’t long to be with her, or anything like that, but that said, I think that it still affects me in terms of how I approach relationships, and I do think it has given me some trust issues.  And there’s also still a definite part of me that wants her to get what’s coming to her.  I have no interest in trying to make that happen mind you, but I’d be lying if I said hearing that her life had fallen apart wouldn’t feel like vindication to me.  That’s probably wrong of me, but it’s also the truth.

I still miss being married, though, as I said, I don’t long to be in a relationship with her.  I do wish that she would speak to me.  It still feels like an unresolved issue in my life, and while there are people who I have grown apart from before, she is the only person where things ended pretty chaotically.

I had to fight to keep from becoming jaded toward marriage for some time…  as much as I miss being married, I think I am reluctant to pursue it again, not so much on an intentional level, but I guess on a subconscious level.

Wow that’s a long post.  If you read this entire thing you deserve some kind of award.  If you comment I’ll assume you read it all and buy you a coffee sometime.  You’re on the honor system.

That’s all I have to say about that.

The Problem of Evil

Usually I only post about things that I feel like I have figured out.  Not necessarily that I know I am for sure right, but that I know exactly what I believe about it and therefore feel comfortable sharing it.  That is not, however, the case with this one.

Really I have only been thinking much of this since yesterday.  I realized that in light of new ways of understanding things, my old model for this doesn’t really make any sense.  I’m not sure it ever really made sense in my old way of understanding either, and I guess not that much changes… because even still mankind’s evil choices only explain a certain amount of evil in the world.  Things like cancer, and birth defects, and natural disasters all seem to be manifestations of evil.

When one understands God to be the one who ultimately makes both the good and the bad to happen.  If you need Biblical support for that, try Isaiah 45:7 – “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.”  This idea is present throughout much of the Old Testament.  As these are Jewish scriptures, it is easy to see why a Jewish person would not believe in an entity such as is the Christian understanding of Satan.  God brings both well-being and calamity, there is no need for a figure such as Satan to explain it.

This is quite naturally troubling to us as humans.  This is, after all, supposed to be a God of love, and yet He at best allows terrible things to happen to us (a la Job), and at worst is Himself directly causing those things to happen.  These are things that hurt us and cause us pain, and in the more extreme examples, we cannot see any satisfying purpose in the suffering.  When a young child dies in terrible pain from sickness or from abuse, is there anything that can come of that which would make us see it as not a terrible evil?

This question of evil is a very old one.  It is entirely what the story of Job is about, and Job is believed to be the oldest book of the Bible, dating back to about 1500 BC.  We as humans have been struggling with this idea ever since then, and we are perhaps no closer to understanding it now than we were then.  What is the great reasoning for Job’s suffering in the book of Job?   Apparently so that God could prove to Satan that Job really was a totally loyal guy that would still keep doing the right thing even if his blessings were taken away.  There you have it, as least God isn’t insecure or anything…

Oh, but if that isn’t satisfying enough we go on to get this answer (In Job 38-39):

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
    I will question you, and you make it known to me.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
    Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
    Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
    or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
    and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

“Or who shut in the sea with doors
    when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
    and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed limits for it
    and set bars and doors,
11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
    and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
    and caused the dawn to know its place,
13 that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
    and the wicked be shaken out of it?
14 It is changed like clay under the seal,
    and its features stand out like a garment.
15 From the wicked their light is withheld,
    and their uplifted arm is broken.

16 “Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
    or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
    or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
    Declare, if you know all this.

19 “Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
    and where is the place of darkness,
20 that you may take it to its territory
    and that you may discern the paths to its home?
21 You know, for you were born then,
    and the number of your days is great!

22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
    or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
    for the day of battle and war?
24 What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
    or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?

25 “Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain
    and a way for the thunderbolt,
26 to bring rain on a land where no man is,
    on the desert in which there is no man,
27 to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
    and to make the ground sprout with grass?

28 “Has the rain a father,
    or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb did the ice come forth,
    and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
30 The waters become hard like stone,
    and the face of the deep is frozen.

31 “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades
    or loose the cords of Orion?
32 Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season,
    or can you guide the Bear with its children?
33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
    Can you establish their rule on the earth?

34 “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
    that a flood of waters may cover you?
35 Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go
    and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
36 Who has put wisdom in the inward parts
    or given understanding to the mind?
37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
    Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
38 when the dust runs into a mass
    and the clods stick fast together?

39 “Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
    or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
40 when they crouch in their dens
    or lie in wait in their thicket?
41 Who provides for the raven its prey,
    when its young ones cry to God for help,
    and wander about for lack of food?

“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
    Do you observe the calving of the does?
Can you number the months that they fulfill,
    and do you know the time when they give birth,
when they crouch, bring forth their offspring,
    and are delivered of their young?
Their young ones become strong; they grow up in the open;
    they go out and do not return to them.

“Who has let the wild donkey go free?
    Who has loosed the bonds of the swift donkey,
to whom I have given the arid plain for his home
    and the salt land for his dwelling place?
He scorns the tumult of the city;
    he hears not the shouts of the driver.
He ranges the mountains as his pasture,
    and he searches after every green thing.

“Is the wild ox willing to serve you?
    Will he spend the night at your manger?
10 Can you bind him in the furrow with ropes,
    or will he harrow the valleys after you?
11 Will you depend on him because his strength is great,
    and will you leave to him your labor?
12 Do you have faith in him that he will return your grain
    and gather it to your threshing floor?

13 “The wings of the ostrich wave proudly,
    but are they the pinions and plumage of love?
14 For she leaves her eggs to the earth
    and lets them be warmed on the ground,
15 forgetting that a foot may crush them
    and that the wild beast may trample them.
16 She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers;
    though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear,
17 because God has made her forget wisdom
    and given her no share in understanding.
18 When she rouses herself to flee,
    she laughs at the horse and his rider.

19 “Do you give the horse his might?
    Do you clothe his neck with a mane?
20 Do you make him leap like the locust?
    His majestic snorting is terrifying.
21 He paws in the valley and exults in his strength;
    he goes out to meet the weapons.
22 He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
    he does not turn back from the sword.
23 Upon him rattle the quiver,
    the flashing spear, and the javelin.
24 With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground;
    he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.
25 When the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’
    He smells the battle from afar,
    the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.

26 “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars
    and spreads his wings toward the south?
27 Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up
    and makes his nest on high?
28 On the rock he dwells and makes his home,
    on the rocky crag and stronghold.
29 From there he spies out the prey;
    his eyes behold it from far away.
30 His young ones suck up blood,
    and where the slain are, there is he.”

And there you have it.  The explanation essentially boils down to this:  We have so little knowledge and understanding of the world around us that we couldn’t possibly hope to comprehend something like this.  That is the answer of the author of Job (and/or the answer of God) to this question.  It’s ultimately my answer to the question as well, as unsatisfying as it is.  I don’t believe a satisfying answer is possible here… at least not without answering a whole host of other questions which we likely don’t even know enough to identify.

I have spoken before of how I tend to understand God as a storyteller, and this does help me to understand some of the pain and suffering out there.  We discover who we really are in our suffering, just as we discover who the characters in the stories we love really are as they suffer.  No author delights in the suffering of those he created…  it can be hard to hurt or kill a character in your story, but sometimes it’s what the story needs.  Of course, life isn’t literally a story (or maybe it is, how would I know if it was?), but this is the most satisfying answer I can think of.

The title of my post is quite similar to the title of a book by C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain.  I just sort of typed the first thing that came to mind, but I’m sure it was subconsciously inspired by it, as I almost immediately thought of that book when I started typing about this.  It’s been a long time since I read it, and after looking over some excerpts from it I don’t think he quite achieved a satisfying resolution on the subject, but I do want to share a quote that I think captures a good deal of truth.  It doesn’t outright answer the question of why such a world exists with the laws that it does, and I’m not quite sure what exactly it does answer… but to me it feels like it does answer something.

“Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself.” – C.S. Lewis

One of Those Posts

I think the thing I miss the most about being married (or I guess any serious romantic relationship really) is always having a person to talk to when you’re feeling shitty, for whatever reasons you have or don’t have.  I mean, obviously one could talk to close friends and the like, but it’s not really the same.  There isn’t a substitute for that sort of relationship.  Actually, it’s not the thing that I miss the most, it’s the only thing that I miss.  There are other reasons that I would like to be at that stage of life again, but they aren’t things that I “miss”.

That said, today is one of those days that I find myself missing it.  Which is to say, I’m not quite feeling at my happiest.  I could write about things that relate to why, though I’m not sure I could quite explain why fully…  And I will write about those things, but I won’t write about them here, because they are things that I’m not really comfortable writing about on a public blog.  I’d probably be ok with a few of you reading, but not everyone who could potentially find their way here.  Ha, actually there’s a few people who could find their way here potentially that I’m not comfortable with reading the things I post here…

So instead of talking about why, I will instead lament about the predicament I find myself in and reflect upon it.  I haven’t really had a proper girlfriend since then, though yes, I have gone on dates and the like.  I usually disqualify people pretty quickly.  I’m not sure whether or not I’m always being fair when I do so.  I want to have that sort of relationship again, but I think there is also some part of me that doesn’t.  I think I know the reason why…

When I could talk to her about the sorts of things I have on my mind right now, it involved a great deal of trust and openness and sort of laying out everything bare.  Now, she had never betrayed my confidence in anything I told her (to my knowledge), but, in regard to how everything went down there was a pretty big sense of rejection there, and it’s impossible to separate those things.  While I certainly don’t consciously avoid finding that sort of relationship again, I think that’s the lasting damage…  that I don’t want to put that kind of trust in anyone again.  Or rather, despite wanting to, I won’t allow myself to because of what I feel it implies.

And so instead on a night like this one, I have conflicting emotions.  On the one hand I wish I had that sort of relationship again, on the other hand I don’t.  On the one hand, I would like to be with a friend to maybe talk a little bit about this stuff with, on the other hand, I’m glad I’m sitting here alone.  On the one hand I’m posting this blog for you guys to read, on the other hand maybe I shouldn’t.

But I am.  And now I’m going to go write down some things that I can’t write here.

Life Between Work

It’s been awhile since I simply wrote about what’s going on in my life, so it’s about time I write about that I suppose.  Not counting this week the past couple months have been pretty busy for me in regard to work.  It was pretty great to have a steady job and regular income.  I have one more paycheck still coming, so the income hasn’t quite ceased, but there’s certainly going to be a gap there even if I start working again tomorrow, so, that’s sad.

I recently had an interview regarding a show that would have been pretty exciting, it was a multi camera show filmed on a studio lot, which would have been pretty different from anything I had worked on before.  I thought the interview went well, but I guess not well enough, as I would have been starting today if they had decided to go with me.  I will just have to wait for the next, hopefully even better, opportunity.  I don’t expect I’ll be out of work for too long at this point, so I’m still quite optimistic.

One good thing that comes from being unemployed is having more time to do things, and so I’ve taken advantage of the time off to do some of them.  Last week I went to both Six Flags Magic Mountain and Joshua Tree National Park.  Both were very good experiences, though quite different.  It was not my first time at Magic Mountain, but I finally managed to finish up getting on all the coasters that I hadn’t yet been on.  Full Throttle remains my favorite overall.  Should any of you east coasters make it out here for a visit, I think Magic Mountain should be on your list of things to do, unless you don’t like such things.

Joshua Tree on the other hand provided a lot of cool scenery and some good walks.  It’s a huge park and required a lot of driving around, I’m torn on whether or not I think it would be a good place to do a multi-day hike.  I’m sure the camping there is great, but while there’s a lot of cool scenery, it all looks pretty similar even when you’re driving… I have to imagine after several hours of walking it, it would cease to be interesting.  I guess with the right people it would still be fun though.

Other than that I’ve continued to do lots of tabletop gaming when time allows, recently playing Tsuro of the Seas, which is pretty simple and fun.  I also spent some time sort of learning how to play the A Game of Thrones board game, which I still haven’t played a REAL game of (we did sort of a “mock game” to learn it, but there were only 2 of us, the game requires 3 players minimum).  Both of the games require strategy, but A Game of Thrones is quite heavy on the strategy and is extremely complex.  The interesting thing is that there is very little chance involved in A Game of Thrones… my feeling is that the best strategist is going to win almost every time.

Other than that, I had several Easter events yesterday which were all fun.   And now that it is monday my search for new employment continues!

I hope that life is treating you all well.  More posts will surely follow this week.


We have arrived at Easter weekend.  I am a fan of all holidays, and Easter is always welcome as it comes after a long drought of major holidays.

Easter is an interesting holiday because pretty much all of the tradition that surrounds it has absolutely nothing to do with what it purports to celebrate.  Jim Gaffigan has a pretty great joke concerning it:

He doesn’t really talk at all about where those things come from.  I’m not going to go into extreme detail, but these are all things that are of pagan origin.  Easter is of course not unique in this regard, Christmas also carries with it a lot of pagan tradition, but Easter seems to be a more extreme example.

One of the things that I have found to be fascinating as I study Christianity is all of the pagan influence on the religion.  Christianity has taken some pretty severe turns from its Jewish roots, turns that often don’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.

One of those things is the Christian celebration of Easter rather than Passover.  After all, Jesus’ resurrection in the Bible occurs on Passover Sunday.  The Passover holiday itself is full of rich symbolism from the Old Testament concerning the purpose of Christ.  The Easter holiday, on the other hand, was originally the celebration of fertility goddesses, and the focus on new life is much more true to the original holiday than the modern focus on the resurrection of Christ.  Obviously, it is easy to see how these themes can be extended to the Christian tradition…  take out the goddess, and think about “new life” in a slightly metaphorical way, and voila, you have a Christian holiday.  By the way, if you want to see the specifics of the origins of Easter, you should probably just google it.

The reasons for departing Passover for Easter have a lot to do with pagan converts to Christianity, in a large part due to the Roman adoption of Christianity.  This is a very interesting point in the development of modern traditional Christian beliefs, and is a point at which the purpose of Christianity was skewed for a very long time.  As a starting point, I recommend the book Pagan Christianity, it served as such for me.  To make a long story short, pagan influences of various origins made their way into Christianity, and we have many non-Jewish ideas and understandings, whereas early Christianity was very much a sect of Judaism.  As some examples: Jews do not believe in Hell, nor do they believe in the specific named entity of Satan.  That is, to a jewish person ha-satan is more of a concept that could be ascribed to a being, but more often to refer to the “evil inclination” of people.  The term generally means an adversary, stumbling block, or obstacle, and so it could be ascribed to an angelic being similar to the traditional Christian understanding of Satan, but the Jewish understanding would not allow for an uber powerful being that is in fact an adversary to God Himself.  As a third example, traditional Jewish belief differs from that of Christianity in that it sees the Bible as being divinely inspired, but not the literal word of God.

Perhaps the most striking thing about Easter in the Christian tradition is its focus on divine wrath.  Nary an Easter morning service goes by without a recounting of the torturous death of Jesus of Nazareth.  It’s not that we shouldn’t remember it, but the obsession with the mode of death is something that likely would have been abhorrent to Jesus’ contemporaries, who definitively did not adopt the cross as the symbol of their faith that we have today.

The fact is, the Bible records Jesus as instructing us to celebrate Passover, and to remember him.  Not to remember his death, but to remember him.  We should connecting with Jesus’ life, not his death.  Remember what he taught and how he showed us to live.  Sure, remember that he died, and that he rose again, that is important as well, but don’t become obsessed with morbidity.  Stop seeing the Jesus’ death and resurrection as Jesus saving us from God, and start seeing it as a symbol that God is redeeming humanity from the inclination of evil.


Finding the Path to Equality

One of the things I have noticed dominating the political landscape for the past week or so is the subject of income inequality among men and women.  I’ve also come across a bit about inequality in other areas of reading and conversation and so that has sort of inspired me to write how I feel about the current state of the world and the attempts of various groups of people to find equality.

Equality in itself is simply a form of justice.  We all want to be treated fairly, and live under the same rules.  I would add to my own definition of equality that we should all be treated according to our actions.  I imagine that there are those who would take issue with that (socialists, for example).  This is to say that I do not think that Human A and Human B are entitled to all of the same luxuries in life in order for equality to be established.  That said, I do not at all believe that we have achieved equality.  And I think that in specific circumstances, everyone is treated in ways that have more to do with their skin color, gender, and income level than on the basis of their character and actions (yes, even rich white men).

It’s also important to point out much of the time a question of “fairness” arises where it’s not really due.  As an example, let’s say there’s a guy named “Bob”, and he invests a bunch of money to start his own business, he works really hard, and he is successful, and makes a lot of money.  Along comes another guy named “Tim”, and Tim decides he too will start his own business.  He invests the same amount of money, works just as hard, and after a few years of struggling to break even, he is forced to shut it down.  Is it fair that this happened?  It’s impossible to answer really, because the question doesn’t apply.  To what are you ascribing unfairness?  The nature of reality?  Can reality be unfair?  The fact is, both of these guys could have played it safe,but they chose to take a risk… and sometimes risks pay off, and sometimes they don’t.

With those clarifications, let’s get back to the first thing I mentioned.  Income inequality between men and women.  The large numbers you see come from statistical information which takes nothing into account but gender and actual income.  The most important thing to remember when dealing with statistics, or whenever someone throws a statistic at you, is that on an individual level statistics mean absolutely nothing.  This is important when considering the issue of inequality because equality has to do with individuals.  Am I equal to you, and are you, in turn, equal to another person?  The moment we start grouping people together we are essentially conceding points on which we might start treating them differently because they are not like us.    That said, there is a gap, but it is a considerably smaller average (it’s about a 5 cent deficit, as opposed to the 23 cents you commonly see cited) when you take into consideration career choice, major, etc.  I do not know the reasons for this gap, and I’m not sure anyone does, but if we would like to eliminate it, I think we are better off trying to identify to social cause and seeking to remedy it.  I don’t believe the cause is a misogynistic culture, as many feminists would have us believe, because, quite frankly, we don’t live in a culture that values misogyny.  If we did, we wouldn’t be having this discussion at the national level.  Obviously, misogynists exist, but society looks down on such people.

On a broader spectrum, different groups that have had injustice down to them tend to cling to the tool of the injustice done to them.  That tool, bluntly, is government.  This system of force has long been used to oppress certain groups of people to the benefit of another, and given that it is only able to achieve anything through the use of force, or the veiled threat of force, which would mean nothing if people didn’t know that the force would indeed be carried out, it is unlikely to ever achieve equality or justice.  It is seemingly antithetical that the primary reason people cling to these ideas is to achieve those things.  As a simple example of government not achieving equality, one only needs to look at statistics as they relate to black Americans (and remember, this says nothing about an individual black person).  Statistically, black Americans are much more likely to commit violent crimes, both against white people, and against other black people, then other people groups.   They tend to be arrested much more frequently from drug crimes as well.  The incarceration rate is much higher than their percentage of the population.  This does not have ANYTHING to do with their race, black people are not inherently violent, but it is indicative of a societal problem.   Before the Civil Rights Act, segregation was government policy.  The tool of oppression was used to try to stop oppression.  By degree, oppression has decreased, but a simple glance at those statistics can tell you that government policy is harmful to black Americans.

You can’t force someone to be different than they are.  If you hold a gun to someone’s head and tell them “be this way, or else”, then perhaps you will change the words that come out of their mouth when you are present, or when you might find out about them, but they will not be fundamentally changed.  This is the problem with seeking change through government force.  People simply bury such feelings and it becomes all the harder to really root out the source.  This is why wielding a gun will never bring about justice.

In a strange way, I think a desire for justice against past oppressors tends to cloud the issue and get in the way of achieving equality.  Not long ago I was on a film crew at a location in south central LA, and we had a visitor who insisted on coming inside to go through our trash to get our cans.  In trying to get her to leave, because we can’t have people who aren’t part of the cast/crew there, she immediately jumped to race, as though we were only making her leave because she was black.  She told me it was a black neighborhood, I guess those of us on the crew who were not black were thus not welcome.  I bring this up because I think this woman has a desire to see justice on past oppressors.  The trouble is, those oppressors are dead and gone.  You can’t achieve that justice.  To take out vengeance rightly directed toward slave owners against me or any other white American is simply another injustice.  We didn’t carry that action out.  What happened between our ancestors is in the best, and it’s best left there.  We remember it, and we strive not to repeat it, but we don’t judge each other based on the actions of people who were not us.  I think that a refusal or inability to move on from the past is the biggest obstacle to overcoming this “grouping” of people.  If we are to truly be equal we need to get rid of these vestiges of ancient tribalism.  We need to stop being groups and start just being people. If we can do that, maybe we’ll stop feeling a need to point guns at one another for good.

The Defamation of Balaam

Special Note: I can’t imagine anyone of the Christian faith who is new to this information not being challenged by it in a very strong way.  If you are not up for such a thing, you might want to skip this one.

This post will be my first foray into really asking for and hoping for feedback from everyone out there who is reading it.  I would really like to hear your thoughts on the matter.  As such, I activated a plugin that will make it way easier for you to comment (you can login with Facebook, which is how probably all of you are getting here).  If for whatever reason you don’t want to do that, you can also make a WordPress login or just comment on the Facebook status you followed here, but I’d prefer it to be here.

As you know, I have been reading through the Bible.  I’m now working my way through Judges.  I wanted to take a moment to write about something I initially read the main thrust of a few weeks ago, and that comes up again from time to time as I continue to read. It’s a story that you know if you grew up in the church, and are likely to know even if you didn’t…  it’s a story about this guy named Balaam.  And he has a donkey.  And it talks.

Just to refresh your memory, I’ll give it a quick overview with a few more specifics than that.  Note that I am only going to present what is actually in the text, and a few reasonable extrapolations… if it’s an extrapolation it will be obvious because I’ll say something like “it seems to indicate”, etc.

The passage isn’t clear about exactly what Balaam’s relationship with God is, but it presents Balaam as some sort of prophet or diviner of sorts.  He doesn’t seem to be a part of Israel in any way, but he does seem to be in direct contact with Israel’s God, in a way that thus far in the text we have really only seen with the likes of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses.  That seems pretty significant to me.. I mean, it’s not like EVERYONE is talking directly to God in the Bible.  Anyway, there’s a king named Balak (apparently having lots of b’s and a’s and l’s in names was in fashion at the time), who sees Israel sort of growing and conquering different nations, and he’s a bit concerned.  So, knowing a bit of Balaam’s abilities in divination, he sends some men down to get him so that he can have Balaam curse Israel.  Balak’s men get there, and Balaam tells them essentially, “Stay here for a night, let me go check with God and see what he wants me to do.”  God says not to go with them, and not to curse Israel.  The men go back to Balak and tell him, and Balak, not being one to give up easily, sends them back a second time, but this time in even greater numbers and with a promise that Balak will give Balaam anything he wants in exchange.  Balaam says “That’s a nice offer, but I can’t really do anything but what God says I can.  Wait, I’ll go ask again.”    This time, God seems to relent and says “Go with them if they want you to go, but only do what I say.”

So in the next verse, Balaam sets out on his donkey to go see Balak.  Exactly one verse later, for reasons not given by the text, God is angry because Balaam is going, and sends an angel to block Balaam’s path.  Balaam can’t see the angel, but the donkey can, and keeps turning away from it, and Balaam beats on the seemingly stubborn animal a few times, and then God “opens its mouth” and it tells Balaam what’s up.  It’s then a bit unclear if it’s the angel, or God, or both talking, but one of them tells us that they would have struck Balaam dead and let the donkey live if the donkey had not turned away.  That seems a harsh punishment for a guy who asked if he could go, was told to go, and then went.

Anyway, God, again for reasons not told in the text, is suddenly okay with Balaam continuing on the journey, and he gets to Balak unsmitten.  To shorten it up a bit, Balak takes him to four different places hoping maybe Balaam will curse Israel from each one, but all four times Balaam not only doesn’t curse Israel, but in fact blesses Israel, telling Balak that he can only do what God says.    Balak is noticeably upset in the text the first three times, and then after the fourth time the two of them part company without much said.  That’s the end of the story.

However, that’s not the last time we see the name Balaam pop up.  We next see him when Israel attacks Midian, when we are told that they kill him in the battle.  Then, the text makes an accusation against Balaam through Moses.  “Moses said to them, “Have you let all the women live? Behold,these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the Lord.”  Indeed, in a chapter following Balaam’s meeting with Balak, there is an incident in Peor involving Baal worship, and God’s judgment on Israel for it, but nowhere is there any account given that Balaam had anything to do with it.

Moving onward out of Numbers and into Deuteronomy, 23:5 says “But the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam; instead the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you.”  You can go check out everything that Balaam ever said or did in that account (it’s Numbers 22-24), he never once curses or attempts to curse Israel.  Joshua 24:9-10 makes a similar claim, although it’s a little bit less clear in doing so.  This goes on beyond the point I have read thus far, with Balaam heretofore being remembered as a villain.  Nehemiah 13:2 again implies that Balaam tried to curse Israel and God turned it into a blessing.  2 Peter 2:15-16 makes reference to him, saying “They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.”  This one comes closest to supporting an idea that I have heard that attempts to smooth this whole story out, but it comes with some complications of its own, I think.  Anyway, I’ll get to that in a minute.   Finally, Revelation 2:14 brings a whole new accusation out of left field: “But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.”  Eat food sacrificed to idols?  Sexual immorality?  Where is that in Balaam’s story?

At the very least, it is apparent that a lot of things were omitted regarding what happened with Balaam, and were only later filled in.  I guess we can’t be sure that Balaam didn’t have something to do with encouraging Baal worship in Peor.  And if he did, it does seem quite likely that it could have involved eating food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality.

Outside of these omissions, we still have the apparent contradiction.  It seems almost as if there are 2 Balaams.  “Balaam the prophet of God”,  who seems to occupy the beginning and end of the Numbers 22-24 narrative, and “Balaam the Wicked”, who seems to occupy everything following that narrative, and is sort of mishmashed with the prophet Balaam in the middle of the main narrative.

Here is the explanation that I alluded to.  It turns out, that the issue was not whether or not Balaam should go with Balak’s men or not, it was a condition of Balaam’s heart.  He fully intended to collect on the reward offered him by Balak, all that he was saying was just talk. He then really did earnestly try to curse Israel, but all that came out were the blessings.  That’s basically how this story is supposed to be explained in a context that makes sense and eliminates contradiction.  I will grant, that if you are prepared to accept that this is how it is supposed to be read, it does that, but then it introduces a different problem.

The main need for there to be no contradiction comes from a desire to believe that the Bible is the perfect word of God.  If we just accept it as something that was written by man, whether inspired by God or otherwise, contradictions are perfectly okay.  After all, people aren’t perfect.  But God is perfect, and therein lies the problem.  If the Bible is the perfect word of God, and He chose to convey that information to us through this story, requiring us to read between the lines to find the truth of it, then it would appear that God is a terrible communicator.  Why wouldn’t He just straight up tell us what Balaam was up to?  Why would he leave all of it so horribly, horribly unclear?  Why would He not tell us specifically about Balaam’s involvement in the Baal worship at Peor?

Do you have answers to those questions?  What do you think about these passages?  Do you disagree with my presentation of any of this, or have a different means of explaining the story?  Please do share.


Sometimes I feel the urge to write, but I don’t have a clear idea of what it is I want to actually write about.  Now is one of those times.  I have a few things floating around in my head, but I’m not sure how or if they fit together, and so…  there’s a good chance this will mostly be rambling.   We’ll see if anything worthwhile comes out I guess.

Spring, for most people, symbolizes new life, or some kind of change.  It’s not really any different for me, but, I really identify this time of year as a season of change for me, more so than any other.  This is especially true of Easter and the time period just after it.  That time period has only been particularly significant to me for about the past 5 years now.  It’s weird that it’s been that long.  But that’s not what this post is going to be about…  That’s for another post, in about a month’s time.  More recently, it was about that time I decided to try to become a bit more active, and lose some weight, which had some definite permanent effects, though I cannot claim complete success.  That journey continues, and I need to work on a plan to renew my efforts in that area.

This year, though, I find myself focusing a great deal on the spiritual.  I mentioned in a recent post that I am reading straight through the Bible.  Today I finished with the Pentateuch.  While I would say I’ve probably read about 99% of the narrative portions of the Bible at some point (that is to say, everything that isn’t lists of laws or numbers of people in armies or tribes, or genealogies, etc.), I have never done it straight through.  It’s interesting, and I find it to be challenging in different ways.  I don’t want to get into specifics here, because I want to sort of resolve things in my own mind first… but for now I will simply say that I am starting to see the Bible in a bit of a different light than I did before.  I think reading it straight through is something that would be valuable for any person… and I also think it’s valuable to try your best to cast off any of you preconceived ideas or notions about God and the Bible before doing so as well.

I used to like to go through my old Xanga blog and read posts from there.  Sadly, it seems to be gone.  I’ve always been one for nostalgia, and there were lots of things in there about what I believed at the time, and how my beliefs were changing at the time.  It’s interesting to think back on those times when my beliefs shifted in major ways, and to sort of see it happening again.  I think back to some earlier times and some of what I believed then was kind of silly.  Of course, I probably still have some kind of silly beliefs, and I’ll need to go another several years before I find a few more to root out.

It’s not without its challenges.  Especially when so much of it has to do with things that you see as mysterious that certain people who you know and trust seem to see as definitive.  It’s enough to make you doubt your own doubt about certain things.

Eventually I’ll write more about all of this, but this will have to suffice for now.

Letting Go

Something that I have come to learn about myself is that I am very bad at letting go of people.  I’ve been fairly fortunate for most of my life in that I had a core group of friends that extended from middle school all the way through college… really, all the way to now for some of us… it’s just that core group became smaller in the years following college.    Still, I think that’s longer than most people retain that.

Being a bit of a nerd, and having spent a large portion of my life on IRC (internet chat rooms for those of you less nerdy than myself), I, in addition to my real life friends, had internet friends.  And there’s even been some crossover from “internet friends” into the realm of “real life friends”, including the ultimate crossover, where I married one of them, which ended in spectacular failure, and just goes to prove the adage, “Don’t live where you internet, because the internet will fuck your shit up.”  That is totally an adage.

Up until pretty recently in my life, there were several people who I was at one point really good friends with that I felt like I wanted to hang on to, and knew that if I didn’t try to do so then they were going to mostly fade from my life into the realm of “Facebook acquaintances”, which is at least one step below “regular acquaintances”.  So for a long time I would try to maintain those friendships, which were mostly ones fading due to distance.  In the event that you have never tried harder to maintain a relationship than the other person…  it’s pretty trying.    Sometimes it’s not part of your nature to do something though, and you have to actively make yourself do it.  That was the case for me in letting go of these people, which happened several months ago now.  I think to some degree the prospect of the change of them not being in my lives scared me… but the truth is, they already weren’t, except for super brief appearances when I would seek them out.

So it’s true, after I stopped trying, they immediately degraded to Facebook acquaintances… which is to say, I occasionally see an update they post, and even more rarely they may comment on one of mine, or I on theirs, but there’s never any real communication.  And that’s OK, because things change, and people change.

I don’t know if there is a takeaway for you here, I mostly just wanted to reflect on that decision for myself.  Take from it what you will.