Archive for January, 2003

Religion and Politics

Thursday, January 30th, 2003

My earliest memory of religion was, when in sixth grade, I lost my Social Studies book. The cost to replace it was $20, which was, in my adolescent world, a king’s ransom (it still is… heee heee heee). So I remember praying to God each night that I would find the book by the end of the year. And find it I did, close to the end of the year. That was the only time I can recall when I’ve called upon God. Needless to say, it did not do much to my religious perspective.

I grew up believing that there was a God because that’s what you’re supposed to do, as a Christian in this blessed-by-God nation of the U.S. of A. It’s kind of like the Economy: everybody is always taking about it, so it must be there. Even though you can’t see it. I remember having a catholic friend in Walla Walla who lived down the street from me. The crucifixes hanging in his house, replete with a crucified Jesus, scared the shit out of me (pardon my French). I remember thinking of being put up on that cross as a punishment, maybe for not believing in God. So I thought, what the hell, everybody say’s he’s real, if I’m right, golden ticket, if I’m wrong and there is no God, no harm done. This is called Pascal’s Gamble, and it’s a very cowardly way to go through life.

Now, somebody might say it’s awfully crummy to have one’s only religious experience be to have prayed to avoid a fee for a book, and I can’t agree mmore. By eighth grade, I had become an athiest. There was no resistence from my parents because I believe they both are athiests or close, at least. I have never been to church a day in my life, but I have no regrets. I had to keep quiet about my leanings at school, because I think pretty much every kid in Corvallis is some sort of Christian, with the exception of a few friends. I stayed that way for quite a while.

During my senior year of high school I realized that flatly stating that there was no God, no matter what, was almost as ignorant and pig-headed as stating that there was a God, no matter what. I changed my absolute stance to one of question; I do not believe there is a God, but if I see something to convince me otherwise, my mind is open. My views even evolved a little during my last year of high school to allow for a tiny bit of spiritualism. If you believe there is no God then it’s really hard to believe in free will, for example. I believe we have free will, so there’s got to be some sort of mystical or spiritual force somewhere. I just don’t believe it has much pull on our lives. Perhaps there is no “God”, but we are all our own Gods. If I could pick any religion, it would probably be Buddhism, as evinced by the presence of the Bhagavad-Gita on my bookshelf and not the Holy Bible.

The only thing I am fervent about when it comes to religion is that people should leave everyone else alone. It’s flat-out wrong to try to force somebody to switch religions or to call someone else’s religion wrong (paradox time: was it wrong of me to say that, since someone’s religion may be based on making other people switch? The mind reels).

I mention this because I read an article in the Independent today about a bill some Dems in the Montana legislature want to pass which would legalize same-sex marriages. It should come as no surprise to anyone that this bill will, quite frankly, piss a lot of people off. But I want to know why?

The usual conservative response is that legalizing gay marriages will endanger the family. How? These people are already gay. Gay people in love are probably going to be living with each other. Many people can attest to the relative worthlessness of marriage today. What difference is a piece of paper, besides a few tax reasons? (Note: I’m not saying that I don’t believe in marriage; I want to marry someday. I’m just pointing out the facts. Please don’t take me for a heartless cynic!) And what difference is it if a marriage liscence says ‘Mike and Tim’ instead of ‘Mike and Judy’?

A long time ago, marriage was the business of the Church. This was to, among other thing, keep blood ‘pure’ and to keep people from having sex. Nowadays marriage is the business of the state. And church and state are supposed to be separate. So what’s the big deal? As far as I can tell, gay marriages would hurt nobody. There might even be benefits. I’m not sure about the facts when it comes to adoption, but it seems to me that a child is better off with two parents than one. Still with me? An unmarried gay couple probably can’t adopt, but a married couple is more likely to be able to raise a child. Now, if they weren’t married, there wouldn’t be a straight couple to to take their place. What I’m saying is that there are not a number of possible marriages. So, a child is raised with two parents of the same sex. He will probably grow up to tolerate the beauty of love, regardless of its form. Trying to keep gays from marrying is just a form of spite, equivalent to putting up a huge fence on your lakeside property so that your neighbor, who lives closer to the shore, cannot see the view.

Let me put it this way:

I would rather see a child raised by a tolerant, gay couple than by a close-minded, bigoted, “normal” family.

But don’t listen to me. I’m a hellbound, godless agnostic. 😉

About Me

Wednesday, January 29th, 2003

I have stepped into the miraculous world of online blogging. Hooray! I have chosen to do this because while I still have a ‘real’ diary/journal/log, I find that typing is much easier on my hands. So everything that isn’t too private will go here, for all eyes (or, to be realistic, no eyes) to see.

A little about myself? I’m 19 and a freshman at the University of Montana in Missoula. I graduated from Corvallis High School, which actually furnished a decent education for being in the middle of nowhere. My biggest accomplishment there was probably winning fourth place in the state at the ABC speech meet for Serious Duo. I don’t fancy myself talent as an actor at all, so it was quite surprising. Just a few days ago I learned that my partner from last year and the singer from my band got first place in the state for Humorous Duo, so I’m psyched for them. I’m majoring in English Teaching, with a minor in Paying Off Debts For Life. I mean drama. A minor in drama. I’m going into teaching because I love being around kids. They seem so free, so full of life, and so innocent that it seems nuts not to do something to try and light a fire within their minds. I’ve always liked kids (not in a Pete Townsend type way), and seeing a group of them at play (on a playground somewhere) always brings a smile to my face. Being a teacher will mean that I will never be able to buy the finer things in life, but that doesn’t bother me.

I was born and raised in Walla Walla, Washington, a city infamous as the ‘Warner Brothers Funny-Name City.’ What I remember most about Walla Walla was the heat: clinging to your very skin, cloying, overwhelming. My childhood was very much one of the late eighties/early nineties: moonwalks, and M.C. Hammer, and Nintendo. In 1993, shortly after the birth of my sister, we moved to Billings. Billings was large, stinky, and somewhat unfriendly. Two years later we moved to Corvallis, where I finished middle school and high school. Corvallis is small, friendly, a tad boring at times, and beautiful. I met many interesting people there, including all of my bandmates, my closest adult friend (who also happened to be my Speech teacher), and other people who I will carry with me for life. Missoula (my current hometown) shares some of that beauty, glimpsed above the buildings in the mountains, so I really don’t feel out of place here. The only thing to miss about my hometown (which is only an hour away) is the people.

They say I’m pretty smart, and I will admit that I tend to agree with them. I was singled out in elementary school as ‘gifted and talented’, for whatever that’s worth. I’m not going to engage in anything as masturbatory as posting my IQ or SAT scores, and I promise that this will be the extent of my ‘bragging.’

I play guitar in a band, Nerds With Instruments, which is unknown even in the rather thightly-knit Montana punk rock scene. I fancy myself a decent writer. I dabble in a lot of other hobbies, including programming, photography (usually when I can get my hands on my Dad’s digital camera, which is a lot cheaper than film), and recording music. My favorite hobby, I must confess, is to frequently split infintives.

Now that exposition is out of the way, I will get into my day. I woke up at 9:00, an hour before my History of Rock ‘n Roll class. This class is interesting. Unfortunately, its format (three exams make up the total grade) is the easiest one for me to skip, but I won’t want to skip it. Bottom line? I will not be skipping ten class periods like I did in Native American studies last semester. Today, we went over the defining characteristics of Rock ‘n Roll. I still need to get a copy of the book; tomorrow I’ll check the UC Bookstore.

An hour after that class ended I have American Lit. This class reminds me of my high school Senior English class, mostly because of the similarities between the instructors. I was startled today when everyone started packing up to leave, because I hadn’t looked at my watch once while sitting through that class. The same thing happened in my Senior English class. I’ll have to either ask Professor Brenner if he remembers a student from Butte or ask Mr. Kane if he was a student of Brenner’s.

Then I had a rather boring British Lit class. Almost the polar opposite of American Lit. It’s startling to see the dichotomy between these two courses. One is dynamic, and chatty, and interesting; the other, static, silent, and boring.

After classes I fiddled around with my guitar. I finished reading Insomnia by Stephen King, and started in on my Psych asssignment. I still need to finish that before the end of the night. Then I went to dinner. Thank God Missoula is such a liberal city. The Food Zoo (the place in which I’m forced to eat) has a nice selection of vegetarian foods, so I don’t have to fill up on French Fries and salad. A nice piece of cake rounded out my one meal of the day. Although my parents are concerned because I only have one repast a day, I am not. I eat a big meal, and I’m kind of big anyway.

After dinner I settled down to watch Jeopardy on the TV I brought up from home, but the TV (an old Sony which has seen bitter days) blitzed out on me. This means that I have to hook my rather crude antenna up to my VCR (which will not release its vicelike grip on my Star Wars: A New Hope tape) to get any TV. Not that I watch much television. Jeopardy, Seinfeld, and the News: these are the only shows I watch up here. Back home, I can see M.A.S.H. and Spin City on my parents’ fancy satellite dish, but here I only get broadcast shows. With no TV, I took a four-hour nap, and woke up to start this blog.

I have a personal homepage, where you can sample my writing and other things about me. I hope to get some of my photography up there someday. It is, I confess, an exercise in vanity, but it’s probably the only vain thing I do. Click Here.