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Evolution of my Atheism - Part 1. [Jul. 29th, 2010|02:16 pm]
Sometimes you’ll hear people of faith talking about how their faith has matured over time, or that their understanding of it has changed with the passage of years. I would have to say that my atheism has undergone similar transformations. Perhaps it’s simply true that any set of beliefs you hold over time are going to evolve as you yourself age and gain new perspectives on life.

I can remember, really, the first time that I consciously started to reject the idea of God. Through most of my young life my parents had made me go to church and Sunday school, and there was even a period where I more-or-less voluntarily said my prayers before going to bed at night. But it was always done with a sort of self-conscious sense that I was just putting on a performance for myself, or at best for my parents should they happen to be watching – that no one was really listening. But I just kinda thought that was what it was like and didn’t give the issue a great deal of thought. But what sealed the deal for me, what turned vague discomfort into conscious rejection, was the story of Job.

I imagine most people reading this will be familiar with the story. Job is an extremely pious man with a rich farm and a large family. By all measures of the time, a very prosperous guy. So one day God and Satan are talking and the subject of Job comes up. To paraphrase the conversation, Satan says “Job only loves you because he’s got such a great life. I bet that if you let me take away all the good stuff he has, he’ll curse your name.” And God says “I’ll take that bet!”

So Satan heads off and turns Job into a pauper, then collapses the guy’s house on his kids, killing them all. And when Job doesn’t start cursing God, Satan afflicts him with painful skin conditions as well. Still no cursing, though there was a bit of “what did I do to deserve this,” going on. Then we get a bunch of Job’s friends showing up, and then God Himself, to explain to us how Job didn’t really do anything to deserve getting dumped on, but it’s really arrogant to think that anyone has the moral authority to suppose He needed any real reason anyhow. ‘Cause He’s God, y’know, and can do whatever the heck he feels like.

Then, for keeping faith, Job gets to be twice as rich as he was before and gets to have ten more kids, including the three most beautiful daughters in all the land.

Now, I’m told that the lesson we’re supposed to learn from this story is that “evil” things happen to good people because it’s not evil when God does it. It’s just what He does, He has every right to do it, He’s beyond our judgment of what’s good or evil, and we just have to have faith that He loves us and it’ll all be good in the end. Well, the lesson I got from it is that God is capricious and cruel, and certainly not deserving of worship or moral authority. Hypocrisy is hypocrisy, regardless of how powerful the hypocrite is.

So that was pretty much the death of it right there. I wouldn’t say this was the moment I “lost my faith,” because I can’t say with any certainty that I actually had any faith to begin with. Up to that point I just had a desire to please my parents and a collection of confusing stories on which to hang that desire.

So initially, my atheism was based on resentment. I wasn’t completely committed to the idea that there was no God, just that I wasn’t going to worship Him – it was purely rejection.

Hopefully, I’ll get around to discussing how my understanding has evolved since that point. I’m in a much different place now.
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Halloween Weekend [Nov. 2nd, 2009|10:42 am]
Hope everyone had a great Halloween weekend!

Ours has been a mixed bag, though on the whole I think the good has outweighed the bad. I’ll knock the bad out of the way first, so I can get onto the good which is much cooler.

First of all, the car failed inspection last week. The problem is the catalytic converter, which is going to cost us in excess of $950.00 to replace. This means that all the money we’d been setting aside for Christmas this year, plus a lot more, now has to get dumped into the car.

Bonnie, sadly, spent Halloween sick :(

Now, for the good. Saturday morning my/Lily’s soccer team won in big fashion. But not only that, they played a great game as a team. We were so proud of those kids!

Evan spent most of the afternoon building himself a costume. See, I had decided that this year when I took the kids out Trick-or-Treating I wanted to dress as a bloody scarecrow. On hearing this, Evan decided that he wanted to be my crow minion. So he took an old ski mask and hot glued black feathers and a cardboard beak that he made to it, and taped a bunch more feathers to a black shirt. Then we took a pair of black-feathered costume angel wings we had, cut them apart, and strapped them to his arms. The result looked pretty cool, and he got a lot of compliments on it as we went around the neighborhood. Lily dressed up in a bride costume (this was surprisingly hard to find, but it’s what she wanted and we persevered).

So I took the kids out Trick-or-Treating. Both got a lot of candy and compliments. Meanwhile, back at the house, Bonnie gave away 5 bags of candy, and by the time I brought the kids home I had to make an emergency run out to restock. We usually don’t get that many kids, but this year we really decorated up the yard and apparently that attracted more. I’ll have to post pics of our yard somewhere – I liked it :P

Yesterday I managed to get to fighter practice – an increasingly rare accomplishment these days. And much to my surprise Gerry, who I hadn’t even know was acquainted with them, brought Sean and Hope to check it out. So ishtar137 and I got to have some fun sticking them in our armor and showing them what it was all about.

That’s really the highlights of the weekend. Hope everyone else had a good one!
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Just a Post [Oct. 16th, 2009|11:28 am]
So, out here in the wilds of New Jersey, we continue to be alive (despite the LJ silence). Bonnie and the kids have been sick, but so far I’ve been spared (knock on wood).

It’s funny… I know a bunch of things have happened since the last time I updated, but for some reason none of them seem to rise to the level of importance that makes me want to write about them. I think part of the reason for that, though, is that I keep going so long between posts that in order to cover everything it just becomes a list of activities – which isn’t much fun to write or, I’m sure, to read. I should stay on top of things better.

Anyway, time for a vent! The soccer league in which I coach and Lily plays only just sent out notices to the coaches this Tuesday, by email, that team pictures were going to be done tonight (yes, on a mere 3 days’ notice, and that’s if the coach happened to read their email the very day it was sent). What’s more, they forgot to include me in the list. Fortunately the other coach on the team just happened to read her email the next day and notified all the parents. I could go more into how they’ve continued to screw this up since then, but suffice it to say that this league gets more poorly run every year.
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September Update [Sep. 9th, 2009|01:48 pm]
It’s been quite awhile since I’ve updated (notice how more and more of my posts are starting with some variation of that sentence? :P ). So time for the latest info dump.

Let’s see… Since Pennsic we’ve been to visit my parents once, which was pretty uneventful (well, other than Bonnie and I fighting some more :( ). Just catching up. Apparently my cousin is in a bit of a freak-out because his fiancé bought him season tickets to the Redskins – with pretty good seats even - as a birthday present, and he knows he will never, ever be able to match that for her birthday :P

Two weekends back we went to the opening weekend of the Maryland Ren Faire. It was threatening rain all day, which kept the crowds down, but it never actually rained. If anything, it was a little too hot and muggy. But we had a good time even if we spent too much money. And the kids came away with nice new leather mugs.

That Tuesday I had dinner with the Gornsteins and cyan_fireflash, and got to play some Dominion (rockin’ card-based game). That was a very welcome break in my week, and I love those people :)

This past weekend we went to Swamp Thynge, an SCA event held in Delaware over Labor Day Weekend. Camped with ladyandromeda with that guy she keeps insisting on hanging out with (her husband, I think :P ), along with cyan_fireflash and some other SCA friends. Gave us a chance to catch up with some old friends from the Delaware shire as well, which was great. I fought in the tournament (a Pas d’armes style, which basically means it doesn’t matter who wins or loses any of the fights, just that you attract the notice and approval of the ladies doing the judging – naturally I won none of the prizes :P). The rest of the weekend was dedicated to hanging out with our friends there (I mentioned I love them, right?), and projecting sharp pointy objects at targets. Evan has completely fallen in love with thrown weapons, and even Lily got in on that action. The three of us competed in the thrown weapons tourney, and Evan won the under-12 division! Lily got a point for cute in the tourney, but didn’t manage to score any point on the target – which is a shame, because she was starting to get the hang of sticking the knives in during practice, she just had bad luck in the tourney.

After the event we went and hung out with my parents again for a couple hours (they live literally 5 minutes from the event site) before splitting up to return to Lancaster (Bonnie and the kids) and New Jersey (me).

Evan will be testing for his karate Orange Belt this Thursday night. After that, Bonnie and the kids will be coming back home full time, officially ending this year’s summer excursion to Lancaster.
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Well, we've been back to Pennsic... [Aug. 10th, 2009|01:11 pm]
...and now we're home. Well, technically we've gotten as far back as Bonnie's parents' place. I still have to get back to New Jersey later today.

It was pretty much what I expected based on my pre-leaving post. Everybody in camp had their own thing that they do, and the things that they do together from long years of sharing the experience, that we're just not part of. But I was expecting that, so it didn't get me down like it might have when I was younger and had less realistic hopes.

So we were two days later than expected getting into camp (arriving Sunday instead of Friday) due to the need to sew vast quantities of garb before heading out. We managed to get in on Sunday with just enough light to set up the tent and unload. Then we made a town run, got back to camp, and dropped into bed around 1 am.

I fought on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday (the River, Gate, Field, and Woods Battles), giving Helm's Deep a miss on Friday because the "personal protection" portion of my armor was chafing me like mad. Kinda regret missing that one, though - it looked like a lot of fun, and if they do it next year I'll definitely get in on it.

We went to the Gypsy/Pirate mixer, and I spent most of an evening at the Three Skulls party which was a pretty good time. That was it for partying for me, though - as I said, I'm terrible at trying to fit in at parties on my own, and was never really given an opportunity to join friends at any others (well, except for the Iron Lance party on Friday night, but Bonnie and I had to give that a miss due to having other plans).

We also got to see a hilarious production of Shakespeare's "Much Ado about Nothing" on Friday night put on by the Known World Players. That was a lot of fun, and unfortunately the last really fun moment of Pennsic for us due to, well... stupid reasons, imo.

Saturday was just kind of a lazy day spent in shopping and hanging around the encampment for me, and by then I was ready to go home. We ended up packing up as the sun went down Saturday, and driving through the night to get back to the in-laws'.
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Pre-Pennsic Blues [Jul. 28th, 2009|02:37 pm]
So… two more workdays before I begin the first leg of the journey to Pennsic. Thursday night I leave New Jersey to meet up with Bonnie in Lancaster. From there, we leave for the big event on Friday (in theory, assuming all the sewing and packing actually gets done – not a guarantee by any stretch).

To be honest… I’m not really all that excited about it.

The reason, actually, is pretty simple. Historically, I just haven’t had all that much fun there.

I mean, yeah, I enjoy doing the fighting (though truthfully, I often feel like a let-down for my unit because I’m not really very good). But that only accounts for three or four afternoons. I sleep poorly, I have a hard time finding classes that I’m really interested in (and shyness will often prevent me from going to many of those that I do), and I’m absolutely godawful at going to parties with strangers and fitting in. Which basically leaves sitting around in camp, or wandering the merchants looking at things I can’t talk myself into buying.

Maybe things’ll be different this year. In the past, I’ve never been in the company of friends for Pennsic for one thing. But I also know that most folks have friends they only get to see at Pennsic who they’ll want to spend time with, so I can’t help feeling that they’re not gonna want to be saddled with me too much of the time. Thusly, I’m not at all certain that it will make much of a difference.

Ah well. I guess we’ll see how it goes.
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Long Overdue Update [Jul. 23rd, 2009|01:04 pm]
Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve done an update! I guess I should fill in a little on what we’ve been up to.

Bonnie and the kids have mostly been out in Lancaster with her parents for the summer. They’ve been taking swim lessons (in addition to going to the pool for fun nearly every day), Lily is in gymnastics class and Evan in martial arts (Tang Soo Do, to be specific). For awhile Bonnie was considering staying out there in the Fall and registering the kids for school, since the homeschooling thing hasn’t been working out as well as we’d hoped. But by now she’s sufficiently sick of her family that she no longer wants to stay once the summer is out.

I’ve mostly been sitting around the house, doing little to nothing of consequence.

Last weekend we went to the Southern Region War Camp for the SCA (preparation for Pennsic). All four of us went, and had a pretty good time. And for the first time in more than a year, we went camping and didn’t get rained on! Evan saw a blacksmithing demonstration there, and decided that’s what he wants to do. Lily, of course, found another little girl her age and made fast friends.

Bonnie and the kids will be back in New Jersey this weekend for a kid’s birthday party, and will stay a few days beyond that. But then it’s the final push to Pennsic.
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Well, this couldn't be more wrong. [Jul. 9th, 2009|01:44 pm]

Your result for The 4-Variable Buffy Personality Test...


Faith is a powerhouse, and you might be, too. Passion-driven, down-to-earth, and willing to do what it takes to get things done and have a good time doing them, she is tough and sexy. Now, this test didn't rate your sexiness, but with these kinds of traits, that's probably true as well.

You rate as one of the most dynamic characters of the Buffy universe.


If you enjoyed this test, I would love the feedback! Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in the following:

Nerds, Geeks & Dorks

Professional Wrestling

Love & Sexuality



Take The 4-Variable Buffy Personality Test
at HelloQuizzy

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Birthday! [Jul. 7th, 2009|10:42 am]
Happy Birthday to reallyatworkman!
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Ready for the Week to be Over [Jul. 2nd, 2009|07:10 am]
Could’ve done without most of yesterday or the day before. The one bright spot was getting to hang out a bit with ishtar137. But prior to that…

For my current project I’ve been preparing a test plan to submit to the FAA. I wrote it, the other engineer in the Floats group reviewed it, the engineer we report to in France has reviewed it, the VP of Engineering has reviewed it, we’ve discussed all of this in our weekly meetings (which said VP attends) and that we were going to get it signed off and submitted this week. So I get the department secretary to print the thing out (it’s actually several different documents and appendices, each of which needs to be signed by myself and the VP). I signed them off and gave them to the VP. This was Monday.

So Tuesday, I get the stack back from the VP with a whole bunch of new comments and changes (and a note asking if the guy in France had reviewed the document – which he’d already been told had happened in the weekly meeting). So I go back and make the edits, send the files to the department secretary to get prepared for signature again, sign them off and give them back to him.

Around 1 o’clock I get them back… still unsigned, and with new comments and changes. So once again… edit, submit, sign, give back to the VP. Haven’t gotten them back yet – maybe he actually signed them this time?

I also sliced my thumb open while trying to assemble my project prototype.

Around 2:30, I got a call from Bonnie telling me that her car had broken down (that makes the third time this year, and we’ve already put over $1000 into that heap trying to keep it running), and that I’d have to leave early from work to pick Lily up from her day camp.

I checked out her car a little bit that night. Looks like there’s something wrong in the electrical system. Sigh.

Yesterday, the Internet was out all day at work. And my whole evening was taken up with waiting in a parking lot for the tow truck to come get Bonnie’s car (he was about an hour later than promised), and doing household shopping.

And now it’s another work morning, and I don’t want it to be.
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