Culto

So what about this Jesus character? Well, back to explaining the unlimited with limited terms again. I’d have to use two words, Superman and baseball. I’m not going to delve into the intricate details of Superman lore on this one, just the basic mythology. So you have this guy, who is very ordinary in his native environment, who gets dumped into a foreign environment in which he becomes extraordinary. Superman would be ordinary on Krypton, but on Earth he has powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. I think of Jesus in this way. At home as an equal part of the Trinity, He fits in nicely, but dump Him on Earth, and He sticks out like a sore thumb. Jesus is what happens when you take something unlimited, and put it in a limited environment. This is why people don’t know how to handle this concept of Jesus. It messes with the rules that we’ve learned. How can something unlimited, fit into a limited place? If you’ve read the Bible, you come to the conclusion that it doesn’t fit well at all. The beauty is, because of that unlimited part, it doesn’t have to fit. Before Jesus, there was a pretty good list of stuff you had to do a certain way to get a ticket to Heaven. So far, man had managed to achieve two strikes at bat. Garden of Eden, strike one. Strike two involved a lot of water and a rainbow ending. God seemed to be done playing this game and wanted give man one last chance to knock one out of the park. The way I figure it, God thinks, “These guys are doing such a bang up job of dealing with the basic limits of this world from the first part of the manual that I gave them, maybe I should knock the level of difficulty down a notch. I’ll send a visual aide and loop hole all in one. Somebody who will walk the walk, and talk the talk.” Enter Jesus. Had he not been unlimited in a limited environment, he wouldn’t have been qualified to also become a loop hole. Now we just try to do what Jesus did. Sure, we won’t all hit home runs, but at least if we fess up to being a wuss at this game, ask for more practice, and at least get on base (even if only by being “walked”), we have the blessed hope of getting brought home when the ultimate clean up batter steps up to the plate.

So what about this “miracle” issue I mentioned earlier? Let’s recap a few things. First, God is unlimited, and everything else is limited. Second, I’m extremely comfortable around all things limited. Third, skeptical of all things appearing to be unlimited. That said, I consider it a “miracle” when anything “limited” is encountered by the only thing “unlimited” (aka God), in such a way that it is granted an exemption from at least one of its limits. I do believe that this has, does, and can again happen. However, this is not to say that I am in any way comfortable with it. There are numerous accounts of such craziness in the Bible, however I have also personally witnessed some of this as well. It’s not at all easy for me to accept it when it does happen. When a person’s deformed-from-birth leg grows about a foot in length in a matter of minutes, I classify that a “miracle.” I personally witnessed this occurrence, and quite frankly, it freaked me out a bit. I have also witnessed things that I would classify as “spiritual phenomenon,” with a similar feeling of discomfort. However, despite any discomfort that these situations cause within me, I can’t deny the fact of their occurrence.

What need does the unlimited have for the limited? I say, “None.” For whatever reason God saw fit to create man in the first place, we are here because He “wanted” us here, not because He “needed” us here. Why is there a seemingly growing list of folks trying to turn that concept on its head? If I’m allowed to live another day, it’s because God “wants” it that way. If I were to wake up healed of my less-than-perfect vision, it’s because God “wants” it that way. That said, I don’t believe God “needs” anything. So forgive me when I summarily dismiss the statements of folks that state the opposite. When I hear someone say that I need to sell all my earthly possessions to fund their “ministry,” I tend to laugh out loud. Especially when they seem to lose track of how many mansions, vehicles, jets, suits, gold chains and rings, and extramarital affairs they have. I don’t believe God requires heavy financial funding. I think things like honesty, integrity, self control, and obedience, might work out better for any real “ministry.” You haven’t been physically healed, or escaped poverty, or found that special someone yet because your faith isn’t strong enough, or perhaps you haven’t chanted the right phrase the right number of times or in the right order, etc. What a bunch of bunk! The bottom line is, God “wants” you this way. The very instant He doesn’t, you won’t be, period. Oh, but God wants us all to live free from handicap in any form. So we should therefore all be perfect, right? Whoops, not perfect, just free from the limits we don’t like. That doesn’t track either. How about this, God wants us to be what He wants us to be.

What if I were God? First, let’s all be grateful this is not, nor will it ever become anywhere near the truth. I have no difficulty recognizing that I am not God. Coming from a completely “limited” experience of existence, my first hurdle is figuring out what to do with the utter lack of limits. I have a hard enough time when one thing in one situation in one point in time doesn’t play by one of the existing limits. I would take joy in knowing the answers to several questions that I, as a previously limited person, have struggled with for years. That said, the answering of this question by anyone other than God, is where things go horribly awry. This is where my definition of “religion” stems from. It comes from regular old cats like me. This is scary and pompous, yet also usually humorous and entertaining. The results of this action are fun to discuss, think about, play with, etc. However, when we start to take these musings of man as “truth,” we lose our only hope of finding it. God gave us Himself, not religion. We (to the exclusion of the Rastafari) like to pick people, or things, or places, or processes, and add the suffix “ism.” We then structure a way of being around this term we’ve made up. We create rituals and rules for ourselves to follow. No religion, philosophy, or belief system is beyond this failure. More of the same, trying to make the “unlimited” understandable, or even controllable by the “limited.” People tend to go one of two directions on this. They either right down only the rules that they won’t have any trouble following, or inversely, only the rules they could never follow. When you have one of these systems that becomes very popular as measured by a number of adherents, you call it a religion. When your ideas get a little too restrictive, or perhaps not restrictive enough, leading to a lower number of adherents, you have a cult. Sometimes a cult can, change its rules to better suit its adherents, and then with this newly gained popularity, become a religion.

I have come to the conclusion that I would make a horrible deity. The closest I will ever get is being a father. At first, the rules start out short and sweet, like the Ten Commandments. However when these fail to adequately explain your expectations, you tend to create a striking amount of somewhat arbitrary rules. Although these rules are created for the intended benefit of the child, they sometimes get ridiculous. I tend to follow the protocol set forth in the Ten Commandments. Thou shalt try to figure crap out thyself before thou cometh asking for mine help. Thou shalt learneth and useth logic. Thou shalt embraceth technology. Thou shalt gaineth appreciation for all form of music and art. Thou shalt haveth a dog. Thou shalt learneth from thine own mistakes as well as the mistakes of thine brethren. Thou shalt acteth thine age, until thou learnest comic timing. Thou shalt not be a poor loser. Thou shalt cleaneth up thine own mess. Thou shalt hitteth the hole whenest thou goeth pee. Thou shalt eateth and liketh whatsoever thou shalt findeth on thine own plate. Just to nameth a few.

Credo

Let’s get something straight, I have trust issues. There are two ways to look at my distrust. Maybe I trust only myself, or perhaps it’s only myself that I distrust. Why do I worry as I drive through town? Is it the other people’s lack of focus, or lack of skill that I distrust? Or merely my own ability to react quickly and correctly to their actions? They both lead to the same symptoms of behavior. So in the interest of taking the responsibility on myself, we’ll make this my inability to trust others.

As a child, I was raised under a “Christian” roof. Specifically the Assembly of God variety. Let me state first and foremost that I’m generally put off by the whole concept of “religion.” I find that religions are simply groups of beliefs that have been categorized for the benefit of self propagation. I have a hard time with this because it limits the ability to be truthful about what you believe. I’d like to believe this, but I’m a Baptist. Maybe if I weren’t Catholic I could believe that. What if the “this’s” or “that’s” are the only things standing between absolute truth and ignorance? I also find that this subdividing of beliefs usually doesn’t lead to any kind of interpersonal harmony. Sure on a small scale it might make me feel better about you because we go to the same place of worship. So surely we’re more alike than not, and surely that helps us fit in with each other comfortably. If reading religious texts has taught me anything, it is that most of the major religions don’t favor comfort. I can’t remember any wise proverbs about how becoming comfortable gets one closer to attaining any semblance of holiness or truth or wisdom or enlightenment.

Perhaps this is where the roots of my disappointment, confusion, anger, and fear can be found. There are so many things that we all stumble across in life that beg a countless number of questions to be asked. Most of these questions go unanswered. So which religion is the real deal? I have studied all of the more established religions of the world to find an answer that I could trust. Ultimately I seek truth. This is a tricky quest, especially when you have trust issues. To add another level of difficulty to this quest is my tendency to favor a simplistic black or white view of life. Shades of gray have no place in my quest. Shades of gray are nothing more than degrees of justification for those who can’t handle truth. Since truth is what I’m searching for, gray is out. Whereas I view the Heinz 57 varieties of every major religion, usually termed “sects” or “denominations,” as nothing short of shades of gray, my view of these should fast become apparent. Despite all this, I have come to a certain set of beliefs that I hold to.

As some might suspect, this set of beliefs don’t fit comfortably under any particular religion’s umbrella. I believe that there is a certain amount of truth in each and every holy book. The problem I have is that I find more than a fair share of outright bologna in most of them as well. As one who enjoys philosophy, I far too often find myself following some random goat path to nowhere. I am constantly reminding myself to keep on subject. That said, forgive me if I stray in my attempt to literate the set of beliefs that I hold myself to.

God? This is where my quest begins. I believe in a God who is first and foremost, unlimited in any and every way. This lends to such philosophical puzzles as “Can God create a rock so large that He can not lift it,” and the like. These puzzles stem from the basic truth that people are limited, and we can’t wrap our heads around anything that isn’t. Right from the get-go we have a bit of a dilemma. In order to continue beyond this, we have to come to the understanding that even our language and its ability to discuss the limitless is itself limited. As God is unlimited, several of the nit-picky questions that arise can be easily and summarily dismissed. Is God a man or a woman? Is God a force, a spirit, a being? God can’t be boxed in by such questions. God is God, period. By definition, unlimited.

Creation or Evolution? I believe that evolution is a process created by an unlimited God. Only an unlimited God could create anything from nothing. God created all that we know, experience, and feel. God put limits on it all as well. I am very comfortable living and thinking in a world with limits, or rules, or laws. Whether I enjoy being limited or not, I tend to favor limits and the order they bring. I once spoke to a man who was, incidentally, in a mental facility at the time, whose mind was not bound by this acceptance of such limits. He would not expect a ball that he threw up into the air to slow down, stop briefly, and then return back to his hand. He told me that he was in no position to decide what limits were in effect at any given point in time, and therefore the ball could at some point, continue off into space. He said that probability was not equal to rule. This man’s perspective fascinates me to this day, however I still expect the ball to come back to my hand, or at least back down to earth if my ability to throw or catch said ball is in question. We have limits everywhere around us. From the self imposed limits of public dress codes, to limits like gravity. We even have names for various groups of limits. Names like physics, mathematics, law, etiquette, and religion. We tend to focus a lot of energy and attention finding all the limits, measuring them, trying to escape them, and when we get desperate, even making up some of our own. I can’t buy into any religion that preaches that we are all one cumulative entity that is expressed in various essences. Usually this “entity” is what I would call God, and we are all the “essences” or “expressions” of the “entity.” Although this is a fascinating concept to think through, I have a hard time believing that I am, or any other human is at root, “entity” or God. I think if any of us were God, we’d figure out how to reach parts of our own planet that still remain unexplored, or how to practically apply string theory and travel through time, or how to get our kids to obey us the first time we ask, or keep a hard shell taco in one piece after the first bite.

Birth, Death, Neither, or Both? What happened to “me” before I was born, and what will happen to “me” after I die? Many holy texts speak of experiences pre and post our current experience called life. I feel that these questions fall right back into the categories of “limited” vs. “unlimited.” God, unlimited. Everything else, limited. I believe that “me” existed prior to my entrance into this life, and I think that “me” will exist after my exit. I know that this current expression of “me” exists in a world with specific, and recognized limits. I don’t subscribe to the belief that “me” was ever, or will ever, become unlimited in nature, or God. Therefore any possible pre- or post-life “me” experience would also be limited in nature. There are similarities between the various holy texts regarding pre- and post-life experience. After I pick which version seems most viable, I can start to narrow down what limits might plague a pre or post-life “me.” I’m more interested in whether or not it is even relevant to the current life “me.” Perhaps if I could recall or had record of what experiences the pre-life “me” encountered, I could use that to help guide my current life “me” in the right direction. Unfortunately I don’t recall my own entry into this current life experience, much less anything previous to it. That coupled with the fact that I have trust issues, makes it doubtful that I would rely on anyone else to have recorded it for me. That only leaves the post-life “me” to discuss. Here I tend to lean toward the Judaeo-Christian concepts of Heaven and Hell. I’m amazed how little detail there is of either of these places in holy texts, as compared to the amount of detail we tend to write in ourselves. The basic concept is that Heaven is very close to unlimited goodness, whereas Hell is very close to unlimited badness. The obvious choice here is Heaven. Some seem to believe that Heaven will be perfection. I’ll have to jump ship here and say that I equate perfection with unlimited. Since God is unlimited, and Heaven is not God, Heaven can’t be unlimited. I tend to imagine that the Heaven experience is the next level for “me.” Not unlimited, but rather less limits, or at least a different set of limits. A new game, with new rules. And before you ask, I’m not concerned with the new rules of the new game, just like an infant isn’t concerned with the new rules of calculus.

Holy Trinity? This one gets fun. The Bible says that God (remember that unlimited part here) has three personages, commonly referred to as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three personages combine to form the Trinity. This is something that makes no sense to people. How can this be? Simple. God is unlimited. However we can’t help but try to fit this unlimited concept into our limited understanding and explain it with our limited vocabulary. I’ve heard this concept destroyed by the best of theologian, so I’ll try to make it simple. Think about water. Water can be a solid, or a liquid, or a gas. No matter what state or form it is in, it’s always water. This is the best I can do.

Trained on Milk

With age, this feeling of disappointment grows by the second. I found myself owing a debt of 40 hours of community service to society. Namely due to repeated violations of local speed limits, causing a loss of license, then a couple more while driving without a valid license. I later learned a little about our local prison system by way of similar methods. Back to point, I was assigned a position in the “Food Preparation and Service” department of a local hospital. I reported to the hospital on time, only to wait about 20 minutes for the rest of my fellow colleagues to arrive.

Once our team had been assembled, we were led on a brief tour of the area we would share for the duration of our various service terms. We loaded onto a small hidden elevator in the rear of the main level cafeteria, and descended into the belly of the beast. I found this whole experience very entertaining and frightening at the same time. The view from the elevator at the basement floor was of a small room containing two large ducts ascending up through the multiple floors of the hospital. More on this later. To the left of this room was a very large room labeled “Laundry Services.” It was filled with massive laundry equipment, folding surfaces, and questionably legal migrant workers. We passed these rooms and walked down a long wide hall that didn’t bear the adornments of the public floors in the hospital. It was a cold, overly lit concrete tunnel leading further under the building. On the way down the hall I couldn’t help but chuckle at the sign reading “Neurological Research and Development Lab.” I’ll let you think about that one a bit. Past the R&D lab sign, we continued until we reached a large room containing a very foreboding dish washing apparatus. This isn’t a simple dishwasher that you’d find in your kitchen. It is massive, and has a “production line” appearance. This is where used dishes and silverware are brought, sorted, loaded into specialized containers and trays, and fed into the mouth of the “Washer.” Beyond this room is another large room that is centered around a long assembly line. Still beyond this room is the kitchen where food is planned and prepared.

It took only a matter of seconds to size up the process here. You have a dietitian who reviews each patient’s specific dietary needs, and designs a simple meal plan to cover those requirements. Next the cooks that prepare these food items. After each item is prepared, it is delivered a short distance to a specified row along the assembly line. Each patient’s meal is then tailor made using the available food components from the varied departmentalized rows. This is where it gets relatively interesting, emphasis on “relatively.” Each row contains a certain food group. For example one assembly line worker would add 1 of up to 4 choices of vegetable, another might add a certain type of drink, while yet another might add a meat item, etc. Simple and efficient, right? Not so fast. There is a director at the beginning and end of the assembly line. The director at the beginning of the line starts by reading over the dietary recommendations for each patient, and then placing corresponding color-coded cards in their assigned locations on the plate or tray. An example might be, a yellow card with the word “Corn” printed on it placed in a bowl on the tray, as opposed to a green card with the words “Green Beans.” Or there could be a red card with the words “Whole Milk,” as opposed to a brown card with the words “Chocolate Milk,” where the color of the card is a match to the primary color on the milk carton. Each worker along the line is in charge of looking for a card in their designated area of the tray, and placing the corresponding item in place of the card. At the end of the line is another director to ensure this process is completed without error. You get the idea. You could be illiterate or color blind and do this job, just not both. If you don’t get the idea, quit reading now. You’ll save yourself a lot of frustration, humiliation, and more practically, time if you do.

As a matter of either dumb luck or divine providence, our tour stops here temporarily while an employee dispute is being addressed. Evidently one employee called in sick, causing another weekday employee to volunteer to work a weekend shift. So where’s the dispute, right? Bear with me. The volunteer normally worked the “vegetable” row along the assembly line, while the employee who called in sick normally worked the “milk” row. Hang with me a little longer. The dispute ensues when the weekend “vegetable” row worker comes into work, only to find the volunteer weekday “vegetable” row worker, and I quote, “In my spot!” The manager explains to her that due to the aforementioned employee, a weekend “milk” row worker, calling in sick, she should just allow the volunteer to have her normal “spot” and instead take over the job duties of the “milk” row. If you’re thinking this is merely a territorial dispute among female assembly line workers, you’d be wrong. Prepare yourself for the real reason, aka punch line, of this never ending tale. The worker’s comment to this suggestion was, “But I’m not trained on milk!” I wish this was a fictional story created to show that you can never fully foolproof anything, but it’s not. Also notice that the 4 negative feelings I listed earlier are all contained within this story thus far. Disappointment, confusion, anger, and fear.

But wait, the story doesn’t end there. I still haven’t described my temporary position in this slow and methodical process yet. So now we have a cart, loaded in room by room order, with the trays that are hopefully correctly assembled. On each cart a label is posted, one number and one letter. This label designates a floor number and wing letter for each cart of food. An example would be, a cart with the label “2C” would denote that the cart is for patients who reside on the second floor, wing C. You might think, “Oh, you delivered the carts to the corresponding floor and wing.” To which I’d respond, “Whoa fella, not so fast.” It was my job to merely take the cart from the end of the assembly line, down the long hall, back to the elevator. That’s it. There I would hand the cart off to a worker who rode the elevator to the designated floor posted on the cart. Once he reached the correct floor, he handed it off to another worker who delivered the cart to the designated wing. Now at the correct wing, the cart would be handed out to a nurse who would then distribute the trays to the patients. Once the meal was eaten the same nurse would then make the same trip around the wing to collect the emptied trays. The trays were then loaded on the cart, the cart taken back to the worker who had delivered it to the wing to begin with, continuing in reverse order, back down the elevator, and handed off to me. Now here is where my job got tricky. Instead of returning the cart back to the end of the assembly line, I was to deliver it to the beginning of the “Dishwasher” line, so that each item could be carefully sorted and washed, etc. If you’re like me, you might be wondering what happens during that space of time while the patients are eating their meals. The answer is, nothing. That’s right, nothing.

During each meal, and the subsequent time between the clean up of one meal and preparation of the next, I have been assigned, nothing. In an attempt to escape this “nothing,” I wander down the hall in search of “something” to fill my “nothing.” I found a middle aged man sitting in a metal folding chair, watching satellite television and eating the proverbial donut. I struck up a conversation with the man by asking him to describe his job. After several minutes of a verbatim recitation of various rules and regulations of what he was NOT supposed to do, I ascertained that his job consisted primarily of moving two-wheeled plastic waste bins around. Here it is, play by play. First you’ll need to remember the small room with the two large ducts from before. Those ducts are chutes that allow items to be dropped down the center of the building from any floor above, down into one of those two-wheeled plastic waste bins. One chute was for “Cardboard Only” and the other for “Trash” as designated on the signs affixed to each chute.

By now, you have surely noticed that everything in this building is labeled, everything. This workers job, as I understand it, is to allow these bins to be filled with their appropriate form of waste, then deliver each cart to its own designated location for disposal. Opposite the two large chutes are two mechanical lifts, of course, these are also labeled. So if I were Joe Worker and the “Trash” bin were to be filled, namely at the hands of other workers on various floors who drop waste down the corresponding chute, I would then wheel said cart approximately 3 feet to the aptly labeled lift. Once the cart was securely rolled onto the lift, I would “Press and Hold,” also labeled, the “Out” button. This would start an automated process in which a steel door would open, the cart would be pulled out through the door, and subsequently lifted and emptied into a larger waste receptacle. The waste would then be compressed into a larger removable waste receptacle that could be loaded onto the back of a semi-trailer. The cart meanwhile would be returned into the room, empty, and the door closed behind it. The “Cardboard Only” lift operated by the same principle. Again that pesky question pops into my head, “What does he do while the waste bins are slowly being filled throughout the day?” Nothing. Well, not entirely nothing. He does have to sit and watch satellite television and eat snacks. I’m not sure this task is in the employee handbook, but it seems that he also makes time to yell upward into the chutes whenever someone mistakenly drops “Trash” down the “Cardboard Only” chute or vis versa. The shouting seems to follow a standard “Us vs. Them” protocol. “They do that on purpose! They know I hate it when they do that! I’m going to quit if they keep this up!”

I know I’m probably disappointed, confused, angry, and afraid for all the wrong reasons again, but help me out here. I’m having a hard time figuring out what part of each of these scenarios makes me more disappointed, as opposed to confused, angry, or afraid. Should I be disappointed that we as a society have become so spoiled, lazy, unimaginative, or uneducated that someone can’t pick up the extremely minute differences between working the “Vegetable” row as opposed to the “Milk” row, or that someone is being paid more than twice the minimum wage to sit on his ever enlarging butt while watching satellite television and eating donuts only to complain about the occasional need to move a piece of “Trash” 3 inches from the “Cardboard Only” bin into the “Trash” bin. Surely my expectations are just set beyond what humans can ever possibly attain. But if that’s the case, what am I to do with people like my father, my uncles, their father, and his father, etc? I guess nothing. Nothing.

Male Role Models

Let’s roll the tape back to the beginning again. For those of you born after 1990, magnetic tape or “tape” was once used to store various forms of data, namely audio and video. If you’re still lost, scroll the shuttle back on your iPod. Let’s skip forward past my entrance into this world, and check out my childhood role models. Aside from MacGyver, the cast of Saturday Night Live, and “Weird Al” Yankovic, this list was limited to family. As generic as it is, my own father, and his two brothers, formed a virtual trinity of my own personal belief system. My father, Mark, taught me about morality, ethics, and logic. From his older brother, Steve, I gained an appreciation for history, trivia, and the importance of supporting the local economy. The youngest of the trio, Chris, showed me what goes on outside the box of classical thought, law, and society. They all deserve either credit or blame for who I have become, depending on your frame of reference. These were unstoppable forces in my universe. My concepts of God, came from these men. All three loved the music of The Beatles, although preferring different eras of their musical career. I absorbed the love of their music quite early and readily. When I first decided to learn more about the art of playing the piano, my first song of choice was, of course, Let it Be. Now that I write this all down I wonder if this song choice supports my statements thus far. It was a song that contained religious connotations (Mark), was released in the mid to late era of their career (Steve), and its title represented the go-with-the-flow way of life (Chris).

My father taught by example. Regardless of my “Miracle Baby” status upon entry into this world, this title didn’t come cheap. My parents had been married right out of high school, for about 3 years before this “miracle” with the monstrous price tag fell into their laps. What is a dad to do? Most would apply for every government handout they could grab. Mine chose to work 2 full time jobs and go to college full time. That is a lot of full, and not a lot of time left over. I rarely spent time with him in the early days. The time I did spend with him was spent learning the correct way to mow a lawn, organize my things, handle a record (aka vinyl LP), and the like. This “correct way” also seemed to change with the seasons. On top of all the standard “Dad” lessons, he taught me to respect other people, by respecting their things. He showed me a drive to succeed that I haven’t seen matched yet. Work hard, work honest, work long. This motto gained him a knowledge of business and finance that I’ll never attain. He taught me how to work.

His older brother, Steve, was similar in many aspects, as most brothers are. He would take me to a local chili parlor for lunch rather than McDonald’s. He talked with people in our community, and he listened. His mind recorded facts about what company used to maintain this building in what year by which family. He could tell you who played what position for what team in which year for every team, every sport, period. He took me to movies, some of which my parents would never approve of. I learned a lot about life from film. Like everything else, his mind recorded quotes, actors, directors, plots, of every film he watched. Much like my trips to the local chili parlor, we didn’t go to see the current Disney films, we watched “real” movies. Most were about true historical people or situations. He gave me a desire to study American History, but not the fodder they fill the textbooks with. I learned about our past as a people. Topics ranging from the Civil War to the modern day Mafia. He had a thirst for knowledge and a mind to record it that I will never achieve. He taught me how to learn.

The youngest, Chris, was last but definitely not least of the triad. He shared similarities with the other brothers, however stood apart in many aspects. He also preferred the local cuisine to the franchised fast food joints, but convenience sometimes won. He also took me to movies, however I learned more about film than life from our trips to the local cinema. He embraced technology and the future with both arms. His curiosity is infectious. I could count on exploring the “why” of every situation that I encountered in life and thought with him. He never had a “boring” job for me to help with. He was always busy taking things from his imagination and bringing them to life with his own two hands. Designing models, physical and virtual, to be used in a video, amassing the coolest home theater and car stereo systems I’ve ever seen, building his own full-size race cars, playing any instrument he could hold onto for more than five minutes, flying home made aircraft, and that was just one Saturday. He could make an idea a reality. He had natural talent and creativity that I’ll never posses. He taught me how to play.

I honestly believe that it would disrupt the natural flow of space and time if one man contained the whole of these three men. Luckily for humanity, I am nowhere near that level of perfection. I constantly struggle in an attempt to gather small pieces of their combined power, knowledge, and creativity. They all served a very needed purpose during various stages of my life to date. When I need help, I call my father. When I need information, I call Steve. When I need inspiration, I call Chris. Despite his mandate to always tell the truth, there were times the truth was unacceptable to my father. My father would listen, interjecting his judgments along the way. Steve listened to what I had to say, and rather than a lecture gave me a history lesson. Chris didn’t have to listen long, he could complete the sentences as they came out of my mouth, he would then explain how much worse other people had handled the situation. All different, all needed, all valid. I mentioned this lack of depression in my experience, while admitting readily to disappointment. I judge myself, and the world by the standard of this godlike perfection. Disappointment naturally follows.

Shameless Plug

Ok, so I’m going to throw out a shameless plug for my other project site, simplemediagroup.net. It is a project that offers free consultation to folks who don’t have the skill set to set up their own web presence. Everything from basic advice to full site setup and basic site administration training.

If you happen to want to submit someone, namely an NFPO, open source project, community, church group, self-employed type for some of our assistance, please do.

Thanks for bearing with me through that…

~matt

Why Now?

I’ve heard it said that everyone thinks about committing suicide at least once in their life. I guess today was my day.

Before you send flowers, know this, I have never wanted to die, nor do I today. It is a rather interesting way to start a post though. However it does bring to mind the question, “What would happen in the world around me if I were to die today.” Still not quite a thought about killing myself mind you, just a question of death. That led me to wonder if I should write down a synopsis of my thoughts on my life, and if so, why. But I’m 33 years old and I’m more fascinated by the question of “Why now” than “Why.” I guess we should start at the beginning.

I was born premature, which I find an interesting word etymologically. It almost implies that I grew up too fast, whereas it’s more aptly used to denote that I wasn’t mature enough to be born on time. I don’t have any memories of these traumatic times, but from what friends and family have told me, I’m a bit of a “Miracle baby.” Before we go too far, let me mention that I’m a skeptic foremost, then any form of religious or spiritual belief is at best secondary if not tertiary. So, miracle, yeah I have a problem with that word, too. Miracle implies divine intervention of some kind. I would normally exchange the phrase with “Anomaly Baby,” however we’ll discuss that later. I’ve been told that the doctors said that due to numerous complications at birth, I would either die, or at best live life as a severely mentally retarded individual incapable of even basic mathematical expressions. Well two out of three ain’t bad.

Fast forward 33 years, and here I am, able to type whole sentences on a computer keyboard. Who knew? I guess all this talk of being a “miracle” my whole life may have in some way affected my personal psychology. The same infamous “they” that opened this dialog in my head, are also known for saying that the reason for contemplating committing suicide is most usually due to prolonged depression, usually set off during adolescence. Maybe it’s another “miracle” that I made it through adolescence fine, or maybe this is just another misunderstood form of the word “premature.” In my 33 years on this earth I have experienced several “feelings,” however I don’t believe that depression has ever been one of them. Disappointment, confusion, anger, and fear, definitely. Those are the negative ones that come to mind at the moment. Depression seems to imply a lack of self worth. If suicide is the most selfish act someone can commit (“they” again), then am I just so incredibly selfless that I haven’t thought about this? I seriously doubt it, along with a whole other list of things I won’t include here. So what about all of this then?

Before I get lost in my own head, let’s revisit the first thought. What would happen in the world around me if I were to die today? Maybe it’s the vanity in me that likes to think that the world would come to a screeching halt, but we all know better. The fact is, probably very little would be affected at all. “How depressing,” you say. Not at all, just reality. Sure there would be some initial complications for those who’d have to clean up all the legal and financial messes caused by the removal of an employee from a company, a husband/father from a home, etc. But after these holes are plugged, life in the world would continue on in the same fashion that it had the day before. So to state it plainly, there were initial complications getting me into this world, and getting me back out again. So what’s the big whoop anyway?

I’ve been told that I’ve gotten colder with age. I would concede that there is a fair amount of truth to this. Aside from the typical “MINE!” stage of childhood, I feel that I’ve been a generally patient, if not giving person. More patient with several romantic interests than my family would have liked. However, with time, I am finding myself generally disinterested in people. I’ve gone from being a very people centered high school mascot and Thespian Society president, to a dissociated hermit. I always wanted to live in the city, the sounds of people and their issues, good or bad, echoing in the streets. Now I live at the end of a dead end road, in a town most couldn’t find on a map, with no real neighbors to speak of. Why now?

It’s Alive!

Welcome to 1792Coins.com!

“A Penny For Your Thoughts” is a figure of speech often used to request one’s opinion on a given subject. In response, you would “Put In Your Two Cents Worth” by offering your opinion. What happens to that extra copper coin?

The site name, “1792Coins.com” is a nod to the Coinage Act or the Mint Act, passed by the United States Congress on April 2, 1792, that established the United States Mint and regulated coinage of the United States.

This site is going to be a personal and hopefully interactive mind dump. A place to empty my head of all the random thoughts, opinions, and other craziness. I hope that it will serve to stimulate conversation, contemplation, and possibly education and any other form of -tion that might serve some use.

I plan to fill this space with all forms of random ramblings and rants. My own sarcastic, irreverent, yet honest and perhaps conflicting responses to music, movies, art, comics, games, books, web sites, software, religion, philosophy, politics, etc. etc. etc…..life. I also plan to create a link database for all the stuff I reference on this site, and perhaps even a forum if the comments warrant it.

I would love to hear what’s on your mind as well, so please contact me with your topic suggestions and as always, feel free to leave comments!

Enjoy!

~matt