The Rock is My Foundation

I don’t know how often I’ve veered away from the main storyline of this blog to tell you about my beliefs, the beliefs of the author of this blog, who I’ve been told should take this type of blog entry and make it the “About Me” page.

I’m sure there’s enough about me in the characters who appear here, either as a simulated first-person “voice” or as Lee.

Basically, I only know what I know; that is, my upbringing has determined who I am, including family lore, Christian religious training, Western European-centred world history and U.S.-centred economic politics, supplemented by subcultures as “advertised” via the stories, news headlines and entertainment in mass media, with direct influence by the people I’ve met.

The core person who writes this blog stands firmly upon the foundation of his youth, comfortable in the fact that he can only be who he is at this moment, a perfect example of his subculture, embodied in 51 years of existence.

That means his parents, his extended family, his teachers, his pastors, his friends, his coworkers and other fellow members of society are/were perfect examples, too.

He is not going to evolve into a fish overnight.

He knows that the faith of people who raised him is based on a belief in the immortality of a Jewish carpenter commonly called Jesus, taught that Jesus is the son of the Creator of the Universe, a god, (THE God), supernatural, omniscient and omnipotent.

Their faith, their belief, resulted in actions that improved his singing and public speaking.

Regardless of his belief, his personality is mainly composed of people who follow the written teachings of Jesus and his disciples who were reported to be knowledgeable about the pre-Jesus “Old Testament” portion of a religious text known as the [Christian] Bible.  Some of these people interpret the Bible based on their literal understanding of the context of the words.  Some of them don’t even try to interpret the context at all.

So it does not matter to this writer what his belief is, his exemplifies the subcultural traits of a person raised in a Christian home.

One can further define the points of what it means to be a Christian and the lack of perfection involved, plus the variations called denominations with their unique rituals and dogma that differ from or share similarities with other denominations.

But this blog entry is not a debate on what being religious means.

Instead, the blog entry simply lets the reader know that this writer, not a first-person voiced writer behind the curtain of the Internet, is Christian by design.

His belief in or nonbelief of deity-based creation stories neither adds to nor takes away from his childhood when the Ten Commandments, marriage as a heterosexual union between a man and woman, and mass media that was censored to conform to Christian-based decency were considered the norm.

The stories of the Christian faith are thousands of years old, tens of thousands of years in the making.

This writer is not just going to toss the Christian faith out the window with the latest whims in subcultural practices.

He was raised in and has greatly benefited from the teachings within the Christian tradition.

The character in this blog who appears to be the writer of this blog (but not this blog entry) is an empty vessel.  The real writer of this blog, typing this particular blog entry, is not an empty vessel and appreciates the readers who are concerned about his set of thoughts (i.e., his “soul”).

Do not confuse the writing with the writer who uses the medium of the written word to develop plots and storylines for his novel-in-progress written in the form of an online diary that seems to weave the past, the present and the future together, the seams clearly tattered, threads (“Irish pennants”) pointing this way and that on the uniform of a blog.

This writer enjoys the emotional highs and lows that come with feeling and empathizing with behaviours that seem to reveal the thoughts of people he meets who become models for characters in this online soap opera.

This writer knows who he is, he is generally happy, and wants to consume everything he encounters — the air, the sunshine, the food, the colours, the sounds, the touch and everything in-between of the people, places, things and ideas — he makes no apologies for being a bull in a china shop, barely concerned with the opinions of others, stated, implied or left unsaid.

He suppresses his personality for the sake of his art, using talents developed during his childhood to see, sense and write about levels of perception we humans use to make our lives last as long as we do.

He is a product of his times.

Just because he suppresses his personality does not diminish the importance of the influences in his life that formed his personality.

He may write about the benefits of an atheist’s life.

He may write about the scientific advances made during the reign of a corporate dictatorship.

We learn through observation but observing is not the same as becoming one with what one observed and reported.

Seeing who we are sometimes takes looking at what/who we are not.

The stronger our beliefs, the less we have to spend time shouting so loud about our beliefs we can’t hear ourselves think.

A solid set of beliefs allows us to explore the lives and thoughts of others who may enrich our lives without changing our core selves.

How strong are your beliefs?  Do you feel like you have to keep repeating the tenets of your beliefs in order to keep convincing yourself that you believe and act upon them without thinking?  What kind of faith is that?

I am pleased to be a set of states of energy right here and now.  How and why they came to be and what will become of them has been explained to me by members of my subculture, including explanations in complete opposition to one another.  The fact is that the set of states of energy exists regardless of explanation, allowing me to write about whatever I like because I know I am not going to change who I am, if I have one reader or a billion.

Note to self

Do I have it in me to give myself freely, free of fear of rejection, free of resorting to stereotyping, and permit myself to dance with others, let alone my wife, letting go of inhibitions without resorting to the intake of substances to remove barriers that protect my internal nervousness and general fear of the world at large ingrained in me during my formative years?

Sometimes, my fear is so great I relish the thought of eating a slug of lead rather than look in the nearly-fearless faces of live human beings.

The anonymity of an Internet connection is very safe, that’s for sure.

Humbled

A shoutout to Reverend Tom today for a good message.

The pastor at my hometown church, the man who dropped everything at all hours of the day and night to be with my family a year ago as my father lay dying, had a few good words to say during Mother’s Day, the last day of the Easter season in the Christian religion tradition.

In reference to the Bible passage that Tom called the “high priest” prayer by Jesus, the 17th section of the book of John, a set of tales told in sequence by a good storyteller, a personal witness of the events, per tradition, Tom said that we should commit to prayer before taking action, just like a Sunday service is itself a continuous prayer — children’s choir, hymnal songs, sermons, prayers, etc. —  in preparation for the rest of the week ahead.

And, as Jesus said, our goal, he prayed, is that we might be one, a species in unity like Jesus was united to God, his father.

Despite our differences.

Unity in Christ is bigger than our differences, in other words.

Unity, not uniform behaviour/looks, in seeking the love of Jesus and our expressi0n of unity through charity.

Ultimately, the question is not that or how we disagree in our forms of prayers and understanding of the words given to us, but on what unity in Christ we agree to share with others.

We are tiny specks, children of the universe, who rarely grasp the intricacies of life, from the interaction of sets of states of energy at subsubsubatomic levels, to daily social problems and solutions, to connections at time scales of galactic levels.

We are, however, members of the same species, regardless of subcultures, belief sets, clothing choices or musical preferences.

Let us treat each other as if we live on the same planet.

I, for one, seek out the best ideas and practices within our species to move us out of the doldrums — away from the tautological chaos (making fun of our seriousness when misplaced), toward the application of useful chaos (where theory meets practicality) — and into the later decades of this century with one word on our lips — success.

Actions speak louder than words.

Thanks, Tom.  Your words today have moved me to action, humbling me out of my selfish, temporary depression, realising even the tiniest speck, me, has a place with all the others to make a worthwhile difference, especially when we work together as one in pursuit of unified motives, allowing subcultures to contribute at their own pace and own voice.

Unto these hills revisited

I look up at the wall of plaques and artwork behind the student desk on which this notebook PC obeys the rule of gravity.

“Having earned the Eagle Scout Award in 1976 and desiring to continue to promote, support and apply Scouting ideals through Service Richard L. Hill II is hereby recognized by the National Eagle Scout Association as a member in good standing through the year 1991.”

I am Richard the second, not Richard III.

Once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout, but never having fought or lost in hand-to-hand combat on the field of battle.

There is fame in a name, if not in a person who bears/wears it.

There is a difference between a person as a distinct set of states of energy and a person who represents labels that local subcultures place or imprint upon that person.

When I was a Boy Scout, there was a leadership hierarchy that formed within our ranks, partially encouraged by the adult leaders.

Some of the boys naturally took charge while others were trained to accept roles of responsibility, however reluctantly, by ambitious parents.

Scuttlebutt, or rumours/gossip, spread between us as in any group.

The acquisition of badges and other honours was indicative of factual accomplishments, not imaginary or rumoured ones, thus separating the talkers from the doers.

The elected leader of the U.S. government, President Obama, stated over the weekend that he supported the integration of homosexuals into the Boy Scouts of America.

Boy Scouts

Boy Scouts is an outdoor program designed to develop character, citizenship, and fitness for boys ages 11 through 17. Through the advancement program and peer group leadership, Scouting helps a boy develop into a well-rounded young man. The Eagle Scout Award, the highest rank in Scouting, is recognized around the world as a mark of excellence.

Scout Oath:

“On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law. To help other people at all times, to keep myself physically fit, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

The Scout Law:

“A Scout is … trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

What, I ask myself, is “morally straight”?  According to the Scouts website, morally straight means:

To be a person of strong character, your relationships with others should be honest and open. You should respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions, and remain faithful in your religious beliefs. The values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.

From what I understand about homosexuals, their sexual preference or orientation is set at birth according to their development in the womb.  Whether or what environmental factors come into play during foetal development, I don’t know and haven’t taken the time to investigate.

I know that our local economy contains many productive members of what is currently labeled the LGBT community; therefore, my participation in the local economy as consumer/producer means that I benefit from the economic participation of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transsexual individuals.

I don’t know enough about gays/homosexuals to tell one from a heterosexual except when I see an effeminate guy who, I assume, is most likely gay.

I certainly believe that paedophilia and homosexuality are not synonymous, just like seeing images of guys dressed as women in all-male reviews onboard naval vessels means that they are probably neither transvestites nor transsexuals.

However, I can remember from my Scouting days the aversion of members of our troop to the effeminate behaviour of boys who tried to join but never really belonged and eventually quit.

There were boys who didn’t have the physically prowess or fortitude to handle the long hikes, who weren’t interested in learning the set of skills necessary to advance to the next level of Scouting, regardless of their manly or effeminate behaviour, and quit, too, so it wasn’t just the outwardly effeminate types who didn’t make it in Scouting.

Although I was a member of the Presbyterian Church, the Scout troop I belonged to was in a Southern Baptist Church, which was very conservative; in fact, after I left the Boy Scout troop when I graduated high school, our Boy Scout senior leader, who felt the church wasn’t conservative enough, went off and formed an independent church for the true conservatives of the community.

Which leads me to this [re]discovery, the existence of alternatives to the Boy Scouts of America, including Royal Rangers (which reminds me of the Royal Ambassadors of the Southern Baptist Church when I was a kid).

Socioeconomically, I have not a single problem interacting with any person willing to conduct business under the guidance of a sense of fair play, despite my subcultural misgivings about our personality differences, because at any time until a transaction is completed, either one of us can walk away and not see each other if we so choose, returning to our subcultures which rarely meet eye-to-eye.

We can suspend our disbelief in the existence of each other, or not.

We can be appalled at our reactions against or behaviours toward each other.

Often, we return to the subcultural practices with which we feel most comfortable.

There may be Scout troops where the acceptance is normal of boys who are not rugged enough or are too effeminate for the type of troop to which I belonged in the 1970s.

If the Boy Scouts of America accepts homosexual boys, it goes against everything I learned and earned my way to the rank of Eagle Scout.

When I was a teenage boy, would I have shared a tent with a known homosexual?  Definitely not.  I would have accepted him as a fellow classmate in public school and participated in school functions with him, even calling him friend, but in Scouting there would have been a separation between us that I, for lack of a better word or phrase, would have called a natural subcultural reaction.

In the public forum, there is a willingness to suspend our disbeliefs in order to buy and sell goods/services/ideas, where we drop our guards and reduce ours fears of others not like us to achieve socioeconomic goals, temporarily overcoming comfortable, everyday barriers we place to shelter the subcultural beliefs ingrained in us as children.

Would I be comfortable placing my child under the leadership of a gay Boy Scout leader?  Not without understanding my son’s personality.  If he, based partially on my tutelage and guidance of him during his formative years, was willing to accept homosexuals as people, I might, but if the leader was effeminate or in any way not part of my everyday set of subcultural practices, then probably not.

I had childhood friends who were gay.  Some of them are even on my list of Facebook friends but none of them made it to the rank of Eagle Scout because their set of behaviours placed them in a different subcultural circle than the members of the Scout troop I was in and will be a part of in my thoughts the rest of my life.

My Scout troop at the Southern Baptist Church no longer exists.  The Scout troop at the Presbyterian Church in which I grew up still exists, churning out future leaders on a regular basis.

I haven’t been active in Scouting for a long time.  One of my nephews, a member of a local Southern Baptist Church, achieved the rank of Eagle Scout around the year 2000, while the other nephew, who belonged to the troop at my hometown Presbyterian Church, reached at least Webelo and maybe Tenderfoot but lost interest in Scouting, having other activities that he wanted to pursue.

Scouting is not for everyone just like public schools are not for everyone.  There is more than one way for a boy to become a “well-rounded young man.”

What I don’t know is just because a homosexual boy can become a socioeconomically successful person as an adult, with whom I, as a person, am willing to interact and call friend, is he ever a man the way I was raised to understand that a man is heterosexual by nature?  If not, then there’s no way a homosexual boy can ultimately succeed in Scouting, despite learning and mastering all the skills that Scouting provides, because he has no chance of subculturally becoming a “well-rounded young [heterosexual] man.”

Take it from a former slave…

Anyone remember Epictetus, the Greek philosopher who was born a slave?

Well, his insights were ageless then and just as poignant now.

However, let’s all pretend that modern psychologists can justify their lofty professional salaries by polling the people and rewording the writing of ancient Greeks, as if there’s something new to be said:

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will. ”
Epictetus

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”
Epictetus

“First say to yourself what you would be;
and then do what you have to do.”
Epictetus

“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems”
Epictetus

What is a human and when do you stop being one?

Therefore, by conclusion, violence is positively good for us!

BONUS: Dead trees aren’t going away any time soon.

People want action…in their favour, mostly…

A good storyteller gives readers what they want, but not always in the order they expect.

For instance, I walked up to the microwave oven just now and saw a little credit-card sized pocketable inspirational note that has sat there for I don’t know how long and I never really paid much attention to it until today.

What did it say?  Basically, this:

Jeremiah 29:11-13 [New International Version (NIV)]

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

My wife and I don’t keep a household where Bible verses are stamped onto various forms and shapes, hung on the walls, in hallways and nailed onto doors.

However, we have received a few and given/regifted a few as presents to friends and family through the years.

I am one of those people who don’t read the Bible every minute of the day but I do have access to electronic copies, physical books and enough tomes like “Social Aspects of Early Christianity” to keep me as occupied on the subject of religious writing as I desire.

We even have a copy or two of church hymnals containing the song, “Onward, Christian Soldiers.”

In this parallel storyline, I contemplate two storylines, one in which our species goes to war with itself on a massive scale, using weapons that have never seen battle, millions wiped out in wave after wave of clashes, turning peaceful boroughs all over the planet into scarred battlefields, no place safe; the second in which we continue the merging of multiple subcultures, every situation a win-win one, where we as a species, though in constant disagreement about the details, work out the general outline for thousands of years of thriving, prospering, voluntarily sharing our wealth with each other, reaching out beyond the solar system as our technology progresses sufficiently for low-risk exploration of the cosmos.

Always, always, always, taking into account the benefits and positive contributions of every language, every person, every subculture, no matter what is going on, good or bad, in global socioeconomic headlines.

I am tired of monitoring drug wars, billionaire backyard brawls and political detente for profittaking’s sake.

I am a man in the latter decades of his life who wants to see us, as a species, specific subculture(s) less important, establishing colonies of living beings on nonEarth celestial bodies.

If I end up in one of those colonies, I would feel most comfortable with aspects of my subcultural upbringing brought along.

If someone else ends up in one of the colonies instead of me, I know that person would feel most comfortable with aspects of familiar subcultural upbringing(s) brought along, too.

No matter where the colonies are built and who occupies them, it’s a success for our species and for Earth, especially for those subcultures that look past petty quarrels and set their sights far into the future.

Thirteen point six three five 1,000-day increments to go until we complete one of the major steps.

Accentuate the Positive!