Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pain, Trust and Honor

Every action taken has a meaning. No action and no word is isolated, in a vacuum, pointless.

Some people assert the supernatural sounding notion that we are all connected, that there is something beyond us being mere matter, mere creatures acting on instinct and doing what we want to survive. Do humans have souls? Perhaps.

Two people can look at each other and have an entire conversation without saying a word. Some can look at people and know precisely what they are going to do and how they react to situations. Friends can remain friends no matter the distance, no matter the circumstances, while some people can live close to each other and never speak again for seemingly no reason. Some people click, some people don't. Some people click for a time and fall out of contact, and some people refuse to let that happen, constructing a friendship where there was no natural connection. Sometimes one's heart breaks due to the inaction, the apathy of others, and sometimes actions are useless, irrelevant and an annoyance at best. Silence can be valuable.

We all have this complex emotional makeup, and we all value different things. Sometimes our apathy is another person's passion, and sometimes we take on the passions of others, learn them as if they were our own. There are no rules, some say, while some say that social interaction must be tightly controlled to avoid pain.

Why do we avoid this pain? From a biological standpoint, it hurts our chances of propagating our genetic code, of reproducing. So humans adapt, they make pain into something beneficial, since there is no avoiding it. Blackness becomes the basis for an elaborate construction of a personality, a structure of personhood that has a way of acting, thinking, and believing.

Every action has meaning because it tells you how that person deals with reality. Perhaps they spend their time escaping reality, or perhaps they construct beliefs based on it and have learned to act in accordance with what tends to happen. Sometimes, people even know that they are detached from reality, and they don't care because it gives them a sense of well-being. Hope, if you will. Some hope is based on reality, and some is based on fantasy. Some hope poisons the hearts of those that hold it, for their construction of reality is warped, sick, and broken, even if they can't possibly know why. Sometimes trust is twisted and becomes a knife that stabs someone in the heart, and sometimes things turn out more perfect than we can possibly imagine, usually because we've been taught not to hope.

Regardless, there is something between people. More than words, more than actions, there is connection. There is trust. Trust can be as simple as choosing to believe that someone won't knock your chair out from under you and as complex as giving of yourself, knowing they will be there for you.

What level of trust is between people is not relevant, valuing it and choosing to act on it is. How does one act with honor? Their choices show integrity and value of the way things are. Their actions are measured and fair. Their words are carefully chosen and true. They care about reality, they are aware of what happens between people, and they choose to act with courage, valor, and their best estimation of what is right instead of manipulating, opportunistically taking what they want, and taking advantage.

I choose to value this for the simple reason that humanity can be more still than it already is because of it. We may have started out avoiding pain, but it can teach us if we pay attention.

Friday, September 21, 2012


From oblivion comes energy, and from energy, life. Life then advanced, ever so slowly, into consciousness, and was bursting at the seams from its' biological origins.

From the realization of consciousness, life began to ask questions. Why does it exist? What is the purpose of being? What is good? How did existence come to be?

The answers took on many forms. Some were so in awe of beauty and mystery that they asserted things based on pure intuition, and some could not stop asking questions and discovering, asserting things based on logic. Obviously, these two blended often, for somehow life had attained from instincts that intuition, and from observation that logic.

And so, from oblivion came the fragments of humanity, and they began to explore. Sometimes they killed each other, diminishing their ability to explore, and returned to mere energy on the ball of life they had come to live and die on. Sometimes they came together and produced more life, and experienced the mystery of love with another fragment of humanity, becoming more than they are alone for that time. Sometimes they created images to be heard, sounds to be seen, words to be felt. Sometimes they destroyed the things and fragments dearest to them because they believed in something.

Regardless, oblivion surrounded this life. Not threatening, not dark, not evil. Merely there. Man constructs to escape it, and many lead good and happy lives because of this. Because we create our meaning.

Some lose hope, and in purest consciousness, they see the oblivion before them, in them, and all around. They drown in it, become part of the truth of existence, and become one with despair. In their despair, they find that they need something. Some kind of meaning, constructed or not, in order to be happy. This is entirely necessary, and some say that this necessity points back to hope being a part of existence.

If this is correct, then oblivion is not all there is. However, when has desire ever made a thing true? Perhaps some assert that the hope precedes desire, and is the reason it even exists. That is, we construct meaning because there is a greater meaning to existence. Though there is no proof either way, one thing is certain: the simplest explanation is that life has no greater meaning than existing, and we are fortunate to have such creative energy for the time that we have given to us.

One can hope that greater meaning exists, that maybe some religion, some philosophy, some artform's pointing to it are proof that there is something more. It is deeply and truly fortunate for those that can hold this hope in their hearts. Regardless of whether they are right or wrong, they have something greater to live for. Their construction, in and of itself, makes them shine beyond what their base nature is. That is, they are not a machine of logic, needing no one, they are more and greater. The unfortunate side effect of this, of course, could be termed fanaticism, delusion, or faith. The reason this is unfortunate is because this often leads to the diminishment of humanity, when construction is so much better.

Some, however, merely do not want to be alone. They have had their fill of oblivion, and they construct in the hope that it will bring happiness in the simplest sense to others. For these people, all that religion, philosophy and art mean are reflections of the person that create them. Their frontier is others, and every experience is savored, every day full of adventure in the simplest sense.

It is fascinating, what oblivion makes humanity do. Fascinating and, at times, terrifying.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Steel clashed upon steel. A masked figure was thrown to the ground with savage force by a taller, armored figure. As the masked figure backed off slowly, blades in hand, she saw the darkness spread around the feet of her attacker.

"My dear..." came her faint and weary battlecry, but she moved forward with unstoppable force, her golden blade cutting through the air.

A roar echoed through the forest. As the massive sword of the attacker came down again and again, all the masked figure could do was dodge and weave, left and right. Her attacker was truly unmatched, a fact that she knew because she had sparred with him many times. She had to use all of her skills just to keep away from attack after attack. Flipping, dodging, lightly deflecting the massive blade until finally she was caught off guard.

Trees exploded as the masked woman flew through them, and she crashed to the ground, her mask shattered, a deep cut down her left cheek. Looking up in the direction of her attacker, she saw the darkness gather around him. Horrific sounds of pain, misery and anger seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once. The woman put her face to the ground, her face stinging with the open wound, and covered herself with her arms and robe. It was all she had time for.

An explosion echoed through the air, and the ground seemed to be disrupted under her prone form, sending it flying. This time, however, she was prepared. Snatching a branch of one of the trees, she rotated around it once and came to a stop standing on the branch, perfectly balanced. She looked down at her opponent. He looked up at her with a menacing yet animalistic air.

The woman took the three seconds offered her to plan.


She steeled herself. This was unavoidable. He was gone. There was nothing left of him in the armored suit that was now gathering energy in its' legs to launch itself at her, squatting down slowly, sword brandished in both hands. Her heart could not bear it. She had plunged her blades into the hearts of countless men, countless gods, but this time she could not win.


She flicked her right wrist, causing her silver dagger to move under her arm and partially conceal in the sleeve of her robe. The wind seemed to die as it was all moved toward the feet of the woman's attacker as he prepared to strike with his ultimate technique. Something unblockable to all. Almost all, anyway. She closed her eyes in a blink, and pictured it all again. The day they met, the day they both came to follow the divine cause, the day they discovered the darkness. The horrible, horrible darkness that had claimed his soul and hers' by proxy. They were gods, how could this happen?


The attacker launched into the air with blinding speed, somersaulting toward the tree she stood on with her eyes closed and finally peaked in mid-air, blade behind his back and letting out a massive roar that shook the forest, the trees, and all but the woman, who stood placidly on the tree, tears down her face but otherwise perfectly still. He had never seen what she was about to do, because she knew it was the only way should something go wrong. He must not be allowed to continue, though she could not kill him. It was impossible. She moved both blades in front of her at this point, preparing the obvious block to this move. Her time was up. Her eyes opened and there was nothing left of sentiment, only cold steel.


The attacker pointed his blade straight at the woman and suddenly seemed to propel forward with unimaginable speed. Both hands on his blade, he twirled it in his hands, effectively creating a drill. This was why he was said to be unmatched. No one knew how this was even possible.

Time seemed to stop, and the woman acted. She seemed to vanish and reappear to the attacker's left. She buried her dagger in the attackers left arm and left it there, and then began to cut furiously with her golden sword. The attacker let out a horrific scream and fell to the ground, the woman landing next to him lightly.

Looking down at the creature before her in horrific pain, she spoke to what was once her dearest knight. "You were unmatched, and now you are blackened and maimed. You cannot hurt anyone anymore, but I cannot kill you."

The creature squirmed on the ground, the silver dagger darkened by the infernal energy coursing through him eventually falling out. The woman picked it up. "How fitting," she simply said, and re-sheathed it and her golden sword. She looked down at the attacker once more.

"If you have left any of your mind, then understand this. You will die, but not by my hand directly. Your left arm is now useless, and the darkness that has given you power will never allow it to heal. I, too, will never heal my dear, because I..."

The creature roared and attempted to stand itself up, but it was incredibly weak. His power was regenerating quickly however, and she would be no match for his renewed assault. Cursing her heart, she waved her hand over her face, mending and replacing her mask, and turned and walked away, muttering a few words in farewell.

"When you blacken, I do as well. Farewell, my dear knight."

Sunday, September 9, 2012


My friends, I feel that I have left a part of myself in my past, to be remembered fondly but to be a part of me no more. It is here that I shall attempt to articulate what that means, perhaps in what may be a surprising manner to some. As always, I write to respectfully cause cognitive dissonance in myself and others, so please take any harsh language in such a context, and please disagree with me or come to me personally if you are concerned.

To those close to me that did not see this coming: I'm sorry. I do not mean to cause you any sort of surprise or distress, and I want to talk about this if you are those things. Please accept that some things go better in writing than they do in spoken words for me, and that this could no longer stay inside, bottled up, without making me burst from the pressure. I must be who I am. I know you understand.

It is not often that I use media to make a point on this blog. I, in fact, try to avoid it whenever possible. It is precisely because of this trend that I beg your indulgence today. I will attempt to describe what I need to, but the visuals and music in this video make it much simpler.

If that doesn't load very well for you or you didn't feel like watching it, here is how I must describe things.

I was alone in the desert, left behind, and I was offered a reprieve from my loneliness. All I had to do was truly embrace the life of faith. The price for that was my hope, dreams, and intellect. I fought hard against this price for a very long time.

"Hope is truly found in this life," said I, "just look at the cool glass of water that's been poured for me! I shall never go thirsty for the hope of a bright future." And yet, what kind of a future was I offered? There was the promise that all things would be reconciled, that the ideal of a world without war would exist, but those of faith differ wildly on such things, and church history is replete with war, ostracization, and excommunication. How could these things possibly add up to the kind of Love that Bell wrote about in "Love Wins" or Manning wrote about in "The Ragamuffin Gospel"? That furious love, that unstoppable grace that even the traditional conception of hell could not stand against. And yet, I was told, hell does exist, enemies do exist, and the hope I was offered came with a vs them. Or perhaps more trying to save them. Why then, have I never felt a need to save anyone? Why have I never met a "them"? All of the hope I found was found in people, and eventually in myself. The hope I was offered was nihilism wrapped up in theism.

I dreamed of being something special. In fact, I was told I would be so from a very young age. I was told I would change the world, that I would be one of the people that made faith sensical and rational and compassionate. Why does it need to be made these things if God's work was complete? The answer, of course, was that we are in process. "Dreams," I said, "are sourced from God, for from Him all good things come." So I kept looking up, kept looking outward, kept exploring. What I've found is a universe where life is not static, but dynamic. Love is not a binary, but a journey. Our race is not the center of the universe, but a part of it that we create the meaning of. More and more evidence mounts every day that life on this planet is expressed in many forms rather than species after their own kind, and that active respect is necessary for all of it if we as a race are to even survive. I was never taught this, and so it seems odd to even say. My dreams of being some kind of religious revolutionary began to seem extremely small compared to what the universe is and what humanity is in it. From this, I realized that I am special, and I am so because I choose to be who I am, every day.

My intellect, or perhaps my thoughts, have been what's guided me through so much in life. Every situation thoughtfully analyzed, every concept making sense, and every experience noted. "True philosophy," I said, "comes about naturally from the correct presuppositions and correct ways of thinking. If God is the source of this, then it is ordered in an understandable way, and it is how to understand the mind of God." So I continued to read, I continued to theorize and understand, and I have only begun to see the way logic runs in circles, presuppositions seem to come out of thin air and are deconstructed just as easily, and philosophies are like waves in the ocean. Why does one wave matter when you have the entirety of the ocean to see? Enjoy that wave, ride it or go through it, and move forward. You may be going through it while another person is riding it, but your positions will be switched around before you know it, when the next wave comes. It can't be taken so seriously that you can't play at points or enjoy yourself.

So it all began to feel wrong. If faith truly was a reprieve from loneliness, then why was I living like a reject in darkness, and why were my pursuits so adamantly rejected by most of those I spoke with? Even the "Christian philosophers" I spoke to seemed to disagree with and reject me when it was needed. The agenda began to become apparent to me, and I began to change as a result.

"Just go back to sleep," they said, as the rag was placed over my mouth. The abuse was real, as I was silenced in every way possible, and I felt that it was warranted. Truly, my mind was bent and my heart was twisted in such a real sense that I am still recovering from it. "I deserve this," said I, "for I have failed. I am human, and I just don't understand something." However, the haunting truth was that I really believed that they were the ones that were wrong, and that their religion was not representative of my own faith, despite the realization I would only come to later that what they represented was so connected to what I did that a true revolution was impossible. The presuppositions were too rigid. This is why those in religions that are out to cause real change are always referred to as "radical," meaning back to the roots, or "reforming," similarly meaning returning to the true nature of that religion.

Some say that a sufficiently disciplined mind can compartmentalize contradictory pieces of information. I believed, truly, that I was correct because I was called to be special by God, and that I was also worthless, useless, and alone. For some reason, these things went together into a martyrdom I can only describe as capture-bonding. This is more well-known as Stockholm Syndrome.

What happens when a person endures this for long enough? They break. They either become a complete shell of who they were, accepting the continual abuse of their soul placidly, or they develop a problem with the authority so casually invading their very person, and they decide they've had enough. My study of church history took this to a whole new level, as I realized that Christianity, the faith I was raised to believe in, came about from some incredibly violent historical circumstances, and that this abuse of people had been taking place since the very beginning. My study of the hero archetype of Jesus was the last piece of this puzzle, and it made the claim that the story of Christ was more important than the historical reality of his existence (or non-existence) make a lot of sense. If I may borrow from one of my favorite shows, "all of this has happened before, and it will all happen again." If the story of Christ was not unique, and the story of the church is a power struggle like many others, with the occasional idealistic and great figure emerging to make it about good things, then what is unique to the faith I was raised in, morally, historically, theologically, philosophically, politically, or in any other way?

It all comes down to a question: who do you trust?

Once again, we are back to people. The people I trust are of all different faiths, all different backgrounds, and they are all so uniquely human.

So the last great lie I was sold that I had to reject, "the smile when you tore me apart," was that I am, and am meant to be, alone. I am not meant to be alone. I do not know if God exists or if he does not, but every religious experience I have had so far I can soundly attribute to people. Whether that is authority, friendship, love, public experiences of "worship," or family, I can attribute the things that move my soul to people, and to people alone.

My friends, I must confess that I am tired of imposing loneliness on myself, and I refuse to do it anymore. I love people, and they frustrate me so much sometimes because I believe that we can be better. No one thing can cause this, but I wish to become better by listening, by being open with people, by learning, by arguing, by discussing and philosophizing and enjoying music and art and literature and absurdity and laughter and beauty. I wish to grieve with others, to be a conduit for comfort to the hurt and the downtrodden, and to be a voice of realism to those that feel they must continue to hurt themselves to be acceptable. It is so unnecessary.

I can no longer say I have faith in the supernatural God that I was raised to believe in. What does this make me? I have no idea at the moment, other than to say that I am still the same person I have always been. I am still a critical thinker, I am still absurd and awkward and hilarious, and I am still something of an idealist. I still respect the possibility of a god, but I also deeply respect agnosticism, pantheism, atheism, polytheism, monotheism, and those who don't want to bother with any definition or framework to represent their thoughts. This is because they represent something to the people who believe in them, and that fascinates me.

So faithless I may be, but that does not mean I am different or have lost my ideals. If a god does exist that I will meet one day, it is the person I am that he will see, and judge, if that is even what will happen. However, I choose to live like I have one life, and I wish to make it count in real ways.