Lets Talk Religion

“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.”
- Steven Weinberg

Not too long ago I started the conversation about faith. From the comments and conversations that followed we came to the same fork on the road. Religion.

I actually don’t talk about religion as much as I would like to in here because I don’t truly like to alienate people based on my views of it. If you have never met me I will give you a little bit of my background with religion.

I grew up in a Catholic household with both parents being churchgoers at different times in their lives. Church was not a family affair. I also went to a Catholic high school which kind of gave me a different view on going to church and religion. Religion IS a subject down in Colombia for even non parochial schools. I have never been married in the Catholic church even though I would not mind it. I identify with the cultural aspect of Catholicism because it is very familiar to me. I have also explored other faiths specially in the protestant side of things.

I have attended protestant or “Born Again christian” churches for months with various degrees of creepiness at the end. They have always ended up the same way. First is the push for me to take more of an outreach position when they see that I can speak in front of people without much issue. Then when I decline and want to be just a member it seems like I become “one of those that doesn’t want to spread the message.” The moment I started to ask too many questions that challenged leadership in any way steps are taken to make me either follow in line or be labeled as an “outsider.” The chronology is different depending on the church but it has happened twice now.

I have always ended up in a protestant church thanks to a friend that thinks it will be good for me. I love the singing and bible studies. I love talking ideas, good, bad, salvation, sin. I love the volunteer work. The problem is that I was brought up by Franciscans and some of them taught me that religion is not what is important, that true understanding comes from questioning things. Faith is not something that you can give to others, they have to feel it themselves… its like trying to make someone happy, you can only “try” for so long. It has to come from within.

(Well known mathematician Freeman Dyson has criticized Weinberg’s remark: “And for bad people to do good things—that [also] takes religion.”)

A Franciscan monk is the one that pointed out that our history books in school left a lot of stuff out.

The problem with taking advice about religion from others is that for people like me it is a journey. If you would have asked me 10 years ago, I would have one answer. If you would have asked me during the Bears vs Broncos game, I would have another. If you ask me 10 years from now, I might have another one.

I don’t think I lack faith. I just don’t like to rely on intangibles for things to happen. That said, I have leaned on praying before to get me through tough times. Probably the reason that I could not become a full atheist because when the ship was sinking I would be asking for God. My brain, my debates with others, the books I read, all make me question the validity of both faith and religion. I don’t need it to get through my daily life, but faith is a powerful thing… like love.

The bible is a cool book, Jesus was a cool man… but there are other books and there are other great men.

A lot of horrible things have been done in the name of religion. Also a lot of good is done in the same name. I think in the end everything with an arterial motive goes back to human weakness. All tools can be used for good or evil, it depends a lot on who’s hands is holding them.

Things get a lot more complicated when you are the “Godfather” to 3 kids!

I love the honor that comes with the title. I also want to make sure that if I am ever called to answer questions about it I will have good answers. Note I did not say the “right” answer, but a good one.

Ramblings

- I might start a new post method to use when I don’t feel like really writing.
- We’ll call it ramblings.
- I have done it before on various forms.
- I like the name, Ramblings I think I will create a category.
- This weekend was sucky. My uncle’s ALS is progressing to the last stage.
- It scares the crap out of me to someday be in his shoes.
- The rest of the weekend was great, but the sadness did linger with me.
- I hate situations where there is nothing I can do.
- Bea and I will be looking for a house this year.
- Settling in Chicago is a big decision, makes me almost feel grownup.
- I still miss my Kansas City people… I also miss my California people.
- They should all move to Chicago and hate winter with me.
- I don’t think I will ever stop hating winter.
- If humans were meant to live in the winter weather we would have thick fur.
- I am reconnecting with the motorcycle community.
- 2012 will probably be the year that I get a bike again.
- It will probably not be a sportbike.
- I think Bea would have a heart attack if I actually got into a race track.
- We will be going to Colombia in a couple of Months.
- I still think about moving down there permanently.
- I would love to live in weather that was not as extreme as it is here.
- Also fresh fruit available all year around.
- No you cannot get fresh fruit in a supermarket, trust me.
- There are several varieties of mangoes and bananas that most people in the US have never tasted.
- I wish winter was over already.
- I have started to dislike raw onions in my salad.
- I mix two kinds of soup to break the monotony in the cafeteria.
- Most of the soups have way too much salt.
- Eating healthy is easier when bad food starts to taste like crap.
- Taco Hell for some reason still does not taste like crap.
- I think they put more of whatever addictive thing fast food has.
- Taco Hell is still a guilty pleasure some days.
- I never though I would not miss red meat.
- I still consume it from time to time, but I don’t crave it.
- I think I need to go to Fogo de Chao and maybe restart that addiction.
- I am surrounded by cyclical eaters.
- People that love something for a period and then want to eat something else.
- I can eat most food I like every day without getting sick of it.
- Except PB&J and Popcorn.
- Maybe I am a cyclical eater too, but I have a longer que time.
- I wonder of this is annoying someone.
- It makes me smile that someone might be annoyed by it and still reading this far down.
- I am having too much fun with this, but I think it should top soon.
- I am not writing all the comes to my mind.
- By the time I finish one, 3 different trains of thoughts have gone in 3 different directions.
- Spam e-mail seems to interrupt my train of thought the most.
- Spam is annoying, its almost like internet littering.
- We should have Spam cleaning crews.
- Apple and google should pay for them.
- As as service back to the internet community.
- Ok, enough for one day.

Geek Badge

Recently I had an interesting encounter with another gamer. Without him knowing what I do for a living or really who I am, he decided to not just pull out his e-peen but try to talk about how awesome he is in real life. It was amusing to me that he though that a black belt, working for a technology company and making loads of money made him feel superior. What was interesting is that this same person was very against mixing his professional (real) life with WoW. A total WoW closet player.

I don’t talk about WoW here anymore since I split my talk of WoW to its own space. Today I bumped into a great blog where a writer actually split their blog and then joined them all up again. I don’t think I want to merge the WoW content back here, but I do think I need to talk about my geek badges a little more. (at least on this post.)

I keep my professional life off the blog for the most part. I don’t want to get fired for saying something about what happens at work. I have had dragons on my desk, but currently I am not displaying as much geek stuff… well, I am not displaying much at all really. I do think that I need to wear some more geek related clothing on casual days.

While my proudest geek badge of honor is being married to a woman that not only loves me but has been infected with my geekery. She plays WoW, made a page for her lock, has watched and loved anime, read manga and considers herself a geek now. She has her own google shirt!

But hey, this is about my geekdom so lets start.

Anime

The first geek hobbie I ever had before video games was anime. I have watched it for a long time and still indulge in a weekly watch of subbed Naruto as soon as it has been translated. You can now watch the current Naruto in Hulu. Shippuden is quite the story… and they are done with fillers and the story is moving along.

Harry Potter

I love that series, it really captured my imagination. I have read the books several more than once and think they are excellent. I love the world as well, I like the movies and would not mind visiting the theme part.

StarTrek>StarWars

I eventually picked sides and blame Mr Lucas for making the later movies horrible. I do want to watch Red Tails.

Computers

I know how to write code, I know how to build my own computer… I could go on, but I think most of you know how that one goes.

Fish Geek

I have not only kept fish before, I actually got into breeding them for a bit. I’ve had mostly cichlids but love the aquarium world. Mostly fresh water I think I will eventually work on some salt water… it just bothers me that you cannot get them to breed, it feels wrong to keep an animal captive that cannot “get it on.”

I don’t yet LARP… but have a friend that is constantly telling me I am missing out. I also never done the whole dressing up for anything yet, but I might do a renfest some day.

So what about you, do you wear your geek with pride?

Lying

I am the default person in the house to deal with telemarketers or customer service representatives. Working in conjunction with a third party collection agency gave me a glimpse at how some of those places work. People will say whatever they think it will get them a result, and in the end they end up lying.

We might not realize it, but every time we see someone else lie our trust for that person starts to diminish. What I never realized before reading this short essay by Sam Harris is that it goes well beyond that. It seems that from a psychological stand point, the person lying starts to get hostile towards the person that they lie to.

There is a saying we use back in Colombia “El ladron juzga por su condicion.” This can be losely translated without losing all its meaning to “A thief believes everyone else steals.”

People that routinely lie to themselves or others also think others are also liars. Furthermore, people that routinely lie start to dislike the people that they lie to,

In fact, suspicion often grown on both sides of a lie: Research indicates that liars trust those they deceive less than they otherwise might-and the more damaging their lies, the less they trus, or even like, their victims. It seems that in protecting their egos, and interpreting their own behavior as justified, liars ten to deprecate the people they lie to.

Sam Harris then cites the research “Deceiver’s Distrust: Denigration as a Consequence of Undiscovered Deception.”

I grew up with the notion that you should always tell the truth, but it was accentuated by the saying. “Traigame un herido, no un muerto.” That was a saying from my Grandfather, passed down to my Dad and then to me. Be honest about anything you face, if you “Bring me an injured person, don’t bring me a dead one.” That has always stayed in my head, not only to make sure that I ask for help before a problem escalates, but also to always tell the truth.

I trust people easily. I know this can be a bad thing. However, I always feel that the more you give to people the more you will get in return. People know I am blunt, trying to make that more about honesty than lack of tact. I have in recent years just told people I am not interested rather than just hanging up on them. I don’t like to lie or hypocrisy, but I think it shows more trough action than through words.

The more you build trust with people, the more powerful your words become. The consequences of what you say have a profound effect. The more you lose trust on someone, the less their words weight. I chose to see the positive in situations and people, and I have been accused by those that don’t know me of flattery. It could not be further from the truth, I honestly believe in the potential of those around me to succeed and be awesome. All my friends keep proving me right by just being amazing people, so it is not flattery if they really are that freaking cool.

The essay was an easy read, and it made me think a lot. It is good to make a commitment to yourself to always tell the truth… and also learn a little tact. There will always be someone asking you if their puppy is the cutest of them all.

I’m Bored!

Actually I am not at all, lol. I have lots of work ahead of me with the projects I am working on ranging from the very tedious to the very engaging and headache driving type of stuff. This has nothing to do with that or with the AWESOME (but too short) weekend Bea and I just spent in KC.

Deguia and I were just having a conversation this morning as he deals with some parenting stuff. One if his kids is bored! only a book and iPod to keep them entertained. After laughing at how old we are already I started to remember what entertained me in those preteen years.

I knew better than to tell my Mom I was bored because she was quick to find a shore around the house that would occupy my time. I did spend a lot of time outside playing soccer with balls for grass on pavement. I was also part of the first generations that grew up with video games, and while I thought the first one I owned was the Atari 2600 that I eventually (Mission Impossibled) broke. The first was actually a form of entertainment called “Game and Watch.”

Egg

I did not even know until today that it was actually just called Egg. It basically required that you catch eggs before the crack. This simple device kept me entertained for not just hours, but I think months! I think I even had to replace batteries on it more than once. If I remember correctly, I think it was gifted to someone eventually still in working condition.

Most kids today even real young ones are great at handling gadgets like the iPhone and iPads. It is almost second nature to them to handle those user interfaces. They also seem to be falling pray of the short attention spans and burst of entertainment. It seems like the kids of today are getting bored quite easily. To the point that I don’t think any of them would have the patience to watch Dragon Ball Z with fights between bad guys that used to last several episodes.

I wish I still had my Egg game to see if it would keep a kid entertained at all. I could talk about imagination and how entertainment now could be hurting it… but I do have a niece that is an avid reader and think she has an awesome imagination. This does make me thing about what kept me entertained.

So without having to date your childhood too much, what things used to keep you entertained? Do you remember any single toy that kept you entertained for a long time?

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