Friday, August 23, 2013

In addition to feeling as though all my efforts to get where I want to be are futile (and therefore, I am futile), I'm also very sensitive to space.

I have a theory as to why I have this sensitivity, but I won’t get into it right now.  A new town, city, state, area, etc. is like a new art gallery: to be thoroughly explored and encountered and absorbed.  Travel is very appealing to me because of this, and I’m very particular about where I call home.  This is why relocating from the MidWest to the SouthWest is so integral to me, whatever resonates in that space also resonates in me.  It’s not something I can articulate verbally very well, so it’s a good thing I’m an artist!
Chicago is my birthplace, my family is from Mauston, WI.  I’ve only ever lived in Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and Savanna IL.  Although it makes me sick to think on my nearly 28 years spent in the same place, the MidWest is part of my identity.  Although a part of me will always be a MidWesterner (and I’ll probably move back at some point in life), finally leaving the area involves a sacrifice.  While I was applying, interviewing, and being told that I’d get hired in the SouthWest, I was willing to give up the large portion of my MidWesterrn identity in order to take on a SouthWestern one - the one I want.
Although I’ll be living with the person I want to live with and I’ll be glad to finally leave the MidWest, moving to Nashville still sacrifices that MidWestern identity.  I won’t move as the same person, I won’t be in the same space nor in the space that I prefer.  This honestly isn’t to poop on Southerners; it’s me and it’s the area.  The South doesn’t resonate like how I resonate.
And if I’m incapable of attaining what I want, no matter how hard I work, do I deserve the identity and area that I want anyway?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Meaning vs. Discipline

I'm currently reading The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose.  A student at Brown, Roose spends a semester at Liberty University.  Liberty U is the conservative, evangelical Christian, homophobic, creationist school founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell and Roose argued, correctly, that it's more foreign to the average Ivy Leaguer than most European countries.  He pretended to be a freshly converted evangelical in order to better fit in and learn secrets, he also took on various cultural behaviors such as no swearing or sex and joining the church choir - this was both to pass better and to experience the culture more effectively.  His main shock, at least up until page 170, was that nearly everyone at Liberty U was exceptionally friendly while also violently homophobic.

The second Gen Ed course, which he was able to take as a "foreign exchange student," focused on social and political issues and how an evangelical Christian should approach them.  These were largely simplistic and scathing stereotypes on gay people, people who have premarital sex, wives who have jobs outside the home, etc.  One statement by Roose jumped out at me:

"But aside from the patently offensive content, my biggest issue with [Gen Ed II] is the way it bundles political and social issues with religious issues, and what that means for a guy who's trying to give Christianity a fair shake."

This goes along with my previous post about dogma pushing away people, particularly young people, who're looking for personal meaning through religion.  Liberty U and many other religious institutions argue that personal meaning follows discipline.  I'm not saying that they're 100% wrong (mostly because it's not a right/wrong issue), but that argument is a poor way to interest potential peers.  Roose began to reap some spiritual connection through his altered behavior, similar to how his mentor A. J. Jacobs became more spiritual through his year of following Biblical laws (The Year of Living Biblically).

I argue that while it is possible to find spiritual connection through discipline, the process isn't simple enough to teach in a class.  Both Roose and Jacobs CHOSE to alter their own behavior, not because someone told them to, and they didn't do it out of shame.  And both of them explained that the discipline didn't lead directly to spiritual connection: instead, the decision to alter their behavior also included the decision to alter their attitude.  That isn't something that can be taught, demanded or shamed - which is precisely what evangelicals don't understand.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Spirituality vs. Religion
More and more people are seeming to realize that personal meaning draws people to spirituality, while dogma pushes people away from even trying.  Sometimes I wonder if the fall of the Catholic Church and religious hierarchy overall would be the best thing, so regular people can start over ourselves without the bullshit.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Terminator 2, Soldier for Christ

In middle school, I was obsessed with the Terminator series, particularly Terminator 2.  Aside from an early love of sci-fi focusing on robotics and AI, there was no reason for my fandom that I could think of.  Later on, when I realized that the setting of my childhood was highly abusive and restrictive (which I'd thought was normal), I thought that my obsession had been more based on the idea of some unstoppable superhuman rescuing me.  That may have had something to do with it.

Thinking more on it now, though, another layer is clearer.  John Connor was my age, he'd been raised in a militaristic underground based on a fantastical conspiracy theory; he had to be the perfect soldier-leader, no room for failure lest the entire human race suffer and die.  I was raised in a cult (under the guise of Catholicism) that taught that martyrdom was the greatest status a human could attain; the girls had to strive to be perfect child-wives and any failure would doom the entire parish to eternal hellfire.  Naturally, I would relate to a character who not only lived a narrative similar to mine, but also got to act it out dynamically while I was locked alone in a basement for hours every day.  And of course any kid would idolize adults who'd sacrifice themselves for her when real-life adults insist that no amount of servitude would be sacrifice enough for salvation.

I'm not saying that my parish looked to the Terminator series for ideas or anything ridiculous like that - more like finding personal meaning in something (even something as cheesy as Arnie striding around in leather) usually reveals something about one's personal situation.  And that revelation might not be clear until years later, from a healthy distance.

Also, I was just thrilled that I was allowed to like something normally reserved for boys.  I don't know how the Terminator series slipped past the radar!