Thursday, June 30, 2005

I have an earache.

I have an earache. It sort of sucks.

School is going okay. I don't hate my classes, classmates or professors. I believe that I would, however, more enjoy my Tuesday and Thursday evenings if they weren't spent in school. Next quarter I may only have to go one night during the week, and then on three Saturdays. That might be sort of cool. Is it odd that I hope the week night isn't Wednesday, so I don't have to miss church? When did I actually start liking church?

It's storming like mad here, so I probably shouldn't be sitting on the computer. Must run.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Grad School.

Sorry for the recent lack of updates. My life's been something of a mess lately.

First I found out that it wasn't likely that I was going to be able to start grad school for another year. I pretty much freaked out over it, and wanted to throw myself in front of a train and all that. It was an overreaction, but sometimes I like melodrama. I was worried about money, getting old, and looking like a putz for yet another largely under-employed year.

Then I found out yesterday that I could start grad school this year. In fact, I could start that night. They messed up my (and nearly everyone else's) file, and if I wanted to risk spending a quarter as Grad Non-Degree student instead of an official Grad Student, then I could "probably" make into the real program by Fall. I was much more worried about this when they told it to me than I am now. I went to class last night, and found out that only four of the thirteen people in my class are technically in the program currently; all the rest of us are messing with this Grad Non-Degree issue. So at least I'm note alone; hopefully they'll make something work for us.

This has been one of those weeks when my faith was tested. Not in whether or not I believe in God, but in whether or not I trusted Him to work things out for me for the better. I still don't know how all this is going to turn out in the end, but I'm increasingly confident that it's all going to work out how it should, even if I don't get what I want.

So it's been crazy trying to figure out whether I need another job, and how that would work out with my other responsibilities. And then figuring out financial aid, and grad non-degree applications, and yada yada yada. I actually had to borrow a notebook from The Boy last night to even go to class. Life is crazy sometimes. But good.

I can't complain. I'm very fortunate. And very thankful.

More blogs soon.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Not a Sunday School Teacher.

I will never become a Sunday School teacher.

On Saturday, The Boy had gone to a water park with some of his friends. He got sick while he was there and wanted to come home. His mom was scheduled to visit her grandma in the hospital in Columbus that night, and The Boy was way up in Sandusky, so I went up to get him.

When I got there, The Boy's friends' dad was like: "You've got [The Boy] all scared of meteors! He was scaring my kids with all the stuff you told him the whole way up here!"

I felt pretty bad. I'd felt awkward the other day when The Boy had started asking me about meteors and how they could kill us all. I didn't want to lie to him about it. If I said that a meteor couldn't bring about the end of the world, I would be lying and undermining my credibility. So I told him that it would be possible for a meteor to hit the Earth, but that it isn't very likely to happen. I explained about gravity, and how our atmosphere acts as a protective barrier, and all that sort of thing. We talked about other potential threats that could happen, that probably won't, and how we don't worry about those things every day. For example, it's possible a giant earthquake could come and knock down our houses; however, living in Ohio, that's just not very likely. It's possible that we could get in a car accident while we drove and get seriously hurt; but since I'm a careful driver, and the weather was nice out, and we were wearing our safety belts, that wasn't very likely and not enough of a threat to keep us from driving...etc.

When I heard that The Boy was all freaked out about meteors, I felt bad. I hadn't wanted to scare him; I just wanted to be honest. The Boy's friends' dad had told The Boy about the Book of Revelation and the End of the World. He told him that there wasn't a meteor in Revelation, so The Boy shouldn't worry about the Earth getting hit by one. He also told The Boy that I was really smart, but also really weird.

I told The Boy that Jimmy (friends' dad) was right about me, I am smart and weird, but that Jimmy was only one of those things, and not the other. The Boy thought that was pretty funny. What Jimmy didn't realize was that The Boy has been afraid of Revelation now for months, and that he had only just been calming down about it in the past few weeks. Jimmy had reopened that can of worms, threatened my credibility, and wasn't particularly effective at assuaging The Boy's fear of meteors either. After all, "The Bible doesn't say that a meteor couldn't come and hit the Earth, it just doesn't say that it will for sure!"

So The Boy and I had a lot to talk about on the way home. First, I found out that The Boy had been scared of meteors before he talked to me. Matt had let him watch Armageddon and that's what caused his phobia. I got railroaded! Now The Boy's friends' dad thinks I'm a creepy nerd, intent on instilling obscure and geeky fears in children, when, in fact, that's Matt's job - I'm just around for clean up duty afterward. I also found out that The Boy's recent worries about fires came from Matt letting him watch Ladder 49.

So The Boy and I had to discuss the End of the World, and how he didn't have to worry about it, because he believes in God and loves Jesus and all that, and that means that he'll be safe. We had to talk about fires, and why God lets bad things happen to good people. These are big subjects for anyone, much less nine year olds. I told The Boy about Job, and we talked about having faith in God even when we don't understand why things are happening the way that they are. I told him that the most important thing to do in life, is to love God with your whole heart and mind, and that you have to love God more than anyone on Earth.

I had actually been feeling pretty good about our conversation until today. We were eating dinner when Matt and Jasmin got in a fight. Matt had basically stolen Jasmin's spinach, and she was bellyaching over it and telling Matt what a jerk he was.

The Boy: Yes! Mommy's going to heaven!
Me: Well, yes, but what brought that on?
The Boy: You said that, to go to heaven, you have to love God more than even your husband or wife, and mom definitely loves God more than Matt right now!

I don't know whether I should be glad that he thinks about our conversations a few days after we've had them, or worried that I'll be arrested for corrupting the youth. I'm really going to have to work on these impromptu talks on spirituality.


I've written a lot lately, but nothing much good for posting. I have a lot floating around in my head just now. Frustration, tension, hope - all that sort of stuff. I wrote a long post today about it being summer and all that, and I'm just not up for making it public. Don't worry, no one's missing much.

My birthday kind of sucked. It was kind of okay too. My family had cake for me, which was very nice. Other than that, I got a big disappointment. Honestly, the two things sort of balanced out. My family is awesome like that.

My favorite birthday present was my least planned one. Jasmin's fish got sick a couple of weeks ago. We're pretty sure that they had ick, or however you spell that fish disease. We treated them for ick and they seemed to be responding, but Fat-Fat the Goldfish took a sharp downturn last Thursday. Her scales started falling off and, initially, we thought some of the other fish were picking her apart because of stress from the ick.

By Saturday, she'd developed a bilowy sort of substance around her jelly spot on her head. Her tail was falling apart, and she wasn't recovering despite the fact that we'd isolated her. We had been keeping up PimaFix for the ick, but it wasn't getting rid of the infection. We assumed that since there was cottony stuff, it had to be a fungal problem. But on Sunday, I was reading that there's a certain kind of bacterial infection that will cause that symptom, too. So we bought some MelaFix and Fat-Fat's taken a turn for the better. At least she's eating now, and swimming around, instead of looking all depressed in the corner by herself.

In the meantime, we decided that the loaches would have to be separated from all the other fish. They had brought the ick in with them, and they'd been the ones picking on Fat-Fat. The Fishman offered to a small trade for the loaches (basically, to take them off our hands since he couldn't resell loaches that he knew were aggressive), but he was out of town for the weekend. The loaches were in a tiny fishbowl and were going nuts. They kept jumping out and almost getting themselves killed.

Solution? Happy birthday Sarie, enjoy your brand new fish tank! Jasmin and Matt picked it out. Jasmin picked out a pink tank, and Matt insisted lining it with pink rocks. They picked out a few plants, and gave me a spare house for the fishies to hide in. I bought them a bubble wall today, too. My loaches rock.

I'm trying to pick out names for them. There are four; two pink, two blue. I thought about making them Marx Brothers, but I wasn't sure that was vicious enough. These are, after all, mean fish: they picked on poor Fat-Fat when she started getting sick, they brought in a serious fishy illness. Tough fish names would be good, sickness names would be good too. Maybe I can name them after the four horsemen of the apocolypse; there's a enough violence and death to go around in that.

I'm sleepy. Like, mad sleepy. I'm going to go wish my loachies good night, maybe read them a little bedtime story, and pass the heck out.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Busy Day.

Today is my birthday. I'm all of twenty-three now. Not doing anything special. Maybe cake with the family or something. Twenty-three, after all, is not a terribly eventful birthday.

More important, today my niece Brittany graduated from high school. Congrats to Britty!

My brother was also scheduled to be released from prison today. I wonder if we'll hear from him again.

Today was also The Boy's last day of school. He's stoked. Me too, actually.

It's hot. I'm going to go and stick my head in the freezer for a while or something (take that, environmentalists!).

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Too Many Puppies.

About a month ago, I posted on The Boy's trouble on the bus with a boy named Cain. Since then, I've been driving The Boy home from school because, since it was already getting on the end of the year, and The Boy's mom and step-dad were: a) out of town; or b) working a million hours a week, the most workable solution seemed to be just removing The Boy from the situation. Since then, The Boy and Cain have made friends and Cain and his various relatives have been coming over to play after school.

My after-school situation is getting sort of out-of-hand. The problem is, I'm strict with The Boy. It's a lousy neighborhood, so I don't let him play outside without supervision; it's a lousy neighborhood, so no one else's parents gives a damn about things like that. All of the other kids get to run wild, and The Boy doesn't, and he doesn't understand. So I started letting him have kids over so he wouldn't be so bitter about it. Initially, it was just D.C. from the down the street, and occasionally another boy, K., from around the block.

Now my regular routine includes D.C., Cain, Cain's brother and five year-old cousin, K. and one or two of his friends, plus The Boy, sometimes The Boy's step-brother X, AND The Boy's best friends from school, who happen to be twins. Now, that means that sometimes I have as many as eleven boys, aged five to ten, to try and keep from killing themselves or others. As a rule, these kids from broken, violent families, and they aren't really accustomed to anybody giving too much a damn about them.

This leads to both funny and sad situations, often at the same time. Today, Cain and his five-year old cousin came over to play Gamecube. Cain, being nine, is very bossy with Nkabe. Nkabe, being five, generally accepts Cain's authority, but practices the little brother art of sabotage. They were playing Dragon Ball Z and Nkabe wouldn't let Cain charge up, and Cain was getting mad. Cain said, "Nigger, I'ma mess you up! Let me charge!" And Nkabe responds: "You such a jigaboo. Jigaboo, shut your mouth!"

I had a problem on my hands. I am white. Very white. I couldn't be more white if I tried. So the "N" word and the "j" word aren't part of my vocabulary. The Boy is also white, and while he could probably use those words with Cain and Nkabe, who are black, I don't want him to try it on other black kids who might not be so ecumenical about it. Besides that, I don't like those words and I don't really want Cain and Nkabe using them either. But somehow, it's hard for my cracker ass to tell black kids which anti-black ethnic slurs they're allowed to use.

So I say, "Hey boys, I don't like those words. We don't use those here." And Cain says: "What's wrong with them? My mom doesn't care. I use those all the time." So I say, "Those words have been used to hurt people for a long time. They're not nice words. I know you're playing, but there are some things you shouldn't say even when you're just messing around." I know that they don't really understand the gravity of it, and I'm glad that they don't. For all their problems, they are - like all children - very good boys who don't ever deserve to find out how nasty those words are, or have them used against them.

For the rest of the night, every time anyone insulted anyone, I had tattlers. "Oo, Miss Sarah, [The Boy] called me stupid!" "Oo, Sarah, Cain said retard!" "Saaaaaaaaaaaraaaaaah! D.C. said [K]'s too ugly to get girlfriends!" I didn't know whether I should be happy that they were respecting my rule, or irritated because I now have eleven little boys, with eleven habitually filthy mouths, all intent on letting me know just how habitually filthy they all are.

This summer will prove challenging. I'm not good at being mean. I have learned to be relatively hard on The Boy, but I have a soft heart for all of the kids in the neighborhood. They're nice kids and they can't help the fact that they don't have anywhere to really play. It's hard for me to say that D.C. or K. can come over, but not the throbbing masses of other kids. If he already has friends over, how do you turn away other friends? I can handle four boys, and I'm glad that he has someone to play with. Eleven little boys, however, is just a safety hazard.

I guess I'll figure it out soon. It's interesting to me that The Boy's house is the only house in the neighborhood with rules, and it's still by far the most popular place to play. I guess it doesn't hurt that The Boy's house is also the only house in the neighborhood where the macaroni and cereal flow free. But I still wonder if it doesn't have something to do with the fact that the kids feel more secure with me there. Most of the boys don't have adults home until eight or nine at night and if they weren't in with me, they'd probably be out playing on the street that late, too. Even though they're not getting away with much when they're with me, I wonder if that isn't nicer than the excessive freedom they're used to. Rules mean discipline, and most nine year-olds aren't very into that. But they also mean protection from other nine year-olds, and I imagine that that's a pretty nice thing in a tough neighborhood.

Narnia Revisited

Courtesy of TrueGrit.

The final book of Narnia, you're a sometimes disturbing story about the end of the world and the beginning of a new one. Your characters include an evil monkey, a misguided donkey, stubborn dwarves and all the human characters from the previous books. You manage to be heartbreaking and beautiful at once.

Find out which Chronicles of Narnia book you are.

Monday, June 06, 2005

FirstBirthday 0301

FirstBirthday 0301
Originally uploaded by trewqaz.
Yesterday was hot. Damn hot. The birthday boy got himself quite a sunburn, and so did my nose. With as pale as I am in general, my glowing probiscus rather reminds one of Rudolph cutting through the fog. I'd look incredibly festive if it were only December.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Ty's Party Part I

Today is my great-nephew Ty's first birthday party. He'll actually turn one tomorrow. It's a beautiful day out, and I'm excited to go and see him. I bought him a Playskool Air-tivity Ball Popper. I think he's going to dig it.

Friday, June 03, 2005

A Rare Post About Spanking

I jumped headlong into things the other day, when I started writing about religion and the public sphere. I've read responses to what I've what I wrote the other day, on that subject and others too, and I got that same old headrush of joy that I always get when I sense something that's really worth talking about.

Unfortunately, I haven't had enough time to respond to anything properly. I have a lot of ideas about the usefulness of debate, but I don't really have time to put them in the format and place that they belong. I'm going to use my blog as a slop bin instead, and apologies for the mess.

I didn't mean to suggest the other day that I've never learned anything in a debate; I definitely have. For me, a good discussion with a really intelligent person is one of the most useful means I have of figuring out what it is I really think and why it is I think that, and whether or not it's worth holding that opinion at all. Fighting with anyone with a razor sharp mind is a great way to cull your own shallowness in thinking. A good opponent doesn't let you get away with sloppiness, and I'm not too proud to admit that I can be a little sloppy in a fight when I'm really convicted of the righteousness of my opinion.

My problem is that sometimes I smell blood, and I rush right in, wearing all the wrong intentions on my sleeve. I really have come to believe that all of your actions have to be guided by the love of God and the love of your neighbor. When all I'm doing is hunting for the geeky glory of being factually and logically correct, I know that I'm not doing that. It's possible to be completely right in fact, and totally wrong in the eyes of God. As Christians, we have a Great Commission, and if that's not the business I'm about, I'm about the wrong business.

That doesn't mean that all my answers have to be soft or saccarine, because the truth is not soft or saccarine. Flannery O'Connor once wrote that "All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful," and I think that that's fundamentally true. When we choose to fight the truth, we're essentially choosing to fight for our lives, because the truth demands that we die to our selves. Sometimes a discussion is really a mortal combat, and there's no room for undo gentleness when someone's soul is at stake. It doesn't do always do to simply tell a toddler that he'll get hurt if he runs into traffic; sometimes it takes a little more force than that to convince him. The spanking hurts, the truth hurts, but in the end we usually prefer the spanking to our total destruction.

At the same time, I don't believe that people can truly be converted by the sword. My shooting my loud mouth off, and making someone look stupid in an argument, does not teach them anything about what really matters. Love doesn't seek it's own glory; love is not puffed up, or jealous, or looking to score points in some silly argument. Love is patient and kind and always seeking to bring about the ultimate good of the beloved. If I'm not arguing with Love, I'm just abusing the person I'm arguing with. It's sort of like the difference between the parent who spanks their child out of love and the parent who beats their child out of anger. There's discipline and guidance, and there's abuse. I've often been guilty of the latter in a debate, especially online where I can't see in someone's eyes how much I've hurt them.

It takes more wisdom than I've generally been given to figure out how much is too much in an argument. I'm still very young and immature and prone to recklessness. I'm no saint, and in a fight, usually Love is the last thing on my mind. I'm working on it though, because I know that it matters. It mattered for me when a good friend fought with me, and prayed for me, and argued my stubbornness against God into submission long enough for a little of His grace to come down and change me.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Victory in Narnia!

Yesterday was a happy day in my life.

The Boy is not known for his great love of reading. When he was younger, he seemed to enjoy it more. But these days, it's all basketball and video games and the only excitement I've seen him get out of books is when he triumphantly announces at the end of one that he's finally finished it.

At the beginning of last school year, I let Jasmin borrow my box set of the Chronicles of Narnia. I couldn't believe that The Boy really didn't like reading. His problem was that he was reading the wrong books. I'm sure Captain Underpants is fine reading and all, but I couldn't imagine that it captured the imagination like the books I read when I was little did.

The Boy soon set me straight. He read a couple pages of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and promptly dropped it in favor of a new Bionicle book. I was disappointed. I'd had visions of Narnia games, and the magic of talking beasts, and the awe of Aslan.

Saturday night The Boy went to see the new Star Wars movie. One of the previews was for the upcoming release of the first Narnia movie. Suddenly, The Boy's interest piqued. I talked him into giving the book another try, and told him a little bit about the evil witch, and the naughty Edmund, and the awesome battles. He reluctantly gave it another shot.

He's only required to read for twenty minutes a day. I've never seen him go over that before. Usually he spends every minute of the last ten minutes repeatedly asking how much time he has left. Yesterday, he was so into the book that he didn't even hear when the alarm went off. I shook him and told him he was done if he wanted to be. He looked up, awestruck, and told me that he'd just gotten to the part with the faun and he wanted to finish the chapter.

I was overjoyed. Good reading does make good readers.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

To the victors, go the spoils...

I used to very much like internet message boards. I've spent countless hours, and quite a bit of money (back when unlimited internet hours were unheard of) debating every political, religious and philosophical issue known to man. I'm told that I'm quite good at it, and I know that it's true.

But I have a problem. The problem is my ego. I know that I'm very good at arguing. I know that I can win an argument with just about anyone on just about any topic. And damned if I can't do it from both sides of the fence, too. I'm a good arguer, a tremendous sophist, and not always a very good person.

One of the best things I ever learned in college philosophy class was how to be charitable in an argument. Until college, I had followed my familial school of argumentation: aim for the jugular and don't let go until their corpse has stopped twitching. In college, I saw for the first time how winning the debate is not the same thing as winning hearts and minds. It's definitely not the same as finding the truth.

I wish I'd found out in a less jarring way how always winning the fight, no matter what the cost, makes you look more like a jack ass than a genius. Thank you, Professor Jack Ass, for showing me myself in yourself.

The truth is that it's much more difficult to build a system than it is just to destroy one. Any relatively intelligent person can find at least one hole in most arguments and cling to it. It takes a real genius to build a system that's relatively immune to any old idiot's best attempt at decomposition.

That is why I'm much more quiet than I used to be, and why I tend to feel rather guilty when I fight with anyone online. I've made it my business to find the truth; to build the unassailable system. It's an impossible goal that I took on lighter than I ought have. But it beats the hell out of my old standby nihilism.

Secularism in the Public Sphere.

I’m writing because I have an entire hour of almost completely unstructured time. And because I was inspired by a post over at Muzikdude’s blog. This post isn’t really a direct response to what he’s written, but his post is worth checking out if these topics interest you. Besides, he’s one of the funniest, most self-effacing bloggers out there.

So, anyway, religion in the public sphere. More specifically, religion in education.

When you’re talking about morality in the public sphere, and particularly when you’re talking about instilling morality in children in the public education system, I think it’s necessary to recognize that everyone is going to be clouded by their own upbringing and their own current religious convictions. So I think it’s fair if I explain where I’m coming from.

My mother and father are sort of nominal Christians. My dad’s family is Episcopalian, my mom’s family describes itself as “not Catholic.” I was baptised at Grace Episcopal Church in 1982 at the tender age of five months, largely at the urging of my paternal grandmother, who offered my mother a fifty dollar savings bond in my name if I’d undergo the dunk (or, rather, since we’re Episcopalians, the sprinkle). I was not raised in church, was never confirmed, and have had a largely secular upbringing.

I attended public school for all but one year of my education, when I was homeschooled so I could help take care of my mother when she was undergoing kidney dialysis. My school district was rural, conservative and thoroughly religious. Crestview was the kind of school district that every parent wants their children to be part of, and that children like me absolutely couldn’t tolerate.

The vast majority of students at Crestview were at least nominally religious, with a strong low church Protestant emphasis. Most of the kids I knew were Baptists or Pentecostals, though there was also a strong contingent of low church Methodists and non-denominationals. There were also Lutherans, though they tended to be pretty quiet. And there were Catholics too, though nobody knew who they were, because it was definitely not a good idea to talk about it.

I didn’t fit into any of those groups. At best, I was an Episcopalian, which for most low church Protestant types is a just a watered-down Catholic. At worst, I was some manner of Satan worshipper. For the record, I have never worshipped the devil, or pretended to be a witch, or whatever it is that gothic type kids do these days. I just listened to dark music, and wore dark clothes, and had a dark sense of humor and refused to go to church on Sundays. At Crestview, that was enough to garner me the nickname “Satan” somewhere in junior high school.

Crestview was a unique school in the modern sense, I guess. Though our teacher’s never led us in it, the kids definitely prayed. Teams prayed before sporting contests, the band prayed before performances, we had moments of silence on holidays, when kids were injured in accidents, at graduations, etc. Lots of kids carried their Bibles around at school, and it wasn’t unusual to hear God and the Bible mentioned in class as part of a lesson or in class discussions. Nobody got made fun of for wearing their W.W.J.D. bracelets, or for having Christian t-shirts. We had scripture on our “Go Team!” banners and a substantial portion of our assemblies had religious themes, particularly following the Columbine massacre. In fact, Rachel Scott’s dad came to our school and spoke once, and told us about how God had prepared Rachel for martyrdom and such. These messages were explicitly Christian, and so was the mainstream culture at Crestview.

I have a hard time understanding Christians now who claim to have been so persecuted in high school. I had the exact opposite experience. Christianity was definitely the dominant culture in my school, and I was on the outside. One of the greatest difficulties of my conversion has been my distaste for “those people.” That is, the kids that I grew up with who thought they were so much holier than me because they wore their youth group shirts and watched Veggie Tales for fun instead of listening to Tool or Pantera or whatever the hell it was I was into in high school. I didn’t like those kids.

In any case, it’s difficult for me to imagine this monster secularism that so many Christians seem to fear. Where I live, Christianity is by far the standard by which people live. That isn’t to say that all of the people where I live are good Christians, or even Christians at all, but it’s the basic moral standard. Plenty of folks spend their weekends drunk or high, having pre-marital or extra-marital sex, and doing all of those other sinful things we were taught not to do as children. But these behaviors aren’t condoned. The people who do those things are bad people; those people need to be saved. That’s the dominant attitude, even among populations most known for engaging in those behaviors.

I’ve seen on television where atheists want to remove “under God” from the pledge, or that they want to ban Easter break, or put an end to nativity scenes and carol singing or whatever, and I can hardly imagine it. Not only because it’s foreign, but because it’s ridiculous. Whatever hippies, liberals and college professors stage protests over, from what I’ve seen of America, most of us still like lights on our house at the holidays, and we don’t mind Memorial Day prayers for dead soldiers, and we don’t get all uptight when some kids want to pray at their graduation ceremonies either.

I hated Crestview High School and all of the pseudo-religious trappings that came with it. I hated the hypocrisy, and feeling different, and being left out. I didn’t like my teacher’s censoring my research paper topics because they didn’t fit into their ideal Christian worldview of what “good” high school students should be thinking about. However, I don’t blame Christianity for all of those things I hated. It wasn’t Christianity I hated; it was the tendency of human beings – and especially teenagers – to ostracize people who are different from them. That’s not the Gospel, and as a post-adolescent now, who’s really put some thought into it, I can say that for certain.

I gained absolutely nothing from the moral instruction I received at Crestview. D.A.R.E. did not keep me off drugs. The Christian songs we sang in choir did not make me run off to join the local Baptist women’s organization. The guest speakers who poignantly told us of their salvation by no means brought about my own. But none of those things particularly hurt me either. They might have been monumental wastes of time, but at least they were benign monumental wastes of time.

I think at the end of the day, the question of morality in the public sphere is almost a moot one. I don’t believe it’s something that can be imposed from above. Crestview was Crestview because the people who lived there believed a certain way, pressured each other to behave a certain way, and expected that everyone would conform to the standard, which, most people did. The government, in the form of legislators or in the form of school administrators, could never have forced us to study our Bibles. It was the urge to fit in that accomplished that.

I’m not fond of secularism, but I don’t find it that terrible a danger either. Christianity is the dominant religion in America in a profound and unique sort of way. We still think that we’re the Promised Land and we’re not ready to let go of the dream. I don’t think we’re going to go the way of Europe; we will never be post-Christian in the way that modern Europe is post-Christian. Not so long as the majority of us eat meat ‘n potatos, anyway.

I worry about institutions, but not so much about populations. We’re going to be fine. All of the actresses in Hollywood might have a combined weight of somewhere just below 80 or 90lbs, but Americans as a whole are still in the midst of an obesity epidemic. We just don’t listen. And that’s a very good thing.