Bible Commentary Out of Context?

So here’s a comment from someone about my Genesis Bible Commentary that I felt I should address, even though it’s not really saying much. So here it is:

Dude…I got 4 words – “Way – Out – Of – Context.” Reread, and this time flush the cynicism. You’re not doing yourself aaaany favors. Sometimes, when we try to make a fool out of something, we ourselves are made the fool instead.

** 1Godless fools say in their hearts,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt.
They do disgusting things.
There is no one who does good things.
2The Lord looks down from heaven on Adam’s descendants
to see if there is anyone who acts wisely,
if there is anyone who seeks help from God.

And my response:

How come you didn’t give me any examples of what’s taken out of context? It’s not like I took a quote from the middle of the Bible without reading the surrounding verses. I started from the very beginning of the Bible, and as far as I know, didn’t leave anything out prior to the 28th chapter. If you don’t give a specific example, or outline your reasoning for saying it’s out of context, then it’s hard for me not to jump to the conclusion that you’ve merely heard the phrase “out of context” in religious arguments before and thought it sounded good.

However, I think what you may be talking about is a context that exists either outside of the Bible, or in later chapters of the bible. This reminds me of something that frequently happens in serious writers group meetings:

A young writer who thinks he’s all hot stuff and brilliant shows up to a writers group with a story or the first chapter of his novel, and the group starts work-shopping it. After the group reads it, they all say the same basic thing: it sucks. The characters aren’t believable, the plot doesn’t make sense, the emotion is too melodramatic, etc.

The writer then gets defensive because he’s got such a deep emotional investment in his writing. He immediately says “Well, you’ve got to understand the context…” and goes on to talk about character backgrounds or differences in culture or things that come later in the story. The group then must stop him and say, “Hey, when someone sits down to read your book, you’re not going to be there standing over their shoulder to explain things. Any context you need the reader to have must be contained in your story. That’s all you have is your words on the page. You can’t assume your reader is going to have any of the same preconceptions or values as you.”

I think what might be an issue is that you are thinking too much like an agnostic/non-religious person. You’re looking at the bible from the perspective of someone who has already formed their moral viewpoints based on logic, compassion, and real-world cause-and-effect. In normal situations that’s a very good thing, but for this discussion I think it’s confusing your perspective.

If you publish a book in the United States in 2011, for example, you can make a number of assumptions about your readers. You can assume they believe slavery is wrong, they believe women should be treated as equals, and they all know what a car is. The Bible, on the other hand, was written 2000 years ago and needs to be able to apply to all the cultures throughout the whole planet that have existed since then, and cannot afford to make any of those assumptions. Most of the moral assumptions we make in our society can’t be made here, because not all cultures have the same moral values. All necessary context must be pulled entirely from the words on the page.

When you read the Bible you’re coming from your own modern perspective which has been thoroughly infiltrated (thankfully) by science and logic. Your conscious logic twists and manipulates the meanings of the Bible to fit your non-religious, agnostic preconceptions about right and wrong, so that you can pretend like your moral values came from this book rather than from the atheist hidden deep in your heart.

When I read these 27 chapters from the Bible, I chose to do whatever I could to turn off all my preconceptions about moral values, right and wrong, and the state of the spirit world. I did everything I could to make my mind a blank slate, and judge the verses based on nothing but the words on the page. It was difficult, and I’m not sure how good a job I did, but that is what I tried to do, and this Bible commentary is honestly what I came up with, and is what I believe I would be thinking if I truly did have absolutely no moral or spiritual preconceptions… which isn’t even possible, but it’s a fun hypothetical.

Now, admittedly, there was some cynicism. I just couldn’t help it, because the conclusions I was coming to were so insane that I just couldn’t help but be cynical about them. Obviously I couldn’t free myself of my atheist bias, but I did the best I could.

Now, if you think I’m just manipulating and misrepresenting a good book into something twisted and wrong, then please try an experiment for me: go randomly select a Disney movie, then try to find a way to perceive it as promoting slavery or some other form of serious moral degradation in the same way the Bible does. Find some humanist or atheist brochures and try to do the same thing. Let me know what you come up with.

——————————————-

So next, to address the Bible quote you threw out, I must say, I don’t see how that relates to anything you’re trying to say. It’s just a way for you to express your hatred of non-believers through the proxy of the Bible.

Have you ever heard the theory that the people who are most hateful toward gays are doing so because they are afraid of their own homosexual tendencies? I think this is often true of many people who show such vehement hatred toward atheists. You don’t want to admit that many, or even most of your perceptions about life and morality come from places that have nothing to do with your religion, many of which contradict the Bible or religious teachings. You’re terrified and ashamed of that little independent thinker that’s trapped deep inside you, so you lash out at anyone who openly admits to being one.

Masturbation, Homosexuality, and Christian Impostors

Here’s another comment made on my 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime page. He also made some other comments, which I addressed in my three previous blog posts.

What you call Christians are not exactly Christians, since they have been raised by atheists in the American school systems and indoctrinated with atheistic propaganda. They are a kind of Chimera.

This can explain why especially American Christians are often not internally coherent in their moral logic. However, I must say that many things you defend are equally inconsistent with sound reasoning.

Masturbation, while enjoyable to many, is a detriment to creation of family, a biological necessity. Fertility rates decrease during a time when one masturbates regularly.

Homosexuality, while compelling for many, is likewise a detriment for similar reasons to masturbation, though without the decrease in fertility. However, if you are taking on the feminine role in the relationship the estrogen levels can be driven quite high, suppressing the testosterone and consequently diminishing the fertility – not that it matters, since it is not so likely a homosexual will take the opportunity to procreate with a woman.

The biological necessity as an organism to procreate is about as materialistic as you can get. Yet, many materialists denigrate its significance in order to protect their views that homosexuality should be protected – chiefly because it is a stand that brings in supporters against their hated opponents, Christians.

What do you think?

And my response:

I think it’s a pretty convenient argument to make whenever a Christian behaves in an immoral manner, you just say, “Oh, well that wasn’t a real Christian.” It pretty much guarantees that you can do no wrong. Too bad nobody ever points out the fake Christians before they do something awful.

Now, if you think all the immoral behavior seen in Christians is actually coming from atheist propaganda, then that’s a testable theory. If you were to analyze all the Christians who were home-schooled under a purely Christian mode of thinking, do you really think the statistics would be any different? Do you really think they’d be dramatically more moral than their atheist or fake-Christian counterparts?

And if atheist propaganda is so evil and corrupting, then why aren’t atheists committing more crime?

——————

So, masturbation and homosexuality are wrong because they diminish our ability to procreate? Are you worried that these things will take over society and everyone will stop having straight sex? Even if that were even remotely possible, what would stop people from loving babies and consciously wanting more of them or wanting to continue the species?

Are you seriously afraid human beings will stop making babies and go extinct because we’re masturbating or having too much gay sex, or are you simply grasping for straws in your argument? I mean, lets be honest, you know you first decided that homosexuality and masturbation were wrong, then you came up with these arguments to justify your opinion.

If procreation is so important, why are religions not opposed to other things that reduce procreation, such as birth control? I’m sure there’s a lot of food additives out there that reduce our fertility more than homosexuality, so why doesn’t the church ever take issue with things of that nature? Why are people who choose not to have children not considered evil too?

And why is procreation so important anyway? Are you not aware of the overpopulation issues on our planet, the fact that a billion people struggle for food every day and live packed into endless cities, or the fact that many unwanted children are roaming the streets? Why are homosexuals and masturbators so evil for not contributing to these problems?

——————-

Now, this talk about feminine relationship roles and estrogen levels kind of surprised me. Do you actually have any gay friends? Have you read about studies on homosexuality? I would be very curious to hear what you actually have to support your estrogen levels theory.

——————–

And in your last paragraph, you pull out that “materialism” word again, which seems to be a subtle way of demonizing us, implying that we don’t care about anything other than physical objects. I don’t think it’s fair to be labeled something I am not.

I’d never heard of materialism until I was accused a few months ago of believing in it, so I don’t know much about it. From what I’ve seen, however, it seems to be a simple physics theory that helps us understand how the universe works. It didn’t seem to have anything to do with moral values or what people should or shouldn’t value on a human level. You’re taking a simple theory regarding physics and blowing it up into something that tells us what values we should hold as human beings.

Now, you ended by claiming that atheists are hateful toward Christians. Admittedly there is some truth in this. You must understand that many atheists have been deeply hurt by religion, possibly because they were religious themselves, or were influenced by religion, and it drove them to make poor life choices, such as myself, or because they were hurt by someone trusted in the faith, or because someone they knew did something horrible in the name of religion, or because they watched it destroy someone’s life.

However, we don’t wish anyone to be punished for their beliefs the way many wish hell on us. Threatening someone with hell and wishing them to suffer for all eternity is deeply hurtful and can be worse than threatening someone with a knife, and if hell is actually real, then it is significantly worse. I don’t see atheists using fear in that way. We also don’t purposefully try to hurt feelings the way religious individuals call us abominations and claim we’re in league with Satan or say that love drives us insane. Some of us can be hateful toward religion, true, but for the most part, we are not hateful toward the people involved in religion. We see you as victims, not as hated enemies.

 



Here are a few more blog posts about my theory that religion promotes crime:

New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour
Religion vs Methamphetamines
Atheists Don't Believe in Love?
Religious Criminals are Liars?
Response to 22 Ways
Even More Atheist-Theist Debate
More Atheist-Theist Debate
Jeffrey Dahmer Interview Segment
Crime is not Logical
About My Page, 22 Ways

Atheists Don’t Believe in Love?

The last two days I’ve posted a couple responses to comments made by the same reader, on my page, 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime. Here’s  one responding to some of the individual points I made, and then another one relating to the statistics I quoted that show prisons are incredibly packed with religious people. Here’s another of his comments, followed by my response.

The stability of a person’s personality in response to moral dilemma’s is dependent on whether they are willing and able to change their behavior to match the moral expectations.

If they cannot or are ultimately unwilling to conform to their view of moral requirements, even if the unwillingness is at a subconscious level, then they must adjust in other ways. There is contradiction, which indicates a logical adherence in the first place, and negates some of your previous arguments.

It is true that some of these people go mad. It is similarly true that many atheists have gone mad due to incoherence of their materialistic views of people and others’ persistent love towards them. Love drives atheists mad.

I’d agree with your first statement, though I don’t understand how it’s relevant. I believe religion affects a person’s willingness and ability to change their behavior.

Now, in your second paragraph, you kind of lost me. Sorry, I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. What contradiction are you talking about? Is it based on the theory you present in the third paragraph…

…and your third paragraph just blew me away. You seem to be claiming that atheists don’t believe in love. “Love drives atheists mad”, you say.

Seriously? I don’t even know how to respond to that.

But I’ll try.

You accused me of using a straw man argument in a previous comment, but take a look at your assertion of our “materialistic views” and your theory that atheists can’t understand why people feel love. I mean, talk about changing your opponent’s viewpoint to something easier to attack! I fear the real issue may be that you can’t understand or feel love without connecting it to your God, and simply assume that no one else can either.

I’ve never claimed to be a materialist. I don’t know any atheists who have claimed to be materialists. This is a term that at this point is intended to demonize a segment of the population more than it is an actual description of a viewpoint. The idea of materialism may be important when getting physics to work, but that doesn’t mean it applies to moral behavior or emotions. Don’t assume that we only care about material things and that love isn’t important to us, simply because we don’t have grand, supernatural fantasies to explain our emotions. We feel just as much as anyone else. We love just as much as anyone else. We have just as much passion, compassion, and drive for life as anyone else. Our relationships are just as successful. Our marriages last just as long (slightly longer according to some studies). We create just as amazing artwork. And we strive, just as much as anyone else, to make the world a better place.



Here are a few more blog posts about my theory that religion promotes crime:

New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour
Religion vs Methamphetamines
Masturbation, Homosexuality, and Christian Impostors
Religious Criminals are Liars?
Response to 22 Ways
Even More Atheist-Theist Debate
More Atheist-Theist Debate
Jeffrey Dahmer Interview Segment
Crime is not Logical
About My Page, 22 Ways

Religious Criminals are Liars?

Yesterday I posted a response to a comment made by a reader on my 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime page. He made a few other comments on the page, so here they are, followed by my responses:

You also ignore the prison ministries that have tried to change prisoners’ attitudes toward life. Many of them become Christians in order to convince the parole board they have changed. They hope to be let out sooner than expected. When they poll religious views of prisoners they all say they are innocent of their crimes and they suddenly believe in God. So the point you’ve made is absurd.

Well, I think you ignored the second little statistic at the top of the page that talked about religious training. This is referring to religious training as children, before they ever became criminals.

You say that prison ministries are trying to change attitudes, but the statistics show that people are more likely to recommit after being in prison, so they’re not doing the greatest job of it, and yet churches everywhere continue to claim that religion makes you a better person.

You then say that many become Christians to appeal to the parole board, but in your previous comment you claimed that our prisons are controlled by atheists and they heavily discriminate against theists, which accounts for the statistics. If this were true, why would these prisoners be doing this?

If you talk to prisoners you find that, for many of them, religion is all they have, and it means a tremendous amount to them. It’s hard to fake that. Even if they were faking it, they would still be surrounded by religion. They’d still have to read the books and attend church to keep up the facade. If religion is really so affective at making people good, wouldn’t all that religious immersion have at least some positive affect on them?

Now, this is totally unrelated and irrelevant to this conversation, but I had to throw in the point that, for a criminal looking for parole, joining a religion and claiming innocence are two very different things. I don’t see how a parole board is going to want to parole someone who is obviously guilty, but still in denial. It seems like the prisoners would be shooting themselves in the foot by claiming innocence. I personally think it’s likely that there’s more innocent prisoners admitting guilt for the sake of the parole board than guilty people claiming innocence.

However, your point here is a real world, testable defense, and I like that. If this were true, we could confirm it scientifically with further testing.

——————————————

I think your reaction to the statistics at the top is an emotional one, so lets try looking at this in a hypothetical, less emotional context.

Let’s say you’ve got a multi-billion dollar, international company that sells nothing but products that prevent cancer. Most people in the world believe they work. The scientists that tested the products all believe they work, and they have a number of chemical and logical formulas to back up their assumptions.

But then, once deployed into the real world, a few people start doing statistical analysis of the people using these products and finds that on average, they are actually more likely to gain cancer, not less, at least from a statistical perspective.

The company would then make defenses. “The test group wasn’t large enough”, “the analysts were biased”, “those people were all living under power lines”, “they weren’t using the products properly.” They’d have explanations for these statistics, and many of them would be convincing. However, neither the company nor its loyal customers are able to provide any other statistics to counter the originals, nor can they produce any solid evidence that their explanations are correct.

Now, would it be ethical at this point to simply write off these statistical findings as irrelevant and rely on the data that came from the labs or the company’s advertising, or our inherent belief that these products work?

No. These are people’s lives we’re talking about here. If there’s any evidence that these products don’t do what they claim to, we have a moral obligation to explore more deeply, to do everything we can to produce real world, confirmable evidence, and to really address the issue, rather than just attacking people who bring it up and sweeping it under the rug.



Here are a few more blog posts about my theory that religion promotes crime:

New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour
Religion vs Methamphetamines
Masturbation, Homosexuality, and Christian Impostors
Atheists Don't Believe in Love?
Response to 22 Ways
Even More Atheist-Theist Debate
More Atheist-Theist Debate
Jeffrey Dahmer Interview Segment
Crime is not Logical
About My Page, 22 Ways

Response to 22 Ways

I received a few comments the other day on my page 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime and I’d like to respond to some of this person’s points. I added the numbers to his paragraphs to more easily reference them in my response.

1) Do you know how cliche this is?

2) Your use of statistics is ridiculous. If a law is controlled by antagonists of religion then many practitioners of religion will be in prison and many who are opposed to religion (atheists) will be free.

3) Your first point shows your argument is weak by the fact that you do not accurately represent your opponent’s viewpoint. It is a straw man you are attacking, not an actual practice. Therefore, your point is empty.

4) The second point shows similar weaknesses in your argument, though you are starting to espouse your worldview at this point. We see that you are a materialist, which in itself is untenable. You must turn off your compassion switch for others to redefine such abstractions and invisibles as Love in materialist terms of chemicals and neurons firing.

5) The third point is a very good point, indeed! There are many, not only religious adherents, who believe this. Atheists have been just as guilty. Consider the Socialist Communist movements that led up to Soviet Communism. Lenin had the same feelings about a grand scheme, related to the flow of inevitable events of the universe. In his case, time proved him right, though temporarily so.

6) In point number four you return to that weakness again. You obviously have not stepped inside a church and listened to your opponent since about the 1960′s have you?

7) Point 5 is more futility based on your straw man. It also reveals your narrow definition of logic. To have prioritized dependencies on the origins of morally causal relationships does not exclude logic, but deepens it to a realistic model of the world. So having a view of a reward and a punishment from a higher being than us actually emulates the society we have built anyway. The metaphorical modeling, whether religion models our society or society models our religion, it works. What doesn’t work is the pressure put on a majority of people when the system they live in tries to ignore their practices as a legitimate expression of life. It always erupts into social upheaval.

8 ) I doubt you will approve my comment and it is probably too long to post. So this is likely a waste of time. Likewise, my experience with atheists and antagonists of religion is that they are too narrow minded to allow opposing views. It is fear that drives them to do it.

9) What do you think?

And my response:

1) I think calling this page cliche is more of an attempt to discourage people from talking about these issues than it is a real rebuttal. Being cliche isn’t relevant to whether or not these theories are true. The image of a beer drinking football fan is cliche too, but that doesn’t mean football fans don’t drink beer.

For me, however, this isn’t cliche. It’s not like I copied my theories from anywhere. I wrote this page long before I had ever read any atheist blogs, articles or books.

I was in my early twenties before I realized these statistics existed. I had always assumed prisons were full of mostly atheists, since I had always been told that religion makes you a better person. It never occurred to me that people would be so irresponsible as to claim something prevents crime without statistical or at the very least, anecdotal evidence.

2) So basically you’re saying that our laws in America are almost entirely controlled by atheists–despite the fact that the majority of the population is Christian–and that we atheists are so biased and hateful toward theists that we can somehow get away with discriminating against them to absurd levels? What about all the judges and police who are Christians? They’re incriminating the same ratios of people. You’re not going to convince me of anything by throwing out a massive, unconfirmed conspiracy theory.

3) So if I understand you, you’re saying that religions don’t teach the idea that hell is where ‘evil’ people or people of the wrong religion go to suffer? People talk about hell all the time. I see signs in front of churches threatening it. I’ve had friends tell me I was going to burn there because of my beliefs. It sounds like your church might not teach this kind of thing, as I know many do not, and I’m glad. I respect that. I’m not attacking those churches in that particular point. I’m not claiming these 22 points apply in an absolute manner to all religions, but you can’t deny that many churches do teach this concept of hell and the religious community as a whole doesn’t do much to try to convince them to stop.

4) Now, with this, I think you took issue with the fact that I mentioned neurons firing in the brain. Being aware that emotions exist as chemicals and electrical impulses in the brain does absolutely nothing to dampen those emotions. If anything it heightens human emotions and the magic of our existence because you realize it’s all born out of millions of years of the beautiful symphony that is evolution, and that it’s so fragile that we can’t afford to take it for granted. I have too much passion and compassion to be willing to dumb down this massive, mind-bogglingly amazing system of our lives, to something as simple as, “This awesome guy up in heaven made it.”

5) I don’t see how a real atheist could get caught up in any kind of great plan, unless it was something admittedly man made like a government plan. Anything “related to the flow of inevitable events of the universe” is not an atheistic belief. Thats one of the things we specifically don’t believe in is “inevitable events of the universe”, at least when it comes to human issues. It’s true that a few atheists have gotten involved in some nasty government related things, but the atheism was not a motivating factor. Just because a few people have done something wrong doesn’t excuse churches from promoting that same wrongdoing, particularly when they are claiming that they prevent said wrongdoing.

6) Again, I’m not talking about all churches here. Many don’t promote the concept of hell, and again, I respect that and this point is not directed at them. However, it’s very common to hear from people of many different religions that hell is necessary for a moral society.

7) So I’m not sure if I follow what you’re saying in this one. In paragraph 3 and 6 of your comments, you seem to be saying that I’m ignorant for thinking that religions teach that hell is a place of punishment for bad people. Then here in #7 you refer to that ignorance again, but then you tell me that a punishment in the afterlife works very well to keep society in order. You’re promoting the very thing you claim religions do not promote… unless I completely misunderstood what you were saying in 3 and 6.

So you’re saying here that the “metaphorical modeling” of heaven and hell, “works”. Unfortunately, I think the statistics at the top of the page kind of fly in the face of that statement. Admittedly, those statistics could be biased, confused, or otherwise incorrect, but you’ve offered no examples, statistics, or even anecdotal evidence to support your assertion that a religious system works. All you seem to be going on is the fact that you believe it intensely and that many others do too. Show me some real-world evidence. The proof is in the pudding.

Then your final comment in this paragraph also caught me: “…the system they live in tries to ignore their practices as a legitimate expression of life…” This reminds me very much of all the times I’ve seen atheists called abominations and the times I’ve been told I would burn in hell for what I believe.

8 ) Of course I approved your post, and thankfully the hamsters on the wheels powering the GoDaddy servers were not too tired that day and the script did not crash when you tried to post. And no, this was not a waste of time. I assure you that I’m very flattered you took so much time and effort in your response, and I do appreciate it.

I’ll also say that it’s not fear that drives me to do all this, but compassion for all the people I’ve known, including myself, who were hurt or even killed by religion. If I was afraid of something, I’d keep my mouth shut and just go with the flow.

9) I think you’re a very intelligent person and I’ve enjoyed this debate session (perhaps another will be coming tomorrow regarding another of your comments.) I think you could greatly benefit from exploring skepticism or agnosticism, perhaps even atheism, on a personal level. Get to know what it actually feels like to be one of us, in the same way that I took a couple years in my early twenties to vehemently believe in God and explore that part of me.

 



Here are a few more blog posts about my theory that religion promotes crime:

New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour
Religion vs Methamphetamines
Masturbation, Homosexuality, and Christian Impostors
Atheists Don't Believe in Love?
Religious Criminals are Liars?
Even More Atheist-Theist Debate
More Atheist-Theist Debate
Jeffrey Dahmer Interview Segment
Crime is not Logical
About My Page, 22 Ways

The Night I Became a Writer

My life magically changed overnight at the end of the first semester of sophomore year of high-school, and the source was tremendously unexpected at the time.

My English teacher required us to read one thousand pages of books per semester. We could read anything, but to get our credit we had to sit down one-on-one to prove we’d read the book. I could have cheated, but he played it up like he was a master lie-detector and I bought it. I put it off until the last two weeks of the semester, and finally it came crunch time, and I knew there was no way for me to pass the class unless I started doing some serious reading.

I started with a book by David Eddings called The Ruby Knight, not realizing that it was the second book in the series and I needed the first to understand what was going on. I forced myself to read for four to six hours each night, and for the first night it was hell, but the second night, as I figured out what was going on in the story, I actually started to enjoy it. When I finally finished it, I remember thinking to myself “Damn! That was a really good book.”

So I was optimistic when I picked up the piece of literature that would change my life forever: a book called The Kingdoms of the Wall, by Robert Silverberg, a truly classic science fiction writer who I’d never heard of before. It didn’t get very good reviews from the critics, but somehow the story and characters caught me like magic. It’s a story of a group of forty primitive people from a shapeshifting race, who climb a massive mountain that encompasses half a continent because they believe their gods live at the top. If you ever plan on reading this, I suggest skipping the rest of this section because I’m going to give away some secrets. (I highly recommend Robert Silverberg, but if you want to read something of his, read A Time of Changes, which was more highly regarded by critics.) I read the first one hundred pages of The Kingdoms of the Wall the first night, and wasn’t too impressed. It didn’t seem like this book would come close to the David Eddings I’d just finished.

However, the second night, once they started moving up the mountain, and the months started passing in the story, I became more and more involved. I dreamt about it at night. I felt the character’s presence during school, and on the third night I couldn’t wait to get home and continue the story. I was one of them, sleeping under the stars, trying to get along with my companions, trying to agree, trying to avoid danger, and fighting each day to reach the top of the mountain. I remember having only three CD’s in my player while I read this book, which I played on random again and again, not wishing to change them because it would take time away from the story: Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy, Nine Inch Nail’s Pretty Hate Machine and Genesis’ We Can’t Dance. These albums all still bring me back to the world of Kosa Saag. I finished the book on the fourth night, about 11 PM, exhausted from reading for four hours straight every night for a week, and I recall coming to the climax with my hands shaking, to have my heart torn when discovering what truly lay at the top of the mountain. The CD player chose Fading Lights, off We Can’t Dance to close out the last few pages, as the theme of the novel sunk into my psyche.

“It will be our task to build wagons to carry us between villages, and then sky-wagons, and then star-wagons that will take us into the heavens; and then we will meet the gods again. But this time it will be as equals.” The theme was that no matter how hard anyone tries, they cannot find God. They can think they’ve found Him, but they can never truly find God. Instead of putting our faith in Gods, we humans must put faith in ourselves and use our two hands and our brains and muscle to make the universe a better place, and to accomplish our goals.

So as I got up to take a shower and go to bed, I found my knees weak, and I was barely able to hold back tears. Once in the shower, I found myself in a shocked daze, amazed at the disappointment of it all. “They gave their whole lives,” I said to myself. “They gave their lives, they lost their comrades, they tortured themselves… all for what…”

And I just had to stop, and hold myself up with a hand, and tell myself, “It’s just a book. They’re not real. None of those people are real. It’s just words on a page.” I repeated that to myself over and over. I knew it to be true, but I just couldn’t quite make myself beleive it. “Just words on a page. Little markings of black ink. That’s all it is, little black ink markings on a tree that’s been processed into sheets.”

And I stopped and thought to myself, Hey, I can make little black markings on paper too…

I knew in that moment that I wanted to be a science fiction writer and a writer in general.

 

My 6th-8th grade Hairstyle

Here’s another true story that actually happened to me.

In sixth grade I entered a period where I cared about my hair. I styled it every morning into the silly style that I’m sure you’ve seen from the sixties, with the part on the left and the right side combed up to form a wall at the front of the head. My hair was hard, and for some reason, after the gel dried, my hair felt wonderful to the touch, and I’d sit around and just feel my hair. As a result, people thought I was obsessed with it, and insisted that I was constantly checking it to make sure it wasn’t messed up, when in truth it wasn’t so much about what it looked like, I just liked to feel it.

My hair quickly became a big topic around school, and every day people would ask me about it, make fun of me and try to mess it up. A few people, however, supposedly liked it. When I entered seventh grade, I started thinking twice about styling it every day, so I made a deal with myself and the rest of the school. I decided that if a single day went by where no one at school mentioned or purposefully messed up my hair, I would simply quit the hairstyle. (I got the idea from an episode of Head of the Class.) To my dismay, my hair was such a topic, that at least one person would mention it each and every day. I paid close attention, and every day someone would say something to me, usually within the first half hour of school. I went the entire seventh grade putting gel in my hair every day, and every single day had comments about it.

So in eighth grade, I figured I’d made myself a deal and I couldn’t go back on it, so I kept styling my hair and people kept discussing it daily. I started telling people about my deal, and the reaction was always the same: “How do you expect me to go an entire day without talking about your hair?”

But one day, it finally did happen. An entire day without a single mention of my hair, and I felt a massive sense of relief. So after that I just let my hair fro out and stopped touching it. I continued paying attention, though, and every day for the rest of the year people asked me about it, and the same people who’d make fun of me and tell me I was making a fool out of myself for styling my hair, were now asking me to go back to the old hairstyle.

It always amazed me that people who’d been on the planet for thirteen years, being the future of America and the world, while there’s nuclear weapons and threats of war, and all sorts of issues that effect the rest of the human race, we would have nothing better to talk about than Kalin’s hair.