Jesus and Socrates

During and after the period of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion I imagine it was pretty dangerous to be a Christian. There were a lot of political and religious leaders that wanted to maintain power. The ideas of Christianity didn’t fit the established power’s agenda.

I’ve always considered Jesus Christ as a revolutionary. Anyone who dies for the cause of humanity is of note in my book. The risks early Christians were willing to take to practice their faith is pretty amazing.

Christian apologists often point to Jesus and the Apostle’s willingness to die for their faith as evidence of Jesus’s divinity and the legitimacy of Christianity. I don’t buy into that idea.

For me, Jesus and his follower’s sacrifices doesn’t prove the legitimacy of Christianity, but proves that disrupting established power structure can be deadly. This has been true at every point in history.

Take the the Greek Philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.  Aristotle was was forced to flee his home and Socrates was tried and eventually put to death.

I’m not sure how Christian apologists ignore that parallel.

I feel like trying to make Jesus’s life supernatural in nature is a disservice. What we know about Jesus Christ is interesting and impressive enough. Why do we need the supernatural?

An Ideal Schedule

Sometimes I day-dream about the ideal life, but I never really consider what my day would look like if I could design it from scratch.

Would it look much different from what I’m already doing? How practical is implementing an ideal day? Are there things I could be doing that I’m not doing? Why not?

This is a first attempt to take the theoretical and make it functional.

6:30 a.m. – I wake up between 6:30 – 7:00 each morning.

7:00 a.m. – I walk to the local coffee shop to have coffee with Holden. We chat about life, politics, philosophy, business, and family.

9:00 a.m. – Work for two hours. Either at the coffee shop or in my office.

11:00 a.m. – Break. Read or take a walk.

11:30 a.m. – I spend some time with my wife and daughter. We enjoy lunch.

1:00 p.m. – I spend a couple of hours hiking. I stop whenever I feel like it to write or do some work. Alternatively, I may work from my office or have business meetings.

3:30 p.m. – I return home to spend time with family and do housework.

5:00 p.m. – Exercise.

6:00 p.m. – Shower. Prepare clothes for tomorrow.

6:30 p.m. – Prepare dinner with my wife and daughter.

8:30 p.m. – Put daughter down for bed.

9:30 p.m. – Spend time with wife.

10:30 p.m. – Bed.

Other Nuances

5:00 p.m., Once a Week – Instead of exercise some sort of book club or meeting of minds with a group of friends.

11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Once a Week – Lunch with a business associate or old friend.

9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., Saturdays – Farmers Market with wife and daughter.

9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., Sundays – Breakfast with wife and daughter. Followed by a nice walk.

8:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., Once a Month – Evening cocktails and conversation with friends and neighbors.

6:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m, Once a Month – Date night with my wife. Grandparents watch my daughter.

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Twice a Month – Invite my in-laws over for dinner.

At least once a year – A domestic vacation.

At least once a year – An international vacation/trip.

At least once a year – A physical challenge such as a multi-day hike, marathon, or adventure race.

Barriers to Obtaining This Schedule

My Current Career – My current work day requires my time from at least 8 a.m. to  6 p.m. each week day, including commute. However, that same job pays well and enables many other elements of my ideal schedule. It is also mentally stimulating and relatively rewarding.

Is it possible to find a more flexible and equally rewarding work situation or is this a trade-off I will have to accept?

Am I Being Creative Enough?

My “ideal” schedule isn’t very creative. It’s my current life with a little less work and more time with friends/family. Does that mean I’m not being creative enough?

What if I sold everything I lived in an RV? What if I organized some alternate living arrangement? What if I sold everything and started a small restaurant or coffee shop?

What possibilities are there to consider?

Chronically (un)Happy

Someone tweeted an article written by a psychiatrist about how bad people are feeling these days: http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/12/24/how-bad-are-things/

The article is worth a read a provides some interesting analysis into the amount of people who walk around unhappy all the time. Probably somewhere well above 50% of the population, by the author’s count.

His analysis is pretty compelling too.

For me, all things being equal, I think the tendency to over-complicate life and accumulate stuff is generally the reason many people are unhappy. At least that’s the case for me.

For example, my wife and I have at least fifteen coffee cups and over twenty wine glasses. I see all that accumulated glassware in my cabinets collecting dust and I wonder what the hell it’s doing there.

We received the wine glasses as a wedding gift. One year at a new-years-eve party one of the wine glasses was broken. My wife cried. I can’t remember using any at a party since. Why do we have them?

That’s just one tiny example, but when you multiply that little-bit of anxiety across the thousands mundane and seemingly insignificant elements of life – suddenly half the people on the planet are depressed. We become slaves to our own shit.

Throw in a little braggadocio via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and…

Foreign

Most of the people in my life are struggling. My brother-in-law is a post-college-graduate without full time work. He does delivery for a fast food chain.

My in-laws have one-hundred-thousand dollars in student loan debt. At age forty, they attended a local, but well respected private college – after both of their children had already graduated college – hoping to improve their lot in life. The college diploma is excellent wall art, but they’re still in the same jobs they’ve been in for two decades now.

My cousins are smart young men, without a trade. Both seems lost, but don’t know where to turn. One get’s high and the other lives with in a basement with his aunt and uncle.

My Mother and Father are in situations too depressing to write about here. My Grandmother owns a small business constantly fighting foreclosure.

Who knows what everyone else is doing…

It’s hard to say whose fault it is. The result of a broken education or political system? Poor decision making on the part of various individuals? Or something else all-together? Probably all of these and none of these.

For me, I wonder if we’ve forgotten what human beings require. Kind of like a domesticated tiger in a zoo. Our stripes are dull. Our skin sags and muscles underdeveloped. We see the world through a glazed plexi-glass window stained with the fingerprints of some distant observer.

Maybe we’ve built up this whole idea of satisfaction that’s an illusion. An idea of happiness built largely on false premises. Maybe it’s deeper. We’ve than happiness. Not a single emotion. We’ve built our whole universe on a figment. On a falsity. On haze.

Most of us don’t talk anymore. Not deeply, anyway. We are fake. We post pictures that are the best three seconds of our day and pretend like it’s our whole life. Leaving everyone feeling like this is what’s normal. When we’re all struggling. Disconnected. We don’t share that thing we used to. What was that thing? What am I missing? I know it’s there!

Sometimes I wonder if there’s some other way to live. I feel like I have to invent it – or reinvent it – or may just revive it. Is that even possible?

How is it that being human can feel so foreign?

 

 

Thankful

The weather in Georgia this week has been perfect. There’s just enough clouds to give the sky character and enough chill in the air to hint winter is approaching. There are still a few orange and red leaves on the trees and covering the ground as autumn comes to a close. It’s gorgeous.

Late November in North Georgia

Late November in North Georgia

This morning I decided to do a hike at sunrise. The trails around here get so busy and I wanted some isolation. Some time to recharge and to work off two days of Thanksgiving meals. I think everyone needs that from time to time. Times like these are the good ones.

The Authoritarian Boogeyman

There has been a lot of drama in the news lately calling any group with authority a bully – sometimes legitimate and sometimes not. Each story appears to be related to “anti-authoritarianism” and what I’ll term “safe-space-ism”. Whether it is against police officers, school administration, white people, straight people, or any other group with real or perceived social status.

I wonder to myself why these messages have been so appealing?

For starters I think there is a healthy mix of real and made-up injustices. A police officer shoots a young and unarmed kid, bad. Poor black people discriminated against, bad. A school administrator speaks his mind on an unpopular topic that offends people, also bad. Right? Or wait…

The media loves it because it sells and the demo (18-30 year olds) love it. So they bombard people with thousands of such stories all reported the same way. It becomes almost impossible to digest them. Impossible to separate the stories we should be mad about and the stories we should dismiss.

We want binary so we create an authoritarian boogeyman. It’s okay to attack the boogy-man, his ideas, and anyone who defends him. We don’t have to think anymore. We stop dissecting individual pieces of information or news and file it away into the boogeyman file. Suddenly, free speech and legitimate justice is filed away with racism and bigotry.

I’m sure you’ve seen the video of the girl from Yale yelling the administrator. Or the videos of black lives matter disrupting Bernie Sanders’ speech. More locally, my college aged brother-in-law is all in on the anti-authoritarian complex too. So why is this thought process so popular?

I think there is a sub-group that is vulnerable to the messaging. They are:

  • Highly educated,
  • Mostly Millennial,
  • Minority (female, non-white, homosexual, etc.),
    • The more minority the more likely to buy-in to this messaging,
  • Surrounded by homogeneous group of friends, and
  • Difficult to criticize without being labelled a bigot or racist.

Why is this message so popular with this group?

The Land of China

Since visiting China last August I haven’t had much to say about it. I still don’t. I heard Anthony Bourdain describe it as a country you can never know. I think that’s true. It’s changing too fast, has too much history, and social context I’ll never have the privilege of understanding.

Shanghai, China - 38

China was both what I expected and nothing as expected. There were times I couldn’t access Google and pornography was blocked while prostitutes crowded the streets around Western hotels. In the land of Communism I’ve never seen a place where luxury and materialism thrived more. Skyscrapers are built by the dozen by rich and well connected contractors. A tailored suit cost $75 in the fabric markets. The super rich rein while booming population keeps labor cheap.

But these are just facts about China. Things anyone in Shanghai for a week would notice. Less noticeable are the undertones of change that separate new and older generations. The generation of Mao watching the new generation of techno-youth connect with the rest of the world like never before. Both connect and disconnected like never before in history.

I have the feeling China doesn’t know itself – but maybe that’s not exclusive to China. Where it’s headed is still a question mark. Meanwhile, individually, everyone fights to get their piece of the pie. Even the monasteries (around Shanghai) are a money grab – converted to tourist attractions as much as  places of worship. Their piece of the pie.

China is a reflection of my own ignorance. A place I can visit, but I’ll never know.