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“If I could do anything right now… I would probably kiss you.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, I think. But I have no guts, so I don’t think it’s going to happen. What would you do?”
“I think I would go to Thailand.”
“That’s not the right answer!”
Then…I think I would kiss you back.”

It starts maybe with you noticing her in a class or a crowd. You don’t know why but she stands out. From that point she is everywhere, and you don’t have trouble staring at her for minutes at a time. Her presence, it consumes you, and you wonder if maybe she notices you at all. You decide she doesn’t, but still secretly hope that she does. Then you start making eye contact with her, and it doesn’t feel weird at all, just good. She makes your day when you see her, and you don’t even know her name. Nothing and everything at the same time is contained within her eyes, and you can’t stop digging. You forget yourself in her every time she appears. Maybe, you meet. And that’s when it begins, like a landslide following a long spring rain.

From there it flows. It’s a very concrete feeling, opening yourself up to someone you don’t really know and being liked. In most cases you won’t even dream of risking yourself in such a manner. But sometimes, the time and person are right and everything becomes very clear. There are things you do and things you don’t, and the only thing you don’t do is let go. Even though there is no real telling how well things will turn out in a week or a month, her smile tells you that it doesn’t matter in the least. A cuddle and a kiss on the forehead will keep you going for days, but it never lasts that long. The constant urge to see each other wins out, and every day there is hastily allotted time, the rest of the day partitioned awkwardly around it. It’s the only slot that matters. Everything else is optional. It can be delayed, cancelled, it’s just not as important anymore. School, friends, every aspect of your life that is not THIS life comes second.

And that’s ok. In fact, that’s absolutely beautiful.

There will be time to make up for it. No problems that can’t be fixed or eventually avoided altogether. The only problem that is an issue is the one you don’t consider. Everything is perfect up to that one point. This change can come sooner or later depending on how observant of a person you are. She notices him, but do you? And if you do, are you smart enough to avoid the problem completely? While I’m not sure you can really avoid it, you can at least try. I didn’t. I worried, but in general didn’t do anything soon enough to have an effect. But then I couldn’t compete. He always has things that you don’t have. Plus, it’s weird. And you can’t do much about that, because it’s not you, it’s her. He is on both of your minds, but for different reasons. You can’t really do anything but try to maximize the time you have. The moment this is allowed to begin is the moment everything begins its end. It is the moment that defines this life as a memory.

Once this happens, usually some time you’re not there, the real descent beings. ‘This’ can be almost anything. All it needs is to match a couple of simple criteria: First, it has to be something that you can’t do. Also, it needs to be a little exorbitant, or at least seem that way to her. Third, of course, it needs to be centered at least partly on her. Once this thing happens, whatever it may be, the relationship is complete. She will decide that she needs to make a decision. Things will be more “weird.” You will try to do amazing things, things that used to make her smile, but they won’t anymore, or at least enough. The difference between how it was before this event and how it is afterwards is very easy to represent. Before, you have the controlling share in the relationship. You are the important party, the one that really matters. Afterwards, you only have a semblance of that. He calls the shots and she’s making a decision about how to deal with you instead of him.

Before, she would hang out with you over everything, but now that’s no longer the case. You will be left with many hours and nothing to do but think about how it was before. Now you’re deep into the descent. You love her, but this progression has turned that love into something horrible, because it seems very apparent to you that your love isn’t enough; and you don’t have something that she requires. Not only do you not have it, you don’t even know what it is, so you can’t change. Because you would change. You would do anything required, just to take things back to where they were. Additionally, he does have it. He has it and her, and you’re in the background. A nuisance, because whenever you’re around she doesn’t feel right. She doesn’t want to kiss or hold you any longer, but you still can’t do anything but think about the smell of her hair. She doesn’t touch him, but that’s only because you exist. You’re the problem now.

From this point it’s only a matter of time. A matter of time before she actually makers her decision. A matter of time before she kisses him. A matter of time before you don’t get called back. A matter of time before she tells you. Then, it’s only a matter of time before you accept it. This is the hardest part. You’ll dream her smiles for many nights, but there’s no point. She'll never smile for you again.

Goodbye Emily, I will love you for many days to come.

but never give up hope
everything can change in an instant
and what you have may be stronger than you think
but probably not

I hope this reality TV thing doesn't end too soon. In a way, it serves a useful purpose. Through the artificially contrived set ups we have a vehicle to eliminate the variables in our philosophical discussions about the meaning of life, our purpose in life, and our systems of morality. Good. We also have a way to see our implicit values at work by the nature of the variables that are removed. Also good. And I have a few ideas for shows that naturally cannot be produced if reality TV loses its market share. And that wouldn't be good.

Listen, this first one is good.

I want to call it "Who Wants to Punch a Bastard in the Stomach?" The majority of the hour is going to be video clips and personal testimonial from all the people that the particular Bastard has hurt in the past. Now, this can't be your ordinary garden variety of Bastard. This has to be a Bastard that has consistently made life Hell for as many people as he/she ever met. An arbitrary rule for candidacy might be that twelve people have to recommend that person. Some sort of adjudicator will have to look at the testimony and conclude, this is one Proper Bastard who needs a good wallop in the gut. One of the twelve will be chosen and trained by a professional boxer so that the one punch will be worth it. The climax will of course be the big punch, caught live on camera, and then all the testimony will be shown to the Bastard, who then has to agree to therapy.

But wait, I have more.

A good one for the Food Network might be called Cucina Povera, which means the poor kitchen, but implies that the poverty has inspired creativity. An unsuspecting competitor is visited in the home. No previous warning will be given beyond "don't go on vacation between elevendy something and the umpteenth of the month." The person has to make a five course meal in two hours using only the things he or she has in the fridge and the cupboards at that moment. Let's see what kind of miracles a bookkeeper from Kansas can pull off with grape jam, ketchup packets and leftover fish. The prize should be a remodeled kitchen. That's one I think I could win.

Here's one I just thought of today. Haven't had time to iron out the bugs.

It's called The Customer Service Rep. There are people out there who think that never being satisfied with anything makes them seem powerful and high class. Those are the people who need a visit from The Customer Service Rep. This person reasonably and patiently explains to Sir and Madam Picayune that the tiny scratch on the side of (insert recently installed consumer good here) does not warrant a 25% discount. Then the customer service rep slowly, carefully and reasonably explains exactly how their petty attempt to save a little money and throw their weight around has made the lives of several other people very unhappy. The complainer then is handed several sheets of good quality writing paper and a nice pen and is carefully watched until all the apology notes are written. Thus we have both righted a wrong and taught people what class really is. The thing I haven't worked out is, who wins the prizes and what those should be.

And here I sit, wondering why no producers call me. I've got more great ideas where those came from and an answering machine, and I do return messages.

Heretics: a rant

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Matthew 7:21-23.

The unprecedented display of hypocrisy surrounding the whole Theresa Schiavo thing has put me in the mood for polemic. I want to denounce the heretics. I don't want to burn them at the stake, just denounce them. You can kill a heretic but you can't kill a heresy. It doesn't help to get government involved, nor the Church. Codifying dogma in the form of creeds, confessions, canons doesn't work either. Nor does indoctrinating children by making them memorize dogma. History shows none of that works, so today we have tolerance and the separation of Church and State. The only thing that works is education in the true sense (for Christians: the Holy Spirit) and that just can't be legislated or mass-marketed.

Still, I'm for tolerance, but I'm against appeasement. Tolerance means respecting their right to hold their own view. Appeasement means standing back and letting them impose their views on others. Take Creationism, for example. If people want to hold such views, fine. If they want to teach them to their own children in their own schools, fine. If they want to teach them to my children in public schools, then I say "No". If they want me to "respect" their views by acknowledging that they may be "as valid" as real science, they can forget about it. I don't oppose Creationism because it's not scientific (though of course it isn't). I oppose Creationism on religious grounds. Confusing the Bible with revelation, a mere book with the Holy Spirit, is "idolatry": a heresy. Pretending that the Bible is a magic book that will give you the Secrets of the Universe, that's "sorcery", another heresy.

There's a difference between heresy and just being "wrong". A heresy is proclaimed by a heretic as the Word of God. Heresy deludes or repulses other people; it keeps others from knowing the Truth, by masquerading as the Truth. (As Jesus would have said, were he an Englishman in the times of James: "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." Matthew 23:13).

That having been said, here is my (preliminary) list of modern heretics, and by way of contrast, people who are just "wrong".

Heretics:

  • Creationists: We weren't there when God created the world, the behemoth, or the the leviathan. Christians don't presume to know God's whole Plan, let alone the details of his methods. Pretending that the Bible reveals secrets, like the origin of species, is the worst kind of Gnosticism or sorcery: it's not a magic talisman, it's just a book. (I also include in this category people who use the word "prophecy" with respect to current events).
  • Legalists: anyone who argues from the Bible to justify slavery, poverty, the death penalty, war, or any kind of institutional persecution, injustice, or tyranny. Includes:
  • The self-styled "Saved": People who think they are among "the elect", or think they can tell who is "saved", misunderstand God's Judgment. (I'm tempted to say they have a big surprise coming for them, but I'd just be joking.) When Jesus denounced "sin" he wasn't just talking about "those people", he was talking about you. Includes:
    • anyone who calls themselves "saved", or refers to others as "unsaved"
    • people who talk about being "born again" as if it were a past event, over and done with, rather than a continual struggle
    • anyone who puts a fish on their car, or otherwise tries to indicate that they are one of the Elect
  • People I disagree with, but arguably aren't "heretics"

    • the Roman Catholic Church (re: priests, sex and sexuality)
    • Calvinists (re: predestination, hell)
    • people who insist abortion should be illegal
    • people who insist that public, corporate religious expressions should be legal
    • people who will not accept Universalism (that everyone is "saved" and no one is going to Hell) at least as a working hypothesis for dealing with their fellow man, if not the ultimate truth (people who won't leave Judgment to God)

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