Defending Escapism

I’ve posted on this topic in the past, on my old blog. My feelings haven’t changed.

Escapism is often decried as immature or irresponsible. As if to say someone locked in a basement filled with spiders, frantically trying to find another way out, is somehow guilty of sloth.

Escapism is a perfectly rational response to a world filled with evil. Engage and defeat evil if you can, of course. But if you cannot, escape is a valid second option.

The human desire to escape to a better world could be seen as evidence that we are not meant to be here. That we are meant for heaven. As the good book says, our hearts know no rest until they rest in Thee.

This is not to say we should not work for a better world. Or at least that we should work to help our own neighbors where they are. But there’s only so much we can do. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. And we are so tired.

In the meantime, we have Star Wars and fantasy and superheroes to sate our yearning for a better world.

Let no one mock our escapist fantasies, our dreams of a better tomorrow. Come my friends, tis not to late to seek a better world!

Response to a Christian Article

Here we go again. Time for everyone’s favorite type of post: The type that responds to a different post on a separate blog. (Yay!)

I have a friend who loves posting Catholic or Christian blog entries on Facebook, usually having to do with relationships. So now, here I am. Responding to one.

Just like last time, I’ll wait for you to review the original before proceeding.

We good? Excellent.

As a young man with autism, I’ve often felt excluded, left out, isolated, and alone. Sometimes those feelings were justified. Other times they were only symptoms of underlying anxiety and insecurity. It’s tempting to think a relationship might fix that. For years, I thought that it might. Of course, I know it won’t. It can’t. It’s not fair to expect a mortal relationship to affect my neurological condition. Even God hasn’t fixed that.

Jugement_dernier
Not yet, anyway…

In the meantime, I pray for healing and hope that one day I’ll feel comfortable enough in my own skin to be able to keep my anxiety to a manageable level. It’s not going away. Jesus isn’t going to cure my anxiety or my autism. It’d require a complete reformatting and rewiring of my brain, and I think He’s honestly busy with other stuff.

I’ve never been in a relationship. Barely even been kissed. That doesn’t bother me. Life isn’t a competition or a race, no matter how many cultural elements try to convince me otherwise. I think having a relationship might be a good experience. It seems like a fundamental part of the human condition. But if it doesn’t happen, I’ll still be ok. I guess the point I’m making is that I agree with this article, and I also understand how easy it is to fall into the “you complete me” trap. If only someone else could solve all our problems. The best God does is give us the strength to solve things ourselves, or at least work on them.

Still, being single since the days I knew what “single” even meant can be difficult. Especially during those three weeks in winter. You know the ones. We’re in them now. The weeks between Jan. 2 and Feb. 21. Those are the gloomiest, saddest, most gut-wrenching weeks of the year. I’d like to blame Valentine’s Day, but I honestly can’t. I think if I lived in Florida or the Caribbean, I wouldn’t mind those weeks as much. But I live in Georgia, where the rains and the wind keep streaming down from the heavens, and the sun is covered in a veil of gray for days and days. Being single can be tough. Ah, well. I’m a Jedi, like my father before me. Jedi are born tough.

Someday I’ll meet somebody and we’ll get married and have lots of adventures. Or maybe I won’t. I just hope I can get to a place where I can be happy with either outcome. At least for those three weeks in winter when my singleness irks me the most.

Torture is Evil.

How is this a discussion we are having in 2014 in the United States of America?

Torture is evil.

This entire debate is stupid, and we’re stupid for having it.

Torture is evil.

I don’t care if you think it works.

I don’t care if you think they deserve it.

Torture is evil.

If you think torture is good, please let me know who you are so I can never talk to you again. Cuz you’re clearly a Nazi. Or a communist. Or a Communazi. This is no longer a debate. This is a matter of truth.

“But William, what abo–”

Let me stop you right there. There is no “what about.” Torture is unjustifiable. Even against our worst enemies. Especially against our worst enemies.

Torture is evil, and I am ashamed of some of my countrymen for even considering its merits.

So…Non-Fiction?

Wow! Looks like you guys have really been enjoying my more politically-oriented, social commentary posts. Thanks for all the follows and likes the last few weeks.

While so far I worry Bubblegum-Man hasn’t been well-received, my hopes is that more folks will jump on the Sticky Bus as new story arcs/issues are published!

Don’t worry. We should have new Bubblegum-Man up around Christmastime. Otherwise, check back in March.

What? I’m in grad school! I’m not a machine…

Arguments I’m Tired of Having Answered Here in One Sentence Each

There are a lot of stupid people out there. By which I mean there are a lot of people out there who disagree with me on all sorts of topics. Ordinarily, I’m more than happy to argue with/punch these people, but there are certain arguments I just refuse to have anymore. Don’t worry. There aren’t many, and I’ll present and answer each below with one sentence each. Enjoy (or cringe, as the case may be).

1. Our college has African American Studies and Latino Studies and Feminist Studies, so why can’t we have Old White People Studies?

You already do, and it’s called Every Other Course You Will Take At University.

2. 9/11 was an inside job!

Yes it was, but only if by “an inside job” you mean “plotted by Al-Qaeda insiders.”

3. Christmas is under attack!

Holy Mother Church doesn’t give a flying fart about Christmas trees, you ignorant fear-monger.

4. Most welfare recipients are cheating the system.

OMG, one guy on welfare got to eat lobster and NOTHING ELSE FOR A WEEK BECAUSE FOOD STAMPS AREN’T ALL-ACCESS BUFFET CARDS.

5. Political Correctness is out of control!

Because you’re not allowed to say the N-word without fear of rebuke?

6. OMG, we should totes  arrest a guy for quoting Winston Churchill!

If we’re going to start condemning historical figures for off-color comments, we’ll have to condemn everyone born before 1980, as my generation was the first to grow up learning from birth that the N-word is actually incredibly offensive.

7. Muslims are taking over!

I guess you’re right, if by “taking over” you mean “immigrating to European nations in search of a better way of life and then proceed to have more babies than their native-born neighbors because lots of liberals are too stupid to realize pregnancy isn’t a damn disease,” but go ahead and have more babies if it makes you feel any better.

8. The problem with all these illegals is that they steal jobs from Americans, won’t learn English, and force us to learn Spanish!

Immigration without assimilation leads to the horror of St. Patrick’s Day parades and Godfather sequels. 

9. Women need to practice modesty because men are too stupid to control themselves and might rape them or otherwise be led into sin.

And believe it or not, I’m actually a conservative. And it’s precisely because I’m a conservative that I find the above arguments distasteful. While today’s political climate would require me to explain the previous statement, I refuse to. It’s not my fault no one’s read Plato, Pascal, or Kierkegaard for the past century.

Let me instead close by suggesting that humility, mercy, and compassion are not polite suggestions but actual virtues we, as Christians, are expected to practice. If you’re not Christian, you may have even heard that before.

Different People Are Different…And Also People

Because I have no intention of watching "Requiem for a Dream," loved "Black Swan," and may very well see "Noah" when it moves to TBS.
Because I have no intention of watching “Requiem for a Dream,” loved “Black Swan,” and may very well see “Noah” when it debuts on TBS.

LGBTQ (RSTUVWXYZ, seriously guys, get a better acronym) causes have been in the news a lot recently. And by news, I of course mean the two or three online mags I check out from time to time.

But aside from the gay marriage issue, which I’ve spoken about before, I’d like to talk today about the transgender community, a community which — as a straight, white, Christian man — I am in no way qualified to  talk about.

You might be surprised to hear this from someone who has no problem with the government legalizing homosexual marriage and no problem with mosques being built in or around NYC, but I’m actually fairly conservative.

As a practicing Catholic, I subscribe to a binary sex system, which dictates that there are two sexes built for each other. I can’t help but believe that a person so uncomfortable in their own flesh as to necessitate identifying entirely with the opposite sex is by definition mentally-imbalanced.

Of course, that’s only my opinion. I’ve only taken one college-level psychology class, and it was an audited course, which means I’ve taken zero college-level psychology classes. 

There’s a bit of a stigma attached to mental disease/disorder. As an autistic person, I can assure you there is nothing “wrong” or “broken” about anyone with mental illness. Bipolar disorder, ADD, OCD, and all the other anxiety-causing, hallucination-inducing what-have-you’s are no less shameful than the common cold or any physical handicap.

Likewise, there’s nothing to “cure” when it comes to certain forms of mental illness. Autism, Down Syndrome, and even bipolar disorder are not diseases in the sense that the only “cure” would be a complete rewiring and rebuilding of the patient’s brain.

If you “cured” me of my autism, I’d no longer be recognizable as “me.” That’s what happens when you mess too much with the brain. A scary thought, especially for folks like myself who believe in the existence of Spirit and the immaterial, immortal nature of the human soul.

That said, treatment is available and highly-desirable for most forms of mental illness. Some of us can’t function in any real sense without our medicine, and that’s ok. No one would be surprised that a paraplegic requires a wheelchair. No one should be shocked to discover that a man with paranoid schizophrenia requires a daily dose to keep the hallucinations down to a bare minimum.

But none of that really applies to transgender folks.

With what little research I’ve done into trans-related issues, I’ve discovered that the only reliable treatment for transgender folk is for them to go ahead and be the sex/gender they identify as being. Therapeutic attempts at helping them accept their birth-sex have met with mixed results, to say the least.

Of course, that’s assuming therapy is even an option. That’s assuming the person in question hasn’t already faced bullying on par with the Spanish Inquisition.

So what are we “normals” to do? How should we treat those who are different?

The answer should be obvious. 

The idea of loving one’s neighbor is not a new one, although it may be too difficult for some of us to conceive of loving someone far different from ourselves. Perhaps it would be easier for us to start with politeness.

First: What NOT To Do

1. Don’t ask someone about the condition of their genitals. Not a stranger, not someone you just met, not even your friends. Seriously, it’s rude.

2. Don’t beat someone to death because they had a penis when you thought they’d have a vagina. Beating people to death is wrong. Seriously, I shouldn’t have to tell you this. It’s wrong to rape. It’s wrong to murder. How do you not know this already? Are you from the moon?

3. Don’t stare at odd-looking folks. Every so often, I see certain folks on the train or at a grocery store. At first glance, I can’t tell if these folks are women dressed as men, transgender folks, men dressed as women, or some other category I can’t be bothered to look up at the moment because I got other stuff to do today, and I’m running behind as it is. What do I do when faced with these people?

I smile and continue about my day. I don’t stare. I don’t ask them personal questions. I treat them like everyone else I happen to run into, with love and respect. This is not that difficult. It’s what your mother taught you. It’s what the Church teaches. This should not be new. It is not a new concept.

What To Do

Here’s a list of ways to interact with transgender folks, other members of the LGBTQ community, members of minority ethnic groups, people with different hair color or skin tone or eye color than you, people with different religious affiliations, and people who hate everything.

1. Smile.

2. Nod.

3. Interact as you would with anyone else.

Seriously, that’s all. Show a basic level of human empathy and politeness to others. If a Different Person asks you for the time, pull out your watch or phone or alarm clock and tell them what time it is. If a Different Person asks you for a haircut, give them one and charge them the right rate. Unless you’re not a hair-stylist or barber, in which case, you are free to refuse service.

Seriously, why would you ask me for a haircut? I don’t even own one of those squeaky barbershop chairs.

Update: My stance on the gay marriage issue has since changed, slightly. While as a Christian, I cannot vote for it, as an American, I will not vote against it. The government has no right to forbid the marriage of two consenting adults. I call shenanigans on that. Shenanigans, all around.

Shenanigans.

IHST – On the Name of the Lord

IHST 11-23-13

Remember when we did these every week?

Ah.

Those were the days.

Speaking of awesome things, my book is done…er…again! Had some editing to do these last few weeks, and now I’m really feeling my book is ready to go out there. Granted, that’s what I said last time…Ah well.

Anyway, if any of you would like a copy, let me know. From now until Christmas, I’m emailing electronic copies to my friends and followers. Let me know if you’d like a peak. And please, let me know what you think.