Why Can’t We Build Heirloom Cars Again?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while.

Why can’t we have heirloom quality cars?

Cars with the same qualities as a Ghurka bag or Le Creuset cookware–things that are invested in specifically because they will last you a lifetime?

I know the reasons already. Cars are built much like motorcycle helmets are–all that engineering and technology is built into an advanced safety “egg” that’s a one-and-done proposition. Humpty Dumpty is usually totaled if your airbags go off now. I can’t find the link at the moment, but somewhere I read just how much more cars are declared a total loss now than they were even 10 or 20 years ago (a technological epoch in the automotive world).

If classic cars had airbags, sure they would have been safer. We also would probably have far fewer pre 70s era cars in existence as well.

I value human life more than a car (that’s not superfluous. That makes me different from other car people). It is amazing how much more safe, efficient, and powerfully cars have simultaneously become.

That has also made them more complicated. And more expensive to work on. Meaning–it’s less likely that we will be able to keep cars as long as we used to. If your electronics go out in a 10 year old car with adaptive cruise, adjustable suspension, and park assist–well, it will probably cost more to fix than it is worth.

The only cars that will survive this critical service point will be those with emotional or sentimental value. Most likely, they will be sports cars of some kind.

Yet, there are influences at work which seem to me to be exploiting this natural progression, to shoehorn people into buying more cars more often.

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I Like To Eat In The Company of Books

Alchemy--and hash browns.
Alchemy–and hash browns.

I like to have books on me at all times. Especially on my days off.

I make sure to take my book bag with me in the car–with two or three books and a journal inside, and sometimes a laptop as well.

When I eat lunch or get coffee, I bring at least one book in with me.

Often, I never read it.

We just look at each other. Exchange glances.

I feel more at ease with books nearby.

I have to think, I’m not the only one.

Transhumanism Part I: What Is It, and Is It A Good Thing From a Religious Perspective?

Transhumanism (sometimes called “Humanity+” or “h+”) is an international intellectual and cultural movement aimed at transcending human physical and intellectual limitations using technology. Officially it was first conceived in the early part of the 20th century, but its goals–aimed at increasing human lifespans, improving quality of life, and advancing our efficacy and efficiency–have been intrinsic to our humanity for longer than recorded history.

Already, advances in prosthetics, nanotechnology, and genetic engineering have begun to actualize these goals using science (as opposed to magic or other means).

Transhumanism represents an enormous interdisciplinary and diverse intellectual nexus, which cannot be easily summarized or singularly described.

There has been ample criticism from the religious community, some calling it a new form of Manichaeism–or neo Gnosticism–saying it begrudges physical matter, seeing it as a weakness rather than inherently valuable, and consider it an ethical good to work to transform our bodies into comparatively godlike forms with enormous power.

I’m curious what, if any, goods we could identify in the transhuman agenda from a religious perspective.

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Faith Among Works

The winds thrashed

The restless waters

With poisonous rage.

I am like the winds
Venting my want on others
To help my mood.

Hoping they will hear my call

For love and compassion,
Hoping they will separate my wrath
From my true heart which hides behind.

Solar flame–oh that my works
Would be emblazoned such,
Eternal and beloved–
This perhaps would be a sign of my worth,
Unreadable from my lowly position
Among the worms.

The war of worlds for kingdoms and gold
A shrill echo against a sure death.
We die for want of more life.

Let us drink instead the cup beside us–
Our neighbor our spouse our child
Who, in sharing themselves, give us life always.

Ease their burdens now (always now)
And regret shall not have visitation
With you
On your bed of worn out things

Hafiz: The First Poem in the “Journey of Love”

Hafiz is a mostly unknown poetic treasure to me. But he is a favorite of my wife, and she sends me pertinent poems seemingly at just the right time.

Hafiz is considered the greatest and most endearing of the Persian poets, and his candid reflections on life and love remain powerfully relevant.

And Applaud

Once a young man came to me and said,

“Dear Master,

I am feeling strong and brave today, And I would like to know the truth

About all of my-attachments.”

And I replied,

“Attachments?

Attachments!

Sweet Heart,

Do you really want me to speak to you

About all your attachments,

When I can see so clearly

You have built, with so much care,

Such a great brothel

To house all of your pleasures.

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Things I Believe…

It can be a wonderfully freeing and empowering exercise to enumerate the contents of one’s beliefs, distilling them to a core essence.

It is also a practice in vulnerability, to expose something so personal to others.

In that vein, I submit the following:

I believe in helping people become happier, and healthier, better able to achieve their goals and uncover their unique talents.

I believe in the exchange of ideas, in the value of critical thinking and the ability to empathize with others. Open discourse and a deep knowledge of our own selves and the beliefs of others presents alternatives to violence and leads to meaningful relationships and deeper contentment.

I believe that a healthy diet that minimizes sugars and animal protein releases our bodies and our minds, allowing us to feel better, more energetic, and to better pursue the things we really care about. We also are able to free ourselves from a systematic enslavement of our bodies by food and drug companies.

I believe in taking risks and pursuing individual and common good together. I believe that we can and should produce goods and services using our individual talents, and discover ways in which we may support one another in a way that allows us to flourish together.

I believe in the triumph of love over all else, including the constructs of division and power we at times (mis)label as morality. True morality is a responsiveness in the moment to unique circumstances and cannot be fully encapsulated ahead of time.

I believe that true individual growth occurs at the liminal point between what we know and what we don’t know, and we experience this growth in the tension between the two. If we already know the answers, we are not growing; if we abandon all that we know, we abandon the work of integrating all that we have learned into the mystery of the unknown land ahead of us, which leads to growth.

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And What of the Beginning?

In the graded drive. The pulpit lies. The open door. The grave pit. The arbor house. The empty swing set. The kids at play in the yard. The crops yield. The fertile field. The faraway war in a faraway land

–comes home.

The murder in the yard, the bloody feet, the skies are full of cries and smoke. Hand on neck, sister against sister, brother against brother, they assault one another in fear and ferocity, to right wrongs of the past on all sides.

The sun sets on the prosperity of humanity.

And we learn, and we put away the things that are killing us, we decide to not kill one another. We put down weapons and pick each other up. We apologize and brush off the blood debts of old. We replace what was stolen, repair the broken, set aright that which was upended. We align one with another, accept our unity, set ourselves to doing right, bless one another and lift our hands. We exalt the weak and helpless. We humble the powerful.

–Into this light, the shadow speaks, and appears among us.

The serpents call. The naked showing of the dark executives and kings. The agents of death are flushed from the forests, from our homes and our businesses, from our animals and our artifacts. We see them for what they are, and they plead with us to stay, but we do not listen. We usher them into the vessel that sails the black seas, and send them off into the abyss of space.

Then the stars above begin to fall, and the earth itself is rent apart, and the fires of stone bubble up upon us. We see the trees turn against us, and the beasts leap upon our friends. The birds pluck out our eyes and carry our children away. The giants of the sea erupt onto shore and consume us–wandering in a daze. The air becomes a poisonous orange mist, and the sky unfurls the penetrating gaze of what had always been staring us down.

Exposed, diseased, afraid, scrutinized, we melt like snowflakes on a glowing coal.

And we weep and weep, and cry to ourselves alone, having no one to console us. And we wail to we know not whom, wishing for our sisters and brothers to hold us. Our bodies are crushed into paste, and burned, and scattered, and we float upon the winds which singed us, we mix with the waters that plagued us, we hide in the land that purged us.

We are the wind in the wind called wind;

We are the waves in the waves called waves;

We are the dust in the dust called dust;

We move now the mountains, for we are the mountains;

We move now the seas, for we are the sea;

We move now the sky, for we are the sky.

All that we are and have ever been we know as we.

The fire upon the hearth in the shelter of the cave is we, and every part between.

The Things Parents Don’t Tell Their Friends Who Are Expecting

Before I even begin this, I want to make two things very clear:

1) I love my wife and daughter immeasurably, and I am grateful for every moment I can spend with them

2) There are many, many wonderful things that come from marriage and parenting which people can and do talk about.

The thing is, at least for us, we don’t remember anyone talking about what it’s like–really like–to be relatively young, recently married, and parents.

Maybe they did. In fact, I’m sure someone did. Or tried to. But we couldn’t understand what they were trying to say. Perhaps they just didn’t want to scare us too much before we were ready for it.

This gets me to my point: there are things about being a parent that you don’t talk about with people who are about to be parents. It’s just not–polite.

My wife and I attended a symphony fund raiser hosted by a local brewery. We went with a colleague of mine and his wife, who are expecting their first child any day now.

We had our first child about a year ago. So there was a lot that we said to them about what to expect.

–There was much more that we didn’t say.

Back home over beers, the battle to put our daughter to sleep now victorious, my wife turned to me and made a lucid comment:

“If we fought like we do now back when we first started dating, we probably would never have gotten married.”

It was honest. And I wasn’t a bit upset by it. In fact, I very quickly replied:

“If we fought like that back then, we should have broken up. We didn’t have any real problems or issues to fight about.

Getting married, having a baby, living through that–that’s serious shit. That’s where the real fights come from.”

We thought about how impolite our conversation would have been to them. How anything unlike encouragement it would sound like. More like foreboding:

Congratulations! We’re so happy for you guys.

Just so you know, it was definitely the hardest and most miserable experience we ever had.

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Consuming and Producing

I started this blog because somebody who I take to be very successful told me to.

He said it was the single best thing he could recommend for people trying to figure out who they are and what they can do with their lives. It was how he turned his life around, and is now how he finances what sounds like almost an ideal lifestyle to me.

An unexpected side effect of trying to churn out consistent–stuff (I won’t call it content yet, since it’s not much more than a dignified journal right now) is that I have been exposed to other people with other blogs that have already found their slant.

One of my favorites has been Dave Barnart’s Blog, written by a Methodist pastor who ministers to those who are “burned out” by church in the traditional sense.

He also is a self proclaimed feminist and champion of the LGBTQ community.

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There Was a Bear In My Dream Last Night

Driving home–my parents home.

I turn onto the main road. Looking over my shoulder to check for traffic, I catch sight of the back of an enormous, lumbering, black shape heading into the brush.

I’m aware of how small my car is. It feels sluggish to get away. Will he crush me in the car?

I get home, run inside. I need to lock the doors.

He’s coming.

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