Archive for the ‘Personal’ Tag

Its been six weeks   Leave a comment

I haven’t seen my daughter in over 6 weeks. It’s not for any malicious reason on my ex’s part. Not that I know of, at least. It’s just bad timing and busy lives.

I always told myself I would always make time for my daughter. I would threaten to quit jobs before I would miss my weekends with her. I still feel that way. At least I feel I do. But feelings and thoughts don’t count for much. In the end, I still don’t see my daughter. If I had to say it to her face, would I still make the same excuses? Would she care?

Or does it just matter that daddy isn’t there again?

I don’t even know why I’m writing this right now. I’m not depressed, just sad. I guess its because this is something more concrete than a journal I throw in a box and never look at again. By writing this, maybe I’ll try harder from now on. But who knows?

– Shaman

Posted 07/27/2017 by Shaman in Personal Thoughts

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A Cause Worth Fighting For   2 comments

Prompting you to take action!

The internet has recently been swept up by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Is there a cause — social, political, cultural, or other — you passionately believe in? Tell us how you got involved — or why you don’t get involved.

I talk about a lot of causes.

I’ve definitely covered atheism on this blog, and will probably do so in the future.

I also have strong opinions on a lot sociopolitical issues – gay marriage, equality, education, welfare, etc. – and at some point I may talk about them here too. But although I may feel passionate about those subjects, I tend to abstain from bringing them into the public square.

Politics turns into loud screaming match that gets us nowhere and doesn’t really solve anything. Were the political climate less confrontational, I might be more inclined to wade into the discussion. I also don’t really mind other people’s beliefs, and only when they are thrust upon me. Plus, we have enough irreligious warriors in the Amazing Atheist, Richard Dawkins, Jaclyn Glenn, etc., and I think they are doing a good enough job on their own.

I am also a hardcore skeptic, and I feel that debunking false claims, pseudoscience, and other sorts of woo is extremely important. But I don’t really passionately charge at people doing those things. I’m more like a sleeping volcano, who gets prodded by these things and ends up blowing up at the triggering person in a pyroclastic flow of logic and science.

That is assuming I even care at the moment.

Most strangers can believe in their crystals, homeopathy, and the like. I only really speak out when I see family and friends buying into stuff like that. So even though I feel passionate about this also, I don’t jump up and actively work against it.

There is one thing I’ve been involved in, and I still feel passionately about: Father’s rights.

I got involved in the father’s rights movement because I was a single father who was trying to establish my paternity (my ex actually wanted me to leave, since I didn’t want to be with her. She wanted to keep me off of it so her eventual husband could take my place and adopt uncontested) and gain the ability to see my daughter. I, like many other men, was put through the ringer, and I didn’t even deal directly with the courts.

I was barred from the hospital after my daughter was born, because I had the audacity to ask what steps I needed to take to be put on the birth certificate. Then, while trying to avoid court, I was forced to jump through hoops while I tried to get whatever time with her I could, which was a slowly dwindling amount. This was all because my only option was court, even if they were fully cooperative.

When I finally got sick of the run around, and asked them directly to let me put my name on the birth certificate, I was threatened with never seeing my daughter again.

I decided to petition for paternity, and didn’t see my daughter for 4 months as a result. Instead, she got to call another man dad, and I had to shell out for a lawyer. Then I had to go to mediation, take a paternity class, do a trial/integration period, give an arm and a leg, make a blood sacrifice to Cthulhu, and other legal mumbo jumbo. Eventually, all that got me basic visitation, monthly child support, and one year’s worth of arrears owed (almost 3000.) According to my lawyer, all of that was an incredible deal, and I was lucky to get it.

That was the part that I couldn’t take.

The fact that I got the bare minimum required by law, and was lucky for it, was infuriating.

Then I looked at all the other stories, all the other things people went through, and it made me even madder.

The system is corrupt, and is mired in misguided sexism for both genders. According to the courts, women are weak mothers who never want to work again and need to be protected from the evil men. The men should be reduced to nothing more than walking wallets to bleed dry, because they must all be deadbeats, even the ones who petition and fight for their children.

Things in Utah are improving slowly, especially in public awareness. But the laws have yet to really change. I heard there was a committee or something working on it, so it will still probably be a while before they do. I only hope that they change while I can still benefit from them with my daughter.

But why am I not still involved with father’s rights?

The reason is a little selfish: it’s because I don’t need to fight any more.

I have time with my daughter and an amicable relationship with my ex. I am also not in a position to gain much more, and I could (and probably would) lose a lot by trying. So for now I am happy to sit back and take a passive role trying to spread awareness to those who want to listen. That will probably change in the future, but for now I’m enjoying the thing other people fight so hard for.

I am enjoying time with my family. That is a cause worth fighting for.

-Shaman

Change The World   Leave a comment

Prompt, prompt, prompt I summon thee!

Today, write about any topic you feel like — but you must reuse your opening line (at least) two more times in the course of your post.

I want to change the world.

I have not clue how. I don’t even know where to begin. Large, small, for better or worse; I have no clue.

But still that rings through my head: I want to change the world.

I didn’t really realize it until my last blog post. I went with taking the chip, for what I thought were very good reasons. Add to human knowledge, revolutionize psychology as we know it. Help people. Sure, it wouldn’t be a very fun life for me. Being isolated from my friends. My family. My daughter. Not completely gone from their lives, but it wouldn’t be the same. It would be lonely. But at some level, it would be worth it if I could leave my mark.

A lot of people didn’t think so. They may have had respect for my reasons, saw them as nice; as noble. The typical response was that the sacrifice would be too hard, the downsides too great. Some people even thought it was wrong that the losses I would want to do it.

I can’t say they are wrong. Is the willingness to toss my self aside for the “greater good” really good? Do I even know what good is? Am I even able to perform the good that I keep proposing to do?

I want to change the world. But I don’t know if I can?

But then I start to take a different angle. Have I been looking at things wrong?  I am so focused on changing the world at large. At leaving a grand mark. There is no way I have done that, right?

Wrong. I already have changed the world. Just by living my life. Just by being human.

If I didn’t exist, millions of things would be different. My daughter would be gone, some of my friends would be much worse off, and some may be better. But the world would be an entirely changed for my absence.

Even by writing this now, I am changing things. I can’t know right now how things will change. If it will be big or small. Good or bad. But it will be a different outcome than if I did nothing.

I want to change the world. I guess I’ll get started.

-Shaman

Can I Win With Original Sin?

This is a follow up to my post, God Prefers an atheist, where I clarify points and discuss topics that came up in the comments.

First of all, I love comments. I love discussion and debate. I love that this post did inspire my friends and other to come out and comment. So thank you to everyone who joined in. Since is this is the first time I’ve discussed something like this in detail on my blog, I’m going to more posts, going off of the things brought up during the discussion.

First up is the idea of original sin and hell: As both Brandon and Alex pointed out, the concept of original sin may not mean one is doomed to hell. Only in certain sects of Christianity, typically Evangelical Protestants, do people need to actively convert and accept Jesus Christ, or be consigned to fiery damnation. The only reason this view seems to get said a lot is due to the United States having the largest concentration of Evangelicals.

The main misunderstanding I had was that I confused original sin with guilt. Original sin is the idea that Adam and Eve’s fall in the garden cause the rest of humanity some sort of detriment. Usually in the form of suffering or an inclination towards sin, but it can be as extreme as the doom to hell I mentioned in the other post. Guilt and personal sin are the actions you have in this life, and they are the things that typically get you an appointment with good old Mr. Scratch. As Brandon said, it is a very misunderstood topic, and as Alex pointed out I made a large generalization in my last post.

So here are two examples of interpretations of original sin where I may not go to hell: Mormonism and Catholicism.

In Mormonism, one is only damned to hell for actively turning away from god after witnessing him in his true glory. To put it simply, unless one has gone through the temple and been ordained, they aren’t able to deny god since they don’t know him. Therefore it is after death that they make the decision to convert or deny god. That is the only way to get to outer darkness, or hell, in the Mormon faith. Even atrocities from the likes of dictators would not be enough to deny those dictators heaven, unless they knew god like the Mormon priesthood does. In regards to original sin, Jesus would have atoned for it, and therefore we no longer suffer due to it.

Therefore, according to Mormonism, I would go to heaven, because by then I would actually see and know god and thusly would no longer be an agnostic atheist. Sure, I don’t get to be an eternal spirit being with my own planet, but even the Telestial kingdom is supposed to be nice and chill, something akin to a deathless painless earth.

Catholicism has the Nostra Aetete, which addresses how people from other faiths may still reach salvation through their faith, even if they do not follow the Catholic Church. My friend Alex (the one who left the comment) once explained it to me this way: if a Buddhist was to die, he would go to the afterlife, and Jesus would appear to him. He would tell them that being Buddhist was in line with god’s teachings, and was in fact just another path to god. They would then be allowed into the kingdom of heaven. The same goes for other faiths, although I am over generalizing it a little bit. Original sin in Catholicism just accounts for humans acting sinfully, instead of acting on our divine roots.

When it comes to Catholicism, were I of a conflicting faith, things would be perfect for me. However, the church seems to be very much against agnosticism, and has mixed views towards atheism. Although one could argue using the Nostra Aetete that atheists may also go to heaven, the source I found for Catholic Doctrine on agnosticism isn’t as pretty. So, more likely than not, I would be going to hell according to the Catholic Church, but there is room for debate. Ironically it would be for my agnosticism though, and not the atheism.

So can I win with original sin?

Apparently it is a solid maybe. That is new news to me, and I may in the future try not to generalize beliefs as much in the future. One should instead look at the God Prefers an Atheist post and insert Evangelical or any other sect with those opinions in instead of just Christian. Because the sentiment of the post still remains true. Any god that would force me to believe or go to hell is not worth believing in. As far as how I feel about gods who are kinder than that, that will have to be addressed in a later post.

Now of course, if I have gotten anything wrong, feel free to correct me on the above. I did research, but it was only one or two levels removed from google and Wikipedia. So do you think I’ve got the concept of original sin, or do I still need to learn more?

Shaman

God Prefers An Atheist   6 comments

Would God prefer someone who is ever faithful, but who only does good things because he is afraid of eternal damnation?

Or would he prefer some who does good acts and betters the world, but does not worship or even believe in him?

I’m not the first person to ask this, but it amazes me how many people get thrown off when I bring this up to them.  Usually it is Christians that get thrown, because one of the main tenets of their religion is to seek forgiveness from Christ. As long as one seeks Christs forgiveness, no matter how late in life or how heinous their actions, they will be forgiven.

They always seem to glance over the other part of that: if you are a good person and you do nothing but good in your life, but never seek forgiveness from Christ, your soul is hell-bound.

Thus, the do good things and seek to do Christ’s work because they don’t want to go to hell.

I this that is disgusting. I hate the idea of original sin, especially when it is implied that people are wrong, awful, and need to be saved.

I find the idea of a god who does this to people, and then wants them to worship him to keep him from harming them.

I don’t believe that any god worth believing in would need someone like me to believe in him. Further more, a god worth believing in would never punish someone who doesn’t believe in him, solely for that lack of belief.

Now, the idea of an all forgiving and loving god does not bother me. In fact, it gives me comfort. Two of my best friends believe in such a god, and I have large amounts of respect for them, and they for me. If more people truly believed in God like they do, I think the world would be a better place.

Because an all loving god wouldn’t care what you do in his name. He wouldn’t care that you prayed to him day and night. He would only care about the good you tried to bring to the world.

Now, why do I stay an agnostic atheist? Marcus Aurelius put it best:

Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.

I’m not saying that you can’t live a good life if you are religious. There is plenty of evidence to prove you can. But doing good, to be good, is what everyone should strive for. Were I God, I would prefer someone who has pure motivations for being nice, not the ulterior motives of heavenly reward or eternal damnation.

If I were God, I would prefer an atheist.

24 Years   Leave a comment

24 Years

24 years I lived on this earth.
24 years I have learned
24 years to prove my worth
24 years I’ve yearned.

24 years of triumph I’ve earned
24 years of failure too
24 years of opportunity spurned
24 years of my demon’s I slew..

24 years I’ve questioned what is true.
24 years few answers I know
24 years of life I’ve gone through
And many more years to go.

-Shaman Romney 2014

Posted 06/25/2014 by Shaman in Poetry

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I Should Be A Game Designer… So I’ll Be A Writer.   Leave a comment

In an earlier blog post, I talked about how I might try being the Albert Einstein of blogging. I posted a piece of advice Teller gave Brian Brushwood that changed his life. I talked about one part of the advice, and I’d like to cover another part of it.

To quote the book:

“I should be a film editor. I’m a magician. And if I’m good, it’s because I should be a film editor. Bach should have written opera or plays. But instead, he worked in eighteenth-century counterpoint. That’s why his counterpoints have so much more point that others. They have passion and plot. Shakespeare, on the other hand, should have been a musician, writing counterpoint. That’s why his plays stand out from the others through their plot and music.”

I love games. Video games, board games, role-playing games, card games, games, games, games. My favorite kinds are turn based strategy games and role-playing type games. I love the interplay of the rules, and the rich and deep stories. I will dig into the lore of a great fantasy world like Dark Souls, or a Sci-Fi  universe like Mass Effect. I love creating a character with desires, drives, quirks and questions, that pull a game along.

I also, much to other people’s chagrin, love to poke holes, abuse rules, and optimize my characters and games as much as I can. I will find the interplay of skills, ask the annoying questions, and overall try to take your plans and throw them out the window.

I’m not a munchkin by any means, but I will play around with the rules a lot. My favorite character I mad was in a wild west setting. I made a bounty hunter who fought with a lasso and took people in alive. The other smallish detail… he was bullet proof. It was legal by the rules, and made for one hell of a game.

But I am getting off topic. Why do I bring all this up?

Because as I was trying to figure out the plot and world for the book I’m writing, I noticed I had an easier time when I created characters via a character sheet, the magic as a magic system, and scenes as campaign events. If I start to picture my novel as a game and write it that way, the plot flows easier. It also stays much more consistent. I no longer have to wonder what my character can do with his magic. I already know what his powers do, what he would need to do to learn more, and how the laws of the world works. That way if I get to a moment and think,”How will he get out of this one?” I can do it without any trouble.

I get to design my own universe, with its own rules and own logic. At another level, since I want to write something more urban fantasy style, I get to change and redesign this one. I don’t have a god complex, but it is fun.

I get to create my own game system via my writing. I get to live out one of my dreams of designing games. Maybe not in the way i wanted. But I’ll take it. 🙂

-Shaman