Category Archives: Philosophy

Steer clear of this one. Chances are it will make you angry.

On Religion

Religion. What an ugly concept.

“But, wait. Aren’t you Christian?”

Yes. But I despise religion.

I grew up calling myself atheistic and agnostic, believing in the absence of God and in the inability for anyone to prove the existence of God. I despised religion. I sort of realized along the way that what I actually despised was the intolerance, ignorance, and prejudice of people that pushed their religion on others.

It was the abuse of words like “truth” to represent something they believed in that was irrefutable, and the reluctance to yield to any other points of view that made me really despise these types of people and the organizations they represented. What I thought at the time was that religion created intolerant people, people unwilling or in some cases unable to re-assess the world around them and change their views. The people were intolerant, often choosing ignorance over reason. The familiar things, though wrong, were comfortable, and therefore anything that challenged those familiar ideas was so uncomfortable it could not be faced. So, I wanted nothing to do with religion, the church, or churchy people.

What I realized later was that religion wasn’t the cause, it was the byproduct. Intolerant people weren’t created by the church, they created the church to be a cozy place where they wouldn’t have to do the hard work of challenging their own world views and comfortable, destructive thoughts.

Now, I realize, it’s not just about Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Taoism, etc. “Religion” takes many forms–not just the spiritual religion that pervades the way we think about what the universe “means” to ourselves and others. It’s about the way we think about…thinking.

We each have religions. Plural. I mean the things we blindly follow without thinking about anymore, and especially those for which we have “chosen a side.” Here are some examples:

  • iPhone vs. Android
  • USA vs. China
  • Globalism vs. “America First”
  • Republican vs. Democrat
  • Global Warming
  • Mac vs. PC
  • Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge
  • Christianity vs. Islam
  • Feminism
  • Black Lives Matter vs. Supporting the Police
  • Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life
  • Masks vs. Freedom
  • Gun rights vs. Gun control

See, the idea is that these things are religion because there are diametrically opposed sides, and you must choose one. And to choose that one, you must be opposed to the other, completely. If you’re able to articulately explain why you believe in one side, fairly accept counter points from the other side, and even concede that it’s okay for someone to choose the other side for themselves, congratulations, you’ve escaped the religion. If you blindly parrot all of the talking points of your side and never accept a single thing that the opposition is saying, well, then you’re blindly following your religion and I would recommend you reconsider and re-examine your thinking.

In America, there is a lot of cross-contamination between these religions. In fact, this is what people talk about when they talk about a topic being “politicized.” It means that one political party, or the other, or both, has successfully painted the issue in such a way that people feel they have to choose sides and, conveniently, each of the two major political parties in power in America have also chosen a side. This makes it really easy for people who already have a political affiliation “religion” to align to a specific side on the new topic and (bonus) they don’t even have to think about why.

I suspect this is being weaponized against people because political leaders realized that politics was a religion and that by taking other topics and aligning them to the same religion, they could:

  • Recruit people who believed a certain way about some other topic to their political religion (e.g. make a person who is pro-choice more likely to align Democrat)
  • Take people who are deeply a specific political religion and align them to other topics (e.g. make a person who is deeply Republican deny the existence of climate change)
  • Further entrench the divide between the political religions to prevent defection

The antidote, of course, is a concoction of the following:

  • Empathic listening
  • Careful consideration
  • Self-examination
  • Allowing yourself to change your mind
  • Being open to new ideas
  • Love

I get it, that stuff is hard. It’s way easier to just keep thinking the same thoughts we’ve always had. It’s way more convenient. But I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.

So, what religions do you have that maybe you should take a fresh look at and make a new decision whether to keep them or not?

A rose by any other name?

In my daily doings, comings, and goings, I try to read a lot. I try to listen a lot, also, to other people speaking about anything and everything, and I try to use this to make me a better communicator. I read Daily Writing Tips, and I find that on the whole it is a very good resource because it operates on many levels from the most basic of English grammar all the way to advanced semantics. I like it. Today, however, something that I read on there just jolted me. It rubbed me in quite the wrong direction.

Words are labels. They “mean” what we say they mean.

I do not agree. I do not believe that words only mean what we say they mean. It took a long time for me to figure this out from the world around me, but communication does not start and end with the speaker or writer. If anything, the majority of communication happens at the receiving end. Therefore, I am unable to believe that words mean what we or I say they mean. Words, in my humble opinion, mean what the person hearing them or seeing them thinks that they mean, which could vary wildly based on their education, their disposition, or even whether or not they ate breakfast that morning.

Now, If I make up a word tonight, and I never tell another soul what that word is, and I assign a meaning to it, then it means what I say it means. However, as soon as I tell someone else what it means and we use it, it means what we think it means. Then, as more and more people use my word, its meaning will be a little bit different for each situation that it is used and each person who interprets it. That is language. That is why there is more than one definition for so many words.

That is why I love language: because it allows encourages us to fuck it up change it.

What is this?

What is this tightness in my neck and shoulders?
For what reason do I squint and purse my lips?
Am I becoming the thing that I once stuck up my nose at being?

I think back to my youth (and of course you think I am thinking too heavily at this point, for surely I am still in my youth having barely being alive for twenty-two years, right?) and I remember some things that I used to say, that I used to believe.

I had a tie-dyed t-shirt two sizes too big, hair that came down to my eyes, and my pants rode too low. People used to tell me that someday I would have to get a haircut and wear my pants at my waist and tuck in my shirts which would have collars. I laughed. They told me that I would have to do this because that’s the way the world works. Because people don’t do business with people that look like they would be right at home with a nicely rolled joint behind their ear.

Now what? I look down at myself as I walk out of my corporate office building, and see a belt. I can see it because my shirt is tucked in. My shirt, which has a collar, of all things, is tucked into my pants which are held at my waist with a belt. I walk to my luxury/sports wagon which probably cost too much money and I drive home. I did this to myself. I get haircuts. I started parting my hair on the side again. I accepted a job knowing that I would be required to wear collared shirts. I started tucking them in.

Yet, as I look down at myself, I see the climbing hook with too many keys and a stick of RAM. I see that my belt has pairs of metal grommets at one inch intervals. I see that my wallet has a chain. I see that I am still wearing my work boots to the office. I see signs that some part of me refuses to let itself be compromised. I think that’s why I still walk upright and laugh instead of slouching and mumbling awkwardly.

Lately I have been struggling with change, as we all undoubtedly do, and mostly my problems are stemming from the fact that I am allowing myself to change in a way that feel may be causing inconsistencies in my philosophies. For instance, I have been increasingly conscious of the consequences of my actions for the environment. I find myself thinking about what sort of impact the soap that I use to wash my car will have on the water supply as it goes down the drain into the sewer at the end of the driveway. However, it didn’t stop me from washing my car roughly every two weeks from the time that I got it until it became too cold for that to be plausible. I find myself turning off the TV in the living room when nobody is around to watch it, but then I go downstairs to the basement and turn on my computer which sits next to two other computers that run day in and day out. I have been a believer in negative population growth since high school, but I have begun to donate blood (which I hear saves lives). Shoot. It seems that I am a living, breathing, walking compromise.

A friend of mine seems to think that compromise is a bad thing. She and I sparred verbally for a bit about it the other day, but the conversation quickly degenerated into a much less serious and somewhat comical situation wherein we both kept repeating the taglines to our arguments and I’m sure if we had not been more mature adults, one or the other of us (or even both) would have stuck our fingers in our ears and started to sing our favorite song loudly and off-pitch. So, we just changed the topic of conversation to something more fun. Her argument was that “in a compromise, nobody wins” and I think that’s true in the sense that neither party gets fully what they sought out to get. However, it did seem to me as though the direction she was trying to take that was “in a compromise, everybody loses” which I think is untrue. I think that the point of a compromise is that both parties see gain, even if it does not fulfill the potential gain that was initially sought that could have been obtained at the expense of the other party. I feel that this is a good thing, and I think that thinking about myself as a compromise in this sense has allowed me to overcome these changes that I have noticed in myself.

I guess what I am trying to say is that while I may be a compromise, I don’t think I’m losing for it.

Settling, for or against?

You’ve read those books, right? The ‘for-or-against?’ series? Point-counterpoint is just so much fun, I’ve decided to make a new one. Granted, you don’t have to write an essay or anything, but you should definitely post a comment with your opinions/arguments for and against settling.

Point #1: Always settle. You never know when something better will come along, but who knows-you might already have it. To give up what you already have for the hope of something better would just be foolish, and you would be begging to be let down.

Come on Aaron and Ryan, I know you have your opinions, let’s hear ’em. And the same goes for everyone else, too: show me what you think. Or just make up something funny. Either way write something.

The tranquil mind.

How often have you taken the time to really look at the world? How many times have you just stared at something and just felt…peaceful? When was the last time that you tried to catch snowflakes in your mouth? When was the last time that you felt innocent?

Be the beholder. See the beauty; there is so much out there, it just needs to be found. So far I’ve found a couple of extroardinarily beautiful things, things that make me want to just stop time and live forever. I wish I could hold on to that feeling all the time.


You know what the most frightening thing is? After my whole big long rant about the meaninglessness of existence….nobody ever said to me “Mark, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.”

…And what a journey it has been. But it’s not over yet.

The world we know.

What would happen if nobody lived? If everybody died tomorrow, would it matter? I think it wouldn’t. Sure, everything that everyone is working for has a purpose, but it seems like there is no more purpose to the world and everything in it than we as humans put there.

Why am I in school? To get an education.
Why do I want an education? So I can increase my chances of getting a good job.
Why do I want a good job? So that I can have money.
Why do I want money? So I can enjoy life, and not have to worry about needing to rob banks to pay for all of my disgustingly expensive habits and hobbies.
Why do I have hobbies? Because otherwise my life would be either work or nothingness, and we don’t want that.

It looks like everything that I have done in life serves one ultimate purpose: keep me happy before I die. Even if I do something with my life that serves others, and helps them in their purpose, what is their purpose? Can you think of a single person alive or that has lived whose purpose for living did not somehow serve only the human race (or at least ultimately the human race)?

Many have, do, and will claim that we are here with one purpose: to do His work. Which, as I have come to understand it, is to spread His word. What will that do? Ultimately, what will that accomplish?

Of course, a great deal of this uncertainty comes from the fact that I do not believe that I will exist past the point when electrical currents stop circulating in my brain. For me, that is the end. The ultimate end. Once I think no more, I percieve no more, and I will be no more (personal belief–you, of course, are entitled to your own, same or otherwise).

This is why I say: if we all die tomorrow, what will happen? There will be an Earth (which if you think about it, won’t be Earth, because there will be nobody around to call it Earth) filled with dead people, but who will care? Not I. I will not be able to care. I will be nothing.

In the meantime, I will give my life all the meaning I think it should have, all the meaning that my poor mind can comprehend: to have fun, to love, and to be loved.
Hey, 0 out of 3 aint bad.