Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I hope everyone had a good Christmas. Things were good on my end. I’d have liked to written a post beforehand, but I honestly couldn’t think of anything appropriate to write for the occasion. It hasn’t helped either that my mind has been overworked. I’ve had a lot going on lately.

Anyway, I’ve had something bugging me, and I wanted to share this and get it off my mind.

I remember writing some time back, either on this blog or as a commenter on another, that knowing Jesus makes life easier. I think I was wrong to believe that. This last year, I’ve not gone to church much at all. When I have, I’ve become guilt ridden, frustrated, angry, edgy, depressed, and faced battles of feeling really low self-esteem and self-worth. Life is not easier knowing Jesus. It can certainly be better in a lot of ways, but far from easy. Knowing Jesus takes a lot of work, and it takes a lot out of you.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. This last year I’ve increasingly felt more and more of a resistance to anything God-related. I think, to an extent, it is because knowing Jesus is hard, and it brings to mind a lot of the negative aspects of my life/past. I don’t like feeling this resistance. It’s affected my faith in some rather major ways. I’ve had a lot of doubts about Christianity.

I hate saying or thinking that.

I know this is probably going to sound out in left field, but it’s something that really has weighed on my mind lately and something that has seriously caused some doubts in me. I don’t understand why God would be so vain as to require circumcision as a necessity to showing faith in Him (talking about the Israelites). Why would God make this requirement and then come down to Earth and preach a message that circumcision of the flesh is meaningless, and that it is actually circumcision of the heart that really counts? I’m confused by this. If physical circumcision was so important that God would threaten to cast out Moses for not circumcising his son, then why would He a few centuries later say that it’s not that important? I guess God can change His mind, but that in itself begs the question if God really is all-knowing, all-wise. I can’t help thinking that circumcision was simply an ancient custom adopted by the Israelites at some point and accredited as God’s commandment for His people later on. And if that is true, then perhaps a lot more of what we read about in the Old Testament is untrue, or at least not the whole truth. Perhaps there is indeed a God, but a lot of His so called commandments, really are not from Him at all, but made by people who simply thought they knew what was best for their people during the times in which they lived.

These doubts aside, I’ve felt so much of a resistance to going to church, reading my bible, praying, or just having anything at all to do with God. I feel like I’m going to hell. But aside from that, I’ve felt better about myself, been more outgoing, and relaxed about life the last few months than I probably ever have. It’s really only the last few weeks that that has begun to change. I did not go to church this last Sunday, but I did go the previous five Sundays. I was glad to go. But I didn’t at any moment feel as though I belonged. And I’ve been reminded of how much I tried to belong a few years ago and never was really allowed to. I’ve had a lot of doubts creep in, old wounds resurface, and in general felt like I’m just a piece of crap. I don’t know how to feel close to God. I don’t know how to feel close to other Christians. I don’t know where I belong in the great realm of Christianity. And all of this bothers me a lot.

I do believe in God. I think it’s ridiculous to believe everything in this great big universe just came about of its own accord. But I do doubt a lot of what we Christians have been taught about God. I think, as in today, people in the past may have been wrong on their teachings and beliefs. How do we know that certain dreams weren’t just that and nothing else? How do we know that certain visions weren’t really episodes of drunkenness, hallucinations, and/or forms of mental illness? How do we know that Moses didn’t just take old stories (maybe of truth or myth) and add a bit of his own thinking to help rule the Israelites? How do we know that the good men and women of the Bible weren’t really as honest or noble as we’ve been taught they were? Perhaps their actions were more in the line of best intentions than clearly presenting what they knew as the truth. Along that line, I can’t help thinking about the Catholic view that Mary must have not died, but ascended into Heaven sometime late in her life. I see no proof at all to suggest that this is the case. There are no eye-witnesses, no one that wrote about it near the time that it supposedly happened, nothing. I think it’s likely that the Apostle John took Mary into hiding, to protect and to care for her, as Jesus wished, and she eventually died in obscurity. I think it’s likely that no one knew what happened to Mary. And embarrassed not to know this about the mother of the person for whom the church was founded, some early Christian leaders came to the conclusion that surely she must not have died such an ordinary and depressing death, but that something marvelous must have happened to her. And so, in their search for an answer as to what happened to Mary, they concluded she must have been ascended into Heaven to rule alongside her son. I have to say I like the notion of this idea, but I’d like to know where the proof is. It’s not enough for me that some priest a few hundred years after it supposedly happened wrote that that was what happened. He didn’t see it, so who did? How does he justify this answer? Apparently it’s supposed to be enough just that he said it, and so we just have to take him at his word, that’s the conclusion, case closed. I’m sorry, but it’s not enough for me.

I just feel as though everything is all mixed up. No two Christians ever seem to believe in the same thing. No one has any convincing answers. A lot of Christians act anything but Christian these days. It’s just all such a huge turn off for me, and something that I’ve increasingly wanted less and less to do with.

I could write more, but for now, I’ll leave it at this. I’m not feeling bad, really, or depressed, so please don’t anyone think that. I’m just frustrated because I’d like some answers and to be able to feel as though God actually is God.

On another note, I want to apologize for something else which I implied in a previous note a few months back, concerning friends. I think I was operating under the assumption that online friends weren’t as good as other types of friends. I’m sorry I ever thought that, and I’m sorry if I offended any of you for suggesting it. I’ve met some really great people online, and I’ve made some of the best, closest friendships I’ve ever had with some of you. You’re blessings from God, and that’s one thing I surely do not have doubts about. I thank God for each and every one of you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanking God

Thank you God for...

loving me.
forgiving me.
being patient with me.
guiding me.
keeping me safe.
giving me friends.
giving me a family.
the clothes on my back.
the food I overeat.
the roof over my head.
the talents you've given me.
getting me back in school.
showing me my faults.
giving me hope.
the acts of kindness you surprise me with when I'm feeling low.
always being someone I can turn to.
always bringing me back to you.
treating me better than I could ever deserve.
every good memory/experience/day.
the life you have given me.
absolutely everything.
being you.

(This list could be a mile long, but I'll stop here for now. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Coming Out Young

I usually get monthly newsletters from Exodus International. In this month’s edition there was one article that caught my eye. It was called Middle School Youth More Open to Coming Out Sooner, Article Reports. This article was written in response to an article published in the New York Times this last September called Coming Out in Middle School. I hope you will take the time to read both articles.

The original article details how students in middle schools across this country are becoming more openly identified as homosexual. I found this to be a really interesting article and one that demonstrates how much more accepting and open-minded people are becoming toward those with a homosexual or bisexual orientation. I also found it comforting to read how much less fearful and ashamed young people are becoming about being gay. Fear and shame pretty much dominated most of my middle school and high school years, and even after then. I was terrified someone might find out or think I was gay. And because of this, I hid myself from a lot of people.

The second article (the one featured in the October edition of the Exodus Newsletter) I found to be a particularly troublesome response. I have often supported Exodus in the past. I had an Exodus counselor for almost three years who was in a lot of ways a real life-saver for me. Paul (my counselor) was only the second person to ever know I like other men. He helped me see that not all people will freak out and hate me if they find out I’m gay. He was the first straight person I’d ever known who acted as though homosexuals were not people to fear and hate and ridicule, but to love and befriend and speak the truth to. He encouraged me not to hide who I am, but to let other people know me for the real me, to develop friends with people, and to not live out the rest of my life in fear of what others might think. Paul helped me through some of the loneliest and depressed times of my life. Above anything, he was always willing just to listen to me. He allowed me to pour out all the hurt I’d felt but kept bottled up for so long. He taught me that I didn’t have to live in fear, or hide myself, or keep lifelong painful secrets, being ashamed to ever let anyone know the real me. And he taught me that God still loves me, regardless of my temptations or past mistakes. I’ll always owe him a huge debt of gratitude for all he did for me. I’m a better person now because of his help. And I have to thank Exodus for making that connection with Paul for me. But having said this, I do disagree with many of the standpoints of Exodus. This article points out one of the mindsets of so many who are affiliated with Exodus. And that is that young people are essentially not wise enough about themselves to be able to know if they are gay or straight.

I know middle school is a confusing, troubling time for many people; even when it comes to sexual identity/feelings. This isn’t only the case for homosexuals and bisexuals, but for heterosexuals as well. Most people become confused or curious or even anxious when they first start having feelings of a sexual nature for another person. And that is because they are new feelings. Of course a person will not fully understand them at first. But most people have little doubt about whom or what they’re attracted to. They may not understand why their attractions are as they are, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily confused about whether they’re attracted to men or women, or both.

I remember when I was at middle school age I knew I liked boys. I knew (or thought anyway) that I was supposed to like girls though. I thought it was wrong for me to like guys, or to act on those feelings, or to ever tell anyone about it. I kept my true feelings a secret and, for a time, pretended to like what I thought everyone else expected me to like: girls. I even had a girlfriend for a while just to satisfy this thought. But I really was never confused about liking men. I was confused about how I’d developed these feelings, but never about the feelings themselves. I didn’t have to act out these feelings with another male to know that they were true. I didn’t have to act out sexually with a female to know that I wasn’t interested in that.

Many at Exodus want to believe that fewer people will become gay if they just won’t identify as gay at such a young age. Now, I do believe many people may experiment with their sexuality, and may engage in some activities that they shouldn’t. Some people, as odd as it may seem, even consider homosexuality or bisexuality cool. To be one or the other has become one of those added things to contribute to the individualistic mindset of the people of this country. Some people think that to be gay makes them unique from others, and so there are some, who are not gay, who are more than happy to act out as if they are. It can also be a point of rebellion. After all, it is not the hope or desire of most parents that their children should be gay. And so some young people, though I do think a very few of them, do maybe adopt a gay or bisexual identity when perhaps they are not. But for the vast majority, being gay or bisexual is their reality. And what is wrong with them being able to admit this to others? What is wrong with a young person admitting to themselves that they are gay or bisexual? If it’s how they feel, it’s how they feel. Whether or not it’s right or wrong for them to act on those feelings is somewhat beside the point. It’s relevant (the morality of acting out on homosexual feelings) but it shouldn’t factor in to whether or not a person identifies as having those feelings. As I already said, you either have those feelings or you don’t. If you do, why should you have to hide the fact your entire life? Why should you live in secret, covering up, not getting help, afraid to let anyone know how you feel or who you are? Why should you live in fear your whole life? For those who are homosexual or bisexual, choosing to identify as such should not be a point of contention.

Do we want our kids living in fear, to grow up afraid of who they are? One of the things I found interesting in the original article was that most of the young students interviewed for it were not even sexually active, unless you include kissing, holding hands, or dancing, or other things like that. They are simply being themselves, admitting that homosexuality or bisexuality is, in fact, a part of their lives. They’re being open and honest about who they are, and hoping for a little bit of understanding, compassion, and respect from others. And there shouldn’t be anything wrong with that.

On another point, I found it interesting how the level of bullying has gone down in schools where students felt safe to be openly gay or bisexual. Schools that allow students to create and join clubs such as Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) have seen a decline in the level of violence or harassment of not only homosexual and bisexual identified students, but of all students regardless of their background. Isn’t that a good thing? I think it is.

Now, I’m not promoting young people becoming sexually active. And I don’t think the vast majority are aspiring for that either. Nor am I promoting homosexuality (anymore than I’m promoting heterosexuality), or believe that students should be pressured into accepting or admitting their sexual orientation before they're ready to. I just think young people should be allowed to not have to live in fear of who they are and how they feel. I also think it is wrong of people to force others into shame and hiding, or to bully or belittle them for having feelings they did not choose to have. I wish many others would realize homosexuality is no more or less prevalent today than it’s ever been. Just because people are being more open and honest about it, doesn’t mean society is falling apart or becoming more sinful. It just means people are tired of living in fear, hiding who they are, and are deciding more and more not to live their lives afraid all the time. Frankly, I see nothing wrong with that.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Simply Inspirational

I think this is really inspiring. Read for yourself.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Busy Little Bee

I often hear people talk about being too busy, or overworked. We all from time to time feel a little overworked, or rushed, depending on what is going on in our lives, and we can certainly become tired and stressed because of it. But I honestly think maybe it’s better to be overworked than underworked (of course a nice balance would be ideal).

When a person is underworked, or doesn’t have enough to do, they can become bored. They can begin doing things they shouldn’t. I know for myself not having enough to do can be a very depressing time. The beginning of this last summer, for instance, I found myself out of school, unemployed, and stuck at home by myself a great deal of the time. It took me a month to find something enjoyable to do to fill the time. Prior to that, however, I’ll admit I just sat around the house bored, trying to invent things to do, and in some cases, having too much time to contemplate sinning and to actually give into sin. This can be a downside to having free time. It’s why people overeat a lot of times, too—they become bored and eat because there’s nothing else for them to do, and eating can be an enjoyable activity to help pass the time. But one of the real downsides to having too much free time is that we become unproductive. Now, I don’t know about everyone else, but I like to feel as though I’m useful, or that I have a purpose or something I should be doing. I don’t like just sitting around. It makes me feel as though there’s nothing much to live for. That’s one reason I like being in school. I almost hate to say this, but I actually enjoy homework. I don’t like having so much that I worry I’ll never get it all done, but I do like having enough to help me keep from having an excess of do-nothing free time.

A lot of young people today, I believe, really are disadvantaged when their parents don’t make them work; even if it’s just doing chores around the house. Work, or having something you’re responsible for doing, really can help build your self-esteem and teach you the value of money and cooperating with others. When you work hard and you get money or some other reward in return, there’s a good feeling that accompanies that. I just finished a really lengthy homework assignment a few days ago that took a lot of time and effort on my part to finish. And even though I complained some about all that I had to do to finish the project, I’m really quite glad that I had it to do. It gave me something to be working on, to keep me busy and prevent boredom, and, now that it’s finished, I have something to feel proud of.

I wonder when work became such a bad thing. Seems like a lot of people I meet nowaday have this attitude against it. I notice it more and more among younger people though. In a way, I think people wrongly believe that work is just something to prevent them from having fun in life, or that it tires them too much. But I think when people think like that, they really haven’t thought the whole thing through. Yeah, having fun is, well, fun. But there can be such a thing as too much fun. And, of course, all play and no work can be just as dull as all work and no play. A trip to the amusement park can certainly become not so amusing after a few hours. That fiftieth ride on the roller coast and it will begin to lose its thrill. Too much fun, or too much of any good thing, usually has a way of becoming not so good. And then, when that does happen, the fall usually follows. Fun can take on a whole new meaning then—a more dangerous, often more sinful meaning.

The trick, really, is to find that ideal balance between work and play. We all need both to be happy, healthy, productive people. I may be busy as a bee a lot of times, but I really don’t think I’d want it any other way. Having work to do makes me feel good about myself, and it helps keep me from lingering on thoughts I shouldn’t have and doing things I shouldn’t do. On top of that, when you do work at something, you not only get the fruit of that work, but you really do make the time for play that much more valuable and meaningful.

Busy little bee, reporting for duty! And I couldn’t be happier about it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Future Looks Bright: Obama's Speech to Gay Rights Activists

As most of you have probably caught on, I am not much of a fan of President Barack Obama. I’ve given him a fair amount of criticism since he took office. Many of his policies and ideas I completely disagree with. However, having said that, tonight I feel proud (albeit reluctantly) to call him my president.

Knowing that his speech tonight was going to address a broad range of issues that affect the LGBT community, I made a point of watching it. I have to say I feel very reassured. President Obama made it clear that he is working to end discrimination against homosexuals, promising to end the ban on those with HIV from being allowed to immigrate to this country, to sign gay rights legislation, hate crimes legislation, and legislation to end the militaries policies of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and zero tolerance against gays actively serving. These are all things he promised to do when campaigning for the presidency last year, but had, to this point, shown little signs of wanting to follow through with. Tonight, however, I think he gave the strongest show of support for homosexuals any president we have ever had has shown. He made it clear that these are things he is actively working to do. And he actually talked in his speech as though he “gets” what homosexuals face and struggle with, and that he wants to improve the lives of homosexuals in this country. He addressed the fight for equality we are all seeking and hoping for, pointing out the Stonewall protests, the lack of benefits provided to spouses or partners of homosexuals, and the firing of thousands from their jobs because of their sexuality.

Here are a few quotes from President Obama’s speech that I found memorable and meaningful:

“None of us want to be defined by just one part of what makes us whole.”

“Our common ideals are a force far stronger than any division some might sew.”

“Together we will have moved closer to that day when no one has to be afraid to be gay in America.”

These quotes, I believe, signify that he understands our struggle, and that he is working to help us.

I hope our president is honest about his intentions. I hope he is truly committed to fighting for what is right. I’ll admit that I do not trust many politicians. Those I’ve trusted in the past all had a way of letting me down. But on these issues, I hope I can trust President Obama to do what he has said he will do, because if he is able to follow through with these promises, the lives of millions will be changed so dramatically for the better. If this president has ever inspired hope in me, it is to hope for that.

To read more about his speech, click here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

No More Summer, No More Breaks, No More Fun, Obama States

Yet again, Netscape has provided me with some current news.

After reading the article Obama Seeks to Curtail Summer Vacation, I have to say my level of outrage and disgust with President Obama and our current government officials has reached a new peak. I know I’ve ranted about this before, around the start of the year, but I feel compelled to do so again.

Let me respond directly to this article. First off, I don’t care what people in other countries are doing. Yes we can learn something from others, but we don’t, as Americans, have to do everything the way everyone else does it. If people in other countries want to give their children away to public education, then by all means let them. We don’t have to follow their example. You know, it used to be us leading the world. I guess maybe that time has passed.

A ten hour school day? Really, Mr. President? I mean, I know you have a long workday yourself, but ten hours, five or more days a week, almost year long is waaaaaaaay too much time to be dedicated to learning in school. After just eight hours my mind is tired and ready for a break. Kids usually, that I’ve been around, start losing focus and attention after about six hours. And what about what’s outside of school to learn? What about learning to play sports, or developing social skills, or spending time with family? What about high school kids who need that summer job, or part time job, to save up for a car, gas money, college tuition, etc.? What about all of that?

And what’s more, why won’t anyone in our government take a serious look at why education has weakened in this country? The reason isn’t that we aren’t spending enough time at school. People in this country used to spend far less time in school, and yet we were then considered the smartest, the brightest, and the most prosperous nation on earth. The reason is that we no longer teach to the basics. We have students who rarely even get a glimpse at the times table, or who ever do any math without the assistance of a calculator. We don’t teach reading to be fun, but we teach it to be a chore. We barely even cover the fundamentals of grammar. We teach all these theories that look good but don’t work that are presented by people who have never even been in the classroom. There is little authority given to teachers to be able to discipline their students. High school is being transformed into college, causing all the basics to be shoved down our kids throats so fast that they just barely have time to grasp what they’re taught. If they get behind at all, it’s just their tough luck. And I could go on and on.

It just burns me up that our government screwed up education in this country, caused us to get dumber as a nation, and rather than actually attempting to correct their mistakes made over the last few decades, they just want to add more time to the school year and rob our kids of their youth.

Frankly, Mr. Obama, you just lost any support from me you may have otherwise had. I took you to be a fairly intelligent person. But now I’ll simply presume you are just as arrogant and ignorant as every other politician and a puppet to those leaders from other countries. Let me just tell you, if you dislike America so much, why the hell are you leading us then? If every other nation is better than America, then get the hell out and go lead someplace else. We can manage without you. Goodbye and good luck making the rest of the world as dumb as you.

Sorry for the rant.

Let me just make clear on a few things, after having some time to reflect. I don't want to make it sound as though I think we can't learn from others. We can. I think it's a good thing to consider the accomplishments of others. And there are good ideas we can get from other countries. The problem I have is that I think there are better ways of improving education in this country without having our kids live at school, learning without a break. And I don't see why we should always have to strive to be number one at everything. It's a good goal, but not one worth killing ourselves for. If the Chinese and others want to stress themselves to death to become the smartest people on earth, then let them. We can still be a smart and prosperous people without necessarily having the highest test scores. And what's wrong with that? Why do we have to give up our way of life in order to be like everyone else, particularly when there are better options available?

Here's an idea. Why not give kids summer projects to do that are goal oriented toward their next year of school? This would allow kids time away from school, but still give them specific opportunities for learning. And I'm not talking about non-stop homework projects either; just something that students can spend some of their time focused on, preparing them for their next year of school.

On another note, I will conceed that more school time is probably in the best interest of some students. But I think this should be a choice. Right now, in a lot of places, summer school or summer programs are offered as a choice for students. Afterschool programs, likewise, are offered as a choice. And these programs can certainly help to improve a child's education. Having worked in an afterschool program myself I can verify this. My problem is not with these particular programs. It is the arrogance on some to suggest that these programs are needed by all students, when they are not. It is the desire that we should always be number one at all costs, even if that cost is to rob our children of time that they need (not just want, but need) away from school. That is where I have a problem and conflict with the opinions of our current leaders.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Something Promising

Below is a link to an article I read off of Netscape. It discusses a breakthrough in AIDS treatment--a possible vaccine.

I read this article and wondered how many people in the world would benefit from a cure for AIDS. Thousands, millions, all? I think all people. Some people want to point to homosexuals and say that this is their disease. But it's not. AIDS is something that has claimed the lives of millions of people all throughout the world, not only homosexuals, but heterosexuals as well--moms, dads, children, whole families. The people on the continent of Africa have been particularly hard hit by AIDS. And it's not just limited to there.

I watched a movie a while back and one of the characters was asked about how many friends he'd lost during the 80's because of the AIDS outbreak. He responded over half. I think about what it would be like if half of my friends died because of a disease so few knew anything about. During the 80's, so few really did know what was going on. I can't imagine the panic or worry or concern so many people must have felt back then, and the sadness of losing so many loved ones.

I hope the possible vaccine treatment mentioned in the above article will help eventually lead to a cure for AIDS. When that day comes, I'll rejoice alongside of all those whose lives has been affected by it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Still Calls Me Son -- John Waller

Happy Labor Day!

Last week I was listening to a cd I'd burned a year or so ago and the following song came on. It had been a long while since I'd listened to it, and I'd actually forgot it was on the cd. It's an incredible song based upon the story of the Prodigal Son. I hope you enjoy it. This wasn't the best video to accompany the song (there was a better one I'd like to have included, but it wouldn't let me embed it), but still this will let you hear it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Walking With God

I once went walking along a sandy beach shore, with God standing by my side. I looked at him periodically, and down upon the sand and out at the ocean, turning to look ahead as we continued to walk forward. But I wasn’t really walking; it was more of a float, as if being pulled along. All I could hear was the roar of the ocean as the wind swept past us. The sky was grayed with clouds and the air was cool and damp.

I turned to look at the older, wiser man beside me. His gaze was always steady, always looking forward. I looked ahead, up the beach, at the horizon—the sun setting just behind a distant dune that seemed forever away.

Suddenly, he stopped. He said nothing, but continued looking forward. Then he glimpsed out at the ocean. He looked back to me with a smile upon his face—the smile reassuring and warm. Then he turned to look ahead at the horizon once again, but did not move.

Slowly, I moved nearer to him. I put my arms around his right and held onto him, pressing the rest of my body to him. I couldn’t face him though. I couldn’t look up. I couldn’t move or think or say or do anything. Finally, I felt his other hand close round upon mine, embracing my hold upon him. I looked up at last, fearful, ashamed, guilty and crying, tears rolling down my face. He looked down at me and smiled, nodding finally and then looking once more to the horizon. I looked at the setting sun too and, together, with his leading, we began to move forward once more. Each step I took was made possible only by him.

* * *

As you probably noticed, it’s been a while since my last post. I just haven’t really felt like writing anything much lately. I just wanted to take a moment though to say thank you to a few people. I don’t want to name names because… well, I’m not sure it would be altogether appropriate, but you’ll know who you are. Since my last post I’ve received many encouraging and uplifting emails from some of you. One of you actually offered to fly me out to visit you so that we could go on a church trip together. This offer coming from a friend that I trust, it was something that nevertheless surprised me—just that someone would be willing to do something so nice for me like that. Another of you has written back and forth to me several times. You have been there for me in some lonely moments, whether I admitted that to you or not at the time. You told me I was loved, and a blessing. You remind me there are good people out there who truly do care about me. You have each reminded me of that. And I thank you.

Some of the things I mentioned in my last post still have not yet been resolved. But I know God is still working in my life, and I think I can say I have a bit more hope now than I did.

I’m not alone.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Post 102: Apologies, Friends, Church, and Family--My Life at the Moment

I want to apologize for my last post. It’s not one that I really wanted to write. I’d been considering it for some time, purposefully putting it off, and then in a moment of loneliness, feeling sorry for myself, and frustrated, I penned the note and published it on here for all to see. And I asked a question that, really, I already knew in my heart but didn’t want to accept, and am still having trouble accepting.

I’m not ready to accept that I’ll never be with another man. And the reason for that is because I know to accept it means that I’m accepting a life without a partner. It means I’ll be accepting a future I really don’t want. I don’t want to grow old all alone. I don’t want to always live alone, or only with family. I want my own family. And it hurts me knowing that there is someone out there who I love so strongly, who I’d like to share the rest of my life with, to build a life with, but that I know I can’t be with.

I no longer hold any illusions that I’ll someday find a woman, fall in love, get married, have kids, and live happily ever after as a heterosexual male. I feel foolish for ever having believed this. It’s not that I think it can’t happen, but that I really don’t think I want it bad enough to ever see it happen. I don’t want that sort of life. The idea of having a wife doesn’t seem like such a great prospect at all to me. It seems more like a burden—not only for myself, but to whomever my wife would be. I’m afraid of it, to be quite truthful. I don’t think I’d ever be able to connect with a wife the way a husband should. And as far as kids are concerned, I just want to make it clear that I really do love kids. My nephews, for instance, have brought me so much joy in life. They’ve been a blessing beyond anything else. But I really don’t think I ever want to have kids of my own. I worry I’d just screw up their lives, or that I wouldn’t be able to be a dad to them in the way they’d need, and, frankly, I believe this world is so harsh that I want no part of responsibility bringing another being into it.

I know I can do a lot of good by not being with anyone—male or female. I think about the Apostle Paul and how remaining celibate allowed him to do more things he’d not have been able to do, perhaps, had he had a family to have to take care of. He was free, in a sense, to do other things. I try to keep that in mind. And I try to keep in mind that I don’t want to be responsible for my friend, the one I mentioned in my previous post, falling into sin. As Sweeney pointed out to me, or caused me to see more clearly, this life is short, eternity is forever, and I’d much rather be with my friend in Heaven, for all eternity, than to gain a husband for a few short years here on earth.

I whine around too much on this blog, and I’m sorry for that. I hope you’ll forgive me. It’s just that this blog is almost entirely my only means of communicating the thoughts that I’ve shared with you. If I didn’t write about such things on this blog, I’d only be bottling everything up all the time. So, I thank you for putting up with me.

I hope you’ll be willing to bear with me a bit more though.

I’ve not been in church for a long time now. I think Mother’s Day was the last time I went, Easter before that, and then only a few weeks running around Christmas. I’ve not gone to church regularly now for about a year.

This bothers me.

I quit going to church for many reasons. One reason was due to childishness, as my friend Erik suggested, and I believe was right to say so. I didn’t like the way I was being treated, so I decided to run away and go play alone in my own sandbox—as he put it. To a very large extent, I got tired of trying and putting up with others at my church, and so I left. I allowed my frustrations and anger and bitterness at them to well up within me and cause me to just give up on them, and to a larger extent, the church itself. I’ve not been very forgiving for some of the things done to me, even the things that were probably just misunderstandings on my part. But another reason is that I got tired of seeing others being mistreated as well. Last summer, one of the youth at my church announced he was gay (which was quite literally a surprise to me), and the way everyone responded to him made me sick, to say the least. And it saddened me, because I realized if I shared my own struggles, the people I’d spent my whole life going to church with would treat me the same as they did him—I finally knew what would happen if I actually came out to more people at church. I knew already what had happened when I came out to my preacher; he wouldn’t have anything to do with me, except to ignore me, put me down, and act like a total… well, let me refrain from name calling, but just say that he treated me like crap. And then I saw how not only him, but the rest of the congregation as well, treated this young teenager like crap. They did nothing to help him. And I saw how they did nothing to help a few other people with some of their problems.

I’ve felt so much anger, and at people I hate feeling this way about. I care about them, but they’ve shown me that they care so little about me. I mean, here it’s been several months since I’ve been in church and not a single person has checked up on me. It’s like they don’t miss me at all, like I wasn’t even wanted in the first place. And now I’m left wondering what to do. I think I should go to church somewhere, but I don’t know where. I’ve heard others talk about how their churches are, I’ve been to some of them, and it’s just like none of them are any better. So, should I go back to my church? I really don’t know. And then again, I’ve been having doubts about what I believe in. I’m not sure what I believe. I have one friend who’s been telling me about Catholicism, and I have to admit I like and agree with a lot of things he has taught me about Catholic doctrine. But I don’t agree with everything he’s told me. I’m not sure I know what doctrine I believe in to even know what church to go to. And maybe that’s not the most important thing anyway. Maybe Christians get too caught up in doctrine when they should be focusing more on the basics, rather than the little details. There again, sometimes the devil’s in those little details.

So, where does that leave me?

On top of all that, I’ve lost my job this year, friends, most of the support or encouragement of my parents (who refuse to help me as well—on practically anything), my counselor, and almost any feeling that God is intervening in my life at all. And to be honest, I feel angry and confused with him as well. I did everything I thought He wanted me to do, that I felt led to do (and for that matter not to do), and I can’t see how any of it made any difference in anyone’s life. If anything, I think things are worse off. I don’t understand how God could allow the church, what should be a place of refuge, hope, strength and salvation to become something of the complete opposite. And I don’t understand what purpose it’s served me, or others, to go through some of the things I’ve gone through. I know I’m nobody to be questioning the ways of God, but I do question what God wants of me. What is my purpose?

Erik reminded me also that church isn’t always about getting something in return. It’s also about giving to others and serving God. This is something that I largely felt I had been doing, but got discouraged with when I truly needed help and nobody was there for me in return. It’s like somebody getting their arm cut off in church and everybody just looking at that person and doing nothing to help stop the bleeding. After three years of asking for help, I think I just finally bled out.

And I wonder how my preacher and others can make comments like they don’t understand why people leave the church. This baffles me. When people come to the church expecting it to live up to its words, to do the things it’s supposed to do, and then they find that not to be the case, it’s disheartening and disillusioning. People don’t want what isn’t real. I don’t want what isn’t real. I either want the real thing, or I don’t want it at all.

I want to ask anyone who reads this post to please pray for me to find a good church to go to. I want to be in church again, to be with other Christians, praising God, doing good for others, and being filled with the Spirit. So, please pray for me about this.

I just feel stuck right now. It’s like everything I’d worked for at church, at work, at home, with everything has fell apart. And I feel powerless to do anything about any of it. I didn’t want to leave my church, but I felt like I couldn’t make a difference there, and just almost had to leave. I tried to reach out and nobody ever reached back. I tried to get involved and was always pushed aside and pushed out. I worked so hard at work to do a good job and the people I worked for evidently couldn’t have cared less. I made all sorts of improvements, never caused anybody any trouble, and it’s like that didn’t matter (If I’d slept around with someone’s wife, stole money from the register, and/or blown up the place I’d probably still be employed right now). I give and give and give to my family and have done all I can do for them and it’s like it’s never enough. And from all three, if I ever ask/ed for anything in return it was like I was asking for somebody to cut off their arm or something. I mean, it’s not like I ever ask much out of anybody. But when something comes up that I desperately need help from someone, I’d have thought or hoped that that help could be returned from time to time—especially when I’d so willingly offered/given it myself.

Take my parents, for example. My dad knows all the things that have happened concerning me at church. Has he tried to help me any—talk to my preacher, defend me, back my ideas? No. Has my mom helped me with anything concerning being back in school? No. Here she is a teacher, went to school only about fifteen years ago, knows a lot of the stuff I’ve needed help with (I’m becoming a teacher too), but she won’t help me with anything. Both of my parents want to pretend that I’m not gay, which is of no help to me whatsoever. I can’t talk with them. Dad keeps leaving little hints that I should try to get with this girl or that one, and mom is currently doing all she can to get the daughter of one of her friends interested in me, which is just a nightmare I don’t need at all right now, or want, but tell her that. And the list could go on and on, but I think I’ve proven my point. There’s just no support.

And so there’s where I’m at. As I already said, I’m sorry to be spilling all of this out to everyone, but it’s either do it on the blog or bottle it all up and go insane, so I chose the blog. Hopefully next time I’ll have something better to write about.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How Do You Let Go of the One You Love?

For several months now, going on a full year, I have found myself in love with one of my friends. I never planned on these feelings coming about, and I’ve done my best not to encourage them. But as I’ve grown closer to this friend, the more these feelings have grown. I’ve not told him how I feel about him. But I know that I love him more than I’ve ever loved anyone else. I’d love to spend the rest of my life with him. I want to take care of him. I want to love him. I want to spend time with him, to share my life with him.

I know some people may want to suggest that the feelings I have for this friend are based more on lust or infatuation, or an emotional dependency, but they’re wrong. This man I love isn’t a great looking man—in fact he’s rather ordinary. And I can and have went long periods of time without being around him and without falling to pieces, so I am far from emotionally dependent on him. And it’s not about sex. I just want to be with him. I love him. When I think about him, see him, or hear his voice, I feel as though a missing part of me has finally been discovered. I feel warm, almost giddy. I feel complete and comforted in a way that nothing else has ever made me feel.

But as a Christian, I know I can never be with him. Because he too is a Christian, I know I can never be with him. I can never be with him.

Can someone please tell me how I am to let him go? How do I let this person I love leave my heart, without feeling as though I’m giving up the person I’m meant to be with, and feeling as though I’m giving up the only real chance I’ll ever have at having a relationship with someone? How do I not have these feelings anymore?

How do I let go of the one I love?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Savior, Please

This is my one hundredth post. I’d thought about writing something really special, or meaningful, to mark the occasion, but then I thought about this song and I realized it was more befitting than anything else I could possibly think of writing right now. It’s a great song by Josh Wilson. I hope you enjoy it.

I will just say this though: I thank God for the technology of today, and for being able to have this blog. Without it—or more importantly, without the contact with other people it has allowed me—I’d be a far different person today than I am.

Here’s to the next hundred! :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fell in Love with a Boy (or: I Want to Run)

I want to run
I want to run away from my life
And begin my life anew

I want to love the man I love
And to know he loves me too

I want to know I belong
And to know that there is a real purpose to my living

I want to make friends
I want people to like me
People I can share my life with

I want my family to get along
I want to enjoy my family

I want to run
I want to run

I feel myself falling away
I am—somebody I seem to know less and less about every day
I don’t understand

I want something else
I just want to run
I want to love the man I fell in love with
I want to run to him
I want to run

Friday, June 26, 2009

When Your Best Just Isn't Good Enough

There have been many things I’ve attempted to do in my life and come away from those attempts feeling as though I’m a complete failure. I’m sure most people have felt this way one time or another. It’s a frustrating thing whenever you try your best at something, and no matter how hard you try, you’re never quite good enough. You either have certain failures or setbacks, or someone else is always able to do the same thing better somehow. If you let it, these feelings can literally destroy your self-esteem and any feelings of self-worth or value.

I’m glad that with God our best is always good enough. That’s all he asks of us, is to give our very best, to do our very best, to try our very best. I’ll admit there have been times when I have felt like a complete failure as a Christian. I’ve done a lot of things no Christian should ever do. I haven’t always followed God’s leading, or cared as much for my fellow man as I should have, or abstained from certain sins, or a whole host of other things. I haven’t always given my best to God. But it is a comfort that my best is all he asks for. That’s all he wants: my very best, the best I can do. And so long as I’m doing that, I am good enough.

(I want to add that this note is for those in Christ. I do not mean to imply that all God ever wants from anyone is a best attempt at being good. Of course He expects that, but He also expects you to follow His son, Jesus, accepting Him as Lord and Savior of your life, and allowing Him to influence and change your life for the better. It is along that path, which I believe doing your best is good enough.)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Reflections on My Life: Part II

This last week I’ve gone walking a couple of times at the track behind my old middle school. I hadn’t been there in years. There were a few changes, but overall, it was still the same ole place I remembered.

As I was walking, a lot of memories came to mind. My middle school years were some of my favorite years of being in school. I had teachers I liked, classes and classmates I liked, plenty of friends, and the whole world ahead of me. I remember getting to read a lot. Every Friday in English class we got to read a book of our choosing for the entire class period. Our teacher would usually allow us to have snacks as well. I think it was during this time that I really developed a love for reading. It was the first time any teacher had just allowed me/us to read anything we wanted like that and to make something fun out of it. Come to think of it, I probably gained my love for reading in the sixth grade instead. We read a lot of good books in reading class that year. I remember having friends. I had more friends during those two years than at any other time in my life. I remember feeling confused about a lot of things, as I’m sure most kids do when they’re at that age. I remember I wasn’t gay. Okay, yeah, I was, but I didn’t really know it or understand it at the time—I just assumed I had some misplaced feelings that would eventually go away.

I remember the transition from middle school to high school was not a very good one for me. I had signed up for marching band my freshman year. The summer before school started I had to practice quite a lot with the others. I never enjoyed that. Band for me had always been about the music and having fun, not about marching and competition. To make matters worse, most of the friends I’d made in middle school band didn’t join that year, and the older students I was around made it abundantly clear that they didn’t like me. They never tried to reach out to me or befriend me. And anytime I tried I was put down or just outright ignored. They made fun of me. One of them in particular, I can’t number how many times he called me a faggot or queer and said he hated fags like me. I was miserable that year.

Looking back, I really wish things could have been different. I wish I’d done what some of my other friends from middle school did. I wish I’d taken a carpentry class or some other vocational class like they did. I wish I’d been able to make friends that year. I think, in hindsight, one or two people may have honestly tried to reach out to me. But when they did I couldn’t trust them. I was afraid of getting hurt. The rest of the time I was in high school, I was pretty much a shadow. I kept to myself and did everything I could to avoid others. Those few I was friends with never really knew me at all. They may have liked me, they allowed me to be around them, they invited me along on a few outings, but I know I never really let them know anything about me. They knew I was shy, quiet, calm, maybe even kindhearted, but that was all they knew. I wouldn’t let them know anything else.

I can see so clearly how much I changed when I started high school. But it’s when I was in middle school that I remember most fondly. I was more outgoing, happier, and definitely more positive about myself and life back then. I had friends, and I didn’t hide myself.

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is why I have so much trouble making friends these days. I honestly think the answer lies in how I changed when I began high school. Before my ninth grade year, I was just myself. I allowed people to know me. But when things didn’t go so well my freshman year, I think I just quit letting people know me, and I gave up trying to know them.

I’ve been reminded lately, or perhaps taught, that trying to be anything other than myself is foolish. And wrong. I believe God values each and every one of us, including the unique qualities or characteristics we each possess. When I entered high school I stopped being myself. When I was myself, I was made fun of, bullied, and made afraid. Out of fear and hurt, I withdrew. I began hiding myself from others, and became more cautious of how I acted around them.

Almost three years ago now, I contacted an Exodus Affiliate Ministry in Indianapolis, IN. A counselor, Paul, offered to help me there. We wrote emails back and forth to each other, and once I became comfortable with him we began talking over the phone. I’ll always owe Paul a huge debt of gratitude because he pushed me to be myself again, and to open up to others and try to make friends. He also was very compassionate and understanding. Paul is one of the few straight people I’ve ever known who was willing to at least try to understand the things I’ve went through and offer real meaningful help and encouragement. And I never felt like he was judging me.

The last three years I’ve tried to follow Paul’s advice. In a lot of ways, it’s helped me. Some of it’s only caused more problems—though I don’t really fault Paul for that—in a more perfect world life would be easier done than said. But, it’s sort of because of Paul’s influence on me that I’ve done some of the things I’ve done to make friends, that I got as involved at my church as I did, and that I began this blog. He helped me feel more comfortable being myself. All of it’s been in the attempt to become me again, and to allow others to know me—to fully know me, and for me to know them.

All of these thoughts came to mind while I was walking.

I think fear can lead people to do some really terrible things. The ones who bullied me did so out of their own fears and prejudices. The fear of their bullying and anyone else thinking the things about me that they did caused me to give up on myself and others.

I look back and I wish I’d done things differently. I wish I’d looked those people in the face and told them to shove off. I wish I’d not paid any attention to them or cared about what they thought. I wish I’d kept on being myself. I wish I’d kept on trying to make friends. I wish I’d felt comfortable enough about myself to just be myself and let everyone know how I felt—about everything. I think I might have been happier if I’d done that.

The last year or so, I have tried more to just loosen up around people. I realize not everyone is going to like me. I am who I am though. People will either like me or they won’t. If they don’t, I can get over it. But, if they do, that’s great, and something worth fighting for. This last year, I have felt more comfortable being myself. I’m not afraid of people knowing me like I used to be. I’m not afraid to come across feminine or gay around others—it’s just how I am. And I’m not afraid to face criticism, even when that criticism hurts, because I know there are others who do love me, who do care about me, and who do value me as a person.

I guess the main point of all of this is that it’s stupid to allow others to tear you down and cause you to give up on yourself. Be happy being you, because there’s no one else in the world quite like you. And there’s something so truly special about that.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Beautiful Ride

I heard a song last night that I really liked. I was watching the movie Walk Hard: the Dewey Cox Story, and at the end John C. Reilly sang this terrific song. It’s not the best song in the world, and I realize it was probably meant to come across comedic, but as I listened to it I thought about how honest and uplifting it really is. Essentially, the song is about what the main character of the movie has learned from his life. And to sum it up, he realizes his life has been a beautiful ride. It just got me to thinking that I hope that’s how I’ll feel at the end of my life—that I will be able to look back and know that I really did live a good life and know what was important.

I’ve posted the song below. Probably doesn’t say much for my taste in music, but what the hay. I hope you enjoy it too.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Random Bits of Boredom and Some Thoughts on My Mind

As the title of this post would suggest, I have been literally bored out of my mind the last few days. This is the first summer in a while that I haven’t had a job. I’m used to working outdoors and getting my hands dirty. So far, this summer has been absent of that sort of work. Or, well, it’s been absent of the great degree of it to which I’m used to. With no job, and not being in school for the moment, I’ve had plenty of time to take care of some long time projects. My bedroom is the cleanest it’s been in months—no more stacks of books and school papers lying around on the floor for me!—I’ve compiled a four inch thick folder of worksheets and lesson plan ideas that I’d accumulated over the last two semesters (should really come in handy once I start teaching), I’ve written one short story, revised another, written more on a novel that’s been in the works for what seems like forever now, and thoroughly enjoyed as much reading, movies, video games, exercise, and exploring the countryside as I can possibly take in. On top of that, I’ve spent quite a lot of extra time with my family.

One thing I’ve not done yet, but been itching to do, is a carpentry project of some sort. If any of you didn’t know this about me, I actually really enjoy carpentry. I’ve been considering building a table or desk on account that the one I currently have just isn’t really big enough for all of my computer stuff. It’s also crossed my mind that I might be able to make a little extra money building some furniture. Money aside, and the need for a larger desk, I just really enjoy building things, feeling as though I’m making something useful, being productive like that. It’s actually been some time since I was last able to do any of this sort of work, so I really am looking forward to it.

On the subject of carpentry, has it ever struck anyone curious that Jesus, being God himself, the creator of the entire universe, was a carpenter by trade? I’m not sure if I’d ever really considered how perfectly suited the job of a carpenter was for him; after all, being a carpenter you get to create—just something neat to think about.

Something else I’m working on is getting a little healthier. I’ve been trying to eat better foods, and when I say that, I mean those with less than 100 grams of fat and five-thousand calories, which pretty much rules out fast food. The last couple of years, life for me had been so busy I’d allowed fast food to become my friend. The downside was that I’ve put on about thirty pounds. Yep, the diet is in full effect. No more eating out (at least no more than twice a month, if I can help it) and no more junk food. I’ve also gotten back on a regular exercise routine. I love jogging/walking. There’s a track that I like to go to just a mile or two out of town. It’s a nice place. I try to go at night, because I like the cool air and the fact that I usually get the place all to myself. It’s somewhere I can go and avoid any distractions and have the privacy to either talk through my thoughts or talk to God. And I love the sound of the crickets and seeing the lightning bugs in the field nearby. It’s just really peaceful. Usually I’ll walk five laps and jog or run five laps. Sometimes I’ll do more or less depending on the weather. In addition to jogging, I’ve been doing fifty to a hundred crunches and fifty pushups once every other day. So far I’ve managed to lose a little over five pounds. Anyone got any tips for me? I’d appreciate the advice.

I’ve been thinking about church lately. It’s been a while since I’ve went. To be honest, I’m afraid if I go back to church and something else goes wrong I’ll just end up wanting to quit it for good. I know this isn’t good. I believe Jesus meant for us, His followers, to be in relationship with each other. But I feel as though the church today just isn’t what it ought to be. And I’m not sure where, if I was going to go to church, I’d go. I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing. Maybe I’ll go back to my old church, maybe I’ll find a different one, maybe I’ll just take a little more time away from it to figure out what I’m doing. Only problem with that last idea is that I know not being in church isn’t helping me. I know I need the support it provides, even if that support only comes in the form of feeling as though I’m a part of something.

I’ve also been thinking about friends. I want to thank everyone who gave such good advice and comments for my last post, which was of this subject. One thing I realize is that I am a shy person. I also have trouble trusting people. So, it takes a while for me to open up to people. I realize that this doesn’t help me to make friends very easily. I know I can also be rather stubborn and perhaps even arrogant at times, neither of which can help when it comes to building a relationship with a person. I also recognize that it doesn’t help me any being gay and living in a rural part of the country, where being different isn’t typically considered a good thing to be. I’m not openly gay to too many people actually, but I know a lot of people think that about me. I know I do have some rather effeminate mannerisms and my voice is sort of soft. As Jay would call it, I have a little extra “sugar in my step”, so to speak (I don’t know why but I can’t help but like that expression). I’m sure a lot of guys see me and hear me speak and just automatically assume that I’m either gay or just too effeminate or different for their own liking. Regardless of whatever it is about me or otherwise that keeps me from making/keeping friends, I’m determined to keep on trying. I suppose it’s the stubbornness in me that keeps me from giving up.

Another thought on my mind is that I haven’t felt very close to my dad lately. I was playing the second Splinter Cell game the other night and out of nowhere this huge feeling of nostalgia came over me. I’m a terrible sentimentalist like that. I remembered a few years back when my dad and I played through the game for the first time. We played several other games together as well—mostly Medal of Honor and James Bond games. When we were playing those games I felt the most connected with my dad. I really enjoyed those times. There haven’t been very many like that when I felt so close to him. I struck up a conversation with him the other day about the Splinter Cell game, and I could see after a few minutes the fondness he has for those times as well. We ended up talking about the things we remembered most from some of the games and it didn’t take long for the excitement to grow in both of our voices. I’m hoping we’ll be playing one of the ole games together again soon.

Well, that should probably be just about enough from me. I’ll close with just one last thought, though. Does anyone else think that maybe it was a good thing that abortion doctor got shot recently? I mean, I hate that the man was killed, and by no means do I mean to imply that people should take up their guns and start killing doctors, but the man was admittedly himself the murderer of hundreds of unborn babies. I can’t help but feel as though a mass murderer just finally got what was coming to him. I know that probably sounds rather harsh, but seriously, with the man dead, his clinic has closed and who knows how many babies could now get a chance to live. Sort of makes you think a bit, doesn’t it?

(I want to add just this one last thing in order to avoid any further confusion. I do not condone the murder of Dr. Tiller. I think it was an awful thing that he was murdered. All I meant in the previous paragraph was that I think it's a good thing fewer abortions may take place now. But I do not think it was a good thing Dr. Tiller was murdered, nor do I believe his murderer had a right to do so. I'd have much rather him lived and somebody have been able to convince him to stop doing the abortions. And I want to apologize if my comments earlier seemed insensitive or uncaring. That really was not my intent.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


For about as long back as I can recall I’ve had trouble making friends. I meet someone I like, I spend time with them, I try to get to know them, maybe we hang out or do something for a while, and then nothing. All communication stops. Or, there’s also the occasions when I’m trying to become friends with someone and they won’t give me the time of day. Then there are those who I’ve thought were close friends that turned out not to be. After a lifetime of what I’d define as poor friendships, I seriously wonder what the problem is. Is there something about me that people just don’t like, am I going about things all wrong, or is it just the sort of people I end up being around? Or is it a combination of the three? I don’t know. I don’t understand it. But I know I just get so tired of trying and not seeing any results. (I think I should add that I do have several internet friends. What I'm talking about here are close, personal friends--the type you can see face to face and actually do things with in person).

I’ve heard of other people who struggle with a similar problem, particularly SSA men trying to form healthy friendships with straight men. I know I have trouble trusting people sometimes and loosening up. Maybe that’s what I need to work on. Maybe I’m too stiff for most people.

I guess the point of this post is that I’d like to hear from all of you that read my blog how you go about making friends. How do you define friendship? What makes you want to be friends with certain people? What makes you not want to be friends with certain people? How do you keep friendships together? What challenges have you faced in some of your friendships? I really am quite curious about all this.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Work in Progress--Stop the Hatred!

I dedicate this post to the memory of Matthew Shepard, and to the family and friends he left behind. I pray his story is never forgotten.

Lately I’ve felt very hopeful about life. For the first time in a really long time, I feel as though my life is going in a really good direction. And I feel as though I’m letting go of some of my past. I’ve been able to shake off some of those old wounds and some of the things preventing me from moving forward, and I’ve been able to accomplish a lot of things I doubted I would ever be able to accomplish. I feel free. And I have God to thank for all of this.

Sometimes I have a hard time understanding God. There are times when I feel so close to Him, as though he’s a part of my every being. Other times, I feel as though He’s a stranger I only barely knew, but who no longer comes around. I wonder why He continues to be so good to me. I’ve done so many things against Him. I think that’s part of the beauty of God. He’s always working on me, always with me, always paving a way for my life, even if I don’t recognize it. He always loves me.

I am a sinner. I sin in some way or another probably every single day. Sometimes I sin intentionally, and sometimes it’s unintentional. Regardless, I sin. But God still loves me.

I don’t understand people who claim that God hates. Most of you who regularly read my blog know that I am gay. I am sexually attracted to other men. I try hard not to act upon my attractions, because I am a Christian and I believe homosexual activity is sinful. But I will admit, sometimes I do act on those attractions.

Some people in the church would say that my sins are worse than the sins of others. They look down on homosexuals and treat us with a certain air of disgust or unconcern. I don’t understand people like this. I don’t understand how someone can claim to be a Christian but believe some people are better than others, and believe that some aren’t worth saving or knowing, or worth the love of God. It bothers me greatly whenever I hear somebody say “God hates fags”. That statement is a lie and demeaning in so many ways. It is equally demeaning to hear phrases like “That’s so gay” or “What a fag”. I believe Christians should know better. Everyone sins. No sin is worse than another. True, some may have greater consequences than others, but all are equally offensive to God. But despite that, God loves us. How do I know this? Because he came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ and died for each and every one of us so that we may not perish on account of our sins. God took the punishment upon himself that we each should rightfully bear on our own. He didn’t do this for only a select few sinners. He did this for every sinner. What greater message of love could there be? And what right does any of us have to deny anyone the experience of knowing that love? As Christians, we should never be exclusionary of anyone. We should strive to love every single person of the world in the same fashion that Jesus loves. We should reach out to them, befriend them, and help bring them into the fold. And oh what a difference we could make if we would all do that!

It also bothers me to see Christians stand on the sidelines when others belittle or mistreat people. Too often I’ve seen fellow Christians do nothing to help the person being mistreated. There is no excuse for this. Now, I’m not tooting my own horn here, because I have certainly been guilty of this myself, and I pray God forgives me for this, but we should never allow our fears or prejudices keep us from doing what is right. No one deserves to be abused. When we Christians see that happening to someone, we should do everything in our power to help stop that abuse. If we do nothing, we send the message that we condone what is being done. What a horrible message to send to the world! We should be teaching ourselves and others to stop this sort of thing, and to speak out against it whenever we see it happening.

I feel sorry for people who hate. They wreck their own lives and the lives of others through their hatred. And what good is that? A young man in Wyoming named Matthew Shepard was beaten to death a few years ago because he was gay. I wonder why? What fuels that sort of hatred in a person that they would take someone out to the middle of nowhere, tie them to a fence, beat them within an inch of their life, and then leave them for dead? I don’t understand something like that. I don’t understand how someone could allow their hatred for something to build so much that they would brutally attack and kill a person like that. I don’t know if Matthew felt as I do, but I don’t look at myself only as being gay. There is so much more to who I am than what gender I find sexually attractive. I am also a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, an uncle, a friend, a Christian, a teacher, a writer, an environmentalist, and so many other things. My identity is not solely wrapped around the one thing that so many people seem to hate. When you kill or abuse a person out of hatred, know that there is more to that person than just the thing you hate. And know that despite your hatred for the person, there are others who love them. Know the loss and the sorrow that you cause them because of your actions.

I support hate crimes legislation for homosexuals. I haven’t always, but as I’ve aged and developed in my faith, I see no reason in the world now not to support it. I do believe the legislation should be written fairly and just, however, protecting the rights of everybody involved. I say this because some pieces of past suggested legislation has been written in a way that would punish a person because they believe homosexuality is wrong. I believe a person can believe this without hating or committing acts of violence, and should be allowed to express their beliefs if they choose. I don’t believe that in particular is criminal in nature so long as it doesn’t lead to harassment or the demeaning of an individual. Regardless, when so many people do hate homosexuals and do discriminate or commit acts of violence against homosexuals because of their hatred, I believe homosexuals should be allowed protection under the law.

As I mentioned earlier, I know there are some people, both Christian and not, who would hate me, or at least dislike me, because of my attractions to other men. I also know, however, how very much God loves me and is constantly working in my life to make me a better person and to lead me to a better place in life. I wish others would recognize this before condemning a person. We are all sinners, but we are all loved by God, can be saved, and have the potential to do so many great things in our lives and in the lives of others around us for the glory of God. When you hate a person, you potentially keep them from realizing these things.

Yes, I am a sinner, but I am also a work in progress, I have value as a human being, and I am loved by God.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Give Me Your Voice and I'll Lend You My Ear

I thought seriously about continuing the poll, but I think I’ve decided against it. I’d rather get actual conversations as opposed to yes or no type answers.

One of the things I’ve had on my mind lately is my childhood. I don’t know why, but I keep reflecting back on all sorts of things. The other day I literally made a list of some of my favorite childhood movies. Afterwards, I watched a few of them and realized some might actually still be considered favorites. I’ve also thought about times when I was in elementary school. These memories have been good ones. They’ve not been bad. I’m not saying that all of my time in school was pleasant, but just that I’ve had the good memories on my mind.

I don’t know why, but I feel sort of an odd calm about life. I think that by reflecting back on the good times of my younger days, I’ve sort of been reminded of simpler times. And that’s made me yearn for that again.

I think people can take on too much work in their lives sometimes. I know I’m guilty of this. I try to do way too many projects all at once and then when I’m absolutely stretched for time, I feel like falling to pieces.

Life can sometimes be so complicated. And I keep asking myself why that is? I think, for the most part, we all complicate things for ourselves. Maybe that’s due to our misunderstandings or over-analytical personalities—who knows—but I think whenever our lives become overly complicated, we need to sit back for a moment, take a deep breath, and slow down. If we don’t, it will just cause us all sorts of problems (fatigue, frustrations, anger, strained relationships, etc.).

So, here’s what I’d like to know: Is your life too complicated? If so, what things do you allow complicate it? And what can you do to uncomplicated your life? How do you ease up some of the stress of life? Let me know what you think.

Anyone wanting to comment is welcome to do so.

Later! :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Two Years and Counting

Time is such a funny thing. I thought I was just about to reach the two year anniversary of my blog, so I looked up my first post to see about the date. As it turns out, the anniversary is today. So, I happily announce that my blog is officially a two year old (Watch out! They can be wild at that age. :) )

As I reread that first post I couldn’t help but feel as though it had been such a long time ago that I wrote it. So much has happened in that time. But regardless of all that’s taken place, and all the changes and new insights I’ve developed, I still feel that the message of that first post is as relevant as ever. If you’ve never read it, I’ll encourage you to do so. The remainder of this post will relate to it.

As a future teacher, it bothers me to see how many backward approaches people take to education. It bothers me to see how much corrupted, bureaucratic politics have infiltrated our schools. But I’ll reserve the urge to go into a rant about those things and focus solely on school violence.

In my first post, I commented on the shooting that took place at Virginia Tech. In the last few weeks, I’ve been reminded of that incidence by the news of a young man who shot himself, and another who hung himself, both because of bullying that took place at their schools. Yet again, more school violence has occurred. I warned in my first post that things of this nature will continue happening so long as we continue to push God further and further out of our society. Without God comes a great deal of immorality. History is full of examples of this.

But about school violence, I take seriously the fact that our politicians and school administrators at large have done nothing to honestly help curb it from happening. There are so many easy steps that could be taken to help prevent problems like this (that would actually work), but nobody seems to want to implement any of them. And I can’t help but wonder why?

I offer three solutions that I guarantee would cause a dramatic decline in school violence.

Solution number one: implement a Golden Rule policy throughout the entire school. This should be the rule that teachers enforce and focus on the most. They should look out for bullying. When they see it, they should stop it. They should teach constantly that students treat each other as they would want to be treated themselves. And there should be consequences for the one who does the bullying. This would not only help stop school violence, but it would show the students that their teachers care, and would help the students learn how to better care for each other as well. It would cause the students to put themselves in another person’s shoes and realize that it’s never okay to treat someone poorly.

Solution number two: perform confidential written student interviews at least once every two weeks. The teacher should write on the board these four questions for the students to answer on their own paper: What things do you like about school? What things do you not like about school? Is there anyone causing you any problems, or hurting you in some way? How do you feel today? Just to ask these four simple questions a teacher can find out what’s on the students minds. They can find out which students are at risk, who the bullies are, what problems are happening at school and at home, and practically any other problem the student is having, including academically. The teacher can then get help for the student before it’s all too late.

Solution number three: create a metal detector foyer at the entrances of every school. What this would mean is students would have to walk through two sets of doors in order to get into the building. At the first entrance, they would have to walk through metal detectors. If the detectors go off, the second set of doors would automatically lock and prevent the student from entering the school. The student carrying a firearm would be locked inside the foyer, preventing them from causing harm to any of the other students and giving time for police to apprehend them. Talk about prevention!

So, there are three solutions (and by no means the only ones out there) that would dramatically make a difference in our schools. I guess my question is, why haven’t these things been implemented? The first two solutions wouldn’t cost anybody anything. The third would cost some, but is that cost really too high? I certainly don’t think so—not if it prevents students from getting killed. And all of these are solutions that would actually work. They go directly to the root of the problem. The issue at hand seems to me to be everyone’s desire to complicate everything, and beat around the bush due to laziness, greed, and/or a thirst for power. And as long as that’s the case, I doubt we’ll ever see anything positive come about in this regard.

The warning still stands…

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Analyzing the Results of the Poll

Well, my first poll conducted on my blog just closed a few days ago. Here are the results:

6 people said gay marriage should be allowed.
3 people said gay marriage should not be allowed.
6 people said civil unions were okay, but not marriage.
0 people said that they didn't care one way or another.

Okay, so lets analyze the results. Naturally, if you don't care, why vote at all? That was sort of a dumb question on my part. But moving on, at first glance, one might think that there were more in favor of gay marriage being allowed than there were against it. But then you would have to consider the third option. Altogether, 9 people said that they felt gay marriage should not be allowed. Of those 9, 6 believed that civil unions should be allowed and recognized. What does that mean? It means that even though some don't believe marriage should be allowed, a majority do feel that gay relationships should be recognized in some way. If you look at the results in this way, you will find that a large majority had this feeling. Whether through marriage or civil unions, a total of 12 to 3 felt that gay relationships should be recognized. I think that's important to point out. Of those 12, half believe gay relationships should be recognized through marriage. The other half believe they should be recognized through civil unions. But there was not a consensus on how they should be recognized. There were only 3 people who voted who believe gay relationships should not be recognized.

I really find this interesting. When I first began this poll, I really wasn't sure what to expect. I had a hunch that more would be in favor of recognizing gay relationships in some fashion, due to the background of those who typically follow my blog (and that was a variable that should be considered here in this poll), but I was surprised to see the even split between those who favored gay marriage to civil unions. Even though a majority favored recognizing gay relationships in some way, that majority was evenly divided about how to recognize such relationships. After seeing these results, I'm not as surprised now about the failure to prevent Proposition 8 from passing in California a few months ago. These results, I think, show that indeed, the majority of people are not in favor of gay marriage. However, that does not suggest that the majority is against recognizing homosexual relationships.

So what are the implications? I see a problem here for those in the gay community fighting for gay marriage. Is the ultimate goal here a recognition of homosexual relationships, or is it to prove that homosexual relationships are exactly the same as heterosexual relationships? If it's the later, the results will always prove fatal. Gay relationships can never be exactly the same as straight relationships. Two men are not the same as a man and a woman. It's as simple as that. And I think most people see this. They see there is a difference here (Yes, apples and oranges are both fruit, but an apple can never be an orange). This poll of mine indicates this belief. However, if the goal is simply to get a recognition of homosexual relationships, then wouldn't it seem a far better bet to focus attention on civil unions? I do not doubt that all of those who supported gay marriage in my poll would also support civil unions for gay couples. However, those who supported civil unions clearly showed they were not in favor of gay marriage. My argument is wouldn't it be better for supporters of gay marriage to support civil unions instead? First off, they would clearly have an easier case to make, and if they won, they would still get all the rights and benefits given to straight married couples. The only difference is that they would have to let go of their attempt to prove the two kinds of relationships as the same. Logic suggests the two can never be the same. Not really. So, why not just accept that and fight for what's actually achievable?

There again, is gay marriage not achievable? More and more states seem to be accepting it. But just because the state accepts it, does that mean everyone will accept it? I don't think so. As a Christian, I can never accept any union between two people of the same sex as marriage. Even if the state allows gay marriage, which I tend to believe it should, I still could not accept it. That's just not marriage to me. It may be like marriage, but it's not marriage. I could, however, accept civil unions. As a Christian, I can't really complain about civil unions at all. So, wouldn't that be better to fight for? Looks to me like that would be a win win for everyone.

Let me know what you think. How do you feel about the results of this poll? Do you see the same implications I do?

As for the next poll, I'm still undecided as to what it will be about. I have a few ideas, but I've not settled on one just yet. So, keep a look out. I should have my mind made up in the next few days.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Harry Potter and a Way to Resist the Devil

Sometimes I feel as though this life of mine just isn’t worth living. I feel sad, lonely, hopeless, angry, bitter, confused, and practically every other negative emotion a person could ever feel. I feel these ways more often than not, and I struggle terribly at times to stop these feelings. But every once in a while something comes along that makes me forget about everything bad in the world. It lifts my spirit, reminds me of something good that sometime happened, or gives me hope for something better.

I love watching the Harry Potter movies. I’ve never known a series that advocated love, friendship, and hope more than it. There’s a scene from the latest movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, toward the end, which moved me so much when I saw it the other day. I’d seen this movie a couple of times before, but I hadn’t really stopped to pay attention to this particular scene as closely as I should have. In it, Harry’s nemesis, Voldemort, takes control of his mind and body, incapacitating Harry, filling his mind with all sorts of horrible thoughts—the death of his parents and loved ones, times of loneliness, insecurities. Harry lies on the ground fighting to resist these feelings. Seeing him struggle, his teacher and mentor, Dumbledore, leans down beside him and says to him, “Harry, it isn’t how you are alike. It’s how you are not.” Harry then sees his two closest friends, Ron and Hermione, standing in the distance. He’s suddenly able to fill his mind with thoughts of their friendship, and of all the good times they have had together. And he thinks about the people he has known and loved. With these thoughts, he is eventually able to break free of Voldemort’s hold on him just enough to respond to him. “You’re the one who’s weak,” Harry says to him. “And you’ll never know love, or friendship. And I feel sorry for you.” At this, Voldemort tries harder to attack him, but Harry is able to fight him off. Voldemort leaves Harry’s body and then just stands over him and says, “You’re a fool Harry Potter. And you will lose everything.” A few minutes later, as everything has settled down and the movie is about to end, Harry tells his friends that they all have something Voldemort doesn’t have. “What’s that?” asks Ron. “Something worth fighting for,” Harry replies.

Can anyone else see the connection here between what happened in this movie and real life? I didn’t see it the first couple of times I watched this movie, but the way Voldemort attacks Harry is exactly how the devil attacks each of us. The devil fills our minds, runs us down, makes us to dwell upon all the bad in our lives and in the world, and in the hope that in doing so it will eventually destroy us.

I tend to think that God sends me those little moments of goodness to help me resist. Like Harry, sometimes I need someone to tell me I’m not bad. Sometimes I need something to remind me of better times. Sometimes I need to know my friends are still my friends. I am loved. I have known friendship. I have friends. I may sometimes be very much like the devil, but in so many ways, I know I am so very different from him. Dumbledore’s advice to Harry is good advice to accept. It’s not how we are alike, but how we are not alike that should make all the difference. I have known and experienced so many wonderful things the enemy never has and never will. These are things he can’t understand, but damns others because they do. Rather than hating and tearing down others and myself, and giving up, as he’d like me to do, and as he does, I have something better to hope for. I have something so much more worth fighting for. Why would I ever want to give that up?

I wrote in one of my comments to another post recently that if people would just look more for the good in themselves and the good in others, this world would be a far better place to live in. I believe in that with all of my heart. It’s that good that separates us from the devil. I believe there is good in everyone, and that no one is beyond saving. I believe that’s a big part of what the Christian message should be to the world. We can either join up with the one who has only ever had our destruction and misery in mind, or we can join the one who has brought about all the good we have ever known and could ever hope to know. Which one is more worth fighting for?

Like Harry Potter, I think I’d rather fight for what’s good in the world. And like him, I too feel sorry for the enemy. He will never know love. He will never know friendship. He will never know anything but hate and destruction. And I will never understand why he fights for that so much. Maybe it’s simply because he has already lost everything, and he wants all of us to lose as well. Whatever the reason, I’m not like him. And I’m not as he suggests I am. Despite whatever flaws I may have, I am so much better than that. And the next time he tries to take over my mind and my body, I think that’s just what I’ll tell him.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Educating America

The last couple of weeks I’ve heard President Obama and other people in his administration make comments on how they would like to improve education in our country. A few of their ideas include longer school days, adding on an additional month to the school year, merit-based pay for teachers, and providing a $4,000 refundable college tax credit that will require the student who accepts it to perform 100 hours or more of community service. After hearing these ideas I am troubled by the direction this new president wishes to take education.

The whole idea concerning longer school days and extending the school year by as much as a month are based on what other Asian and European countries are currently doing. The idea is that students in this country simply are not having enough time to learn all that is required of them. Now, this is an idea that I agree with, but from a different perspective. I do not think the problem is that our school days aren’t long enough or that the school year is too short. I think the problem is that a lot of high schools have become colleges, and as a result, the basics in middle and elementary schools are being taught so fast that students simply do not retain the knowledge they need, or cannot keep up at all and are getting left behind. Now, one thing President Obama is supporting is college credit classes in high schools. At face value, this certainly appears to be a good idea. But let’s look at the results. With more and more high schools doing this, our students on average have not become smarter, but dumber. And I need no test or statistic to tell me otherwise. If you want proof, just ask people at various ages’ math questions. My grandparents can add, subtract, divide, and multiply fairly well. My parents are equally as well. But myself and my brother, and virtually any other person I’ve encountered around my age, we struggle terribly. It’s a wonder younger people today are able to do any math at all. Now, in high school, I took many math classes. One of them, pre-calculus, actually was a college credit class, which counted for college algebra. In these upper level math classes, I did well overall; only once can I remember making anything less than a B and quite typically I made all A’s. However, after eight years of being out of high school, I now find myself struggling just to figure out what should be a simple math problem. I have trouble remembering the rules for subtraction and division in particular. I remember virtually none of the algebraic formulas. Nor do I remember most of the formulas for geometry. And what I’ve seen is a decline in retention. But much more than that, I’ve found that most of the math skills learned in those upper level courses I’ve rarely, if ever, needed outside of school. And the skills that I have needed, those basic math skills, I cannot always recall.

So, what is the problem? As I said, I did fairly well in most school math classes. So, why didn’t I retain more of that knowledge? I can tell you it was because what math was taught to me was taught too quickly. I had just enough time to learn how to take the test, do it well, and then move onto the next thing and forget it. I remember at the time wishing that we could slow things down a bit so that I could get a better grasp of things. And by time I did take that college credit math class, making that C was a struggle in itself. Now, having said that, it would certainly sound as though a longer school day or a longer school year would have been the solution. But let’s look at the bigger picture here for a moment.

Elementary and middle schools teach the basics in math at an accelerated pace so that there is time for college credit math classes in high school. Students are therefore rushed and do not get as firm a knowledge on the basics as they should. When they get to high school, math is either impossible for them, or has become a struggle, which is why so many students opt to take as few math classes as possible—they just don’t understand the subject and it’s too difficult for them. Those who take the higher level courses may find ways to pass them, but by time they get out of school they find that their level of retention with math skills has diminished considerably. Does anyone else see the problem here? Why isn’t high school teaching high school math and leaving the college credit courses to college?

There’s the real issue we as Americans are facing. Students are being rushed through the process, in an attempt to compete with other countries, and are not getting as firm a grasp on the basics as they need to be able to succeed. The solution isn’t to extend the times for school. The solution is to slow down the process, allow students to get a better understanding of what they’re being taught, and to then make college free to every student wishing to attend.

Did you catch that last part? Yep, I said “free” college. In this day and age, when we live in a world where free trade has virtually killed the middle-class manufacturing jobs that had once helped to make this country what it is, getting a college degree is one of the most important things a person can do. Without it, there just aren’t a lot of higher paying jobs available like there once was. So, if we’re going to truly be a competitive country again, when it comes to education and high paying jobs, we must make college a free opportunity to anyone who wants it. Why not simply tack it onto the already public education system? Now there’s a solution worth fighting for! If our leader’s truly wanted us to be the best in the world, they would provide a higher level of education without financially crippling a person with tuition, financial aid, and other loans just to be able to go. With this solution, elementary and middle schools can slow things down a bit, allow the students to get a better grasp of the basics, allow high schools to build upon the basics, and then allow more people than ever before to attend college, earn a degree, retain knowledge, and go out into the world as the smartest people in it. We can do this! So why haven’t we?

The other problem I have with President Obama’s solution is that it takes away time for kids to be kids. Longer school days? Longer school year? No, I don’t think that’s such a wise course of action. My first argument against this would be just because other nations do this, doesn’t mean we should as well. Just because something works in one country doesn’t mean it would work in this one, in other words. My second argument is that if you push learning and school nonstop on any kid, they’re just going to eventually become so frustrated, burned out, and against school and learning that they’ll give up and reject it. They’ll rebel against it. While learning is important, so is play. Allowing children time to be children, to run around and play and socialize with other kids, is a very healthy thing. And as our children continue to become more and more obese in this country, I see this as something crucial to not be done away with. But the bottom line is just that there needs to be a time for school and learning as well as a time away from those things. After seven to eight hours or more a day in school, five days a week, children need a break. Now, I believe it was Obama’s secretary of education who suggested the school day be extended as long as perhaps eight in the evening for struggling students. Huh? I’m sorry, but a twelve hour day is not what any student needs. By the end of the day their little minds will have become nothing but mush.

And how about extending the school year? This too will not work. The president seems to forget about all those rural students who, even in this day and age, need those summers off in order to help their parents on the farm. For a good number of farmers, this is critical to their family’s livelihood. Without their children’s help, there can be no farm. And with fewer farmers, the more this country will have to depend on produce from other places around the world in order to survive. But on another matter, summer time is the time for play. Again, I think children should be allowed time to be children. And what better time to get outside, run around, get plenty of exercise and play than during summer? Our children need this time off for those very reasons.

Now, concerning merit-based pay for teachers, I think this is a tragedy just waiting to happen. The idea is that a teacher’s pay will be based upon how well their students are learning. Again, at face value, this may seem to be a good idea. However, my concern is on what this will be based upon. I don’t think it’s too hard to imagine the measure of how well a teacher performs will be based upon how well their students perform on standardized tests. Now, isn’t this the same president who spoke out against teaching to the tests, a big part of No Child Left Behind, before he got elected? You see, the minute you begin paying teachers based upon how well their students are learning you make everything, yet again, based upon tests that do not and cannot cover everything needed to be learned—not everything can be tested by a multiple choice test. Furthermore those tests are skewed in that they incorporate the academic achievement of all students.

Let’s say a teacher has twenty-five students in her/his classroom. One third of them have a learning disability, and at least two are either physically or mentally unable to function just to take care of themselves, let alone to be able to take a test (this is actually about an average make up for a general class, believe it or not). Are you seriously going to tell me that you’re going to base a teacher’s pay upon whether or not all those students reach a proficient level of learning? For most of them this is impossible, regardless of however much wishful thinking is involved. Now, I’m not saying these students should be given up on, but just that no matter how much attention you give them, the odds of them performing just as well as a student without any problems like this are slim to none. For most, it’s just not going to happen. They may show signs of improvement, and with a good teacher this will happen, but they aren’t very likely to score as high as their other non-disabled classmates. That being the case, how could merit-based pay ever be fair? It can’t. What’s more, if this does become a reality, a large number of good teachers will eventually just throw up their hands and give up. They’ll give up because the system will be against them. They won’t have a chance to begin with. You could have an extraordinarily good teacher who, just because the makeup of her class for a particular year includes a high number of students with disabilities, gets penalized by a pay cut or even worse, faces dismissal. Where is the logic to this? For a president who says he wants to grow the number of good teachers in this country, he’s sure off to a poor start at keeping them and encouraging others to go into the field.

A teacher’s merit should never be based upon tests alone. In a lot of ways you simply cannot measure the worth of any teacher by any given definition. A teacher may be a good teacher simply because he or she cares and loves their students. For a student, a teacher’s love may be the only love they ever receive. But how do you measure love? A teacher may be a good teacher because he or she teaches the students self-worth and endurance. But how do you measure those things? You see, it’s not just how well a student does on a test that determines the worth of a teacher. You could have an extraordinarily poor teacher whose students do well on the tests. But what do those tests really say about her/him as a teacher? It’s these things that I believe President Obama fails to recognize. He’s looking at education from a very narrow mind-view.

Now, concerning the tax credit to students wishing to go to college, it’s not the tax credit itself I’m against. It’s the requirement that students who accept it must do 100 hours of community service. Now, community service is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. But when you have to work, take care of a family, go to school, and do homework, that doesn’t exactly leave a lot of time for things such as community service. Especially not 100 hours of it. I have no doubt that some students will be helped by the president’s tax credit, but it’s certainly nowhere near a cure all, and for those non-traditional students such as myself, who has all those other things to do besides going to school, it won’t help at all—I for one would not be able to find the additional time to meet this requirement. So, whereas I think President Obama has the best of intentions by this, I think he fails to take into account the various circumstances people have in this regard. My argument again would be, why not just make college free to everyone who wants to go by tacking it onto the public education system? I guarantee if this were done, more people than ever before would attend college and earn a degree towards getting a higher paying job. Talk about our country profiting then!

I truly hope and wish for this President to do a good job. I think our nation needs him to do well. But I think with ideas like this, he is selling himself and our country short. He is taking backward approaches to the problems within our education system, looking over the root problems, and providing blanket solutions that in and of themselves still will not address the many challenges we face today.