Friendship

The Cliff

Sitting_near_the_cliff

Dear Russell & Friends,

I’m writing in response to a recent post by a family friend J, Russell’s wife.  She also goes by CC, the Counterfeit Christian, to reflect her journey through the desert of doubt concurrent with her husband’s loss of faith.  In this post she mentions the cliff of infidelity and how it shocked and disappointed her that she could even let it come into view.  I found her admission to be mature, honest, and much more healthy than most of us can manage.  In light of Josh Duggar’s recent revelations I felt an obligation to speak.

Mrs. Pascal and I met at the age of 19.  She actually baked my 20th birthday cake in a dorm microwave one step up from an easy bake oven.  We jogged together (she later confessed that she didn’t like to run), played racquetball, shared meals, and grew in friendship.  We wrote a series of pre-internet letters on paper with pen in envelopes requiring a stamp.  We both still have every one.  We decided to marry after an intense argument.  I asked her for 48 hours space.  I was either going to marry her or never talk to her again.  What a wonderful decision.  We celebrated 21 years of marriage last month.

In a life driven by priorities, following Christ is first.  The second priority is loving others.  These two priorities are why I’m here.  But there is a rank to my others.  My bride deserves to be first in my esteem and affections.  My children know that I love them but that they must play a secondary role in my heart.  Other people – – our community here falls into the third tier.  So if one person is my first priority, how can I guard my heart and hers?  I consider infidelity to be one of my deepest fears.  I would likely feel less guilt with other crimes that might be objectively considered more serious.  Why?  I promised her.  I gave my word.  I said that I wouldn’t leave and wouldn’t destroy what we worked so hard to build.

The photo above is beautiful.  Mrs. Pascal just walked by and said so herself.  I explained the metaphor of the post and she wholeheartedly agreed.  We have tried to draw our stopping line one mile from the cliff.  I am not a young sports car.  I’m not fast, shiny, or sexy.  I am a middle aged locomotive.  I can carry much over great distances.  I am defined by momentum, not acceleration.  A train can take a mile to stop.

Here are my principles for guarding a faithful marriage.  I have built them with the lessons learned from my weaknesses and from the failures of those I consider friends.  In the last twenty years I have sat across the breakfast table from 7 different men who were leaving their wives and children.  Only one turned back.  All of these men had picnics by the beautiful cliff.  For what it is worth – – here is the advice that I give myself.  I ask you all to hold me accountable.

  1. Tell the truth.  Tell the truth to yourself.  You can become attracted to another.  None of the 7 men thought they could ever stray – – that was the one commonality.
  2. Friendship is more dangerous than physical attraction.  You’re not 19 anymore.  Finding someone who appreciates you and laughs at your jokes – – danger.
  3. Avoid pornography.  It is corrosive and encourages to ask, what if?  It honors neither women nor men.  How many human traffic victims?
  4. Tell the truth.  Tell the truth to your true friends.  Some men (most men) have less than 5 friends.  Find one.  Please.
  5. Do not meet privately with someone from work.  Have your meetings out in the open.  Do not go to lunch one on one.  Take a colleague.
  6. Know yourself.  I am more vulnerable to words than plunging necklines.  For me, to exchange letters with a woman who is not my wife is a crossing of the one mile boundary.  I did that one time.  I thought I had built accountability into the system.  The letters were for a noble cause.  They were openly exchanged.  I was wrong.  My bride asked me to stop and I did immediately.  She knew my heart better than I did and I’m so glad that she loved me enough to guard it.
  7. Be kind, but not familiar.  I hope that I am never rude, but I would rather be considered rude than over familiar.
  8. Do not flirt.  It is jet fuel on a camp fire.

This list is less important than the spirit behind it.  Please – – guard your own heart and the heart of the one you promised it to.  What do you think?  Have I drawn my lines to extremely?  Does this make sense, or not?  Have you successes or failures that may help us?

Pascal – – 1:16

photo credit: By Dinkum (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

First Day of School

first day

Dear Russell and Friends,

Sigh.  P1 went to college yesterday.  We helped him move in, took a tour of the campus with his brothers, went out to eat, and left.  My heart aches.  Was it only 13 years ago when the first day of school was accessorized with a lunchbox rather than a laptop?  P2 is gone for cross country practice.  P3 is packed and ready to go.  I completed my first day of class as well – – CrossFit – – fighting the middle age slide.  Russell and J are sending R1 off to kindergarten.  Sigh.

Share your first day stories with us?  Mixed emotions love company.

Pascal – – 1:16

 

Russell Unplugged

2003_Faith_Saturn_electro-acoustic_guitar

 

Dear Russell & Friends,

Good morning.  I’ve been thinking about this post for nearly a week and the coffee is just right.  Perhaps this will serve as useful background for those new to our blog.  It will certainly serve as therapy for me.  Most of the activity on the blog lately has been on Russell’s post The Problem.  It is one of his most important posts.  He might (would) put iMultiverse in the short list too.  A few miles away from here, perhaps in his sleep, Russell just smiled.

The comments have multiplied on The Problem as Russell has found a new interlocutor, unkleE.  I am 43 years old.  Russell is 7 years younger.  unkleE is twice Russell’s age and is doing, I think, what I want to do when I grow up.  He is reading, writing, engaging those who do not share his perspective of belief.  However, he is doing it in a way that I can’t – – from the personality type of INFP (81%) or ISFP (76%).  If I take the former it is only 1 letter away from Russell – – INTP.  So, from the perspective of age and from the perspective of a similar engineering-type personality he can engage Russell in ways that I can’t.

So what happened?  They both went out of their way not to offend.  That’s what I’ve been thinking about.  I have Russell’s permission to share our text stream as some of the comments unfolded.  One thing you’ll notice is that these texts had something I’ve never seen before – – an arrow at the bottom designed to reveal the words incapable of display on the largest of iPhones.  For an introvert, Russell has a lot to say.  That belies one of the misconceptions about introverts.  We have plenty to say.  Its just more comfortable in writing or with people we know well.  Russell has posted some of this in his own reply, but I’d like to give you a flavor of the text stream and what it means to know someone.  Concluding at the beginning, it takes time.  Russell and I are 2 1/2 years into a friendship that I hope will last.  It has not been easy to listen well or to be heard.  But it has been worth it.

 

R:  The unkleE comment was focused on one thing… why I’m not highly convinced that fine-tuning is a problem. He things I haven’t read enough, don’t understand the science, don’t understand large numbers, and am too biased against the evidence. That didn’t seriously hurt my feelings. I responded with more details, that’s his punishment for being critical. Haha. Gotcha’ unkleE! 🙂

P:  you two are quite a pair

R:  Indeed. I think we should Skype and hang out. I bet we’d get along great! That reminds me, are you still interested in trying a podcast, hangout-on-air youtube video with just our logo up, or some other type of audio-only conversation sometime?

P:  I actually am.  I’m interested in more than i’m successfully executing right now which is a deep and constant frustration

R:  I ran it by Howie and he’s interested. He’d join us.

I can see it being huge benefit for me for at least two reasons. Communicating ideas will, once the kinks are worked out, hopefully be done more efficiently. And it’s helpful to communicate tone of voice which adds important inflection and other vital information to the topic being discussed. It’s not very search engine friendly, but most of our hits probably don’t come from that and we have plenty of other written content on the site. I’d really like to see a comment on the blog, hit a button, record a response and paste it as a link. Haha. It would also be great to take someone’s question or point and invite people to a round-table discussion via hangouts-on-air, etc. I’d rather not do it live until we polish up a bit, though. 😊

I think I’ve made a mess of things on The Problem. In my very rushed responses I’ve done a poor job of taking the time to be as gentle as I’d prefer to be while disagreeing. Sigh. This is a rough time for me for multiple reasons. I need to learn to deal with those who challenge and criticize my form of reasoning without helping me understand and improve it by explaining exactly where it’s wrong and why. When I feel criticized with nothing to back it up, apparently, I push to hard to delineate my steps and get them to explain, but the only thing that gets discussed are the irrelevant details that aren’t part of the reasoning. I write so much that it’s hard for anyone to focus and I usually make a mistake or two that gets us further off topic. Then I get behind on work and rush my comments even more and, without taking the time to polish them, they sound more confrontational than I’d like. I now have two people saying what you’ve said (I require too much evidence). It’s not lost on me that more than one should sound alarms. Evidently, this is a hot-button issue for me. Not being told that, but being told that without an example to help me learn from. When I list the steps in my reasoning and show where I doubt and why, those specifics are avoided as if I didn’t say them (at least so far). I’m really looking for the place, exactly where my folly resides, but nobody seems to be pointing to it. I’m really beginning to feel like I’m just a very poor communicator. Maybe I am just blind to it and they’ve been pointing all along. But that doesn’t help me. 😟 I fear this is the central issue of the blog. People in camp A think people in Camp B require too much evidence. People in Camp B think people in Camp A are failing to express that they been aware of and properly considered all the assumptions and counter-evidence (often, like you, they have considered it). I don’t think anyone is believing things that are unjustifiable to them, and very few are believing things that don’t make sense. It’s almost always a communication problem where we don’t see everyone else’s evidence. So when other people think my standards are too high rather than assuming, as I do, that I’ve just seen different evidence, I want to either see what they’re seeing and fix the holes in my reasoning or ask them to tone it down a bit. But getting to the point where they point out flaws that are actually there rather than ones they assume because I didn’t clearly state everything in my comment, or getting to the point where they are willing to say it’s just different evidence rather than a high bar for evidence – both seem equally unachievable. Thousands of words later I don’t feel much closer to a resolution and I’ve likely offended people, which is the opposite of what I want. I have learned how to better express my argument for why I don’t have high confidence in fine-tuning, but I don’t think it’s helped. I think I’ve learned a lot of things not to do. No argument or point is worth being anything less than gentle and respectful, even when I feel continually misrepresented and as though almost all my key arguments are ignored, and even when time is short. This was a great lesson. Sigh. Thanks for the advice here. This helped a lot! 😊

P:Talk to your wife and ask her opinion.  She knows your heart better than anyone and will have insight here.  I think you are right about the central issue.  I can’t process the cognitive burden of 5,000 word comments and I accept different evidence in addition to empiric evidence.  The Hume quote bothered me because it was simplistic.  How much of your text do I have permission quote in a post of my own?

R:  Good advice. You can quote anything. I feel misunderstood when people think I only accept empirical evidence. Another sigh. I read interpreted his quote differently, as proportioning the level of certainty we hold to the level of evidence (pro and con). Non-empirical evidence counts, but empirical often should count more, so it’s a balance thing. I think most people agree with this, but we all tend to interpret things, at least initially, the way we’re primed for. That’s why I think the real difference tends to be that some people are comfortable staying in their beliefs if they seem right and feel good. Others have more of a tendency to actively seek out other potential explanations that could also account for the evidence (all kinds) and then hold back certainty a bit in the hopes that they don’t confidently believe false things. That’s why I try to learn about the assumptions and biases and examine them all for most claims. I can see that it’s unusual. But that seems to be the real difference. I don’t require empirical evidence or more evidence for confidence. But if I see other potentially equal or better explanations after actively examining everything, I’ll withhold certainly that my favored or initial explanation is definitely the right one. Does any of that make sense?

Also, I think the more someone is aware of and understands other alternate explanations and is aware of and fearful of their own biases (fear they made lead them confidently away from truth), the more they tend to reserve certainty in more things.  If someone has a personality that isn’t interested in such things, or hasn’t been made aware of both the flaws in our reasoning and alternative explanations, they tend to see people like me as being too critical. They just don’t think the same way. So I completely get where they’re coming from, I just think that sometimes they assume I just require too much evidence so that science won’t even lead me to confidence. What I really do is balance my confidence against all the factors I see, which isn’t usually what everyone else sees, because more than wanting to be right, I really don’t want to be confidently wrong. I think you and unkleE are somewhere in the middle on that spectrum (believe what feels right vs actively search for better alternative explanations and the modifying weight of our own biases) and I’m just closer to one end. I don’t like being on the end. 😦 Making the bell curve taller is my goal in all of this.

Wait, there are some people who do require empirical evidence and hold strong beliefs against the supernatural, etc., so am a little closer to the middle than I feared. 🙂 I need to be emphasizing caution to them more. We don’t see many. Instead I spend my time taunting biases and other possible explanations to well behaving believers in faith. Anytime I mention bias or MR I cringe. I really don’t like my position. There are very few situations one can feel like they’re being accused of bias and not feel criticized and defensive. It’s like you’re position of discussing sin. It has to start with us. I am biased too, etc. Everything on your side rests on our sin and need for a savior. Everything on mine rests on the flaws in our reasoning and alternative explanations that should keep us cautious of too much certainty. At the same time, you seem to get by just fine without talking about the points that offend people (sin) nearly as much as I talk about my offensive points. Of course, that’s largely because much of your audience doesn’t believe in it. 🙂 Some don’t believe bias applies to them either. Still, I need to learn from you. I feel my position is the more critical. 😦

P:  Wow.  Just read the last comment exchange.  IMO it would not have hurt your position to wait before responding.  IYO there were compelling reasons to respond promptly and perhaps the processing was already complete.  Hmmm…

R:  Haha. I know. I would have liked to have waited. 😦 On the other hand, I’m with family this weekend and have to drive tonight and get an early start tomorrow. I’m so far behind on everything that I really need to not have this dragging out during the week. If I didn’t respond this week I fear I may never respond. Losing momentum would have made it much harder to get back into the process and I likely would choose that over a post or two. I know you think he thinks like me, and in some sense he does because he can be technical, but in many other major areas I can’t see it. He and I process things as differently as you and I do. I wanted him to continue a few posts ago by addressing my responses to the actual argument he had made about fine-tuning rather than his opinion of my reasoning, unless he was willing to provide specifics that were related to the arguments. That’s not what’s been happening. He says it will happen in a future post on his site, but not in these comments, so they’re aren’t very helpful. The current cycle or avoiding those assumptions about his argument has gone through too many loops without being addressed and it’s dragging me down. It’s cut into my workout time more than my work time and that’s eating away at me. I wanted to wait, but more than that I wanted to be done so I can refocus. I caved. 😦 I feel bad about it. There is a lot of pressure from various areas at the moment and it was a huge relief to see something resolve. I realized this morning that what I pasted into the response was not my final draft but my first draft, which wasn’t softened. 😦 I do feel bad that I ended it on that and it was too offensive. Thank you for your follow-up, that helped a lot. 🙂

I just listened to that comment from last night. I wish I could delete it or edited it. But that wouldn’t be right. I really should have waited. 😦

Or at least checked it over to make sure it was the final version I had in the clipboard before I posted it. 😦

I will learn from this. Have a great day, Pascal.
kant_spinoza

R:  The last two points on each seem quite relevant.

Out of the block quotes and back to the coffee musings.  The last two points didn’t move me as much as the third and fourth bullet of the second section.  When I read how Spinoza handled the work of his predecessors and logical contradictions it resonated.  Did Russell feel the same way about Kant’s views?

So there it is – – a text exchange long enough for a post.  Why?  Because I sit across the breakfast table from this friend of mine and want to understand him better.  I like the way his mind works and want to discuss things on his terms, but I get in my own way.  I’m more like Spinoza (not a theist if I recall).

I do think that unkleE and Russell need to take a break.  I honestly agree more with unkleE in his way of processing.  But I won’t be able to communicate that well in writing.  I’ll need to communicate that in person with body language and tone of voice included.  That should happen Thursday night and in the many breakfast tacos that will follow.

If you have ever had the feeling of talking past someone or being talked past (Russell and I have both done that to each other then reconciled in person) how do you proceed?

Pascal – – 1:16

*photo credit:  By Tim Walker from United Kingdom (2003 Faith Saturn electro-acoustic guitar) [CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

My Approach to Religious Friends and Acquaintances: A Guest Post

This is a guest post by Mike, my friendly neighbor to the north, at the Godless Cranium.  He graciously invited others to post to his blog and we agreed to exchange posts.  I respect his views and confirm that our correspondence online and off makes him a person I would gladly fellowship with.  I’m glad to see him actively blogging again.  

Mike, thank you for adding value to our home here. – – Pascal

First off, thank you for the opportunity to post a piece on your blog. I’m sorry for the delay. Without getting into too much detail, I was dealing with multiple issues that unfortunately took me away from my blog for some time.

However, I’m glad to be back and I hope you and your readers enjoy my take on how I approach religious friends and acquaintances.

Let Us Begin

Most of my family is religious. My mom talks about my dad being in heaven. She also reminisces about how anything that dies is also up there with my dad, and to be honest I just grin and bear it. My mom is aware of my non-religiosity and she agrees with most of my reasoning but she’s religious and that’s not going to change any time soon. She doesn’t attend church and thinks that organized religion is just there to suck money from you, but overall she believes in God and the bible etc.

I grew up around religion. I live in a culture where Christianity is prominent and I’ve grown fairly used to it. Over the years I’ve created a sort of code of ethics when dealing with religion. Here’s a few examples.

Work

I’m a social worker and I work primarily with the deaf/blind. I avoid religious talk at work. I’ve accompanied clients to church and sat through the sermon. I’ve said a prayer for a client just going to bed. If asked about religion, I deflect because I don’t think it belongs in my professional life. When I’m at work, I’m there to serve my clients and if they find comfort in me praying with them, then I’ll be doing just that.

Functions

At social functions I do not bow my head in prayer. I do not pray. I do not sing hymns. I do not profess faith in a deity I do not believe in.

At functions or in public areas where I’m not working, I do not support religion. I do not actively go out of my way to embarrass people etc., but I also don’t partake in what religion is offering.

Personal Life

If you know me at all, you will probably figure out I’m not a believer. If you ask me about religion in a non-professional atmosphere, I will discuss my views with you. I will try to do so in a polite manner unless pushed to the brink with torture threats (like Hell) or other religious inanities. I’ve been told that I’m the anti-Christ on more than one occasion, for example, and that I have ‘weird views’ on religion as a whole.

That’s fine. I make sure that I don’t actively hide my religious views. I’m openly atheist without being in-your-face about it. But if asked or drawn into a conversation about religion, I will speak my thoughts.

I believe being openly atheist is important, since many, many people can’t be. Some atheists fear for their lives, some fear losing their family and friends etc. I’m lucky enough not to fear those things. I live in a part of the world where I’m free to speak my mind about religion. Sure, I may take a few social consequences, but I’m fine with that.

Family

My wife was a Catholic when I met her and she is very much aware of my atheism. As are my step-kids, kids and close friends. We’ve had religious discussions and they are aware of my reasons for not believing. I never told my kids I was an atheist when they were growing up and I supported their right to choose religion or non-belief as they saw fit. My son believes in God and my daughter doesn’t much care about religion one way or the other. I love my family whether they are religious or not. I’ve even offered to attend church with my wife if it was important to her, as long as she didn’t expect me to bow my head (or kneel) and pray or in any other way compromise my own ethics. I would gladly (well…semi-gladly) sit quietly through a sermon if she wanted me too.

Conclusion

Basically, I try to strike a balance. I don’t pretend to be religious but sometimes I must put my religious and non-religious differences aside to help people I work with or care about. I’m proud of my atheism, because it took me a long time to arrive at. It meant many hours of reading and examining. It meant years of self-discovery, and I’m now comfortable with my non-belief in God.

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t challenge that non-belief on a regular basis. I read many religious writings and constantly strive to find good arguments against my position.

I hope you and your readers enjoyed the post and thank you once again for the opportunity to post on your blog. As you probably know, I enjoy your writings very much.

the Trail

Trail

 

Dear Russell and Friends,

I hiked the trail above about 10 days ago.  It is the Kalalau Trail in Kauai.  Our family has been planning and saving for this trip to celebrate the graduation of our oldest son for years now.  We went with two other families whom we’ve known for almost 20 years.  Our kids call them Aunt and Uncle and their kids are more like the first cousins mine don’t know.

kauai-kalalau_trail

As you might predict, the five boys ranging from 12-18 moved a little faster than the adults ranging from 40-44.  A lot faster.  Along the way we saw this.

Kalalau Coast

It is certainly the type of picture I’ve seen before either in print or film, but seeing it in person was different.  The whole trip was different.  I’m a planner, but I’ve learned from my more spontaneous friends over the years.  This trip was a medley of planned events and open space to fill as we decided with little notice.  I actually caught up on sleep and recharged my batteries to the point that this week’s work was well supplied.

Our halfway point was here.

Waterfall

The water was so cold after the 4 mile hike in.  It was bracing, clean and pure.  My sons and I swam in the waterfall.  I’ll rank the experience, like the hike in general, as one of the most memorable.  Then 4 miles out.  We heated pizza for the kids and went out with the adults – – memories and margaritas.  This was the least expensive, most fun part of our trip.  Hiking.

Why do I like hiking so much?  I’ve been giving that more thought as the boys and I prepare for Pike’s Peak in two weeks.  I’ve been giving it even more thought as I consider this place to read and write with you.  I was decidedly and purposefully off the grid when Russell prompted a flurry of activity with his rainbow removal service post.  And since I’ve been back the question rises – – do I go back on the grid?  Why am I here in the first place?  Why keep writing?  A friend reminded me with my own words.

He needs to talk.  I need to listen.  Why have this conversation?  Why have it in public?  Why adopt pseudonyms?  We don’t think that we are alone.  Many in our generation need a safe place to come and reason together.  My orientation to the skeptic, agnostic, and even atheist has changed.  It has changed like a compass needle with the orientation of my heart.  As I follow Christ I realize . . . he loved me, I will love them.

about Pascal

Then she used her words.

I think it has been useful, although painful at times. A recent example I can point to is the softening in your heart toward gay people—I know you’ve always loved them, but I’ve seen a change in how you write about them. Your response to the documentary my friend recommended was a blessing to me and to my friend. Your words have softened my heart, too.

Why was I doubting this trail at all?  Because I’m tired.  Yes the Hawaii trip added much back, but sometimes that kind of refreshment tempts you to fundamentally change and not let yourself get so tired again.  Because I wonder if the impact of words with strangers can change me to the same extent that unread words in a paper journal can.  Can those words open doors to others or only seal them tighter shut?  Because I’m not as noble as I think I am and I quit sometimes.  No one likes a quitter.  That’s one of the reasons I sometimes can’t like myself.  And yet.

The most beautiful trails I’ve ever walked involved effort, sometimes mud and bruises.  But they were beautiful.  I am not a person who enjoys or seeks arguments.  Perhaps more honestly, I do enjoy arguments but find that they are usually destructive and try to avoid them.  Some of the arguments here have changed me, just as my friend asserted.  Do I still follow Christ?  More closely than before I began.  Do I still care about skeptics?  The same answer applies.  After thinking more about the trails and trailheads in this blog and in my life, for now I need to keep hiking.

Am I the only one who runs away sometimes, even in his own mind?

Have you been tempted to disengage the friends or internet strangers you know you need to know?

Do you get tired and find that re-charging can have a paradoxical effect?

Did any of this make sense?   Sometimes I’m too metaphorical for my own darn good.

Pascal

–1:16

 

INFJ

INFJ

Dear Russell and Friends,

I was truly thankful for Russell’s last post on personality types and on the possible correlation with belief.  I had previously taken the brief version that Russell had recommended and remembered that my type was INFJ.  Yesterday, in an executive education seminar at work I took the longer form M with my classmates with results listed above.  I resonate with several of our readers who compared the experience to reading a horoscope with the understanding that it is indeed something different.  Although not perfect, this test has been administered to 40 million humans over the last 90 years.  Rather than being based on my birthday, it was based on honest answers to questions about my way of thinking, working, and perceiving the world.

I loved the comments of our friends and readers.  I loved how you offered each other understanding and empathy.  I promised more musings too.  So here they are.

Although I knew I was an introvert the holistic meaning of my personality didn’t come into relief without the impasses that Russell and I often meet.  We know that we care about each other.  We also know that we just don’t process things the same.  All models are wrong.  Some are useful.  That’s the way I feel about going through this exercise on the blog and in the long form yesterday.  This is useful.

Russell (INTP) and I are both introverted intuitives married to extroverts.  Mrs. Russell is ENFJ.  Mrs. Pascal is ESFP.  Mrs. Pascal and I had a great time reading our own and each other’s personality types.  I realize that confirmation bias is likely at play, but the profiles were surprisingly accurate.  For my wife and I the differences are dramatic.  There was a weekend when we were dating where we took a 48 hour time out to determine if we would get engaged or never speak to each other again.  Twenty one years later we find our differences to have stretched us both and to be a source of deep energy.  I didn’t have the language to describe it then and probably didn’t need it.  I realized that we were very different and that we liked each other very much.  The decision to love each other was the best we have ever made.

So Russell and I match in the introverted intuitive domains but contrast in the thinking/feeling and judging/perceiving dichotomies.  Is the whole greater than the parts?  With 16 personality permutations the answer is surely yes.  I do, however, feel that Russell and I most often disconnect when I feel and he thinks.  Does that mean he doesn’t feel and I do not think?  Of course not.  But it does explain the epistemology of science, and history, and love.  I feel that love can be an epistemology.  I know that my heart can deceive me, but it hasn’t in the long term.  Love made me marry.  Like is not a decision – – I liked my wife and always will – – it is the quirky spark of compatibility that drives my happiness every time I see her again.  Love was a decision — an epistemology that trumped the thinking that could have talked me out of it.  Love is why I believe that Jesus saved me.  Do I find science in conflict – – no, not really.  Do I find some things beyond my comprehension?  Yes.  Can my mind be changed by a call to justice and mercy.  Yes.

Perhaps Mrs. Pascal and I work so well because the yin and yang of I/E, and commonality of F balance any conflicts in the N/S and J/P domains.  Or not.  Maybe an intuitive needs a sensor and maybe a go along for the rider needs someone who loves to drive and plan the trip a year in advance.  And maybe that planner should plan a day with nothing.  Duly noted.

Russell, where does this leave you and me?  In a better place.  I’m so glad to understand you better and to be understood.  I’ve always respected you and always will.  I like that we have different ways to process and relate and now I get it better.  As part of our exercise in the class there were cues on how to better relate to those of different personality types — how to speak their language if you will.  I think that we’ve tried to do that for each other by reading or listening to things that the other likes.

P1 just took the test at our request.  After complaining about seeming redundant questions he came back ISFP.  We work well together.  He can put concrete steps to my big idea.  I also understand his messy room a bit better.  Thanks again for this Russell.

Question:

Has knowing (or guessing) the personality type of your loved one helped you to respect and communicate better?

Pascal – – 1:16

Just Listen

Dear Russell and Friends,

I’ve been thinking for the past week.  In truth, longer than that.  I explained in my last post why I am in favor of civil gay marriage in American society.  Two of my atheist friends called me to the carpet on the relevance of my support.  Why did my opinion matter?  I would refer them to today’s New York Times opinion page.  In civil society, we argue in public, support each other in public, for the public good.  But then my friends made it personal.  Or at least that is the way it seemed to me.

Thank you.

I needed this to be personal.  I needed to consider my sons and then have the same view of other people’s sons and daughters.  Then I needed to watch this in its entirety.

And so today I did.  I didn’t cry through all of it like J did.  I ran for 10 miles and prayed.  Several things affected me deeply and personally.

  • Jake was articulate, intelligent, innocent and precious – – I will defend him like I would my sons
  • I’ve always grieved the southern church’s history of shame in the treatment of minorities – – is this such a time?  Are the white hooded cowards sitting on the pew next to me?
  • There are commenters on the youtube trailer that hate scripture and people of faith.  I get that.  Jake and his parents do not.  Bishop Gene Robinson does not.  They have studied like this man and have come to different interpretations.
  • Bishop Desmond Tutu moved me – – I have admired him and Nelson Mandela for many years.
  • To be honest, I did not know about these interpretations until one week ago.
  • To my shame, I said that I would not read a book to explain it.  Shame.  I read books on so many less important things.
  • To J’s college best friend – – I’m sorry and I’m willing to change.

Before I met Russell and his bride J I was praying for wisdom.  In reply I would often hear a quiet whisper in my mind, “just listen.”  I do love Jesus, love scripture, and love gay people.  I’m willing to seek the reconciliation of those things.  I will not tolerate bigotry and I will vote for equality before the law.  That likely means something worse than loving gay people in my circles – – it likely means voting for a Democrat.  Would I attend the wedding of a gay friend in a church that interpreted scripture to bless it?  I would.  I know that I’m going to be wrong on many things when all things become clear or nothing after my death (depending on your viewpoint).  If I am going to err here, then let it be on the side of mercy.

For my believing friends, the exegesis of Genesis and Leviticus made more sense to me than that of Romans 1.  But I’m willing to learn.  To be clear, whether you care about my opinion or not:  I do believe most gay people are born that way and are not mistakes.  I will never hate them.  I will defend these creations of a loving God with words, politics, and if necessary in cases of hateful violence – – my life.

For my atheist friends – – you can change a mind if one respects you and is willing to listen, but it is rarely in an instant.  Be patient.  That, after all, is my approach to you.

Pascal – – 1:16

Life

nacho

Life is like a bowl of nachos.  Well not quite, but hang in there.  It should make sense soon.  I interacted with almost everyone important to me within the last week.  I am tired, but not weary and I wanted to share the itinerary and try to tie it in with the above bowl of nachos.

Friday – – one week ago

Up early to visit this blog – – my last substantial contact.  I read and replied to comments, thankful for the interactions that are slowly building.

A busy day at work with some difficult conversations – – one particular interaction that I will not soon forget. Most of us don’t know when death will come, but some do.  Could I balance realism and hope in my own heart as I told the truth in love?

Work through then home to pack.  The Pascals going in three directions.  Mrs. Pascal and P1 were at an all night tennis-a-thon for the varsity team.  P3 was next door at the practice fields playing five 7-on-7 football games in the final tournament.  P2 had been dropped earlier at our local park for the youth group campout.  I got my tent, sleeping bag and camel back and went to pick up P3 at the football field.  I made him a dinner with a big sandwich and lots of fruit.  He was excited, but exhausted.  Our good neighbors took him home and I went on to the campout.

With P2 at the youth group.  My boy scout helped to set up the tents and was a leader on the night hike.  We had s’mores and something called dough boys – – buy the cheapest biscuits in a tube that you can find.  I slept like I always slept on the first night of a campout:  fitfully.  But the weather was perfect and the dawn came quickly.  Breakfast tacos and cheerful singing around the newly stirred fire to annoy the non-morning people. P2 and I had to leave in preparation for the rest of the day.  We stopped at a flea market and had a bright Mexican cookie for breakfast.

P1 had returned from tennis-a-thon by 0500 and was sound asleep.  Mrs. P had returned at 2300 and was gone to her morning Jazzercise.  P3 was sound asleep.  Teenage boys sure sleep a lot.  I went to get our trailer checked out as the lights were sketchy and I was marginally street legal.  A man who smelled of smoke and had a deep Texas drawl demonstrated competence once again by diagnosing and fixing the problem for a fair price.  More on that another day – – I’ve always respected work well done.

Back home for the five of us.  Scrubbed and in the van to join my niece, sister, and brother in Austin (Mrs. P, P1, P2 and me).  P3 is picked up by friends for a Monster Truck Rally and birthday sleepover.  The four of us head to an Austin restaurant:  niece graduated from college and is off to PA school.  We’re so proud of her.  Good food and memories from 2-4 pm.  Then to REI to change those Brooks for P2.  After he ran only 3 miles we realized we were off by a complete size.  Then home.  P2 goes to the school dance recital to see the girl he admires.  I pay P1 $20 to be his cabbie.  Mrs. P and I watch Clippers/Spurs and have our hearts broken.

P3 later tells me that he was checking the score obsessively at the Monster Truck Rally.  He’s quite the basketball fan, practicing for hours in our driveway, knowing the difference been Chris Paul and Ron Paul. Actually, he probably knows nothing about Ron and Rand Paul.  And as P3 groaned in disappointment I was at NBAtickets.com looking for two tickets to Rockets/Clippers for Monday night.  There they were.  Was it worth a 7 hour round trip on a school night and several hundred dollars?

Sunday

A close family friend teaches middle school youth as I had for the past two weeks.  His life group announces a pool party for the last meeting Sunday night with their kids.  Mrs. P and I exchange a lightning glance and nod and make the same announcement for our kids.  The pool has always been a blessing designed for sharing.  It was green and now is blue thanks the efforts of a kindly pool consultant and the Pascal mens’ elbow grease.  Out for Sunday dinner with P1,2 and Mrs. P – – a weekly tradition.  P3 is still at the birthday party, now at a local water park.  Please put on sunscreen!

Back home.  30 minute nap/coma.  Mrs. P to afternoon tennis.  Me to a 5 mile trail run that felt wonderful. Back to host our 7th grade family at the pool with our favorite 7th grader returning – – he wore sunscreen!  The other boys are sworn to secrecy.

Monday

Busy but productive day at work.  I got there early to work ahead and was able to shift meetings and appointments to leave by 3.  To the middle school to check P3 out.  He looked puzzled when he came to the office and we walked to the car.  Nothing’s wrong buddy – – I just had to pick you up instead of Mom.  And on the way to the car I tell him – – we’re driving 3.5 hours to Houston to see the Rockets.  Game starts at 8:35 with doors opening at 7:00.  He is still young enough to get more excited than reasonable.  And so am I.  He picked the music in the car and we talked for hours.

Rockets lose.  The nachos above were purchased and consumed.  P3 and I arrive home at 0305.

Tuesday

P3 plays hooky (authorized by Pascal and Mrs. Pascal).  I awake at 0705 and go to work.  I’m surprisingly awake with my normal level of caffeination.  The biorhythms of residency are coming back to me.  We have another pool party – – the first annual Don’t Sink-O De Mayo for the Boy Scouts with fajitas and all the fixins.  It was a great evening, but I’m in bed by 2130 and don’t remember anything until 0545.

Wednesday

Full day at work then I go to The Table (our last several posts) with CC and Russell.  I’m thankful for a church that has this discussion with my friends and I’m glad to experience it in person.

Thursday

Full day at work ending with a ceremony to honor my nurse, chosen as one of the top 25 in our system.  She is truly outstanding and it was important to represent how blessed I am to work with her.  In bed by 2130 with purposeful alarm at 0445 to start this post.

Friday

Good morning friends.  Here I am.  P3 just stirred for morning basketball.  We leave in 20 minutes.  All five of us meet tonight at the senior banquet.  Tomorrow’s ultimate frisbee tournament was cancelled.  A weekend of rest ahead?  The boys and I booked a nice dinner Saturday night to celebrate Mrs. Pascal.

Life is like a bowl of nachos – – memories outlasting indigestion and the calories that I didn’t report to MyFitnessPal.  Life is busy and messy and well worth experiencing.  I interacted with almost everyone in the circles of my influence and affection this week.  And now I write to you because I include you in that circle, in that affection, in that bowl that I’ll never forget.

Pascal

–1:16