Indoctrination – part 1

Indoctrination header

This is part 1 in a two part series.

It must be strange for someone who isn’t a Christian to go to a Protestant church service.  There is row after row of nicely dressed, well mannered people, standing and staring at projection screens.  We seem to be singing the words written there mindlessly.  “I could sing of your love forever…”

We even make motions the songs tell us to.  “Oh, I feel like dancing,” they sing, and do some half-hearted side-to-side-step.  It all must seem to the uninitiated like some Orwellian indoctrination, and I’m not sure in some sense that it isn’t.

We teach our children Bible songs that are easy for them to remember and sing along to.  “Jesus loves me, this I know…”  We hope that they get these songs into their head and they echo around in there for the rest of their lives, like some Christian It’s a Small World After All.  This indoctrination works quite well, in fact.

I learned this when I was a boy, with a paper route.  This was back in the days when people would actually buy news that was over a couple of hours old, and printed on actual paper.  At the age of 8, I would wake up before dawn, fold and band the newspapers, and then deliver them on my bike to a nearby neighborhood.  I enjoyed this job, and it built a great work ethic, although I was really bad at the part where I actually had to collect money.

Some mornings when it was cold and dark, I would ride my bike alone and see shadows coming to life.  Every corner hid an escaped murderer, and every bush housed a probable pack of marauding wolves.  I remember feeling quite scared.  In those times, I would start to sing songs to myself and God.  Some were simple Bible songs I learned from Christian records my Mom would play on the stereo, and some were songs we sang together in church.  I knew at those moments that God was with me, and that I was under His protection.

An atheist would say that we are deluding ourselves and our children with brain-washing propaganda, but I don’t see it that way at all.  Sometimes intellectual indoctrination is true and necessary.  We know this is true in other areas of life, often regarding safety and emergencies.

My wife is prone to fires.  These don’t usually occur because she is intentionally starting them, but they do just tend to happen around her.  She is very wise and measured in her approach to everything, but when emergencies happen she tends to throw composure out the window in favor of a Chicken Little approach.  I am the opposite of her on this.  I realized recently that I had to pound into her head the mantra of Stop—Drop—and Roll, in case one of her spontaneous combustions were to happen.

I think that she doesn’t do well in emergencies because she is so thoughtful.  She likes to deeply analyze the details of a situation in her mind until she has looked at it from every angle.  But when there is no time to analyze, she goes all spinning-pinwheel.

I wanted to burn the Stop-Drop-and Roll into her RAM so that in a moment when she couldn’t analyze, she would instinctively know what to do.  When her mind says “FIRE!” she wouldn’t think, the meme would kick in, and she’d act.  It might save her life.

The point in all of this is that there are many things that need to be stored in our heads as automatic default routines because we can’t completely rely on our ability to analyze a situation.  Our minds are full of system errors, faults, and competing memes.  We also don’t always have the time for a thorough debate on things.  Sometimes we just have to operate on something that we know is a basic truth, a fact that our mind must assume is a given in the equation.  If we aren’t allowed this, we get into internal debates on what the meaning of the word “is” is.

Continued in part 2

Google Voice Transcript


First of all, yes I realize that this is unreadable.  But, you can view full and read the whole thing.  I included this so that you didn’t have to take my word for it.

One of the coolest things that has been invented in the last couple years is Google Voice, a free product in beta from our overlords at Google (just kidding, guys.  I love you).  I have written a couple other articles on here about the joys of Google Voice.  One of GV’s cool features is the transcript it creates of all of your voice mails.  It can then automatically send it as a text to your cell phone and/or send you an email of the transcript.

Usually, I can get the general gist of what is being said by reading the transcript…usually.  Sometimes, I have absolutely no idea what the caller was saying.  They have a ways to go before their system is at all foolproof.

The above message is transcribed: “Hey Ryan, bread streak with her and just calling to check in with you.  That’s based on without your phone number.  I don’t know it was hitting underneath my nose.  But anyway, looking forward to talking with it.   Give me a call whenever you get a chance. [phone number withheld]  Thank you.”

Questions I had before I listened to the recording: 1- is this person a streak on a piece of bread, or bread and recommending streaking with some girl?  2-Why does any of this require notifying me?  3-How did my phone number create this situation?  4-My phone number is actually hitting you in the face?  I knew it was pretty rowdy.  5-You just want to talk with my number?

I have rather enjoyed this transcript.  I return to it often just to reminisce, and realized that this must be shared with the world.

Dancing Demons of Rage


Yesterday I worked a side-job that ended up taking me to a heavy-metal music festival.  I only did it for a little extra money, but I also enjoyed the change of scenery and getting to meet some new people, most of whom aren’t Christians.  I don’t know why, but I often find myself talking and praying with people who aren’t Christians.  I’m not one of those people who corner someone and make them talk with me about Jesus.  I detest that.  But for some reason, I often end up in conversations with people who want to talk about their pain and brokenness.  So many times I have to hold back telling them how broken I am.  Those conversations aren’t supposed to be about me.

So, back to the music festival…

First of all to be fair, there were a lot of genuinely kind people who said their please’s and thank you’s.  There were people who were there having a good time and enjoying the music.  I didn’t have many people act rude to me at all.  But there was a definite darker side to the crowd there, and it was spiritual.

The kind of bands playing there were not your Metalica, Guns ‘N Roses type.  Think more Devil’s Blood, Kill Your Mother, type stuff.  I smelled a lot of pot—I mean a lot, and saw more cups of $12 beer than I could imagine.  This combined with scorching August sun and extreme heat ended up sending a decent amount of people home in ambulances.  The people selling water might have actually made more money than the people selling beer.

What was really noteworthy to me were the faces.  Some faces had tattoos, some had weird makeup. I even saw a guy with a Sponge Bob ski mask (that was commitment). When I looked past the disguises though, I saw a lot of anger.  Some violent and vile, nearly physical force was floating around amidst the pot smoke and booths hawking phallus-shaped hash pipes.  I heard the anger in their words.  Most people dropped F-bombs like they were shock-and-awing Baghdad.  The word was on their T-shirts, giant belt buckles that said “F*@% You,” (but without the symbols) and passed around person to person along with the joints.  My favorite of the day was a shirt that said “I hate everyone.”

Some people wore a palpable rage that seemed to surround them.  I found myself getting angry at their anger.  I was mad that they would tattoo triple-six’s and pentagrams on their bodies, mad that they would rejoice in depravity, and even madder that they would bring children to such a place.  I was falling into the same trap.  I realized this and then I was angry at myself for being angry, and for having such a judgmental attitude for these children of God.

I wondered how people could allow themselves to become so angry and hateful.  I have been thinking about this a lot.  There are people I know who deal with a consuming rage.  Like a fire it starts small but builds up momentum as more fuel is introduced.  It isn’t long before this unchecked anger is starting brushfires in all the relationships nearby, and you’re unaware of this because all that you can think about is the fire within you.

I can’t figure out how we can become like that.  How does a terrorist ever decide to blow himself up on bus of schoolchildren, or someone decide to wear a shirt that says “I hate everyone?”  Inside I wondered if I was the only one there aware that demons of rage were throwing parties in their midst.  My second thought was, “What demons are dancing around me, as I dwell carelessly?”  -Ryan