20 March 2009

Realization #2

Before today's midterm exam in Public Policy and the Black Community, my professor asked: "Moore, do you work?"
[I work my ass off, all the time, yes].
"No" I replied.

After the exam, I whispered, "actually I do work. I'm an ARD in the dorms." I tried to explain Temple's partnership with Messiah College, and how I'm an ARD at my pseudo-campus across the street from Temple's cafeteria. I usually have this terribly confusing explanation down to a science, but it's harder when you're trying to whisper.

"How many hours a week do you do this?"
"Well, I usually just do whatever my boss needs--no set hours."
"Do you have any free time?"
"Yeah! Why do you have something for me?"
"I have some work in the Policy Center. What's your schedule like Monday? We can talk about it."
[I would love to work in the Policy Center...if I had energy. any energy whatsoever.]
"I could meet after 12:30?"
"Great!!" He sounded overjoyed.

I realize I have no free time (at least for functioning productively). I eat meals at my computer, and eat them so fast (and do this so regularly) that when I am out, I mechanically shovel food down and feel uncomfortable afterwords (in addition to a complete hog against my leisurely-lunching friends). I take showers on no kind of regular basis because I would rather look and feel like a dirtball than lose those 20 minutes (+ those additional minutes for hair drying, no way!).

I have two sweatshirts I usually wear: 'Messiah Falcons' and 'Harvard University.' A friend last semester said, "This is my archetype Sam," pointing to me in my black Harvard hoodie, out-of-style flares, nike sneakers, and greasy bun. He said it kindly, endearingly even, but I slouched and pitied my prototype.

My tailbone sometimes hurts from sitting so much (isn't it absurd I stay seated to complain about this? This sitting-typing thing is all I know, damnit!).

My friend replied to a rather frantic text I sent after class: "We'll work on your free-time apology later," she said.
"Ok!...but, but, I still might do it if I can join it with this project, or that project, or..!"

I need help. Or maybe, a bulky supply of magical wands to conjure up and ensure some free-time (so I can fill it up with more work)? Anyone know of a good magical wand wholesaler?

18 March 2009

Realization #1

I’m sitting at an outdoorsy kind of table in our row house’s backyard, fully equipped with a space for the hammock, a gazebo, patches of yellowish grass-straw, superfluous stepping stones in the mulch, myself, and a Dell laptop. It’s odd taking a laptop outside-- hearing birds squeak, the faithful subway boom, and bare branches rustle alongside my crackling computer keys. There is a robin that picks at the dry grass and looks over occasionally, bemused no doubt by my unnatural union with this silver box [crackle, crackle, crackle].

I have to squint into my sun-blasted screen to write this.
My fingers can easily access the world wide web if I want.
I am outside on a beautiful day, staring voluntarily into a rectangle of radiation.

I am trying to merge two different worlds; I realize I will try harder to keep them separate now.

03 March 2009

"Religulous" ?

Do you…

…Believe that science and critical thinking should play an important role in national culture and policy? Yes. …Believe in the necessity of the legal separation between Church and State? Yes. …Believe that freedom of religion cannot exist without freedom from religious impositions? Yes. …Want to meet others who share your passion for freedom of inquiry, science, reason and critical thinking, and the separation of Church and State? Yes. …Identify as an atheist, agnostic, freethinker, humanist or otherwise non-religious? No.

According to a small black and white flyer featuring a chimpanzee clasping its chin deep in thought, I am an ideal member candidate for the Secular Society of Temple University. Except for one sizable detail: I do believe in God.

An affiliate of the Secular Student Alliance, the Center for Inquiry, and the Greater Philadelphia Coalition of Reason, the Temple Secular Society meets every Thursday in the Student Activities Center and provides an organized space for open discussion, political advocacy, and community, particularly for non-religious students. To advance a more open and pluralistic society through critical thinking and inquiry is the mission of this on-campus group. The Greater Philadelphia Coalition of Reason says promoting a “wider acceptance of a more rational and contemporary view of humanity and the world in which we live” serves as the general aim for these kinds of local rationalist associations.

As a Christian believer, I can confidently say our dynamic transnational milieu merits rational and contemporary reflections, ones we must continually bend, revisit, and vary to keep up with society’s vigor. And I can say this not despite my affiliation with Christianity but rather and readily because of it.

The belief that critical thinking and inquiry are not and cannot be associated with religious practitioners actually limits the prospect for a more open and pluralistic society. But unfortunately this kind of dualism where logic stands as faith’s polar opposite infuses much of contemporary society. Perhaps to promote larger acceptance of a “more rational and contemporary view of humanity” we must first bridge the gap that serves to catalog a person’s quality based on his or her religious stance (humanists as “most credible” vs. believers as “least sensible," freethinkers as “good advocates” vs. Christians as “bad advocates”, etc.).

As a Christian and student of anthropology, I can expect weird looks from students in my Temple classes. I can expect questions concerning the apparent irony of embodying faith and more “humanist” kinds of studies. I can expect cynicism from Temple Secular Society members when I attend my first meeting this Thursday. But my spiritual beliefs do not make me any less of an analytical, concerned, lucid person, just as others’ non-belief does not make them any less ethical, feeling, or benevolent.

For a more open and pluralistic society then, perhaps our greatest aim from both sides should be humility, the kind that inspires the rational and religious to come together, rather than diffuse further. So for us students of faith and academia, perhaps this kind of bridging opportunity could be where effective reconciliation in church and society really begins.

Anyone up for a secular society meeting?