Dream last night — another dream that included floppy disks

Dream last night — another dream that included floppy disks. Weird to have the same theme/item in dreams two nights in a row. My dad was telling me about how he’d repurposed my old computer from college for various things, and about how important/and valuable it was to hang onto the electronic help information for using Windows 3.1, which was the OS for that computer. In the dream, somehow, my dad was able to extract a hardcopy Windows 3.1 manual from the computer, as if it were inside the shell along with the hard drive. I asked about the floppy disk drive, knowing that this computer didn’t have the older kind of floppy disk drive, and my dad went into some kind of convoluted explanation for how I could obtain such a drive to read all of my old floppy disks.

Again, I haven’t put a whole lot of thought into old computer storage media in the recent past. I am not exactly sure what kind of “old thing” these dreams are trying to represent in my dream quests to find old floppy disks and extract some kind of long-lost information from them. Are the dreams saying my special focus on OT texts right now is misguided? Are they saying that my renewed effort to explore returning to my old career is misguided? Is my effort to find a more authentic form of worship and a church whose rituals resonate with me deeply the misguided thing? Or, just my general tendency to spend a lot of time analyzing past memories and actions the thing that is misguided? Of course, answering yes to any one of these could lead me down a completely different path.

Right now, the idea of going back to work for a random technology company as a straight-up 8-5 office schmuck who pushes buttons inside software for a group of marketing people is very appealing to me. WYSIWYG — no surprises. A cookie-cutter house in the suburbs. Reading science fiction books on the weekends. Taking drips to Disneyworld. Getting fat and happy. Is it a sellout, a copout, an abandoning of God’s plan? Or did God even want me down here doing this in the first place?

Right now, selling out seems so right. The past six months have been incessantly awkward, uncomfortable and ill-fitting for me. I don’t have the backing of anyone, really, saying “yes, you should be here.” Oh sure, someone occasionally drops a word of encouragement in a class–people who mean well and want to say and act pastorally. But the tests have all shown me to be hopelessly self-centered and lacking in leadership qualities. I have witnessed myself just completely not caring about doing the Christian thing with my neighbors, but wanting to just be a regular man with all the warts.

I think the floppy disks represent more the quest to return to an idyllic childhood moment–the moment is gone, if it ever was idyllic to begin with–and it is no longer applicable to the present situation. There is nothing useful about an old floppy disk, unless, perhaps it contains some information that was never saved anywhere else. Once the information is extracted, the disk is worthless to people in the present world. What’s more, the disks represent a fluid time in information technology–they were a relevant and useful storage medium for at most a decade. Even cassette tapes had a longer life of usefulness. My search for the authentic within what is old and traditional is a shallow one–one that has gotten me back to the 1980s rather than the 80s or earlier in human history. My search should be for a way of living and being that has been tested throughout many variants on human civilizations…the focus should amount to me being the kind of person who is an exemplar in just about any era of Western Civilization–or even more of a core, basic human exemplar.

If something I am doing or saying is essentially a product of my time and place, then it really isn’t approaching the right kind of value a tried and true human truth holds. If I am only capable of swimming in the shallow end of truth when I write, then my writing should become restricted to being purely journalistic–I did this, this and this–and not quasi-philosophical in nature.

Empty-headed and divine

Empty-headed and divine. Attached to all and all is one. Surely, if I am connected, then my words matter. If my words matter, then praying should accomplish something. It depends on who I pray to, and what I pray for, and how I pray.

I could spend my time praying for God to curse and hurt my enemies or spend my time praying for God to heal them and help them become less inclined to do things that make them my enemies. I could spend my time doing more things that make me less like my enemies.

Can you hear Jesus saying, come and follow Me?

Don’t go follow another human being who seems to have all of the answers. Don’t follow rituals or traditions. Be suspicious of Scripture in light of who you know the real Jesus to be.

Is Jesus rich? Of course, He is, His riches are unlimited. Therefore, he could afford to be utterly non-possessive of material things when he was here on earth. Can you afford to be utterly non-possessive of material things? Yes, you can. Nothing that society says that you own has to go with you the next time you move. You don’t have to play by the rules if breaking the rules just makes you seem a bit odd.

I am sitting here on a Friday in mid-February

I am sitting here on a Friday in mid-February. Ideally, I should be reading my assigned readings for classes. In truth, my brain is screaming for a break. It wants to relax with fiction and poetry, and then get up again to seek out its own will for how it will be stretched and tested again. In other words, my brain is not especially interested in performing the task of assigned reading. This is pretty typical. It was the story of my previous college years. The subject matter is not what I am averse to. I love the subject matter. I will read the subject matter until I die. It’s the notion that my brain is being asked to focus on this particular reading at this particular time, and report back that particular finding at that particular time.

I need to take a break for a couple of hours and be alone with my thoughts, and possibly God, if God cares to stop by.

This afternoon, I am having a conversational call with a recruiter about the old work I used to do.

It has been making less and less sense to me for why I would be here. I am a forty-year-old man with a very young son, and I am in a grad school program where I will at best hope to be making what I was making six years ago by the time I retire. Meanwhile, if I could, in fact, pick up my career again where I left off with it, I could very well be making a six-figure salary in the next year or so.

Believe me, I am guilty about putting so much focus on money, with the love of money being the root of all evil. I am also guilty about having made the decision to come down here in the first place and put my wife in the position of being sole breadwinner while my son still goes off to daycare full-time (as he would have anyway if I were working full-time), so I can sit, and read and contemplate and think about academic things.

There is enough guilt to spare in any decision that gets made. It is going to be shameful for me to make the decision to uproot us again and put us into the only housing we’ll be able to find down here which will be significantly farther away from my wife’s work and son’s daycare. It is shameful that I have selfishly brought us down here only to ascertain after so many conversations and psych evaluations that I will never be successful at what I am here learning to become. The alternate route of deciding to be a pure academic and go for a PhD doesn’t particularly appeal to me much, anymore, either. The prospects of getting anywhere with that before I am 50 are pretty grim.

There will be, of course, no shame once we are settle again, and I have bowed my head and accepted that I am unexceptional and need to be schlepping it up in an average 8-5 office until I can retire. There will be no shame then, because then I will be like any other average American guy–or really any man throughout history–I will be just doing what I have to do to make sure my family survives and thrives.

I don’t feel a strong sense of being pulled any particular direction, anymore. It is my nature to get excited about something for a little while and then drop it for a little while. I could stay on here, and wait for the early thrill I felt about being on a higher, mystical path to come back. Perhaps I will. But, I am not feeling especially mystical, anymore, these days, I am feeling raw and practical–just gotta do what I gotta do.

Witchcraft, idolatry, prayer

Witchcraft – using formulas independent of God (possibly accessing demons) to manipulate physical reality

Idolatry — offering adoration or excessive attention to any construct, mental or physical, even constructs you genuinely believed to be God.

Prayer – petitioning God the Creator in Jesus’ name
Works of healing in Jesus’ name
Other works–like rebuking the storm

God doesn’t answer all prayers because too many prayers are sent up to God in the form of witchcraft–people want to control God as if God were a simple nature spirit or demon.

God cannot be subordinated to you or your commands. God can be petitioned, and then God sends you back insights that you employ, and you work on God’s behalf–but, you never get to be above God when you are requesting help from God.

However, is it possible that someone can manipulate and control their physical environment using the same type of authority Jesus used to rebuke the storm, and have it not be witchcraft, idolatry or attempting to manipulate/control God? In other words, you receive Godstuff that you are then able to employ of your own volition, and not have to resort to calling on spiritual entities to do your work for you. If/when you think you are bending God to do your will, you are headed down the path of witchcraft; specifically, if you end up successfully getting someone from the spirit world to do your bidding, it will likely be a demon. Good angels will be following the will of God at all times, not yours.

Those of us steeped in this present age

Those of us steeped in this present age where authority begins with scientific empiricism, leads to rational skepticism, and often ends there unless we are among the ones who can’t shake off our faith no matter how much we try to–even most of the most faithful tend to hear the words of a religious person outside of their precise faith tradition and think that that person is crazy or wrong or weak-minded except where they state things that are empirically verifiable (or seem to be so).

What seems to be odd about the human mind is that our earliest ancestors were deeply religious, placing spirit above matter in importance of what is true and real, and that little children of a certain age are more likely to be open to stories about God than teenagers and young adults who are all-too ready to immerse themselves in the secular world in their efforts to make something of themselves. This seems odd since, if we are as science concludes, nothing more or less than the atoms that compose us materially, why would we have been so inclined to believe that a spirit was the more true or real world throughout most of human history? Attempts to explain this via the split of the bicameral mind, the god delusion, etc. seem to be inadequate. Such theories might preclude a world of human agnostics, occasional seekers or the mildly religious, but they don’t really account for the strange progression of humans from being mostly spiritual to mostly material.

Of course, those of us who have not lost our faith might seek out alternate explanations. We wonder if the world is indeed as many religions think it is–nothing more or less than the product of mind–or perhaps a Mind–we are little minds inside a Mind’s world, carrying sparks of that Mind with us so that we have a taste of what it is like to be in possession of such a Mind. We act this out by making art, and attempting to bend nature to our wills, but we are inevitably left to work with the materials within our matrix because we are inextricably woven into the matrix. If we decide this is no longer acceptable, we die and become part of the Mind again, losing our individual identities in the process–but, many of us find this to be highly preferable as it leads us back into a more holistic state of being.

Something starts to become clear to me

Something starts to become clear to me, and so I have the urge to write it down. I write it down and once it is in place in front of me in the form of clean, digital type, I start to believe that I have stated an absolute truth or received a few words that surely came from God.

Inevitably, life presents me with odd angles and curveballs that prevent me from moving forward with all of the neat straight lines and boxes I made for myself, and I become frustrated and confused. And so, I turn to writing as a form of catharsis, and to sort things out. I don’t sit down with the expectation that I have all or any of the answers, but that they will surely come to me as I continue to chug along with my typing and thinking.

From this, I either get clarity, or simply more of the exact same writing I’ve been producing for decades. If I get clarity, then I start to let those clear insights stew in me for awhile, and return to write them down in as pristine a form as possible.

You can see how the cycle repeats endlessly from there.

What problem am I trying to solve? The primary one is, of course, my sense of what my place is in this world. Where/how do I belong? What are my strengths/weaknesses? Inevitably, I come back to writing, since I’ve done so much of it. I crawl through some random entry from a decade ago or more. I read how much or how little I’ve changed. I see myself in the writing, but I also reject much of who I was when I wrote down something deeply offensive.

Nobody else reads my writing and so it becomes exceptionally difficult for me to see how my writing is my mission for this life. I look for other things to do in this life. I insist upon doing something exceptional, because I have been convinced for too long by lingering ideas of my mother that I was somehow gifted where most other kids were not. No amount of life getting in the way of demonstrating how exceptionally unexceptional I am can keep me from returning to an urge to do something more than be happy working in an office job that never quite amounts to being a career, and certainly isn’t ever going to become a passion, vocation or calling.

I can’t bear to accept that I am just like my dad, or just like most other men and women who don’t get to be actors, models, firefighters, soldiers, heroes and villains. I am normal and average. My writing isn’t above average. I can’t find a single thing in all of my writing that wasn’t said by some philosopher, poet or writer of fiction, only better and with a bigger vocabulary. Of course, my writing is my own, especially in the sense that I am telling a story, more or less, of my own unique life. I can still hope to be like Proust or Thomas Wolfe or some other writer whose literary material was their own life stories.

But, of course, the hope doesn’t last for very long. If I go and bother to read Proust again, I can understand why he was established among the great literary authors of all time and why I will never be. So, why don’t I just completely stop writing altogether? I’ve certainly tried that as well. I’ve spent many periods in my life of several months where I wrote next to nothing, and did so intentionally.

I wouldn’t exactly call this an addiction like other vices and hard-to-put-down activities I’ve known and loved and hated. It is more like a mental bowel movement–an intense need to release blockage. Only, because it is the byproduct of mental activity or on my better days a reflection of mental activity, I somehow continue to keep and sometimes cherish my writing as if it were on par with great literary works.

If anything, I am able to convince myself that I have at the very least offered a kind of historical record of someone who grew up in the time and place that I did–and if society/civilization happens to veer off into an apocalyptic direction, perhaps my writing, salvaged from a hard drive, may be the primary text of record for how people lived and thought during this time period. Even this is laughable, given the sheer and enormous output of people of my time and the generations younger than mine, and their much more faithful record collecting in the form of video and photos of their lives.

None of this has stopped me from moving forward. I ultimately end up doing it just because I do it. I prefer to pause and reflect by moving my fingers and connecting my thoughts, fingers and their visual symbols together in a way that becomes pleasing as a continual feedback loop. At times, I veer off into obsessing over people who have slighted me, and at other times I magnify my ego more than I should. But, for the most part, I really do make the effort to just plainly write out what is on my mind during the time period that I am writing.

I have this distinct feeling washing over me

I have this distinct feeling washing over me that I will be moving back around again to some of the concepts that preoccupied my mind the last time I attended college, namely, a much deeper and broader quest for understanding the Spirit outside of the confines of what is laid out for me in most teachings of my church and commonly accepted readings of the Bible. I have this sense that Jesus taught his disciples so much more than what we have chosen to keep in our canon–and even within that there might be many instances where words were put into Jesus’ mouth for the sake of advancing a cohesive set of beliefs in the early Christian church following the main councils. Primarily, I think that the straitjacket I’ve been imposing upon Christ has led me to greatly reduce the amount of Love that Christ really wants to make available for me and the rest of the world. By getting too caught up in worrying about whether or not I am following this or that specific teaching or parable from the Bible, I have forgotten how to simply love others, and also most importantly, to love myself (in a wholesome, ordinate way, of course).

I’ve become too caught up in all of the requirements of my denomination for ordination, and hoping to properly dot my i’s and cross my t’s to demonstrate that I am a good and proper member of my denomination. Meanwhile, I have completely lost sight of the original delight and love I felt when I returned to following Christ. Moving forward, my agenda will be to follow Christ, not to follow a teacher, pastor, or other leader of a sect or denomination. If this means that I never end up being a true pastor, then I am okay with that.

What is especially unfortunate is that most of my fight originated in a struggle against all of the add-on BS that seems to accompany what we do in the church, but it soon permeated every aspect of my life, including my relations with loved ones and friends, and even my relationship with Christ. Christ, of course, did not say, go get your MDiv, then pass your ordination exams, get your head checked by a shrink, and then come follow me after so many internships and associate pastoral positions. He just said, come follow me.

Where I have to begin again is right there–I follow Christ and see where He is leading me, and that could mean any number of churches, denominations or the negation thereof. It will once again mean focusing on His people, and loving them. But, I think that first, I have to get my head, heart and soul right again with God. I have to inherently understand why the concept of following Christ brings me so much joy, and then go from there.