Paging Dr. Freud… Dr. Sigmund Freud

I woke up this morning with a quite vivid memory of a dream still in my head. I’m not too sure what to make of it. Armchair psychoanalysis is welcome.

In the dream, a large chunk of hair fell off the back of my head onto my pillow. However, it wasn’t real hair, it was that fake polyester doll hair. Further, when examining the bald spot on the back of my head, it became apparent that it was not scalp under the hair back there. Instead, several more chunks of doll hair were adhered to a plastic panel on the back of my head where my skull should be. My face, and the hair on the front of my head were normal, but the back of my head had been replaced.

I was incredulous. How could I have possibly not realized this sooner? How could my barber not have at least noticed that the hair was fake back there!! Then the plot thickened. My childhood barber, an ancient German man with a thick accent, named Otto, appeared on the scene. He was sporting glue, and a cordless screwdriver. He assured me this was all the result of an accident when I was a child, and that no one wanted to trouble me with the awful truth of how they rebuilt my skull. And he would take care of everything.

I sat in the barber chair and he proceeded to remove the fastening screws from the back panel of my head with the cordless tool. He then popped the back of my skull off rather like opening a TV for repair. I sat there calmly with my brain pan exposed while he re-glued the misbehaving hair chunks onto the flimsy plastic. He then deftly screwed the panel back in place, combed the hair all out and trimmed it a bit. Then he assured me all was well, and sent me on my way.

This is about when my alarm went off. Although rather than lingering and listening to the radio for the morning weather, as is my wont, I sat bolt upright, grabbed the back of my head and bolted for the bathroom mirror. For the life of me I can’t find the exposed screws. But dammit, my hair hasn’t felt right all day.

If You Don’t Love God, You Can’t Be Our President

The emerging 2008 presidential race has spawned a myriad of candidates spanning gender, racial, and religious lines. The question of whether or not you would vote for someone of a particular minority group has probably never been so relevant. However, a new Gallup Poll shows that on a whole we are becoming a reasonably tolerant populace. 94% would vote for a Black person, 88% for a woman, but only 57% for someone over 72 (sorry Mr. McCain). Note that at the absolute bottom of the list are atheists. Only 45% would vote for one, ranking atheists a full 10 points under homosexuals.

I’ve said before that atheists are a largely unrecognized oppressed minority, and this would seem to support that position. Regardless, the comparative ranking to other minorities is striking in a new way. What makes atheists so threatening? Is it simple ignorance? Maybe, but I suspect not. I think the difference is that all the minority categorizations on the list say something about the candidate, but only atheism says something about the voter.

If I’m a thrice divorced 75 year old Catholic Hispanic homosexual woman, those labels reflect something I am or choices I’ve made. They say nothing about you. By supporting me, there’s no inherent admission (or even inclination) that your manhood, your Jewish faith, your stable marriage, or your Asian heritage are wrong. But I think atheism is different.

As an atheist, I can accept your belief in God. I may not believe that God actually exists in reality, but I can believe that the idea of God is very real to you. And further, that this belief is appropriate and healthy for you. Your belief is a good thing for you. I do not require that you be wrong or crazy to keep my world view in tact.

However, as a theist, it is not nearly so easy to reconcile atheism. Theology says that God does exist in a very real, albeit intangible, way. Further, most western theologies (especially Christianity) teach that those not of the faith are either unaware (in need of education and conversion) or oppositional (in need of being culled from the flock). So whom would a theist vote for, the ignoramus or the heretic?

I think other religions are easier for theists to accept than atheism. This is especially true among Christians, Jews, Mormons, and Muslims. They all share books of the bible, certain mythologies, many philosophies, the same God, and even some of the same prophets. They are flavor variations, more similar than not. But you can’t stretch faith around atheism – pretty much by definition. Atheists may be unexposed to the Word, they may be wrong, misguided, or nuts. But they can’t be right. Their position is definitionally untenable in the theistic world view.

I think it is this world view dichotomy which will make atheists one of the hardest minorities to accept. If I’m straight, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong for you to be gay. But if I’m a theist, it does make it wrong for you to be an atheist. I’m not sure how we get past that. To that end, I’ll encourage any readers who are theists and who have come to a way to reconcile atheists without contradicting their faith to share that reasoning with the blog.

Vexation Without Representation

It never fails to amaze me how many people are willing to condemn things based on hearsay evidence. Now that the new Harry Potter book is imminent, I’m sure we’ll see a lot of angst arising from folks who’ve never opened any of Rowling’s books, but fear the story anyway.

In this particular case, the gentleman goes so far as to admit he’s never actually seen or experienced Second Life, but the idea that people would spend real money on virtual clothes, houses, and other objects scares him. Ostensibly because there are real people who could benefit from that money having been spent to feed, clothe, and house them.

This guy is almost certainly a complete hypocrite. People in Second Life are spending money to entertain themselves. Buying a virtual ball gown is no more frivolous (or scary) than buying a new outfit for your Build-a-Bear. Spending a few dollars on a skydiving kit in Second Life is no more wasteful than renting a DVD from Blockbuster on your way home from work. This guy’s (probably unintentional) message is essentially that all income not directly required for your physical well being should be given to the less fortunate. Now, that’s a noble message. A message Jesus himself would probably support. But it’s also a financial state in which almost no one in the U.S. or Canada lives – most likely including Mr. Janz.