[The American Years]

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Return, revised edition

So here's our story. We landed on April 9th, and no, you haven't herad from me since.

I have taken a new role with my company. However my goal is still the same (total world domination).

This new role, (which could be called a promotion, except for the paycut...) means that we have to move.

We had been living in Lexington KY, but now I have to change locations, to Erlanger, KY. It's a move from Central KY to Northern KY. To most of you, this means almost nothing. From Central BFE to Northern BFE? Well, BFD.

It might seem strange, but within Kentucky, there is an identity problem. It doesn't know if it's a Southern state or a Midwestern state, or mid-Atlantic?

(The rest of the world has a problem with Kentucky also. Once you make fun of them for marrying cousins, what's left? New Kentucky Tourism slogan: "Kentucky. Inbreeding is just the Start.")

So Central Kentucky is horse country. Bluegrass country. Northern KY is a suburb of Cincinnati Ohio. Many of you might know that the Cincinnati airport is actually in Kentucky. Don't get me started on Eastern Kentucky vs Western Kentucky.

Consider the states that Kentucky borders. There are seven. One shy of the record (held by Tennessee. Showoffs!) Kentucky has True South states as neighbors: Tennessee and Virginia. Then it has midwestern neighbors: Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio. Then it has (what every state has) a neighbor to make fun of: West Virginia.

Everyplace in the world has a neighboring location that can be derided for the residents' penchant for barnyard romance. For the French, it's the Belgium. For Tennesseans, it's Kentucky. For Kentuckians, it's West Virginia. For Californians, it's any state that doesn't touch an ocean, plus any southern state that does.

Enough chit chat. Here's some photos.

The kids on their second first day of school. The last 4 school years, we have started school in one place, then moved in the spring, thereby giving them two first days of school. So far, there has been little rebellion. They have the resilliance for sure. And now school is out. So this picture is old before you see it.

After we got here, we stayed in a hotel for almost 2 months, while looking for a house in Northern Kentucky. And now we have one. I will share exterior photos only for now, since the interior is :
(a) not our decorating tastes. (Example: Pink toilets. Two of them. You heard me. )
(b) strewn with full boxes, empty boxes, and the junk that used to be in the boxes but doesn't yet have a home.

(Street view.)

My favorite thing about the house?


That's the number of mature shade trees in the back yard. At least that's how many I counted. It's hard to count them when they're all moving around like crazy. (Above is the view down from our deck.)

And there's ivy and stone as well. See for yourself. Come and see up close if you want. All are welcome! Anytime! (Below is the view up from the back yard.)

New address

1686 Brierwood Ct
Florence KY 41042

Phone - not yet established. Maybe by next time I post.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Return

*Small note. Three apologies before I start. 1) Been a long time. Sorry. 2) No photos of the kids, and no real update on our life. Sorry. 3) Kind of a lame post follows. Sorry. I'm out of practice.

Yes indeed we have returned from Japan, nearly two months ago now. And I have so much that I want to write about that I can't get myself to start.

At first I thought I would just go through the last bits of photos and videos and fun from our last weeks in Japan, and finish this thing off. Now I know that just won't do.

There is a lot about the US, and about the area in which we live now, which is notable. (Blog-worthy is a term which has been outlawed by international decree, so I prefer 'notable'.)

Take for instance the fact that there is now a place called the "Creation Museum". And it's in Kentucky. And it's in the very county (Boone County, KY) into which we are now moving. And people pay money to go to it. And people paid lots of money to put it in. Millions of dollars. There's a blog topic right there.

Next, the Hot Brown sandwich. Another topic right there.

And Cincinnati chili.

And fat people. They have them here in America. I had nearly forgotten.

So anyway, this is just a note to break my own silence, and to get the ink flowing again. This is more a note to myself than to anyone else. I'm telling my inner dude that it's okay to go on. It's okay to write a little bit and allow it to suck. It's okay to continue. The dawn will come. The day will break. And there will always be someone with a wackiness, be it in the greater Cincinnati area or in Japan, which deserves comment.

Quick one one the Creation museum. My challenge in writing about it is to not get mean. I need to respect that people in the readership might well believe everything that's held in that museum.

My biggest problem with it is that it's wasteful. I mean to say, that nobody is going to be convinced by it. It is an example of preaching to the choir. If I believe the museum's message, it doesn't serve me (and may actually disserve me -- more on that later). If I disagree with the museum's treatment of natural history, I'm not going to go, and I'll more strongly think that people of faith are crazy.

Let's face it, people of faith are crazy. All faiths have their wackiest fringe elements. And it's those elements which regrettably make the evening news.

Protestant Christians have crazy televangelists sponging money off old people and people making museums featuring dinosaurs on Noah's ark.

Catholics have people traveling hundreds of miles to kneel in adoration of a piece of toast with an image of Mary on it. And on a more sinister side, they have men of the cloth who horribly mistreat young men and women.

Think of a Buddhist and you are going to think of a bald man in a robe.

And the raging example is that there are a few thousand Muslims in a religion of millions and millions who are all we think of when we think of a Muslim.

Identifying a religion by its fringes is what TV is good at.

And this museum in Boone County, Kentucky, new home of yours truly, take Christians and presents them as unthinking lunatics, on a par with flat-earthers.

Let me sum something up for people on both sides of this so-called debate.

Creation and/or evolution? We don't know. We can't know. I think it doesn't matter.

If you are a Christian, or a believer of any type, you should believe that God has publicly revealed what He intended to reveal. Different faiths have different things that they include in that revelation. If God had deemed it to be important, he would have spelled it out. There would have been prophets, burning bushes, skywriting... something to tell us that it is important.

We can't prove God exists by looking at fossils. And, we can't prove He doesn't.

(Here's the disservice part.) If I believe it wholesale, it makes me a one-track defender of the faith, not allowing for different opinions on how we all got here.

By framing the argument about the existence of God around strict Creationism like this museum does, Christians deter people of scientific leaning from pursuing faith at all.

Let's say I'm a secular humanist, no Christian leanings at all. One day I hear about a Christian person doing something completely wonderful for humanity. Say, Jimmy Carter and Habitat for Humanity, or World Vision and hungry people. Mother Theresa in Calcutta. Chuck Colson helping and befriending prisoners. I think, "Golly, that's great. I'd like to build houses for people who need them. I'd like to help my fellow humans."

Then I hear about this Creation museum. "Wow, Christians are downright bass ackwards!"

My civic righteousness which could have blossomed into true faith has been nipped in the bud. I go back to playing playstation, reading GQ and decide to make the study and drinking of wine my new religion.

For people of all faiths, please DON'T ACT CRAZY! You'll not make many converts.

In my view, the simple and shocking truth of Christianity is that we're supposed to love people when we don't want to. It's what makes us human. We feel a call to be kind to the next fellow, even though it is not a biological imperative. It's not an instinct like the instinct to eat, or to reproduce. Yet we feel it. We have a conscience. We have a sense of right and wrong, somewhere deep down. Most religions (I am way over my head here, but I swim on) are structured around informing and perfecting our conscience, directing our will toward being the more human.

It has nothing to do with stinking fossils! The debate over whether God exists is best discussed about the existence of the soul, not the existence of dinosaurs on a boat! (or Snakes on a Plane for that matter.)

By the way, this debate (God exists vs God doesn't exist, and to a lesser extent: God is Clapton vs Clapton is God) has gone on for a long time. Smart people engage in this topic. CS Lewis, Thomas Acquinas, RC Sproul, Frederick Nieche, Voltaire. And many other people whose works I haven't read. And I don't think any of them give one dang paragraph about dinosaurs! It's not on the radar in the rational debate on this topic.

Evil. That's a topic worth discussing. If you believe in God, it's a difficult question. "Why is there evil?" Smart people have written volumes on it. But "Were there dinosaurs on Noah's arc" shouldn't be discussed, or curated in a museum and sold for $12 a head worth of admission.

Strict Creationism is not science. Or if it is, it's pretty bad science. It will always come down to a circular argument which perpetuates itself. So it should stay out of the argument entirely. (I wish it had stayed out of Boone County, KY entirely.)

Here's my position in a nutshell. Faith is NOT opposed to Science. Science is not the enemy of Faith. Rather, through science we learn how amazing creation really is. Too amazing to be summed up in a few verses in Genesis... so I'm guessing the author of the book of Genesis left out a few things.