Doubting Thomases all

The earth awakens, again.

Yesterday my school district was closed because the symbol of the dominant religion round these parts was crucified on this day.  I am a science teacher in this district, paid to teach young humans a way of thinking that unveils the terrible beauty of patterns in the natural world, so that we can alter the same natural world in beautiful and terrifying ways

Make no mistake–science is a revered discipline not for what it teaches us about our role in the universe. It is revered for the awesome power it unleashes. We have become the gods we thought we had become back when Adam gnoshed on the apple.

The oldest Gospel Mark was written a few generations after the death of Jesus–the original version ends with the women running from the empty tomb.

“When they heard, they fled and went out from the tomb, for shock and trembling had seized them and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

And that’s it. That’s it.

Madame Marie’s, Asbury Park (photo by Leslie)

Nothing of the power of believers to drive out demons, to handle snakes, to speak in tongues, to drink poisons without harm, to heal with a laying of hands. None of the fun stuff that makes evangelical Christianity so powerfully attractive.

Ol’ Doubting Thomas doesn’t appear until the Gospel of John, written a few generations after Mark. Thomas needed to see Jesus’ wounds to believe he was Jesus, and the Lord invited Thomas to thrust his fingers into the wounds, or so the story goes.

I suppose I should appreciate the story a bit more, given that it gives the stamp of approval for skepticism, allowing us to poke our fingers places we shouldn’t poke them. but the skepticism only goes so far.

My Granny’s crucifix, now mine, The Christ amidst blocks of bogwood.

I have today off because a good portion of folks in this part of the world confound faith and belief.

It’s been raining off and on for hours.  I will wander out to a muddy patch of earth, poke my fingers into the ground to remind me that it, too, exists, then drop a few peas into the ground, hopeful that they will grow.

I have faith that they will, even if I do not believe it.

And again, the peas will sprout, faith over belief.

The heart of science is blowing up beliefs.
(Originally written March2016)


Happiness III: Making joyful noise

Kids love to make noise.
Fart, sing, clap, hum, rustle paper, snap gum.

In class, we only let them do it briefly, unless it’s music class, when we make them make the right kind of noise (or we take points off).

The look: Miss Elizabeth Ramey, 192, via Shorpy. (https://www.shorpy.com/node/3564)

Watch our cousins outdoors–the birds, the squirrels, even the bugs create a cacophony of chirping, chattering, and buzzing

Even a fruit fly hums to his lovers (followed by, well, licking.) And don’t get me started on fruit bats. Ahem, back to noise.

Here’s my anecdotal observation: kids who make noise in class (other than the one trying to disrupt) are generally the happy ones. Humming, singing, chattering away, despite years of admonishments.

Mammals love to make noise, and humans are pretty good at it. Most humans are pretty happy when they are singing for themselves, and until the last few decades, the only singing a child heard was that of those around them.

Even (or maybe especially) the little ones love making happy noise.

Today we “consume” music, and singing in public gets odd looks (unless you’re very good at it and doing it for money).

I know–I’m a singing fool.

So to recap so far: Grow stuff. Eat well. Make music (or even just noise).




Happiness II: Eating well

It’s right there in the Declaration of Independence.

Pursuing happiness is a big deal in this experiment called America. Public education is a big deal, too. Both are under fire.

I think a lot of unhappiness stems from our cultural break from our mammalian roots. (That’s not a thesis, just an idle thought.)

While too many times ethnic celebrations in schools break down into match-the-food-with-the-culture, they do provide a teachable moment when a child of the dominant culture mutters “But I’m American– we don’t have a food.”

And there may be some truth to that.

Clams raked up from the back bay.

Mammals need to eat a lot of food, the price of our warm-blooded nature. Most of our furry cousins spend a good part of their waking hours getting and eating food. Much of their social interaction revolves around getting (and sharing) food.

Until very recently (past hundred years or so) much of American social interaction involved the multiple steps needed to eat. “We” cheated a little bit of the time by using enslaving other people, only considered 3/5 of the rest of “us” (and only considered human at all so the South could have a bigger voice in Congress), but still, much of any given day was dedicated to sowing, reaping, slaughtering, prepping, sifting, grinding, rolling, frying, kneading, baking, churning, chopping, hauling, and, well, eating.

Pretty much everything eaten was local and in season, and I’m betting also pretty good most of the year.

Wheat grown on our classroom windowsill.

How do I know? I am blessed with local, fresh food several times a month. Even in February, I can rake clams from the bay, pluck Brussels sprouts from the garden, cook the clams with rosemary and parsley from the garden, then chase it down with honey wine from my daughter’s bee hive.

You do not need much space to do this, and it doesn’t even have to be yours.

November basil.

I teach children biology, or at least I pretend to. Hard to teach children about life in a culture that uses Round-Up like water, in a culture where few children have slaughtered anything but mosquitoes, and where too few children have eaten anything they planted themselves.

Child by child I try to change this, but not so they can survive in some post-Apocalyptic world.

No, I just want them to have a shot at pursuing happiness. Real happiness.

What do you think hands are for?