Trapped In A Small Town

I’ve reached a point in my life where the small town I grew up in is feeling less like home and more like a straightjacket.

It doesn’t help that, currently out of school and having a job that currently doesn’t ask much of me (English tutor) because I haven’t been able to find a “better” one, I have more time than is perhaps healthy to contemplate my circumstances.

Prayer, exercise, reading, talking with others, and continuing the job hunt while I make plans to continue my education, are all things that are doing me good. But still… try as I might, I can’t escape the reality that I feel trapped in a small town.

So, what else do I do?

Answer: make my small town awesome.

To explain:

Gearing up to (finally!) watch season 2 of Stranger Things, I’ve decided what my next “coping mechanism” will be: I’ll view my town as the center of a Stranger Things-esque supernatural phenomenon.

One of the subjects I hope to study as soon as possible is American Sign Language (ASL). I want to become a sign language interpreter.

Only, sign language courses haven’t been taught at my local community college in years. And the college’s ASL instructor has left the college for reasons unknown. (They’re still listed as a member of the college’s staff, so unless there was an oversight, they didn’t leave when their primary course(s) was dropped from the curriculum. So, why are they gone?)

So, here’s my headcanon:

My college’s ASL curriculum was actually a front for a federal government program where sign language is used to communicate with inter-dimensional beings. Only, local authorities started getting a little too curious. So: classes were discontinued and, for security reasons, the instructor was, to quote the G-Man, taken to a place where “[You] can do no possible harm. And where no harm can come to you.”

Let no one say that small town life is boring. 🙂


Thoughts On Violence In The Bible

Lately, The Closet Atheist has got me thinking of spiritual matters.

So: let’s talk about violence in the Bible.

Recently, I watched the (very good) anime film In This Corner of the World (2016). A story about a young married woman living in Japan in the 1940s.

Of the many scenes that stick out to me, the one that I’d like to focus on in this post is:

In December of 1944, Suzu’s childhood friend Tetsu stays in her home while he is on leave. Suzu’s husband, Shusaku, knowing what an important person Tetsu is to her, but not wanting him to try anything fast and loose with his wife, tells Tetsu to sleep in the spare bedroom — as far from Suzu as possible.

An understandable request, no?

The reason I bring this scene up is: it reminds me of a verse: “But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature.” (John 2:24)

Though In This Corner of the World is historical fiction, a man having to lay down the law for the sake of the woman in his life is an all-too-believable scenario.

What does this have to do with violence in the Bible?


Because God knows human nature — because He knows what people are capable of — there are scenarios where, for the sake of the well-being of His creation, He wants certain people as far away from others as possible.

If you found out your spouse was going to cheat on you, I imagine you would 1) Leave your spouse, or 2) Tell your spouse and their lover to never see each other again.

My point being: you would have no tolerance for anyone coming between you and your beloved.

It’s like that with God and His creation. God wants to be in a relationship with you, and only you.

God is often identified as male. For example: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2 — 3)

So, a question:

When it comes to men and violence, what is it that separates a Howard…

…from a Harry?

The answer is: love.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love[.]” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Image result for the good shepherd

Which makes me think:

If God is so all-powerful, can’t He just force people to get along? Why doesn’t He just snap His fingers and change human nature?

My answer to those questions being:

God would rather have you die free than live as a slave.


Because: love is not love unless it is chosen freely.

I mean, does Ron really love Romilda?

Thank you to the people responsible for the image and videos used in this post.

And thank you Closet Atheist for making me think.

“The Politically Incorrect Guide to Christianity”: A Review (Kind Of)

Inspired by The Closet Atheist‘s reviews of Christian apologetics books, I decided to take a look at one of the books I have lying around my home: The Politically Incorrect Guide to Christianity by Michael P. Foley.


And… God will have to work a miracle in order to get me to read past the Author’s Note.

My family has a rule when it comes to books. I’ll call it the “One Page Rule” — you read a book’s first page and then, from that first impression, decide whether or not to continue.

Well, I read a page-and-a-half, and if that page-and-a-half is any indication of the following 264 pages, than I’ll pass. Life is too short to waste it on a book such as this.

What follows are excerpts, and the first thoughts I had upon reading them.

Michael opens the book by saying, in so many words, “Congratulations. You’re not a dumbass.”

I congratulate you for picking up this volume; that act shows intellectual probity.

Yes, because the measure of a person’s probity — “The quality of having strong moral principles; honesty and decency.” — is whether or not they spent money on your book.

Off to a great start.

…Christianity is out of tune with the modern world, but perhaps it is the modern that needs the tune-up.

Come now, Michael: if your words are any indication, there is no “perhaps” about it. So you can drop the skepticism act. It’s disingenuous.

I appeal to your open-mindedness.

Michael, if the title of this book is any indication, “open-minded” is not the word I would use to describe you.

[Our youth] think they know their place in history because of a few shoddy sound bits that they may have picked up along the way. The moment they are challenged on these half-digested nuggets they retreat to “safe spaces”  where they can bewail all the “microaggressions” against them.


Tell me, Michael: Have you read A Wrinkle in Time?

Because, I’d like to bring to your attention something the author once said:


…the idea that Christianity is a product of a dark and superstitious age and an enemy of genuine human progress. … …is it not time to move beyond caricatures such as these?

You lament anti-Christian stereotypes, and yet you just used a negative stereotype — “[Our youth] retreat to ‘safe spaces’ where they can bewail all the ‘microaggressions’ against them.” — to describe young people.

How hypocritical.

Think of this book as the ultimate test of your toleration. If you read it cover to cover without casting it into the fireplace, you pass!

Don’t tempt me, Michael.

You have quite a high opinion of yourself, don’t you? The Bible has something to say about that: “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)

…if it seems that here or there I am guilty of a cheap shot against Christianity’s detractors, I ask for your forgiveness.

And yet, if the following 264 pages are any indication, you keep talking.

So, it’s early to be asking for forgiveness, is it not?

…the principle audience I had in mind…my brethren in Christ…

I was raised Catholic, and your words are an embarrassment.


“With friends like these, who needs enemies?”

I end this brief review of Michael P. Foley’s work with words from the Dragonball Evolution honest trailer:

“What a steaming pile.”

I don’t know how you do it, Closet Atheist — reading Christian apologetics books all the way through. I couldn’t even actually begin one.

In conclusion:

To ease my weary soul, I’m off to put Michael P. Foley’s book in my books-I’ll-be-giving-away box and then think about whatever is good, true, and beautiful, wherever I find it. (Philippians 4:8)

First up, “Heptapod B”:

A Response To “Religion vs. Women”

Excerpts from The Closet Atheist‘s post Religion vs. Women, and my thoughts on them:

This begs the question: why didn’t I see blogs on how to be a good Christian man? Usually blogs from Christian men are just on how to be a Christian, and the fact that they have to practice this religion as a man doesn’t seem to be emphasized.

Speaking as a Christian man (specifically: a Catholic man):

This blog — Soul Searching — is not my first blog. That would be Catholic In the 21st Century. Which I got rid of recently because, after 4 years, I realized that many of my posts were no longer relevant; over time, my views on many things had changed.

Though my blog was an explicitly Catholic blog, I didn’t talk much about my faith because I didn’t want to come across as preachy — I didn’t want to come across like I was forcing my beliefs on anyone.


And so, I think the reason that women are so outspoken about their faith is that women, to a greater extent than men, refuse to let something like a fear of being preachy keep them from doing what they want to do. You can see an example of this refusal to be “held back” in The Closet Atheist‘s post: This polarization is where the gender roles arise, including my personal favorite, the requirement of women to submit to their husbands. (More on this in a moment.)

…women aren’t granted the same place in religion that men are. … For some reason, it seems as though religion will crumble–or thinks it will crumble–if the two genders are not entirely polarized and separated.

I see men and women like puzzle pieces: they’re both inherently the same — they’re both puzzle pieces — but, at the same time, they’re both undeniably different — one complements the other.


And so, since men and women are different, it stands to reason that their roles are different as well.

If something as mundane as a restroom takes into account the differences between men and women, is it surprising that a religion would do the same?


Also: for what it’s worth:

Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity “in the image of God”. In their “being-man” and “being-woman”, they reflect the Creator’s wisdom and goodness.
~ Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section #369

The bible assigns roles to the genders, telling women what they ought to do and what they can’t do as the men go off, please God, and conquer the world.

Three examples of the Bible telling men how to live:

Whoever looks at a woman with lust has committed adultery in his heart.
~ Matthew 5:28

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
~ Ephesians 5:25

Let he who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.
~ John 8:7

As the lesser sex in most religions (consider the role of women in the church as mothers and men as pastors and church leaders)…

Who birthed, breastfed, and wiped the butts of those “pastors and church leaders”? Women.

If it wasn’t for women, “pastors and church leaders” would be speaking incoherently as they crawled across the ground covered in their own poop.


This polarization is where the gender roles arise, including my personal favorite, the requirement of women to submit to their husbands. … This brings me to yet another reason why I love being an atheist. In our community, men and women are equal…

Let’s talk about “submission.”

The definition of submit is: “Accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person.”

Is accepting or yielding to “a superior force or to the authority or will of another person” really such a bad thing?

After all: you “submit” every time you obey traffic laws.


You wouldn’t abolish the speed limit, would you? Because, if you would, than I need to write my will before I head to Wal-Mart.

So, the issue here seems to not be submission itself, but who, or what, you’re submitting to.

0:54 — 1:07:

On a related note: a quote:

“…when your enemies defy you, you must serve them steel and fire. When they go to their knees, however, you must help them back to their feet. Elsewise no man will ever bend the knee to you. And any man who must say ‘I am the king’ is no true king at all.”
~ Tywin Lannister, A Storm of Swords

When it comes to a woman submitting to her husband: it was not always so.

I am reminded of a quote I read (can’t remember where I read it):

“Eve didn’t come from Adam’s foot to be ruled by him, nor from his head to rule over him, but from his rib, to rule by his side.”

Though men and women are undeniably different, their differences don’t make one “better” than the other, in the same way that one puzzle piece isn’t “better” than another. All pieces are necessary for the puzzle to be complete.


On a related note:

Ever notice how, in the account of creation in the book of Genesis, creation gets more complex as it goes on? From inanimate objects to living beings.

First it’s just light, then it’s day and night, then it’s the sky and the land, then it’s plant life, then it’s the sun and the moon, then it’s water and land animals, and then, finally, a being capable of comprehending it all: man (i.e., Adam). (Genesis 1)

What does that say about women if women are the last of God’s creation? (Genesis 2:18 — 24)

In conclusion:

Thank you, Closet Atheist, for your thought-provoking words.

What Is Love?

In June 2015, when gay marriage become a right in the United States, I saw that the hashtag “LoveWins” was trending.

I thought of that hashtag last night as I re-read Shizune’s storyline in Katawa Shoujo.

See the source image
Shizune = Best Girl

The thought came to me during the fight Shizune has with her interpreter, Misha. (Shizune is deaf.)

A long time ago, when Misha told Shizune of her feelings for her, she was rejected. Despite this, the two remained inseparable friends. Though, sooner or later, left unaddressed, the pain of that rejection was bound to come bubbling back up.

Graduating in a few months and faced with the prospect of never seeing Shizune again, Misha resolves to no longer let the pain of being rejected negatively effect her. Though, she struggles with how best to explain this to Shizune. Hence the fight; a result of a lack of clear communication.

Re-reading the hell that Misha went through for so long — being so close to someone she wanted to become closer with day after day — I was filled with new admiration for her.

Watching Misha pour her heart out…


…I was reminded of what love is:

The way I see Misha’s confession is: she’s willing to sacrifice her own feelings for the sake of Shizune’s well-being. Misha sees what her unrequited feelings have done to Shizune, and says “No more.”

Love can be expressed through things like kisses, engagement rings, and marriage vows. Such things are like frosting on a cupcake: undeniably pleasing, but not the heart of the thing. I believe Misha understands this.

Her and Shizune will never be a couple. But what the two of them have is deeper than anything the world can give. Just because their love isn’t sealed with a kiss doesn’t make it any less real.

As time passes, the ruling on gay marriage will continue to be fought.

And so, to anyone who feels threatened by the possibility of gay marriage no longer being the law of the land, to such people I would say:

Love is not something that can be upheld or struck down in a court of law. Love is a choice you make yourself.

A choice as important as the choice between rock, paper, or scissors….


“I Have Found It” — A Short Story


Around Eureka, people rise to leave.*

Her head bowed in prayer, Eureka ignored them.

She heard the voices coming from the foyer begin to fade. She heard the priest close the foyer’s doors. She heard nothing from the priest as he returned to his changing room behind the altar. She saw the church’s lights shut off.

Rising, Eureka left the pew, walking to the foyer’s double doors. Opening the door on the right, she took a right across the foyer, to the bathroom. Seeing that the bathroom door was partially open, she opened it farther before slipping inside, turning on the light, and closing it behind her.

Eureka undressed. In her underwear, as she was folding her pants, she remembered the paper. Pausing to see if the folded piece of paper was still in her right pocket, she resumed folding her pants. Finishing undressing, her folded clothes in a pile in the middle of the floor, she went to the door.

Opening the door an inch in order to make sure that there was no one in the foyer, Eureka opened the door all the way once she saw that the coast was clear. Turning off the bathroom light before crossing the foyer once again, opening the door on the right once again, and entering the church once again.

Naked and alone, Eureka walked down the aisle.

Her bare feet on marble was the only sound.

Shaking as much from fear as from the cold, Eureka took slow, deep breaths in order to calm herself.

She could just make out the painting, illuminated by candles, above the altar. A painting of the three aspects of God. Eureka imagined they were speaking to her.

Father: “How dare you!”

Mother: “Whore!”

Child: “Why?”

Not slowing, stopping, or turning around, Eureka made it to the pew closest to the altar.

Gingerly easing herself into the pew in order to not touch a surface with her butt, Eureka knelt, putting her elbows on the low wooden wall that separated the altar from the congregation, bowing her head, and clasping her hands in prayer.

“God…” she whispered. “See me. Just. See me. I know you must not like this, but… I wanted to do this. I felt I needed to do this. Even if you hated me, I needed you to see me. And I… I needed to see you.”


Eureka sat in a booth, enjoying the bar food that was her father’s gift on her 21st birthday.

Giving her a moment to think about it as she took a drink of her water, he asked a question.

“Are you ready for your last final?”

Eureka answered. “As ready as I can be. Now I feel like all I can do is roll the dice.”

Her father smiled. “You’ll do great. Your mother and I are proud of you.”

“Thanks. I’m glad for this opportunity — to be here. I’ve learned a lot about myself.”

“Like what?”

“Being an editor is hard. It’s nothing like I thought it would be.”

Her father took a drink of his beer, steeling himself for the question he dreaded.

“You have a back-up plan?”

“I’m working on it.”

Putting his left hand on the table, Eureka grasped it.

She was looking him in the eye when he said: “Your mother and I are thankful you waited. I know it must not have been easy living at home while your brother finished school.”

Eureka shook her head, appalled. “No. I knew you and mom could only do so much. I didn’t want to put pressure on you. Plus, I needed time. I wasn’t ready to make the leap from high school to college yet.”

“Thank you for thinking of us.”

“Yeah. You’ve done so much for me, and I want to do what I can for you.”

“No matter what, Eureka, you’ll always be our miracle child.”

She withdrew her hand.


“Really. The doctors told us you wouldn’t make it. For the longest time, we couldn’t decide on a name. But when the doctors found that you would make it, as the saying goes: ‘The rest is history.’”

“‘You’ve been given a second chance,’ you’d say when I was younger. And I want to be worthy of that second chance.”

Eureka’s father could see that his daughter still had a habit of absentmindedly rubbing the inside of her forearms.


“I know you and mom say I have nothing to prove. But I wouldn’t be much of a ‘miracle child’ if I disappointed you, would I?”

“Eureka… I have to ask: How do you think you did this semester?”


The first awake that day in her on-campus apartment, Eureka sat on the floor in her pajamas just outside her open bedroom door with her arms wrapped around her legs and her head against her knees….


Eureka sat at her desk in her bedroom, her eyes widening in shock when she realized that the letter she had received was from her academic adviser….


Not looking him in the eye, Eureka answered her father’s question.

“Not good.”


Eureka sat at the dinner table, frowning at her laptop.

On the laptop’s screen was the Employment page on the public library’s website. This summer, there were no positions currently available.

Next to Eureka stood her mother, reading a letter. A letter from Eureka’s college.

“Seven thousand dollars, Eureka! How do you expect to pay this? Because there’s only so much your father and I can do now.”

Despite a gesture at her laptop, Eureka refused to blame technology. “I’m doing everything I can! You know that!”

Not wanting to hear any more, with a shake of her head, Eureka’s mother walked away.

In shock at seeing her so upset, Eureka reached into her right pants pocket and pulled out her cell phone.

Scrolling through her contact list, Eureka abruptly stopped as she came to a name: Theo.

“…it must not have been easy living at home while your brother finished school.”

She resumed scrolling.

She called a number.

“Lyra? It’s Eureka.”


Eureka raised her bowed head, trying to see, through her tears, the painted faces of the Father, Mother, and Child.

“I want to know that I’m enough,” she whispered. “I want to know that I was worth it to you. That I was worth saving.”

Sniffling, Eureka unclasped her hands and looked at the scars on the inside of her forearms.


Nude, Eureka sat in a chair in the middle of Lyra’s living room.

Across from her, on the couch, clothed, sat Lyra. Drawing.**

Tightening her grip on the chair’s armrests, Eureka fought the urge to flinch.

Eureka imagined that every time Lyra’s pencil made contact with paper, she was being cut with a knife. The knife exposing Eureka’s regret and fear as it lay her bare.

Glancing down at her front, Eureka imagined herself covered in bleeding cuts.

The blood turning her white skin red, Eureka remembered her father’s words to her.

“Miracle child.”

The blood running down her skin made Eureka think of worms.*** Worms crawling out of an open grave.

Eureka imagined worms crawling out of her cuts and, in horror, drew in her breath sharply.

“Eureka, please don’t move.”


Eureka re-focused on Lyra, who continued drawing.


Narrowing her eyes, putting the pencil’s eraser to her lips and holding her sketchbook in front of her at arm’s length, Lyra was silent as Eureka sat still.

A moment later, she lowered her pencil and sketchbook.

“All done,” Lyra said with a smile.

Eureka sighed with relief.

“Thank you.”

“Thank you for allowing me to draw you. My Best Friend. That’s what I’m calling it. I think it turned out good.”

“Can I see it?”

Lyra nodded.


Tears drying on her cheeks, Eureka stood, in order to try and see God’s faces more clearly.

Feeling exposed, she took a step backward and, with the wood of the pew against her skin, was comforted by the knowledge that there was something solid at her back.

Suddenly, Eureka felt lips close around her right nipple.

Looking down, Eureka saw a naked little girl standing on her tiptoes, suckling. Her hands on Eureka’s breast for balance.****

Their eyes meeting, the girl pulled away. She burped and giggled.

Staring at the girl licking her lips, then at her wet breast, Eureka uttered the first word that came to mind: “What…?”

Bright eyes set in a blushing face found Eureka’s once again.

“Go- goo- good,” the girl said, as if she had just learned to speak.

Recoiling, Eureka pointed to herself. “M-me?”

The girl nodded.


Eureka got up from the chair to come and see Lyra’s drawing of her.

“One look at you today and I thought I’ve found it! And now you can keep ‘it.’”

Bending over, Eureka looked at the drawing.

She was speechless.

The drawing’s face radiated an inner peace Eureka did not believe that she herself had. On the drawing’s face was an expression that said “This will all be over soon.”

“What do you think?”

“It’s me…. It’s just not my life.”*****

“What do you mean?” said Lyra, concerned.

Eureka tapped the paper and looked at her.

“I haven’t found what you saw.”


Wanting to say more to her, Eureka got on her knees so that she could be closer to the girl.

Before she could say anything, the girl lie on her stomach, resting her head on Eureka’s thighs as if they were pillows.

Eureka felt a peace that she had never felt before. It emanated from the girl like body heat.

The girl blinked sleepily.

A single word was spoken as, reminded of Lyra’s drawing, Eureka watched the Child close her eyes.


The End

*One of the inspirations for Eureka was the character of the same name in the anime series Eureka Seven.

**The character of Lyra was inspired by Ursula from Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989).

***The words “The blood running down her skin made Eureka think of worms,” were inspired by these words during the Red Wedding in George R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords:

“Slow red worms crawled along her arms and under her clothes.”

****The Child drinking milk from Eureka’s breast was inspired by Saint Anthony of Padua holding the baby Jesus.

*****The words “It’s me…. It’s just not my life,” were inspired by these words in the novel Armor by John Steakley:

“It was her. It just wasn’t her life.”

What Does It Mean To Be Naked?

(of a person or part of the body) without clothes.
(of an object) without the usual covering or protection.
(of a tree, plant, or animal) without leaves, hairs, scales, shell, etc.
exposed to harm; unprotected or vulnerable.
(of something such as feelings or behavior) undisguised; blatant.

The purpose of this blog is to convey the beauty and truth of physical and emotional nudity.

In your natural state, may you find the peace you seek.