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Truth, Love, Beauty and all things Virtuous

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September 2015

The Friggin’ Candy Dance

I woke up Saturday morning and knew immediately what had to be done. Disappointing the love of my life was not an option today. Sure I was a disappointment to her on several levels, but today was going to be different. I knew what my mission was and I chose to accept it. Today I had to bring it because today we were going to annual Candy Dance Arts & Crafts Faire. A two-day arts and crafts fair with over 300 craft and food vendors where thousands of people are drawn to the little town of Genoa, Nevada. And today, come hell or high water, I was going to be numbered among those folks because that is how my baby wanted to spend our Saturday morning.

Candy Dance 2015

After quickly eating a breakfast bar and downing a bunch of milk, I ran upstairs and jumped into the shower, but not before visualizing my shower, so there was no wasted motion. A little scrub here and a little scrub there, some shampoo, just enough to create a tiny lather, a quick rinse and then I was out. I would skip shaving and blow drying my beautiful nut brown hair this morning. While wifey was getting ready, I did some quick stretching and some rhythmic calisthenics, grabbed some waters, and put out the dogs. And we were ready to go to the freakin’ Candy Dance!

Oh the drive there was pleasant enough. We were in pretty gay spirits and this made it easy for us to set some goals for the Candy Dance. We had agreed we’d lay off the Christmas crafts, the rustic dried flowers arrangements, homeopathic lavender soaps, whimsical birdhouses, celtic toe rings, and cute wood carved animals and strictly focus on Halloween crafts and fudge. About 2 or 3 miles out from the Candy Dance traffic slowed to crawl, but that was okay nothing was going to dampen the spirits I had worked so hard to create for this event. I could do this….Forty minutes later, we finally got to the gosh darn field that was being used as a parking lot. The volunteer staff was amazingly sharp and got us to a parking spot that was super far away from the event.

About half way through our hike to the event, I realized drinking so much milk in the morning was a real bad idea and so was wearing jeans. I was simultaneously hot and thirsty and recognized this as the early onset of dehydration. Dehydration normally puts me in a bad mood, but not today because-dad gum it-I kept telling myself this was the friggin’ Candy Dance, an arts and crafts fair like none other.

arts and craft pic1

As we neared the Candy Dance entrance, I noticed that I wasn’t going to be the only guy there. In fact, there were lots of men going to this craft fair and some actually looked like they were happy. And there were all types of men there. There we’re men in Birkenstocks, men in tie-dyes, there were body-builders and war veterans in attendance, but the most surprising were the biker dudes and the rocker dudes with obscene sayings on their black t-shirts. But hey, sometimes you got to do what your old lady wants you to because when your old lady is not happy nobody is happy.

My wife and I were very methodical. We went up and down the rows upon row of arts and crafts booths, noticing which ones were popular as well as taking stock of the newer art and crafts trends, making arts and crafts out of mee-ma’s old silver spoon and tea sets seemed very popular. We were very self-controlled and waited until we had seen all the booths before buying the crafts we had wanted. And for once, we also laid off the large lemonades and the deep-fried Twinkies and bacon-wrapped turkey this year.

Arts and Crafts Fair-4

Finally, after wandering under the Sun’s heat for two hours with thousands of other hot and sweaty arts and crafts connoisseurs, we made our purchases and got out of Dodge. Cranking up the air conditioning, I asked my wife if she was hungry. She told me since I had sacrificed to go the fair, it was my choice. Normally, this would not be a big deal and I would choose Jimmy John’s, but ever since the Cecil the Lion incident, my wife has researched all these other people who were big game hunters and wouldn’t you know it the owner of Jimmy John’s was a big game hunter. Since that time I’ve had to choose between being loyal to my wife or being loyal the #12 Beach Club. And I have been faithful. But, to be fair this time around, I did go to the Candy Dance. Lucky for me, my wife had pity on me again and I got the #12.

Honesty: Lifting the Weight

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“Being honest is a relief”

Spiritual Hunger and Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Cafe-Anglais“The spiritual poverty of the Western World is much greater than the physical poverty of our people…You, in the West, have millions of people who suffer such terrible loneliness and emptiness. They feel unloved and unwanted.

These people are not hungry in the physical sense, but they are in another way. They know they need something more than money, yet they don’t know what it is. What they are missing, really, is a living relationship with God.”
–Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Don Quixote, Subjective Truths and Oxymorons

don quixote pic 1

 “…This is all as true as it is strange. Nay, it is ten times true; for truth is truth To the end of reck’ning.”-Measure by Measure, Act V

It was five o’clock and work was finally over. I could stop pretending to be responsible and go home and gorge on my wife’s chicken parmigiana and watch Bachelor in Paradise. A show that highlights desperate 20 to 30 year olds who consumes large amounts of alcohol who while buzzed are hooking up with other young adults who happen to be also looking for love on a beach resort in Mexico. Admittedly, an odd recipe for love, but that’s not why we watch the show. One reason we watch this in our house is that there is not really that much else to watch on TV, despite having access to hundreds of channels, but the main reason for watching the show is to say thank goodness I am not like that. Reassuring ourselves we aren’t that shallow and we always make good decisions as we tried to find love, while still watching the show.

Speeding home, going in and out of traffic, in the mini-cooper, we dubbed Nigel, and hurrying to my home for comfort food and vapid TV watching, I decided I needed to listen to something with substance and decided that NPR would have to do. Nimbly turning the dial to NPR Robert Siegel was talking about the book Don Quixote and its 400th birthday. Robert Siegel was interviewing a gentleman named Ilan Stavans, a professor of Latin American and Latino culture at Amherst College. A private liberal arts college somewhere in Massachusetts that charges students between $50,000 to $60,000 a year to get a bachelor’s degree.

Mr. Siegel deftly introduces the subject by stating that “one must live life in a genuine way, passionately, in spite of what other people think. That is the central tenet of “Don Quixote” according to Professor Ilan Stavans.”

Casually I listened, when I heard the following over the airwaves from Ilan Stavans:

“This is the novel that invented modernity. This is the novel that teaches us that everything is subjective, that truth is relative, that each of us can have a dream and push for that dream and that we ultimately can transform the world based on that dream. That is why “Don Quixote’s” such an attractive figure because people project onto him that desire to become somebody and become exceptional and transform the world. And the book is a chronicle of the adventures of this character that, in the end, is heroic in having pursued his own passion.”

 At that point, I said out loud in the car, “Hold on, Mister”. My soul was stirred, NPR was again had not failed to stimulate my brain, and I posited to myself can the truth ever be subjective and still be considered truth? Is “subjective truth” just an oxymoron like “true fiction” or “unbiased opinion”? And then I thought further when has Don Quixote ever been used to establish a claim about what truth is? Don Quixote is a fictional story about a delusional middle-aged man who can’t distinguish between fantasy and reality. While humorous, when his fantasies clash with reality the consequences are often mean and cruel for Don Quixote and he is played the fool and he transforms no one. In fact, the word “quixotic” means to be foolishly impractical, capricious and unpredictable words not often associated with being functional. And to my knowledge, I know of no one in the modern world whose life has been transformed after reading the fictional work Don Quixote. What was Mr. Stavans talking about? Was there any subjective truth to it? Was there any subjective truth to his claims about being genuine, the truth, dreams and reality?

Don quixote pic 2

That term “subjective truth” seems to be an oxymoron. How can something be true and subjective at the same time? Plus I am always a little suspicious of those who state in absolute terms that truth is relative. When we make a subjective statement it means it is based on our personal feelings, tastes or opinions regardless of what the truth is. How many times have we made a strong statement about someone only to find out we didn’t know the whole story? In other words strong emotions, desires, or appetites, will, or popularity don’t create reality or make something true. We don’t make up the truth based on emotions, desires, or appetites like third world dictators are wont to do. There is an order to things that we did not establish ourselves, things we did not create. We discover the truth, we don’t create it. We search for truth because it does “make us free” (John 8:31-32), free from all types of ignorance, and it is the underlying basis for the finding happiness. Happiness that comes from knowing and living in accordance with the truth, the state of being that is in agreement with reality.

If you say the truth is only subjective than you deny there is an overall reality. If none exists, until you invent yours, then you are living a lie and how can our lives be a lie before we ever become conscious enough to invent it. How can being conceived in this world, growing up in a family with brothers and sisters, going to school, getting married, having kids, working, earning money and pay bills, and death all be a lie. Disease, decay and death are the ultimate answer to the question on subjective truth. That is truth we don’t get to invent death and I am pretty sure, at least for myself, if I could create my own story or my own truth, I would never include getting old or sick or even dying. I would want to live forever with my family, if I had a choice in the matter.

The term subjective truth is a fiction, a fantasy, an illusion that invite mores misery into our lives than it does happiness. There is no reality in inventing your own reality. Sooner or later you are going to run up against the consequences of your choices or a reality you didn’t invent like kids, aging and death. Russell M. Nelson once stated “the truth isn’relative. It is only man’s understanding of the truth that is relative.” The truth has been all there the whole time. Christ declared in this modern age, “Truth abideth and hath no end”, and our journey in this life is learn what the truth is and learn it by faith “line upon line.”

“The truth must dazzle gradually, or every man be blind.”-Emily Dickinson

It is no wonder that in our secular society people are starved for meaning, authenticity and searching for what Robert Siegel referred to as a “genuine way to live” because there is no true freedom or order in a world defined by relativism. Happiness is not possible without truth. We can only be truly happy by coming to know things how things really are. Happiness is not found on the freedom to do whatever one wants to do or getting whatever one wants.

Secularism is not only philosophical failure, but an ethical failure. It treats life as if it is a TV show, an illusion, were virtue is non-existent. However, there are moral facts, whether you acknowledge them or not does not change their existence. We are not destined to drift aimlessly over an ocean of conflicting information. As sophisticated as it sounds subjective truth is nothing more than a step back into a world ruled not by law and not by self-evident truths, but by the will of individuals where might or popularity defines what is right. If there is no truth, no objective reality, then there is no injustice. Nobody is ever treated unfairly and nobody is ever wronged. How can we have heroes if there is nothing bigger than ourselves to stand up for?

Don Quixote

As far as Mr. Stavans connection between subjective truth and dreams and making dreams come true. Dreams come true because we tap into the truth about ourselves and we tap into a portion of reality not previously understood. While many of us fall short of those dreams, we don’t’ deal with those failures by inventing a fantasy world, or in Ilan Stavan’s words create a world of subjective truth, but we deal with those failures by adjusting our understanding of reality. Dreams are important to our lives and it is through our dreams and our faith that reality unfolds before us.

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