Friday, 4 September 2009

7 Quick Takes VIII

1. To those who live rural or small-town or small-city communities, the idea of a harvest fair or festival is probably not just an academic sort of thing but more of an experiental one. And I'm not just talking about dressing up for Hallowe'en or eating turkey at Thanksgiving, either, but rather about going to a real honest-to-goodness Fall Fair or Agricultural Fair or Plowing Match or something similarly named.
Well, Fort McMurray has some things vaguely approximating this idea, and one of them is the Country Fair, which has for the last few years been venued by Heritage Park. By now you can guess what that means...

This past weekend I was working at the Park. Because of the events in the Park, the executive director decided to open Chateau Gai Hot Dog Café, our concession stand. Due to the sudden absence of any summer slaves (I mean "summer staff"), I was called to work the whole thing. My Dad volunteered the Saturday, and my Mom volunteered the Sunday. Technically, Dad was there for some of Sunday, too, since we called him in but then didn't need him, so he left again.
On Saturday, my Dad and I ran the barbeque and hamburgers while the girls--Susan and Laura--ran the actual concession stand itself, taking money and suchlike. On Sunday, we didn't have Laura, so my Mom ran the barbeque while I helped Susan in the concession. However, we were worried that it would be too busy for my Mom to handle alone, and called Dad in. It turns out it really wasn't that busy on Sunday. Overall, it was a pretty slack couple of days, considering that I was in fact working. (This all means that I have worked for 12 days straight now. Ho-hum, actually.)

2. I painted some at the Marine Park. I put some aluminum paint on vents and the like, and I put black paint on other things. I also painted the great big auger (which is quite distinct from an augur, even though I would have spelled them the same if I hadn't looked it up just now) aluminum, which I don't personally think was an improvement. It does look new and shiny and eye-catching now, but I think it's eye-catching enough without the shine. Its twisted, snaggle-toothed, rusty, menacing mass was enough to grab my attention on the first day, at any rate.

I wore my knee-pads, of course, and I hadn't been on my knees all the time, but I can still feel the weakness and stiffness and pain in my joints from last week, and I feel it all the more when I'm working on those decks, pads or no. (Sorry for the hypertactic sentence, there.)

3. And on the note of things I did at the Marine Park, I once again rode up high in the Genie with my supervisor to paint things I couldn't otherwise reach. I note this in particular because, as my folks will readily attest, there was a time when I would be too utterly terrified to do it. I am afraid of heights (I know too much about phobias to claim I am acrophobic any more), and yet I am not so often afraid any more.
For instance, I was utterly fine in the Genie, despite the fact that it's basket has a grill bottom, through which I can easily see. It's strange: not only am I unafraid, I get somewhat sleepy, in a contented way. It's the same sort of feeling (though not as strong) as that I get sometimes when I am getting a haircut, or someone for another reason is playing with/working on my hair.

4. I have begun, very tentatively, to work on the virtual museum exhibit that will occupy much of my time for the next six months. When it is completed, the museum will be hosted by the Virtual Museum of Canada. Specifically, it will be part of the Community Memories deal. A good example of an exhibit, like that I would wind up making, is Ava's Story. (Isn't she pretty?) Anyway, I won't be e-curating about Japanese-Canadians in BC, of course, but that is the format of what I'll be doing.
In the end I only installed and messed with the software, looked for computers to work from, and did very very very preliminary research. But I have begun.

5. Let's see, now. There were books in there. I finished Prince Caspian. I started and finished Taran the Wanderer, by Lloyd Alexander. That was a good one, which I had never actually read before. I read all of the other Prydian books as a kid, but not that one. I also started and finished A Wrinkle in Time, and have been chipping away at The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia. I think, for a number of reasons, I will struggle with the latter; some of those are differences in literary-analystical interests and methods (for instance, I think Lewis' biography is of far less importance than the author seems to believe), but others are more personal. The author, as you can tell from the title, is against the whole Christianity thing, and loves the books despite their theological moorings. And I think most of us know the emotional toll anti-Christian sentiment plays on me.

6. And if you didn't know the emotional toll anti-Christian sentiment plays on me, you will soon find out. I had the idiocy of reading the page on Dawkins in Wikiquote. I have no idea what made me go there, but for some reason I did. You know, I've been good lately. I haven't read very many comment threads, I haven't gone scouting out for atheist blogs (I do this looking for some thread of open-mindedness, and so far I haven't found enough to stitch together a hole in your sock), and I haven't been reading the sorts of books that are likely to irk me. But, for whatever reason, I read some quotes from this man.
Atheism in general distresses me, but I don't make a fuss about it because, let's be honest, that's almost the worst thing you can possibly do. I have lots of atheist friends and even if I'd like the 'atheist' part to change, it seems rather important that the 'friends' part remains the same. So I don't make a fuss or attempt conversions or preach or make leading remarks or talk Christianese. Atheism may bug me, but I don't let that influence my behaviour.
But that man (Dawkins, I mean). He just drives me up the wall. I read that page for maybe ten minutes, and I spent the rest of the evening angry, frustrated, scared, and hurt. I had such trouble dealing with it. While I knew that everything he said was wrong, and I could articulate reasons why it was wrong, I still couldn't shake the convincingness of it. He's like that. He's good at these sorts of rhetorical games. He's so f***ing persuasive. Part of the problem is that the man rides on probability and dismisses possibility, and part of the problem is that he tends to isolate things. Everything makes perfect sense in the little nuggets he presents them in, but they tend to look less relevant and less convincing when you realize that he's looking at a very small part from a very narrow angle. In the end, of course, he has it wrong. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't look like a fine piece of reasoning taken on its own terms.
This, I think, is how he gets so persuasive. He says things people suspect or want to believe, and then backs it up with these little philosophical tricks of the light. He adds in a great deal of the sort of dry humour which includes those who believe what he says and utterly degrades those who don't, and he layers on top of that huge piles of self-confidence in his own rightness. The humour and the confidence, though, are only hiding the hatred and arrogance that make up his whole project.
At least, I know there is arrogance and I suspect there is hatred. There is likely also fear and confusion and doubt and love in him somewhere, but I cannot see it and almost do not want to believe it is there.

So anyway, sometime later that evening I was having a shower and outright fretting about this man and his clutch of rabid followers, and I didn't know what to do. I felt I had to do something, but I couldn't for the life of me think of what. I wanted badly to just sit down and give the whole thing up (not that I could have told you what that meant) if it weren't for the fact that I knew that not only the organized church, but also Christianity, humanity, and the whole of existence would cease to exist if I didn't fight.
And then I remembered a few fundamental things. The first was that so long as I believed and lived that belief, then I've done all I was supposed to do. The second was that God would make things OK. I might not understand how he was going to do that, and I might not even be able to recognize the OK-ity of it at first, but in the end all things glorify God. I just have to deal with that, and it's something I do for and within myself. I don't need to "fight"; at least, not here and for this. The third was that all the screaming and arguement and proof and sophistry is not going to move someone who really believes, be it in the existence of God or the non-existence of God. I can provide arguments to weaken Dawkins' hold on people, but in the end these arguements will not win people over to the side of God. Just calming down would be a better bet than to go in swinging. To say, "Yes, I understand what you are saying. Yes, I can see how these things are convincing. And yet, I still believe," might be more powerful than any arguement there is.
So after my shower I was a bit better. But I've still rankled a little here and there for the rest of the week, and my back, just beneath the shoulder blades, still crawls a little with pre-fight or flight tension.

7. This Take requires some background: starting at the end of next week, I will be taking a vacation to my home province of Ontario, visiting three campuses altogether (Sheridan - Oakville campus, Kingston, and St. Clare).
I had been planning on leaving on Friday at 1:00 or so at night. On Wednesday night, I looked an my travel itinerary and noticed something interesting. Due to the obvious error we made, I am actually leaving very very early on Friday, at 1:00 in the morning. Yes. I leave a full 24 hours early than anticipated.
Which actually works out quite well, because I now get to spend a whole other day with my brother. We plan to go see 9.
My employers are fine with it, in case you were wondering.
This means that my next 7 Quick Takes will be written from Oakville, perhaps in the late morning, even.

That is all. My, what a long post for such little occurence.

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