Thursday, June 16, 2016

April 2016 Journal Archive

April 3, 2016

I had visions, I was in them
I was looking into the mirror
To see a little bit clearer
The rottenness and evil in me
Hear the voices in my head
I swear to god it sounds like they're snoring
But if you're bored then you're boring
The agony and the irony, they're killing me

~ Lit ~

Hello, Happy Sunday, and welcome to the Journal Section of The Deconstruction Zone; the place I come to regroup and rearm.  You could call it my 'construct' of reality.  Pull up a chair.

My last entry was on March 26th, and a lot has transpired since then.  We survived Easter.  Ayden (age 7) had a great time this year with her cousins at Grandma and Grandpa Engman's house.

Heh...Little Curly is growing up fast

Ellensburg Veteran's Memorial

Yesterday, Cassi, Ayden, and I went to Veteran's Park here in Ellensburg, WA.  She could read all the inscriptions and asked good questions.  After that we walked over to and through the stables at the Fairgrounds so she could see all the horses!!  We followed that up with a scenic drive down Highway 10, while I offered up a local Geology lesson.  We love the simple life here in the Kittitas Valley!!

 Ellensburg Formation Exposure - Hwy 10 between Ellensburg and Cle Elum

The Kittitas Valley in April - I call it home

We've had a turn of bad news here at The Calico Ranch as well.  My son Mike (age 20) is currently hospitalized (since early am yesterday) with a severe bowel obstruction.  He is suffering intensely, and the doctors are still uncertain if surgery will be required.  I'm currently home with Ayden (I can hear her singing from the bathtub right now) and Matthew, Cassi is at work, and Robin is at the hospital with Mike.  It has been hard for me to concentrate on much else, and my stomach is tied up in worry knots.  I suppose that's really why I'm here writing this now.  The last time I had to stare at him suffering in the hospital he was in an incubator after colon surgery, which he had immediately following his birth (another story).  It hasn't gotten any easier to do since; but frankly I just feel bad for him at this point and wish it would stop.

Today before sunrise, as I was engaging in my decades old daily habit of studying Biblical scripture, I wondered how many times I have read the Bible now?  I stopped keeping track years ago.  Regular readers know that besides being raised in a conservative Christian home and being a former practicing Christian, I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology with emphasis on archaeology and cultural anthropology, a lifelong fascination with and study of mythology and the anthropology of religion, and am a current Master's of Science candidate in Cultural and Environmental Resource Management.  Religion and mythology definitely fall in the wheelhouse of "cultural resources."   

While I was wondering how many times I have read the Bible, my mind strayed to a recent exchange I had with a member of the fraternity I term "Trumpettes" (self-explanatory). This brief (and ugly) exchange made it glaringly apparent that the commenter in question (a rabid defender of the faith) was also the member of another popular group: self-professed Christians who don't/won't/haven't read their Bible; supposedly "the greatest story ever told" in the history of humanity.

As an avid reader in general since childhood, an anthropologist, and someone who studies scripture daily, I've always considered it an interesting phenomenon that so many self-professed Christians don't/won't/haven't read their Bible.  Why?  Have they forgotten how to read it?  Are they worried the words aren't true...or possibly even afraid that they are, and so don't want to know them?

My second home

Now, please understand that I am a scientist and familiar with multiple lines of theory, methods, and techniques for collecting, analyzing, and interpreting the data necessary to begin quantifying and describing variables and answering these questions.  Immediately when I ask them, these types of thoughts begin to crystalize.  I begin to think in a reductive manner to a certain extent...often I see and describe the problem from the viewpoint of establishing mutually exclusive classifications with dimensions and categories that don't overlap and so on and so forth.  This is a useful habit, serves me well, and also frequently helps me generate new, testable options.

However, when it comes to religion...I find that another way of "knowing things" serves me differently than my scientific training and often in a superior manner; revealing solutions and variation my scientific approach can overlook or underestimate.  Not everything is measurable, testable, or quantifiable.  When it comes to the question of why some Christians don't read their Bible, the answer that I find in my own life experience is the one that satisfies me the most; the one that, if you'll forgive me, "feels the most right."  

You see, in the modern world we read mainly for information. We do it at a glance and take away sound-bites.  We scan headlines, sift for facts, search key words, and mine quotes.  Consider this: In my opinion, these Christians have missed a key piece of information, an essential element in the quest to embrace the Mystery:  The Bible is not meant to be read for information; it is meant to be read for transformation.  

Dave ~ Until they stop you, ride, shoot straight, and speak the truth.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

On parole for the weekend, The Raggedy Man does his drudging domestic least I've got my own matching, yellow and green, dandelion colored fire hydrant...oh yeah!

It's a Calico Ranch!!!

Said hey, little boy, you can't go where the others go
'Cause you don't look like they do
Said hey, old man, how can you stand to think that way?
And did you really think about it before you made the rules?

~ Bruce Hornsby ~

How May I Serve You??

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming 
Everybody knows that it's moving fast 
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman 
Are just a shining artifact of the past 
Everybody knows the scene is dead 
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed 
That will disclose 
What everybody knows 

~ Leonard Cohen ~

Tomb Guardian

The Good Book says it's better to give than to receive
I do my best to do my part
Nothin' in my pockets I got nothin' up my sleeve
I keep my magic in my heart 

~ Triumph ~

Welcome (back?) to the Journal Section of The Deconstruction Zone.  Lately, as life in meatspace has increased its hectic pace, this is the place that has gotten most of my attention; versus the Home Page. It's also the place where I come to clear my head (the mechanism), and to ramble (brainstorm).

Proud Papa To Be

Everything is everything so far with Cassi's pregnancy; due date 8/816,  We settled on a name for our new daughter:  Zoey Madison Davis (donations and diapers accepted).  Cassi is planning to start maternity leave on June 15th.

The Spring quarter is progressing on schedule at Central Washington University, and I'm back in the lab with a vengeance; determined to finish up the academic year strong!!  I'm pinching myself, as the bills are paid, and I've got some amazing archaeology work lined up for the entire summer.   I'll come clean with more details in that regard as things firm up in the next month or so.  Suffice it to say, it's going to be another exciting summer!!  

I'm an anthropologist and a scientist (study of humans, past and present). To understand the full sweep and complexity of cultures across all of human history, anthropology draws and builds upon knowledge from the social and biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences. Some say it is the most scientific of the humanities, and the most humane of the sciences.

More specifically, I'm an archaeologist (study of the ancient and recent human past through its material remains) currently pursuing my Master's degree in Cultural and Environmental Resource Management.  Archaeology is a subfield of anthropology.  Even more specifically, I'm an evolutionary archaeologist, which (greatly simplified) means that I believe in descent with modification.  This modification/change/variation is identified and studied via analyses of artifacts (material remains) recovered through systematic excavation.  

The first step in scientific analysis is classification.  Scientific (paradigmatic) classification involves the creation of objective, mutually exclusive (non-overlapping) categories based on specific attributes or traits of the artifacts being classified.  A good simple example of a category would be "Color" or "Length" or "Material Type."  Being trained to be able to approach reality (past and present) with this type of materialistic classification (thinking) is particularly useful for isolating and observing variation...and as an evolutionary archaeologist that's just my game.

It has also allowed me to see and understand some concepts thoroughly.  Foremost, that in all populations there exists variation, and variation within variation.  Wonderous diversity is the virtual definition of "normal."  

Classification is not unique to scientists and archaeologists; merely the method of classification employed.  All humans practice some form of classification; it's how we process our reality.  At the base level, all input is initially processed into the myriad levels between total attraction and total repulsion.  From that point, it becomes a matter first of necessity, and then of choice, if we take the process of classification further.  

For example:  To a geologist, the color and composition of soils vary immensely, but to most folks, dirt is brown.  They don't need to know what "Munsell 12.5 - 2.5YR 4/4 Reddish Brown" is, the soil's organic and mineral content, what horizon it's from...  So if you like dirt, and want to be a geologist, then it's a necessity to know these types of things, otherwise, it's probably a choice to go "beyond brown."

If you don't like dirt, you don't care what color it is, or why in general.  There are two bottom lines here:  1. To simply describe soil as brown, while often true, is woefully inadequate, and actually unrepresentative of the variation present within soil colors and types.  2.  You don't have to be a geologist to understand this.   One easy way of summarizing this train of thought:  We are generally only as specific as we need to be.

As anthropology is a holistic discipline, I have also been required to take several courses in biological anthropology.  Biological, or physical, anthropology is a scientific discipline concerned with the biological and behavioral aspects of human beings, their related non-human primates and their extinct hominin ancestors.  It is a subfield of anthropology that provides a biological perspective to the systematic study of human beings, and includes, but is not nearly limited to, the areas of study of human sexuality, gender (and the multi-cultural expression of the same), and genetics.

(Probably) needless to say, an exploration of the multiplicity of possible and existing cultural gender roles, myriad ways that humans across the globe and throughout history have expressed themselves sexually, and physical gene-directed human morphological possibilities (e.g. intersex) has provided me with a deep and somewhat unique understanding of the variation, which exists within these categories (populations).

For those who have no interest in such academic insights, it has historically been "sufficient" to just keep it to a simple, easily understood dichotomy of male/female; man/woman; boy/girl.  However, much like the "dirt" example above, such descriptors are in reality woefully inadequate, and actually quite unrepresentative of the true variation present within human sexuality and gender types.  Like all human biological and behavioral traits, this wondrous diversity is also the very definition of "normal;" simply part of the vast range of human variation

Simple fix to unnecessary segregation 

I could cite specific examples all day, but I figure I'll save that for future posts where I can explore the subject in greater detail.  Suffice it to say, when it comes to things like gender roles and expression, anthropologists are the world's subject matter experts.  So, you can take my word for it...or not...doesn't change the reality.   

Dave ~ Until they stop you, ride, shoot straight, and speak the truth.  Because if it all goes up in flames, we'll be the last ones standing.