Monday, May 13, 2013

Sloats and Frains: Preface

I'm playing with the idea of releasing this as a series of vignettes; I want to write it as a reflection and anecdotal account, in addition to the more thorough account I wrote while in Europe.

Slow boats and fast trains hold the key to my heart. The two mark a time in my life when I didn't have to be somewhere punctually, mostly, and when I could savor moments spent with scenery and thoughts. A summer counting car rides on one hand, and writing a book with train ticket stubs. A new pair of sneakers stepped off the plane into a Mercedes wagon in May and left dilapidated and broken, by train to the airport in August.

MittelrheinBahn is my favorite. It snakes from the Mainz main station, along the glittering Rhein, bends north past Bingen am Rhein at the Knee, up through Koblenz and Bonn, to Köln. Little castles dot the landscape, some sit in the middle of the river--having taken ancient tolls they now smile with age upon the young generations passing by. The slopes above the Rhein are home to expansive vineyards, providing the leaves with a second dose of sun, reflecting off the water. It was this stretch of land that I explored, with two compatriots, most thoroughly in Rheinland-Pfalz during the South-African-World-cup summer of 2010.

I was joined by fellow foreigners, tourists, business people, drunk soccer fans, school-children and families on trips near and far, now scattered to the corners of the globe. That summer changed me. I became more independent, confident and added a language to the bag of things that nothing but time can strip from me (at this point I would like to apologize to everyone that didn't want to hear stories from "when I was abroad" because that can be ever so annoying). I was given time to connect with my ancestral roots and meet distant relatives in the Fatherlands. Summer dripped gold over the sheep speckled hills, chemical reaction mixtures and crumbling castles.

This was inspired by #93 on this post from red Ravine.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

"just expressing an opinion belief" [Rant]

We tend to value the fact that people have opinions and beliefs, but not how well thought out or constructed they are (perhaps due to the rise of social media and the ubiquity of simple tools to publish content).

I'll give an example. Recently, with respect to the same-sex marriage controversy, someone commented on a facebook post,
"just expressing an opinion",
in response to
"I'm interested in hearing why you think that...",
about their stance on the issue. Opinions are important. However, in this case opinion was confused with belief. It's important that people think. I love to hear a well thought out belief that conflicts with my own. It makes me evaluate merit and do one of three things: reject the stance due to weakness, change my position completely because of the strength of the argument, or modify my belief based on thoughts I hadn't considered before.

I respect having strong beliefs on the nature and existence of truth, but you should be able to defend them in at least a basic sense. It's difficult to value belief that hasn't been thought through. If your beliefs are based on the Bible, be able to give a reason as to why it's authoritative, and why your interpretation of it supports a belief you espouse. Credence isn't dispensed for free; "always [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15).

Just "expressing an opinion" in the guise of sharing a belief is weak, and I don't want to hear it.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Pleased to make your acquaintance

It's a weird morning, when you're using something, and someone else is trying to fix that thing, and they don't realize you're using the thing in question.

Especially if that thing is the showers at the pool.

And the water turns off when you're still all soapy.

And the repair guy walks in.

And then you bargain with him, naked, for a few more minutes of scalding hot water since the cold water got completely turned off.

If this happens zero more times I won't be mad.