Sunday, June 7, 2009

Leather wrist cuffs, vegans, and Christian agnostics

I was recently at an art fair; there was a booth dedicated to leather wrist cuffs. That seems like a curiously specific type of accessory. I wonder if leather wrist bands are associated with a lifestyle.

I wish I had a lifestyle. I'm a geek, that's sort of a lifestyle, but it's not like someone schooled me in the art of geek. I wish I were cool enough to be a punk. I don't know where I'd go to get punk clothes, though. I'd like a tattoo, but I have commitment problems. I'd need to get new music.

I'm pretty sure these things are necessary to become a punk, but I don't think that they're sufficient. Is there some organization that I should contact that will tell me what I need to do to be a punk? I am going to drive around the art school on Friday night and see if I can find a group of punks hanging out on a street corner. Maybe they'll tell me what to do.

One time I was at a party. My friend Liz told our host's mom that she's a vegan. 'Vegan? What's that?' Liz explained that, like vegetarians, vegans eat no meat, but also no animal byproducts. For the next few minutes, the mom asked Liz about specifics, 'So, can you eat cheese?' 'No, that comes from milk, which is from cows.' 'What about nuts?' 'Yes, because those come from plants.' 'Eggs?' 'No.' 'Beans?' 'Yes.' And so on.

A little earlier that summer I had become a vegetarian and ever since then I've become ensnared in discussions similar to the one between Liz and the mom.

Not eating animals isn't complicated, but it's counter-cultural. The conversation between Liz and the mom wasn't so much to inform the mom about the technical details of veganism, it was how Liz expressed to the mom that veganism might be alien but it's not inaccessible.

When I first realized that I am agnostic, I was afraid that I'd have to change everything, I'd have to quit church altogether or become a Unitarian Universalist, or that I'd stop praying, and I kind of like praying. I have a big set of thick Bible reference books, and I'd have to find some unsuspecting Christian to foist them off on. I've been agnostic for two years and I still haven't started swearing profusely or having orgies or doing drugs. Sometimes I feel guilty about this, that I'm inauthentic, that I'm hampered by the cultural mores imprinted on me when I was growing up as a homeschooled conservative Christian. Then I remember that there's no one to tell me I can't act like a Christian if that's what makes me happy.


  1. Ecclesiastes 12-15: "12Words from a wise man... Read More’s mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips. 13At the beginning his words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness— 14and the fool multiplies words. No one knows what is coming—who can tell him what will happen after him? 15A fool’s work wearies him; he does not know the way to town. "

    In other words, like Lao Tzu once said, "The Tao that can be spoken of is not the true Tao". We are too foolish as a species, no matter how grandiose our systems of logic, to ever put into clear, cognitive explanation the nature or even existence of God. He simply Is, and the only way to know that is to "be still and know".


  3. Once again, Timothy Milligan, you have shown yourself to be a gentleman and a scholar. Good day, sir!