Sunday Thoughts: Wilful Ignorance

Biblical history
“I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent. ” 

― Arthur C. Clarke

I was writing about my neighbour child-friend a couple weeks ago. His hungry for knowledge brain is being fed creationism. I stumbled upon this article today A Journalist Visited The Creation Museum. He Learned These 20 ‘Facts’. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so bloody sad for the children.

Impermanence

Impermanence“Change is the very nature of Nature. if there’s one thing that doesn’t change, it is the fact that everything changes. In the Korean tradition of Tao, this is called impermanence. The teaching about impermanence can be summarized like this: Anything that has a beginning must have an end. Anything that is created will change. Impermanence is the very nature of things. Realizing that nothing is permanent is the true beginning of enlightenment. Suffering comes from attachment that wants to hold something permanently that is not permanent in its intrinsic nature. Awakening to the truth of impermanence frees you from attachment.”
― Ilchi Lee

Getting Dirty Is The Best Upper

gardening mental healthGardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.
- Anonymous

I was reading some research about depression as one of the not so snazzy byproducts of autoimmune disease. I am learning the hard way that people with autoimmune diseases have a predisposition to become depressed, especially when we have been living with constant physical symptoms or find ourselves under significant situational stress. Not only does unrelenting physical, emotional or situational stress result in what feels like endless cycles of autoimmune flares accompanied by a variety of physical issues, it also invites depression.

Anyway, autoimmune disease aside, research seems to say that getting our hands dirty in the garden can increase serotonin levels. This is extreme gardening, you know, no gloves on kinda gardening – as it’s the contact with soil which houses a specific soil bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae. This super-duper bacteria is being researched and talked about as “the new Prozac” because it triggers the release of serotonin in our brain  and serotonin is our “happy chemical” which functions as a natural anti-depressant and strengthens the immune system. More specifically scientists think getting dirty may “activate immune cells, which release chemicals called cytokines that then act on receptors on the sensory nerves to increase their activity.”

The link between gardening and feeling better isn’t new news either really. In the early 19th century (and I’d be super surprised if the Greeks didn’t notice this looooong before) Dr Benjamin Rush “The Father of American Psychiatry”  noted that gardens had a calming effect for those who suffer from mental illness [Horticultural therapy: Grow with your garden]. More recently, people with mental health problems can check into “therapeutic farming programs” to feel better.  “If you’ll pardon the pun,”  “horticultural therapy really grounds you. When your life is in chaos, your garden offers focus and security because it has routine daily and seasonal needs.”

Sadly what the dirt research or horticulture therapy doesn’t talk about is how hard it is to get outside, into the garden when you feel like shit and showering, getting dressed or making it to the doctor feels impossible and like really hard work, let alone going to work and looking after other people. There’s a beautiful metaphor in here, as I watch the plants I have been growing, not doing so well as it gets harder and harder to pay attention to them.

Happiness Is A Clean Bum

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Ahhh I haven’t written about my puppy, Larkin, for awhile, but thought I would pause today to note some stuff. One, she is now nearly 7 months old (!? – where does the time go) Two, she is transitioning from her “puppy coat” to her “adult coat”  which Three, means serious grooming times.

It should be said that although she is a Labradoodle and doesn’t shed at all (serious!) it in no way means that she doesn’t need regular grooming … like, daily brushing and weekly de-matting. That bowl of wool did not come from a sheep, my friends. Nope that bowl of wool = 2+ hours of painstakingly combing out matts, small sticks, leaves and one dead beetle from Larkin’s fur. My reward for this labor is a puppy who thinks I am a meanie and is ignoring me.

True love is grooming your puppy’s backside.

 

Sunday Thoughts: My Neighbor’s Kid Doesn’t Believe in Evolution

homeschool

“I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent. ” 
― Arthur C. Clarke

There is a ten-year old boy who lives across the street from me. He’s bright, imaginative, a voracious reader and a constant thinker. He likes to pop over and chat if I’m in the garden and will often come walk my puppy with me. He’s a real chatterbox – adores Dr Who and can tell you trivia about the show that would put any adult fan to shame.

His parents are good people. They’re committed to helping in their community in concrete tangible ways. They believe it’s important to help those who are less fortunate and they actually do walk their talk. They are Christians.

This boy’s parent’s home school both their boys, ages 10 and 15 – and from what I have seen, are committed to the task of educating their kids and take the time to go the extra mile with regular field trips to libraries, museums and so forth. As parents they worry about the changing world, and what it will mean for their kids higher education and career options – I know this because they’ve spoken to me about it a number of times.

A couple of days ago I was out in the garden and my little friend popped over for a chat. We were talking about plants, how they grow, why one plant will do okay in a certain environment, but not do so well if it’s the wrong environment. Suddenly he says to me:

“Fiona, my dad and I have decided we don’t believe in all that evolution stuff. Nothing happens just instant like evolution says.”

Oh dear, I thought.

I said well, that’s an interesting thought. Evolution is based in science you know and there’s nothing instant at all about it. Evolution is something that has occurred across thousands and thousands of years, much older and longer than the Bible.

He tells me that actually the only way to think about how everything came to be is to believe an all-powerful being made it happen.

I told him that there are many people who do not accept that there is an all-powerful being, that there is just no evidence for it, and that as he gets older and can study more science he’ll get the opportunity to see all sorts of information and evidence about evolution that will let him develop his thinking and his mind. I told him that the important thing was to keep an open mind, no matter what anyone tells him, and be prepared to learn more – to keep on reading and keep on thinking.

Then I dropped the subject. I don’t want to alienate or disrespect my neighbours or be *that* person that he is taught to pray for, so hopefully I don’t go to hell for my heretical beliefs. I don’t want it to happen that he is not allowed to come for chats.

The conversation is still rattling around in my mind. This creationist, anti-evolution teaching is happening in a homeschooling environment, but it could also happen in a school, a Sunday school group, or via family and friends. Putting him in mainstream school would not guarantee that these ideas would not be fed to his active, thinking brain – but I cannot help to think mainstream schooling would increase the potential for him to be exposed to different information, other ways of thinking, to science and to reason.

In the back of my mind, I see this intelligent boy, maturing into a man who at 20 or 30 or whatever age, will sit with a science text-book (and not the King James version) in his hand, feeling incredibly ripped off and duped. I hope it doesn’t take that long and I hope it happens. He’s a great kid, with a great brain.