Ideas that need a place to go.
For my Youth & Spirituality class in my undegrad, I went to my first big football game. I never went to a game in high school, and by this time in my college career, I should go to a game. It just so happened the Gophers were playing the NDSU Bison. Funny thing, cuz Fargo is my home town. They usually wouldn’t play because they are in different conferences, but this was a special game.
I compared the energy of the football stadium to that of a crowd attending a concert like Linkin Park. How is that any different that the praise held in a temple? To some, it’s not.
My graduate degree is filled with references of Jedi as a religion. I am, of course, referring to Star Wars by George Lucas. My argument is that if L. Ron Hubbard could write a novel to spark the creation of Scientology, then George could create a universe that guides a new generation of Earthlings into the future with new ideas, goals, aspirations, and morals.
Observing the world come to terms with the passing of Chester Bennington has been humbling. I wish I could take back some things I’ve said and done recently, but I can only change what I do in the future.
And so can you.
Subject: The "Fed Kid"
I'm sure many of the employees in MSP FSDO have children that look up to their FAA parent and are in awe of the important work they do. I know I did.
My father retired from your office on December 29, 1999, after 34 years and 11 months as an FAA Avionics Safety Inspector. Originally from the FAR FSDO, he transferred to MSP for his final years in the Administration, and was the project manager for a software team developing the database used to track FAA inspections of maintenance facilities.
His name is W.F.E. I can't imagine there are many in that office after 18 years who remember him. He's still putzing around in Litchfield, MN, enjoying his retirement.
There are times I wish I could follow "in the family business." I grew up as a young child at FAR, in the old terminal, often running down the hall to the NWS (which has since moved to FGF). Fortunately, I've found a niche as a board member for Metro Skywarn, the amateur radio spotters that report severe weather to MPX. It's not quite aviation, it's not quite MSP, but I know the importance it has in the bigger picture in the sky. I do have a good friend who is an ATC in ABQ. He has two adopted sons, and I always encourage him that his sons have quite the impressive father.
One reason I cannot pursue an FAA job is my disabilities. They are far too severe to request reasonable accommodations in a federal office; yet the Social Security Administration does not qualify me for disability benefits.
However, I do finish up my Master of Education in Youth Development Leadership this fall at the U of MN. I have a Bachelor of Science in Theatre, Communication, and Youth Studies. I am well educated, and as you can probably tell, have a great passion for aviation and weather.
I am self-employed, and work mostly with nonprofits in climate and environmental education causes. I would love to develop a community outreach relationship with the FAA office, either FSDO, or the team on the first floor. After all, I am a Fed Kid, and the airport was my second playground.
I am nearing completion of a Master of Education, but I am not pursuing teaching licensure. I can't claim Teach for America or other popular civil service channels to pay off my 6-digit federal student loan debt.
I would beg for assistance to work for a federal agency such as the FAA. Unfortunately, my disability/exceptional qualification is not recognized on federal job applications: my father worked for the FAA for 34 years and 11 months. I won't say 35 years because former FAA Administrator Jane Garvey signed his Certificate of Service which states 34 years and 11 months. He retired on 29 December 1999. He avoided the dreaded Y2K bug (which was well prepared for and resulted in no incidents). And he was not present for a dramatic September day less than two years later.
But I grew up at the airport. Calls from North Dakota Sheriffs about a fatal crop duster, or calls of drunk pilots at the Speakeasy in Moorhead, were not uncommon to me. But even with my forthcoming Master of Education, I have no means or method to work in civil service and work off my federal student debt.
Al. Theatre in the Round, where your parents spent hours in the basement green room decades ago, has alienated me. My Bachelor of Science in Theatre, Communication, and Youth Studies is all but useless. I can't do theatre. My disability grows worse; so much so, I am preparing to consider re-applying for SSA disability benefits; I had been previously denied after many appeals.
My future is bleak. No jobs. No more education (after studying at the U of MN for 23 years AS A STUDENT). Lessening abilities due to worsening mental illness.
I'm sure the office assistant that reads your email will file this under a recording method, and prepare a canned response that addresses your legislative work on education or employment. I don't want to hear it.
Tell me how to work with the FAA, providing community education about airplane safety. In 1964, my father married an x-ray technician from central Minnesota. When aviation marries x-rays, you get airport security. And then I was born.
Help me expand on my community service in a way so I CAN PAY MY RENT, MY BILLS, AND FEED MY CATS. Help me pay of the $138,000 debt I owe my neighbors in Ford Federal Loans.
Help me stop scraping the bottom of the barrel, and find MY PLACE in this society that has done nothing but turn everyone away from each other.
From my perspective—the view of a Fed Kid—America is a disaster. There is little hope left.
Spirituality usually assumes a religious identity. You are Christian or Buddhist, Lutheran or Catholic, Israeli or Muslim. Your faith is defined by a spiritual community into which you were born and raised. Yet, your faith is independent of the religion. There are many levels of spirituality, and to find the truth, one must look at the crossroads of faith, religion, community, and education.
What you believe is up to you and you alone. It is not a matter of what you are taught or how you are raised. Those do influence your moral and ethical choices, but in the end, the difference between right and wrong comes down to your interpretation of all you have encountered in your life. If your religion teaches a particular stance on a topic, but your interpretation of life and people tells you differently, is that religion truly your faith?
To me, organized religion has become a farce. It is a show (the priest at a mass). A scripted rendition of a make-believe story. Perhaps as I have read and learned and explored the world, I discovered that multiple religions claim authority on a selected set of beliefs. I saw how religion was regional: communities of common people telling stories with common backgrounds. Asian religions differ from middle eastern religions. Nordic mythology differs from the Roman Catholic doctrine. Introduce a melting pot called America, and it becomes a clusterfuck.
Now, as I indicated before, religion has become a show; a production of sorts. I use this reference because of my background in theatre. In fact, it was probably theatre that killed my belief in religion. As a Catholic school boy, I was an altar boy. I participated in the show. I rang the bell during the preparation of the Eucharist, and I carried the candle to create the sacred space. It was not, by far, a spiritual experience for me. It was a job.
These old world religions (Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism) are based on ancient texted. Yet, there are more ancient texts available: Roman, Greek, and Egyptian stories. Where are those religions? I do not know. What I do know is that in 1954, L. Ron Hubbard opened the first Church of Scientology in Los Angeles. A man wrote a novel, and a religion was born. Is that such a far-fetched idea? The Bible was written (By whom? Many people?) and multiple religions use its text. Laozi wrote the Tao Te Ching six centuries before the reported life of Jesus Christ.
Well, in 1977, a man named George Lucas released a film called Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope). It introduced a concept called The Force that has become known as the foundation of the Jedi Order. In later films (the prequel sequels (Episodes I-III), background into the Jedi Order included details about midichlorians, microscopic beings that are found within all living beings. This contradicts The Force as it is described in Episode IV: The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together. This discord, in film production terms, is called a continuity error.
Why does this matter? Well, L. Ron Hubbard wrote a novel which led to Scientology as an established religion. Is it so difficult, then, to accept the Jedi Order as a religion after years of movies and novels and video games and cartoons about the Star Wars universe? This revolution of faith has already begun. Meet The Temple of the Jedi Order, a 501c3 nonprofit organization in Texas that introduces themselves as such on their Website:
We are a Jedi church and international ministry of the religion Jediism and the Jedi way of life. Jedi at this site are not the same as those portrayed within the Star Wars franchise. Star Wars Jedi are fictional characters that exist within a literary and cinematic universe. We are a recognized International Ministry and Public Charity; a tax exempt (donations are US income tax deductable) 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Now, there could be a claim that the Temple of the Jedi Order infringed on the intellectual property of the Star Wars franchise by using the term “Jedi.” That is an entirely different matter. The fact remains, however, that The Force, the Jedi Order, the Dark Side, and all that the Star Wars franchise has put together has taught a generation and a half about a new way to think and interpret the world. There is no proof that ancient relics and religious texts are true stories, so again I ask, can a fictional story have such an impact insomuch as to spawn a common belief system?
Theatre and film use pathos, ethos, and logos to touch emotional points within the audience, inspire ethical conversations, and persuade a particular viewpoint. If you attend a play or film and leave without a changed perception of life, you failed as an audience member. I often find myself guilty of this, however; having a background in production (Catholic mass, stage tech, audio/video/film production), I see through the story and evaluate the production value of the story presentation. Having worked as a stage manager, I have also been around actors as they move from themselves, into character space, and back again. Heck—I have even read Stanislavski as an assignment for my cello professor. Stanislavski’s “system” was developed by Lee Strasberg into a technique known as “Method acting” used by the likes of Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, and Robin Williams. In the Method, an actor utilizes their own life experiences and emotions to bring a character to life.
Religion teaches life lessons, morals, and ethics from one generation to the text. Stories are told, and traditions are kept. Film and theatre can do the same, through literature and artistic expression, to touch the hearts, minds, and souls of the audience. To be fair and legitimate, a person with closely-held religious beliefs that wants to be respected and allowed to practice their faith must, in turn, allow every individual they encounter to explore and discover their own spiritual path. I went through this struggle when my parents realized I no longer followed the Catholic way. When I ordered a sausage pizza one Friday during Lent, my father called me a heathen.
heathen. n. One who holds a religious belief which is neither Christian, Jewish, nor Muslim; a pagan. ("heathen, adj. and n.1." OED Online. Oxford University Press, December 2016. Web. 13 February 2017.)
Damn right. I am a Pagan. Not Wiccan, per se. Wicca is a subset of Paganism, just as Catholicism is a subset of Christianity. I believe the earth, its people and all living things, are interconnected with an energy we are not capable of truly understanding. I connect most with ancient Egyptian philosophies. I have gone so far as to tattoo the Eye of Horus on my arm with an ankh in the center of the eye. In much the same way, the Jedi Order believes there is a powerful Force that flows through us all. This is such a powerful correlation that I have chosen to list my religion on my Facebook profile as “Jedi”. Because I can. Because I believe.
9/11 is a day that touched every American. Many unfortunate families were directly affected when they lost loved ones in the attacks.
This note may be sensitive to some readers.
This is an excerpt from a paper I wrote for my Experiential Learning class for my Master of Education in Youth Development Leadership.
On September 11, 2001, the world experienced the collision of theoretical parallel universes. The FBI says hijackers who had studied how to fly jets in flight school in just a few months managed to steer planes with perfect accuracy into three buildings, killing 2,996 people. Being my father’s son, I know where there are rooms at airports with warning signs on the door, “Flight Control Equipment: Disrupting Equipment in this Room May Result in Death.” I knew where the door to my father’s Federal Aviation Administration office networking/phone closet was. As a child, I sat on a computer, steering a triangle around a green monotone monitor as my father worked in the office on weekends. I played with the industrial paper shredder used by federal offices. I had a job that gave me tarmac access without an airport badge or going through TSA checks. I knew that GPS receivers could be manipulated, and that some airplanes flew by Fly-by-Wire. I remember the Controlled Impact Demonstration of 1984. I figured out that planes can be remote controlled. I know that VORs exist. I know that Raytheon was one defense contractor that helped develop a system called JPALS that enables planes to land automatically with extreme accuracy. Raytheon had an office on the 91st floor of 2 World Trade Center, just floors above where United Airlines Flight 175 impacted.
Define a virtual flight path inside the memory of a computer. Now, make a plane fly that path, regardless of what the pilot does in the cockpit.
I’m not here to promote a conspiracy theory. I’m just demonstrating that reasonable doubt is defined by the eye of the beholder. Many, many Americans doubt the validity of the FBI’s decisions on Hillary Clinton’s email server investigation. Just as many Americans doubt the integrity of the countless Benghazi hearings that resulted in no action against Hillary.
Why, then, is it so hard to believe that I have a reasonable doubt as to the FBI findings of 9/11.
As I told my Senior Academic Adviser, one of the few redeeming pieces of evidence regarding 9/11 is the United Airlines 93 cockpit voice recorder (commonly called a Black Box). Never before in the history of American aviation has a person outside the FAA/NTSB investigation team heard the recordings on a black box... until the families of those aboard UA93 were given one opportunity to hear their loved ones fight back. No recording devices. Nothing to write notes on. Discreet headphones in a protected room was their one chance to hear their family members say goodbye.
Image: Gangs of New York, Miramax Films, 2002
I am weak, but not afraid.
You have gone where I have not.
Silence stands where you once screamed,
We hear you, still, through the void.
Your pain has ended, and mine with fade with time.
You will never be the same.
I will forever be touched by your words,
Leading me through the foggy way.
One more light has gone out,
And I do care.
You have shined in the light of a thousand suns,
And stand, numb, in the shadow of death.
I am the Phoenix, rising from the ashes of those who have gone before me.
The Obama Presidential Library is not just for Chicago. Or Illinois. Or the United States. Tourism to Chicago will change drastically as scholars and those wishing to honour Obama's legacy visit your city. I've been to Chicago (from Minneapolis) three times.
I wish I could visit more, I love Lincoln Zoo.
The Obama Presidential Library may very well be one of my next destinations; that's how little I travel. There will be up-front costs for roads and transit, signage, staff, and neighborhood improvements; and people will object on political grounds, but this project is for the entire world. Twenty-eight sister cities are getting this library, too. Find international corporate sponsors to support travel costs for youth student exchange programs to study at the Obama Library. This library is going to change the face of Chicago.
For indicating their refusal to hold a meeting about a Supreme Court Justice nominee, I call for the following Senators be held in Contempt of Congress for failing to do their job without reasonable cause:
- Charles E. Grassley, Chairman
- Orrin G. Hatch
- Jeff Sessions
- Lindsey O. Graham
- John Cornyn
- Michael S. Lee
- Ted Cruz
- Jeff Flake
- David Vitter
- David A. Perdue
- Thom Tillis
I commend the Judiciary Committee members who did not sign the letter dated February 23, 2016. Please continue to do everything in your power to exercise the voice of your constituents.
We live in a society where we think we are the most intelligent being to have been on Earth, based on the concept of cumulative knowledge gained over eons.
Are we really the most advanced society to have existed on Earth? Prove it.
Photo: NOAA/NASA GOES-16 Satellite, 15 January 2017
Dear President Enrique Peña Nieto (United Mexican States), President Xi Jinping (People’s Republic of China), President Vladimir Putin (Russian Federation), Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Republic of India), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Her Majesty’s Government of Canada), Chancellor Angela Merkel (Federal Republic of Germany), and President Emmanuel Macron (French Republic),
We live in a global economy. I believe that is why the North America Free Trade Agreement was once ratified. I believe that is why America has trade with China. I believe that is why I know who all of you are.
There are certain aspects of my education that I feel are significant cornerstones of my ethical and moral standing. Some people disagree with me, and that’s okay. I disagree with others (like Nazis, racists, fascists, and people who don’t use the Oxford comma). One of which being an award given to my school. It’s not a personal award I received, so it reflects on the teachers, administrators, staff, and students. Without everyone working together, the award has to substance.
I want you to read the name of this award, then tell me why it shouldn’t matter.
United Nations Peace Messenger Award
It sounds pretty snazzy to me, especially since it was 1991, and was given for an international program that began in 1989, amidst the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the Student Protests in Tienanmen Square in Beijing in 1989. I searched Google for “United Nations Peace Messenger Award” (the quotes are important, because the “United Nations Messengers of Peace” take precedence in the search results, and only few mentions of the actual award are found.
I don’t like what my President, and the government that is supposed to be representing me is doing to my country, and the relationships with you and countries in other areas of the world. Therefore, as an alumni of a school that was awarded the United Nations Peace Messenger Award, I would like to make it known that the intentions of the government of the United States of America may not be those of the people of this country, and many of us feel powerless to rectify the problem at hand.