Genius in a Bottle

Midlife. I can feel the second half of my life slipping away, one boring moment at a time. It feels like Sunday afternoon. The end of the weekend. I want to go on vacation and get drunk for five days and maybe never go back to work, but in reality I’m just going to sit on the couch and wait for the sun to go down. The clock won’t stop. Monday’s coming. Except in this case Sunday afternoon is midlife and Monday is the grave. I may not die Monday morning, but almost no one lives to see lunch time.


Some days my inner voice screams in frustration. I want to flip my desk and hurl my chair through a window. I want to SMASH a Chris shaped hole in the sheetrock and drive until I see an ocean. I want to be anywhere other than where I am, doing anything other that what I’m doing. When I feel like howling, I drink until the howl becomes a sarcastic aside. Rum quiets the beast.

Midlife Transition
Midlife Transition

This isn’t coming from a place of regret. I’m okay with the life I’ve lived so far. The screaming in my head is the sound of unbridled optimism crying to be released. It’s potential energy demanding to become kinetic, like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones stuck in a tiny silent elevator. I want to release my potential in the next forty years. I want to find my peak. I want to see things, to create things. I want to let the rum soaked genius out of the bottle.

Baby Steps Back to the Dark Ages

Jacob’s band instructor insists on using Christian religious music for competitions and performances. This really rubs me the wrong way. They even lost points at UIL because religious music and iconography aren’t allowed. They marched this season to “O Come O Come, Emmanuel” and “Ode To Joy”, and they had a stained glass prop to reinforce the point for anyone who didn’t recognize the tunes. Monday night is their first formal concert, and they’re performing “Ave Marie”.

We’re talking about a public school, as in tax payer funded, secular place of learning. It’s also a pretty diverse school, with Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Atheist students. Heck, the church closest to the school is a mosque.

I’m not bothered because the band instructor is religious, and I understand why he loves spiritual music. It’s beautiful music that I would love to hear… in a church or a mall or on the street corner, but not in a school or at a school sponsored event. My objection to the music is purely political. I believe religion in every form should be strictly separated from government run institutions. I believe that doubly so when we’re talking about schools. I want my son to go there and get educated, not indoctrinated.

The separation of church and state is one of the great things about the American system. I celebrate our Constitutionally guaranteed freedom to worship or not worship as we please. I’m on the fence on churches not being taxed, but I’m okay with it if it keeps religious leaders from exerting control over our legislatures, courts and schools.

Jacob gets really upset and Lisa gets very quiet when I complain about this. I know this topic makes people uncomfortable. I recognize that there are people who want their children to have their faiths reinforced at school. For those people, there are private schools.

I realize we’re just talking about music. To my knowledge no one is preaching at school. Also, Jacob is a religious kid. He goes to church twice a week, and he’s super involved in his youth group. It’s not Jacob I’m worried for. It’s allowing a specific religion to slip a toe in the door. It’s that it’s only ever a single faith that sneaks in, and the fact that it’s our faith doesn’t make it any more acceptable.

I am usually the first to object to a “slippery slope” argument. I know it’s unlikely that “Ave Marie” in Band will lead to creationism in Science or the virgin birth in History. But I am comfortable saying that any educator who turns a blind eye to one will be more likely to turn a blind eye to the other. The celebration of a single faith, even through song, in a public school, to me represents the first little baby steps toward acceptance of religion in the public schools, which itself represents the first little baby steps toward acceptance of religion in government. If you wonder how it turns out when churches take on political power, Google Dark Ages or Islamic Revolution in Iran. Science suffers. Art suffers. Progress stops.

Alright, I’ll step off my soap box and wait for the hateful comments from the good shepherd’s sheep. But someday, when your grandchildren tell you to wear a veil before leaving the house, don’t say I didn’t warn you.