Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Month: March, 2013

The greatest sins we commit on our children.

We destroy our children almost as soon as they are able to speak.

The children who use persistence to achieve their goals are called stubborn and strong-willed.  We beat it out of them.  We threaten them.  “I said no!  If you ask me one more time…”  We are determined to break the strong will.  To win against the child.

Never mind that the world needs more good people who are stubborn and strong-willed.

The children who question are called rebellious and irreverent.  We frown when they ask the most sacred questions (“why?  why not?”) and give them the most pathetic answer (“Because I said so.”)  We teach them to obey.  To submit.

Never mind that the world needs more good people who are rebellious and irreverent.


And then we tell them to work hard, just not against anything we have done.  We tell them to be themselves, unless the themselves are too different from what we’d like them to be.  We tell them to fight evil and worldliness, as we define them.  We make them into ourselves, only younger and better-looking.


I cannot think of a greater joy than this:

My children stand at the Edge and look over all the things that were made before they were born.  At the philosophies, the causes, the works and religions and arts.  And they judge them.  Some are better than others.  Some are worse.  They can tell because they were taught to ask and to be satisfied only with reasonable answers.  They can tell because they do not love a thing for being old or hate a thing for being new.  They can tell because they were taught to chose a path, not follow a well-worn one.  They can tell because they were trusted to think, not carried.

And as they look, they pick up the things that speak to their souls.  And after collecting as much or as little as they want, they look at it all, they look at the world, and they say to each other:

“We can do better than this lot.”

They leave me and my naive little world

And create a better one.

Three Cheers for the Fetus!


You only need to balance things when you have finite competing objects.

You need to balance time awake and time asleep.  Because the human body needs a certain amount of both.  Because you’re not going to exist forever.

You need to balance eating for health and eating for fun.  Unless you’re born already in love with only the finest and healthiest goodies in the finest and healthiest portions.

But there are a lot of things you think you need to balance but you don’t.

Like love.

You sometimes talk about balancing love between people.  Balancing your love of your wife and the love of your mother.  The love of a friend and the love of a stranger.  The love of the self and the love of the world.  As if you had a finite amount of love available!  As if one side could get too much love!  They only seem imbalanced when the love of one or the other is deficient or poorly carried out.

There are so many things we do not need to balance.  So many things that don’t really compete.

Love and practicality.

The mind and the heart.

Strength and tenderness.

Passion and purity.

Work and play.

Spirituality and practicality.

Skepticism and trust.

Silliness and maturity.

Giddiness and sobriety.

Pacifism and activism.

Love and anything else.

Have I Ever Talked about Depression?

I used to be sad, pretty much all the time.  If you know me, you might think I’m lying.  I get a lot of energy from other people so I always seem to present as a cheerful, outgoing, happy happy chap.  But at night everything would change.  I used to cry myself to sleep.  Kinda weird, eh?  Fully grown dude writhing in sadness in his bed, hoping that his roommate across the room doesn’t notice.

It got better, but not until it got a lot worse first.

But then it got better.  I fixed it.  Almost completely.  It took time and sacrifice, but it got better.  So much better than when the sadness creeps back, it’s a surprise.  And it never stays for long.  It’s lost its heart.

For me, the key was honesty.  With myself.

Most of us have delusions.  And when we’re really, really honest with ourselves, we can identify those delusions.  No big deal, for a lot of people.  But if you’re like me, those delusions will subtly suck your life away.  They’ll kill your heart because your heart knows that they are not true.

I’m no doctor.  I have no idea what causes clinical depression.  But I know that I used to be very sad most of the time.  And I know that now I’m very happy most of the time.  And the only difference in my life between then and now is that I am honest and free and mindful.  And the only times the dark comes back is when I lose my honesty, freedom and mindfulness.

Ariel’s Story – Eleven

** Read the previous chapter here **

A sharp snap and I woke up.  Raging noise everywhere, all around, tumbling, screaming.

I grabbed hold of a firm object nearby.  Whatever it was it fit perfectly into my hands.  I braced myself against the tumult.  Waves of angry salt water crashed over me.  I held tight and closed my eyes against it.  Water leaked into my mouth.  It tasted good.

The storm raged on and the shock of coming awake to it wore off.  I started to stand, still clutching the Firm Object.  It had eroded a bit since the storm had begun, but it seemed to have firmed up again.  The waters pressed against me, and I found myself pressing back on them as I widened my stance and turned my face away from the waves.

My neck began to ache and I was forced to face the storm.  The Firm Object shifted as I faced forward, and I thought I was going to lose it.  But then it became Firm again and I felt safe.  I was surprised at the way the water felt, flowing over and past my face.  It did not sting, but warmed and massaged me with its raging furor.  At one point I gasped, and the waters that filled my mouth did not choke me.

I was standing tall now.  I opened my eyes and the water stung for a moment, and then became soothing.  I took a step forward.  I don’t know if I stopped holding the Firm Object or if it eroded away in my hands.  I never looked back to see what it had been.

I walked through the storm.  Either it was dying away or I was growing used to it.  I could see where I was now and I remembered.  I had been by a dumpster, licking my wounds after failing to rescue my fairy queen, Sume el Raj.  I must have fallen asleep or gone into a daze.  I looked up at the sky.  The clouds were thinning along with the rain and I could see sunlight coming through.  I must have been by the dumpster all night.

The storm, while leaving me unharmed and rather invigorated, had wreaked havoc on the town.  Wide fractures yawned up in the road, making walking tedious and driving impossible.  The apartment buildings were all windowless and chucks of steel and stone were bitten out all over their sides and corners, showing the skeletal walls within.  The townspeople didn’t seem to notice.  They have firm hearts, I suppose.  Children still played on the streets, leaping over wide crevasses and making me shudder.  Adults still pressed their dying automobiles along, making ridiculous maneuvers to avoid the most dangerous fractures.  It was stressful to watch them.  I avoided the roads and walked toward the cistern.

It had flooded, of course.  I couldn’t see the Man in the centre or his victim.  I wondered if they had drowned.  I couldn’t bring myself to care anymore.  They were just part of a dream I was having.  But the devotees were still there.  I was shocked to see that many seemed to be drowning.  I ran down the hill and waded out into the fetid water.  It had grown worse in the storm, and even in the now brightly shining sunlight it seemed dark and icy and filthy.  All the spoiled things of the town seemed to have washed in.

I drew near to a man I knew and reached out my hand to pull him to safety.  He floundered and glared at me, coughing up water.  I thought he was struggling to reach out to me, so I took his hand and pulled.  He gave an angry cough and pushed back, splashing some of that water on my face.  It burned and the refreshment from the storm was spoiled.

“Grab hold, man!” I called to him.  “I’ll pull you out.”

The man forced himself to tread water harder so he could speak to me.

“Idiot,” he coughed.  “Why would I leave?  This place is awesome.”  He gave me an angry patronizing look and pushed himself into even deeper water.  Every time I tried to reach out to someone, they pushed back against me, some angry and some so very sad that I had disturbed them.  The sun was beginning to set, it seemed, and eventually I just left them.

I didn’t know where to go, but I knew I would soon leave the town.  I looked back toward the open eastern gate, the gate everyone entered when this story began.  The endless desert was beyond that.  There was nothing there, for me or anyone.  I put my back toward it and walked west.  I past through interesting and pretty places as I went west.  Parts of the town that I had not known existed.  Other buildings and other cisterns.  Some of the cisterns were tiny and looked almost perfectly clean when the sun hit them in a certain way.  Others were large and some were even dirtier than the one I had come from.  Others were old and many were almost completely abandoned.  But all cisterns, only cisterns.  And I had lost all taste for cisterns or even fountains.  I still felt the taste of the Stormlight on my mouth.

I came to a wall.  A tall wall made of brick so old it looked like natural rock.  I glanced behind myself one more time and took in the scope of the massive, beautiful, psychopathic town.  I waved at it, at everyone, at no one.

I climbed the wall, and dropped out of sight.

Beyond the wall, I follow the sun and learn to keep up with it.

Beyond the wall, I see wonderful things.


Stories are great because they let us have different and awesome human experiences.

Fun is the only reason to do anything.  Even work.  You work for money.  Money is used for fun.  Enough money for fun is enough money.

The funnest thing ever is being mindful about every moment as it passes through you.

My wife is the only one I ever could have been with.  If I had been with anyone else I would not have grown and I wouldn’t have been having so much fun.

Gatsby’s mistake was trying to relive the awesome moments of the past.  He should have been looking for awesome in the future.  Or, better, in the present.

Nick Carraway didn’t get it.

I love you.

Portal 2 might be the most perfect video game ever.

All the atoms in my body were created at the beginning of time and have existed for billions of years and have made up galaxies and stars and planets and vegetation and animals and food and the countless generations of mankind.  And so were yours.  We’re so related it’s scary, and I don’t even know your language.

Their is a chemical that your brain whenever a cherished idea is attacked.  It modifies your thought process so you are less likely to acknowledge any reasoning that might harm your cherished idea.  But you probably don’t believe that.

Sometimes I think so much about the mystery of existence that I get frightened.  And I still laugh at fart jokes.

I am free.

There is no reason not to be free.