The Heretic and The Absolutes

the obligatory, black & white, author-ish headshot

Most people online know me as either bob_tomato – a nick I used for several years writing reviews at the now defunct epinions.com – or as neodrew, a mostly harmless, game playing, karaoke singing tech nerd. IRL, I’m actually Andrew Padgett, a husband, father, number-crunching analytic, part-time amateur media creator, and full-time verbal processor. Combine all of these things with a level of skepticism that mildly amuses / annoys most of my friends, and you have the makings of a modern “doubting Thomas”…

I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the oldest of three kids, self-righteously stubborn about being right all the time. My father was a teacher and later a principal at Fremont Christian School, the private school we all attended, operated by the Assembly of God church our family called home. My mother was a housewife until my late teens, and was a constant guiding presence in my life. The things I was taught growing up, whether at home, school or church, were all influenced by the evangelical perspective of Fremont First Assembly – in general, I simply accepted what I was taught as at least factual, and did my best to dutifully behave, pass my classes and be a good Christian according to the standards set forth for me. I grounded my thinking in what I had been taught from childhood, but as I grew older and moved away from these influences as an adult, I began to compare the “facts” of what I’d been taught against the truths I found in the real world.

I had always understood Jesus’ instructions to his followers to be these: Love God and your neighbor as you go about your lives, speaking and acting as I have shown you by my example, and in doing so, becoming an example for around you to emulate themselves. What I saw within the church in the United States (I call it The American ChurchTM) was a selfish community that sheltered in place, that seemed only to care about the business of doing church, rather than actually being Christ-like within their communities. I struggled with reconciling Christ’s commission with conservative agendas that ignored the poor, the hurting and the hungry within a so-called Great Society that purported to be founded on “Judeo-Christian principles”.

After I’d been married some years, fathered three children of my own (one of whom passed away in a drowning accident at the age of two and a half), moved to Texas for my career, and gotten involved in a church community that seemed a good fit for my wife and our family, I began to develop a unifying theory of truths. I couldn’t shake the feeling that there were values common to all of humanity, things that transcended religions, cultures and boundaries. Things like Love, Joy, Peace, Gentleness, Patience and more – does this list sound familiar? For Christians, it should – this is the “things against which there is no law” list that Paul wrote in Galatians 5. I recognized that ANY one could exhibit these qualities, no matter what their personal faith might be. In fact, none of them actually require faith – they simply require being an actively decent human who chooses to put the needs of others above their own.

I called these things The Absolutes. In one word, they are simply Truth

It is my assertion that Truth should be the lens by which we see, hear and process reality.  And so, throughout human history, it is no surprise that Truth has always been attacked, obscured and abused by those seeking to manipulate reality to their advantage.  Today, reality is experiencing a well-coordinated, heavily concerted attack in America by those seeking to maintain their power.  Their constant gaslighting and pervasive propaganda have created an Orwellian alternative reality where facts are fiction, science is suspect, reason is ridiculous, and Truth is viewed as heresy.

In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act

ascribed to George Orwell

I want to talk about this reality we find ourselves in, seen from the perspective of The Absolutes and Truth.  Absolutes are those Things I believe are universally good within the Human Experience. Things that are common to each of us, and that often find different forms of expression.  Absolutes have the power to free us from lies, and they are the Things that our society needs to understand and live by each and every day if we are to free ourselves from this alternate reality.  These days, Truth is Heresy.  The only way to talk Truthfully is to frame it Absolutely.