AUSTIN!

This last weekend my partner and I visited Austin to hang out with some friends, explore the city a bit, and see Kesha in concert. In the end, we accomplished two of those three things. We visited Austin for a few hours on our cross-country bike ride but didn’t really get to really hang out. We originally planned on spending 3-4 days in Austin back in 2015 but it didn’t happen (long story short, fuck headwinds).

We landed in Austin in the early afternoon and headed downtown to figure out what we wanted to do with our weekend. Austin was significantly smaller geographically than I thought it would be. Everything is basically 15-20 minutes apart and it seemed uber bike friendly. Once we got to a coffee shop we had our first hipster experience.

One of the patrons of the cafe was wearing a University of North Carolina – Wilmington t-shirt. Which we thought was super strange in Austin, so we struck up a conversation with him and asked if he was from Wilmington. It turns out, he was not. He said that he wore the shirt because “nobody else would recognize where it came from or what UNCW meant”.

Well done Austin, you are keeping things weird.

After coffee, we met with some friends for some drinks. Well, one drink turned into four and before we knew it we were laughing and having a great fucking time. At one point I looked down at my phone and realized that the Kesha concert had started five minutes earlier. So, we had a choice, drive ~30 minutes to the show and sit out in the hot sun to see my favorite artist. Or, we could keep the good times rolling with our friends who we hadn’t seen in a long time. We went with the latter. There was a moment where I was pulled towards the concert because we paid for the tickets, but that quickly subsided. #SunkCostFallacy

Eventually, we grabbed food and headed to bed.

Saturday we woke late and chatted over coffee to plan the day. We decided to bike down to Barton Creek to play in the water.

Side note about Austin/Texas – there is a river that goes through Austin called The Colorado River. It isn’t the same Colorado River that you’re thinking of and goes through the Grand Canyon. No, this is a different Colorado River that is only inside of Texas. Also, they refer to the river as Lady Bird Lake sometimes.

Anyway, we biked down to Barton Creek and hung out in the slightly chilly water for a bit. There were lots of dogs to watch and a 3-foot long snake touched me. After that, we went for more food and drink (do you sense a theme?)

Saturday night some more friends came over and the six of us hung out talking and laughing. It has been a long time since I’ve had deep, serious questions in a group like that. I really miss it and I hope that as I expand my network here I will have friends that can chat for hours into the night about religion, death, sex, science, our past, etc.

Sunday morning I went to church with our friends. It was the first time in probably 12 years that I entered a Christian church for service. I went in skeptically open and it turned out to be a lot like what I expected. Everyone was friendly and I would probably be friends with the ones I interacted with if I lived in Austin, though, I don’t think a church would be what connected us.

The sermon reminded me a lot of my old church. It was a bit fluffy and not particularly challenging. I know that a 20-minute sermon can’t get into a lot of nuances but it always irritates me a bit when anyone makes bold statements without any real citation or recognizing any potential problems. In fact, as is often the case with religious leaders, the bold statements were identified as an objective truth because of god.

The pastor really talked about two things. The first was the Unity of the Bible and how that was a strong argument for the divine nature of it. If not for God, how else could 66 books written over 1,500 years by 40 authors in 3 languages be completely consistent? First, the consistency is up for debate. Second, a good editor. Humans decided which books were official and they chose books that were consistent. There are many non-canon books that were written about the New and Old Testament that were simply not used by the church… well, some churches.

That’s my third problem with this argument, which church was he talking about? The Catholic Church includes books that the Protestant churches don’t, and Eastern Orthodox churches are different as well. So, in order for the Unity of the Bible to be divine then some of these versions of the Bible are wrong, either by the omission of divine works or inclusion of non-divine works. Recognizing these potential issues would go a long way for me, admitting that there are unanswered or complicated issues included would be nice. Instead, in the past, I’ve heard things like “just pray about it” when I had intellectual questions.

The second thing the pastor discussed was the value of studying the Bible. He encouraged the congregation to read a passage, think about it, and write down their thoughts. Good advice, actually, but not really unique to the Bible. The works of Marcus Aurelius, Rumi, the Upanishads, Plato, and many others can also provide spiritual and intellectual growth when studied. Again, it is the monopoly on truth and value concept that buggers me.

Overall, I’m really glad I went to the church. It provided me with an opportunity to stretch my mind and comfort zones a bit. I think I’m going to stick with my Unitarian church here in Wilmington but I’m game to go to a variety of churches, synagogues, temples, and any other religious service with friends and family if invited.

After church, my partner and I drove out to Jester King brewery about 20 minutes outside of Austin. It was actually a really cool brewery in an area that didn’t feel like Texas. The beers were really good, and I normally don’t like the fruity, light beers. After the beer was more food, ice cream, and then passing out.

Monday was the end of our journey and, sadly, we had to return to Wilmington (not really “sadly”, we love it here). We both agree that we want to visit Austin again and do more outdoors activities. It was so great to meet friends and connect in person, social media and email just can’t do the same. There are so many great cities and people to visit in this world, I wish I had more time but we are lucky enough to be able to travel to a wide variety of places for long weekends many times throughout the year.

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a Snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

 

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