starving for substance

Just Go Float Your Boat

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on September 19, 2010

A popular idea espoused in Atheist communities is that religious education for children is a form of indoctrination and child abuse. I find this argument a little too simplistic. Yes, fine, if you’re an Atheist and you say that religion is bad because of XYZ, then of course to teach a child religion would be irresponsible. But only if you see religion as bad. If you see it as a good thing, then to not teach a child religion would constitute child abuse, by the same line of reasoning.

The same goes for meaning. Many Atheists will tell you that existence does not justify your life having meaning. The quote goes that a man told the universe that he existed and the universe responded that he had no responsibility towards him. Instead, you live, you make this life better for you and for others, and you die. If you see that as a life lacking fulfillment, then you need to change the way you see things because to think that your life has some greater meaning than what you have here is selfish. But a Christian will say that this need for meaning is something God instills in all humans, a desire that should ultimately point people towards God.

Atheists place supreme value on science and empirical evidence. Christians place theirs in God. South Park had an excellent episode which took place in the future and portrayed a God-less society. A society where science and reason now reigned supreme and factions were fighting and going to war over whose science was better. “Science damn you!” they shouted at each other. Again, I say this again and again, but if you dismiss South Park for it’s crude language and animation, you’re an idiot and missing some of the best mainstream social commentary out there. In the end, we all place our faith and build our values from something. What we build it on is the choice people have to make.

As point and counterpoint present themselves, what ends up happening on internet message boards is not reasoned discussion but mere pissing into the wind. It’s people from two completely separate worldviews throwing barbs at each other. Have you ever peed while the wind was blowing into you? It’s one of the most counter-productive things I’ve ever experienced. Sure, you’ve got nothing left in your bladder but you certainly look like an idiot. And so as Atheists and Christians slug it out on battlefields across the internet, both sides leave the table with nothing left in their systems while appearing to the other side as being completely batpoo crazy.

In a postmodern and pluralistic world, many people with many viewpoints is considered to be a great thing. Open mindedness! Intellectual freedom! Just don’t force it on me. Unfortunately, that’s inherent in the beliefs of a Christian and the knee jerk reaction of the Atheist is militant atheism and so instead of peacefully coexisting as our culture would want, we suddenly have two diametrically and forcefully opposed factions. What do you choose? I was talking to a very smart (nuclear engineering major) Christian about Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion. What did this smart person say? “He brings up a very convincing argument.” What does Ravi Zacharias say about an Atheist, who after hearing Zacharias speak, has no counter arguments but refuses to accept Christianity? “They are not intellectually opposed to Christianity, they are only morally opposed to it.” What’s the point? Regardless of what you believe, you can find something that supports your viewpoint. You can always float your boat.

So what becomes important to Christians is understanding their viewpoint, their worldview, then understanding the worldview of others and meeting others on their own grounds. The big problem is that Christians really don’t understand their worldview (and I’m just as guilty of this as the next person), so when they try and go somewhere else, hilarity usually ensues. There’s a story of a pastor on a plane, reading the Bible and preparing for a sermon when a lady tells him “I used to be a Christian but then I read the DaVinci Code.” Another lady sitting nearby overheard this and chimed in “me too!” And this is the stereotype. That Christians are stupid, ignorant, and backwards people, and in all honesty, most of us don’t give people a good reason to think otherwise. What happens with a faith based on feelings and experiences is that this faith can be shaken when we’re told those feelings are merely a chemical response our brain has and not something that comes from meeting God. What I love and admire about Ravi Zacharias is that he has a faith so firmly rooted in logic but what is produced is feeling, worship, and awe. That’s the true mark of a man of God.

I, on the other hand, am much more petty. If someone told me they stopped being a Christian after reading the DaVinci Code, I would tell them “good, I’d hate to have to spend eternity with someone like you.” ZING! 😉

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Contradictions

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on September 15, 2010

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Nelson Mandala found great comfort in these words as did Andre Agassi (read his book Open, it’s amazing) and Timothy McVeigh chose them as his last words. Undoubtedly, this poem by William Ernst Henley strikes a chord in most Americans as it’s all about the empowering of self to take on the world. It’s the American dream, to make ourselves what we want to be, regardless of the situations or the circumstances. Jay-Z encourages himself with the line “Hov’ remind yourself, nobody built like you, you designed yourself.” A child repeats the mantra “I know I can, be what I want to be, if I work hard at it, I’ll be where I want to be” in a Nas song. An allegedly wealthy business man sat me down and lectured me on the benefits of becoming a “wolf,” how I could get anything in this world as long as I took it for myself.

We love this idea that we control our own fate, that we are the master of our lives. Yet when we look at reality, we see a different picture. I’ve learned that to tell a poor person to simply “get a job” is incredibly demeaning. Nobody becomes poor on purpose, yet we see the homeless all around us. When we look at reality, we find that success in life isn’t just a matter of hard work and becoming what we think we should be but that there is also an incredible amount of fortuitous events that must happen as well. Warren Buffet justifies his refusal to pass along any of his wealth to his children with the logic that it’s simply not fair. It’s not fair that he gets to have all this money for something he naturally happens to be good at in a country that makes what he’s good at extremely lucrative. This is the truth we see and eventually come to grips with. George Carlin famously said “it’s called the American dream because you have to be sleeping to believe it.”

And so life is filled with these contradictions. What we’re told is not what is true, nor is what we believe what comes to happen. We live in a world of relativism but that makes it an absolute.

And I lost my train of thought.

Tired

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on September 12, 2010

Learning what it means to “take up your cross and follow” is absolutely brutal.

[Edit]
And as I look down at my notes, I see this staring up at me while “How He Loves” plays over the speakers.

May my life be an unending quest to know infinite Grace.

Tats

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on September 4, 2010

I always thought tattoos were pretty cool but never really could think of anything I’d ever want permanently attached to my body. I also realize that there will one day be a moment 50 years from now when my grandkid will ask “What’s that on your arm?” and it better be a fricking cool answer or else. Like one time at a pool, I saw this toddler with his dad and the dad had the Greek letters “Sigma Phi Epsilon” branded onto him. I sincerely wish him the best of luck explaining that one.

However, when I used to lifeguard a lot, there was this grandpa that would come with his granddaughter in the mornings and play around for a bit and he had this faded Marine Corps tattoo on his arm. “Grandpa, what’s that?” “Something I got when I was stupid.” In my opinion though, that thing was pretty b.a.

I wonder if that’s how the dad of the toddler will explain his markings too…

Derp

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on September 4, 2010

If the customer is always right then one is always supposed to cater to the customer. But what happens when the customer does not know what they want? Then how can they be right? Furthermore, what happens when what the customer wants and thinks is right is not right. Then does the one servicing the customer have the responsibility to correct the customer or give them what is better for them? Will the customer accept this or will they take ire in this age of relativism? Effectively, doesn’t this mean that there’s another niche of potential customers out there who do not know that they need you? So will they get mad if you tell them they need you? Seth Godin, where are you?

Facebook

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on September 4, 2010

My mom has been bugging me to teach her about Facebook. Now she’s saying stuff like “okay, you need to tell me how Josh is doing because I can’t do it because you’re not going to teach me facebook.” I’m about to give in 😛