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Author Topic: rude 'n' ridiculous rants + polite but painfully-slow prattle with passers-by  (Read 24494 times)

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Online Oniya

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #150 on: August 18, 2012, 03:38:38 PM »
It's not necessarily that they think that they're doing 'right', just that it's 'not wrong'.  It's a subtle difference, but it's there. 

Some of them recognize that society sees things differently, and either don't know another way to do it, or don't care (depending on how mucked up their compass is).  In some cases, society gives such a conflicted message about right and wrong, it allows people who do wrong to point at something and use it to justify their actions.  Like - most men would have a conniption if their teenaged daughter left the house looking like a Vegas streetwalker, and yet we see toy manufacturers producing things like Monster High for 8-11 year olds, and parents buying them.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that morals are learned, and the more contact you have with a given set of morals, the stronger that's ingrained in you.  Parents are in a unique position of being there at the beginning of the formation of a child's morals, and are usually there the longest.  Their actions, good and bad, therefore make the strongest impression.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #151 on: August 18, 2012, 04:02:51 PM »
Okay, thanks for the answers, and not to keep pestering you with questions, but -- this is an interesting stance you're taking, so I'm curious, and these questions occur to me.

Do you think it's possible for some people to reach adulthood and not know that it's wrong to hurt people?

Do you think it's possible for some people to reach adulthood and not know that it's wrong to take things that belong to other people?

Do you believe that all people have a "conscience"?  If so, how does the human conscience relate to a given person's sense of morality?

Do you think it's possible for a person to do something wrong knowing that it's wrong?  Is this usually the case when people do wrong things, or only rarely?

Generally speaking, how are right and wrong defined in your view?

If people who do wrong things do not realize that they're wrong to do, are they still responsible for their actions and culpable in any sense?

Please note that you don't need to answer every question or answer in detail unless you want to, of course.  And whether you answer or not, I'll have a more thoughtful reply after I have time to mull all this over in a substance-free state.  (It's the weekend, y'know?  Time for loud music and brewskis and other weekend delights  ;)  My apologies to anyone who thinks I'm evil for loving alcohol and many other earthly plezhuresss ...)

Online Oniya

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #152 on: August 18, 2012, 04:22:20 PM »
If someone is incapable of distinguishing right from wrong, or of controlling their behavior to comply with the law, then legally they are insane.  (Look up MacNaughton laws).  An interesting factoid - most people judged 'Not guilty by reason of insanity' spend more time in the mental institutions than they would have spent in prison if found to be guilty and sane.

There are people that believe that they have the right to do things (hurt people, take things) because they are stronger/smarter than other people and are therefore entitled to disregard things like property laws.  We call them sociopaths.  If they have a conscience, it is a stunted and twisted thing at best.  Thankfully, they are fairly rare.

The conscience itself is how we internalize the moral code.  If we believe we've done something wrong, we feel that we deserve to be punished, even if we get away with it.  That's 'guilt'.  If we continually get away with it, we can even start believing that it's not wrong.  That's the moral compass getting realigned.

With that, I leave you to your weekend.  :-)  Party on, and be excellent to each other.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #153 on: August 19, 2012, 11:31:07 AM »
Consuming crow-meat and other character-building exercises

If someone is incapable of distinguishing right from wrong, or of controlling their behavior to comply with the law, then legally they are insane.  (Look up MacNaughton laws).  An interesting factoid - most people judged 'Not guilty by reason of insanity' spend more time in the mental institutions than they would have spent in prison if found to be guilty and sane.

There are people that believe that they have the right to do things (hurt people, take things) because they are stronger/smarter than other people and are therefore entitled to disregard things like property laws.  We call them sociopaths.  If they have a conscience, it is a stunted and twisted thing at best.  Thankfully, they are fairly rare.

The conscience itself is how we internalize the moral code.  If we believe we've done something wrong, we feel that we deserve to be punished, even if we get away with it.  That's 'guilt'.  If we continually get away with it, we can even start believing that it's not wrong.  That's the moral compass getting realigned.

With that, I leave you to your weekend.  :-)  Party on, and be excellent to each other.

Welp, there's a post in which I can't find a thing to disagree with.  Which makes me wonder how I misspoke previously in order to make such reminders necessary.  In other words, how did I fuck up this time?  :)  Yesterday was a good day in general for opening my mouth and inserting my feet; this wasn't the only case.

Let's see if I can't wind things all the way back to where I started and figure out where I went off the rails in this case.

A while back, I made the following sweeping and unsupported generalizations, as I am so often wont to do ...:

Here is the evidence that sin exists in the world around us, IMO:  all of us, every last motherfucking one of us, no matter what religion we espouse, no matter where we're from, no matter anything, all of us who have eyes can look around at things and find all sorts of things that aren't the way they should be.  Those who disagree are in denial about it, if you ask me.  Let me give you some examples.

What I said earlier today about how doing bad things often feels good?  There's a great example.  ...

Where does our universal sense of how things should or shouldn't be come from?  We all know that the only people who have no sense of right and wrong are mentally ill or imbalanced in some way; in fact, having a clear sense of right and wrong is a key part, perhaps the key part of our very definition of what it means to be a sane adult.  One huge difference that sets children apart from adults is their inability to tell right from wrong clearly in certain circumstances; one of the ways we determine that a person is no longer a child is by whether or not they can tell right from wrong.  Our judicial system recognizes this. 

Using the handy-dandy strikethru, I'm crossing out that part, because that seems to be where I started getting in over my head and out of my depth.  (And BTW, it's a great favor to be questioned and corrected in such situations.  I don't always end up retracting things I said, but sometimes ya just gotta admit your mistakes.  Builds character, I hope!)

I wholeheartedly agree that any person can develop a faulty sense of morality, and negative influences inside and outside the home can and do steer people to do wrong things thinking they're perfectly permissible.  Furthermore, guilt can be seen as the cognitive dissonance created when a person does something that they think of as wrong to do ... their conscience bugs them about it afterwards ... but then the guilt can be rationalized away by re-tuning their personal moral compass so that the problematic misbehavior becomes acceptable for them.  This may actually be the usual situation when people do all sorts of bad things; I dunno, maybe.

Our legal system holds all normal adults accountable for knowing right from wrong with regard to the laws of the land.  Criminals might have been misled into developing a warped moral sense thanks to delinquent parenting or other bad social influences, but the court assumes that they should have known better and therefore are still responsible for themselves.  Children and mentally ill people are not fully responsible for their actions because their sense of morality might be undeveloped or misshapen by forces completely beyond their control; when they misbehave, it's not always fair for us to assume they could have and should have known better.

This rightly puts a big responsibility upon parents and other authority figures to make sure kids don't develop faulty morals, and it makes us wary of businesspeople or other public figures who have enough influence to potentially warp people's morals.

I hope I'm more on track about this now.  :)  For the sake of being thorough, let's get back to our striking-thru.

It's not just a matter of acquired learning, either.  Every so often another child psychology study comes out that supports something we already all knew to begin with (heh, isn't that what most of them are about?  psychology is so fucking dumb in some ways):  children develop a sense of right and wrong as they age without even being taught it.  There are exceptions and fine distinctions to be made from one individual to the next, but the general rule holds, IMO.

I think a sense of right and wrong is built in to each of us, ...

Here I'd like to pause and save a little face.  :)  I think it's safe to say that all people develop some sense of morality by the time they reach legal adulthood, even if that sense of morality is somewhat faulty or warped.  If nothing else -- even without parental guidance -- anyone who isn't completely isolated from others learns what behavior is considered socially acceptable and unacceptable in a general way, whether or not they personally see those behaviors as right or wrong.  Our legal system assumes that adults know the laws whether they agree with them or not.  So in that sense, you could say that some sense of morality is not "built-in" but at least acquired by all people by the time they reach adulthood, one way or another.

It was careless at best and dumb at worst for me to speculate that morality is in-born or perhaps forged by mysterious universal forces.  It's a moot point, whether a person could develop an accurate sense of right and wrong without interacting with any parents or any other people; I'm not aware of any person growing up in such a cultural vacuum, and I have no idea what such a person would be like.  There may be some psychological or scientific info out there about that, I dunno.

... and so is a sense that things often aren't as they should be.  The world is fucked up; life is fucked up; find me a sensible person who denies this in a general sense.  I know, some people want to disagree about every damn thing, but sometimes that's just obstinacy.  ;)

Let me revise this down to a more manageable size.  Based on my very limited personal experience, I find it hard to imagine how any sensible person could look carefully at the various afflictions common to humanity without sensing intuitively that something is terribly amiss.  I feel this intuition very strongly and frequently, so personally, I wonder where it comes from, what it might mean, and how many others might feel something similar.  Why should anyone expect the world to be any better than it is?  Do some or all people have this same instinct?  I'd like to think everyone does, but I humbly admit that I have neither the knowledge nor the authority to make such a claim ... so I take it back.  :)

Anyone who happened to read Part One of my explanation of Christianity might have noticed that it contained a very similar claim to the one I just retracted; just as sweeping, just as unfounded, perhaps just as unjustified.  That one I don't take back, for now; because I feel much more strongly about it, although I'm sure that claim wouldn't seem plausible or supportable at all to some people.  Any such people are welcome to argue against that proposition; perhaps you'll persuade me to make another retraction.  :)  Or perhaps not, but feel free to try!  I have been known to get carried away ...

Online Oniya

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #154 on: August 19, 2012, 12:30:50 PM »
No need to beat yourself up too badly.  The concept of in-born morality has been bouncing around for a long time.  However, as you pointed out, there's never any way to search for such a thing, since it's impossible (ethics aside) to create a cultural vacuum and still have the interactions needed to determine if morality exists.  I might have made similar statements in my 'pre-child' years, but when you have one of the little buggers underfoot, you start paying attention to all the intricate things they do.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #155 on: August 20, 2012, 10:15:32 AM »
@ Oniya

However, as you pointed out, there's never any way to search for such a thing, since it's impossible (ethics aside) to create a cultural vacuum and still have the interactions needed to determine if morality exists. 

Actually, after looking at this sentence a second time, I realized that this is not just a restatement but a small extension of what I said, intentional or not.  Also more insightful than what I said.  You're a sneaky devil.  ;)

The concept of in-born morality has been bouncing around for a long time. 

Here's a funny thing though:  I can't recall the last time (if ever) that I gave that concept any real thought, until I wrote about it here and suddenly made careless statements about it.  Much of my writing has an unexpected and almost involuntary quality to it; things just come out, and then sometime later, I figure out if the things were clever or daft.  This time they were daft; but once in a while they're clever, so I don't mind.  :)

No need to beat yourself up too badly. 

Bah.  Not unless there's some kinky sexual angle to it. hehehe

@ Starlequin

Hope you're still floating around out there and haven't forgotten your last post here.  One reason that I haven't already responded to it is because it gets into topics that I would cover in the multi-part "Explanation of Christianity" thing that I'm doing, and I didn't want to cover the topics twice, so I wasn't sure what to do about that. 

This next installment of my diatribe covers some topics that were mentioned in your last post here.  When I get time, I'll do a point-by-point response as well, but this is all I could handle at the moment.  Thanks for your patience!


True Christianity in my view, take 3:  Subjectivity versus objectivity

Like many of my views on Christianity, this part is probably partly or wholly plagiarized from something I read long ago, but I don't remember what, so I can't give credit.  Also I've probably changed parts of the original ideas, for better or worse.

Here is a very rough and approximate description of a point of view that is commonly found in colleges and universities and other academic institutions, especially in the West, and especially in humanities fields.

Everything that I perceive is colored by the act of my perceiving it, so for me, reality exists and has meaning only in subjective terms.  The idea that any objective reality exists apart from my individual perceptions is meaningless. 

The only "truth" is that which I perceive to be true, so "truth" may vary widely from one individual to the next, and there is no such thing as an objective "truth."  Furthermore, since all individuals are equal to one another, each individual's perceptions of reality are equally valid; there is no objective standard to measure them against, so there's no objective basis for calling any given perspective of reality more "right" or "wrong," more "true" or "false."  Doing that has been a way for those with power in society -- traditionally white men -- to maintain their control and discriminate against women and other groups, usually minorities of different kinds. 

Objective standards are fallacious, outdated, and oppressive; they must be discarded.  Social equality can only be restored and preserved when each and every viewpoint is given equal weight. 

Science gives us a basis for defining and agreeing upon the features of our collective reality so that we can interact with one another and live together in society.  Science gives us an ideal method for understanding the universe, and it has shown us the utter foolishness of all previous, alternative conceptions of reality, such as those proposed by the various major religions.  Modern science has exposed religion as silly superstition devised by primitive peoples to make sense of their world without the help of proper scientific analysis.

Science gives us all the answers we need in order to make sense of reality and live full and happy lives.  Everything of any importance -- everything worth knowing -- can be understood using science exclusively, and indeed, most things have already been explained or will be in the not-too-distant future.  Just as modern science put people on the moon and cured diseases that previously ravaged society, it will eventually solve all our social problems and undo the damage caused by popular philosophical misconceptions such as the major religions.

This kind of thinking is the result of hundreds or perhaps thousands of years of difficult social progress.  It has taken hold in the academic world at the same time that traditional stereotypes and various forms of discrimination have been challenged and overturned by the civil rights and feminist movements.  There's no doubt that such modern ideas have helped to completely transform and dramatically improve the lot of women and minorities in both the academic world and the larger society -- an astonishing and profound accomplishment.

The vast majority of well-educated people subscribe to most or all of the philosophical propositions above, especially if you look at how people actually live their daily lives:  these are the philosophical underpinnings of modern society.  Religion is practiced among well-educated people as a kind of social ritual, a set of traditional behaviors performed by groups of people to help unify them and define them and bring them together, especially in times of hardship or personal tragedy.  Apart from the rituals themselves -- ex. going to services at a church or temple or mosque, praying before meals or at certain times of day -- it's extremely difficult to distinguish between the lifestyles of religious and non-religious people who have advanced educations (college or higher).  They tend to have similar priorities in life and follow similar moral guidelines.  It's part of what gives America, for example, a unified society:  in spite of our cultural pluralism and scattered origins, we are not so different from one another at the end of the day, whether we choose one "faith tradition" or another, or none at all.

In other words, the philosophy described above has diverse benefits for modern society.  It beats the hell out of social models structured around alternative philosophies or state religions:  just compare the lot of minorities and women in the West versus in the Middle East or much of Asia.

So what's not to like?  Well, IMO, if you personally buy into the idea that all truth is subjective and defined by each individual for himself or herself, then you can't believe Christianity at all.  (This will come as a surprise to some Christians.  :)  These are my own views, not necessarily theirs.)

Christianity proposes that there is such a thing as objective truth, and reality exists in an objective and particular state, no matter who believes it or even knows about it.  Not only that, but -- just as importantly -- it claims people have been given the opportunity to know the objective truth and to understand reality, understand how things actually are. 

People who believe true Christianity live according to a set of propositions about reality that form the essential framework for their entire lives; it informs not just their philosophical debates, but -- much more importantly -- it determines how they live their lives from one moment to the next, pretty much all the freakin' time.  It is a life-encompassing and life-changing philosophy; it can be personally demanding and quite complicated at times, but it rewards the effort and devotion many times over in terms of giving meaning to a person's life and granting a sort of personal fulfillment far beyond anything available elsewhere.

The italicized ideas above also form the framework for the day-to-day and moment-by-moment lives of all those who choose to believe it ... Even for those people who haven't ever given it much thought.  This is a significant point, actually, come to think of it. 

Let's call this idea of a subjective reality "relativism" for now, since it defines all meaning in relative terms, relative to each individual.  Relativism is the underlying philosophy for all of modernity, at least in the civilized West.  Those ideas are the ones that everybody lives by, knowingly or not; they're the default position in the modern world.  Western society hasn't always been this way; it started in the "post-modern" period following the two world wars.  There are still places in the world where people live according to other ideas and older philosophical models, but they're outside the West, and not even they are immune to the influence of Western ideas, especially among their educated elites.

In summary ... being a Christian involves a transformation of one's entire life because Christians exchange the popular philosophy that guides our modern society for one that is very different and is opposed to it in many ways.

By the way, it's worth mentioning that it's possible to be a Christian, even a very devout one, without wasting a single iota of brainpower on things like "subjectivity" or "relativism" or "objective truth."  Heck, that might even be a better way to go.  It's just not the way I've gone.  I'm semi-well-educated (had some college, never finished) and tend to think in abstract philosophical terms about the ideas that form the basis for people's lives.  I assume most Elliquians are well-educated types, and anyone who would bother to read this blog would have to be comfortable with dry discussions and thinking in abstract, perhaps heady philosophical terms.  So, the ideas underneath Christianity might matter to anyone reading this, I hope. 

In the next part of my multi-part explanation, I'll finally get into the actual teachings -- the doctrine or "dogma" -- that comprises Christianity.  In my view, the first three parts were important for understanding what's coming next.  Next time is the meat and potatoes stuff ... nuts and bolts ... the nitty gritty.  :)

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #156 on: August 21, 2012, 12:50:19 PM »
@ Starlequin

Alright, I'm finally getting around to replying to this post of yours from a while back.  Sorry for the slowness. 

BTW, I don't know if you noticed my recent reversal of positions regarding some stuff I said, but that was partly motivated by responses you gave, not just by Oniya's posts.  In other words, I'm listening and learning from you as well as her (and anyone else who feels like posting!).  :)

I understand why you don't like my answer regarding ob vs sub; once again the failure of communication is mine. I thought I included the other part of my argument, but it was very late and I was juuust about to pass out so I apparently omitted it. I hope this will make it a little more clear (although I kind of doubt it, because it's kind of weird).

I believe that reality is completely objective -- when it's not being observed. Whether this is to say it is uniformly stable, unstable or completely nonexistent until it interacts with any level of perceptive intelligence, I don't think anyone can yet say. It's akin to the old "This sentence is in Spanish when you're not looking" joke; how do we know that unobserved portions of reality exist, if we have no way of detecting them? We know what goes on out in the solar system, out in the galaxy because we have ways of observing it, whether with satellite imagery or mathematic equations, but beyond that, who knows?

I think that, in a strange sense that we aren't yet capable of understanding, reality 'knows' when it's being observed. So when it's observed, it shifts into what we expect to see, what lines up with what we know about the laws of nature. When it's not observed...well, I don't know, because it's not being observed. I remember reading hypotheses that unobserved reality is just a great field of probabilities, and observation locks it down into a certainty that jives with the rest of what we know and expect. So in this way, reality is completely objective until it's observed, which then forces it to shift into subjectivity.

This didn't sound nutty to me, but I'm surprised you think this, because it's a hypothesis with limited (if any?) scientific support.  Christianity is also a proposal with limited scientific support, and I thought that was the basis for most of your problems with it, so I'm surprised you would accept a different proposal that might have little science behind it. 

Is there original thinking behind this, or is it based on things you've read or heard, or is it a combination?  I understand my beliefs in a very particular way that is somewhat unique, and I have plenty of original ideas that grow out of those beliefs, but the beliefs themselves -- certainly all the key ones -- are ones that many, many other people share.  I've met a lot of people who choose to believe important, consequential ideas that seem to have come mostly from themselves, their own thinking.  Although I'm a huge, huge supporter of original and creative thought (IMO many well-educated people seem nearly incapable of it), when it comes to the most important questions in life, I find it disturbing that so many people will reject all the answers others have accepted and instead make up their own answers.  (It's very important to note that I'm distinguishing between major, consequential beliefs and less important ones; the less important ones sometimes require a certain amount of original thought.)

What I consider to be the key, major issues in life are specific and will be described in detail in that multi-part explanation of Christianity thing I'm doing (but I know that's a lot to wade through -- I don't expect anyone to necessarily bother with it, including you, Star).  There's also more on the big issues just below ...

(To the people reading this: Yeah. I know. I just became the biggest crackpot in the thread. What can I say? I think reality is totally natural, but it's also really, really fucking weird.)

Hehe, are you implying that I'm the other crackpot in the thread?  ;)  Well I can't disagree.  I think it's great that you think the thread has readers besides you and me and Oniya. hehehe

I can understand why the idea of complete uncertainty bothers you, Rick, but I can't really say I feel the same. At least, I don't think I can. ;D

Yuck yuck yuck.  :)

But what are these practical, everyday problems that science can't help with?

Here are some of the big ones.  'Who am I?  What am I supposed to do with my life?  Does it matter what I do with my life?  Where did I come from?  What happens to me when I die?  How am I supposed to treat people?  Does it matter how I treat people?  What matters in life?  What doesn't matter in life?  Is there a spirit or soul?  Is there a God or gods?  Is there anything more to life than what I can perceive with my physical senses?  Why do so many other people have so many different answers to all these questions, and how am I supposed to figure out whose answers are right?  What if they're all wrong?'

If all those sorts of questions sound pointlessly abstract, here is a way to think about them that is very concrete:  each person's answers to those questions determines everything they do.  Your answers determine the priorities you live by; they determine how much time and effort you put into all the different things you could be doing.  Most people do at least some of the following things:  earn a living; meet a partner; get laid; start a family; have kids; raise those kids; get educated; help other people; think about philosophy or religion; pursue hobbies; enjoy entertainment activities; enjoy food and other substances; socialize with friends; travel; exercise; etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.  How do you decide which of those things is more or less important to do at any given time?  Everyone has to sacrifice certain things in order to get other, more important things; everyone has to decide how to use the time they have.  How the heck do you do it? 

In short:  how do you live?

Do you think science will answer that question for you?  I suppose it does for some people:  perhaps there are people who use science or logic as the guiding force behind all their decisions ... but even they can't seem to decide on the same answers to all the important questions.  Christians certainly don't agree on the answers either; neither do all the atheists or agnostics or anarchists or socialists or anybody else.

So few people seem to get this.  IMO this is the whole effing point of thinking about philosophy or religion and deciding on answers for yourself:  it determines how you live your life, every day, all the time.

Many people never think very much about philosophy or religion and still manage to live their lives, and some of those people live very happy and full lives.  What those people might not realize is that their lives are based upon the philosophical answers and beliefs that they were taught by others.  Parents or teachers or ministers or other authority figures encouraged them to live their lives in a certain way, so they did, without sitting down and analyzing why they were doing the things they do.  That's also what all children do, because they aren't capable yet of thinking for themselves and making up their own minds about how to live. 

I think it's essential for each person to figure out what priorities and principles inform the way they actually live their lives.  Notice:  very often, people will say and may even think that they live according to a certain set of principles -- certain religious teachings, for example -- but their actual daily lives are ordered according to totally different priorities and principles.  It's how they live, not what they say or think, that matters.

Most people do at least a little "soul-searching" and pondering of the big questions, for example after a loved one dies, or at mid-life -- the famous "mid-life crisis."  IMO it's a terrible idea to wait for a personal crisis before thinking about the big questions, but lots of people do.  Many never answer the big questions for themselves, they just go along with whatever they were taught by others. 

And what is wrong with leaving choice up to the individual?

This gets into more of the same, but I'm having fun here, so why not?  Sorry if I'm boring or annoying you.

Our world is chock-full of adult sheep who imagine that if they just follow the rest of the herd, everything will be okay for them.  After all, we live in this wonderful advanced age in which science has saved us from so many awful diseases and given us all this great technology that would have been inconceivable to our ancestors.  Just listen to the same respected authorities and do what everyone else seems to be doing, and you'll end up at least as happy and as fulfilled as the next person ... and hey, here in America, we all get to have our American Dream with 2.3 children and a house and 2 cars and weekend barbecues and beers with the neighbors.  (Why not?  Sounds good to me.)  (No, really, it does!)  Except it don't work out that way sometimes. 

The reason I stressed that individuals have to decide things for themselves is because so many people wrongly imagine that they don't have to decide anything, when they do.  If you're alive, you're living according to certain principles and guidelines and priorities, whether you gave any thought to those things or not, and many don't. 

Plenty of people end up miserable or unsatisfied because they follow along with the herd and then find themselves in a place they don't like.  That's usually the point when people suddenly start thinking about how they got to where they're at, what principles guided them there, and what principles they want to follow going forward.  If they're lucky, they deal with those issues sometime other than when they're on their deathbed.  Heh.

I'm not trying to be thick here, but I honestly don't understand what you mean here. Blame it on a sheltered upbringing and years of social isolation, I suppose; perhaps I just lack an understanding of the more subtle nuances of human behavior. (Actually, I'm almost certain that's exactly what it is, which means I'm probably far less qualified to be discussing these matters than readers may suspect, lol.)


I understand why you take these discussions seriously; I do too, but probably (almost certainly) not to your extent.

Yeah I'm a bit of a wet rag ... dishrag?  wet dishrag?  Whatever the expression is for being dry and boring.  :)  Seriously though, I don't talk like this in real life, even though I think about these issues a lot.  All this blatant philosophizin' is still kinda strange and new to me, even here at Elliquiy; I stuck to RPing mostly for the first couple years.

You mention consequences in one of your points, and now I have to ask you what I probably should have opened this discussion with: If I don't believe in Jesus, will I be damned to Hell? And then of course, depending on your answer, that could open up whole new cans (hell, crates) of worms for us to wade through. You probably know the dilemmas I could mention, so I'll refrain pending your reply.

I may cover this in my Christianity explanation posts, but I'll try to give you the thumbnail now, and hopefully I won't repeat myself too much later. 

I think it's a gigantic mistake to think too much about the traditional concept of Hell or the traditional notion of Satan or the Devil or demons or evil spirits.  All of those things are discussed in the Bible, the central text of Christianity; and yes, I believe that all of those things exist, because they're in the Bible, and I believe the Bible. 

(And no, the textual analysis and ongoing historical scholarship regarding the origins of the Bible -- how it came to contain what it contains -- that stuff doesn't pose a major problem for me in terms of believing Christianity.  It's another issue that deserves discussion, but the super-short version is, God is in control of everything, including the work of all the original writers and the scholars and translators and archeologists, so I'm willing to accept the authority of the Bible in its current form, assuming that it is the way that God intends for it to be.)

The most important thing about hell is not the fire and pitchforks but the fact that people there are separated from God forever.  That is what hell is about.  The fire and pitchforks and whatever else, all that stuff is totally unimportant compared to being separated from God forever.  I don't know if the Biblical imagery should be taken literally or figuratively, but it's not important to me one way or the other.  What is important is being with God or not.

The thing is, people are already separated from God -- everyone is, but for now, they can do something about it.  That is the Christian claim that really matters, much more than anything else:  that people were meant to be with God, but they became separated from him, and then God sent Jesus to make a way for people to be with him again, because he loves them that much. 

Any talk about the characteristics of hell is a complete distraction from that truly important claim.  Many Christians historically have used hell or the devil as tools to emotionally manipulate people into believing Christianity.  That's both wrong and stupid.

I'm not sure I see the logical inconsistency you're referring to in my point about forming a consensus of morality, but perhaps I can make it clearer. What I meant was, morality can be determined subjectively, and there are enough common elements involved that many if not most individuals (and communities) can agree on the general moral values which will best benefit them.

Oh, boy.  :)  Tell this to the Palestinians and Israelis.  Tell it to the warring factions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, parts of Africa ... tell it to the gang members and the honest folks living side-by-side in American inner cities ... tell it to the Mexican drug cartels and their victims ... to the poor everywhere who lack the means to improve their lot ... to hard-working Americans who got screwed over by an employer or the government.  Tell it to all the Republicans who fucking hate Democrats, and all the Democrats who fucking hate Republicans.

Sorry if I'm being melodramatic, but my point is, morality is the underlying issue in all the conflicts between human beings.  The abstract theories aren't the problem; what behavior is right or wrong in each real-life situation?  Person One thinks it's okay for her to do x behavior, but that behavior prevents Person Two from doing y behavior, and Person Two feels just as entitled to y as Person One feels to x.  Who's right?  Who's wrong?  What rights do each person have?  Who gets to decide, and how?

Morality is not just about whether it's right or wrong to kill or steal.  That's kid stuff, easy for everyone to agree on in the abstract.  Is it okay for an American soldier to shoot an Afghani who fails to identify himself as he drives his truck up to a checkpoint? ... There was a massacre recently in South Africa when police slaughtered a bunch of people who were on strike, miners I think; the police say they felt their lives were in danger, but their actions resulted in the worst killings South Africa has seen in many years.  Were they justified or not? ... Is it okay for me to cheat on my taxes if it will help me feed my kids next month? ...

These are real-world moral questions without easy answers, and people of good faith and good conscience have bitter disagreements over such things.  Underneath the disagreements are conflicting moral guidelines, conflicting moral principles and priorities.

To go back to my earlier analogy concerning the worth of gold, most people have a general idea that gold has great value, but may not know exactly how much value. So they may have certain amounts of gold, but not know the worth of their amounts until a ratio of weight to value is set. How that ratio is set is not important for now; it may be arbitrary, it could be through mathematical formulae, or what have you; the important thing is everyone has varying amounts of gold, and now they know the worth of their amounts relative to each other, and can now interact according to specific rules intended to maximize harmony / minimize strife. In the same way, everyone has at least some idea of their own morality, and due to evolution many of those ideas are at least somewhat similar, which allows us to form a collective (if somewhat arbitrary) moral landscape where everyone can recognize moral ideas they agree and disagree with. I hope that makes more sense for you.

I can see how this might make sense in the abstract, like in a classroom discussion.  Now, can you come up with just as easy a solution to the question of China manipulating its currency to give it an unfair advantage in global markets?  At bottom, that's a moral issue.  Economic theories come down to questions of morality as well, theories about how people behave and ought to behave in society.  Is it easy to determine how to reduce the American deficit without causing widespread harm to seniors or the poor?  What if you're a financial manager responsible for the savings of 750 senior citizens?  Is it easy to know where to invest the money safely so that those people are adequately provided for? 

Sorry if I over-explained that, but in summary, I think you may be focusing on simple, abstract moral questions while overlooking the way that morality informs actual human behavior and human conflicts.  The concrete problems are the only ones that really matter, and that's why morality is such a complicated business, IMO.

But I will say this.
I realize that it's probably impossible to debunk faith in the concept of God via scientific arguments; when dealing with the supernatural, natural law is by necessity suspended and therefore unreliable. That's why my main argument is not scientific, but rather historical in nature. If you really want to hear it, I'll share it, but I think it would be wiser to wait until you provide the explanation of your beliefs. That way we'll be sure I won't waste your time with an argument that may not even apply.

I'm not sure that I agree with what you said about natural law (... except that it sounds a little like what I was saying about how science does not have answers for certain important questions that are often addressed by religions ... eh?).  About the historical argument you mentioned, though, I hope you share it here somewhere at some point, because I'd love to hear it.

Reading back over some of my previous posts, I realize I probably come off as sounding rather arrogant. Again, I'm sorry, but really, that's not a malfunction of poorly chosen language or flawed logic; I really am rather an arrogant bastard, or at least I can be, lol. I'm afraid I've spent so long studying these subjects and reading so many other arguments both for and against that I've allowed the egos of other writers to seep into my own words. If I've sounded haughty or superior, I deeply apologize; I try to keep at least a modicum of humility when I interact online, because the Internet is often where I tend to both express myself better, and express my better self, if that makes any sense.

No worries, my friend -- FWIW you don't come across to me as either arrogant or haughty or superior -- much the opposite, as demonstrated by the overall tone of your posts, here and elsewhere.  Your humility and equanimity and amiability are all reasons why I've enjoyed our dialog, even if we end up disagreeing about things.  It's a pleasure to dialog with any smart and nice folks.

Hm, this post is too long, isn't it?  Sorry!  No time to edit it more, or else it may not get posted.  Hope it was tolerable at least!  Be well, Star, and keep reading and posting here whenever you have the time and get the urge ... for my benefit as much as for our theoretical readers'.  :)
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 01:05:20 PM by rick957 »

Online Oniya

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #157 on: August 21, 2012, 01:16:10 PM »
Random humor:

we all get to have our American Dream with 2.3 children and a house and 2 cars and weekend barbecues and beers with the neighbors.  (Why not?  Sounds good to me.)  (No, really, it does!)

Unless you're the .3 kid.  (Thank you all for coming, don't forget to tip your server!)

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #158 on: August 21, 2012, 04:11:57 PM »
LOL Oniya.  :)  Too bad we can't insert a "rimshot" here.  You know, that sound that drummers make after a zinger by the host, especially a slightly corny one?  It sounds kinda like, "da-da-doontz!"  But that don't quite get it.  Maybe you know what I mean.  I think that's a sort of "rimshot."  Could be wrong though.  Any drummers out there?

More politics:  Why you and I need to vote for Mitt Romney.  No, really.  (Disclaimer:  I'm a wee bit drunk ... blah blah blah ....)

Sorry, the title is slightly misleading.  :)  You need to vote for whichever candidate you like best, and so do I, and FWIW, I plan to vote for Obama, although I don't like lots of stuff about him.  Romney so far seems even less likable to me, not just in terms of personality, but in policy terms too.  Not that I'm well-informed at all; I ain't.

... blah blah blah.  Here I did some bitching about dumb stuff that was probably not right to bitch about in public, so I deleted it.  Poor judgment.  Not always good to post while drinking.  :(  Should know better.  blah blah.  ...

Oh, here's what I meant to say in this post, when I started.  I read this New York Times article by one of my favorite public talking heads, guy named David Brooks, very well-known conservative guy, and his new article contains by far the best explanation I've seen yet for why people ought to vote for Romney instead of Obama.  Here's the link.  If you read it, or even if you don't, I'd love to hear why you think people should vote for one candidate or the other.  I'm still planning to vote for Obama right now, but I'm open to being convinced otherwise, so I would love to hear from Romney supporters somewhere.  You're welcome to post here, if you're out there.  Thanks!
« Last Edit: August 22, 2012, 12:52:20 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #159 on: August 22, 2012, 08:00:41 PM »
"Dogs that lick  /  and dogs that bite  /  (Why do I?)
Hounds that howl  /  through the night  /  (Why do I?)
Broken leashes  /  are all over the floor  /  (Why do I?)
Keys left hanging  /  in a swinging door  /  (Why do I?)

Why do I keep fuckin' up?"

-- Neil Young and Crazy Horse, "Fuckin' Up," from Ragged Glory, 1990

Where would the world be without Neil Young?  Where would I be without Neil Young?

No place that I want to be, that's for sure.  Go worship at the temple of Neil.  You won't regret it.

(Did it sound melodramatic and extreme when I said a while back that I'd rather be dead than not believe in Christianity?  Well, let me tell ya something.  I'd rather be dead than not love pop music, too.  That don't mean that music matters as much to me as Christianity; not even close.  I'm just saying.)

There's only one musical artist I can think of in all the world that might, maybe, have as much integrity as Neil.  Maybe.  I won't name them here, though, just out of respect.  My blog isn't worthy of their presence.  Let's call them The Band Whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken.  I've got a stack of their discs ready for listening over on the table there.  Link for anyone curious.  Are they the best band of the past thirty years?  I honestly don't know, but if they aren't in the running, I don't know who would be.  None of the hipsters know; go find out.  You'll be glad you did.

Eh -- maybe you'll be glad you did.  Who can predict people's tastes in music?  Not me.  That's okay.  Music is a higher authority than me; I'm okay with that.  Enjoy your music, whatever the fuck it is, no matter what anybody says; tell the haters to fuck off, and then get down with yer bad self.  Whatever, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, effing Menudo; whatever.  It's all good.  Music is about freedom and spirit and God.  Love the music you love.  That's what it's for.  And pity those who don't get it, because some people don't ever "get" music at all, and that's too bad -- more bad than they'll ever know.

For the record:  if you have gleaned any useful advice or insight from anything in this blog, please understand that I take no credit whatsoever for that benefit.  I get things wrong so often that I don't deserve to ever get things right ... but sometimes I do anyway ... and when I do, the credit isn't mine.  Call it luck; call it providence; call it what you will.

I'm reminded daily of my limitations and failures and inadequacies.  It's humbling; and it's hard to live with.  But it's also okay, at the end of the day, because everything is really okay at the end of the day.

Don't believe me?  Go listen to the Beatles, or the Velvet Underground, or the Police, or Curtis Mayfield, or Neil Young, or hell, fucking Backstreet Boys.  Whatever floats your boat, it's all good.  Let the music carry you to that place where everything is alright, and then recognize that it isn't just a fantasy -- that's the world we're in.  Not for everyone, maybe.  But it can be for you.  Keep your ear to the ground and chase the truth wherever you find it, and you'll come out alright. 

Fuckin'-A, if I can make out alright, you sure can, sure as hell.  ;)

P.S.  Bands with integrity:  Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers too.  There's one or two others somewhere that rate as high, integrity-wise, as those three, but none of them come to mind.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2012, 08:12:14 PM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #160 on: August 27, 2012, 09:35:09 PM »
It's probably not a healthy or normal thing to think of your life in terms of an epic drama or something, but I think it's also very natural to think of one's life in terms of a long and winding storyline, perhaps even a puzzling one, one that you sometimes want to make sense of, perhaps want to make better sense of than you actually can.

Is that a normal impulse?  Is it a universal impulse?  I don't know.  Humans are storytelling animals.  We are creatures that yearn to make sense of things around us, things we perceive, whatever we perceive, and as we move through time, we observe things changing and moving through time with us, and we yearn to make sense of that process, and so we start to look for a story thread, a "through-line," or several of them.  And of course life frustrates us in this desire for neat and tidy conclusions and logic ... but aren't we always driven to look for it anyway?  Who embarks on a journey without a goal or endpoint in mind?  Even an unspecified endpoint is a kind of endpoint that one must set out and pursue in order to reach.  Our lives are split up into chunks of time during which we chased after certain goals and either achieved them or failed to do so, and along the way we receive certain gifts and find other things to chase after and do so and either get them or don't, etc. etc. until we run out of time.

Online Oniya

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #161 on: August 27, 2012, 09:49:45 PM »
You only have to start worrying about it when you find yourself doing the voice-over narration and hearing a soundtrack in your brain.  That said, you're only in actual danger when the really creepy music starts.


Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #162 on: August 28, 2012, 12:57:14 AM »
On the other hand, Oniya, I was mulling over your comment, and it occurred to me that it would be a hell of a lot of fun to go through life that way, don't you think?  hehehe

I'm still taking my sweet time getting to know all the original Police albums that I didn't know before.  Actually I'm listening to the Message in a Box boxset, which actually contains the entire original albums -- every track, in order -- with the bonus stuff in between the originals and (I assume) in chronological order.  How cool is that?  I'm not sure that I have any other box sets that do this, because obviously, this means you wouldn't have to buy the albums to get their whole catalog.  It's a very old, early box set, before the record companies had figured out the best way to suck every last penny out of the fans of each band.

As I'm working my way through the albums, I've developed this theory that Sting was perhaps listening to Prince at the time and being influenced by him, in terms of his vocal experiments.  Just a random theory.  It's a pretty safe bet Sting and everyone else in the industry kept an eye on Prince right out of the gate, I would guess, because, you know, Prince!!!!!!  Right?  But whether the vocal influence is detectable or not is impossible to say.  By me, at least; you might know more than I do, and if so, please enlighten me.

Prince is a god, of course.  You knew that, right?  IMO he gets my vote for the biggest active genius in all of pop music nowadays.  At least I assume he's still active; I haven't checked in a couple years, but he's never been inactive, so that's a safe assumption.  Who could possibly give him any competition?  Here's my shortlist, in no particular order:  Paul McCartney; Brian Wilson; PJ Harvey (that's right); Robert Smith (yep, on the strength of the back catalog alone); maybe U2 if they got their shit together, or R.E.M. if they hadn't disbanded; Tom Waits (tough call; maybe his closest competition at the moment).  Who am I forgetting?  Somebody.  (Let me know.)  Anyway, I'd say he's got 'em all licked, but I'm a couple-three years behind, I admit.  (Beck?  Love him, but no.  Radiohead?  Love them too.  Nope.  Wilco?  Like 'em, but not based on anything I've heard.  Who else ya got?)

Are you surprised that there's nobody on the shortlist who debuted in the past 20 years?  I'm not.  Disappointed, but not surprised.  (Am I wrong?  Enlighten me, by all means.  There's two or three people who come close, but not many more that I'm aware of.)
« Last Edit: August 28, 2012, 12:59:53 AM by rick957 »

Online Oniya

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #163 on: August 28, 2012, 01:03:13 AM »
On the other hand, Oniya, I was mulling over your comment, and it occurred to me that it would be a hell of a lot of fun to go through life that way, don't you think?  hehehe

Well, a well-placed Hitchcock zoom would certainly prevent me from answering unwanted phone calls.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #164 on: August 29, 2012, 12:52:41 AM »
Today's pet theory.

If you can get what you want out of life without becoming a Christian, then you shouldn't become one.

If Christianity's claims are true, then God calls each of us to follow him instead of following all the other things that we could follow, and in return for following him, he will give us something far better than we could get by following anything or anyone else.  This theory is only part of the whole picture, though.

Each of us is free to choose to follow something or someone other than the Christian God.  Doing so will look attractive; it will appear to be the best option available to each of us at the time, but that will be a deception, a lie.  It is a very good lie.

Who the fuck are all these goddamn motherfucking self-proclaimed Christians who act like being a Christian is some simple and easy and natural thing?  Umph.  I want to take a fucking shotgun to the face of each of these motherfuckers.  Sorry, my foul mouth is getting the better of me here; happens sometimes.  :)

Being a Christian is the hardest possible choice because it is the least natural; it is the choice that goes the most against all our natural instincts and impulses.  Being a Christian is jumping off a fucking cliff.  Christians act like it's a fucking Sunday stroll through the park, admiring the shrubbery or something.  It ain't that.  It's more like slitting both your wrists clean through down to the bone, from the elbow all the way down the forearm to below each hand, and then waiting for an invisible miracle worker to show up and replace both your arms with new and better ones.  Does that sound ridiculous?  Does it sound insane?  Yes, for fuck's sake, a thousand times yes.  It is ridiculous and insane and extreme and motherfucking terrifying and so damn hard. 

When I talk about Christianity, I often make it sound so unpleasant and unattractive that nobody in their right mind would even want to try to become a Christian.  This is not how the Evangelicals tell you to talk about Christianity.  You're supposed to make it sound wonderful, because if it doesn't sound wonderful, people won't want to become Christians.

Damn it, it is wonderful; it is the most wonderful, so wonderful that no one can even grasp it.  It is beyond wonderful, beyond us, beyond our capacity for knowing or feeling things.  It is the best thing there is.  But it isn't fucking free.

It will cost you something that will be unbelievably hard for you to let go of.  And then, later on, it will cost you something else that will be unbelievably hard to let go of.  And again, and again, and again.  Being a Christian is a slow process of peeling away your own flesh layer by layer as if you were an onion.  Yes, that's supposed to sound gruesome, because it's hard to do.  Fortunately, you and I don't have to actually do it; it's not about us accomplishing something, it's not about us changing ourselves.  We allow it to be done to us.  All the work is someone else's; the transformation, the slow peeling away, the hard slog up the mountain, it's all taken care of on our behalf, so that we just come along for the ride, we just give in and let it happen to us. 

But in order to give in to it, we have to turn away from things that are very very very hard to turn away from.  We have to turn away from all the things that everyone around us is grabbing ahold of for themselves.  With the very best of intentions, others tell us to follow their example, to chase after things like career or relationships or self-improvement, as if that's what life is about.  It's what most people choose for themselves, so of course they'll encourage others to follow suit.  Maybe they're happy with their choices.

No, that's the thing ... I've circled back to where I started.  People think they're happy when they really aren't.  It might be the hardest part of the deception to see through.  It might be so hard to see through that we can't even do it, we can't see through that deception; instead, all we can do is trust blindly that it is a deception:  believe that there is an alternative, and reach out into the darkness and grab onto it.  But that's exactly what it's like:  it is jumping off a cliff and trusting that you'll be caught by someone else.  It is exactly that terrifying and that unnatural, and it is something you have to do all by yourself ... not only will most people tell you not to jump, for your own good, but they won't jump either, and you'll have to leave everybody standing back on the cliff behind you, when you go over the edge. 

Yes, your loved ones too.  All of them.  This is the hardest of all.  See, they've got their own cliffs that they need to jump from, without you, and you can't help them either, just like they can't come with you or help you.  You go alone or you don't go at all.  (Bill Mallonee:  "you come with empty hands  /  or you don't come at all"; Ben Harper:  "reach your empty hands for him to hold".)

If your idea of Christianity is anything other than cliff-jumping or flesh-peeling, then it's not any sort of Christianity that I can recognize.  The ultimate prize, the ultimate reward, comes with the ultimate cost, and it's a cost we keep having to pay, one day or week or month or year after another.  Each and every time we pay it, we receive rewards that no one else can even begin to imagine or comprehend; but each time is just as hard and scary.

This is the only real Christianity I know; it's the only real life that I know.  It is the best thing ever, and the hardest thing ever; it is both at once.  Always at once, not the one without the other.

In case it isn't obvious enough, when I talk about Christianity in this way, it isn't part of some sales pitch to non-Christians.  I do assume that most or all the people who might read this blog (if anyone does, that is -- heh) would be non-Christians, and I do want everyone to become Christians, because I believe it's the best thing in life and the whole point of being alive.  I think a lot about what it would be like to be a non-Christian and how any non-Christian could possibly come to Christianity.  But that's not what this blog or these posts are about.

See, from my perspective, I'm not any different than a non-Christian.  I have the same reluctance and hesitation and doubt and anger and questioning and all of it.  I deal with the same barriers, but for me, the barriers are not to taking the first step, but to taking the subsequent steps on the same path.  Each and every step is hard, each and every step comes with similar difficulties, so when I talk about those difficulties, and I talk about the benefits of going down the path, I'm telling you about my own life, my own journey, and my own struggles.  It's a strange -- ironic?  I don't know -- coincidence that my continuing struggles are the same ones that I imagine some non-Christians might face when considering Christianity.

Here's what I've been wrestling with lately, with slightly more specificity.

Again and again in my life, I've had a path laid out in front of me that seems to be the best way for me to go, and it's been an unbelievably difficult path.  I'm talking in abstract terms, but the "paths" I'm thinking of are actual jobs, steps in a career, getting certain degrees, chasing after the same financial security that anyone else wants -- I want it too, and I don't have it, not really, and not yet.  All my efforts to set out on a successful career path as an adult have failed pretty thoroughly and spectacularly, again and again.  Ditto relationships ... the ones I chase after or work for go all haywire and amiss, although without much effort on my part, I've had many wonderful relationships simply dropped in my lap, seemingly unmerited and unearned, hopefully with all proper appreciation and without taking them for granted.

My current multi-year career-and-relationships efforts are very different from past efforts in that it actually isn't as grueling and arduous and emotionally tortuous as each and every one of my previous efforts have been.  (Few of them started out that way, but all of them ended up that way before.)  Currently I'm feeling my way along a path towards an uncertain career destination, and I might end up having wasted many years of my life chasing after pipe dreams, so it's a very scary and uneasy thing for me to do, but it's not the hardest path I could have chosen.  I was on one of those when I made a deliberate choice to turn away and head off into this different, uncertain, and somewhat-easier path instead.

Working hard is just about the most basic value that's been ingrained into my character from childhood on.  I was raised right in that sense; my parents are two of the hardest working people I've ever seen, so much so that I think it's incredibly extreme and excessive, but that's another subject.  The point is that it goes against everything in my nature to not chase after the hardest available option.  This is how I was raised:  hard work is normal and healthy and good and should be embraced.  I believe that's often true.

... But not always.  For me, and probably for some others, it's possible to work my ass off and accomplish goals and then be miserable anyway.  I've had my share of personal accomplishments, in between the spectacular failures, and I wasn't pleased with them, I wasn't happy about those accomplishments, because I was too busy and stressed out to enjoy life at all.  All I was doing was racing faster and faster ahead, chasing after prizes that seemed to always be just out of reach, and the prizes I got along the way didn't seem to matter compared to the stuff I was after next, so all I did was wear myself out.  I've seen peers who stayed on that chase and seem to have achieved their happiness or peace or success or whatever it was they were after; I have peers who certainly got all the things that I wanted but couldn't get:  financial security, successful romances and friendships and family lives.  I don't know if they're happier than I am or not; I certainly hope they're happy.

But anyway, these days, I'm constantly afraid and uneasy because I'm actually not killing myself every single day, one day after the next, trying to accomplish things.  I'm still working, and I try to work as hard as I can -- but, these days, I try not to push so hard that I end up effing miserable and totally wiped out afterwards.  That was before.  I don't want that life and don't think that anyone ought to settle for such a life.  Not that I can tell anyone else what choices to make or what goals to pursue.  For me, though, I want something better than that.

I want to trust that there's a path forward in my career pursuits and in my relationships that isn't about killing myself or wearing myself out in order to be as successful as the next guy.  Living with this much uncertainty is fucking hard, fucking scary, but it feels right and necessary and good, maybe better than ever.

I'm convinced that I've got a pretty good clue about what life is about and what happiness means, and it turns out that I can have a good life, as long as I keep jumping off the cliffs that keep presenting themselves ... As long as I keep trusting with all my heart and betting everything I've got on this Christianity thing.  That's what I've been doing, and it's been -- everything.  It's been good; "good" like I didn't even know was possible.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2012, 01:02:11 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #165 on: August 30, 2012, 12:58:43 AM »
I have an unusual predisposition to focus on the negative aspects of things.  I suspect this predisposition is caused or related to my mental illness, depression.  On the other hand, though, I can usually see both the positive and negative sides of things, even if I talk more and think more about the negative.

Christianity is very good news indeed.  Here is the good news at the heart of Christianity; here is what Jesus came to tell each of us, and what he told his followers to tell everyone else.

'Take heart. 


'Listen; there's good news that I've heard.  Let me share it with you.

'God is real, and God is with you, right now.  Try to feel his presence.

'You matter.  You matter because you matter to God.  Everything that matters to you matters to God. 

'God is love.  Not God loves; not God has love; not God is filled with love; not God gives love to you or to others.  God IS love.

'Life has a reason.  Life has purpose.  All life; everything that is; it all has a purpose.  Don't be fooled:  there are no accidents.  Nothing that matters happens randomly.  God sees; God knows; God cares.  Don't believe otherwise.  The world is full of lies, and very good lies indeed, very hard to see through.  Wise ones are often fooled; even the good-hearted are taken in by lies.  Be careful; be wary; but also take heart, because remember, God is with you, right now.  Try to feel his presence.

'God has plans for you.  The lies around you are thick, and everyone else believes them.  It's not always their fault; the lies are very good ones. 

'If you look, you can see what is real. 

'Look for it now.  Let me tell you what I've heard.  There's good news.

'It's not a mystery; it's not a secret.  The truth of the good news is available to everyone.  Children know it.  You don't need to be a genius or even very wise.  You don't need to be extremely strong.  You don't need to be anything except what you already are, in order to grasp the truth and know the good news. 

'You are no accident.  You are not the result of random, impersonal forces of nature.  You are more than cells and skin and bones and blood and water.  You were meant to be who you are.  You were made to be who you are.  You are totally unique and special and important.  It's not vanity; it's not presumption.  Remember, others will scoff; some will laugh and sneer.  The lies are everywhere.  The lies are so hard to see through ... but you can.  If you look, you will see the truth; you will see what's real.  The good news is real.

'You are free to do whatever you choose.  You are free to believe whatever you choose to believe.  No one can force you to believe anything in your heart.  No one has that power over you.  You have your freedom to think for yourself and choose your beliefs, and that is all the freedom you need to get ahold of the truth and the good news.  No one can take away that freedom; no one; never.

'God is calling you.  God is real and is with you right now.  Others will laugh and scoff, but the truth does not depend on them, or even on you.  God is real, and God is the Truth, no matter what anyone thinks or says; whether you choose to believe or not.

'God wants you to follow him.  He has a path through life that is ready for you.  He has gifts to give you, wonderful things.  Already he's given you so many things.

'Everything good that you have right now came from him.  Don't be fooled.  You control yourself and your own choices and beliefs and actions, but everything else is out of your hands, and everything good that you have depended upon things outside of your control; even your freedom of choice and belief and action, your control over those things, even that was a gift that was given to you.  Every good thing, every gift, comes from God and only God.  He gives good things to all people alike, to every single one; he gives good things to the kind and unkind, to the wise and unwise, regardless of their beliefs or their choices or their actions.

'God has more to give you than you can possibly imagine.  No one else knows; no one else can know.  God sees all the way through you; he sees inside you, all the way to your heart; he knows your heart of hearts.  Nothing is hidden from him, and after seeing everything there is to see in your heart, everything you've thought and done, he loves you still.  He knows you better than you know yourself, and he loves you just as you are. 

'God is real; he knows you; and he loves you, just as you are.  Could there be any better news?  It is the truth, though many will laugh and scoff.  God is true.  God is the Truth.

'You are free to follow God or not, but know that he cares what choice you make; he actually wants you to follow him.  He wants that so much that he has done extraordinary, almost-unbelievable things on your behalf.

'You have a purpose and a reason for being.  There is much you are meant to do; specific things, important things; wonderful things.  But the greatest and most important thing you are meant to do is simply this:  to know God's love.  To receive it and enjoy it.  He is with you right now, as you read these words, in the room with you.  Many will laugh.  Lies are thick.

'You are free to follow God.  He is calling; you can hear his call; he calls you.  He wants you, just you, the specific you reading these words, right now; he wants you very much, very badly ... But he will not force you to follow him or to love him.  He gave you your freedom and he will not take it away, even if ...

'Even if you use it to deny him, to turn away from him.  You are free to go your own way, make your own path through life, use your life according to however you see fit.  Many laugh and deny that God is real; many mock him and turn away.  So many others wonder and look but are taken in by the lies.  Lies are everywhere, everywhere ... but so is the truth; so is the Truth.  God is everywhere, and he is far greater than all the lies put together.  Many will laugh -- but not forever.

'Now is the time; now is your chance.  Right now, this second, this moment.  God is real and is with you; try to feel his presence.  He calls you; he wants you; he chases after you.  You can answer.  Use your eyes and ears; use your head; above all, use your heart.  Both can be fooled, but it's your heart, not your head, where he will finally take hold, if you let him.  He speaks directly to your innermost self, your heart of hearts, and he wants to enter there and live there, within you.  There is a way that can happen.

'It's not a secret or a mystery.  It's not very complicated; any adult can understand, no matter where you're from or how smart you are.

'Truth is available to you.  Truth was given to me; let me share it with you as well.  There is good news, good news indeed.'

Sometimes I see or hear about people going through hard times, struggling with any number of things that people struggle with.  Most of us are able to hide our struggles and shortcomings and failings and suffering from others, because we all know that no one wants to see those things.  We learn to hide those things and hide them very well, all the time, for entire lifetimes, some of us.  But then there are those of us who cannot hide as well ... and for even the strongest among us, there are a few moments now and then when the facade crumbles, when they cannot hide whatever hardship they are dealing with.

I don't know what to say to people who are struggling.  It bothers me that I don't know what to say.  It bothers the hell out of me.

See ... I know what most people say to people who are struggling.  I'm an adult.  I know what you're supposed to say.  I know the steps that people go through to try to encourage each other.  These are necessary steps.  We all depend on them sometimes, we all need them sometimes.  But when I hear others going through those steps, saying the things we all know to say to each other when we're struggling ... I get angry.

Yes, I'm full of anger.  Did you notice yet?  Holy crap I got lots of anger.  It's not an accident that I fell in love with Nine Inch Nails and Pantera and Helmet and Henry Rollins in about five seconds flat.  I got a lot of mad inside me that wants to get out, wants to show itself, needs to be exorcised.  Is that a bad thing?  I don't know.

Are you angry?  No?  ... Why not? 

Really, I want to know.  I'll listen.  Perhaps I can learn.  I can try.

Back to what I was saying.  I hear the stuff that people say to each other to make each other feel better when they're down, and it makes me really mad, because so much of it is ABSOLUTE UTTER BULLSHIT.

:)  See?  Anger.  Sorry!

People need to encourage one another.  There are good reasons to take hope.  Curtis Mayfield is right:  "there's still light in the world".  There is.  There are wonderful good things available to all, or at least, available to many.  Why is this so hard for me to see?  Why is this hard for me to get ahold of?  Curtis said the damnedest thing in this song, he said, "We who are pure at heart / Somehow might see / There's still light in the world".  That's a near quotation, not exact maybe.  But see what he's saying?  I'm not claiming to be "pure at heart," but when he uses that phrase, my guess is that he's referring to Christians, because that sort of language is often used in the Bible to refer to Christians, and Curtis had many lyrics that touched upon Christianity.  So, see, what Curtis seems to suggest there is this:  for some reason, it can be difficult for Christians to see that there's still light in the world -- there is still much to be glad about, right here on little old planet Earth.  Christians perhaps are so wrapped up in their own problems or so focused on the problems of the world that they can become blind to all the very many wonderful things all around us.  Do I have this problem?  Probably.  I got a lot to learn.  I got a lot of growing to do and a lot of bad habits and tendencies to overcome.  I see darkness all around and not much light ...

And yet, I know this to be true:  "Darkness is just a speck in the light."  Another lyric from another band.  Just a speck.  That's the fucking truth; all the way, the truth.  How can I get so wrapped up and hepped up over a mere speck?  I do.  So often I do.

Um, what I was talking about before?  Oh.  Uh ... Right.  People say stuff to make each other feel better, and I hear it, and I get mad.  It sounds like B.S. to me.  I don't have any better stuff to tell anyone to encourage them, and you know, sometimes I really want to say something to encourage somebody else, because I run across people who are struggling sometimes, and I just don't know what to say.  Just don't know what to say.

I got hope and happiness to spare these days; I've been lucky; the coffers are full at the moment, overflowing.  They've been empty plenty of times before, and unless I suddenly expire for unknown reasons in the very near future, those coffers will probably be empty again sometime before long, and whenever that happens, I'll need somebody to say something encouraging to me; I'll need to hear those things from others, and I'll be grateful to hear them, whatever gets through and manages to encourage.  We all need these things.  I'm no different.

But all this crap people tell each other, well, it smells like crap to me.  It's not right for me to judge anyone, ANYONE, ever, EVER ... it's not right for me to say that anyone else is foolish or wrong.  I believe certain things are true and certain things are false, and I feel the need to say so from time to time, in certain places, but I draw certain lines that I will not cross.  I will not go up to another person and say they're full of shit, even if I believe that the things they believe are not true.  I will try as hard as I can to never look down on others who disagree with me about things, even important things, because I've been wrong before, and I'll be wrong again, so I'm no better than anybody, and I've got no right to look down on anybody, ever, no how.  I feel I can't remind myself of that enough.  It's so natural to feel superior or feel the need to defend oneself by putting down others.  So natural, and so wrong.

Anyway.  I find my hope in exactly one place, and it's a real place, and it's the only place I go to find it.  The places where others look for hope?  Yeah, I've tried a lot of those.  I came up empty.  Do you look inside yourself and find the strength to carry on?  Do you find hope and encouragement from your relationships with your loved ones?  I know what it's like to do those things; it's not like I've never done those things.  But those things let me the fuck down.  They fucking let me down big time!  That's been my life.  I don't depend on myself, inner knowledge, self-improvement; I don't depend on loved ones, even the ones I cherish the most.  I go to Jesus and find real hope and fulfillment and purpose and meaning; I look for something real and true and dependable, and I find it there, and ONLY there.  Only there.  I wish I found it more often in other places, but I don't.  Sometimes I still look.

You can't tell somebody who's struggling with problems to look to Christianity for help and hope and encouragement and answers.  Well, maybe you can; I can't seem to do that.  Here's why.  Christians are useless selfish bags of shit who usually fail to encourage anyone else or even notice when other people are struggling, much less find anything encouraging or helpful to say.  I don't want to be one of those religious people who prances around smiling in the face of other people who are struggling, one of those pricks who promises false hope or easy solutions to problems in the form of religion.  Christians are always those jerks.  I'm a Christian.  I don't want to be a jerk.  Not if I can help it.  (Sometimes I can't seem to help it.)

But then I'm stuck with not knowing what to say.  What do you tell someone who's struggling, if you find your help and answers all in one place, and only one place, and you believe that's the only place that anyone can find real hope and real truth and real answers and real solutions and real help?  I want things that are real; I want the truth.  And I want that for others, too.  I want others to have whatever is real and true.  If Christianity is false?  Then fuck it.  Don't believe it.  Don't waste your time with it.  Go look for what's real and true, go find it.  If you find it, please, seriously, come back and tell me.  I want to know; it's for my own good.  I see truth ... I have truth ... I see only one truth.  Is there another?  Every other one that I've ever heard about has been a lie.  Every other one I've ever seen others follow has not worked out for me.  I've tried other things.  Bullshit and lies and half-truths and false hopes.  I want what's real, give me something real.  I've found it.  But sometimes you can't talk about it, because you don't want to be a jerk, but then what else can you say that's real and true?  I don't know.  I want to learn.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #166 on: August 31, 2012, 06:02:22 AM »
Today's pet theories.

I like to write.  I'm not sure why I like to write.

Does that make sense?  Why would that be?  If one does something, and likes to do that thing, does it logically follow that one should know why one does it and likes to do it?

Apparently not.

Now here's my theory, that may or may not be correct.  I can't decide if it's correct or not until I pose the theory.

I like to write because it helps me to think clearly.

I like to think clearly sometimes because usually I don't think clearly.

I usually don't think clearly because most people usually don't think clearly.

Most people usually don't think clearly and don't realize that they don't and don't realize all the problems that arise because they don't think clearly.

Do most people normally think clearly?

Of course not.  Not even close.  Ever try talking to anybody?  People don't normally think clearly.

Am I wrong about that?  Maybe I'm the only one who doesn't normally think clearly.  :)

In order to think clearly, you need to identify your thoughts in such simple and small terms that they sound either childish or nonsensical or trivial, and then and only then can you figure out the logic or illogic that connects each thought together into a way of thinking.

In order to decide whether a statement is true, you need to pose it as a true statement first and then determine its logical consequents.  One needs to pose a statement first in order to determine its logical consequents.  Only by examining the truth or falsehood of a statement's logical consequents can one determine whether the statement itself is true or false.  Not always, but usually.

The density of normal human thought guarantees that most normal people will not think clearly unless they learn to analyze their own thoughts and evaluate their truth or falsehood.  Thinking clearly means thinking true rather than false thoughts.

People normally think false thoughts.

People normally think so many thoughts that many of them are false.  Many many of them are false.  Most people either don't know that or don't have the time or energy to care ... or so they imagine ... so instead they order and live their lives according to all sorts of thoughts that may or may not be true, and they suffer from the consequences of living according to lots of false thoughts, and still they rarely or never correct their false thoughts.

Online Oniya

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #167 on: August 31, 2012, 07:14:55 AM »
Writing helps me order my thoughts as well.  Recently, I spent something like three weeks writing and rewriting a letter to my mother, to make sure I said what I wanted to, and that it would [hopefully] be interpreted correctly.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #168 on: August 31, 2012, 01:46:01 PM »
Wowsers.  Will you be disappointed if she doesn't respond in the way you wanted? 

I've learned not to show things that I've written to certain people simply because they typically respond in a way that shows little appreciation for the effort I put into writing the stuff.  Not that they're intentionally like that, they just don't know that I'm sensitive like that sometimes, and I haven't figured out how to tell them yet, because they aren't like that themselves, so I figure they'd have a hard time understanding what it's like to be that way.

Online Oniya

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #169 on: August 31, 2012, 02:53:43 PM »
Sadly, I think she will probably still misinterpret it, but not because of the way it's written.  She's the type to take the fact that we have a voice-line (Mr. Oniya's cell - unlimited everything) and a text/emergency line (my cell  - unlimited text, minimal minutes), and have given her only the voice number as a personal affront.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #170 on: September 04, 2012, 06:33:57 PM »
Family:  Can't leave 'em.  Can't kill 'em.  ;)

Christianity is not a religion.  Christianity is magic.

I've hated religion all my life.  Religion sucks and needs to be fucking hated with great vigor.

The word "religion" refers to any system of belief that requires faith, as distinct from a system of belief based purely on empirical evidence.  It's worth noting that science is not based purely on empirical evidence, as far as I know.

Christianity is a system of belief that requires faith, but it is not a religion.  Why not?  Because the word "religion" refers to any system of belief that requires faith, meaning that there are at least two different religions (actually many more, of course) that the word "religion" refers to.

There is nothing truthful you can say about Christianity that can also be said about religion, because Christianity is not a religion.  It is its own category of thing.  It is an entirely different category of thing from religion.

Magic is a set of things that cannot be perceived using human senses.  It cannot be perceived using physical senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell) nor perceived using any human cognitive sense, i.e. human logic.  (Is logic the sixth human sense?)  Based upon its definition, magic is considered to be false -- to not exist -- by any sensible adult.

Adults who depend upon their senses to determine the nature of reality cannot perceive magic and therefore do not believe it to exist.  Adults who depend upon their senses to determine the nature of reality cannot perceive Christianity to be true and therefore do not believe it to be true.

If we take logic as the sixth human sense, and then posit that none of the six human senses can perceive the truth of Christianity, then there must also be a seventh human sense, namely, that human sense (faculty, capacity) by which one can perceive the truth of Christianity.  Unlike all the other senses, this sense depends upon an outside agent for its use.  Humans can use their other six senses without aid from any third party; not so with the seventh.

I don't know if I believe everything in this blog or not.  Some parts of this blog, like today's post, contain propositions that have occurred to me as potentially true, so I discuss them here to weigh their truthfulness or falsehood.

Online Oniya

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #171 on: September 04, 2012, 06:47:24 PM »
'Where does magic come from?
I think magic's in the learning
'Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans
Only pumpkin pies are burning.'

[noembed]-Dar Williams[/noembed]
Not sure if I've shared this song with you before.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #172 on: September 04, 2012, 08:02:03 PM »

It's always nice to have multiple readers/commenters, but if I'm going to have only one, you're such a nice one to have, Oniya.  :)

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #173 on: September 06, 2012, 07:13:57 AM »
Today's personal fortune cookie.  :)  (Or is it -- today's trite truisms?  You tell me.)

Life lessons learned (and very hard-earned, indeed -- with much spilling of blood and gnashing of teeth!):

There are no misfortunes in life; there are only mysteries.

A mystery is a blessing that is yet to be revealed.

Every problem in life that needs a solution has one.

... if, and only if, one depends upon God to provide the right solution to every problem. 

Every problem that matters to us matters to him, and he provides everything to us that we really need ... in the best possible way -- and at the best possible time.

As long as one depends upon God fully and constantly, there is no such thing in life as a lost opportunity.  Everything that is good and everything that is required is freely given -- to those who are able to receive.  (Hamlet Act 5, Scene 2:  "There‚Äôs a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. ... the readiness is all.")

(Addendum ... Everything above depends completely upon the individual's restored relationship with God, and there's only one real God, and only one way to know him.  Life knowing God and life not knowing God are as different as -- well, quite literally, come to think of it; as different as life and death.)  (Each of us comes into this life as a member of the walking dead.  None of us -- not one -- has to stay that way.)  (Sadly ... tragically, horribly, horrifically -- most of us do.)  ("There is none righteous.  No not one.")

Post script.  Hehehe ... Stupid fucking internet.  I've spent my whole fucking life, all 36 years of it, making sense out of that Hamlet quote; it's literally one of the most important things to me.  I just found that some anonymous jerk on the internet figured the whole fucking quote out and explained it better than I could.  Hehehe ... Stupid! -- Fcuk! -- Fucking! -- Inter -- !

Post post script; strangely apropos.  The internetss:  all the hard-accumulated knowledge of thousands of years of human civilization ... apparently written down by idiots, and filled with typos ... and falling on deaf ears.  Mine as much as anyone's. ... hehehe

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #174 on: September 06, 2012, 08:04:21 PM »
Kurt Cobain was hailed by the public as the great voice of his generation of musicians.  He was a genius, but not the genius he was proclaimed to be.  It's understandable; the media is always eager to anoint the next savior, and all the better if he self-destructs and thereby validates their faith and earns immortality.

Anyway, they were all wrong.  Sorry Kurt; rest in piece; but fuck you, my friend.  Chris Whitley was the greatest musician of his generation.  I haven't heard a better one since.