You are either not logged in or not registered with our community. Click here to register.
April 22, 2018, 05:41:37 AM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Click here if you are having problems.
Default Wide Screen Beige Lilac Rainbow Black & Blue October Send us your theme!

Wiki Blogs Dicebot

Author Topic: rude 'n' ridiculous rants + polite but painfully-slow prattle with passers-by  (Read 24080 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #50 on: July 12, 2012, 09:03:42 PM »
@ Oniya

Aaahh!  You sound like a little bit of a music nerd too.  If you weren't already spoken for, I would propose.  ;)  You said some stuff I plan to respond to later on.

Oh, I've probably posted too much into this blog today already, but hey, the searchbots don't care, right?  ;)

U.S. education and why the U.S. govt. needs to subsidize Def Jam ( ... j/k)

First, here's a plug for another thread at Elliquiy, one that I'm not involved with:  there's an impressive discussion here about the state of America's education system and what to do about it, including comments from several people who know way more about it than I do.  Frankly it looks like one of the most substantive and informative discussions I've seen in Elliquiy's P&R section, so that's kinda impressive, although I should also admit that I'm too effing lazy and uninvolved (no kids yet) to have read the whole thread closely.

Link to an NPR story.  (I'm an NPR freak, BTW.)  Think about this:  America still has so much national prestige that some Koreans take up residence in America and put their kids through our public school system for the sole reason that it gives the children bragging rights back in Korea.  What's especially ironic about that is the fact that both the parents and children realize that American public school is like taking a vacation compared to the rigorous work of attending Korea's schools.

It's only a matter of time before America's global pop-culture supremacy gets competition again from some country or other, and if that happens, it will put a great big dent in the global impression that we're still the sole superpower in the world.  I wonder how much our global favor increasingly depends upon that exported culture (rap music, blue jeans, and McWal-Mart rule the world, folks, and we're talking everywhere, from what I've heard) as our economic supremacy gets increasingly overshadowed by China and other competitors.

Am I making stupid assumptions about any of that?  Let me know, if so; please.  I'm hardly an authority on those subjects.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2012, 09:09:07 PM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #51 on: July 14, 2012, 12:55:47 AM »
@ Oniya

Hey, your 'Music Lovers' post still gets hits from time to time.  ;)

It does, doesn't it?  :)  I'm so happy about that.  I'm also happy that other people read the responses too.  I'm conflicted about whether or not I should post to that thread anymore with my little chitchatty replies, but I'm glad so many people participated and seemed to have enjoyed it; I certainly did.  Probably my most successful thread idea at Elliquiy, and one that I didn't even plan -- the way it turned out was mostly accidental.  I had no idea that people would respond to the thread as a kind of survey, although I'm glad it worked out that way.  Before that thread, I didn't know survey-type questions are so popular with people.  I still don't completely understand why so many people seem to like participating in such things, and seemingly even if nobody replies to anything they've written.

I think one of the comments I saw that puts it best is: 'Love in the Age of War' is like meeting up with an old friend you haven't seen in 25 years, and picking up right where you left off.

Safety Dance is, of course, the song everyone remembers from them, with a possible second being 'Pop Goes the World', which got a bit of rotation when MTV still played music.  To the best of my knowledge, they haven't had a studio album since 'Pop Goes the World', so it's hard to say if that's really a 'long' career.  Of course, Boston did the same sort of thing (to the record company's dismay).  Amazingly, Ivan's voice hasn't really changed all that much over time - despite having seen current pictures of him on the album art, I can listen to the songs and 'see' him in Safety Dance.  He doesn't do the high peaks as often, but when he does, he still does them well.

I heard about the new album from a Canadian DJ friend of mine (had to be a Canadian, right?), who posted The Girl With the Silicon Eyes on his feed, prompting a quick and clandestine trip to the local music store - which as of last week still couldn't order it, and tried to tell me it probably wouldn't be out for 6 more months.  Thank you Amazon.  I was able to wave my non-imported copy in front of the FYE guy.

From the opening track 'Devil Come Round', you're back when New Wave was shiny, and keyboards were still called 'synthesizers'.  The lyrics have matured a bit, though.  'Head Above Water' could be about a parent letting a teenaged child out into the world, or about a couple breaking up in a 'wish it could have worked, but it didn't - good luck' sort of way.  'Close to the Sun' is another 'I still care about you, even if we have to part' song.  'Your Beautiful Heart' is the sort of song that wraps you up and keeps you going without being saccharine.  'This War' - if this song doesn't have the audiences joining in on the chorus, I'll eat my (non-existent ;D) hat.  'Live and Learn' is a song that I can see being put into a movie soundtrack where the lead is taking on the task that everyone says is impossible.  They haven't gone too serious, though.  'Love's Epiphany' calls to mind all those silly love poems that Lennon and McCartney were so fond of:  'I wrote you this poem/ by the light of the moon/ Roses are red/ and remind me of you.'

In short, the album is a good time packed into a 5" disk, and I'm now watching the nearby venues for any tour news.

What amuses me most about all of that is the fact that, as with those scientific comments you made somewhere, whenever you choose to speak at length about stuff, it becomes very obvious that you know a hell of a lot about whatever you're talking about, even though you don't go out of your way to show off your intelligence.  :)  You write about pop music as if you could do record reviews.  Feel free to correct me any time you catch me saying something ignorant about pop stuff that you know about. 

The way you describe that album makes it sound interesting indeed, and I'll keep an eye out for it in my record store visits (although those are admittedly less and less frequent ... I've got too many purchased-but-unheard CDs that I plan to get to someday).

The fact you mentioned FYE and their incompetence amused me to no end.  Long long ago, I made the mistake of giving several years of my life over to working for that piece-of-shit company that treated me terribly.  :)  I mean I worked with wonderful people and had lots of fun, but the company sucks balls and cares nothing about music whatsoever, or about treating employees well.  Can you tell I've got a wee chip on my shoulder?  Yeah, they underpaid me by thousands of fucking dollars, pulled the wool right over my eyes ... Bastards!  hehehe

There's more bloggery below but you shouldn't feel any obligation to read any of it, necessarily.  :)  Of course you're always welcome to, though.

More about audiences ... Why blog? ... Writing as self-discovery ... Self-loathing and -recriminations ... Dreading an upcoming conversation

I suppose it's really difficult for me to write anything without thinking about how others will respond to reading it.  I have a general obsession with attending to the feelings and needs of people around me, far moreso than is healthy for any person to do, so maybe this is just another manifestation of that.

I keep trying to figure out why I'm doing this blog at all, because I don't think it's for the reasons that most people do blogs.  Why do most people do blogs?  Do I know?  Let me think about that for a sec ....  They do blogs to share their private thoughts with strangers in the public, people they don't interact with in real (offline) life.  Why would they want to do that?  They must think it will benefit either the author or the audience in certain ways, for example, maybe the author likes the idea of people reading his or her private thoughts.  I don't think that motivation applies to me because I feel embarrassed, mortified, and terrified when I think of people reading my private thoughts -- the ones that are most important to me, at least.  Maybe the author thinks the audience can learn something useful from reading his or her thoughts.  Me, I figure it's much more likely that the audience will be bored or irritated rather than educated or helped in any way. 

Maybe the author thinks it's a healthy thing to do, exposing his or her thoughts to others, perhaps because the author has an unhealthy tendency to withdraw or hide from others in real life.  Maybe that one applies to me some, but I don't imagine that for others, that motivation outweighs the others I mentioned before.  Is that the only reason I'm doing this?

Here's a definite reason:  the process of writing helps me to organize my thoughts and understand them in ways I wouldn't be able to otherwise.  Not only that, but it goes so far for me that oftentimes I can only identify what I think or feel about something when I try to write about it.  I often look back on things I've written with some astonishment, because it feels like I really nailed something down that I couldn't grasp before.  For me, writing is a way of discovering who I am, a way to get to know myself.  I think that probably happens to some other people too, not too many though.

Here's an example of something I'm learning about myself:  I seem to have the beginnings of lots of ideas and thoughts, but that's sufficient for me, to just have the beginning.  The rest of the idea or thought is suggested at least by the way it starts.  For some reason I drop it at that point, as if the beginning were the whole thing, when it's obviously not.  A lot of blog entries I write never get past their introductions, because I lose interest after that.  Is that weird?  Does it make me extra-smart or extra-dumb?  I could argue for either.

How effing stupid does this sound:  I actually believe that I've made sense out of life.  Not just "my" life, mind you, but life.  Life in general; life for everybody; the universe, the secret of life, the point of being.  In our current age, and with abundant good reasons, it is considered the height of vanity and presumption for any person to even suggest that they know a little bit about life, about the nature and purpose of being, much less that they have a real grasp on the whole damn thing, that they can see the entire picture.  What sort of an ass says such a thing?  heh.  My sort of an ass, I guess.  Yech.  (The way to get away with saying anything broadly about life in our present day and age is to emphasize that you don't think anything you say applies to anyone but you, at the end of the day.  To believe otherwise flies in the face of the subjective, relativistic ethos prized by almost all thoughtful, intelligent, sensible, educated people.)

If I could, I would put a bold, blinking disclaimer on this blog, like one of those crawls that goes across the bottom of a TV screen; it would say:  "I don't think I'm smarter than you.  I don't think I'm better than you.  I think it's very likely that you're both smarter and better than me, at least most of the time, and with regard to most things ... including all the things I talk about in this blog."

See?  Preoccupation with audience.  Some strange compulsion or something, and all the more ironic and absurd considering how few if any people read any of these blogs, as far as I can tell.  Yes, I still believe it's mostly searchbots, but that's more or less okay with me.  :)  Actually, honestly, I fear that anyone at Elliquiy who reads more than one or two sentences of this blog will want nothing to do with me ever again after that, and that would kinda suck, because the main reason I use Elliquiy is for "adult" roleplaying, and one needs partners for that.  I worry sometimes that I alienate potential RP partners by spouting off about so much other unrelated shit.  It's not something I do in the RPs themselves, of course.

Another for the screen crawl:  "Don't worry, if you read one paragraph, you've read 'em all.  It's just the same shit over and over again.  Move along, move along ..."

My first instinct tells me to delete everything above; too negative, too repetitive, too boring, too everything.  Awful reading, plain awful, pick your reason.  Then I get a different instinct to post it anyway.  I suppose that must be what it's like to be one of those scary old dudes who walk around naked under their raincoats and flash total strangers until they get arrested for it.  Does that really happen?  I've never seen anything remotely like that actually happen in real life, but it's a familiar trope anyway.  Wonder why?  Probably because it's funny, and sad, and true.  Mebbe.

Tomorrow -- oops, today I mean -- I'm having breakfast with a very old (long-term) and dear friend, and if the right opportunity presents itself -- if nothing more important comes up, and the mood feels appropriate -- I hope to talk to her about my religious beliefs.  Not because I want her to necessarily agree with them, but because I desperately want her to simply know what it is that I believe, because my beliefs are so hugely important to me, and because they're the last thing on earth that I ever talk to her about, and that's kinda fucked; I want my closest loved ones to know about the things I care most about, simply as part of knowing me, being close to each other.

This breakfast is somewhat stressful for me in terms of anticipating what to say.  Here I'm going to run down what I hope to say.  I won't get even half of this out, I assume, but whatever.

My friend doesn't share my religious beliefs, by the way, and that's a huge source of grief for me, although I wouldn't want her to know that or think that.  If my beliefs are what I believe them to be, which is, the truth for everyone, not just me, then I would love for everyone to know and share my beliefs, and above all, I desperately want all the people I care about to share my beliefs.  This is only natural, I think, if one is as convinced as I am about the stuff I believe being the genuine universal truth.  But at the same time, the last thing I would want is for anyone (including especially anyone I cared about) to adopt or pretend to adopt certain beliefs simply because they knew that would be to my liking.  It's very important to me not to put pressure on anyone to agree with me, but my problem is that I've gone so far in that direction that I've refused to even be open with my loved ones about what it is that I believe.  I've been afraid that no matter what I say, they will feel that I'm pressuring them to agree with me, even if I tell them I would never want to do that.  It's something of a Catch-22, one that most Christians solve by shutting the hell up in public about their beliefs, except when they're surrounded by people who claim to share them already.  I don't want to be like that any more; I want to be open without being an asshole about it.  I don't even know if that's possible to do.  It has to be possible, doesn't it?

What I want my friend to know about my beliefs:  I'm a Christian (she knows that already).  I consider myself a "devout" Christian, even though that may seem like fanaticism to many or most people (she knows that too, I think).  Those aren't too awful things to believe, right?  I don't think I'm smarter or better than anybody, in fact I think I'm inferior and worse than lots of people, maybe most of them.  That's not too awful of a confession either, I think.

Then we get to the awful stuff.  I reject the validity of any version of Christianity that does not claim to contain the universal and absolute truth about life, meaning that its claims apply to everyone, not just whoever says they believe it.  Actually I think my friend believes the opposite -- like many other self-proclaimed Christians, she has very strong religious impulses and personal ethics and attends church sometimes, but she would probably consider it disrespectful and uncharitable and inappropriate for any person to claim that another person's beliefs were not valid for them.  I sympathize very strongly with that perspective, but I reject that perspective as completely wrongheaded, and I go so far as to believe that such a stance does not constitute actual Christianity.  Kind of an awful and rude and offensive thing to think or say, huh?  How does a person say that openly to another person without upsetting them?  Hell if I know, but I guess I'm going to try anyway.

What else is there?  Okay, the other big thing is that in my opinion, Christianity is a life-transforming faith that requires total devotion from its adherents, and any Christian who doesn't live their life with Christianity at the center of it is making a huge, awful mistake.  That would apply to most people who claim to be Christians.  I don't think that compartmentalizing one's religion and limiting its influence over one's everyday life makes a person a non-Christian, necessarily, although I suppose it might indicate a lack of genuine belief, but I hope I would never presume to question the sincerity of any person who claimed to believe anything.  I would consider that severely disrespectful, to question another person's sincerity about their beliefs.

I guess I just want my friend to understand that even though I almost never talk about it, Christianity is really the only thing that matters to me, in a sense; it's that important to me, and I think it ought to be that important to everyone, because that's what life is about; that's all that life is about.  All the other parts of any person's life get re-prioritized far underneath one's faith, if the faith is real, and that's how things ought to be; that's the only way that any of us can be happy and fulfilled.  It doesn't mean that one discards everything else, but any relationship or activity that isn't compatible with one's faith needs to eventually be discarded.  It's a complicated and gradual process, but it ought to be a real priority and something at the front of any Christian's mind on a daily basis; that's what the faith is about.

... and happily so, in fact.  Because I have a mental illness (depression, which my friend knows I have), it's easy for me to emphasize the sacrifices and challenges of being a Christian, but I don't experience it that way at all; while there are huge and frequent difficulties in my life, I've also never been happier or more fulfilled, and the bounds of that fulfillment keep expanding in ways I never dreamed were even possible.  It's all good news, even if it doesn't sound that way at first to some folks:  the total life-transforming devotion is the best thing anyone can have, and something everyone ought to have, because it's that good.  These are the things I believe.

Hmm, anything else?  I want my friend to know (although I hope she already does know) that even though I believe all that stuff, I also believe that I can treat non-Christians with respect and even huge affection, I can and do feel close to them.  Anything that I do or say that communicates disrespect to my friend or to anyone else is something that I would want to apologize for and stop doing if possible.  But, the hard part is that the very things that I believe are themselves considered rude and offensive by most people who really look carefully at them, and that sort of offensiveness is not something I can change, nor is it something I close my eyes to; I understand it all too well, I think.  It is what it is ... I don't get to decide to discard the parts that upset people, or even the parts that upset me.

And, once more, having written all that shit down, I'm inclined to discard all of it, because really, who gives a shit?  Besides me, I mean.

What the fucking hell am I doing writing about all this stuff at Elliquiy, of all places?  Why tell any of this shit to anybody else, but especially not to a bunch of nice people who probably either disagree strongly with my perspective or simply don't care about it?  Why risk upsetting anyone or boring anyone? 

Fucking hell, I honestly don't know.  I'm an exhibitionist?  I'm a nutcase?  Guilty on both charges, I guess.  :)

Here's another question, though, and maybe an even better one:  if you read some or all of this, why on earth did you bother?  Were you reading along because I said stuff that pissed you off -- out of some kind of masochistic impulse?  Were you reading along because you're interested in anything I said?  Why would you be?  I honestly don't know the answers to these things.  It's another reason why I'm so interested in hearing responses from others to this blog, even if the responses are just negative ("I read it, sounded like bullshit, waste of my time").  Of course one would hope the responses wouldn't be wholly negative.  (Pissing people off is not fun for me and isn't my goal for this blog at all.)

Thanks for reading, though, if you did; I hope you don't regret the time or effort it took, regardless of your reasons.  :)  Bye now!
« Last Edit: July 14, 2012, 01:16:15 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #52 on: July 14, 2012, 08:08:00 PM »
Quick hits.

You should know that the guy writing this blog is full of shit sometimes.

Not all the time though. 

Each of us are sometimes visited with dreams of a more just and fair world.  Midnight Oil is the house band there.

Meaning is the temporal alignment of equivalencies.

Temporal, therefore, also, temporary.

The root note is the theorem; the melody is the proof.

The root note is the conclusion of the argument.

Midnight Oil is my current favorite band.  Study their guitar work.  It's better than your favorite band's.  Bet ya a dollar.  ;)

I've heard Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Korn, Metallica, Slayer, Dimmu Borgir, Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse, Black Sabbath, Cradle of Filth.  It took me a long time to figure it out, but little ole' Joseph Arthur has shit that's darker than any of 'em.  Way, way darker.  You gotta dig for it though.

Oh, also?  Also P.J. Harvey.  Again, you gotta dig.  Makes me squirm just thinkin' about it.

Personal note:  conversation with friend:  unbelievably difficult.  Stomach in throat, pouring sweat, words wouldn't come.

Still?  Turned out pretty good.  I think.  :)
« Last Edit: July 14, 2012, 08:12:15 PM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #53 on: July 15, 2012, 01:16:51 AM »
Various stuff.  No religious content whatsoever, I swear!  Yay, right?  heh

I wish I could disable the view count thing.  I find it irksome.  :(

Today was a good day, which for me means that I got a fair amount of work done.

Now I'm sitting here trying to write something, anything really, and my brain is turning to oatmeal.

Depression is a tricky thing to write about, I've found.  I tend to say the same things so often about it that the writing becomes less and less interesting until it no longer seems worthwhile to bother writing.  I'm sure a skilled-enough writer could make depression sound fascinating.  I'm not that skilled, I don't think.

Here's a good example of how depression works.  It gives me a strong inclination to make self-deprecating remarks that frequently cross over into self-loathing territory.  Self-deprecation can be amusing and pleasantly disarming; self-loathing, on the other hand, is just creepy and disturbing.  I know this, but it takes me more work to not make those kinds of comments than it does to just let them out, and I think it's better for me to fuss as little as possible over that tendency of mine. 

The way depression works is this:  when I notice that I'm making self-loathing comments, rather than simply correcting that undesirable behavior, I feel guilty about it and think less of myself for doing it.  Feeling guilty about things and thinking poorly of oneself tends to cause one to make self-loathing comments.  Self-loathing comments tend to cause one to feel guilty about them and think poorly of oneself for making them.  Boom, you got yer self-perpetuating, unhealthy cycle of thoughts; your Downward Spiral, as Mr. Reznor so nicely put it.  I can ride such an unhealthy cycle all the way until it shuts me down entirely, leaves me paralyzed and unable to do anything but sleep as a form of escape.  Sound like fun?  Naw no fun there. 

That's just a glimpse of it, in case you don't have personal experience with it.  Most people have a little experience with depression, but not enough to understand how bad it gets for people who have the "mental illness" called "depression," as opposed to just being in an awful but temporary bad mood.  The mental illness doesn't go away without outside help, and it does stop you from doing things that are really important to you, like working or going to school or getting out of bed.  I know what those problems are like. 

I've seen people with way, way, way more debilitating depression than I've ever had, though, and having had first-hand experience of suicidal fantasizing, I don't really understand how those people survive without killing themselves.  Then again I never attempted suicide or considered it as something I was capable of actually doing.  People who cross that taboo threshold fascinate me, because I've danced on the threshold without ever crossing it, and I'd like to understand what's different between me and them.  I know what it's like to wish I was them, but I don't know what it's like to be able to attempt suicide.  I don't seem to have that in me, for whatever reason; can't even picture myself in that position, not really.  Fortunate for me.

My biggest fear these days is that I won't be able to return to a situation where I'm able to do something useful, meaning something that has value and benefit for somebody other than just me.  For a very long time now, I've poured all my energy into working on developing skills that would enable me to do things that could have value or benefit for others, but those skills aren't quite at that level yet, from what I can tell.  As long as I reach that level in the not-too-distant future, all the work will seem worthwhile.  What terrifies me is the very real possibility that I won't reach that level in the near or even distant future, meaning that all the work I've been doing will turn out to be for nothing, for naught.  I would rather die than have that happen.  No, wait; I don't wanna die.  All I mean to say is that ...

Look, the most important thing in my life is this:  I want to use my abilities in a way that benefits someone besides me.  Most people do that without even trying.  Most people get jobs where they perform some tasks that have an obvious and known benefit for other people, even if the benefit is delayed or indirect.

Oh, did I tell you that I'm unemployed, and have been for a very long time now?  Yeah, I am.  I'm totally and utterly and deeply ashamed of that fact, which is why I guess I never told you that until just now.  I'm fucking unemployed and have been for a long time.  I think I could get a really shitty job if I tried hard enough, but instead I'm shooting for a theoretical goal that's at least a little bit higher than pumping gas or flipping burgers. 

(People who pump gas or flip burgers get all the respect in the world from me, by the way.  Anyone willing to undergo public disfavor in order to better themselves is a hero to me, seriously.  If you're an ex-con who flips burgers at the back of a goddamn McDonald's, instead of selling drugs or something, you are my goddamn hero ... hell, I think everyone should see you as a hero.  You're doing one of the hardest things anyone could ever do.  If you're willing to mop floors and clean bathrooms and work cash registers for the time being in order to make an honest but unglamorous living, even though you'd like to do something slightly more glamorous and satisfying someday, you're my fucking hero.  Goddamn.  God bless you, brother or sister; do your thing.  You make me proud to be a human being.  Sorry, tangent.)

There are a handful of things about my life that I feel so ashamed about that I haven't even confessed them to anyone who might theoretically be reading this blog.  I want to confess most or all of those things eventually, at least to somebody or other.  You know why?  Here's why ... Gimme a sec, this isn't easy to talk about ...

There are things in life that people should be afraid of.  Only one or two things, in my opinion, but really, I think that anybody who isn't afraid of those one or two or three things needs to have their head examined.  That stupid redneck logo about having "NO FEAR" just makes me laugh because it sounds so fucking ignorant.  Do you have "NO FEAR"?  You are a moron.  :)  I'm sorry if that offended you, but that's what I think, and I'm telling you now because somebody ought to set you straight, dude.  There are things in life that everyone ought to fear, and anybody who doesn't is just fucked up and in need of a reality check.

Oh, another tangent, sorry.  (I've got a small -- not big -- vodka buzz while I'm writing this, which means that my mind wanders.  Sorry!).  What I meant to say before was ...

If I'm afraid of doing something, I want to figure out why, and I consider the very fact that I'm afraid of doing it a sufficient reason to give it a fucking try, at least once.  In my opinion, there are only a very small handful of good reasons to be afraid; there are only a small handful of things that any sensible adult ought to be afraid of.  Everything else that any of us has a tendency to fear is just bullshit.  The stuff that can really harm you is only a few things; the rest of the shit you fear can't really do any harm to you.  Go ahead, try doing something you're scared of.  Bet you'll come out on the other end wondering why you were scared in the first place.  Unless, of course, it's one of the those few things that can really fuck you up. 

The last couple times I went to amusement parks, (years ago), I forced myself to ride all the rollercoasters.  Even the stand-up one, which was supposed to be so intense.  You know why?  Because I fucking hate rollercoasters, they used to scare the shit out of me, and I used to avoid them scrupulously.  Then I decided that no adult person should be afraid of something so stupid, so I decided to prove to myself that it wasn't worth being afraid of, so I just gritted my teeth and did it.  I survived.  (Humorously, though, I discovered that even though I can force myself to ride rollercoasters, I cannot force myself to enjoy them.  All I felt was stressed out the whole time I was on those things; I had to focus on constantly reminding myself that there was nothing to be afraid of, and that effort made the whole experience no fun.  I'm just not the kind of person who enjoys that stuff, even if I'm able to force myself to do it.  Live and learn.)

These blog entries are so unfocused and meandering and whatever.  Who cares?  I enjoy them anyway.  At this point I really oughtta wrap this blog entry up with a nice and meaningful summary.  I ain't gonna because it's just too much work.  I'm stupid or vain or naive enough to imagine that just maybe one or two human beans besides me found something interesting in the paragraphs above, and that alone will justify my decision to post this shit rather than delete it.  hehehehe  Time for another shot ...)
« Last Edit: July 15, 2012, 01:43:42 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #54 on: July 15, 2012, 02:51:03 AM »
Here's something I'm glad about:  no matter how convenient and desirable the alternative might be, no amount of online interaction with any-fucking-body will ever be as personally satisfying as a minute or two in the presence of an offline loved one.

Here's something I'm not glad about:  being online makes most people behave like they don't need to care about anything or anybody else in those online contexts.  I do it too.  Who gives a shit about anything?  Change the goddamn channel.  Click!

I'm so bitter and cynical!  Wah;)

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #55 on: July 15, 2012, 05:24:28 AM »
Music I've listened to in the last 24 hours

The Cure, Disintegration.  After Midnight Oil, the Cure might very well be my second favorite band at the moment.  Ever-underrated; look past the make-up, people, and see the thematic breadth of scope and the neverending hooks.  But -- man, that second side is hell, there's just no getting around it.  Robert Smith knew exactly what he was doing; after all the quick hits and all the easy genius, he wanted you to feel the long slow pain, and you sure do, by the time you get through those last four never-ending tracks, every one a mini-masterpiece ... but who doesn't need a very long hug afterwards?  The best sad nightmare you ever had.

Steve Winwood, Back in the High Life.  Oh, hell.  Here I go spilling all the beans, showing my hand, letting you see everything I got.  Look.  I'm not an idiot or a novice, at least not about this, about rock; I've heard thousands of albums in their entirety, literally; worked at a music store for years; own over a thousand CDs myself.  I know almost the Beatles' entire catalog; almost Bob Dylan's entire catalog; most of Neil Young's major works, ditto Elvis Presley, the Clash, Led Zep, Sabbath, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Metallica, Nirvana, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, the Temptations, The Supremes, The Jackson Five, Michael solo, Prince, Madonna, the Allman Bros., James Brown and Hendrix and Clinton/P-Funk, Hank Sr. and Jr., Wilco to Randy Travis, U2, Jane's Addiction, the Sex Pistols and P.I.L., Outkast to Missy Elliot, Norah Jones to the Fugees to Fishbone, Bob Marley and Pavarotti and Satriani, Robert Johnson to Eric Clapton, CCR to ELO to AC/DC, Sonic Youth, Pet Sounds to Raw Power, the Velvet Underground, Run DMC, P.E., Co-Flow, Eminem ... hell, even the artists I'm not crazy about but still appreciate on some level ... from Britney and Justin, Elton to the Eagles ... Aretha to Alanis, to Mariah to Shania to Tori, Janet to Janis to Journey, Aerosmith to R.E.M. to Mellencamp; Woody Guthrie to Wu-Tang Clan and everything in between ... I like a little bit of all of it ... and I'm telling you, for reals:  this might be the, the greatest album of the entire rock and roll era, 1950-something to 2010-something.  It's got everything that matters, from musicianship to lyrics to vocals to hooks to performance to layering to "soul," even that elusive and priceless cultural impact that eludes almost all the best albums (it hit the Top 10 and Top 40, I believe).  Go buy it or download it; give it at least five, full listens; then tell me I'm wrong.  I'll buy the damn CD back off ya.  ;) 

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #56 on: July 15, 2012, 08:59:10 PM »
Awright so here's my latest theory about the durn view count.  Not that it's important to anybody except me, and it isn't even that important to me, but it's an interesting curiosity. 

The view counts on these blogs are astronomically high, much higher than you would expect if each view represented a person looking at a blog once.  Of course that happens, but I'm guessing there are two other things that drive the view count so high:  first, searchbots must swing through here a lot, because this part of Elliquiy is viewable to non-members as well as members; second, non-members who explore the site must open these blogs a lot, especially the ones at the top of the page, the ones most recently updated.  The end result is that each blog looks like hundreds of people have looked at it when the real number is probably more like a dozen members or less, maybe more for the ones that keep getting updated.  Of course even the members who look at the blog are not at all likely to read much of it, especially the long paragraphs, which might get skimmed now and then, if they're lucky.

Who cares?  Ah, nobody, I guess.  But I like to know who I'm talking to, you know?  The durn view count suggests that there's a crowd of people listening when it's much more likely to be one or two people at most who actually read entire blog posts, and not even that many for the longer or less interesting posts (and we all know how many of those there are! hehe).

I wonder how many of the handful of people who do blogs here would stop doing them if the view counts more closely represented the actual size of the audience.  I'll bet a few folks would quit, but most would probably stay, because they do their blog for reasons other than thinking about who's reading.  Which is cool of course.  :)

Obviously it's bad in terms of holding readers' interest if you repeat yourself as much as I do.  But here's one good thing about the repetitiveness of this blog:  it probably indicates that the blog posts are reflective of my actual thoughts.  I tend to have certain thoughts over and over again, but each time, or most times at least, I refine the thought in a very tiny way, improving its accuracy or adding something to it.  After revisiting the same thought (idea) many many times, I end up with a thought that has undergone many slight revisions to improve its content, so the end result is better than when it started.  To a reader or outside observer, the little revisions and improvements probably aren't noticeable, so it may appear that I'm just repeating myself ad nauseam.  I think if you read super-closely (which nobody should bother doing) you might see that there's some method to my madness.  ;)  Sometimes at least!  Other times, just madness.  heh
« Last Edit: July 15, 2012, 09:06:43 PM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #57 on: July 16, 2012, 12:38:16 AM »
This post might sound like "preaching" to some people, especially those who have heard similar sentiments coming from any pulpits, and most especially those who heard similar sentiments coming from some jerk who was later caught getting blowjobs from parishioners in a back room of the church.  (Lou Reed says everything best:  "Caught with his pants down / And money sticking in his hole ..." hehehe) 

I don't want to sound like any of those preaching people, not even the good ones, because I'm not a fucking preacher.  (No offense, preachers out there.  Also, I have a compulsion about using expletives when I say anything about religion.  I'm trying to figure out why and stop doing it, assuming it's probably a bad thing to do.  I'm just not convinced yet that it's all that bad.  Anyway, it's nothing personal!  Okay?)

I'm posting this because I wrote it.  Nobody has to read it, as always.  :)  Yay!  Rock.

People often say that until they see evidence or proof of God's existence, they won't believe God exists.  Sounds pretty damn reasonable to me.  Not being facetious.

It's very obvious to most people that the world they can see and feel is not under the control of any all-powerful or all-just diety.  One doesn't need to look very hard to find such unfairness in life that any sensible person would have a very hard time putting any trust in any God:  just poke around the children's ward at your nearest hospital.

Here's what I think.  Each of us who are alive are surrounded with so much evidence and proof of God that we're completely overwhelmed with it and fail to recognize or process any of it.

Every single thing that has ever made you smile or laugh or feel good was proof of God.  Whatever it was -- the feeling of a newborn squeezing your finger; the scent of your lover's perfume; yes, even the delirious highs of getting drunk or stoned -- if it was any good at all, it came from God, so it can be seen as proof of his existence.  You wouldn't have had any of those things if he hadn't given them to you; none of us would have any of the good things we have, including our very ability to draw breath.  He gave each of us that, and someday, whenever the hell he wants to, he'll take that breath right away from us, and we'll each be nothing more than a big dead slab of inanimate meat.  Not even very tasty meat, I'll bet.  :)

Do you admire the leaves as they change colors in the fall?  There's God.  Notice the rosy pink in yesterday's sunset?  That was God.  Had an orgasm lately?  Yep.  God.  No orgasms without him, sorry.  All orgasms feel good; all good comes from God.  Only from God.

It doesn't matter if you're an atheist or a Satan-worshipper or the pastor of a mega-church; God hands wonderful things to each of those people according to his preferences, and he doesn't withhold wonderful things from any of them, no matter what they believe or think or do.  Hell if I know why, but that's how it is.  It's the same rain falling on the Christians as on the non-Christians, and the same rainbow both get to enjoy afterwards.

We look at life's horrors and ugliness and want to explain them, want to blame them on someone or something, and the idea of a just God allowing such things turns our stomach and makes us angry.  It should, you'd better believe it should.  If there is a God, isn't he directly or at least indirectly responsible for all the suffering and atrocity out there, if not in our own lives, at least in the world around us?  If not him, who else is there to blame?

Blame me. 

Not being facetious.

I did it; all of it.  All the bullshit and horror and nastiness; that was me.  And not just me, I'm afraid; it was you, too.  You're probably way nicer and better than I am, but still, there's some darkness in your heart; you've hurt someone, somewhere, sometime; no matter how hard you've tried to be kind and good to others, you've blown it a few times, and other people got hurt, or you got hurt yourself.  The finger points at us, not God, and not any Satan or devil either -- you and me are it.  We're to blame, maybe me more than you, but at the end of the day, it's all our faults, not anyone else's.

Where's the proof of God?  It's in the air you're breathing at this very moment, and the next, and the next ... every one up to the very last breath you ever take. 

Never mind all that shit about how grand the design of such-and-such part of the universe is; never mind trying to find God by studying nature's grandeur.  Maybe you could, but look, you don't have to look anywhere near that hard.  If your eyes are open right now, they're open because of God, and everything you see in front of you right now that you're glad about, that's all because of him too.  You think you bought all the good stuff you have and found all the wonderful people you surround yourself with?  Think again.  Every one was given to you without you doing anything to deserve it.  None of us deserve anything good, because we're the ones who fucked everything up -- everything that's fucked up, we're the ones that did the fucking.  We deserve all the bad shit, not the good stuff.

You probably don't think you're responsible for any of the worst things in the world.  You probably have a moral code that you try to live by, and you probably do a pretty good job of living by it -- hell, you even make hard personal sacrifices sometimes, in order to live with yourself and your conscience.  You help the people around you when you can.  You wish things were better for all those people like you who may be struggling to get by.

Now get this.  Look at the previous paragraph carefully.  It doesn't just apply to you.  You know who else all that stuff is true about?  Who's the most evil person in the world today -- the dictators, the criminals, the torturers of innocents? -- every one of them have their moral code that they live by.  Hitler must have tried hard to do the right thing; he probably made sacrifices; he probably gave it a lot of thought.  Just like I do sometimes.

You probably think you're way better a person than fucking Hitler, of course; hell, you'll probably concede that even I am probably a better person than him.  :)  Well, setting you aside for the moment, let me tell you the truth about me:  I'm not any better than he was.  I know it sounds extreme and crazy, but it's true.

See, there's only one standard that ultimately matters when it comes to deciding who's good and who's bad.  My opinion doesn't matter; your opinion doesn't matter; neither does Hitler's.  God, the source of everything good, not only says that you and I and Hitler are all bad, but he says that we're all pretty much equally bad, as far as he's concerned.  It doesn't fit with human logic to say something like that, but it's not about any human's opinions; only God is good, and only his opinion matters, because he's in charge of everything and he's the one who decides, the only one, not me, and not you either.

Here's the deal.  God decided that I get to be alive; he's the one who let my parents conceive me; they couldn't have done it without his approval.  Then he gave me a chance to be a good person, and I blew it.  I fucked up.  Me and all the other people all the way back to Adam and Eve, whether you think they were real people or not, the point is, we humans couldn't be good.  God set the standard for what's good and what's not, and we fell short of that standard -- all of us, even the nice people, even the nicest person you know -- not up to God's standard.

Do you think you're a good person?  Pretty good?  Not so bad, at least?  Here, try this experiment.  Try not to hurt anybody tomorrow in any way.  Just for one day, okay?  Surely you can handle that.  Don't say anything that hurts anybody's feelings, don't cut off anybody on your drive to and from work.  Takes a little effort, probably, but you could probably get through twenty-four hours without hurting anybody; how hard could it be?  You've got self-control, a little bit, at least.

But wait, that's not the end of the experiment, I'm afraid.  After you get through the first day, do a second day.  And a third, and fourth, then a week, a month; then a year.  Think you can go a year without hurting anybody?  I'll bet you can't.  Still think you're a good person?

Well, hell, of course you do!  :)  Nobody's perfect, that's not a fair standard.  You're a good person by any reasonable standard; you do the best you can, and that's all that anybody could ask for.  You aren't claiming to be perfect, but you're at least as good as most other good people; you're a good person too.  Aren'tchya?

Wait, are you?  Okay, maybe you are, and if you are, I'll take your word for it.  What else am I gonna do, I can't look into your past and see what's there, I can't tag along and spy on you every day to see if you're good to most people or not; I'll believe what you say, if you say you're good.  But let me tell you a little about me.

I try not to hurt anybody.  I try really fucking hard, pretty much all the time.  I think about it, I really do; I try to hold myself to a high standard; my momma taught me right.  Here's the truth about me:

I hurt people.  I've done things to my loved ones that made them furious, that made them cry, and not because they deserved it, not every time at least.  Each time that I did, I resolved not to do it again, and I resolved to do better next time.  Guess what?  There's always a next time, for me, and sometimes I improve, but there's always another time when I fuck up and hurt somebody I love.  Always, always, no matter how hard I try.  If that isn't true for you, okay, I believe you; it just means you're a better person than me.  I'll try to be more like you.  But I'll eventually fuck up again, because that's my nature, it seems.  There's something in me that says that no matter how hard I try or how long it takes, I'll fuck up again, and more than just a little bit.  I'll do something to somebody that I will feel terrible about doing afterwards.  I'll do something to somebody that I'll wish I hadn't.  And I'll do something like that again, and again, and again, even though I'll keep trying harder and harder not to.

That's me I'm talking about.  Maybe it's not you.  My point is that I'm not a good enough person to even meet my own standards all the time; I'm not good enough to always behave well, even according to my own personal moral code.  Are you?

It turns out that even if you think you are, even if you think you stick to your guns and always do what you think is right, at least every time that it really matters, you're still not good enough to be considered good, because the only standard that matters -- the only moral code that ultimately matters -- is God's, because he's in charge.  You aren't.  He says you aren't good enough to be good.  Neither am I, so don't feel too bad about it.  Neither was Mother Teresa or Gandhi or Saint Whoever.

All bad.  All equally bad.  We're all little Hitlers by God's standards, because he's perfectly good, and we -- aren't.  (Aside:  do you think that would make a good band name, "Little Hitlers"?  heh, sorry.)

Crap, wandered all over the place, lost my focus, and wrote so much that it's nearly guaranteed no one would have the patience or time to read all that.  That's okay, I'm not a great writer or particularly wise or anything, so there's no real reason why anybody should pay much attention to anything I say.  Let's see, where did I start all that?  Let me get back to that quickly, just as a paltry sort of wrap-up.

Here's what I think:  proof is everywhere.  The evidence is everywhere.  Miracles, even, are everywhere, everywhere you look.  God's miracles.  Look at your lover's face:  miracle from God.  Take a long slow sip of fresh coffee.  Could you make that experience happen to anybody else, if you wanted to?  You could make them a cup of coffee, even a good cup, but could you make them taste exactly what you just tasted, make them feel exactly the way you felt as the liquid went into you?  Miracle.  No scientist alive could make that happen.  No CEO or billionaire either.  Nobody.  Coffee tastes good; good comes from one and only one place, and it's often a miracle, because it's something no human being anywhere could do.  Can you make an atom?  Can you make a neurotransmitter?  A taste bud?  A pair of lips?  Do you think we'll be able to do all that any time soon, with all our scientific advancement?  If so, you don't know enough about the limits of science.

Miracles.  Proof.  Evidence.  I'm sitting on it, staring at it, breathing it, tasting it, fucking it sometimes, when I get lucky.  :)  If you don't see it, it's because you aren't looking right.  That can be fixed, but you can't fix it yourself, and I can't fix it for you.  Someone had to fix my eyes too before I could see what was there all along.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #58 on: July 18, 2012, 02:17:17 AM »
Some ideas I woke up with

:(  I'm putting off breakfast so that I can get some sudden notions written down.  I'll bet breakfast would have been tastier than whatever I'm about to write.  Maybe not though.

(Breakfast would have been leftover pizza, BTW.  Bachelor life is good sometimes, what can I say?  heh)

I speculate a lot about what it would be like to be a non-Christian again.  Why is that?  Partly I guess it's loneliness rearing its familiar head:  my religion is one of the many things in my life that seem to put me in the minority of any group I find myself surrounded with on a daily basis; and more often than not, quite literally, I'm in a minority of one.  Thus, some loneliness, but nothing unbearable (usually).

Although they are so much more than just that, people are still basically animals -- animals of a very advanced sort; and animals have one goal that makes all their other natural impulses pale by comparison:  to survive.  One cannot overestimate the awesome drive behind this animal instinct. 

Try this sometime, if you have the stomach for it; actually, I don't have the stomach for it personally, but I do it sometimes anyway without meaning to.  Try killing an insect of any kind without getting the job done in the space of an instant.  I often will go to squish some pest and will fail to snuff its life force with a single quick smack of the newspaper or squeeze of the tissue, simply because my aim is poor or I didn't put enough commitment behind it. 

What happens?  You end up invariably with a very bad-off insect, one that has had about a third of its limbs snapped off, along with perhaps one wing or one antenna, so that only a portion of its body can still function.  Watch what the little fellow does at that point, given the opportunity:  it turns into the biggest fucking badass monster killer you've ever seen.  It will do motherfucking absolutely anything it can think of to hang on to its last miserable shreds of life, despite what must amount to unbearable levels of pain and a very limited range of cognitive abilities. 

Certain spiders, for example, will sometimes suddenly start vibrating as if they're about to explode.  Best I can figure, that's an instinctive behavior intended to shake off or terrify its attackers.  Heck, it does a pretty good job, too; I've been a bit freaked out myself, seeing it happen, and I'm quite a bit bigger than the little monsters.  Other bugs of various kinds will take off sprinting in the direction of any dark or enclosed space nearby, and when I say sprinting, that's exactly what I mean:  even if they've only got two or three out of six limbs left that work, they'll take off running at many many times the speed they were moving at before they were attacked.  Insects have nearly superhuman-like capabilities once their fight-or-flight response kicks in; they will fuck you up if they can, and if they can't, they will leave you in the dust behind them, and if they can't do that, they will extract from you as much of your blood and sweat as they possibly can in the last few miserable microseconds of their existence. 

These things want to live, to keep surviving, at any cost.  We humans are just their highly evolved and many-times-removed distant cousins; we have the same fierce and irrepressible instincts to call upon when threatened.  We cling to our survival as tightly as we can for as long as we can, even beyond the point when the lives that remain to us might be wracked with pain and suffering, still, it's very hard for us to let those last breaths and moments go, and very few of us will do so willingly.

All that to say that if survival is our most basic and fundamental goal, then depending on ourselves is the means by which we tend to pursue that goal. 

When bugs are threatened or attacked, they don't usually cry out to their buggy comrades off in the distance, beseeching them for assistance; no, they do whatever they can for themselves, as much as they can, because they know that they have only themselves to depend upon for help, more often than not.  We humans like to surround ourselves with willing assistants in the form of our loved ones, but we're still loners in many ways; no spouse or parent can enter our minds or bodies for us and endure the pain of an illness or injury on our behalves; at the end of the day, with many things, we are on our own, and survival is often just such a thing.

In other words, the impulse within humans to depend on themselves and look out for themselves and provide for themselves is an impulse that is hardwired into our biology and physical structure, all the way down to our most basic and primitive instincts.  We do not turn to others for help with any ease, not when it's something that's really important to us; we prefer to support ourselves whenever possible, provide for ourselves (and perhaps certain loved ones whose survival we facilitate in exchange for other basic needs they satisfy for us in return, needs for companionship and so forth.)

As I've mentioned before in this blog (I repeat myself a lot of course), I think the hardest and hugest barrier that the non-Christian faces in first accepting Christianity is the exact same barrier that the Christian faces each day in transforming his or her life into whatever it is that God wants it to be:  the barrier is that very basic impulse to depend on oneself all the time, as much as possible, no matter what.  As long as we trust ourselves to provide whatever we need, we cannot and will not look outside of ourselves or submit to being helped by anyone else, including God.

The well-educated non-Christian can construct any number of sophisticated arguments against the plausibility or necessity of becoming a Christian, and many of those arguments are important ones that have some real merit.  I'm not a philosophy or religion expert, but I'm not unfamiliar with many of the strongest and best rational arguments against Christianity (... in fact, I haven't let go of all such arguments myself, even as a Christian, and I will not let go until I feel I can do so honestly and in good conscience, no matter how many well-intentioned Christians urge otherwise). 

However, even after considering many of the best arguments, I do not think that it is a rational defense that keeps most people from accepting Christianity, even if many educated people like to think of their behavior in those terms (I do too; I like having rational justifications and defenses for most anything I do).

No, I think that underneath any and all the rational arguments is a more basic instinct, an even-less-shakeable defense, and it's that impulse that comprises the bottom-most foundation, the real hinge and turning point and last straw.  It comes down to our need and desire to always depend on ourselves, because we think we need to do that almost all the time, just to survive

Here's what I think might be the greatest of all lies we are each inclined to swallow from childhood on.  Here's the hardest deception to break through, the toughest barrier to break, and it's no different for any human being, no matter what religion they espouse or reject.  We cannot help ourselves.  We cannot figure it out for ourselves.  We cannot fix ourselves or save ourselves.  We must not depend on ourselves to really take care of ourselves. 

Like the war-torn, bloodied, goo-spewing insect on its last legs, fighting with all its might to prolong its existences by a few more seconds, we depend on ourselves -- our own wits, our knowledge and education, our sense of reason -- to get us through the hardest parts of our lives and of each day.  Especially in the hard parts, hard times.

It's a damn rare thing for me to disagree with sage ole' Lou Reed -- he's one of my heroes you know -- but even he had it wrong, I think, when he recommended that each of us look within ourselves in order to get by:  "Self-knowledge is a dangerous thing / The freedom of who you are ..."

Self-knowledge and self-dependence is the whole fucking problem.  It's not the solution, not the answer, but rather, the very opposite:  it's the thing that keeps each of us from getting to the answers, the real answers, the true answers, the truth.

The Truth is a person waiting to take our hands, waiting to bear our burdens, waiting to give us everything and more, all that we were always meant to have and to become ... But it's not just any wise man or teacher, it's one very specific and real, individual being, who is the only one who can help us ... And help us in all the ways that each of us cannot help ourselves.

The older I get, the more I imagine that it's only through facing personal hardship and undergoing traumatic suffering that each of us can be driven to the extreme step of letting go of self-dependence and submitting to being helped by God.  None of us ever resort to that step first, even after we've become Christians.  Whenever the shit hits the fan, we defend ourselves and fight for ourselves, like anybody else would, and we fight to our dying breath, if that's what it takes, because it seems like we have to do that. 

Perhaps what each of us often need most is to lose; to be beaten; to be broken; to fall short; to feel helpless.  Then and only then will we accept help.  It's totally counter-intuitive, that through only through a huge personal failure can we finally find true success.

It's only when each of us faces a personal challenge so gigantic and so upsetting and so difficult that we can't find anything within us that is sufficient to master that challenge, only then will we allow ourselves to be helped, only when we feel we have no other options. 

As long as our rational arguments help us, we'll take those first.  Or, as long as our loved ones give us sufficient shelter and comfort, we'll take it.  Who the hell wouldn't?  It's our nature.  But our nature is the very problem.

Perhaps this is what it means to be "broken," to finally and utterly embrace one's insufficiency.  I'm pretty smart about a few things, but I'm not smart enough, and I never will be, and neither will you, and those who think otherwise (which is most smart people) are only fooling themselves.  (Hell, the smarter you are, the worse off, it seems.  Maybe this is why.  You use all those brains to fool yourself into thinking you don't need the one thing you need the most.  I do it too, almost every fucking day.)

If you're lucky, life will eventually throw a nightmare at you that's more than you can stand.  Yes; lucky

I live with my nightmare every day; I flop about helplessly and try to figure out how in the hell to deal with it, and I have failed so many times that I can't count.  My nightmare has a name:  mental illness; depression.  My nightmare is more than I can overcome without help.  Hell, I can barely live with it even with help. 

But my nightmare is also the strangest and most profound and least expected thing:  it is perhaps the greatest blessing of my life.  It shows me how helpless I am, every fucking day it does, just about.  It shows me how paltry and ineffectual my intellectual defenses and my willpower ultimately are; it reduces both those things to shambles, time and again.

Without the "blessing" of my nightmare, I wouldn't give in to God, not even now, as a Christian.  It's easier and more natural, a million times more natural, to simply devise my own path, solve my own problems, earn my preferred rewards, fight my own battles.  I needed a battle I couldn't win before I could give in and let God take up the fight, and then I learned that he was the only one who could win the fight all along.  He is the only Way and the only Life for any of us.

I don't wish depression or mental illness on anyone.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't wish any harm or hardship on anyone

All I'm saying is that each of us needs something even more primal and gut-level than any fancy sterile rational argument to finally break our backs and turn our faces and bow our heads to the truth -- the Truth, to the one and only person who is Truth.

... ...

Pizza:  it's on, baby.  :)

Maybe I should leave this off.  Yeah, probably.  Hmm.  Um, if you think I'm a big dick, that's okay; maybe I am.  Actually, I'm not kidding when I say that I would appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me.  You can be frank.  I'd appreciate it, I wouldn't get mad; not at you, for being honest and taking the time.  I don't know how else I would learn better and change, if I am being a dick, and oftentimes, I am quite capable of doing that.

Bye now ... :)

EDIT The feverish diatribe above doesn't say anything about how people can simply choose to not depend on themselves and trust in God instead, rather than being reduced to doing so by some tragic circumstance.  Oopsie.  :)  Told ya I wasn't a preacher or anything, heh.  Probably more omissions and errors to be found later.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2012, 04:45:38 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #59 on: July 19, 2012, 09:13:45 AM »
"What good are these thoughts that I'm thinking /
It must be better, huh! -- not to be thinking at all /
A styrofoam lover with emotions of concrete /
No not much, not much at all ..."

-- Lou

This blog of mine isn't very old, really, but I guarantee you that I've already said some things that were flat-out wrong here.  Not on purpose.  If I catch something later that seems worth mentioning, like I did above, I'll try to go back and set things right.

Some of this stuff is as new to me as it is to you, or it feels that way at least, like I'm just transcribing stuff that comes into my head, and then afterwards, I read it back and try to figure out if it represents my true feelings and thoughts or not.  It's a near-certainty that some of these blog entries are cobbled-together bits of half-remembered articles, books, sermons, conversations ... there's probably some plagiarism, some ideas I've stolen outright from someone and then forgot that it wasn't my idea all along. 

I don't post things unless they feel accurate and representative of my feelings at the time; but frankly, sometimes the next day or a week later, I'll look back on something I wrote and wonder what the hell I was thinking at the time.  Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised that something I wrote seems to have captured something true, but other times, and perhaps more often, I feel dismayed over how unsuccessful my attempts have been at expressing something true and valuable, something worth expressing.  If you the reader have seen anything in this blog that struck you as either quite true or quite false, your comments may help me to get some perspective on these topics and figure out what's right and what's not so much.

The degree of certainty with which I express myself is often sometimes nothing more than a rhetorical pose.  It's not dishonesty; it's more like playing devil's advocate with myself as the devil.  :)  I think one has to put oneself in the mindset of a person who believes a certain thing in order to test it out and see if one actually feels that way or not.  But I end up saying things with more force and with a degree of conviction that is far greater than what's really there.  It's just part of the process for me, and for some others too, I imagine.

My dear friend whom I breakfasted with a while back reminded me of a mutual favorite quote, from Whitman I believe? -- "I am vast large; I contain multitudes."  Personally I'm even more fond of "Do I contradict myself?  Very well then, I contradict myself."  Ach.  Let's go find the right text rather than mangling it from memory. 

"Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)"
-- Whitman, Song of Myself

I always forget that the third line directly followed those first two.

Everyone needs Whitman, perhaps even more than they need old Lou.  But not by too much more.  ;)

It vexes me to no end that my truth-telling apparatuses -- my mind, my logic/sense of reason, my education and experiences, my gut, my intuition, and yes, even my feelings, however chaotic and undependable those might be -- all these things that I use to figure out what's real and what's bullshit -- these things have led me to believe in things that many people don't, including many people I admire and look up to, and worst of all, many people I care enormously for in my personal life.  If there are any consequences to believing one thing or believing another, then I'd like to believe something with good rather than bad consequences for myself, and I'd like the same for anybody else I run into in real life or online who seems like a decent human being ... and that's most people, of course, with very rare exceptions.  But that's not how it's played out for me at all.  With frightfully few exceptions, the people I like the most and admire the most think I'm wrong about religious/philosophical stuff, not that they'd be presumptuous or indelicate enough to throw that in my face or even necessarily point it out, but by virtue of the fact that they don't share my beliefs, they tacitly declare those beliefs invalid -- it's not anything they want to believe or live by, even if they won't try to stop me from thinking whatever.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2012, 09:33:18 AM by rick957 »

Offline Oniya

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #60 on: July 19, 2012, 11:48:28 AM »
Bit o' Useless Trivia from the StoreHouse:

Satanus actually translates as 'adversary', in the sense of 'opposing counsel'.  This interpretation is very apparent in the Book of Job, and marginally less so during Christ's temptation in the desert.  I know I've mentioned that in other places, but I forget if it was a conversation you were part of.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #61 on: July 19, 2012, 07:00:17 PM »
Bit o' Useless Trivia from the StoreHouse:

Satanus actually translates as 'adversary', in the sense of 'opposing counsel'.  This interpretation is very apparent in the Book of Job, and marginally less so during Christ's temptation in the desert.  I know I've mentioned that in other places, but I forget if it was a conversation you were part of.

Interesting.  I think I remember you saying something about this somewhere.  Wikipedia confirms your bit of trivia ... although they use the term "ha-Satan" for the Hebrew phrase in Job (ha- is just an article, as in, "the adversary") and elsewhere in the Old Testament; "Satanus" looks Latin-ish to me.  Linguistic nitpicking.  :)  You're into linguistics or language studies or something as a hobby?  Or from school days?

Why do you bring it up?  Just curious.

Makes me wonder if that connects somehow historically with the development of the "devil's advocate" expression, which is an expression I've always loved and also considered rather bizarre and cryptic.

Offline Oniya

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #62 on: July 19, 2012, 07:28:36 PM »
It was primarily your use of the phrase (casting yourself as the 'devil') that brought it to mind.

As for the linguistics, I got interested in the dance of languages when I started learning German - many people don't know that English is more closely related to German than it is to Latin.  Seeing where words come from fascinates me.  (Not to mention, it's a handy fall-back when I'm trying to name a character.  Take a feature, run it through a couple obscure dictionaries, and see if it sounds good.)

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #63 on: July 20, 2012, 09:29:08 AM »
cold bloggin' till the break o' dawn, ya'll.

Anyone who likes funny shit should check this webcomic:  Cyanide and Happiness.  It's South-Park-ish, but in a good way.  The ratio of LOLs to mehs is very very good; poke through some old ones too, not just today's.

Here's something I realized today with much greater clarity than I had before:  my honest opinion is that Christians cannot and should not attempt to convince any non-Christians to become Christians.  Now, if you've read much of this blog before, you might not believe that's what I think, but it really is.  The problem is that Christians are human beings, too, and so we have a human impulse to want to share good things with people we like.  Also we have a human impulse to want to belong and be like other people, so if the people around us aren't Christians, we are tempted to try to persuade them to become Christians.  Well, some of us are, at least.  This is a big effing mistake.

First of all, nobody in the West needs to hear the Christian message again, because everyone's already heard it somewhere.  That's not 100 percent true, but only because there's so much misinformation about Christianity out there, so lots of people have totally wrong ideas, but they've probably heard the right ideas also and just don't know the difference.  That still doesn't make it the job of any Christian to go convince others to become Christians.  Pay attention, because I'm choosing my words carefully.

My opinion is that Christians have an obligation not to hide their lives or hide what they believe from people around them, whether that's around them in real life or around them online, in a virtual place like Elliquiy.  There's a difference between not hiding what you believe and trying to convince others to believe it too; it's a very important difference, probably one that not many Christians grasp; probably one I'm just now starting to grasp clearly enough.

What could possibly be more loathsome and annoying than the following, which I have myself been occasionally guilty of doing in this blog and elsewhere at Elliquiy:  "Oh, look at me, I'm a big Christian, see how happy I am?, see how great my life is?, see how much more sense Christianity makes than anything else?  See, see?  Don'tcha wanna become a Christian too, then, huh?  Don'tcha, don'tcha?"

It's a human weakness, for the reasons mentioned above.  I don't even want to be like that, but it's hard for me not to slide into it.  I'm learning, though.

If anyone is going to become a Christian, they'll do it the exact same way everyone does it, which is, they decide for themselves.  The only person who needs to do any convincing is God, and if you're a Christian, you might believe (as I do) that God wants every person to believe in Jesus and will work in their hearts and in their lives to urge them to make that choice.  There's something undignified at best and offensive at worst about Christians trying to do the convincing, trying to shill on behalf of Jesus.  Such Christians are tempted to make their lives look so much prettier and more attractive than they really are in order to help convince others to be like them.  Such Christians are tempted sometimes even to argue with non-Christians or push them to agree.  This is just wrong to do, and I don't think it's what Jesus meant when he gave the famous "Great Commission."

The Commission in my opinion is just an order for Christians to point others in the direction of Christ.  Simply admitting to being a Christian in any public setting is sometimes enough, although sometimes people will then make incorrect assumptions about what that means, and perhaps a word or two of clarification is necessary.  I don't think it's okay for Christians to keep their mouths shut when other people are misrepresenting the truth about what Christianity is, on a basic level; if they know better, I think it's right and necessary for them to say so, so that others are not misled about the nature of true Christianity.  But again, there's a fine line that needs to be walked; arguing is not okay under any circumstances.  Losing one's cool is not okay.  Pushing is not okay.

I would like for non-Christians to clearly understand what the basic teachings of Christianity are; anyone who isn't confident that they know what those teachings are is welcome to contact me anytime, because I would like to help others understand that much.  I will not and should not try to push anyone to believe those teachings, but I think it's possible to explain them without pushing them on anyone.  I think I've succeeded at doing that sometimes, and I think it's all that the Commission asks.  Christians who imagine otherwise are giving in to human impulses that will only put off others and betray the cause of truth. 

The truth is real and wonderful and good and doesn't need anyone to dress it up or shill on its behalf; it is enough for people to hear it and then decide for themselves.  I hope I can remember that, because that's what I think.

Offline Oniya

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #64 on: July 20, 2012, 10:30:32 AM »
That's an admirable attitude towards it.  I don't know if they still sing it (or if your church does the sort of pop-music-y hymns that my parents' church does), but there was a hymn back in the day called 'And They'll Know We Are Christians'.  If you don't know it, I'll see if I can track down the lyrics.  To me, even as a non-Christian, that is one of the best forms of 'witnessing' (or whatever it's called).  Be a good person, who at the same time is a Christian.  With luck, you'll inspire people around you to be good people, and if a few of them decide to become Christians as well, that's even more of a bonus.  Either way, you increase the 'good' in the world, and that's pretty much what Jesus said to do.

It's the ones who use religion to inspire hate that really just don't get it.  (And oddly enough, I've had this same sort of conversation regarding 'Democrats' and 'Republicans'.  Despite being on one side of the aisle, I'm proud to count several on the other side as friends.)

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #65 on: July 21, 2012, 06:55:30 PM »
Oniya -- thanx for the comment, as always -- I'll reply to it in an indirect way, but not yet -- tomorrow or soon thereafter.  :)  (I already wrote an "indirect" reply but don't want to post it until I've thought it over some more.)  Oh I looked up the beautiful lyrics to the hymn you referenced; turns out I was familiar with it already from my years of churchgoing, from years ago.  Very moving and classic lyrics, although I generally prefer very old or traditional religious music over the contemporary stuff, especially over anything modern.  That song originated in the 60s, which gives it a big leg up in terms of class over the more modern hymns that I have no real taste for.

Music I've heard in the last 24 hours

The Police, Outlandos d'Amour
style:  80s pop rock, new wave, proto-pseudo-punk; "white reggae," as they themselves termed it

That's "Outlaws of Love," if you don't speak French.  I don't, I got the translation from the album review at Allmusic.  (Do you use  No?  That is and was one of the websites that first convinced me that the internet -- or the "world wide web," then; heh -- might actually have some use beyond time-wasting.  It's still one of the most useful and important resources on the entire internet, IMO.)

This is the debut from the Police, circa 1978, and it's so fuckin' good that it makes me embarrassed for all the bands that I think of as "my generation," meaning, all the bands that were hot and hip in the late 80s and early 90s, when I was in high school and falling in love with pop music of any and all kinds.  I think of the Police as belonging to the previous generation of musicians and music fans, who would have done high school about five or ten years before I did. 

The Police's first album is just fucking disgustingly brilliant:  musicianship guaranteed to just awe and depress and discourage any aspiring musican like me; endless and effortless hooks; stunning variety of influences; true innovation that changed the entire landscape of pop music; hell, they even looked good ... and had a great sense of humor.  In short -- you'd fuck 'em, or Sting at least, back then; hell, I'm straight, and I'd fuck any of 'em.  :)  Andy Summers throws out guitar licks that astonish me and put every speed metal guitar god to shame.  The band is the very definition of "tight." 

I listen to the level of craft and musical genius on display here and feel a little stupid and embarrassed about the kind of bands whose debuts I played to death when I was in high school.  I mean, it's apples and oranges, but in many ways, the band Live or even NIN in their debut (although brilliant and promising in their own way) are just fuckin' amateurs and posers compared to something like this.  These guys had chops and flair to spare.

It's not until well into the meandering, unfocused second side (second half, for you younguns) that the band shows any weaknesses whatsoever, and it comes as something of a relief -- it shows they're fucking human and not untouchable, at least at this early stage.  Still, like any other truly great band, their throwaways and mis-steps are way way better than the best shit on the charts nowadays.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2012, 07:02:54 PM by rick957 »

Offline Oniya

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #66 on: July 21, 2012, 06:59:09 PM »
One thing I always liked about The Police (and Sting in particular) was the use of classical references.  How many people can you think of who would try to fit 'Nabokov' or 'Charybdis' into song lyrics?

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #67 on: July 21, 2012, 07:08:15 PM »
Heh, great point.  *blushes*  Actually I confess, until you just mentioned it, and although I've listened to the song a million times, I never understood the Charybdis reference until you just mentioned it and I looked it up.

Sting's probably a real brainiac ... he was an English teacher, I think, before he became a musician, or before he became a pop star, at least ... Makes you think harder about the lyrics to "Don't Stand So Close to Me."  Heh.  :)

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #68 on: July 21, 2012, 07:22:08 PM »
Music I've heard in the last 24 hours, cont.

Nine Inch Nails, The Day the Whole World Went Away single (from their 4th album, The Fragile, circa 1999)
style: grinding, depressing industrial metal, with a pinch of Bowie for flavor

How does he manage to put that kind of a guitar sound onto a CD?  You would expect that sound to come out of a guitar amp or PA system, but not out of stereo speakers, because speakers are so much more limited in terms of their range and depth. 

Listen to the layered vocals at the intro to the "Quiet" version.  You can hear the sound of the room that each separate harmony vocal was recorded in.  Reznor should get a lot more public credit for pushing the sonic limits of the compact disc recording process to unprecedented limits.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2012, 07:23:31 PM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #69 on: July 21, 2012, 09:48:37 PM »
Alright, so ... I'm still sitting here listening to the Police, and it occurs to me ...

Look, I spend a lot of time trying to learn to play the guitar, so I have a general idea of how difficult it is to play guitar well.  And I'm listening to Andy Summer playing the guitar better than I could ever hope to in my wildest dreams.  And I'm thinking ... You know, Summer's skill with the guitar had very little to do with the success of the Police.  There are bands just as successful or more successful with far, far less skilled guitarists.  Hell, many of the biggest hits by the Police contained only guitar work that is relatively simple to play. 

It's just a scary thought, is all.  It don't fucking matter how good you are, in some ways.  And yet, that's the only part of becoming successful that you have any control whatsoever over, is, how hard you work at it, how good you can get by pushing yourself up to and beyond your absolute physical limits.  That's as much control as you have over it, so if you want to be a successful or skilled guitarist, that's what you do:  you sit there in a lonely room alone and grind it out, lick by lick, note by note, and ignore how hard your fingers and fingertips hurt.

Get it?  It's the exact same whether you aspire to play guitar or run a business or negotiate contracts or plead cases or sow human tissue or push paper or teach children or become president or walk on the moon.  You got a little tiny bit of control, and you work it, baby, as hard and as long as you can, and the rest is out of your hands, and it don't matter how tough or hard or cocky you are, you don't get to decide most of it.  That's the hand we're ALL dealt. 

So?  Bet or fold, kid.  ;)
« Last Edit: July 21, 2012, 09:51:39 PM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #70 on: July 22, 2012, 08:28:40 PM »
Here's a way-long post that was written as multiple posts until I stuck 'em all together.

That's an admirable attitude towards it.  I don't know if they still sing it (or if your church does the sort of pop-music-y hymns that my parents' church does), but there was a hymn back in the day called 'And They'll Know We Are Christians'.  If you don't know it, I'll see if I can track down the lyrics.  To me, even as a non-Christian, that is one of the best forms of 'witnessing' (or whatever it's called).  Be a good person, who at the same time is a Christian.  With luck, you'll inspire people around you to be good people, and if a few of them decide to become Christians as well, that's even more of a bonus.  Either way, you increase the 'good' in the world, and that's pretty much what Jesus said to do.

It's the ones who use religion to inspire hate that really just don't get it.  (And oddly enough, I've had this same sort of conversation regarding 'Democrats' and 'Republicans'.  Despite being on one side of the aisle, I'm proud to count several on the other side as friends.)

Thanks for the comment, Oniya.  :)  You'd be amazed by how much mileage I can get from people's comments, in terms of mulling them over and using them to think of new things to write about.  It also helps me to gauge how effectively I've expressed myself, if the comments show that visitors understand my perspective clearly or not. 

The following comments are meant for any readers and aren't directed specifically at you, Oniya, although I'm using things you said as a springboard for further conversation, assuming that's okay.

Oh, first though, as an aside; I just want to say, I can't tell you how nice it is to see a sentiment like this expressed at Elliquiy:

... I've had this same sort of conversation regarding 'Democrats' and 'Republicans'.  Despite being on one side of the aisle, I'm proud to count several on the other side as friends.)

I think it takes maturity and humility and wisdom to look past differences and find common ground, rather than judging others as inferior and beneath you.  I think we all know that, deep down, on some level; but it's so natural to look at certain people and just dismiss them as jerks or evil or stupid.  That happens more often than I would like in Elliquiy's P&R section, and sometimes in the past I tried to speak up about it, but it didn't go all that well, perhaps because I did a poor job of speaking with sufficient persuasiveness and with sufficient humility myself.  (It's possible and even tempting to look down on others for looking down on others.  Heh.  Wrongness on top of wrongness.)  (FYI, Republicans and other sorts of conservatives get bashed sometimes at Elliquiy.  I'm not a Republican, nor a conservative with regard to most things, but I'm also not a Democrat ... My sympathies lean more Left than Right, though, more often than not.)

Back before I started talking about Christianity in these Elliquiy threads, I assumed that almost everyone in the Western world had heard so much about Christianity from various places that they must know the basics pretty well.  I also assumed that my core beliefs were in line with those of the vast majority of Christians, regardless of denomination.  The more I talk about religion at Elliquiy, however, the more I sense that those assumptions might have been quite mistaken.

Although you mentioned that you're not a Christian yourself, Oniya, what little I've gleaned of your perspective on Christianity seems to me to be in line with the most common, popular view of what Christianity is about.  Despite not believing in Christianity, many or most non-Christians seem to have just as clear an understanding of the popular definition of Christianity as most Christians do.

My core beliefs seem to me to differ sharply with the popular notions of what Christianity is about.  I'm only now coming to understand the specific ways in which my beliefs diverge from the norm.

There seems to be widespread agreement among educated people (Christian and non-) that, as Oniya put it, Jesus intended to "increase the 'good' in the world."  There was a recent discussion over in the P&R section in the "Elliquian Atheists" thread where several people remarked about how religion in general and Christianity in particular provides inadequate or faulty guidelines for moral conduct.  Implicit in the discussion was this popular assumption that encouraging moral conduct is a central concern of Christianity and a major goal Jesus worked to attain. 

I strongly disagree with that assumption, although I think I can see why it's so common, and I don't expect most people to see it the way I do.

Everyone knows that Jesus espoused the Golden Rule and famously encouraged all his followers to "love your brother as yourself," i.e., to treat others as one would want to be treated in their shoes.  What I think most people don't understand is that Jesus also taught that people cannot meet that standard, no matter how hard they try, and whether or not they choose to believe in Christianity; even Christians cannot meet that standard of conduct.

The basis of the moral code contained within Christianity is the Old Testament Jewish law, centered around the Ten Commandments but including lots and lots of other rules, including many that have fallen out of favor in modern times (such as the rules about how to treat slaves or about the role of women in society).  Jesus reformulated or rephrased these old laws to make them even more expansive and therefore even harder for anyone to follow:  he taught that private thoughts and impulses that go without being acted upon are just as bad as if they were acted upon -- i.e., bad thoughts are just as bad as bad behavior. 

His point was not to encourage people to behave well; his point was to show everyone that no matter how hard they tried, they could not behave well.  That's the reason for all the stuff Jesus said about morality.  It's a basic misunderstanding to think that he was trying to teach others about how to do right.  That interpretation of his intent is actually directly opposed to his real purpose.

His real and only purpose was to tell everyone that they needed to follow him and believe in him and in his sacrificial death on behalf of humanity.  Any "good" that any person attempts to do apart from that amounts to nothing and matters not at all in the grand scheme of things -- which is to say, it matters not at all.  All the efforts by non-Christians or by Christians to behave well and do good things don't amount to anything according to Jesus; they don't matter at all.  All that matters is following him and putting him first above every other personal priority. 

Many Christians -- most perhaps? -- get that completely wrong, so it's to be expected that most non-Christians would also misinterpret Christ's message in that way.  Many Christians think they ought to try to do good to others and live according to a good moral code.  That's an effort that will only lead to failure, and one that goes directly against Christ's true message.

Morality is completely beside the point; it's a distraction.  Anyone who thinks Christianity is about moral behavior is dead wrong, I'm afraid.  I understand that sounds like an ultra-extreme view and perhaps a puzzling one, but that's how it sounded when Jesus talked about it, too.  The people around him at the time -- even his own disciples -- imagined that he was trying to do things that he never intended to do.  It was only after he was crucified and resurrected that his true purpose all along became clear.

Jesus asks for total and singular devotion to him; he asks everyone to believe in him and only him.  The Jesus that everyone reveres as a moral teacher was not and is not the real Jesus; that's a big lie, a popular misconception, and one with horrible and tragic consequences for anyone who believes it.  If you think Jesus wanted to teach morals, then you probably think it's possible to live morally, and it's not.  It's only possible to believe in him and be transformed by him into a whole new person.  That new person will continue to do wrong sometimes throughout this life, but that's okay, because it's not about doing right or wrong, it's all about believing in Jesus, or not believing in Jesus.  Nothing else matters to him, and nothing else should matter to anyone; nothing else matters in life, really.

It's better to hate Jesus and reject him outright than to imagine he was something other than what he was.  He can be honestly hated and rejected; people who do that at least might have understood him clearly and properly.  People who love him with all their heart and follow him all the time are also being honest and understanding him properly. 

The dishonest ones, or those who misunderstand him, are the ones who think there are any alternatives to those two.  One either follows him or not; worships him or not; believes in him or not.  Trying to behave well is just another way of not believing in him; it's about believing in oneself, saving oneself, making oneself good.  He came to show us those things are impossible, and to give us a totally new and totally different alternative, the only one that can actually work:  faith in him.

This seems to have turned into yet another of my blog posts that sounds preachy or may sound that way to others.  It's totally heartfelt and personal, though, and as honest as I can make it, and those are my goals for this blog. 

I should finish with this, though, because it's important:  don't take my word for any of this.  Please, even if you end up rejecting Christianity, look into it and figure it out for yourself, because it's much too important not to.  I can tell you from personal experience that it has the potential to transform your entire life into one that has real meaning; it can and will show you that no other kind of life does.  Each person needs to decide for himself or herself what Christianity is about and whether or not to believe in Jesus. 

Jesus himself said that most people will not believe, and for some of those people, envisioning Jesus and his message as another set of moral teachings from another wise man is a more palatable and agreeable alternative than rejecting him as a liar or a nut.  C. S. Lewis (someone I'm not fond of quoting, frankly, because he's so revered by Western Evangelicals) famously said that the only sensible responses to Jesus were to consider him either a liar, a lunatic, or lord.  In other words, one can either reject him outright or worship him above all else.  He cannot be made dismissible or polite or merely admirable, not without misinterpreting him altogether. 

That's what the "Jesus as moral teacher" view comes down to:  a common but complete misunderstanding of him and of Christianity.

To anyone who read this post and the one I made last time before:  do you think what I've said in this post directly contradicts things I said in the previous one before?  Seriously, I'd like to hear what anyone thinks about that, if you care to share, and please be as frank as possible.  I hope I'm not being inconsistent and self-contradictory, but I fear that I might be; I don't know for sure, nor do I know what to do about it, if I am being like that.  Heh.  *sighs*

As I write this, I have yet to post the blog post above this one.  I wrote it yesterday or the day before and held onto it, hoping that I might re-read it and feel okay about softening the content some.  I guess I don't feel okay about that.

People are built, born, with a moral code of some kind.  I don't think it's purely a matter of learned behavior; it's built in.  Our experiences and education may alter or shape our sense of morality, but I think the sense itself is there first; it takes a mature form sometime around puberty or shortly thereafter, and that's a large part of what it means to become an adult, to have a mature sense of right and wrong, or at least to think you do.

Each person struggles throughout their lives to live with the moral code they are carrying around inside themselves.  Very few of us, no matter what our behavior, can stand to make a regular habit of breaking our own moral code.  We all do things that go against some other person or people's moral codes, but that's a totally different thing.  Inside our own heads and hearts, we have to believe that we're doing what's right, according to ourselves, or else it nags at us afterwards, and keeps nagging until we resolve the contradiction somehow.  When we do things that go against our moral code, usually we either stop doing them after a while or else alter our moral code to make those things permissible.  What most of us don't do is keep doing a behavior we consider wrong over and over and over again, each time feeling overwhelmed with guilt afterwards, because we continue to consider that behavior wrong.  We are not built to do what we think is wrong.  The possible exceptions that come to mind (such as harmful addictive behavior) can be explained with a little work, so that the overall model fits.

When each of us first learn what real Christianity is, we are each asked to give something up.  Something very important; something hard to let go of.  Something we may struggle to let go of for a very long time.  Perhaps, for me, this is the thing I feel asked to let go of:  Christianity does not seem like the right thing to do; it seems wrong.  Usually, for me, the distinction is between seeming fair or seeming unfair, but it's the same basic distinction.

Here's how I see it:  God's idea of right and wrong is so much more right than my idea of right and wrong that it seems wrong to me, and as long as I am a mere human, it will continue to seem wrong to me.  Faith for me is choosing to believe in a thing that continues to seem wrong to me; choosing to believe that the reason it seems wrong is not because it is wrong, but because I am in the wrong, my perception of right and wrong is broken, inferior to God's.

(What is the thing you are asked to give up?  It might be the same thing as me, but it's probably at least a little different, and might be totally different.  I see so many incredibly smart people who will not let go of their instinctive desire to be convinced to believe or not to believe; they want a convincing and sound, unbeatable argument; they want proof or evidence they can see or grasp.  None of that is forthcoming, so anyone who can't let go of those needs cannot come to Christianity.  Those are good things to need and depend on in almost every circumstance, but they get in the way of believing in Christianity, and anything that gets in the way needs to be set aside -- even one's dependence upon reason or science.  Try convincing an educated person of that; they'll scoff; if I were them, I would scoff.  They're wrong; they are asked to give up the thing they hang onto the most tightly.  Other people are asked to give up other things.)

I spend so, so much of my time and energy trying to figure out how to behave so that other people like me or think well of me.  This is why I didn't post yesterday's blog immediately, for example; the thought that anyone might read it and feel offended or think poorly of me is almost more than I can bear.  It's also why I decided to post yesterday's blog eventually, because I know that for me, doing that is a way of defying one of my most basic fears and limitations.

I suppose my impulse to do what I think is right all the time might be just another form of the approval-seeking, except that the approval I'm seeking is that of God.  Is that possible?  Why would I have such an impulse?  Especially because I actually think that God keeps pushing me to believe in things that seem wrong to me, so I end up all jumbled and twisted into an existential pretzel.  :)  It's not very comfortable.

God and Christianity aren't wrong; they're so right that they seem wrong to us humans, because we humans are wrong, damaged, fucked up.  If we choose to, we can turn our backs on our instinctive misgivings and hesitations; we can choose to believe in God and Christianity and let that faith transform us into totally different people ... which, it turns out, was the whole plan and the whole point all along.  Those instinctive misgivings and hesitations don't all go away at once, by the way.  I have fought against them most of my life, and expect to continue doing so.  In the course of that fight, though, I have been transformed into something, someone far better than I was before, better than I could have even imagined before.  That's been part of my path.  (Oh, and no, I'm not that great a person, even now.  I'm on my way, though, I think, to becoming better.)

God gave us the gift of freedom, which means, we were free to be either good or bad; and we chose bad.  (If it sounds like a fishy, rigged arrangement from the start, well, I'm with you on that, but it doesn't matter what you or I think about it; it still is what it is.)  Then he gave us a way to be good again, and that way is so good, and we are so bad, that the good way seems like a bad way to some of us who think it over.  We're wrong, God is right; we're bad, the way is good, and if we choose to follow it, we can become good too, although we won't finish the transformation until we leave behind our human bodies.

Another poorly written and unfocused post, today's.  I only show you this shit because I'm afraid to.  Because I think you deserve to see all of it and figure it out for yourself, rather than having me do the polishing and directing of your attention that I am naturally inclined to do.  Ugh, I keep being afraid of this, again and again.  Why is it so hard to stop fearing certain things?
« Last Edit: July 22, 2012, 08:53:57 PM by rick957 »

Offline Starlequin

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #71 on: July 23, 2012, 01:15:48 AM »
For several days, I've contemplated whether or not I should leave a reply or a comment in this blog. I know you've asked for feedback repeatedly, and I've been glad to see that you've received it from others, but until now I haven't felt as if I've had anything of value to contribute. Of course, that may still be the case; that judgement will be made by the readers.

As it happens, I too have recently begun examining my own beliefs with a more critical eye than I've ever brought to bear on the matter. In fact, I suppose I was encouraged or inspired by some of the same discussions in the P&R thread that probably motivated you to start this blog. But whereas you appear to have taken the path of strengthening or bolstering your faith, I have begun to systematically dismantle mine.

After an unpleasant childhood upbringing in the Baptist church and the obligatory teenage occult interest, I grew up and spent about ten years as what many would term an 'apatheist', which is to say I didn't know whether a god existed, and I really didn't care anymore if it did or not. I had reached the conclusion that any superior being that could exist in such a state as to be completely undetectable to an inquiring mind would almost certainly be absolutely  incomprehensible to that mind, and so it mattered to me about as much as thermonuclear physics matters to a penguin. God exists, god doesn't exist, just shut the hell up and pour the friggin' Cheerios.

Perhaps two years ago, I discovered the idea of pandeism, the concept that the whole of existence is the result of God (for lack of a better term) 'self-destructing', blowing himself to smithereens and creating what we've come to know as space, time, matter and energy as a result. (Which is supposedly the cause of the Big Bang.) I'm sure smarter people than I can pinpoint other flaws in this theory, but for me, the fatal flaw in this model of reality is that it's ultimately useless. To say that God is the universe is tantamount to saying the universe is the universe, which is saying the same thing, which is redundant. :P

Now, after several weeks of consideration, deliberation, aggravation, meditation, investigation, condensation and relaxation by masturbation, I've begun to approach a new conclusion: atheism. I've spent hours upon hours (uponhoursuponhoursuponhours) poring over philosophy, evolutionary biology, geological history and astrophysics, and although I'll admit I've had to take the word of several ladies and gentlemen with disgustingly long strings of impressive and respectable letters after their names, I've become more and more convinced that there simply is no need for any supernatural 'First Cause', or 'Creator'. To stare into the face of the evidence that has been collected so far (and that is currently being gathered), nearly every piece of which has a natural, physical explanation (or will soon), and still say 'Nope, uh-uh, God dun it' is to claim that either every scientist who has ever tackled the mysteries of origin has been a liar or wrong, or that God is just the ultimate champion of Hide and Seek -- and he's cheating.

And now let's talk about the Abrahamic faith, from which your beliefs appear to spring. If we take the Bible as the perfect, complete, incorruptible and infallible Word of God, then we must reject not only our own sense of reason and logic, but centuries of conflicting accounts and evidence. It seems pretty widely accepted that most of the books of the Bible weren't even written by their supposed authors, or during their supposed time frames. There are so many contradictions in this book, so many falsehoods and errors that I won't even attempt to catalog them; instead, here. Skeptic's Annotated Bible. Knock yourselves out.

So if the Bible is so rife with mistakes and contradictions, how can it be perfect? If it's not perfect, why cling so tightly to it?

My next points will deal with Jesus directly. Leaving aside the debate over whether the character of Jesus Christ even really existed (there is a surprisingly large community of biblical and historical scholars that believe he didn't), why are you so certain your interpretation of his teachings and actions are accurate? Among those who accept his existence, some suspect that his teachings had nothing to do with God and Heaven, but instead were concerned with freeing the Jewish people from the Roman Empire. The character of Jesus was and is widely regarded as a political radical; it's entirely possible that's because he was just a leader of an all-too-earthly Jewish resistance against Roman rule and occupation. And that's not even mentioning the point that if you accept the evidence of evolution, then there was in fact no Adam and Eve to eat the apple, no fall from grace, no original sin, and therefore why send Jesus to die for it?

And then, there's the concept of heaven and hell, and celestial judgement. Sooo much wrong with this, where to begin. I'll start with the point you raised, that God's sense of moral right and wrong is so superior to ours that it makes ours seem broken by comparison. This really sounds like moving the goalpost, changing the definitions of right and wrong until it fits your idea, but I'll accept it for now. So the question now is, if there was no literal fall from grace and no original sin, how did we get 'broken'? Were we just created like that? If we're created 'broken', then how can we be justly punished? And if we're created 'broken', why not provide an easier or simpler method of repairing ourselves? If we're dealing with an almighty and omnipotent being (which is another contradiction that couldn't logically exist -- omnipotence is the limitless set of all powers, limiting the scope of power is considered a power, omnipotence includes the ability to limit itself which therefore precludes limitless omnipotence, you can see how it basically eats itself), then the idea of having to follow some grand plan is ludicrous.

In any event, it's grown late, and my thoughts have a tendency to scatter at the most inopportune moments; I'm sure you can relate, lol. These have been only a few of the points I wanted to bring up, I'm sure I made a right mess out of some of them, and due to my meager writing craft they're presented nowhere near as eloquently as I would have liked, but I hope for the most part they will at least encourage a little consideration. If anyone wishes to look at my sources, feel free to message me and I'll pull my list together in whatever format you like (but seeing as I am admittedly not a particularly skilled researcher, and am lazy enough to make a rubber chicken seem hypercaffeinated, I'm not going to bother until I'm asked). In the meantime...

Catch you laterz,
steaks and taterz


Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #72 on: July 23, 2012, 02:35:00 PM »
I'm not going to try to respond intelligently to such a wonderfully detailed and thought-provoking post at this time, cuz I don't have time to give it proper attention, but I just wanted to say -- probably repeating myself again, but whatever -- I've been delighted and humbled to see so many of my favorite Elliquiy peoples drop by this blog, whether frequently or infrequently, and leave comments so that I know they were here. 

For the "guests" or non-members who don't realize this fully yet -- Elliquiy is shockingly chock-full of interesting and friendly and thoughtful people.  Mostly it's a place for adult RPing, but the kinds of people who frequent the site are as big or perhaps an even bigger reason to spend time here.  You will be welcomed warmly and treated fairly, moreso than at many or most other sites, and even if you have some unlikable traits or unpopular views, as I certainly do.

I've said it before, but kudos are due to Vekseid and the staff for creating and maintaining such a place on the internet.  It is quite unique and valuable in many many ways.

Starlequin -- what a pleasure to have you stop by and leave comments; I plan to respond in some detail, but I'm not going to rush it, so that I can try to make my response somewhat intelligent and careful.  Your sense of humor never fails you, does it?  It struck me that even in a post addressing serious topics, you managed to sneak in a LOL moment or two.  :)

I hope my harping about requesting comments doesn't annoy people, but then again, it's just one of the many things I keep saying over and over again, so I assume return visitors here are willing to be patient with my quirks and bad habits.  It is such a treat to hear from readers, frequently or rarely, briefly or at length.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #73 on: July 23, 2012, 04:49:11 PM »
Here's an odd thought that I wanted to share.  If there are any atheists or agnostics reading along, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Again, this isn't in direct response to Starlequin's remarks above, but this occurred to me while I was mulling over some things he said.

I've long believed that if I were not already a Christian, or if I were inclined for some reason to disavow Christianity, I would probably become an agnostic.  The reason for this is, well, the fact that I'm somewhat obsessed with "reason," meaning, I'm preoccupied with logic and reason and rationality as a lens through which to make sense of reality.  I've long believed that agnosticism is by far the most reasonable, rational, logical philosophical stance.  It's a bit of a truism but nonetheless true to say that the more one knows about things, the more one realizes how little any of us really know.  I'm not super-well-educated, but I am educated enough to believe that skepticism and a keen awareness of human limitations are cornerstones of any sensible worldview.

It occurred to me today, though, that I might have been wrong about my assumption that I would probably be an agnostic if I weren't a Christian; it occurs to me now that I might be an atheist instead.  Here's why.  I think atheism may be a philosophical stance that can better accommodate rage.

Rage.  Anger.  I am filled with these things.  Have been since puberty.  Do you like Pantera, Ministry, Godflesh, Helmet, Minor Threat, grindcore/thrash metal and/or rage-filled hardcore punk or post-punk and/or painfully abrasive industrial music?  I love all those things, and have since puberty.  I think it's because I'm so damn angry, and I don't even mind it; I kind of like it about myself, although of course it has huge downsides also.

Atheism has always seemed to me to be less logical than agnosticism.  I confess that I haven't studied either in detail and only understand them on the most surface level, based on their definitions:  atheism as a positive assertion that there is no god, agnosticism as an assertion that one cannot know whether or not there is a god.  To my knowledge, no logical or scientific proofs exist that demonstrate conclusively that a deity cannot exist, while on the other hand, a strictly-scientific and logical worldview leaves plenty of room to imagine that one or more deities may exist somewhere, as long as one also admits there is very little likelihood that any deity has any interaction with humanity.

I've always pictured atheists as people who are willing to sacrifice some of their rationality or dependence upon reason in order to accommodate their personal desire to deny other people's claims about God.  If they were strictly logical, in my view, they would be agnostics, not atheists.  Instead they want to claim that people can know with certainty that no deity exists, not even one that has no contact with people.  That can't be proven scientifically or logically; support exists, but not enough support to amount to conclusive proof.

You know what makes me angry?  Among other things, the fact that so many people suffer so much for no apparent reason.  I don't understand how anyone with functioning eyeballs could ever assert otherwise.  There's so much horror and awfulness in the world today and in the world historically that no one can study it for very long without getting sick to one's stomach.  I hear stories on the news every month or two that make me sick to my stomach (figuratively that is) or make me cry (literally, but those are very rare).  The Jewish Holocaust is just the tip of the iceberg, however horrifying it is to say that.  The world is full of hypocrisy, torture, injustice, abuse.  Innocents get fucked over literally and figuratively every day of the week, every minute of the day, somewhere, somehow, all the fucking time.  It's depressing as hell.  I think it's a great reason for anyone to commit suicide, frankly.  (Please don't commit suicide, anyone.)

You know what else makes me angry?  I've had several things happen in my own life that were so fucking horrible that I could not and cannot find any reason for those things to have happened.  When I hear any person try to explain how some horrible thing happened to them and then afterwards they realized that it happened for a good reason and afterwards they realized what that reason was, it just makes me angry.  I know what it's like to have that happen, but much more often than not, I have never been able to find reasons or justifications for the worst experiences I've had in my life.  I'm so cynical that I actually believe that the only people who can find reasons for all the bad things that have happened to them are people who have had almost no bad things ever happen to them.  I suppose there are people like that.  I don't know any of them well, frankly; almost as soon as I get to know someone well, I learn about something really awful in their life, if not in the present, in the past.  I assume that all those people who seem to have no such personal horror story are just hiding it from me and everybody else, or maybe in denial about it themselves.

So anyway, sorry to be a downer, but I'm so angry about unfair suffering in the world around me and in my own life that I would rather actively deny the existence of god, instead of blithely admitting that we can't know one way or the other.  I'd rather flip off the sky and every person alive who dares to worship any god.  MUCH rather.  One of my favorite current quotations, from Ahab in Moby Dick:  "Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me."  (Chapter 36, FYI.)  Damn fucking straight!  Dammit!  RRAAARRRR!  Ahab was very very angry.  Me too.  Ahab has become one of my heroes.  If you don't think that's kinda fucked, then you maybe should re-read the book.  ;)

Anyways, it was just a thought I had today.  I might change my mind tomorrow.  I do that sometimes.  :)  I'm not an atheist or an agnostic, of course.  I'm a Christian.  One of the angriest ones you'll find, I bet.  :)
« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 05:00:59 PM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #74 on: July 23, 2012, 07:38:49 PM »
*screams in frustration and angst*

I just learned more disturbing details about the Colorado massacre thanks to the Elliquiy thread where people are discussing it.

I love comic books, including Batman ones, and the latest news connecting superhero stories to the mindframe of the shooter disturbs me to no end.

(Starlequin:  reply still pending, thanks for being patient, the delay is not because it's unimportant to me, but exactly the opposite:  because I want to put real effort into saying something intelligent in response to your intelligent remarks.  That effort will take some time, so thanks for being patient and understanding.)