Hey, my name is Jon. I'm a married father of five crazy kids. I write about family and marriage, politics, music, art, and pretty much anything else I want to. I hope you enjoy my page as much as I enjoy writing on it. If you like what you read, be sure to "Like" and share my Facebook Page for more good stuff. https://www.facebook.com/DripTorchPress/
As I mentioned a few posts ago, I have been reading “Philosophy 101”. I say reading, but it’s more like slugging through. Sometimes I blank out and realize I have “read” three pages and have no idea what just happened. I go back and re-read and realize, yes, this was in fact a bunch of nonsense.
It doesn’t stick because most Philosophy is pure nonsense. I used to joke that Philosophers were just people who stated the obvious in a profound way. Having read the summaries of a few of them now I see that many of them state complete absurdity in a profound way. It’s the “profound” that makes them “philosophers” and not “asylum patients”.
Reading all of it does stir the old noggin. My head is now filled with so many questions, queries, and concerns. I feel like Jeremy Hillary Boob, Ph. D. from Yellow Submarine: “Ad hoc, ad loc, and quid pro quo! So little time. So much to know!”
Concerned that maybe my brain is just too old to process all the material I picked up a book I read years ago: RC Sproul’s “The Consequences of Ideas”. It’s almost like light switches were clicked on. Sproul is far superior in explaining the various philosophers than ol’ What’s His Face. It reads as smooth as butter, no re-reading needed.
But man has my mind been chugging. We are all influenced by the environment we grow up in, the people we choose to be around, and the general culture at large. Is it possible to invent one’s own personal philosophy? More importantly, is it possible to find a real, workable philosophy in Sacred Scripture? What is God’s philosophy? What is man’s? Where do these mesh?
I am relieved when I read or hear someone else coming to conclusions I have reached on my own or with a little help from books. Or maybe I was just influenced long ago and it’s only now coming back to my memory once refreshed by a re-read. I feel this relief frequently reading this book. All of it is coming back to me, with new-ish conclusions and a ton of dots connected.
I haven’t finished either book yet, but it is striking to see the differences between Christian philosophers and the Ravings of Mad Men. When one is hopeless all he can do is promote hopelessness. When one believes in nothing all he can do is promote absurdities. It’s only through belief in the true and living God can men come to any reasonable philosophy about truth and meaning.
What we may perceive as small is actually an illusion created by our relative position to the object. This kind of illusion applies to many places in life, not just visually. Sometimes when we are distant from a person we tend to underestimate the big affairs going on in his or her life.
Sure, we may see the problems, clearly even. But because of our distance from the situation we may interpret what we see as a small issue. We may even think “we could handle that, why don’t they seem able to?”
But we don’t see how big the problem truly is to the person standing right under its power.
The only way to truly see how big the troubles are in someone’s life is to get closer to them. Spend time with them, talk to them, maybe share some of your big struggles with them to encourage them to bring up theirs.
Remind them that with time and distance problems always seem to shrink. What seemed big last week is now a tiny speck on the horizon of memory.
Of course this also should remind us all that what appears to be a little problem way out there in the future may end up quite large by the time we confront it. Small problems grow to big ones if not taken care of.
Don’t let your perceptions fool you. “Small” is not always small.
While I am sure no one has noticed, sometimes posts pop up and then disappear on here. This is because I am a scatter brained mess. Sometimes I write something and I just think “nahhh, I don’t really want to post this.” and because I don’t know how to use the app as well as I should I schedule the post for a few months out and forget about it.
I think two of them have popped up this week, lingering only a few minutes until I rescheduled them for next month.
Part of the problem is that I have too much going on in my life and in my mind. As much as I like to think I’m a great multitasker, just ask my wife, she’ll probably tell you I’m not even that good at one thing at a time. Apparently I’m good at something if she’s still around…
Anywho. What have I been up to?
Well, I’ve been reading “Philosophy 101” by Paul Kleinman. It’s a basic overview of Western philosophy from pre-Socrates to the modern day. Sometimes it’s difficult to follow, sometimes it’s easy. The easy ones are probably the ones I agree with, so I have a bias.
Personally, I don’t think Mr. Kleinman is the best writer. I have read some of the philosophers he discusses and I understand the direct subject matter better than his descriptions of them. If your summary is harder to understand than the source material, I don’t know what that says about you.
Despite the difficulty of getting through some of the sections, I have learned much. And what I have learned has been surprisingly helpful.
I used my newfound knowledge to debate with Presuppositionalists on Facebook. No one won.
I also “used” it while watching “The End of the F***ing World” on Netflix. Knowing a little more about Existentialism and Nihilism makes the dark humor go down smoother.
Good show. But I cried hysterically afterwards. I don’t recommend watching it after a long week of losing pets and fighting with loved ones. Maybe save it for a day when you just want to feel a bit of ennui, not when you’re already immersed in full blown anxiety.
In addition to finding new shows I have found new music as well. Go check out “Clueless” by Hensley and pretty much the entire catalog of “Remo Drive“. Good stuff.
I’ve also been enjoying the new Steemit. For those of you who only read this on WordPress, you really ought to go check out Steemit. It’s a slow process but eventually it starts paying off. Perhaps one day the cryptocurrency markets will get back up to what they were back in late 2017 and my Steemit account will be worth loads of cash. Until then I will be content with my measly amount.
There are various and sundry other things happening, not all of them blog-worthy. Some are still processing and may end up as posts which pop up and then disappear, or even posts which stick around forever.
Then it struck me, this employee was fired for making the international symbol of “made you look“. Any Millenial who has not been hiding in the dark recesses of his parent’s basement knows this game. Someone says “What’s this?” while looking down. The unknowing victim looks and sees this gesture:
And then the victim goes “Ohhh, got me!” while the trickster chuckles and says “Got eem!” and gets to punch the arm of anyone who looked.
It’s all good fun.
Apparently this gesture is now “racist”.
Hence the “outrage” felt by this interracial family from Colorado who unknowingly fell prey to the game whilst visiting Universal Studios in Orlando.
Even the USA Today story admits that it’s important to understand that symbols have context. Without knowing the history of this employee how can we know for sure that he made the gesture as a racist prank? Did Universal actually investigate? Did they actually find anything?
For that matter, did they even actually fire him? Seeing as he was in costume, it would be easy for the company to lie and say he was fired as a virtue signal which could then be reported as front page news. How do we even know the employee is a male? Too many questions that the media hasn’t answered.
I have seen people harassed for nonsense like this before. When I was a kid there was a local high school teacher and coach suspended because the baseball team was using a Klan symbol for a good luck charm. He supposedly knew there were connotations but since the team members were doing it out of tradition (and appeared ignorant of the connection) he didn’t stop them. He was practically drug out on a rail because he was “a racist.”
One of the professors at my university was threatened for handing out exams “differently” to black students on the front row of the classroom. They perceived the act as racist, and therefore it was racist.
I’m sorry, but hand gestures, random symbols, and non-motivated acts are not racist. They are what they are. Unless the person or persons making the gestures, drawing the symbols, or committing the act does so with the intent of displaying some sort of belief in racial superiority it is simply not racism.
I once helped get a real racist fired from my workplace. He was quite vocal about his beliefs that people of color (blacks and Hispanics in particular), Jews, and women were inferior species. He threatened to punch me in the face when I called him out on it. Since we worked with a black woman, several white women, and many Hispanics, we felt he was a liability, especially in the dangerous line of work we were in.
It practically took an act of congress to get him fired. Which is why I am calling BS on this story. This looks more like a “stir the pot” story to me. Note, the offended family has houses in Colorado and Orlando, and they can afford to go to a special event at Universal. Maybe it’s a stretch, but could this just be another case of rich liberal “outrage”?
I’m waiting for the follow up to see how this story turns out.
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Sometimes you just have to scrap an entire blog. My original title for this was “Happiness As a Goal”. But I’ve renamed it and rewritten it. And then rewrote it again. And then renamed it again.
So here it is, after a ton of editing:
I have struggled with the concept of wants and needs for a while. God gives us everything we need, so everything we don’t have we don’t need, right? And if God doesn’t give it to us and we don’t need it, it’s sinful to want it, right?
For a long time I felt that contentment meant being completely satisfied with what you have. This means that any desire for something one doesn’t have is discontentment and therefore sinful.
This was my train of thought: It is a sin to be discontent, to be content means you don’t want anything, you are satisfied with what you have. Therefore to want is to be discontent, therefore to want is to sin. Furthermore, God gives us everything we need, if we don’t have it we don’t need it. If we don’t need it we just want it, and wanting anything is a sin.
From the last three paragraphs you can see why my life has become kind of messy. I have shoved down a lot of desires and drives mistaking them for sin. This has made me a bit of a limp noodle. If wants and desires are inherently sinful what’s the point of trying? After all, you’re going to get what you need.
But then I realized that the Bible clearly talks about wants.
“You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” James 4:2b-3
James does not condemn his audience for asking for things.
In 1 John we read this: “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
One only asks for things if one wants something. Since asking is not condemned, wanting is not condemned. I was wrong to think merely having wants was sinful. God clearly wants us to want things that are in accordance with His will and to ask Him for them. Asking is encouraged, and we are to do it with confidence.
Ultimately I don’t have to feel shame or guilt for wanting things (or experiences, or good feelings). But I do have to ask the question “is this in accordance with God’s will?”
Probably the easiest way to determine this is to ask the questions “Do I want this purely for selfish gain? Does my desire ultimately serve others and/or bring glory to God?” If the answer to the first is no and the answer to the second is yes then I am free to ask and to pursue what I want.
This whole train of thought has further implications, obviously. This is me after all. I can’t keep anything too simple. Keep checking back and I will try to further expound on these thoughts in other posts as I get to them.
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If you haven’t been under a rock for the last few weeks you might have noticed a very angry girl showing up in your news feeds. If you have been under a rock, meet Greta Thunberg, the 16 year old Swedish “climate activist” who somehow went from relative obscurity to an audience with the United Nations apparently without any help from anyone else.
This post is not about her.
No. I want to address three premises advocated by Greta and others of her persuasion.
Premise A: The climate changes.
Premise B: Human activity is a major cause of climate change.
Premise C: Climate change is going to have catastrophic effects on humanity
Premise A is common sense, like anything in nature, climate is variable and dynamic. Study it long enough and you are bound to see it changing. We know the climate has changed in the past, and we know it continues to change. There aren’t many people who disagree with this premise.
B and C are really the only debatable ones here.
Those who advocate for B like to use data from the past century or two to assert that the pollution begun during the Industrial Revolution has ravaged the climate and started us down a spiral of doom. But that dataset is too small in my opinion. Especially if you claim, as they do, that the earth is six billion years old. Two centuries of precise or semi-precise data is hardly a speck in the vast atmosphere that is geological time (see what I did there?).
Even if a correlation can be made between pollution and temperature change, a causation cannot be established. Weather and climate predictions contain many many variables. Miss a variable or put too much importance on one and you can skew the results dramatically. There is no way to accurately know how much impact human activity has on climate without establishing how much impact human activity has on climate. They are chasing themselves in circles.
We know that there are many variables affecting climate. Why place so much emphasis on human activity?
Well for starters, if you accept premise C, premise B offers you a speck of hope. If climate change is going to be destructive, isn’t it comforting to know that we can do something about it?
Unfortunately the people who accept all three premises don’t seem to be comfortable at all. They are terrified. Terrified people are easily manipulated by the political classes. This is why we see people like Miss Thunberg advocating that the politicians “do something about it.” They truly believe that coercion by governments is the only way to stop the coming “crisis”.
Those who believe the world is quickly approaching its demise would be better off getting out of politics and getting into engineering or environmental jobs like forestry or ecology.
Climate change-fearing engineers could invent products to replace what they deem environmentally destructive. They could make those products better than what is currently in use. They need to understand that people respond better to good products in the marketplace than to having guns pointed at their heads and being forced to change their every day behavior.
If they are concerned about carbon in the atmosphere they should be using wood for everything. Plant trees, let them grow, cut them down, plant more. Trees are one of the best carbon sinks out there and the younger they are the more carbon they suck up. Instead of yelling about deforestation they ought to get a job in forestry and learn how to sustainably manage forests.
I know I said this post isn’t about her, but let’s get back to Greta. What’s truly awful about this whole debate is that we have gotten to the point in human history where instead of discussing data, facts, ideas, opinions etc. we’d rather lob insults and labels or mock the physical or mental traits of certain people on the other side.
Stop making fun of this girl for her looks, her diagnoses, and her emotions. Instead, point her to more effective uses of her time than lobbying people who are only interested in keeping their own power.
Accept premise D: if A, B, and C are true, the market can and will find a way to solve the crisis. And people like Greta Thunberg have the perfect amount of passion to flourish in that market.
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I know I said I wanted intimacy, but maybe not that much!
If you follow me at all you probably know I write about all kinds of subjects (how to be a Butthole Wife, abortion, art, music, modesty, sex, politics, you name it). Sometimes I get really personal. I don’t have much of a filter on how much I share. This might get in me in trouble one day!
My post last week got a Facebook like from none other than my pastor. The post where I called out pastors and elders for not being out there in homes. Yeah. That one.
The thing is, I’m not sure I really want what I called for in that post.
Right now my wife and I are working 90 hours a week between the two of us. That means that our time is extremely limited. When we are home we are either sleeping, cleaning, cooking, eating, or catching the kids up on school.
I say cleaning, but what I really mean is we are trying to keep up with just that day’s mess. Not the previous mess from yesterday (and before), just today’s.
We are juggling. And when you juggle you drop things. When you drop things you make a mess. And you’re too busy keeping the rest of your life in the air to clean up every mess.
So messes pile up. Real messes, metaphorical messes, mental messes.
From all outside appearances my life is falling apart. I have nothing together.
Outside appearances are often all that anyone who bothers to peak in sees. Which is precisely why I am terrified of someone suddenly becoming interested in my life. What if they see the messes? What if they see my juggling and my dropping? What if they judge my entire character on the circumstances surrounding this terrifically tumultuous season of my life?
I have to be careful what I say. Someone might take me up on my challenges. Someone my try to get to know the real me, not the mumbly me that most people know. They might see the silly me, the sloppy me, the me that loses his temper way too easily, the anxious me, the passionate me. They may see the ugly side of me. The side of me that struggles with all types of temptations and often fails.
They might get to know me intimately as a friend, only to find out that I can be a disappointment as a friend. I am selfish and miserly. I am far too busy with my own life to take on the weight of others. I can’t invite you to my messy house and I’m too broke to go out for a drink. My texts are all somber and I breathe on the phone. I take far more than I could ever give in return.
I may speak a big game when it comes to intimacy, but ultimately I am too ashamed of myself to let you in.
Except when I blog. I’ll lay it all out for you here.
“Except for rare, cult-related occasions, suicide is something done in private, outside of community, outside of immediate counsel… aside from rare situations, suicide is something that causes the actor to feel shame, regret, and sometimes anger, and to express hopelessness or helplessness.”
About a week ago, a pastor known for speaking about mental health issues committed suicide the very day he led a funeral for another suicide victim.
Of course my Facebook lit up with all sorts of polls and opinions about this topic. The quote above struck me pretty hard.
He went on to say:
“The body of Christ has to redefine what it means to live in community. My personal opinion is that community needs to be invasive. We don’t meet in homes anymore. Most protestant denominations don’t follow the example of post-reformation parish priests who spent all their daylight hours visiting everyone. The task could take weeks, and when everyone had been visited, he started over. Instead, we have church life and home life playing “hide and go seek” until someone gets volunteered for home group host…. we now face mental illnesses that could not have thrived 100 years ago, perhaps even 50 years ago. That calls for a newer, more intense level of care from the entire church community, and it calls for more genuine and invasive fellowship that cuts shame, regret, and anger off at the ankles.”
This comment got me thinking about the time I admitted having suicidal thoughts to my pastor. There wasn’t a lot of investigation into why I had these thoughts. It was just “you know you shouldn’t.” While it felt good to have someone to tell, and it slightly lessened the feelings, the thoughts never fully went away. The underlying problems were not taken care of.
There was no invasive fellowship. There were no investigations into underlying sin issues or other triggers in my life. Just an attitude of “let’s pray about it. Keep in touch.”
Community is something that I strongly long for. I believe part of the reason it is so hard to consider my home of twelve years to be “home” is that it has been difficult to find real community. Sure, it’s fairly easy to find acquaintances in such a large city. But real friends? People who will be that invasive into your life?
Pastors don’t make circuits anymore. Neither do elders or deacons for that matter. How many lay people do you have in your home any given week or month? Who do you know well enough to share your deepest darkest fears and shames?
That is the troubling thing. Suicide occurs alone, in the dark. It is an act of shame. And rightfully so, it is a tremendous act of selfishness. The times when I felt most alone in this world (and when I was behaving the most selfishly otherwise) were the times the temptation was strongest.
But reaching out is hard. Largely because it seems that no one wants to hear about your struggles. But also because it is shameful to be attacked by such temptations. Many Christians who have never experienced mental illness will just chalk it up to “not enough faith”. Or they will be like Job’s friend and assume your struggles are because of some unrepented sin in your life.
That is why we need people who know us. Really know us. People who aren’t afraid to point out sin but are also slow to blame every trouble of life on it. We need friends who will hear the good and the bad and offer love and care in both.
We are supposed to bear one another’s burdens. We are supposed to confess our sins to one another. How can we accomplish that without community? How can we accomplish that without seeing each other more than once a week, and in a more intimate environment than a large gathering?
I have yet to figure out this community thing, but at least I know what’s lacking now.
We live in an insatiablely intolerable world at times. Life is a messy, dirty, steaming pile of excrement some days. There is no escaping the to-do lists and the schedules and the ever growing piles of bills. It almost makes me jealous of the people of old who lived short miserable lives. At least they were short…
I’ve never been able to drown out my worries with diversions. I hear of people escaping their troubles and woes with movies, music, video games, or even alcohol. Perhaps I’m just not a focused enough person to forget my cares and immerse myself in numbness or fantasy? I can only be so distracted before my mind wanders back to the struggle of the day.
Painting, writing, playing Pokémon GO with my kids and wife. I enjoy these. But none provide any forgetfulness. Stress is always right there making it hard to find forgiveness for not accomplishing everything on that to-do list. “Why are you taking a break when you should be doing this?!”
Will it ever change? Maybe. Maybe one day my cares will be few enough to drown out with frivolity, at least for fleeting moments. Until then I’ll just continue distracting myself half-heartedly.
Not the end of me, nor of this blog. You can’t get rid of me that easily.
No, this is the end of the summer. And the end of a long, hot, dark season of my life.
I had high hopes for this summer. But they were dashed by some not-so-fortunate circumstances. I had plans. But none of them happened.
I learned a lot though: Regret is a terrible response to disappointment. God always provides, though not always how we want or with what we want. Anxiety is physically draining, but you don’t have to let your mind get caught up in what your body’s doing.
We’ve had a rocky couple of months, almost a year’s worth. We almost lost our house. We thought we would. We had our water cut off once (though that was just missing the payment because we were distracted by other bills, we actually had the money) and almost lost it one more time. We spent a week internet-less, much to the kid’s chagrin. We had to reinstate our car insurance twice because it was canceled. We got phone calls threatening to re-possess our trailer (good luck with that). Food got short once or twice. Cars broke down. Jobs were had, jobs were postponed. Church got over-crowded and we had to find a new one (still figuring that one out). The house is in disarray. Projects have been put on hold.
I spent my summer mowing lawns, weeding gardens, and moving boxes and furniture. And a load of driving here there and everywhere.
But now we have two stable jobs. The bills are getting caught up. Routine has come back.
And looking at that list I can’t help but feel it’s all first world problems.
But problems nonetheless. Especially for an anxious brain like mine.