My life’s been a bit abysmal as of late. Days are hard, circumstances suck. I feel like I am breaking down and losing every fight. I know people want optimistic posts and travel posts and frivolous nonsense. But maybe there is room out here for real posts about trials and struggles. People love a facade, but at the end of the day, many of us are cracked vessels, if not outright shattered.
So please read and know you aren’t alone in your struggle. We all have our challenges and rough seasons. Despite what the internet world would have you believe, there is a lot of darkness out there amongst the bull markets and the glitzy vacations.
We’re all in it together, and we’re all going to make it through. I hope.
I’ve never thought that way. Sure, I will sit around and waste time. I will neglect my responsibilities and fixate on some unimportant project. I may even stare at a screen for several hours chasing Wikipedia trails or harvesting endless memes.
But is that time for myself?
That’s just settling. Or being irresponsible. Irresponsible if I’m not doing what I should. Settling if I’m not doing what truly makes me happy.
I don’t enjoy spinning my wheels. There has to be an end product to most of my activities. It could be as simple as a clean room. Yes, I do take joy in cleaning, much of the time. Call me crazy.
But some “activities” have no lasting effect. Some things have to be enjoyed for their own sake. Some things can be undertaken even if the end result isn’t exactly what you hoped for. You still gained experience with whatever it is.
Though I have been fairly absent from this site I assure you that I have been productive. Mainly I have been keeping up with my other page, posting every single painting I have ever done. Doing that with a commentary on each one is no small feat.
I’ve also been writing in my “journal” more. Writing by hand tends to slow one down and force him to focus and think about each word (not to mention spelling without a crutch). Most of that will never see the light of day on here. No one may ever read it, it may never help me be productive on this page, but at least it helped me through the difficulties of life for a time.
There is a certain temptation to air all my dirty laundry here. This could easily become just a public diary to gripe about my struggles. But personal matters are often best kept personal, especially when they involve others. So I have tended to stay away from here, just so I don’t fall prey to that temptation.
Honestly, “time for myself” is often just as simple as sitting down and writing out a train of thought that’s been bugging me. Clearing my head and organizing thoughts on a page is frequently all I need to do to relieve the stress of my day.
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.
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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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.
Every time it seems to get better, it just gets worse again. Every time I think I am going to have a break from all the awful, something else comes along. And I’m broken. Broke and broken. And alone. So utterly alone.
I am human and flawed. I’m negative. I see nothing good. While I believe there is good, it is apparent to me that it is not for me. Good things aren’t for me to enjoy. I haven’t failed. I haven’t lost my privilege to good. It’s not like that. It’s just that good things seem to stay away more than the bad.
Maybe there is good. Maybe. I have blessings, sure. But every blessing seems to come with a drawback. Every choice good, bad, and neutral has negative consequences to some extent. There are no purely “good” things in my life.
Is that normal?
I know I have friends. I know intellectually that there are people out there who do have some care about me. Maybe even some concern about my soul. But where are they?
“You gotta be a friend to have a friend.” OK. But when I’m drowning in shame and anxiety and self-loathing who really wants me to be their friend? No one wants an anchor. No one wants someone who takes more than they could ever give in return.
Because I don’t have anything to give in return right now. I’m burned out. I lost my ability to empathize. You might talk but I might not listen. When I do I’ll turn every statement negative. Even the positive statements I will twist. I suck the life out of joy. I can’t give you anything. Not that you would ever ask.
I do care. I care a lot. There wouldn’t be a boiling rage or a twisting knot in my gut if I didn’t care. I wouldn’t want everything to be fixed to desperately if I didn’t care.
As I said the other day, to all six of you who read it, I don’t really want to die. Despite what the voice whispering in my darkest thoughts keeps telling me. There are too many good things to enjoy in this life.
I just want to be able to enjoy them for a change. Is that too much to ask?
I have to write. I have to get this out. If nothing more than to untangle the web of lies that seems to have ensnared me of late. I have never been so overwhelmed and lost in my life.
But that is hyperbole. It can’t be that bad, can it? Other people have it worse. Other people are dying. Other people are enslaved and abused. Other people have way bigger problems than I ever have. I’m just a whiny loser who can’t keep his head on straight. Everything bad in my life either isn’t truly bad or if it is bad it’s deserved.
It is totally hyperbole. Right?
Why do I crumble so quickly? Or have I crumbled that quickly? When did all of this begin? Has it been a year? More? A week? A month? How much time elapsed vs how much time did my brain tell me had passed? Truly life isn’t that bad. And if it is, it can’t have been for that long. Right?
I honestly don’t know. Maybe I have been strong but I just didn’t see it. Maybe I have been good. Maybe I’m better than my lying mind will let me believe. Or maybe I am much much worse
My youngest just turned five, my eldest is about to turn thirteen. And I am just getting older by the minute. People don’t give kids enough credit. Those minds are quick, clever, and always absorbing. It is a joy to watch these wonderful people grow up. I would be lying if I said I didn’t take at least a little bit of pride in them. But really, what have I contributed much more than a few genes (and all the good genes are from their mother)? They are wonders on their own.
Why do I suddenly have a flashback to some horrible Chinese food we had in Arkansas? Does anyone else ever pull up random memories completely without context? That place was awful, and I’m easy to please, so that’s saying something.
We are talking about completely rearranging the house again. Rooms will be repurposed, furniture rearranged, and multitudes of items “rehomed” in the trash or shelves at Goodwill. This should be interesting…