I’m Rubber You’re Glue…..

Do you remember telling those who were saying mean things to you that “whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you?”  I think most of you do remember.  It was an attempt to not allow what others said about you to define you.

Well, we’ve grown up.  I don’t think much has changed.  Or has it? Our language has become more sophisticated but it has also become increasingly abusive.

It is getting increasingly difficult to have civil conversations.  Have you noticed that? The problem with this decrease in communication is that we all end up in those closed systems I spoke about in my post on intellectual and cognitive laziness.

But how do we speak to each other in a way that facilitates the opening of our eyes, ears and hearts? In what manner can we speak that does not lead to that glazed look that says….I’m not listening….or worse, totally shutting the message out with eyes shut tight, fingers in ears and heart hardened?

Truth without Grace is abuse

When we speak with passion and emotion we may be speaking Truth, however, in the absence of Grace we are not communicating we are attacking.  Name calling, ad hominem attacks, and crude language do not open anyone’s heart, much less their eyes and ears.

You can find many, many examples of this in our national debates on issues that spark emotion, and, as I’ve said before, it has become difficult to communicate without resorting to such tactics.  If you do not say anything “edgy” your blog post won’t get much attention.  Nor will your other social media musings.  Don’t get me wrong….I enjoy a bit of sarcasm and parody, however, when it crosses the line the message becomes less effective.

I guess it is completely human of us to behave in such a way.  We talk constantly about

wanting to hear “good” news instead of all the “bad news” yet we pay more attention to the bad news.  People pick up the magazines and newspapers with the headline about some terrible tragedy and barely notice or become quickly bored with news that could bring  joy to our hearts.

I am not saying that attending to distressing news is something we should never do.  We do have to maintain an awareness of the dangers and injustice in this world, but to completely ignore the good things is not healthy.

When we feel strongly about something we tend to let our emotions carry us into using language that is not helpful.  When you have been pushed, nudged, or poked you will eventually feel the urge to use language that does not include the concept of Grace.

Hence, we end up shouting at each other and hear and understand nothing.

The Westboro Baptist church folks come to mind.

Grace without Truth is deception

This is the part I have struggled with for years.  How does one communicate Grace in a way that does not ignore Truth?

I will take a short side trip here to explain the difference between Truth and truth.  Truth with the big T should never be compromised.  Truth with the little “t” is still true on a certain level, but it may not be actually true.  Let me explain.

In telling stories from your personal life you may remember a relative who you were really close to.  You knew them well and you knew what kind of person they were.  Bottom line that is Truth.  If, however, you remember a story about a specific incident involving them you might not remember every minute detail.  So, if your father was someone who always encouraged you and loved you unconditionally and you “recall” a conversation in which he said, “You can do anything you set your mind to” it may or may not be Truth.  But it IS truth in the sense that it is the kind of thing he would have said.  The words are not out of character for him and he probably did say something like that to you at some point.

What we need to do is communicate Truth without leaving Grace out of the equation.

We also need to attend to including Truth in our communications in which we aim to communicate Grace.

This is perhaps the most difficult task.  I often wonder how DOES one communicate a Truth that is difficult to hear and still include that concept of Grace?  I think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer trying to tell people about the atrocities going on in Nazi Germany.  How does one communicate that someone is doing something terrible without seeming to offend?

I am also reminded of something I read about Mr. Rodgers.  He was perhaps the kindest, gentlest man we’ve knew while we were growing up.  He had many good things to say and many of them were True.  However, some took exception to him stating to people who were homosexual that “God loves you just the way you are.”  That is True on one level. God does love us all.

The statement, however, leaves out the part where God gave us guidance on how to live happy and fruitful lives. There are things that we do that are harmful to ourselves and others.  I believe what many people forget part of the story  when Christ says, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” He also says, “go and sin no more.”

Speaking Grace without Truth is exactly like that.  It might feel good but it will not lead us to happy and productive lives.

I was visiting my son who is in college and found the following:

_MG_5102_MG_5101

I saw this on a wall that where students were permitted to make comments and place their hand prints.  I have no idea what comments were painted over.  I have no idea if they presented Truth nor do I know if they demonstrated Grace.

I do, however, see from the comments that those who shared a viewpoint that diverged from the Progressive world view of individuals who support President Obama and his policies were deemed unacceptable and covered over.

This example also shows that the individuals responding to the obliteration of their comments went from depicting their detractors as “Obama supporters” to “Obamanoids.”  I’m thinking the latter does not contribute to the dialogue.  Neither does simply painting over someone’s opinion.

This demonstrates a microcosm of what is happening nationally.  Consider, for instance, the debate about our Second Amendment.  One of the recent articles that disturbs me most is LaPierre et Le Deluge. It begins:

As I said on Current TV a couple of nights ago, I have never seen a situation in which a Congress, terrified of a particular lobby, has behaved in such open contempt of American public opinion as it’s doing now on guns.

Of course the “American Public Opinion” is linked to a poll on the Mayors Against Illegal Guns website.  This is supposed to confirm the author’s statement that the majority of NRA members agree with common sense laws with regard to firearms.

However, if you understand what Progressives REALLY mean by common sense laws and regulations you will know that it means it is just the beginning of their getting what they REALLY want.  In spite of the condescending “no one wants to take your guns” statements made by our President and the Progressives who share his world view, the ultimate goal is to basically eliminate our Second Amendment rights.

The author continues:

Wayne LaPierre may have won the week, and he may slither away without Congress doing anything this time around. But the laws of physics are such that he can’t do this forever. He’s like Louis XVI in about 1788. He may be on top now, and his hard-line posture against any and all change may serve him well for the time being; but the revolution is coming, and once it arrives, we’ll beat the NRA, and he’ll be a figure not of power but of ridicule, left to ponder the what-ifs.

Slither away? Louis XVI? This is not the first time that Conservatives who wish to restore our Constitutional Republic have been threatened directly or indirectly with the guillotine. The author goes on to insinuate that the NRA will get what it wants “over more corpses of more dead children.” In essence he refers to those who would protect their Second Amendment Rights with murderers.

I don’t see much Grace there.  Then again, Progressives do not accept the concept so I guess it is not surprising.  I understand their world view because I’ve spent the last four years learning exactly what it is that they believe.  I am frightened by what I see.

So, what we have is them following Alinsky’s rule #4: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.  In that contest they always seem to “win” the argument because they have “rules” but they are changeable.  Nothing with them is clearly right or wrong.  What WORKS to get them what they want is deemed the right thing to do.

How do you have a debate with someone like that if you hold a Christian world view? How do you communicate a difficult Truth with Grace to someone who does not on any level accept that Truth exists?

We are left with something referred to as “The Great Lie” in Chuck Colson’s book How Now Shall We Live:

“The Great Lie is that we have the capacity, like God, to create our own standard of right or wrong.  It is a lie repeated so often that it has become the accepted wisdom of our culture. “(page 195)

I do not believe it is wise to view our world in this way.

Colson goes on to say:

“The price for rejecting the Christian world view is that when morality is reduced to personal preferences and when no one can be held morally accountable, society quickly falls into disorder…..then, when social anarchy becomes widespread in any nation, its citizens become prime candidates for a totalitarian-style leader, or leader class, to step in and offer to fix everything.” (page 199)

That is why we need to continue to speak Truth with Grace; to be a part of the discussion even if we are attacked for doing so.  Even if it becomes dangerous to do so.

If we do not do this, who will?

Posted in Collectivist Narrative, Freedom of Religion, Gun control, Progressive Bullies, Restoration of our Constitutional Republic, World View | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Power of Story: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

A couple of years ago I wrote a post that pointed out that we often decide who “wins” a debate by basing it on whoever told the “best story.”  There is absolutely no doubt that “story” is a powerful tool and like any tool it can be misused.

I am very interested in storytelling and the ways it can enrich our lives.  We learn best and retain more if ideas and facts are presented to us in the form of a story.  So, my attention was drawn to a recent debate regarding an article written by Ben Howe. The first thing I found was at Breitbart.com titled“Another Post Begging of Good Storytelling.”  (Lisa De Pasquale) You, of course see why I clicked on the link.  I know good storytelling and I know ineffective storytelling so I thought I’d find out what this was all about.

Howe wrote:

“Instead of pulling people into a story that espouses the underlying tenets of liberty, it slaps them across the face with all of the subtlety of a campaign commercial. Rather than taking the viewer along for a first person view of how our present can develop into their future, the filmmakers opted to skip directly to the bottom of the slippery slope without describing the tumble with enough detail to create a real connection for the viewer.”

Please note that my commentary here is in relation to the points made about effective communication of values and ideas through the art of storytelling.  I cannot, nor do I wish to address the accuracy of his applying this to the “story” in question.  I wish to point out that there is good information here regardless of your reaction to what Ben Howe was saying about the movie in question. It may or may not be accurate.

I want to reinforce for Conservatives something I’ve thought for a long time:  If we do not adequately harness the power of story and use the power of social media and other types of media to share our story it will never resonate with our listeners. NEVER.

_MG_2640I tell stories to children several times each month and have been doing so for quite a few years.  One of the things I’ve learned from the professionals is that the teller does NOT tell the listener what they are supposed to LEARN from the story.  If the story is told effectively even a five-year-old will be able to make the connection.  If the teller TELLS the listener what he/she is SUPPOSED to learn the incredible power is destroyed.  You want the light bulb in their brain to light up as opposed to shining a spotlight into their eyes.

The incredibly magic thing that happens when you do this is that the listeners sometimes make a beautiful connection that you, as the teller, never even thought of. The story is then a creation of what happens when a teller and a listener engage.

Howe continues:

Well first of all, films like Hunger Games succeed because they create a suspension of disbelief. They take you into a world so far removed from our own that you become absorbed in their universe. Suspension of disbelief can be vitally important if your intention is to make a statement that you hope resonates with the viewer. By absorbing them in something so far removed from reality, and getting them to accept that reality’s rules, you have opened their mind to ideas. This doesn’t work well if the person is instead constantly nitpicking what they find unrealistic.

Darn!  Could not have presented this storytelling tenet better myself!  Is Ben a storyteller?  i1035 FW1.1As I said, you cannot tell the listener what it is they are supposed to “learn.” That is why story is so much more powerful than “lecturing” children on behaviors and values you want them to internalize. They go to the imaginary world and come back with information they never would have gotten had the teller simply told them how they should behave and what values are desirable.

In a response titled “That Goes Double for Comedy” (Iowahawk) the author states:

“If conservatives want to be in the narrative biz, they need to step up their game. And if that means criticizing the quality of work by other conservatives, then so be it.”

I brought my children up to believe that you can learn something from everyone.  Valuable information is often lost because it is coming from someone whom we do not like OR we just don’t like what it is they are saying.

I would re-frame this statement by Iowahawk to say something on the order of: if we cannot help each other become better at telling the story of Conservatism then our cause is made harder than it has to be.

Finally, in a response to Iowahawk, “Storytelling, Message, and Argument” (John Hayward) states:

“Advice to aspiring right-leaning writers of fiction: tell good and true stories, and let the audience discover their meaning.  You don’t have to “push” anything into their faces.  Do your job well, and the audience will follow your story wherever it leads.  It’s not much fun trying to win an argument with viewers and readers, when they came hoping to be entertained or intrigued.  You can’t force answers down their throats… but you can offer them the gift of questions.”

_MG_3332Which brings me to the stories that are timeless and of great value: the stories in the Bible. I think we sometimes wish that Christ had made his stories a little easier for us to interpret, but I’ve come to believe that a great set of questions gets you further than being given all the answers.

I wrote the post a few years ago about not letting “whoever tells the best story” to win, but to attend to the promotion and honing of stories that promote our world view.  A world view that is in direct conflict with the Progressive world view; a Progressive view that has the advantage of being promoted through almost all media sources.  That then leads to the silencing of opposing views and causes the consumers of the information and entertainment to become intellectually and cognitively lazy…..never questioning the accuracy of what is presented as compared to the real world.

We come to believe that “they would not lie” and/or “that cannot happen here.” However, as we can learn in Proverbs, not everyone speaks Truth and their goals are not always to find Truth.

Proverbs 18:1 (NIV)

18 An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends
    and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.

Commentary on this verse reads:

The desire of the fool is not to gain wisdom for the sake of being more righteous and just, but rather is through a proud desire to exalt self by being thought wiser than others, and so. Looked up to as above the generality of men. In his own mind, the fool separates himself from others, as being superior to them. All his efforts to gain wisdom with such a attitude, is simply an endeavor to glorify himself.

Our goal is to glorify God not to glorify ourselves.  Those two goals are mutually exclusive.

Proverbs 18:2 (NIV)

Fools find no pleasure in understanding
    but delight in airing their own opinions.

Commentary on this verse reads:

A defective heart reveals its true nature by what it hates as well as by what it loves. A fool is willing to use wisdom and understanding to further his own proud desires, but has no real delight in it simply for its own sake.

We all have defective hearts, however, if we strive to live the lives God intends for us we strive to find  and fully understand Truth even if it is difficult to hear. As the prayer says: THY will be done.

Proverbs 18:6 (NIV)

The lips of fools bring them strife,
and their mouths invite a beating.

Commentary on this verse reads:

These two things often go together—contentiousness and chastisement—for the fool’s very contentiousness is deserving of punishment since it serves no good purpose but is only done in an attempt to exalt his ego. There is much difference in contending for truth, which involves standing firm in it when others would compromise or contradict it, and merely being contentious, which involves an attempt to establish one’s own position regardless of the truth.

We attempt to stand firm and while that is not easy I believe we can tell stories that demonstrate the necessity of doing so.

Posted in Collectivist Narrative, Media Bias, Social Media, Stories, World View | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Just Stand There, Feed My Sheep

I had one of the teens in our youth church group ask me once, “We are told to listen for God’s voice, but I want to know if it means we will actually hear a ‘voice’ speak to us.”  The teen was the child of our Pastor and I was sorely tempted to say, “Ask your Dad” but, alas he had joined the group to observe and did not seem inclined to answer so I responded that I thought God sent people and information our way so as to show us the way.

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http://www.reverendfun.com/
Copyright © 2011 The Zondervan Corporation.

All we have to do is be open to hearing what He has to say.

Last night and this morning a couple of links were sent my way that seemed to come together into a message.  A message that is appropriate for this Easter season.

I ended yesterday’s post with:

John 15:13 (KJV)

13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

I know this refers to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross but I think that also means that we are expected to care about and for one another.

Today I read two articles that address many of the issues I spoke of yesterday.  The articles dealt with bystanders who witness the commission of crimes and yet do nothing.  They address the issues in very different ways but there is an underlying message I think we can take away from both.

The first article I read was posted by Chicks on the Right.  It discusses a video recently made by the Defense Department’s Defense of Equal Opportunity Management Institute, to provide training to people who might witness an assault or other crime taking place, on how they can intervene.

The video is about bystander intervention.  The premise is set using a horrendous crime in the 1980s that resulted in the murder of a woman.  Dozens of people had “witnessed” all or part of the crime, yet failed to intervene.  The video goes on to outline a nine-step plan to “teach” us how to intervene.

The problem with setting the stage with a violent sex crime and then addressing intervention into harassment in the workplace makes absolutely no sense, however, I believe the entire video is a demonstration of just how differently the two world views operating in our world today see reality.

The COTR address the video with a bit of humor and sarcasm by pointing out just how ridiculous it is to use the nine point intervention plan when responding to a violent crime in progress.  The satiric video included in this post also does a good job of pointing out how absurd it would be.

I think the video and its nine points fails to recognize a couple of important points.  First, there is evil in this world and there always will be.  It does not matter how “nice” we are or how we structure society.  Evil will always exist.  Second, we have, as I said in yesterday’s post, outsourced the things Christ encouraged us to do.  Therefore, we tend to think “someone else” will take care of this.  That someone else sometimes never shows up…..or shows up too late.

The second article, Steubenville and Our Society of Bystanders probably caught my attention because of the word bystanders.  It is an excellent article that discusses the horrific crime committed by two boys in Ohio.  I watched the news coverage of their sentencing and remember thinking, “how many other people watched this happen, and assisted with spreading the filth on social media?”  How many?  How could they?  WHY did they?

Again, I believe these are the unintended consequences of a Progressive world view that holds that there is no transcendent source of Truth; no unchanging moral compass.  The Progressive wants everyone to feel good and be free to do what is “right for them.”  They believe that if the intelligent elite structures society in just the right way that “Men will stop raping because they are asked to stop.” You, therefore do NOT need a gun to defend yourself. They believe if we are nice enough to other countries who hate us and apologize for past mistakes Global Peace will be ushered in.

They BELIEVE that.

The article about the two Steubenville football players who mercilessly raped a teenage girl, then spread pictures and videos of themselves throughout social media states:

We are increasingly becoming a society of bystanders—making media of human suffering, filling our hands with cameras, phones and typepads so that we have no free hand to lend to those who need it most.

Our inclination to stand by and do nothing in the face of human injustice is a a beastly epidemic, fed by the ease of unfiltered social media use and the artificial distance created between digital “reality” and moral repercussions. So we report and even consume news of women being raped, children being bullied, nations being oppressed, standing by, out of the way, and doing nothing to stop such incidences from happening again.

As this indicates, we need to not only intervene instead of standing by when something is wrong in our personal sphere, but also in a broader context.  As Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin says in the video below: “stop using Biblical prophecy as a reason for not doing anything. This, of course, refers to the broader context and it is something I’ve discussed in previous posts.

It is difficult sometimes to know what it is that God would have us do.  What makes it more complicated and confusing is the Social Justice movement that has invaded our churches…but that is another subject for another time….
Which brings me to one of my favorite SkitGuys videos.

“Feed my sheep,” Jesus says to Peter.  In following this command, we therefore spread the Word of God and become Christ’s hands and feet in a suffering, fallen world.

It also means we do not stand by and watch evil triumph.  Peter finally understood and did what Christ asked him to do.

Let us go forth and do likewise.

Posted in Freedom of Religion, Gun control, Social Justice, Social Media, World View | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Christian World View of Friendship

Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)

24  A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who IMG_0374sticks closer than a brother.

We recently listened to the January 27th sermon podcast from Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in California.

Pastor Zelt points out that one can have many companions, but these do not constitute “friends.”

He asks, who has checked their Facebook today.  He also shared some statistics:   the average number of friends is 130; one in every 13 people on this planet has a Facebook page; Half of them log in every day;  71% of internet users are on Facebook; 50% of 18-34 age range –> checking FB is the first thing they do every day, and 28% of them do it while they are still in bed.

We have many, many companions…but not many friends, real friends. The Pastor goes on to relate the story of Yvette Vickers’ death.  She was the star of a few B movies back in the day.  The only one I remember is Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.  (What can I say…my mom liked to watch horror films and movies such as this and I watched with her 🙂  I think we mostly giggled at the thought of a 50 foot woman.)

It turns out that Yvette had been dead for quite some time before her neighbors noticed the overflowing mailbox and the collection of papers on her doorstep.  When someone finally checked they found her mummified body in a room where her computer was.  The last thing she probably viewed was her Facebook page.

We may have many companions but not many friends, in spite of what FB labels them.

2010 AARP studied loneliness:  35% of adults over 45 say they are chronically lonely. Twice as many as 10 years earlier.

The point of this is that as members of the Church we need to be concerned about connecting with people. We need to care for each other, serve each other and help each other stay connected to God.

In 1950 less than 10% of households contained one person.  In 2010 that number increased to 27%

In a study from the Hoover Institute: (Ronald Dworkin) the following was reported:

In 1960 there were 500 Marriage Therapists, 2500 Clinical Psychologists, and 30,000 Social Workers.

In 2010 there were 50,000 Marriage Therapists, 269,000 Clinical Psychologists, 400,000 Social Workers.

Add to that: 105,000 Mental Health Counselors, 220,000 Substance Abuse Counselors, 17,000 Psychiatric Nurses and 30,000 Life Coaches.

Conclusion: The majority of patients in therapy do not warrant a Psychiatric diagnosis. We have outsourced the work of every day caring.

I would observe at this point that this is where the two world views are differentiated.  The Progressive world view does not ultimately rely on a relationship with God.  Their goals are not guided by the Word.  They are guided by a group of people who believe that if they structure the world in just the right way that the Utopia they believe possible will be achieved.  Once again I would suggest you read How Now Shall We Live.

I believe if you read this book you will find out that loneliness is not the only reason for the drastic increase in mental health professionals and social workers.  There are other, even more disturbing reasons.  However, the statement is correct we HAVE outsourced the every day job of caring.  We have also outsourced the duty of charity to the government in the mistaken premise that “they” can do it better.  I cannot disagree more.

Chicago psychologist John Cacioppo wrote a book about loneliness. In an article about his work it says:

“In talks and interviews, Cacioppo often cites a study in which sociologists asked respondents to list the number of confidants they had. In 1985 the most frequent answer was three. In 2004, when researchers repeated the survey, the most common answer had dropped to zero. One-fourth of participants, drawn from a cross-section of the American public, reported having no one to talk to intimately.”

The reasons for the rise in social isolation are multiple and well documented: contemporary American life is less rooted, more hectic, more scattered. Jobs and friendships are transitory; divorce rates are high, as is the number of single-parent households. More people move away from home, and more people live alone—that number has increased by 30 percent in the past 30 years, Cacioppo says.

Onto this landscape, social media erupted—Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn—exerting an influence more complicated, Cacioppo says, than some people might think. “If you’ve got a disability and you can’t get out, social networking is a great boon.” People who use the Internet to generate or enhance in-person relationships also benefit, he says. But when others use online connections to substitute for face-to-face ones, they become lonelier and more depressed. Lonely people are likely to use the Internet as a crutch, the non-lonely as a leverage.

I maintain, if you read my posts, that many of the causes of loneliness cited above are the unintended and intended consequences of the Progressive world view

God calls us to be in relationship with each other and with HIM, not the government.

Pastor Zelt uses four Scripture passages to make his point.  I share them below with some additional thoughts.

IMG_0298Proverbs 17:17 (NIIII)

17 A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

Life can be hard, so we need relationships to help us deal with the stuff life throws at us.  We need a friends to help us deal with life’s challenges.  We need friends, not social welfare programs.  How else can you account for the increased sense of loneliness while the number of professionals and programs has exploded?  And when we outsource the job of caring we tend to become less caring and more isolated.

Proverbs 27:6 (NIV)

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
    but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Enemies do not care if you are on the wrong path, nor do they care if you are getting bad advice.  Enemies will flatter and encourage you when what you need is wise counsel. Wise counsel that is sometimes difficult to hear; “wounds from a friend can be trusted.”

If we have a network of trusted people we can remain on the path that will bring us a fulfilled and meaningful life. God knows what we are like so He calls us to relationships with each other and to NOT outsource this to any other entity.

1 John 1:8-10 (NIV)

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

We need to maintain awareness of our weakness; the places where we fail.  Living a lie does not work. The Progressive world view outlines things that, while intended to create happiness, achieves just the opposite.  The godless philosophy that underlies the Progressive world view denies God, denies Christ, and denies the need for a Savior. The end result is not happiness.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

Luke 15:8-10 (NIV)

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

We also need to share our joy with others as it multiplies our happiness. I would maintain that rejoicing with friends via social media is one of the positive aspects of this media.  I have been able to pray with and for my friends, celebrate life events with them , encourage them and more.

“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”
Mark Twain

I believe social media can isolate, but it can also unite and be used for good purposes.

Pastor Zelt ends by sharing the definition of a catfish. A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.

A different persona on the Internet than one has in reality. I think that is easy to fall into so we must constantly be reminded who we are in Christ.

God is not a catfish.  He cannot be seen so you might ask yourself how can you know what He is really like?  Pastor Zelt points out: You can see Him in the person of Christ. Christ told us what God is like: He sticks closer than a brother, He loves at all times, He can be trusted and He says rejoice with me.

Finally, a study from Germany  showed that belief in God does not decrease loneliness, it is your understanding of who God is that decreases your loneliness.

Does God love you?

John 15:13 (KJV)

13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

IMG_0159Yes, He does.

Posted in Freedom of Religion, Social Media, World View | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Danger of Intellectual and Cognitive Laziness

Psalm 15:1-2

New International Version (NIV)

A psalm of David.

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
    Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless,
    who does what is righteous,
    who speaks the truth from their heart;

I am attending a Forensic Psychology course at a local University.  It has been very stimulating!  I’ve learned about some things I would like to share.

Definition: Availability Heuristic

An availability heuristic is a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come Progressives Rules 5to mind. When you are trying to make a decision, a number of related events or situations might immediately spring to the forefront of your thoughts. As a result, you might judge that those events are more frequent and possible than others. You give greater credence to this information and tend to overestimate the probability and likelihood of similar things happening in the future.

In the textbook: Introduction to Forensic Psychology: Research and Application, it is stated:

Whenever the news media highlight certain events and dramatize their significance, the events seem to be more widespread and frequent to people than they really are.  This phenomena is called availability heuristic. (pg 24)

The Glossary defines this as: The cognitive shortcuts that people use to make inferences about their world.  It is the information that is most readily available to use mentally and is usually based on extensively on the most recent material we gain from news or entertainment.

This is a human phenomena, not just a Progressive or Conservative phenomena.  It does, however, make us aware of our human tendencies.  We take shortcuts.  We take shortcuts because our attention spans have dimished.  So, in the effort to speed things up we take the cognitive shortcuts which ultimately keep from us the information we really need.

As humans, we also have something called “confirmation bias.”  This is the strong preference to have one’s views confirmed.  The problem with this is that it places us in a “closed cognitive system in which only evidence that confirms our existing views and beliefs gets inside.  Other information is sometimes noticed but is quickly rejected as “false.” (Introduction to Forensic Psychology, page 95)

In September of 2010 I wrote a post titled Everything You Need to Know in Four Minutes or Less!  The subject used to demonstrate my point was an economic one, but you can use any of our most heated debates; The Second Amendment, Abortion, Voter ID Laws, People who are in our country illegally, etc.  The message of my post was that you CANNOT get your information in four minutes or less and function in an informed manner.

The discovery of the phenomenon mentioned above brought this post to mind, but more importantly it occurred to me that if we are taking cognitive shortcuts based on what we hear or read (most of the time in four minutes or less) we are also MISSING a great deal of information.  Therefore our conclusions are reinforced by what we hear, but they are also impacted by what we do NOT hear…or see.

I believe the current debate about protecting our Second Amendment rights is a perfect example of this.

How do we combat the cognitive laziness to which we are all inclined?  I think about the boiling a frog experiment and how it is a perfect metaphor for our ability to ignore the gradual, but steady destruction of our Constitutional protections.  The lesson of the story is basically, PAY ATTENTION!

We need to fight the tendency to assume we are sufficiently informed to make rational decisions.  That takes time and effort.  It means you have to search out information and read and listen.  That includes information provided by those who disagree with you.  That is where many people stop.

You also MUST consider unintended consequences.

So, if you do make the effort you will be more equipped to make decisions.  I wrote another post in August of 2010: How Do You Know When You are in Hot Water?   The topic was inspired by the vast differences I was finding when one compares the two world views that are competing for our support.  I believe those differences are even more pronounced today.

Finally, in July of 2010 I wrote a post: If you Smell Smoke You Check to See if there is a Fire.

In this post I wrote:

You decide for yourself.  But first you need to learn the language.  You need to understand what a Progressive means when he says “fundamental transformation.”  You need to understand what he means by “social justice.”  You need to understand what he means by “change the whole system.” You need to examine closely where the progressive’s plan is leading.  You also have to understand that some of what you hear and read are in some cases misleading and in some cases false.  I am finding that these cases used to be less prevalent than they are now.  You need the whole picture.  I know that takes time, but believe me our life, liberty and our pursuit of happiness depends on us all doing our part.

It seems I’ve been fighting the availability heuristic and confirmation bias without even knowing what to call them. I now realize that what I am trying to do is help people fight the normalcy bias and really look at the whole picture that reality shows us.

It is easy, for instance, to dismiss concerns about radical Islam based on many of the responses we hear about how it is bigoted, racist behavior for one to point out concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood.  However, if you read the evidence and listen to their words I have a hard time understanding why one would NOT be concerned.

If you allow yourself to be manipulated by name-calling and dismiss all evidence that there may be a legitimate concern you are then in that closed system.  Then, your confirmation bias kicks in and you ignore any and all evidence that something may be wrong.  This brings to mind, “How Do You Kill 11 Million People?”  (If you’ve not read this book I recommend it.) This book shows that what people end up doing is “singing loudly” so as to not hear the cries of the Jews on the trains traveling by their church.

As another example, left-leaning pundits like to mention “police brutality” as frequently as possible.  Is there inappropriate behavior by law enforcement personnel?  Well, yes, just as there are flawed human beings in every profession.  However, if all you ever hear is about cases of brutality and never hear or consider the thousands of law enforcement folks who not only never exhibit that behavior, but even exhibit heroic and life-saving behaviors you would think it was more prevalent than perhaps it is.

Simply repeating a phrase or accusation over and over again does not result in the sharing of Truth.  That is where using our intellect and critical thinking abilities comes in.

I believe we all need to exercise our intellect and give some time to really understanding the issues before we take a firm stand.  We need to find Truth or at least come as close to it as humanly possible.

That won’t happen in four minutes or less, nor will it happen by reacting emotionally to events that cause us concern.  It will only happen if we consciously and consistently pursue it…combined, of course, with a great deal of prayer.

Ephesians 4:25

New International Version (NIV)

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

“As a matter of honor, one man owes it to another to manifest the truth.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

Posted in Gun control, Media Bias, Progressive Bullies, Restoration of our Constitutional Republic, World View | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Importance of Rules

There are no absolute rules of conduct, either in peace or war.  Everything depends on the circumstances ~ Leon Trotsky

Progressives Rules 4 2.07.41 PMWhen a heart is cold as ice
You can’t melt it with advice
No one wants to listen to
A list of things they shouldn’t do
So I build a city on a hill
And I light a candle on the sill
Knowing you’ll be always knocking at the door
Oh God I just want to love on everyone
All I have is yours to give so let the people come ~ Learning to Be the Light by Neworldson

I am currently on a quest to read the entire Bible in 1 year.  I’ve started this journey a few other times.  Hopefully I will complete the trip this time.  I am, however, currently in the book of Leviticus.

Oh my.  I think this is where I stopped before. Not only because of all the minute details of each rule, but also because they are repetitive.  My attentional deficits make it difficult for me to hear or read the same thing over and over again.

But, I shall prevail because there is a reason God wanted us to know about these times and these rules.

The two quotes above provide very disparate views of “rules.”  One decides that there are no absolute rules.  The other acknowledges that there ARE absolutes, however, just giving people a “list” to follow doesn’t really make an impact.  LIVING one’s life according to the Word of God is to create a “light” to which people will naturally be drawn.

Recently Dr. Benjamin Carson spoke Truth in the context of Christian love by suggesting what our country’s leaders might do to improve our situation.  Many applauded his words.  Others condemned his speech as “rude” and “inappropriate to the setting.”

This inappropriate to the setting reminded me of a speech that Barack Obama gave in 2006.  I guess the critics of Dr. Carson probably think this was OK.

On June 26, 2006 Barack Obama gave a Keynote Address at a gathering in Washington, D.C. (A Call to Renewal.)  The entire address is worth reading, however, in the age of shortened attention spans there is only one segment that got plucked out and paraded in front of many Christians by many Progressives.  The portion is as follows:

“And even if we did have only Christians within our borders, who’s Christianity would we teach in the schools? James Dobson’s, or Al Sharpton’s? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Levitacus (sic), which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage so radical that it’s doubtful that our Defense Department would survive its application?

In my view, this shows a basic lack of understanding of the entire story shared in the Bible. It is interesting that the text shared at the link does not include at least one of his comments. The next comment after…”survive its application” was, “Some folks have not been reading their Bibles.”  I think he might be one of those people.  It is also noteworthy that the paragraph above was delivered in that deriding tone he uses so often.

Here is a video of that portion:

Obama goes on to say:

“This brings me to my second point. Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

This may be difficult for those who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of the possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It insists on the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one’s life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime; to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing.”

Religion does not allow for compromise?  This brings to mind the fact that Marx believed that the abolition of religion, or the opiate of the masses, needed to be completed in order to bring about their “true happiness.”  Which means the development of that Utopia Progressives believe can be achieved here on Earth.  In other words, faith has to be destroyed if we are to ever get there.

Someone hasn’t been reading their Bible.  For sure.

Obama also shared a letter from a supporter which reads in part:

“I sense that you have a strong sense of justice…and I also sense that you are a fair minded person with a high regard for reason…Whatever your convictions, if you truly believe that those who oppose abortion are all ideologues driven by perverse desires to inflict suffering on women, then you, in my judgment, are not fair-minded….You know that we enter times that are fraught with possibilities for good and for harm, times when we are struggling to make sense of a common polity in the context of plurality, when we are unsure of what grounds we have for making any claims that involve others…I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words.”

Obama responds:

“I wrote back to the doctor and thanked him for his advice. The next day, I circulated the email to my staff and changed the language on my website to state in clear but simple terms my pro-choice position. And that night, before I went to bed, I said a prayer of my own – a prayer that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me.

It is a prayer I still say for America today – a hope that we can live with one another in a way that reconciles the beliefs of each with the good of all. It’s a prayer worth praying, and a conversation worth having in this country in the months and years to come. Thank you.”

This sounds great.  It sounds reasonable, however, we really need to consider the behavior of our President and his Administration.  Fair-minded words are scarce.  Fair-minded depictions of those who disagree with the Progressive world view are even more scarce.

Again, one MUST consider the influences in Obama’s life and attempt to understand his world view in order to put is words into context.  As an Alinsky follower Obama subscribes to Alinsky’s views which includes:

“Truth was not only relative to Alinsky, it was irrelevant. Alinsky wrote, “An organizer working in and for an open society is in an ideological dilemma to begin with, he does not have a fixed truth – truth to him is relative and changing; everything to him is relative and changing. … To the extent that he is free from the shackles of dogma, he can respond to the realities of the widely different situations.”

The key words here are: “truth is relative and changing.”

There are beliefs and values God would have us not compromise.  Truth is not relative nor is it changing.

Which brings me back to Leviticus.  It is suggested that the “rules” God outlines for the people were rules that kept them safe from harm in a time when the more sophisticated methods of food storage were not yet developed.  The rules about health issues were provided in a time when the practice of medicine was likewise not as developed.  And, to understand how misleading it is to dismiss Christian beliefs based on taking the rules outlined in Leviticus out of context one only has to read “the rest of the story”–the New Testament.

God wants us to be happy and to live full and complete lives.  He offers the basic 10 rules (Commandments) in order to guide us to that end.  There is no compromise for these rules, because to compromise is to prevent us from living the lives God wants for us and ends up harming us all.  In the reverse, to live as the “light” referred to in the song quoted above helps us all.

Laws established in our Constitutional Republic are ostensibly created because We the People believe that certain behaviors hurt us all.  We want everyone to “play by the same rules.”  This is something both Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have frequently stated, yet their behavior belies their words.  That could be a result of the fact that in their world view the only absolute rule is that there are no absolute rules.

So what can we agree on?  Stealing is fairly easy to understand as something harmful.  Don’t steal and don’t covet are things most of us can agree upon (our current tax system notwithstanding….that’s another post.)  However, the socialist/Marxist view that most Progressives subscribe to calls for the elimination of the concept of private property.  If you eliminate the concept of private property how do you determine whether or not you are “stealing?”

The sanctity of life is something that most religions acknowledge.  When we start to compromise on that concept we begin to slowly let go of that guiding rule and we slide into dark territory.  I believe the destruction of the belief in the sanctity of human life leads our entire society into trouble.  It’s not about denying someone a “choice.” It’s about respecting life.

Are there “easy” answers to the very complex situations this creates?  No, but Christ did not tell us it would be “easy” to follow Him.  He only promises that if we do we will be eternally happy that we did.

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Discussing Things of Importance in a Framework of Christian Love

1 Corinthians 12:4-27

New International Version (NIV)

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Unity and Diversity in the Body

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

(Recommend listening to: The Church in the Mirror by Alistair Begg)

It seems that in human nature there is a tendency to see whatever gift(s) we have been blessed with as all important and sometimes this keeps us from seeing the whole picture.  We either think we don’t need anything or anybody else or we go to the other extreme and express that our gift(s) do not measure up to the gifts someone else has so we do not matter.

I think 1Corinthians 12 addresses that.

When I started my blog I read a lot of advice about how to make it successful, which meant how to get a bunch of folks to visit your site.  One of the themes that ran through such advice was to be “controversial.”  What some advised was to abandon polite conversation and civil debate and be “edgy.”

There are quite a few bloggers I admire and whose blogs I follow who basically advise that “being nice” does not work because no one will pay attention; that the scorn, ridicule and demonization that comes from people we disagree with will drown out our opposing view somehow if we are too nice. To some extent that does appear to be the case.

Given that fact one can be encouraged that these successful (i.e. lots of followers) are indeed being heard by a great many people.  And is that not what we want?  Do we not want to give people access to information that will challenge them and make them think? I wonder, though, about the people who really do need to hear the message but are put off and basically stop reading/listening when the personal attacks are a part of the discussion.

I, for instance, try to read posts and articles written by people who do not share my world view.  I think we can learn something from everyone.  However, when I see references to Conservatives using the vulgar term “tea baggers” I stop listening.  Do we not lose people who might eventually start thinking about what we have to share when we refer to them as “libtards?”

I also feel that I am in the camp of believing that my gifts do not measure up to more successful bloggers and question my usefulness.  I sometimes look at those statistics and instead of being pleased that my audience has grown, I find myself comparing myself to more successful people and feeling that my contributions are not important.

I wonder if I were to become very successful if I would then think I can sort of do it all myself and that I don’t need the support of others who are, statistically speaking, reaching far less people than I do?

I really do believe in my heart that we all have a role to play.  I believe that both extremes are selfishly oriented; either “I don’t matter” or “I am more important or successful.”  Oh how very predictably human of us.

What brings our efforts together as members of the Church?  It would appear that Christian love is the glue that holds us together and makes the whole much greater and much more powerful than the sum of its parts.

As Alistair Begg points out, the first sentence in chapter 13 of 1Corinthians.  Without Christian, Agape love our speech is a “noisy nuisance.” Referring back to chapter 8 verse one we find that knowledge “puffs up” but that love “builds up.” When we exercise our gifts in the framework of love it builds up Gods people. He goes on to say that what we say may indeed be eloquent but that speaking in the absence of love we might as well be ” a resounding gong” or a “clanging cymbal.”  His reference to the fact that this equates to “making sounds as offensive as a continually barking dog” says it best.

So what it boils down to is this: “What is the motivation of our hearts?” Those who possess gifts which we view as highly desirable become, in our minds, very important people, however, if those gifts are not used in a framework of love they really amount to nothing.

Which brings me to a present day example of this.

Dr. Benjamin Carson:  “Unless you care about other people it does not matter how smart you are.”

Dr. Benjamin Carson spoke recently at the Fellowship Foundation National Prayer Breakfast and exhibited the ability to speak of things of importance in a framework of Christian Love.

He expressed opinions and ideas that are in some ways the direct opposite of what President Obama’s and other Progressives’ views are.  Yet he did it without personal attacks or insults.  Why do you suppose he was able to do that?  I’m thinking the answer has to do with that Christian love that the people of Corinth were told was so important.

Please watch his speech and decide for yourself.

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