Wednesday, May 25, 2005
I just got back from
After the show wrapped up on Friday, I spent time hanging out with my Outrage buddies from my old job in
It was a great trip and I owe a big thank you to my mom who stayed with the boys all week, and my girlfriend who did a bunch of laundry and put my kids to bed a couple of nights. It's so wonderful to have supportive, loving people in my life!
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Friday, May 13, 2005
Hard questions ~ inadequate answers
Here is a post I made on a forum for fans of Zao. Some guy popped into the Religion section and dropped all the "hard questions" on us. These are the big ones. And I thought it would be fun to have a record of my current thinking on them. So here is my reply…
This is probably not the best place to ask the heavy-weight questions you are asking. Most of the people on this board are very young and not terribly educated about Christianity. (We protestants do a horrible job at that.) If these questions are seriously perplexing you, I'm guessing it's because God wants you, but you feel like you would be stupid to go along with it until your logical side is satisfied. Here is something to consider: there are many theories out there that offer compelling explanations to things, yet are incomplete. Think about physics, math, evolutionary theory. They all propose answers, yet even the best and brightest in their field can not answer every single question asked about it. There will always be "holes" that need to be filled. The most hardened atheistic evolutionist has "faith" that the questions he can't answer will be figured out eventually. Likewise, though no human can fully understand the nature and plans of God, we can still make wise and intellectually informed decisions based on what has been revealed to us.
If you truly want answers to these questions I recommend you seek out a Bible-believing church and ask to speak to the pastor. If you don't want answers, and just want to feel superior for having examined and dismissed the idea, go to a nice universalistic, liberal church, and they will be happy to inform you that nothing really matters but being nice to people.
That being said, I'll take a stab or two at your questions. Just keep in mind I'm no theologian, and there are better answers out there.
Why would God create us a certain way and then damn us to Hell for acting in our own nature?
As has been said: He did not create us 'that way'. He created us perfect and immortal, to have communion and friendship with us forever. But He had to give us a choice to do so, or friendship would be impossible. Why He decided to make a being with the choice to reject Him is a mystery. One theory is that our creation was simply an expression of Love. It simply happened because of His nature. Though that still does not answer your question about the perfection of a God who would let His creation suffer.
Is it really necessary for God to damn us to Hell for all eternity for simply not believing and/or never hearing about Jesus?
Most Christian theologians I've heard would say that God does not damn us. Rather, hell is simply an existence without Him. And a being that is not perfect cannot exist with a being who is. That would compromise His nature, and thus, make Him no longer God. So it's not a matter of an angry God casting souls into hell. Rather, He let's us choose to reject Him, and being apart from God is Hell.
What happens to all those who never heard about Jesus?
C.S. Lewis surmised that the invisible nature of God is known to all. And though they may never hear the name of Jesus in life, there is some mechanism for them to make a choice about him. (I don't recall where he said this explicitly, but it is clearly alluded too in The Last Battle from the Chronicles of Narnia.)
Personally, I don't have a clue. But that doesn’t mean there isn't a good answer. And it may be an answer that a mortal being cannot comprehend. One thing I am sure about is that Jesus is the way. But how that happens when someone has never heard His name I don't know. Perhaps after death? The Bible leaves a lot to the imagination in that area. I'm sure there are good reasons that God didn't try to explain the specifics of what happens when we die.
How does one come to grips with what the Bible says about slavery or women?
Societal norms are the biggest explanation here. Jesus never taught that we should rebel and overthrow any world system or government. He always demonstrated living a godly life under whatever circumstance life deals you. Remember in His day the Jews were being ruthlessly oppressed, and sold out by their spiritual and political leaders. They were desperate for freedom. But Jesus didn't concern Himself with the world system He was in. He improved people's lives from the inside out. It's all about the hearts of people that He's after.
Likewise, in the rest of the New Testament, the authors never proposed uprising or rebellion. They advocated working within the system that was in place. Slaves should live godly lives as a demonstration of the transformative nature of Christ. Same with slave owners. Also, what someone said earlier is correct, that the slavery of that time and place was not much like the slavery we know of.
How can God be so cruel as to create me without notifying me, then expecting me to believe in something bizarre (drinking Jesus' blood to be saved from eternal hellfire is bizarre), and then damning me to hell for not believing in it as if life itself weren't punishment enough?
Drinking blood is not for salvation. Acceptance of the sacrifice that it symbolizes is. Communion is a ceremony, like baptism, that reminds us humans that something deeper is at work under the surface. There is more to life than what we can see and perceive with our finite senses.
If God created everything, He created evil. In this sense, God willed evil. It fits into His plan. Doesn't the idea that God allowing and even promoting evil disqualify him from being the moral authority?
God did not create evil. Evil is simply the choice to reject Him and His perfect ways. Choice allows evil, it does not create it. If my kid rides his bike into the road and dies, it's not my fault for giving him a bike. It was simply the mechanism that was used which led to his destruction.
How does one reconcile that parts of the Bible literally contradict each other? If the Bible does contradict itself, how can it be the perfect word of God?
I have read numerous rebuttals to just about every supposed contradiction out there. There is a book called, "Hard Sayings of the Old Testament", and a sequel, and also one about the New Testament I believe. Most perceived contradictions have to do with not taking a hermeneutical or educated approach to the scripture, or reading a part as literal when it is clearly figurative, etc.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
How to win friends and influence people
Dear Mr. Knowitall,
I want to win friends and influence people, but I'm too lazy to read the book. Do you have any advice?
People are a lot like robots. But squishier. Everything you need to know about people you can learn from observing
The earliest robots in film were played by cowboys on stage at saloons called Nickelodeons in the 1800's. Back then, they didn't have psychologists to inform their performances, so they often acted in an over-the-top, comical manner. Fast forward a few decades and we have the likes of R2-D2, (R2-Day-Towa in Huttesse) in Star Wars, and Mighty Joe Young in King Kong. These robots can teach us a wealth of secrets about humans and how to befriend/influence them. Here is a quick list of 'bots and what they teach us about people:
- Mechanical Bipeds from Metropolis ~ 19-something: Hard work pays off.
- Frankenstein's Monster from Frankenstein ~ 19-something later: People respect tall people.
- H.A.L. from 2001: The Year We Make Contacts ~ 1970-something: A.I. is evil
- Jason from Friday the 13th ~ 1970-something: Teasing ugly little boys at camp turns them into killer robots.
- Great White Shark from Jaws ~ 1976?: People are unreliable.
- C-3PO from Star Wars ~ 1977: People are snotty cowards.
- Lobot from The Empire Strikes Back ~ 1980: People are reliable.
- None from The Never Ending Story ~ 1988: There weren't any robots in this movie. Pity. Imagine how much cooler it would have been with a robot.
- RoboCop from RoboCop ~ 1986: Deep down inside, everyone is a hero.
- T-500 from The Terminator ~ 1984: Deep down inside, everyone is a killer.
- T-500 from Terminator 2 ~ 1991: Deep down inside, every killer is a hero.
- T-500 from Terminator 3 ~ 2003: People can get too old to play robots in movies.
- Mechanical Owl from that one movie about the Greek gods ~ 1981: He's SO cute, and talks just like R2-D2! Um… Like people!
- Tick-Tock from Return to Oz ~ 1985: People cry tears of oil.
- Johnny 5 from Short Circuit ~ 1986: Being an obnoxious, pop-culture spewing loudmouth will make you popular.
- Hayden Christenson from The Clone Wars ~ 2002: It's all Obiwan's FAULT! He's holding him BACK!
- Teddy Bear from A.I. ~ 2002: A.I. is kind, loving, and loyal.
- Battle Droids from The Phantom Menace ~ 1999: If the capitol ship is destroyed people become useless piles of scrap metal.
- Ed 209 from Robocop ~ 1986: People can't walk down stairs.
- The Iron Giant from The Iron Giant ~ 1942: Even though people are made of metal, they have hearts of gold. Which is also a kind of metal.
- Data from Star Trek ~ 1921-2003: People wish they were human.
- Sonny from I, Robot ~ 2004: Often times, robots can act better than people
- Darth Vader from Revenge of the Sith ~ 2005: Huuuuuuugh-Haaaaaaaaaaagh.
With these things in mind you can see it's pretty easy to create a definitive list of how people work and why. Once you figure out how to tap into that you will be able to fully befriend/control anyone. It's all about simple, unchanging rules. Of course some people have different (or stupid) personalities. But they aren't really worth captivating/manipulating anyway. Remember the whole reason people exist is to further your own ends, and if they don't fit into your expectations it is perfectly acceptable to marginalize and ignore them. So, excluding those types, how does one learn the rules that all people follow? Watch lots of movies and T.V. Especially M.T.V. (That reminds me:
- Carson Daily from Total Request Live ~ 1995-?: It's possible to build a cult of personality with no personality.)
Shows like "The Reel World" and "Who Wants To Marry A Creepy Millionaire?" can teach you a lot about how people in the real world behave. Just pretend you are like that old woman who wasted her whole life watching monkeys in
Once your list is compiled you are ready to effectively subjugate/hypnotize anyone. Here are some great ways to get started on your path to world domination:
- Take the time to get to know your victim/friend before using and discarding them. Well… at least get to know their name.
- Looking people in the eye while talking to them may cause them to think you challenging them for dominance of the herd. Don't do it!
- Shaking hands is often the first impression that someone has of you; besides your name. But really, even if you shake hands like Palsy-stricken child, if your name is Lance or Dirk, it doesn't matter. They will have to respect you for your name.
- There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says: "You can't judge a book by its cover." This is strange since the ancient Chinese used scrolls. This saying has no application to people.
- To stay confident enough to successfully seduce/bully people, try to imagine everyone in their underwear. And sea-sick. And breaking out with acne. And covered in dirty cat litter. And on fire. That always does the trick for me.
- If you are always right, (as I am) then you need to remember that everyone else is always wrong.
- To keep your friends loyal to you, make sure you pay them at least one dollar for every time you insult them or physically damage them.
- If you don't like what someone is saying, try pushing or pulling on various parts of their body to turn the volume down. Conversely, if they are saying something good, turn it up.
- Begin each conversation with a powerful head-butt. This will establish your dominance early.
- People like honesty and hate liars. So try to keep them from finding out about all your lies.
So you can see that fooling people into being your friends, and then influencing them to do what you want is quite simple. Though some so-called "experts" claim that interpersonal communication is a Gordian knot of subtlety and nuance I think they are just trying to sound smart. Just remember, simple rules, simple results. And there is no attitude problem a quick re-boot can't solve.
*Copywrite 2005 – exclusively owned by Mr. Knowitall industries.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Re-thinking the whole "No Kissing" rule
Just kidding. I'm not. But for some reason no one seems to believe that this is possible. (Our decision to have our first kiss be at our wedding.) Even my pastor called it a "tall order" when I told him I felt that if I felt an uncontrollable desire to kiss my girlfriend than I would know that God is no longer in this. I'm seeing this as Gideon's fleece.
36 Gideon said to God, "If you will save
39 Then Gideon said to God, "Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew." 40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.
I don't know how Gideon got away with this. But I think my method is much less presumptuous. I'm looking so very carefully for signs regarding our relationship. One way or another. I'm asking God for the miraculous. And He has been providing it. You don't have to peruse this blog very long before you find examples of my lack of control in this area. One thing I've learned is that I don't have a slippery slope. (Kissing leads to other things.) No, I have a precipice of unparalleled steepocity. (I made up that word.) The Cliffs of Insanity! (A Princess Bride reference.) I'm exuberantly happy for those unmarried couples who can give each other pleasant kisses and leave it at that. But alas, that's not me. So I avoid the cliffs by not camping out on them. Which sounds simple enough, right? Well, having a willing participant in my plan helps. But beyond that, there is a miracle at work in my body.
23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.
This used to be me… big time. But last year Jesus destroyed the prison walls that held me captive. This freedom from lust is the miracle that I'm counting on to keep me pure and in His will. It's a little bit scary, relying completely on a miracle to guide me. But I can't think of a better way to know that I am being led. Here is my thinking: this is a regular sounding board for me. If I slip I'll know that my 'members' are taking me captive again, and thus, He is not keeping me free. And the only reason that He would stop protecting me from myself would be if I was purposely removing myself from His protection. I really like how solid the feedback is. I'm not waiting around for a mysterious sign giving me approval. I'm actively walking on water and keeping my eyes on Jesus, knowing that if I sink it's because my eyes have wandered. So I don't think it's a stretch to say that if I am pursuing this marriage, and God doesn’t want me too, He will stop protecting me in this area. I'm not viewing this as an acid test that will guarantee divine approval for my actions. I'm too spiritually immature to do that. Rather, I'm viewing this as part of a chorus of input that God has been giving me. I figure that way, if one or more of my sources of perceived direction is flawed, I will have other means of hearing Him. Unless they are ALL flawed. But I don't believe God would let me be so foolish when I am sincerely seeking Him as I am. The Bible after all promises wisdom to those who ask for her. And believe me, I'm ASKING!