Monday, April 27, 2015

Mini-Treatise: Emotions and How to Relate to Them

I find it helpful to see my emotions as something that happens to me, not "me." They are useful because:
* they are like indicator lights in a car, diagnostic tools that help you figure out what's right or wrong
* they sometimes give false readings, so you've got to use your brain to know when to ignore them or get them fixed
* sometimes they're not diagnostic at all, but rewarding. They make you feel good or bad, to reinforce doing/not doing a certain behavior you engaged in.
They are never your destiny. They don't tell you what you have to do--they have to be interpreted. You don't have to feel the way your emotions make you feel. You can uncouple your mind's participation in them by consciously choosing not to dwell on them. Engage in an activity that biochemically alters your physiology so that the emotions you're dealing with change. An easy example is if a guy is sexually aroused, a way to destroy that is to engage in vigorous exercise. It kills any feelings like that and clears the mind. It does the same with hunger, for that matter. If you're up late at night and feel depressed, go to sleep! It'll get your circadian rhythm back on track, and stressful build-up gets dealt with unconsciously while you sleep. Distracting your body by interrupting a natural process (or returning to one, if your emotions are due to biological instability) can keep certain moods at bay for a while so that you can make progress without their influence.

~ Rak Chazak

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

AWPATT Teaser: Seeing A Woman Cry Breaks My Heart (Why?)

Oddly, nearly every image on Google Image Search was of a single tear running down a cheek. 'Could be a side effect of American culture discouraging open displays of anguish, contrary to other cultures (compare television reports of grieving mothers/fathers from the homeland with, say, the Middle East or India). The below image is a good example of what I'm referring to in the AWPATT thought below. Someone visibly disturbed.
355 The image of a crying woman breaks my heart. I think faces are designed to become unattractive when contorted in wailing. The disruption of a beautiful face into a reddened, convoluted mess of scowls, shut/bloodshot eyes and change from openness to withdrawal indicates in a very alarming manner that something is terribly wrong. It nevertheless attracts attention. I think that males, though we tend to break things, have a paradoxical inner desire to want to fix things. When someone’s crying, I want to stop it. Not because it’s annoying, but because it grieves me that I’m not in such distress and they are, and my mind races wondering how I might be able to help relieve the agony the person is experiencing. Can you share your own happiness? Can you unlock it in the other person? Cause a change of perspective that resolves the problem that triggered the crying? Can you give comfort that assuages a person’s emotions and makes them feel good? A crying woman, like few other things, makes a man feel hopeless and worthless, because he desperately wants her to be happy and fulfilled, but perceives that he is helpless to do anything about the issue. I don’t suppose that I or any other man thinks that we/I have some superhero power to solve strangers’ problems. Rather, I think it’s a collective sense of guilt over the fact that we can’t rescue you with a snap of our fingers that makes us feel rotten. From a Christian theological perspective, it’s very true that even if I didn’t directly cause your pain, I nevertheless bear guilt for the fact that the world is broken by sin and some aspect of this brokenness/fallenness is what caused you hurt. A partaker in the sins of Adam, the world is rotten and the world makes women cry, in part because I’m a sinner. So my emotional response to a crying woman is rooted in something true—I am at fault, even if in a very obscure, distant way. Thankfully, Christ bore my sins on the Cross, and gives me hope because I know that for all the brokenness in the world today, I’m destined to live with Him in a restored perfect world one day. If I could convey this contentment and hopefulness to a young woman in pain, it would give me such gratitude to have played a small part in lifting her up from where she’s fallen. If man is the glory of God, and Christ demonstrated the perfect man’s life when He walked the earth in the flesh, then isn’t it the truth that men are at the core, imbued with a God-given desire to be a hero? It might take a different form in every man, but at base we want to fix the world or save the world or save just one person from something bad in the world, and I believe this is placed in us for His glory. Why do crying women break my heart? Because they touch on two truths at once: I, as a man, and a sinner, am the reason for why they hurt; and I, as a man, in the image of God, am instilled with an unrelenting passion to want to rescue the weak and helpless. (lest you interpret this as sexist, it’s a temporary statement. Someone devastated by anguish is both in a weak and helpless state, whether man or woman). May I not try to “fix her problems” by human cleverness, but use the Gospel to extend to her the means of rescue by which I also was rescued. I can’t stop your tears, but God can.

~ Rak Chazak

Monday, April 20, 2015

Something to think about, regarding whether people are born with sexual preferences

I figured I'd tag on to my previous post and look up other candidates a little.

At this point, there's not much people are saying publicly to define their positions on issues, likely because they're not strongly motivated to do so. In that context, there was a somewhat vague response that Marco Rubio gave to a same-sex marriage question:
I also don’t believe that your sexual preferences are a choice for the vast and enormous majority of people. In fact, the bottom line is, I believe that sexual preference is something people are born with. source

That can be taken in at least two different directions. On the one hand, it could reveal sympathy for the SSM cause, while on the other hand, it could indicate compassion and a rejection of the contemporary popular belief in the naturalist fallacy, that "what is some way by nature, is therefore morally right."

The question of what Rubio meant is answered by whether he believes in the naturalist fallacy or not.

Here is an example of someone making the same observation, but being much more explicit in their presentation:

So, was Rubio just being a politician, or was he hinting at a more nuanced understanding of the issue, where just because someone's desires are fixed, it doesn't mean that pursuing them is appropriate? Time will tell.

~ Rak Chazak

PS according to Wikipedia, there's a distinction in technical terminology between "naturalist fallacy" and "appeal to nature," the latter of which is what I was referencing here. Colloquially, I think it's nevertheless suitable and doesn't require editing the article.

The Winnowing Field: Why Not To Vote for -- John Kasich

I imagine public service ministries like Focus on the Family or the Family Research Council, etc, are likely offering their own endorsements and non-endorsements of candidates for the upcoming election. But it can't hurt to put more analysis out there.

If you're looking for a theologically sound candidate, one with a Biblically Christian platform, you can find any number of reasons to reject the various contenders for the nomination. What is most likely is that the final decision of whom to vote for will come down to a choice for the "better" candidate, not the one you'd actually want in office.

This series will identify various reasons to be wary of candidates based on their irrationality, hypocrisy, inconsistency, disingenuousness, etc, as they come up.

As the primaries come closer, I'll collate the information and give you an argument for which candidates are "least worst," out of the pack.

Today's unBiblical posturer:

John Kasich

With one fell swoop, he showed himself to reject God's authority on the subjects of both homosexuality and marriage roles. This makes sense, because it's evident that his acceptance of homosexual marriage -- to the contrary of his insincerely expressed opposition -- is a result of the fact that he rejects God's design for marriage at its core. He defers his decision about what is right and wrong -- stuff that will affect his decision-making as a political figure -- to his wife. 
When asked if he would attend a same-sex wedding — Kasich is opposed to gay and lesbian nuptials — he said his friend just invited him to one and he and his wife are planning to go.
"I went home and I said to my wife, 'my friend's getting married. What do you think? You wanna go?' She goes, 'Oh, I'm absolutely going.' I called him today and said, 'Hey, just let me know what time it is,'"  source: CNN

    At least he's consistent. If he won't shoulder his responsibility as a husband, what makes you think his opinion about homosexual marriage would be Biblically influenced? Liberals, take note: this man does not actually oppose same-sex marriage for any concrete reason. I predict that he publicly pretends to be opposed, in an attempt to deceive Republican primary voters into supporting him, but, like Obama, he will "evolve" on the issue once in office, to be a strong supporter of it. 

    His views are not Biblical. They are political, based on what he thinks will best manipulate public opinion. He doesn't even decide his own policy opinions himself, but asks his wife to tell him what he should believe. You wouldn't be voting for John Kasich on the ballot, you'd be voting for his wife, and her running mate, public opinion.

    Verdict: not the best candidate for the theologically sound Christian voter.

    ~ Rak Chazak

    Thursday, April 9, 2015

    "What About the Innocent People Who Have Never Heard the Gospel?"

    "What about the innocent man in Africa who's never heard the Gospel?"

    If you don't want to watch the video, *spoiler alert*, the answer's after the jump:

    Wednesday, April 8, 2015

    Brief Review of Interstellar

    I grabbed the first Redbox movie in a long while and watched it earlier this week.

    Interstellar is a film that thrives on making the special effects scientifically accurate -- there's no sound in space, waves are caused by the gravity of a nearby spacial body, mechanical equipment can tolerate lots of stress and collision damage but depressurization catastrophically tears it apart, the sensation of gravity in space must be generated by angular rotation, areas of high gravity play havoc with our straight-line perception of the surrounding space, bigger black holes are better black holes because they won't spaghettify you, the relativity of time is significant when spending time near high gravity ("every hour on the surface is 7 years back on earth" / "this little maneuver will cost us 51 years!"), etc.

    The film also leans heavily on the human drama, with success. By that I mean that unlike many sci-fi epics, it doesn't feel forced, or added-on as an afterthought to please the crowd, but that it holds a central role without being uncomfortable or distracting from the plot. Indeed, the human drama is what drives the plot: resource scarcity on earth is what drives Matt McConaughey's father character to take a risk in order to make a better life for his children.


    • no sexuality. Not even kissing between the main characters, except one shot in the end between Jessica Chastain and Topher Grace, intended as humor and not depicted sensually
    • no grotesque violence. The violence in the film is realistic and restrained, hardly characterizing the film but punctuating it at key moments to emphasize the heightened tension, if you somehow missed Hans Zimmer's mood-setting organ music.
    • very little hint of any political punditry underwriting the plot -- considering that the director is Christoper Nolan, whose Batman movies have had such great success, I suspect, because of their distinct tendency to avoid promoting Hollywood Liberalism, it makes sense; I think, whatever his personal views are, that he's got a keen sense for the sort of messages that turn off or turn on a broad American audience.
      • the closest thing to it is a government-issued textbook a public school teacher describes to McConaughey's character, as being 'corrected,' to show that the moon-landing was faked in order to bankrupt the Russians by making them waste resources on an imaginary space race. This is a very limited dialogue, and it leaves no one a glaringly obvious hint as to whether the censorship is supposed to be more consistent with a Republican or Democrat ideology.
      • As for the setting, there is a hint that there was a global conflict some years or decades earlier, and that as a side-effect, it damaged global crops to the point that society reverted to become primarily automated, mechanized subsistence farming-based. It's implied that it's several decades if not a century or two in the future, but not too far, because historical events like the Dust Bowl and moon landing are referenced. The film avoids making statements that could be interpreted as overtly 'peacenik' or environmentalist, and thus succeeds at being a cautionary tale that's vague enough for anyone to import their own ideas into, as to what could be done to stop it. However, the line about "repeating the excess/wastefulness of the 20th century" is something that viewers might variably agree with or find just cause to label the teacher character as representative of their political opponents.
    • The science is accurate. Assumptions are made about things that we don't know enough about, such as the nature of wormholes and black holes, and a few other things (mentioned below), but nothing that we know from physics is controverted. This makes it a better film than most, for an authenticity-hound like myself.
    • Robots work the way they're supposed to.
    • It promotes selfless sacrifice of oneself for others, and condemns the premeditated dismissive 'sacrifice' of some others for the sake of other others.
    • It highlights the bonds of family and by cutting and scoring, present loving relationships as being one of if not the strongest driver to persevere in the face of difficulty.
    • True to its departure from other space movies, and in part because it's more like Apollo 13 than Aliens, it doesn't start with 20 cast members and slowly kill them off until there's two left. The deaths are fewer and therefore more significant in terms of moving the plot, or providing closure on a subplot.

    Monday, April 6, 2015

    "But God Killed Millions of People" = "But the Police Officer Was Speeding"

    It struck me as I was passed on the other side of the road by a police officer stopping someone for speeding.

    It's law -- police officers are allowed to "violate" various laws that apply to regular motorists/civilians if they do so in the pursuit of bringing a civilian to justice for violating a law.

    Here's a synopsis from Wikipedia:
    In 2007, the United States Supreme Court held in Scott v. Harris (550 U.S. 372) that a "police officer's attempt to terminate a dangerous high-speed car chase that threatens the lives of innocent bystanders does not violate the Fourth Amendment, even when it places the fleeing motorist at risk of serious injury or death."
    In other words, a police officer is allowed to speed (and even drive in a manner that would be reckless if he wasn't pursuing a fleeing suspect) in order to apprehend a suspect.

    There might be other laws or cases that are even more relevant. But suffice it to say, it's recognized by human government that agents of law enforcement are immune to prosecution for the violation of certain laws, that arise inadvertently out of the execution of their law enforcement powers.

    God killed millions of people -- this is a common objection by unbelievers, on the basis of this supposedly being a cause for moral outrage. "Such a God is not worthy of worship because He makes excuses for Himself and commits murder etc."

    Such an objection is wrong for so many reasons.
    1. There is no basis for moral outrage if you reject God's authority, because He's the only valid foundation for morality. Without an absolute moral law, all assertions about morality are merely preferences.
    2. Murder is the unjustified killing of a person. God is justice, and everything He does is justified. Ergo, it is logically impossible for God to murder, because every time God kills someone, it is justified.
    3. Everyone who ever dies was killed by God, including those who die of old age, miscarriage, 'natural causes,' etc -- people who are almost always ignored in favor of manufacturing offense at the fact that a vanishingly small minority of people have died in violent circumstances. The person who projects this offense fails to realize that God is the giver and taker of ALL life, and everyone who ever dies is taken in death by the Lord's hand. The reason we die is because we are made mortal by the sin of Adam, which we all participate in.

    And on top of all that,

    4. God's justice is completely consistent even with contemporary notions of common/civil law that recognizes that authorities are not subject to all of the laws they enforce. FBI and police officers are not subject to concerns about theft (commandeering/impounding a vehicle), murder (killing a violent armed subject), property damage (liability), etc. God is subject to even less.

    Why? Because most of God's Law has to do with our relation to each other, and our relation to Him. He can never violate those because He's not a mere man. And for those laws that are based in His nature, He never violates -- divorce is based on God's commitment to those He saves, and God will never abandon His saints. Murder is based in the destruction of God's image -- God cannot be destroyed, so He can't violate that. Theft is taking something that isn't yours, but everything belongs to God, so He can't violate that. Same thing with lust and greed--desiring something that doesn't belong to you. Quite simply, when you boil down every law of morality that apply to humans, they don't limit God's actions toward us. God's behavior toward Himself is the only limitation, and it's based in Himself, not imposed from without.

    Bottom line: the moral outrage against "God killing people in Noah's flood," or "God telling the Israelites to kill the Canaanites," or "God killing the Egyptian firstborns" -- is manufactured, baseless outrage rooted in an unquestioned false assumption about the nature of God's relationship with His creation. He is not subject to our rules. We are subject to His.

    If this is the kind of argument you make: Know your place.

    ~ Rak Chazak

    C-SPAN book-tv amusement

    Sometimes when I leave work it's very late at night. At such odd hours, CSPAN Book-TV airs on the radio, and I've had a number of enjoyable cold nights in the car listening to stuff beyond the usual politics.

    The most recent one was, as is fairly common, not a book by someone I suspect I'd be ideologically, let alone theologically, agreeable to or with -- based on a mention she made in the broadcast to the effect that 'Monopoly started out as a grass-roots left-wing financial teaching tool, and developed into a symbol of big business.' (paraphrase).

    But I found the broadcast intriguing for the historical aspect. The book was called The Monopolists. Aptly so, because of the behavior of the company Parker Brothers in trying to wrest, and keep, control of the rights to the game. And that brings me to this:

    [in answering why she wrote the book] "I think we need a document to explain why there are 40,000 board games buried in Wisconsin." 
    Please excuse me if it was Minnesota; those states are hard to distinguish and the quote is from memory.

    Here is the C-SPAN video of the Q&A:

    Just wanted to share my little historical discovery. I'm going to guess that the video is the audio equivalent of the broadcast I listened to a few days ago, and encourage you, if you're bored and a little curious about board games and patent lawsuits, to listen to it and find out why those 40,000 board games happen to be buried underneath a condominium complex in the middle of America.

    ~ Rak Chazak