Archive for February, 2014
One of my guilty pleasures is a film called Mystery Men. It is about a group of misfits trying to be superheroes. I could bend words and views and try to find some deep philosophical reasons for it but there really isn’t one, it is just fun. Any movie that has a man dressed in his mothers drapes throwing silverware at bad guys limits itself greatly on the philosophical front. With that said it does offer an unintended truth about society in its subtext. The group goes to a pacifist weapons expert for help. He shows them his storehouse of non violent weapons and one of the most powerful is the Blame Thrower. It causes people to uncontrollably blame others for everything that goes wrong rather than accept responsibility for there own faults. It was a brilliant idea that focused everyone on others and away from themselves eventually causing nothing but fighting and worthless bickering.
Blame is a vile and contemptible beast that we let into our homes on a regular basis. We feed it and groom it to try and make it healthy and remove the stench but no matter how hard we try, it festers and spreads rot through anything it touches. It is utterly useless and yet we bring it out so often it becomes our go to tool. It becomes easier and easier the more we use it. It is the weapon of choice yet proves the one who yields it is missing the very thing needed to hold a weapon, discipline.
We blame the government for the condition of the country and yet don’t actively interact with our political leaders or even vote for real change. We blame the church for the evils it has done for trying to control and contain our lives rather than actually understanding the truth it offers and deciding if we want to be part of it. We blame religious leaders for the hypocrisy in their lives without addressing the hypocrisy in our own. We blame our parents for not giving us what we needed rather than looking at what we need as really what we want. We blame ourselves for what we see rather than accepting ourselves for who we are and changing what we don’t like. We use blame as a four letter word. We need change, not blame.
The desire is to create a false equality in ability so we can effectively blame another for not doing it our way. This is the beginning of the problem. I do not like everything Obama does. I can guarantee that if I were given all the information he has I would not answer the exact same way he does because I am a different person. But I don’t have all the information he does so claiming my answers are right and his wrong is ludicrous. I do not agree with everything the Pope says. I do think my background and training are enough to argue my points against his. I am pretty sure though that he has done a lot of work and study to reach his conclusions so discounting them and blaming him for the current condition of the Church is disrespectful and hubris unless I am able to interact with him and sway him to my view. This is hard work though and most blamers will no want to put the time in to do that because it is easier to sit on the sidelines and complain. Sitting on the fence is the best place to throw rocks at both sides but in order to balance, it does require a fence plank be lodged in a very uncomfortable place.
Truth is not an abstract concept that changes. It can not, if it did, it would no longer be true. It is not malleable and formed by perspective. It is not yours for your view and mine for mine. It is the standard that all things are judged by. No matter how much this is distasteful at times, it is still fact. It can be concealed however. If we do not recognize that, we will be left with false comparisons and false dichotomies. No matter how eloquent we speak, without knowledge equal to another persons on a given subject, we can not speak in the same light as them and if we have that knowledge, we should still only speak with love and respect. Blame never reaches those areas.
If our desire is to merely stir the pot and cause more problems, blame is a real good tool. If we really care however and want to help fix the problems, blaming people merely makes us a tool. It is certainly easier to say no one has a handle on truth, religion is wrong, things change, so just sit back and relax. We can blame everyone who disagrees and brand them haters and intolerant. That is the surest way however to find destruction. Each person has value from where they come from. Missing that because we are too busy to look is a fast way to a bad end.
Blame is a worthless endeavor and better off forgotten. I hold to the old Japanese proverb. Fix the problem, not the blame.
When I was much younger I knew it all, or at least I thought I did. I took all the classes and read all the books I needed to form the most infamous weapon ever to be used against mankind, the opinion. It was like a logic puzzle, all I had to do was find the right ways to shape the right scriptures and support the right views to make myself feel right (read superior). There wasn’t a subject I wouldn’t tackle because I had all the information I needed in the bible. It was simply a matter of how I used it. I cant claim I was alone in doing this or even that I was the best. I was taught well by many before me but I was quite good at it. If an argument against God came my way it had to go through both barrels of my baseball bat theology (I know I mixed my metaphors but it made about as much sense and some of the arguments I would use). It is almost as if the book itself was a cacophony of magic spells that I just needed to decipher to defeat evil (read anyone who disagreed with me). The world was my battleground and all who disagreed with my God were my target, and frankly my soul has been paying the toll ever since.
This was how “witnessing” was taught and this is why it has become malodorous in today’s world. I am not owning that responsibility but I certainly played my role. So many years later and many miles wiser (hopefully) I am sickened when I see my younger self in people today. How can we ever believe we are honoring the Creator of the universe by dishonoring his creations so entirely? A persons voice or view is an extension of who they are. It may be right at times and wrong at times and somewhere in between at times but it is always part of who they are. Dishonoring that dishonors God.
This happened within the church as well as without and still happens unfortunately. It seems like the epitome of Christian growth is the ability to understand (read control) the text. That then leads to instructing (read control) others within the church body and directing (read control) the church body and where it focuses its attention. All of this happens under the umbrella of being lead by the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately I have heard far too many things that he would he not take credit for and he shouldn’t be blamed for either.
The real problem is not so much that this makes us look like arrogant fools (which many times we deserve) but also effectively removes the ability to speak cogently on issues that are truly facing the world. Here is a perfect case in point. Ellen Page recently came out of the closet and announced to the world that she is gay. This brought almost immediate support from many celebrities and thankfully Christian groups have not said anything stupid yet. Here however is the concern. I watched her speech and was genuinely moved by her view and experience when dealing with gender and role expectations and the hypocrisy and atrocities associated with that. Of which the church has historically been part of and I feel the issues she raised are large value points we should address. She said “If we could take just 5 minutes to recognize each others beauty instead of attacking each other for our difference…..ultimately it would save lives”. I think that is brilliant and something the church should spearhead instead of attack. At the same time I couldn’t care less what gender Ellen Page wants to have sex with or couple with. I was never on the short list for that role so my opinion on the fact is irrelevant. (Ellen, if I was and I missed your calls, I have really screwed the pooch on this and am sorry) As a matter of fact, I don’t think anyones opinion on that is relevant beyond her and her partner. I think that this personal choice of hers should be private and not something that should be seen as a badge of courage for proclaiming. Why does sexual choice have anything to do with human rights. The two things are not linked unless we make them so.
Christians however have almost lost the ability to speak on this because we have been the major voice in linking these things. We have abused human rights because of our opinions and now we are seen as the villains instead of the voice of reason. People are far less willing to listen to a view if they don’t understand we respect them for listening and see the beauty in them that God created. Why do we think so negatively about people when God spent so much effort building them for positive things?
If we do not change out tactics, our message is going to be heard less and less and eventually maybe not at all. I am not a pessimist who believes the church will cease to exist, but I do think we are in danger of ceasing to be relevant on the most important topic ever. God loves us and wants us in relationship with him. How can we ever believe that any other message could be more important than that?
I saw an article about the Coca Cola add aired during the Super Bowl. It discussed how upset people were because it portrayed a representation of America as a multi cultural entity and summed it up by singing America the Beautiful in multiple languages. Honestly it did not decrease my estimation of that company much. Whether the message that it delivered was appropriate/accurate or not was not really Coca Cola’s concern. They just wanted to sell Coke to whoever would buy it. They have been contributing to obesity, diabetes, and who knows what else for so long that in comparison, this is minor. What struck me more was the hate speak that I saw in reaction to it. Many people commented on either side about how much the other side was wrong in a variety of hateful terms. Whether the goal was humor or angst, it was still fueled by hate. So is the real message that typifies our world that it is okay to hate in response to mistakes?
Christian Music singer Natalie Grant was nominated for two Grammy awards this year. She left the event early for personal reasons she did not clearly state. She alluded to not being comfortable with the event. My cynical side immediately has to question her for going in the first place. Did she not know ahead of time what music would be performed and the secular views that would be promoted? It is a secular event. Should we expect people who are not Christian to act Christian? With that said, the responses to her departure sparked nothing short of hate. They accused her of being homophobic, hate filled, and basically stupid for serving an ignorant and prejudicial God. Really? Hate speak is still hate speak even if you are claiming others have done something wrong. I don’t agree with her decision to leave and feel that God could have been glorified even more if she had stayed, but she never truly said why she left. The message to her was you are welcome here as long as you agree with us, or the fans will hate you. Once again, are we saying the choice to hate is okay if it is in response to mistakes?
Kirk Cameron assaulted the Grammy Awards on Facebook for what he called an “all out assault on the traditional family”. He then made reference to lines of separation and that the current world is not one he would want to have his kids grow up in. Responses came back negative and unkind at best. He then plugged his new movie and later deleted his post. I have to admit I am less than thrilled with his voice and feel that he should stand more for God and less for his personal ideals. Choosing to use a public event for self promotion may be effective but it is cheesy at best and in this case uneducated and irresponsible. With that said, nothing he said warrants hate. Are we really pushing a message that says it is ok to respond in hate if we just disagree with an opinion?
Katy Perry performed at that show and provided what she referred to as a spooky themed performance. Others made reference to it being satanic in nature and called her everything from a whore to a fool. Really? The performance was milder than many houses in my neighborhood during halloween. If it offends you, turn the station. A single button push will fix the problem. She was trying to make waves to sell music. Get over it and stop fanning the flames. That is what is done these days, it is not new. Are we really pushing a message that says it is ok to respond in hate if we just disagree with a performance? Are we really responding with hate and thinking that somehow this glorifies God?
When did hate become our go to tool? Is it just because our arguments are too weak to stand and need the extra fuel? I have heard hate from both sides on many issues and frankly, I should not be surprised when it comes from the secular world, not because they are bad people but because the bible clearly tells me to expect it. I should be very surprised however when it comes from the Christian world. For them, that is sin and contrary to Christ. The part that is honestly more distressing is that is shuts down our ability to be heard. I have never been a Katy Perry fan, her music is just not my thing. But to treat her or anyone else with anything less than human respect and the love that God intended is criminal.
If our eyes are filled with hate, how will we ever see where we are going. Why do we think we have that right? If we are so offended by a persons views that we feel hate, maybe the problem is with us. Wait, no, that is wrong. There is no maybe. The problem is with us. If hate is our response, we should lose the right to respond. If we can not disagree with each other without hating each other, we should probably stop speaking all together.
I have spent many years working in technology on a team delivering software systems. I am not a coder but have developed a large amount of respect for them over the years. The focus and energy it takes to translate systematic requirements into binary statements that integrate into other chunks of binary statements and deliver an overall whole is impressive. Part of the reason is that even the smallest error or miss directed code jeopardizes the overall project. The devil is in the details so to speak. It does not have to be a critical fault or even an errantly written syntax; there are programs that check for those things. It just has to be something that veers off from the goal of the project to sink the whole thing. It is not even that the program wont function, it will just not be able to ever reach the potential that it was created for.
I cant help but see the similarity in the world today. We seem to be living a dream that says somehow we will be able to master our circumstances and achieve success. Confucius said “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” The Dalai Lama said “With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” Pope John XXIII said “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” These people are just icons of this overall thought process and have many counterparts. The problem is that their direction is as wrong as it is right. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that there is no value in their wisdom. I am saying we need to be careful not to think that this will fix the world. It won’t. It can’t.
The problem is in the code. In the deepest structures of our soul we have a binary device that gives us the ability to choose right or wrong. The choices are not predetermined, they are left up to us. That is the bad code as essentially we are able to rewrite the code daily and even wipe out all existing code, barring consequences, up to but not including that initial line that gives us the ability to choose wrong. No matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, we will never wipe out the ability to choose incorrectly. This is what prevents us from being able to reach our utmost potential. Without that, we will never truly solve problems or eradicate evil in this world. Simply put, we cant because we will always have the ability to choose it. This is pandemic at the largest scale. It is not a few bad seeds but basically bad code in all.
We need to re-adjust our thinking in order to address this and stop proliferating the hollow ideal that says we can rise above it. We are breeding a problem by preaching two sides of this coin. We either preach that you are bad and will be punished by a God who is out to get you or we preach a false sense of security in that if you try hard enough you will finally after great patience and struggle reach a state of set actualization that will afford you true peace and happiness. I realize there are many other philosophical views on life but they seem to either broach off of or are summed up in these archetypes. Both however are wrong.
If we keep reproducing the same ideas without addressing the root cause we will never reach our intended and true potential. We can choose to blame God for instilling the bad code if we wish. There is a flaw in that as well. It presupposes that the code is bad because of the programmer and not the choices of the program. In other words if we always answered by choosing right, we would be able to reach God on our own. Again, the devil is in the details. We would be able to reach our human potential, but that does not mean we would attain or reach godliness. We would simply be fully productive humans or in other words, machines. God is what makes the machine human. God is the one who brings value to the potential. God is the one who brings reality to the dream. God is the one who takes that bad code and corrects it by forgiving the wrong choices and rebooting the program. God is the one who takes what is wrong and makes it right. God is the one who brings relationship to existence. God is the one who makes true potential occur. God is the one who takes bad code and makes it a son.
Without understanding the true expectations of the program, we will never be able to correct the bad code to reach what the program was intended to do.