Category Archives: Motivation

Motivation

Outraged

American outrage is getting a bit out of hand. One one hand we have the President of Chick-Fil-A making a comment about his objection to Gay marriage and the company's donations which agree with his rejection. It was a statement meant to play to the “home-team crowd,” was hurtful to a great many people, and is a great example as to why corporations should not be considered people and not have the ability to donate to political campaigns. Yet, the backlash is extreme. People righteously declared being done with Chick-Fil-A, politicians have promised to bar the corporation from opening franchises in their cities, and gay rights groups are calling for a “kiss-in” at Chick-Fil-A locations. Equally strong are the calls to patronize Chick-Fil-A's in defense of freedom of religion and speech. Now look, the kiss-in could actually be a really clever way of publicly commenting on the hurtful statements, provided it was done subtly. I've seen couples come in and smooch at Chick-Fil-A before – they weren't making out or anything, just a quick kiss – and if a series of gay an lesbian couples came into Chick-Fil-A and did that it would be a great protest. The problem is, I don't foresee that happening, because the only emotion Americans seem to have left in the tank, is outrage.

Outrage like the kind being sown among conservstives right now because “Obama said I didn't build my own business!” It doesn't matter if that accusation isn't even true, because Americans want an outlet for our anger and we'll snatch anything which will give it to us. We get outraged by companies, we are infuriated by political opponents, we show hostility toward political allies, we see red at our sports teams. Listen to sports talk radio, regular talk radio, or listen to some “confession cam” diatribes from a reality show (or read the tweets about said diatribes) and you'll see – we are an outraged nation. Our emotional well is out of expressions of grace, personality humility, and joy. The culture warriors all claim they are fighting for rights, or tradition, or for the soul of the country. What they are really doing is arguing over who gets to wear the white hats and who has to wear the black hats – because they've never stopped playing “Cowboys and Indians*.”

There is a time for righteous outrage, there really is. The problem is when we go there for every transgression, the outrage is no longer shocking and bone-jarring, it's toxic. It's toxic because we lose we lose the ability to respond to people with any sense if emotional range. Every response to even the slightest provocation immediately procedes to scorched Earth mode. The bitterness such an approach leaves behind is truly terrible.

Here's the the thing, folks. I'm exhausted by the calls of left/right/middle/Christian/Athiest/Muslim people to join them in outrage. I can't take it any more. I can't take outrsges attacks on other people's beliefs (hidden in a veneer of smugness). I can't take the outraged reaction to an outrageous offense. I can't take the outraged response to the outraged reaction. It's too much, and it's tearing the entire fabric of this society to pieces.

Look, I don't care if you don't want to go to Chick-Fil-A anymore, or if you plan to vote for Mitt Romney. Just make sure when you come to those decisions, and express them to others, they come from a well deeper than the emotion of outrage. We'll all be better for it.

 

* If you are tempted to point out that's offensive, you have completely missed the point.

 

Aside

There’s a myth, prevalent in Western cultures especially, which says there is a place for everyone which is perfectly suited for them.  When people say, “This is what I’m meant to do,” this is often the myth being played out. … Continue reading

Wounded Animals

SOPA - animals are most dangerous when wounded

If you haven’t heard of SOPA (and PIPA in the Senate) then you really need to. Supposedly, it’s about protecting IP from revenue-destroying piracy. In reality, it’s about old-school cabals desperately hanging on to a buisiness model which afforded them monopoly-like profits. In so doing, it will give the Federal government a Orwellian like ability to censure the Internet by enabling them to order DNS (the service which turns an ip address into “http://www.painfullyhopeful.me”) to block access to “rogue sites.”

“So what’s the problem?” you might ask. After all, only the “bad guys” are goign to be blocked, right? Wrong, dead wrong. See, in SOPA there’s no recourse for sites which are accused of being “rogue.” They simply get shut out, end of story. The responsibility, then, is for the people running those sites to prove their innocence — this is the opposite of how our legal system supposedly works. Moreover, DNS is the very backbone of the internet, and our foreign policy is to blast any government which blocks DNS as violating human-rights. The fact that the people making these Laws don’t see this as ironic at all is mind-boggling.

SOPA and PIPA must be stopped becuase, in reality, there is no problem. iTunes and Amazon have shown, beyond a doubt, that when people are afforded an easy way to pay for content (which they can use as they want) they will. The pirates will continue to pirate no matter what draconian measures the MPAA and RIAA purchase from Congress – most poeople will be happy to pay for a decent experience for the content they want. It has always been that way, and the sooner people demand this from content providers the better off we’ll be.

If you want to read up on SOPA and PIPA I recommend this excellent post from CNet. Then, write your representives and tell them this is a horrible idea.

I also recommend this wonderful piece “How Copyright Industries Con Congress” to find out where the bogus numbers used to promote SOPA actually come from.

Individualism

Individualism, every era needs a myth

Human beings are distinct persons, created in the image of God.  The idea of an “autonomous individual,” however, is a little lie we tell ourselves in order to make the modern world work — there is no such thing.  We human-beings are social creatures, and every action we take is done under the auspices of (or in reaction to) the groups to which we belong.  Those teachers we take, the books we read, the friends we embrace, the families from which we spring, and even the sources of our news and information we use all serve to color our perceptions.  It is inescapable.

Now, the idea of the “autonomous individual” isn’t without it’s uses.  It serves to mitigate some of the more destructive aspects of a herd mentality (where any deviation from the norm is quickly punished).  It also frees people to innovate because we believe we are “doing our own thing,” and in that innovation we’re all moved forward.  Some kicking and screaming.

We are not, however, autonomous.  This is a truth we must be aware of so that, even as we embrace the myth of individualism, we are able to recognize the impulses of our herds/clans/groups/packs on our ideas and decisions.  For, if we don’t train ourselves to recognize them and believe myth without reflection, we leave ourselves open to the very destructive impulses individualism seeks to correct.

Worship

 

 I guess people could argue that this should read, “It’s about being changed for service,” but I don’t agree.  All service (both in and out of “church”) is worship, and as we serve we’re supposed to look more like Christ. In a culture where worship  is often rated according to, “What I like,” I don’t find it difficult to understand why so many Christians seem to be anything but Christ-like in thought and action.  When our criteria for worship is us, we are worshipping ourselves.

Let’s be changed as a worshipping people through service to God, God’s image, and God’s Creation in the name of Jesus.

Feeding

If we want to make this super-spiritual I guess we could say that this poster secretly means, “If you feed them the word of God, they will come.” I love preaching and teaching the Bible, but that’s not what I mean in this poster. It seems in this world people are looking for a place to relax, be allowed to enjoy other people, and be free to play.  This is what we did at our Pizza Bash this last fall, and it’s what we hope to do again at the end of this month.

This may not be “super-spiritual,” but it is still deeply spiritual.  The giving and receiving of hospitality may be one of the most spiritual activities we human-beings do — it would be good for us to remember that.  Jesus, after all, offers us his own hospitality by inviting us to his feast.  As his disciples, such a gift should be something we are noted for.

Google Worthy

Jesus, a teacher the Church might want to look in to

The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried. –G.K. Chesterton

This is a quote I often hear repeated by people trying to spur the Church to live out it’s mission.  The “Christian ideal” is not a “free ticket to heaven” for after we die.  The “Christian ideal” is the full teaching of Jesus Christ – which forces us to look at our lives and ask ourselves if we are really living out what Jesus says we’re supposed to be living out.

I think part of the problem is how little time churches tend to spend on the actual teaching of Jesus.  If we spent more time in the teachings of the one we claim as “Lord” (given that Jesus seemed to think obeying his teaching was rather important, I think we should), then I imagine the public outcry heard by Christians would be a lot less about regaining or maintaining cultural power.  Instead public statements, even when we suffer some wrong from others, would sound a lot more like Stephen in Acts 7:60, “Don’t hold this sin against them.”

The Lord who leads to that type of compassionate forgiveness is one worth googling.