Sunday, August 16, 2009

Starbucks Idiocy

I recently have noticed something about Starbucks customers...there are the annoying ones, the dumb ones, the smart ones, the too smart ones, and the OCD. But, I am going to discuss something that might offend some. I call them the "Frappuccino People."

Frappuccino people bother me. Seriously. There is nothing more annoying to the average barista at Starbucks than a weekend or evening Frappuccino person. For one thing, in the drive thru they keep us waiting to decide what they want. Save the time, just tell us which frappuccino and move on. Don't pretend that you are smart and browsing our menu. The longer you wait to tell us that you want a Carmel frappuccino, the more we're going to be annoyed with the fact you made us wait to hear the obvious. Sometimes, we are surprised and get something like a Carmel Macchiato (not really a Macchiato for you people who do know what you're talking about, but still is labeled that by Starbucks). Don't think you people who surprise us with that are anything special. It's the drink we tell people to get if they want espresso but don't know what they want beyond that.

Second, the Frappuccino person typically thinks they are something special for having come to Starbucks in the first place to get something. Suddenly, they are a part of some elite upper middle class group and now can be labeled snobbish. Really...get over yourselves. You're not anything special for having got a drink that half the population gets when they come to Starbucks, because half the population do not know what they want. It's not an elite social club. Starbucks has millions of customers and has thousands of stores. You get a drink that is not that complicated to make, but is time consuming. It's called something fancy to make you feel fancy. Get over the illusion.

Third, the Frappuccino person does not tip. Look, I don't expect tips from everyone. But, it is notoriously the case that on weekends when we get the most frappuccinos are also the time we get some of our lowest tips for the day. That is because the common person who comes into Starbucks who thinks they are something special for having come to Starbucks though they bought a predictable, but time-consuming drink, doesn't think that tipping is anything they should do. They just bought a pricey $4 drink. Look, it's not our fault that you decided to not branch out and try our REAL coffee and espresso drinks. And even those people who spend $5 on an espresso drink by adding shots or whatnot, those people tip. We don't get paid a lot. If you are so special with your newly-given faux upper middle class status, why not tip? Make us and you feel even better!

Fourth and final, the Frappuccino person in a minivan is dangerous. That usually means there are multiple Frappuccino people in the van and we have to make multiple Frappuccinos, hence backing up the drive-thru line when it is supposed to be there for driving in and out with your drink. Ordering 4-5 Frappuccinos at one time in the drive-thru is annoying, ridiculous, incredibly stressful and time-consuming, and makes other customers behind you unhappy for having to wait. It's rude and does not follow drive-thru etiquette. If you really want all those Frappuccinos. Let us make them for you inside where you can sit on your keisters for a bit and we can help both inside and outside customers. People in their cars in the drive-thru can get their drinks quicker and the line in the store will still move despite your order.

I will make a subset of the 4th definition. Do not come to the drive-thru 15-20 min before close and order a large number of frappuccinos We are people, too, who want to get home at night at a decent hour.

I mean this set of annoyances to be generalizations and to be taken in good fun. I hope nobody was seriously offended by the things I said. But, that being said...you people annoy us. Thank you for your business.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

His Eyes Are on the Sparrow

I just read my devotional and corresponding passage of Scripture. The passage itself was Matthew 10:16-31. In this section of Scripture, Jesus is telling His disciples that they will go through all sorts of persecution, betrayal, and hatred because of the fact they follow Him and do things in His name. They should not worry, however, because when they speak, they speak with the Spirit of the Father. They should not worry because those who persecute them and kill them can only kill the body and not the soul. If they are God's house, they are in His spirit. No servant is greater than the master. God cares for them all and they should worry because things are in God's hands. The writer of Matthew uses the quotation about God watching the sparrow and they are sold cheaply, how much more will He care about us. This is a similar quotation as Jesus in Luke 12 speaking of the wild flowers of the field. Different contexts, similar thought, do not worry about your own well-being. God will care for you.

I prayed to God take my worries into His hands that I may have peace in my heart. I prayed that He would give me the strength to relinquish them completely. All those temptations; my worries regarding work, friends, family, and Amanda; and my feeling inadequate . God gave me this image of all these things in balloons floating away into a partly cloudy sky. I can't get them back. They're not mine. They're not in my control. They're in God's hands now.

Even now there is a temptation to jump and reach them, but I cannot. God loves me. I kept reminding myself of this fact this morning. No matter what I do or what I've done or will do, I am worthy of love because God says so!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sports Tribalism II

A friend of mine on facebook has been inspired to take up this topic, but from the negative standpoint. I still maintain my stance that sports tribalism is largely of its own accord, harmless, innoculous, and actually feeds basic behaviors without resorting to killing and bloodshed.

I do think he has made some good points, a couple of which I want to address here.

1) The focus upon sports is entirely too much. While I believe that due to its nature as entertainment, yes, it is publicized. However, it is entirely too focused upon. People's days sometimes hang on the balance of how their team did. Betting leading to gambling addictions and problems within sports and out are a problem of its status. And perhaps, the worst, the allure of fame brings temptations of drugs that the young adult cannot always handle. Like, Hollywood though, the price comes with the fame. If we are to be entertained by people who desire to entertain, then there comes a risk. I do not like the fact that some fall to it. But, that is more due to a societal problem than to sports itself. People can either come at this from greed or from poverty. Either way can be dangerous.

2) People who enjoy sports the most tend to be people who need to participate or at least exercise the most. This is a generalization, a gross one in fact. But, it is not without some truth. At memorabilia shows, what kind of guys do you typically see? My stereotype of said persons is a big balding fat guy, possibly with a beer gut. That is why it is good that athletes are starting a movement with youth to get them exercising. Using their celebrity as athletes to promote athleticism should be expected.

Back to this point of celebrity. These men and women are celebrities. Many of them have charities and many of them heavily support charities. There is a goodness that arises from athletes as celebrity. Good organizations can do good things for the community. It can inspire us to help. Yes, I know the other side of the coin is advertisement for products and the capitalist system, but that's not entirely bad either.

With any good thing as I see modern day sports as being, there is the tendency to overdo it and to inject it with negative things and commercialize it. No Christian would deny that Christmas is a very special day, but it is highly commercialized and it is really overdone in society. And those who find it very important still are part of the problem. But to stop sports as it is now would take a societal reversal which would have a huge impact on our economy for good or ill. And to stop sports is unnecessary anyway. It is an entertainment industry. It just needs to be slightly edited to not be so strong an influence on the daily life of the average human being.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sports Tribalism

I have pondered quite a bit about the phenonmenon of sports tribalism. We belong to particular categories each of us. Some of us are Democrats, some Republicans. Some are fans are particular groups of musicians or even genres. Whenever we find someone else in the same particular category, we have an instant connection, a tribe of music genre enthusiasts. In sports, it is particularly evident. Cubs fans, Yankees fans, Packers fans, Bears fans, oh my... Anyway, we very much identify with a particular team, those of us who are devoted sports fans. I am one of those. I can live and die with a team (the Cubs). Those who surround me know that. There's even a tendency for those of us who are fans of a particular team to use the term "we" in connection with the actual performing team. We are connected to their success or lack thereof. We use it to taunt and jeer at opponents' fans; they are a part of another tribe. We cannot allow them to see success without us seeing defeat. It's nationalism at a different level. It's a whole new ballgame when a nation's teams are in competition with one another. But, at the level I speak of, it's a relatively innocent nationalism. You rarely see wars fought over the score of the Cubs-White Sox series (maybe embattled egos, family splits, but rarely bloodshed). The Red Sox-Yankees series has come close though. It's a battle for pride, spirit, and stronger identity. Speaking as a Cubs fan, I can't see myself as anything else in baseball. I identify myself with the struggles of my team and with other Cubs fans as we see the team try to overcome the curse of 101-year World Series championship drought. Ok, but enough rambling. It's a fun topic to talk about, but I'm on a break at Starbucks and it's time I use my time for something else more constructive.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ideas

How much are we based on genetics and environmental influences? Quite a bit perhaps, but not all the way.
Where do the images in our head that have no equal in the sensory perception world? Where do they come from (i.e. fantasies)? How do we create them? Perhaps in this latter question, we just base our fantasy or image upon a similar image that we know, but it still means we created an immaterial existence from what? Neurological pathways?

Where does an idea come from? Original to one's self? New to the rest of the world. It's an immaterial thought, is it proven by empiricism? Historical fact? An idea obviously can evolve as itself. It's truth can be debated and not necessarily on the terms of whether or not it really happened. We live in a society that says that the only way something is true is if it is proven to be true based on evidence. What happened to the goods of morality and ethics based on idealogies and logic? What happened on what it meant to be human as a soul and not just as a body? What happened to the soul? What happened to the idea that Truth itself is something that cannot be completely comprehended, contained? Truth itself does not need to be proven to have happened. It needs to make sense to what it means to be the very basic of human. It gives us meaning. For there to be no Truth, means there is little basis for the existence of anything. That is why most humans agree on several fundamental truths (i.e. the golden rule). It evolved that way. Maybe. But, why is it good? Why should we not beat the brains in of the person who has something we want and learn to protect it ourselves? Why is it good to love other people, love strangers? Why be altruistic? It is a sorry answer to say that it is merely because of genetic selfishness. Why is it GOOD to be altruistic? You do not benefit, and those who you serve may not benefit from the attempt, but the attempt is still noted.

Perhaps it is because the Truth behind the matter is more than a mere idealogical statement of the Tie that binds the human to the other. Perhaps the Truth is way more complicated. Perhaps it takes the form of a Supreme Being. Perhaps this Being decides to reveal Truth and reveals what it means to be human. Human in its true form. Love in its true form. Truth in its true form. Is it even possible? Yes. I sure hope it's true.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Written Thoughts

I needed to write down thoughts. Amanda wrote in her blog recently and said that when she wrote, it was like a prayer. I do not pretend to the have the desire to write like she does. I do not want to become a professional writer. That's the problem. Not the not wanting to be a writer, but the fact that I can only say, "I don't want to do (fill in the blank)."

I feel like I'm in a storm of life right now. Rain is splashing on me. Lightning is flashing and blinding me. Thunder is deafening me and I don't know which way to turn. I'm wet, blind, and deaf. I'm like a newborn puppy. And yet, something keeps me from seeking God in all of this. Why? I wish God would reveal that to me. I don't know why I can't seek a real relationship with Him, why I cannot fully trust Him. There is also something keeping me from desiring the Christian fellowship I really need.

I'm glad I have friends. I'm glad I have family. But, nobody besides perhaps one or two people actually understand what I'm going through and even then, not completely. And they understand the need for a good job. A couple I believe even knows my feelings about the lack of direction. They can be sympathetic with me and suffer along, but they cannot do much more. I need someone to mentor me. To help me get through this time. I need direction. I need someone in my life who has been through it.

I'm a 25-year-old who lives with his parents, works in the food service industry, has three degrees (none of which seem to be very practical), and has loans to pay off soon with no steady job to actually do that with. I'm angry I'm in this position. I'm angry with the lack of direction in my life. I am angry that my car is always falling apart, and I can't afford a newer one. I feel angry that I have been mistreated recently and have no course but up for this. What am I supposed to do with all this when I feel no way to give it to God? Why can't I trust Him with this? I...have...little...joy...

I can't say I don't have any joy. Amanda, family, friends, frisbee, and baseball (though the Cubs bring me little joy lately either...). And with the exception of perhaps the first two (sorry to those who might be offended by this), the best the later things do is distract me from the pain created within myself because of the desire for something greater than my current state and feeling helpless to change it. So, here is my prayer, my exasperation, my current state. And yet, few will know of it despite the fact it is on the worldwide web. I wish there were more to help me through the fellowship I desperately need. Someone find me...

Monday, February 23, 2009

When Truth Becomes a Matter of Life and Death

C. S. Lewis wrote, "You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you." He wrote his for a different reason than what my reason currently is. But, his first: Lewis had just suffered the death of his wife, Helen Joy. He was really struggling with the grief and how to relate to God at the time. He was questioning his beliefs about God. He wasn't doubting God's existence, but what kind of God there is. Lewis during that time ranted that God is sadistic and gives us little joy in a trap to make us distraught and despairing in the end. This statement was made because he was really making that faith he had all the more real by challenging it. It had become a matter of life and death for him, because it was so challenged.I feel myself going through a moment where the truth or falsehood of my faith is a matter of life and death. I am kind of struggling with it right now. I do believe in God. I do believe in Jesus Christ. I just don't know how much right now: how much I believe, how much I trust, how much He's real. I also don't know how real He is. Some of this is due to my own "rebellion" but also to honest doubt.

I went to a lecture by Dr. Francisco Ayala and he pointed out what kind of God we would have if we go with an ID standpoint. I'll just say that one point he made about what this creator would look like troubles me. How many animals have suffered and died as a result of the natural functions and instincts of other animals? Much pain has been inflicted and if God created and guides the creation, then He could almost be accused of sadism and infinite abuse. We despised Michael Vick for pitting pit bulls against each other Lions rip apart their prey. Sharks cause much pain to their prey (except for whale sharks). What about all the diseases that have arisen and inflicted much pain on human and animal alike? So, I don't know how to answer that. This did not make me disbelieve in God. His point of view on the relationship of science and religion is not appealing to me (seems more like a schizophrenic culture of thought). But, that challenge is still there.

This isn't the only reason for my difficulties. I'm struggling to make any effort to do much, let alone my relationship with God. I'm struggling to care. Not about life, but the things of life. I love my life. I feel simultaneously confident and low at the same time though. I'm worried about the outcomes of upcoming events (end of the certificate program, end of Amanda's mom's academy time, etc.). And when May comes, who knows if I will be able to find a job? I don't want to work at Starbucks forever (it's a great place, just not my career ideal obviously). I also have loans coming to term. I still live with my parents and I'm in major debt. None of these things do I feel all that confident about the results or where I am currently. It sucks. And I'm trying to find how out how it's all going to work out. God seems to have left me in a suffering but not out economy. If I believe truly, He has led me into a field that I am not sure I will be qualified for or find a job in (as zoos aren't doing as well as they once have). Is God there? Is He watching? Does He care to lend a hand? Give me strength? I am so stressed about everything (including current class projects).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy 200th Darwin!!! Plus the Wonderfulness of the Body (of Christ)

Yes, today is February 12th making it Darwin's 200th birthday. In 1809 Charles Robert Darwin was born and when he turned 50, he wrote the work that would eventually change the mindset of western society with regards to origins. Does that mean everyone agrees with it? Not at all. It is still very controversial still today. Which by the way means that this year will be the sesquicentennial anniversary of The Origin of Species. So, wherever you are, Mr. Darwin (and I hope that I will see you in paradise though it doesn't look likely), happy birthday.

That being out of the way, now I can cover what I think it of ultimate importance. On Tuesday night, I was driving to Duluth with Amanda. A piece of trim rusted out and came off of my car, but not before slicing the tire causing it to shred the outer layer. Luckily, we were only a couple miles from an exit, so I drove up to that exit. We stopped at a gas station first only to find it closed. And Amanda really REALLY needed to go to to the bathroom. So, we stopped by a church that had its lights on. There were some cars in the parking lot, so we knew some people were there. She went up and knocked on the door (as the doors were locked). Someone let her in. Amanda told someone of our predicament and out comes Chris, the youth leader of the church (Harris Evangelical Covenant). He comes out and we attempt to get the tire off. However, there is a bolt with a weird grove in it that requires a special tool to get it out. Using the advice of my dad, we used two screwdrivers to finally get it out. We then proceeded to remove the lugnuts. However, one proved especially difficult. We couldn't get the wrench to wrap around it properly. The wrench proceeded to break. This sent Chris on a long search to find a wrench in another car. However, most of the people there didn't have one in their cars!!! The one we did find did not fit. Chris also had called another guy who goes to the church, Bill, to come out and help. He had a set of tools for the occasion. He was able to loosen the last lugnut and we were able to get the tire off and the new one on. My thanks go out to all the people who lent their keys to Chris for he and I to hunt for another wrench and especially to Chris and Bill who were a very, very big blessing to Amanda and me. I was so proud to be a Christian and to find brothers and sisters so willing and able to help was such a huge testament to me of the power of Christ still in the Church. I really needed that.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Randomness

I have to be honest that I didn't know what I was going to write on here before I wrote it. I just felt the need to write. Perhaps on an internet blog isn't the best place, but opening up some thoughts could be therapeutic.

I have no idea where my life is heading. I live with my parents. I'm 25 years old. I've been in school all but 5 years of my life. I'm kind of tired of it and I am ready to actually go out and make a living. And yet I am also scared of the opportunity. Does that make me weak? Am I less of a man?

I have so much stuff I want to read but don't feel the motivation to do so. I have this sense that if there is work to be done for class, then there is no time for free reading. However, I am also a procrastinator. Darn these personality quirks!!!

I wish I wasn't so lazy and had more will power. I guess that relates to the previous thing but I also mean that in life in general, especially when it comes to my faith. I pray for patience, but I can't deal with the pressure of it when God gives me the opportunity for growing in patience. Or, perhaps I have grown in patience but do not recognize it.

I feel as though I'm in some sort of spiritual adolescence. I know that many people say that we never really grow out of that in some ways, but I really feel as though I am. I know I am growing, but at the same time I feel the need to rebel because I do not understand the changes in me. It makes me kind of chuckle thinking about it. Good thing God can take insults hurled at Him better than earthly parents can :).

I don't think the Cubs will win the World Series this year. Call it a hunch. They've blown their chances with great talent in the minors and have troubles developing it into major league talent. And the ones we do develop, we trade away. We are going the way of the "immediate satisfaction." Since when do the Cubs need to do that? Is there any pressing now that it's been a century? Don't sign a bunch of older guys to piece together a team!! If anything the Rays taught us from last year is that you don't need big time talent. You need a team! That's why the Yankees haven't won a World Series since 2000. Sure, they make the playoffs most years, but they never win the World Series. The Rays didn't either, but dang if they won the AL East with it. And to be fair, the Phillies were red hot in the playoffs with terrific pitching and a deep lineup. The Phillies also had good team chemistry. That's what helps you win. (i.e. I hope Felix Pie stars on the Orioles and makes the Cubs regret what they've lost.)

I can't wait to see the new Star Trek movie. I know that classic Trekkers will probably denounce this as Trekkie Heresy, but I like the fact that J. J. Abrams decided to reinvent the Star Trek franchise and use the young talent of today. I was initially bothered by the fact that they went back in time...yet again. But, I think it was the right way to go now that I've seen the previews and the casting done. I will say that nobody has seen the movie, so who knows how it really turns out? That being said, it was still a nice attempt by Abrams to rejuvenate the franchise and get the younger people interested. My brother has already said he wants to see it and he's not a Trekkie by any means.

Do you think God laughed when He created the platypus line of organisms? It's like He thought, "I'm going to put this hodgepodge creature together and let thinking beings go, 'What the...?' I'm going to soupe this thing up with an electrosensory bill, a food pouch (aka cupholders for animals), a poisonous spike, and for fun--a beaver-like tail though I haven't created beavers yet...I'll get to that later. Those will be funny too. Oooh and those will dam water sources and live in little stick-made housings..." Nature can be funny.

Do you think God laughed when the Royals franchise entered the MLB?

Chase is a funny dog. He's my sister's German shepherd/puggle mix. He's so awkward but intelligent. And he's also very mischevious. He's like a nerdy Matt Damon of dogs (Good Will Hunting reference for those of you who do not know).

Well, enough random thoughts for now. I have to actually do something today. Amazing, eh? Hope whoever reads this (Amanda, Keith, maybe Angela?), has a great day!

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Poem from My Period of Doubt "Coward"

This is a poem I wrote when I was 21 and going through a period of personal doubt about faith.

Coward

The man knows
Neither strength nor conviction
For his ways are weak
And shift as the sand
In the midst of the tide.
He believes in much
But holds tightly to little.
As to his conviction
He holds nothing long
For fear that one day
That will be washed away.
Strong feelings for his fellow human
He holds not
For fear of failing them.
Better for that man to die
Than to live in this existence
But that is too much mercy
To be wasted upon the coward.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dispelling the False Myths of Evolution (and Christians' dealings with it)

I was pondering on my long drive home this evening from Duluth to Des Moines how many myths there are in the evolution "debates." This includes in some ways myths that both sides have produced and perhaps this will be a series as I find more to disspell. But, a few tonight will suffice.

1. Charles Darwin did not think up the theory of evolution as an affront to God. Darwin tried to be an objective inductionist (letting the evidence lead you as it may). While that is not a great methodology (deductionism is a little bit better), he wasn't trying to disprove God. It was a gradual descent into doubt. Yes, evidence in nature did lead him to doubt, it did not lead him to rule out the Divine. What finally broke his belief in a personal God was his own daughter's suffering and death. He saw death and suffering in nature as well. He could not reconcile this difficulty with a belief in God. No, this was not the only thing that led him to doubt--he did believe that humans and "lower" animals did have many similar things in common (though his speculations which I will not get into here are sometimes bad metaphors).

2. Charles Darwin did not recant. His own wife who was a believer says he did not recant. He did have some difficulties with the theory later in life, but not because some creationists gave him a hard time. At the time he was not aware of a monk named Gregor Mendel living in virtual reclusivity came up with the founding of modern genetics. Without this knowledge of how characters actually arise and thus naturally selected, he resorted in his later years to some forms of Lamarckianism. This is the idea that animals change because they need to and thus pass on the traits. A giraffe needs to reach the leaves on a tree and thus will stretch out its neck. The next generation inherits that trait. Don't laugh because even this has some truth to it (not the extreme example I gave, but that evolution has to start somewhere and this change begins at an individual who passes it on if successful to another generation until perhaps a population is altered by it).

3. Christians did not all reject his theory of natural selection. I remember reading even on a young earth creationist site (icr.org) that a little known man had actually came up with a similar hypothesis on natural selection. I'm not talking about the well known "rival" of Darwin's, Alfred Russell Wallace, who also defended Darwinism, but a creationist of sorts. And Darwin also does give credit to a man who wrote in a botany periodical who had a similar idea to his. Also, B. B. Warfield, a well-known 19th century Presbyterian fundamentalist, said that Darwin's theory was an acceptable creation story. Asa Gray, well-known American botanist who wrote THE manual on botany, was also a devout Christian (also a Presbyterian) who wrote to Darwin that he did not see himself the difficulties in reconciling a theory such as Darwin's with Christian faith.

4. Creationists are not idiots. Since when in the univeresity has it become acceptable to persecute academics who do not agree with a theory. Isn't the job of academia to search for truths or Truth and challenging ideas? Why is it wrong to challenge evolution? Why is it required to accept wholeheartedly the theory of evolution? I personally believe that it best explains natural origins. I believe that God has always sustained nature and thus believe that I am a "evolutionary creationist." He created using evolution. Anyone who knows how the scientific method works and is an honest scientist knows that the method can't prove the theory of evolution beyond a shadow of a doubt. Nothing can be proven given the method. And also, anyone who knows even a little bit of how theories are made, knows that they are not incorruptible. Many theories have been overturned in history because evidence led another path and was explained better by a different reason than before. Perhaps in the future, if honest science will be allowed, the theory of evolution will be overturned in light of the evidence and we'll find a better explanation of origins. Or, perhaps, the theory will be modified in light of the evidence based on the work of honest scienitists. Until then, we can use the evolutionary theory as a basis, a paradigm. But, to be an honest scientist using the method of deduction, one does not need the paradigm.

Enough for now...

Historic Day

I have to admit that today I was watching movies with Amanda today as now President Barack Obama was sworn in. I missed the historic event. Am I sad today? Not really, but when my kids ask me about it, I might be. What happened today was huge. A black man was elected as president. Our country is not perfect and it still could be improved (and will always need to be), but what a historical day when a country can come together and celebrate a new leader. Not just a new leader, an idealistic new leader. No, I did not vote for him. I voted for experience in Senator John McCain. However, I was not particularly tied to either candidate strongly. I will say that President Obama intrigues me in a way that leads me to cautious optimism. I truly, I really do mean truly, hope that he is able to improve this country both inward and how it appears outwardly. I will be watching him closely these next four years. If he is the man we believe him to be and is able to be a great president, I will not hesitate in four years to place my vote to keep him in. If he is not, I will not hesitate to go the other way (or perhaps to a third party...I know I'm throwing my vote away, but I still believe in the duties of a citizen to vote).

And also on this historical day, we can celebrate that civil rights in this country has come far from what it was though still far from perfect. Many minority Americans are still impoverished. The rights of citizens of our own country are violated every day still whether it be due to race, gender, religion, or some other cause (even homosexuals--I believe homosexuality is a sin, but they are still persecuted). I know from seeing firsthand the poverty of some areas (and this is just in daylight). Areas where there is no good plumbing. Where children have to walk to school and home from school with drugdealers waiting. Children having to buy their own food because their parents are too busy working to feed them because they are trying to keep the homes where their children sleep. And in many areas crime rates are high because city governments (or state governments) remove city lights from those areas. In my own state, women and children are abused without anyone caring a damn. And those that do are powerless.

But, do (and I really mean it not sarcastically) celebrate the day! Our country has seen the day when a man of another race was elected and now sworn in as president. We have been able to at least look beyond race and see that this man has potential to lead us into a better future. Congratulations Mr. President Obama. I wish you the best and I will be praying for you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

It Has Been Awhile II

Life comes at you fast, hard, and with difficulty. These last few months I have had little chance to actually write something that has come to mind though I've had several things that I would have liked to write down. Now that I waited, many of them are gone. The brilliance of an idea cannot be revealed if the light keeping it visible is snuffed out. Then again, perhaps the same can be said about the stupidity...

I plan on writing more as things come up. I like to write my ponderings. Sometimes like my coooperative altruism post I think I could have cleaned it up better and made it make more sense. Essentially what I was getting at was that loving your neighbor and helping them while society dictates than act received is an act returned can go together. Requirement of returned favors is selfish, but the hoping and expecting of them without judgment is not. If we all could do good things for others, be inspired by the selfless acts and to do them ourselves, why should that be considered selfish? Why should mutual self-giving be considered an oxymoron? It would be a wonderful world if we actually enacted such a behavior into our mainstream. Imagine that! What if 'love thy neighbor' really meant something? And we did this to cooperate with our fellow human beings because they are human beings, created in the image of God!

Anyway, I rambled again... I want to write more. I will write more. Hopefully I will get more readers sometime. In the meantime, to those who have read me in the past (you know who you are as you are the only two on my list...) thank you and I want to say I'm back to blogging again!

Cooperative Altruism

What would cooperative altruism look like? It seems like something that would not go together, because altruism is by definition an act done for the good of another without reward for the one acting. Cooperation implies that people are acting together and expect each other to carry a load. I coin this phrase because I believe that too many times in our society we carry the burden of feeling guilt over a good deed. We do a good deed. We feel good about doing the good deed. We feel guilty that we felt good over doing the good deed. Society has taught us such a feeling is selfish, however, inescapable. Why?

It seems as though that if we receive reward or ample accomodation for having done the event, it is seen as selfish. In this world, it would be impossible in the end to do anything truly selfless because ultimately it is seen as selfish. I believe the word 'selfish' has been used too often. There are truly great deeds done in selfishness, true. However, we should not eliminate the possibility of altruism besides in reproduction (kin selection).

When someone risks their life for another, saves that person in peril, does that person necessarily expect something in return? Maybe, maybe not. Say the latter is true. The person saved may still feel as though a debt is owed. In our society, gifts all too often are received with the need to return the favor. While this is true, it is not entirely bad. However, that should not be a bad thing necessarily. If the person chooses to reward the selfless act, and the recipient accepts, was the initial act selfish? Again not necessarily! Here is my thought: even if we are ensnared by society's view that a good act should be rewarded and we expect it, does it necessarily follow that we require it? I may do something of a selfless nature for someone else. I think that it would be nice in courtesy if that person return the favor, but if they do not, I do not require it. To REQUIRE reward would make an action selfish. To expect it because the exchange of favors is commonplace is not. Sure, I would like my sibling to pay me back the money s/he owes me, but if they never do I'm not going to demand it of them.

I believe that God did give us the ability to feel some high feeling from doing a marvelous act for someone else. If we do it just to get that feeling, we are in the wrong. But, to have that feeling is not wrong. We should doing good things to the point that we don't even notice that feeling because our minds will have been so set on the giving nature of God's love above, that we won't notice the change in our thinking--it will be already heavenly. God does good things for us without requiring us to return the favor. He helps us to do so in some ways (by loving, serving, following Him), but He loves us knowing we can't possibly do so. That is the true nature of altruism.

So, here I am at this final place. While we cannot be God-like altruistic in this life, we can be cooperatively altruistic. We can do good deeds for other people at our own cost. Expect that this will move this person to do something good for you or someone else. But, do not require repayment nonetheless. Cooperation through expectation without judgment and requirement. Love thy neighbor...