Archive for December, 2014

Freedom from or freedom of?

Posted: December 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
That is the text from the first amendment of the Unites States constitution. This amendment allows for personal expression in public places. I find this amendment to be one of the most powerful because, it keeps the state out of the citizens minds and hearts. That is what the freedom of speech means to me.
The nation of France has a constitution. The French constitution is known as “The constitution on the Fifth Republic”.

” France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs. It shall be organised on a decentralised basis.
Statutes shall promote equal access by women and men to elective offices and posts as well as to professional and social positions.”
That text is the first article of the “Constitution of the Fifth Republic”.
On March 15th 2004 the French government passed the French law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in schools. Basically the law bans wearing conspicuous religious symbols in French public (i.e. government-operated) primary and secondary schools.
Freedom of speech and religion is so important. The French law was then and is now a can of worms for the French. A controversial law at best. It seems to me that the law was put in place to avoid discord but may have had the opposite effect.
Freedom is important and should be exercised, as much as one can with reaped for all citizens. Part of me is just taken back by the French law however having seen the violence in the name of freedom part of me sees where reasoning for the law comes from. Let me be clear, I do not support the French law but I do think that respect goes a long way when exercising ones rights.

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry is own weight, this is a frightening prospect.”

Eleanor Roosevelt



Why is church full of hypocrites?

Posted: December 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

I regularly attend Sunday morning religious services, church in other words. The church I attend is of the baptist religion or, the baptist denomination and Christian religion, if you would like to go into semantics. I also try to help with some of the churches ministries when time and finances permit. I have been known to do some housekeeping on he building, cook in a soup kitchen and donate to organizations who give gifts to the destitute. I enjoy helping others with physical and monetary needs. What I do not enjoy and honestly try to avoid is, proselytizing of my friends family and well anyone. Now, before any Christian points to the scripture from the book of Matthew chapter 28, I will concede that I have read this and I think I understand it. For anyone who doesn’t know in the book of Matthew chapter 28 the religious leader and part of Christianity’s divinity commands that all followers spread the message of the leader. The passage of scripture has been dubbed by some religious men as “the great commission”. I do not think the great commission is a command to engage in the conversion of heathen nations but more of a command to let men and women know what your religious beliefs are, when the opportunity arises. Despite the attempt to avoid being a proselytizer I have often mentioned to many contemporaries my religious practices and some have accepted others scoffed. The one claim I have heard from many was “why are there so many hypocrites in church?”
This is a fair question. I love questions. I know for a question there are answers and often the answers can be more questions. I love “chasing rabbits”, “peeling the onion” and “bringing balance to the equation”. The act of answering Questions is, an important part of learning. Learning is fundamental to life, so let’s start learning.
Why is church full of hypocrites. Immediately I would answer that we are surrounded by hypocrites. So, not only church but almost every organization is full of hypocrites. Now the question has morphed a little. Why do we recognize hypocrisy in church more than other organizations and then why are people hypocrites? So church has a record of being judgmental. More accurately put, religion is judge mental. Religion sizes men and women up and decides the fate of their eternal souls. I am not sure if you can get more judgmental than that. Most people do not appreciate standing in judgement. Must people despite, an urging by Aristotle, avoid judging their self. “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
When most face some judgement they become defensive and judge back. So I think first and foremost religion has placed itself “under a microscope” and as such religious hypocrites are spotted quickly.
People avoid judgement and look for aspiration.
“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Some would say that a major part of religion should be aspiration, hope, faith if you will is a cornerstone I all major religions. It is often the action of aspiring people to make bold and almost hyperbolic claims about everything, to include their virtues. It is these statements in the action of “converting the heathens” , that can lead to hypocrisy.
So what of it then is hypocrisy bad?

Hypocrites – they wear gorgeous cloaks lined with lead; pretty outside, awful inside; heavy cloaks force them to behave sedately, although seething within (inner anger); cloak true character in false appearance.” (CIRCLE 8 FRAUD: MALEBOLGE OF FRAUD (ten pockets or pouches for the ten kinds of malicious fraud) (taken from Dante’s Divine comedy.)”
Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy II: Purgatory
My answer is yes hypocrisy is bad. I also believe it is avoidable but, not without great effort. How can one avoid hypocrisy? With introspective evaluation.
I would suggest that we start our evaluations understanding that welfare sophomoric in our knowledge.
“I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.”
The second part to avoid being accused of hypocrite is to keep ones mouth shut. I have often heard the rhetoric that, the church should “speak out” on certain issues. I disagree I would love for religion to not speak so much to certain issues. I would love it if religion would work from within a person and “love out”, not through rhetoric and political action but, in compassionate help with needs.

Get ready everybody

Posted: December 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

Today is December 29th tomorrow will be December 30th and then we will reach December 31st. New Year’s Eve will be here in three days counting today. January 1st will mark the start of 2015 and with the 1st men and women all over the world will began a new, armed with a resolution list in hand. Well, maybe they will??
Will you? When new year starts will you have a list of resolutions in hand? I know, I know, resolutions are hard to keep and to make, but they are not over rated. They aren’t at least, not for me. It took a long time to realize it but I am a list kind of person. Most people are. Pop psychology calls people who take charge and love lists type a personalities. Most type a personalities get stuff done. Do you want to get stuff done in 2015? If the answer is yes, what is it? If you can answer that than do it. Answer the question in a list and write it down. Now that you have a draft (yeah not a list yet), look over it, see what you have written down, get pragmatic. With a pragmatic view you may find the list shrinks or grows. Let it happen. Let the list be organic, you have three days.

I haven’t done this yet but, today before 8 I will have a draft done. Will you?


Jesus and Issac

Posted: December 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

Yesterday was December 25th Christmas. I hope you were able to spend Christmas with loved ones. Christmas is the religious celebration for the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is a part 0f the Christian God (in Christainity there is this whole troinity thing going one real confusimg stuff) who serves as a redeemer and leader.
Yesterday December 25 was also the birth of Isaac Newton. Isaac Newton was was an English physicist (see physics is branch of science concerned with the nature and properties of matter and energy, kind of confusing stuff) and mathematician. Thanks to the work of Isaac Newton, especially, His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (“Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”), man enjoys air and auto travel. Physics is an amazing science that sir Isaac is the father of.
I see some similarities in Isaac and Jesus. While Isaac was not a god or redeemer he did introduce principles to the people that changed lives (a big one was Newtons law of motion) as did Jesus (forgiveness, selflessness and love). Jesus and Isaac lived their lives in such a manner that the helped others and in this their legacy lives on and continues to help. Let’s all celebrate live by helping others.

It is not half empty or half full

Posted: December 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

So one of my favorite radio shows, “This American Life”, did a show about a car dealership and its rush to “make its numbers”. As part of the show some of the radio guys interviewed the sales men on the floor. The interviews were, ( as they always are with “This American Life”) very interesting. The two interviews I found most interesting were ones with the most senior sales associate and one with the most successful sales associate.
The most senior sales associate let the interviewer now that the book ” The Art of War” had all the secrets to successful selling. The guy was a great sales associate, I mean I bought the book the next day.
The most successful sales associate really said something that resonated with what seems the interviewer as well as my self. He said, that when people look at a cup they see it as half full or half empty he sees it as full. The interviewer called this unrealistic optimism. The interviewer felt it was this perspective that made this guy so successful.
I cannot help but think that this perspective can make all of us successful. And while un realistic he isn’t wrong. I mean a cup here on earth is full it is half water half air. See? An unrealistic perspective is not always wrong. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and embrace unrealistic optimism. Of course apply it with logic and reason and make sure that it is good for you and everyone else.

“To be doing good deeds is man’s most glorious task.”



Should you be having a baby?

Posted: December 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

Today’s post title is a question asked often from a judgmental perspective to struggling mothers. Life is hard. Struggle seems to often be intrinsic to the human condition. We may often struggle with our finances or in the rare cases were finances are all “squared away” there can be struggles with our familial relationships. Health issues are another struggle too. Whoever you are, one thing is assured you are not immune from struggle. The struggle is real.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

Friedrich Nietzsche

It can be easy at those moments in life when the sun is shinning and the struggles are far from us to see the plight of others and become a pedantic, judgmental ass and say something like, “should you be having a baby?” It. May feel like your candor is helpful when asking this question but often this is not the case. The confidant who has announced the pregnancy that is here or is being planned. If the confidant is excited share in the excitement. If the confidant is anxious do your best to alleviate the anxiety. Very rarely is candor thought welcome and when it is, as with every interaction, it is best not to make oneself an ass.

They will be back??

Posted: December 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

The umbrella revolution was broken up. It’s over but not the way Tiananmen squares protest was. There was tear gas and soldiers and barricades but no tanks or forced movement. The students made their point then left. No changes in government our commercial entities in Hong Kong but now maybe the ruling class understands that the rest of Hong Kong wants a voice and if they don’t get this voice they, the non ruling class can and will bring the city to a halt.
So was the Umbrella Revolution a success? Maybe not but it did demonstrate how power really works. The ruling class seems to often time, assume that their power is intrinsic to their position in government or finance but see it is not. The ruling class only has the power that has been conceded by everyone else.
The demonstration is over in Hong Kong but I cannot help but think that the revolution is just getting started.