Sunday, June 30, 2013

Reflections on "The Problem of Evil/Pain"

“Christianity is called the religion of pity….A man loses power when he pities. Through pity that drain upon strength which suffering works is multiplied a thousand fold.  Suffering is made contagious by pity; under certain circumstances it may lead to a total sacrifice of life and living energy”    Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti Christ

I was recently skimming over the book, “Has Christianity Failed You?” by Ravi Zacharias.  There is a point in the book where he discusses the "The problem of pain"/"The problem of evil" and he responds to this problem by suggesting that through the pains and trials of our lives, we end up drawing closer to God. He even quotes a friend of his in India who often prays for America, “It must be hard to trust in God when you already have so much.”

What I’m gathering here is that the underlying theological response to “The Problem of evil/pain” is that it exists so that one might become more dependent on God. A person’s faith in God would end up strengthening their lives as they experience trials, tribulations and persecutions. Thus, the Christian response to the Problem of evil/pain is that yes—it obviously exists, but it is here to improve our relationship with God—to recognize our own weakness as we consider the big picture of our plight through this earthly experience that will one day usher us into eternity.

Now, in a way, they are right.  In a way, the Problem of Pain might end up making a Christian believer turn inward and reflect more upon the faith that they have. There is no reason why a person’s belief wouldn't act as a type of placebo effect—where the individual could draw positive strength from it.  This might help improve their situation and provide them with the mental fortitude to keep going (instead of kill themselves or resorting to “life is meaningless”.

I want to suggest that while there are pains in the world, one doesn't have to have faith or belief in God to get  through the rough times. There are plenty of individuals who have made it through without any particular faith. To assert that a person requires a deep faith to get them through a tough circumstance discounts all of the testimonies of all who have made it through the rough patches without deferring to god, or, belief in god(s).

You can draw strength from your own self—through the recognition that you have the power and will get through it. To quote Nietzsche again, “Pity stands in opposition to all the tonic passions that augment the energy of the feeling of aliveness: it is a depressant.”

There are many individuals who have taken this journey and succeeded. They recognized that indeed, they could dredge up a sense of power and responsibility in themselves. Once you feel you have that power, wouldn't you now be more apt to go about taking physical steps to improve your situation?

I would think that when you defer your sense of power to an authority (or anything outside yourself)—while it might strengthen you to some extent to know that you have a guide—it might actually weaken, or obstruct your sense of strength that you can derive from yourself. Tethering your self worth to a non-existent being might not be the best approach either.

Friday, June 14, 2013

How I make Money on the Internet, (Satire)

 "How to Get Rich on the Internet"
(Satire Advertisement)

Tired of slogging through your days working long, arduous hours as a janitor or cashier? Are you sick of being financially dependent on your girlfriend or parents? Have no fear! Research has shown that due to the insatiable human craving to be rich, simply writing up a “Get Rich” advertisement on your blog will dramatically improve your odds of becoming rich. Why? Inside everyone is a mathematically-challenged lottery ticket consumer. Everyone naturally wants to become rich.  Once they spy your catchy blog post, they’ll inevitably click on it, hoping you can offer them advice on becoming rich. You won’t of course; you’ll just proceed to taunt them with what you’re trying to sell. Also, you’ll make a passive income by way of people clicking on your blog.

For the sake of this advertisement, let’s consider the history of all these “Get Rich Quick” gurus and how they’ve acquired their own wealth. What’s their secret, you ask? The secret behind all of these get-rich-quick gurus is that they’ve written books about getting rich or conducted seminars offering “Strategies on becoming rich”.  Here’s the clincher: every “Get rich quick” book is a cleverly disguised way of helping the author get rich, not you, silly. After all, whose the one buying the book or piece of software that will inevitably be stowed away in the crevice between the sofa cushions?

So how can you achieve your goal of becoming rich by simply writing up a simple blog advertisement about becoming rich? Here’s where the trick comes in. Instead of offering your potential patron advice on becoming rich, point them in the direction of your best selling book. The book doesn't have to be anything witty or densely packed with a step by step plan for wealth attainment. Instead, it should have lots of vague verbiage with heapings of obscure jargon where you blather on about “positive thinking” and “reframe your thinking” and “look at every failed opportunity as a learning lesson” and “diversify your stocks” and “make everything automated” “develop a passive income” and "find ways to achieve a positive net cash flow with rental properties” and “start a budget”…you get the picture.  In no time at all you’ll have penned out a novel that you can transform into $29.95. Give the consumer enough of the same tripe they've already heard from every other “get rich” book they've ever read and they’ll instantly credit you as being a financial guru in whom they can trust.

 What's next, you ask? The rest we leave to the glorious placebo effect. The person feels better after they've read your book, making them feel as though “They've done something” and “They’re on the road to wealth”---and you just made $29.95 off their desire to become rich.

Get rich today! Make sure to purchase our book entitled “How to write a catchy blogpost about becoming rich” for $29.95!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Christian man shortage? Should Christian women follow the command to not be unequally yoked?

Another problem with religion is that it has social implications…social taboos that can negatively impact the quality of your life if you follow them to the letter. I was thinking about this recently…

I’ve noticed an intriguing phenomenon occurring in churches across America. Walk into any church, and I can pretty much guarantee you will notice the disparity in the MALE to FEMALE RATIO. There appears to be far more practicing Christian females than there are practicing Christian males. This has resulted in an interesting cultural phenomenon, an odd shift of sorts, namely, there are far more single Christian women than single Christian men.

Even when I was a believing, practicing Christian, I encountered this at my own church. All the 20-something males were partnered and married off quickly while a sizeable number of Christian women in the same age group remained single.

In fact, whenever I go back to my childhood church I see that many of these Christian women have thriving careers, have kept up their appearance and their spirituality—yet they can’t seem to find a Christian mate. Conversely, I don’t think I can name a single Christian male past the age of 25 that I grew up with who is currently single.  Yes indeed, Christian males get married off very quickly. Even in the Christian world, with decreased supply, comes demand.

 Amidst this imbalanced ratio, there is still the ever quoted Bible verse (2nd Corinthians 6:14) “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers…”.  Considering the disproportionate ratio of males to females in churches these days, this Bible verse seems to benefit Christian males more than Christian females. The options that many Christian women are left with is either to disobey this command and yoke-up with an unbeliever, or, to live the rest of their lives happily single. This is not to suggest that being married is an endlessly sublime experience without trials and tribulations. Nor is this to mean that being single for the rest of one’s life is the epitome of all existence—far worse things could happen, sure.  I just happen to know very few women who say their ideal life is “remaining single and going through the entire rest of their life by their lonesome….err, with Christ as their husband”.  

A number of studies seem to show a correlation between marriage and health and overall happiness. Some studies even show that married people live longer Finally, married women are also better off financially than single women There are truly many advantages to being married that married people probably take for granted that many singletons are profoundly aware of.

Some of these unmarried Christian women I know do initially seem to think that it is much better to remain single than to marry a man who isn’t a Christian. They talk about the “consequences” of entwining their lives with such a person.  This is easier said than acted upon, long-term. It is hard to go through one’s entire life fighting off one’s natural urges to find love and companionship simply because the Bible commands “Do not be unequally yoked”. For instance, I have one single Christian friend who struggles when being asked out by a particular non-believing male—she wants to get to know him, but realizes he “isn’t spiritually available” and “isn’t a Christian” so she declines the invitation and chooses to wait for the right Christian guy. Like many other Christian women, she follows advice like the kind in this blog

One of the first pieces of advice offered to the single Christian woman is “You have no business yoking a redeemed soul with an unregenerate one, even if he seems open to change”. (per blog above)   Aside from the fact that this statement exudes divisive, black and white thinking and uses tribalistic language to describe the entire non-Christian male population, does this actually make sense?  Is this a factual, evidenced based account of the average non-Christian male? Should Christian females abstain from forming relationships with non-Christian males simply because the Bible says so?—especially when there are so few Christian males to begin with? Should Christian women simply wait for the right man to come along when studies show women’s relationship options actually become fewer over time?

While there is already a marked decline in male church attendance, I predict that with the internet and this constant access to science, information and other forms of accessible entertainment, this trend will only continue.  Why would this not affect female church attendance too, you ask? I’m sure it will, but my view is that it will not be to the same extent that it would affect male church attendance and male religious affiliation.  Females tend to be generally oriented towards community and social events. A church membership can help fulfill these needs. Also, many studies seem to show that instead of spending time on scientific sites and philosophical debate-type sites that encourage examination and reconstruction of one’s world-view (and abandoning of one’s religion), user demographic data seems to indicate females generally gravitate towards sites like pinterest, and other social media sites, as well as sites that involve fashion, d├ęcor, clothes shopping and anything that involves food and recipes.

From a practical standpoint, Christian females can only expect the Christian mancession trend to continue. Perhaps single Christian females should be more open to forming a relationship with a non-Christian male. Perhaps they should consider objective qualities that matter in reality—like how kind the man is, how he treats you, whether he shares your interests (aside from church) and whether he is a hard worker, is committed, has integrity, honesty and is loyal and caring. Perhaps single Christian women should just abandon their alliance with superstition and magical thinking, realizing that being “Married to Jesus” ends up making you feel lonely in the long-run—because Jesus is the quintessential absent husband and father.

In the end, relationship formation is based upon common interests and traits that you deem important for your partner to have (and vice-versa).  Thankfully, these traits are human traits and can be possessed by both Christian and non-Christian males alike.