Friday, April 27, 2007

Can't believe I haven't spoken about this yet; where has my opinionated mind been?

The Orlando Science Center is running an exhibit of bodies. Real, dead, human bodies. Some stripped of skin, others sectioned off to see the inside, and other gross things. Or so I'm told by people who have gone. I won't. Though you have to look at the billboards of pealed people.


I am not particularly squeamish. It isn't the ghoulishness of the exhibit, it's the raw disrespect of it all. Presumably these are the bodies of people who donated their flesh to science. An exhibit of posed, drawn and quartered people doesn't fit that donation concept.

Nor are all the bodies of adults. Some are children of varying ages. What got to me was driving by one of those billboards with the country song "I Think About You" which is about a man who now views women differently because he has an eight-year-old little girl. I wouldn't want my kids, young or as adults, up there, so I don't want these people who once walked around, dreamed of DisneyWorld, and enjoyed the sunshine to be objects of display.

I especially don't want billboards of them.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

What's your take on adult education?

The government spends a lot of our dollars on education; while I think that should be the responsibility of the parents, I do think the government has a role in adult ed.

Consider that the vast majority of people in prison are uneducated, many don't even have a high school education. So when they are released, the best jobs they can expect to get are entry level, non-skilled jobs: Wal-Mart, Fast Food, etc. Recidivism is no surprise under such conditions (that means they commit crimes again, landing them back in prison).

I'm uncertain about what kind of re-entry to society programs exist for felons, but it seems education should be a big part of that. Not everyone would be interested, but those that are could be seen as trying to make a go of reformation.

Should the government be involved with educating those people who failed to take advantage of public school to begin with?

Monday, April 23, 2007

I had a great conversation with a friend at church, discussing sovereignty and total depravity (the latter greatly aids in understanding the former).

Total Depravity states the core truth that we're stinkers at heart. To begin with, we do nothing to deserve birth, and all our actions are designed around a self-centered viewpoint thereafter. Gallileo was wrong: the world does not revolve around the sun, it revolves around me, or so we each believe. We want what we want when we want it.

"Wait" you say. "We're not all sociopaths!"

And yet, maybe we are. An infant screams and tantrums to get what he/she wants. As the infant grows older, either through individual observation or parental input, the infant learns to avoid a less desirable outcome by couching demands as requests; balancing "get it" behavior with "avoid trouble" behavior.

Imagine that self-centered, me-at-all-costs core of our being as a dirtpile. We construct structures over that core. Social mores, religious trappings, civil laws, all to enable us to function in our chosen societies better (to get what we want as saftely and easily as we can).

This was no problem through much of history. The trappings were rarely challenged outright, and change tended to come slowly.

Today, however, science, religion (cults), and philosophies change dramatically and often; sometimes as quickly as a publishing season delivers fresh books. The structure is ripped apart and rebuilt, sometimes well, sometime not. Sometimes safely, sometimes not.

There have been no utopian societies in our world outside fiction stories. This alone should tell us the truth about ourselves. We have had and still have despotic societies. Nazi Germany fed a lie that our wicked core enabled to spread (had people been good at heart, the lie couldn't take hold, but it did and still does), slavery was another evil that a broken structure enabled, and the list goes on.

Worse still, sometimes society's structures have gaps. Not everyone fits, and those people fall down through the cracks and sink into their own wicked cores. I'd hazzard a guess that the Virginia Tech and Columbine monstrosities were examples of this. While I have no way to confirm this, I'm willing to bet in each case, the perpetrators couldn't accept the structure that was supplanting their own that had "worked" til then, and fell into their wicked core. "I can't have what I want, so I'll take it away from everyone else, too."

As the structures blur and change ever more rapidly, more people will fall through the gaps and take it out on those around them. We all have that inside of us. We're all capable of heinous, selfish things because we were made that way.

Judaism and Christianity are the only religions to recognize this tainted core. Both faith systems (and only these faith systems) recognize that the first step is to recognize that wicked core (that's what repentence is "Lord, I am desperately wicked and lost without You. All the seeds to my own destruction are inside me, not outside me.") The Jews then gave sin offerings to the Lord until the Lord put an end to that, offering His Son as the only sacrifice. That's what makes Christianity different, by the way. Every other religion or philosophy says the power to improve is in you; Christianity (and Judiasm before it) says the problem is within, but the Answer is outside ourselves, in God Himself. All we need do is believe God did what He said He did.

Isn't there a Christian structure? Yes, there is. That structure is called Sovereignty. God is in control. Why doesn't He prevent all these horrible events from happening? For one thing, those events point to the truth of our corrupt souls. Those evil people are the best picture of who we truly are beneath our selected structures. As for the victims, this isn't meant to be cold, but we don't deserve our births so anything we get beyond birth is pure blessing. It's horrible what happened to those kids and their families, and my prayers are with them. The proper (though difficult) response is "thank you, God, for the time You gave me with them." (It would take me years, if not life, to get to that response myself if that every happened to ones I loved, but it is the proper response. Grief is another thing entirely, one God will hold us through, if we let Him).

Also important is the understanding that salvation happens before the Christian "structure" in our life. From the moment we confess our wickedness, and our belief that Jesus's death and resurrection covers us, we are forgive. We don't have to "do" anything else for salvation, but true belief will result in the Christian structure being created (and fixed and modified as we grow, of course). If we think we need works to save us, we haven't believed what He says: "my Grace is sufficient for you."

The Christian "structure" has fairly open architecture. Truth does not shake it, and lies will not take hold for long. As science presents its findings, we can accept the truth (and disallow the speculation). As for antithetical structures in other people, God has told us to love them as we would ourselves. Anger, hatred, and violence are never appropriate; they indicate our core is creeping up, and our structure needs to change to end it (in other words, repent and believe God).

Bit more of a sermon than the simple musings it was meant to be. I hope your structures can allow that...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Views on Failure

Hey, anyone reading this post: Please give me your thoughts on failure. Does it paralyze you? If yes, why? Is it a positive or negative thing in your life? If a friend of yours experienced catastrophic failure, what would you tell them (catastrophic is relative, of course. Failing a test might be horrible for one person, losing a game for another, losing a job, etc).

Do you allow fear of failure to prevent you from attempting anything?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Rocky Balboa - A review

I finally caught this on DVD. It's a bit slow in the beginning, so it would bore teenagers, probably. The movie is rated PG, which it earns until the fight. I'm old-fashioned enough to think that that much blood should at least rate a PG-13. The message, however, was more than family friendly.

Rocky is a man brooding over the past with the loss of his wife, Adrian. He spends his days and evenings recounting stories of the glory days to diners in his restaurant, while continuing to invest heavily in the people around him. Rock isn't the smartest bird on the wire, but he understands right and wrong, and his philosophy of life is outstanding.

Sly is clever in that he knows the whole time we're thinking, "come on, an old guy can't do this" so we never see him with his shirt off until the actual fight. I'm guessing every aging actor despises Sly Stallone for raising the bar so high, because when the shirt comes off, yes the skin is old skin, but the muscle beneath it is perfection. He was more cut and muscular than the heavyweight champ he was boxing. Sly is either late 50's or early 60's, but I had no trouble believing he was able to go toe to toe with the champ. Every actor who thought they'd be able to relax and knock off the gym by late 40's now have at least another couple decades to sweat over their physique.

With the understanding that this movie is really for middle-aged men and older (and bratty, resentful young men in one part) the movie is a knockout. The first one was great, the second and third pretty good, all the others between Clubber Lang and this one weren't worth the film they were shot on. I think you do need to see 1, 2 and 3 before this one to really appreciate it, though. Also, while there was no church and little overt religion in the movie, I would rank it in with the other strong spate of faith-based movies. Sly Stallone has either become a Christian or he's very much on his way.

Bottom Line: A

Thursday, April 05, 2007

We have FINALLY gotten our book to market!

Hey Kidz! Your Entrepreneur is Showing! A Parenting Guide to the American Dream by Jon White with yours truly has hit Amazon. We've even sold one! (Thanks, Brian!)

Click the graphic below, purchase dozens and resell them to your friends and neighbors. Leave glowing reviews on Amazon!


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

This is rather shocking.

I have no opinions on anything to share.

Maybe I'm growing up?