06 November 2016

Comments Fall on Deaf Ears

I feel the need to reveal something to those who comment on my posts here:  I don't read them.  To be more honest, I actually CAN'T read them.  That sounds weird, so let me explain.

I wrote some time ago on the subject of internet comments and the fact that I had turned this feature off when I began using Blogger some six years ago.  As time passed, several features have been added to Blogger and I was put in the position to have to re-enable comments to make various features work as intended.

I still feel the same way about comments - I don't really want them. I try to keep commenting features disabled to avoid the inherent rudeness of giving the impression that I encourage comments when I actually don't want them at all. A strange thing happened though - commenting here on my blog is still enabled, but it is broken! I couldn't see people's comments even if I wanted to do so (which I really don't).  However, I see statistical evidence that people leave comments that I simply am unable to see. I can only think that people consider me a terribly obnoxious jerk for not acknowledging any comments.  I am sure there is plenty of evidence of my inherent jerkiness, but I am actually not displaying this in relation to the unseen and therefore unanswered comments.

I am surely able to be contacted, if you really feel the need and want to be encouraging. I don't make it easy but it can be done.  Just don't suppose you are talking to me via blog comments as it doesn't work.  May the bear yet save the world by finishing me off.

05 November 2016

Perhaps a More Clear Perception of the Ultimate Judgement

I am going to reiterate, yet again, that although I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) and the basic outline of the afterlife that it espouses is the basis upon which I draw, I cannot say that what I present below is either factually true or an accurate depiction of the official LDS conception of life after death. I just love coming up with fresh ways of disclaiming everything I say!

I got so excited about sharing my thoughts of the telestial (lower), terrestrial (middle), and celestial (higher) rewards that God makes available to us that I forgot that I am describing the after-life out of order!  These rewards come at the far end of a rather drawn-out after-death process.

I think a lot of things I was taught in relation to the after-life were allegorical, especially if it is drawn from biblical descriptions. As an example, the whole concept of Hell was apparently based on a burning canyon of refuse a bit away from Jerusalem that was pretty nasty to behold (smell) and into which some people might have been thrown if the authorities didn't like them. It would be a great way to display the idea of hellish punishment to people who cannot be convinced to be decent otherwise. Christians believe in Jesus and Heaven and I hear that slightly more people trust that there is a Satan and a Hell. For my part, I think there is a Hell as well, but probably in a way that is different than most, but I will save that for another post.

When the term "Judgement" gets used, I think of a courtroom and I imagine a lot of other people do as well. There are lawyers, one defending you and another prosecuting you, bringing in witnesses and evidence either for or against a happy result. There is also a judge that we are told will be so correct that we cannot offer anything but ascent to his decision. Christians hope Jesus, as the defense lawyer, will do them a good and merciful turn. however, it seems the idea is something akin to the picture below - good folk going to some nice place and the bad folk being dragged off to a horrible punishment.

One view of Judgement, complete with effeminate angels and disgusting demons that might be jerking or alluring you toward Heaven or Hell.  I don't really know why everyone except the apparent workers are naked - perhaps they need to go shopping and haven't had a chance yet.
Is Judgement just an abstraction like Hell, to help us be concerned about our future and put out the noble work needed to justify a good verdict? Personally, I can definitely see this analogy being employed by a kind God who is trying to convince his more unenthusiastic children to live a better life. He isn't clear about specifics but the possibility of an adversarial and unpleasant court scene may turn a few heads and hearts for the better.

For all we know, Judgement will be an interview between God, the Savior, and the individual being judged, where we are shown how we REALLY are.  Can I be honest here? A lot of people think they are really wonderful (far more so than you or me), sycophantic people have sung their praises, and they think they deserve a wonderful reward beyond what their true natures justify. For instance, a lot of politicians probably fall into this "swelled-ego" category.  On the opposite side, some people think very much less of themselves, distrust most praise (I do this to an unhealthy level), and will think they deserve far less than God does.  Sometimes God needs to build our perceptions up, other times he needs to cut us down to true size, to help us see ourselves clearly. In my view, Judgement is all about finding such clarity and, once we see ourselves as we truly are, we will choose which glory fits our then clear perception best and God will simply concur.

I hope as I explored the differing rewards in past posts that I didn't give the impression that any of the three were comparatively bad - to my thinking, they are all wonderful in the eyes of their future residents and are deserving of the appellation of "Heaven". I also think that God is not disappointed in a person who lived and chooses the middle or lower glory. Everyone has their personal preferences and puts forth effort toward the glory that they authentically desire.  Of course, God encourages everyone to strive for the highest reward and assures us that each of his children have the capacity to attain the best - I think it really is dependent on the resolve and diligence of each person and what they REALLY WANT as displayed in thought and deed during their life.

That is what I think the Judgement will be like.

In grand backward order, I will move on, in a future post, to talk of heaven and hell, paradise and prison, rest and punishment, all terms for the same condition that actually occurs BEFORE Judgement.  Stay tuned.

31 October 2016

The Limitless Potential of a Celestial Labor

In the previous installments of this series of posts on the Plan of Happiness and the different "glories" to which one can aspire, each had a short descriptor: the telestial was a state of "no consequences" and the terrestrial had "no responsibilities". Now, I will attempt to describe the highest or "celestial" reward which I have chosen the phrase "no limits".

I can't find a cute description or picture for the celestial reward - there is very little recorded about it. It is compared with the light from the sun as compared to the light from the moon (representing the middle reward). Brighter! Warmer! Bring sunblock?
As I have described each reward, one may have noticed that the lower and middle rewards constitute a freedom "from" something: a condition where something that was undesirable in mortality is no longer present. The telestial glory eliminates culpability for actions. The terrestrial eliminates the need for further toil. These are often portrayed as the most unwanted elements of life on earth and, in the biblical creation story, were described as the major features of existence after our first parents were cast out of the Garden of Eden.

The celestial realm is, at its very heart, open-ended and definitively earns the title "no limits". Although it also provides the better circumstances of the other glories, such as an impervious body and a lack of physical wants, it also features the continuation of the liberating aspects of mortality. The celestial people can continue to learn and to grow, access limitless materials and form them as they desire, and develop as was possible on earth. The pinnacle of this endless growth is the ability to spend one's eternity parenting and nurturing other souls toward the same abilities.

It is difficult to imagine what a celestial existence will be like, which makes it quite different from the other rewards. In many ways, it will be a refinement of the life celestial-oriented people live now - in whatever form that takes. As broad and deep as human experience can be in mortality, celestial people will have similar circumstances, though both more broad and more deep in scope. It will really be without the disabilities that limit one's capability to reach their potential in life.

In the lower glories, one essentially trades continuing development for a claim to some exemption from it. For many people who focused attention on the trials of mortality in a "glass-half-empty" way, the conditions of the lower kingdoms are a wonderful prospect. If one was constantly worried at the prospect of "getting caught" doing some forbidden activity, the telestial is a permanent exemption from this - nothing is forbidden in a circumstance where everything regenerates and one has no access to tools or ability that cause harm to others and their environment - the proverbial "rubber room". For terrestrial folk, the trade-off involves the acquisition of an eternity of leisure without guilt over not doing more. In both the lower and middle glories, each person's focus is on oneself and the selfish desire to make their own life more carefree at some point.

The celestial person chooses to continue activities begun on earth in a grander arena, in a "glass-half-full" manner that seeks to ultimately fill all cups to overflowing. Christ and his prophets alluded to this often in their pleas to put other people's needs ahead of one's own. The act of helping another to develop to their potential is the ultimate Godly labor.  It is definitely work, though a most satisfying and worthy expenditure! It constitutes a depth of effort and a breadth of love that the best we can do in life can only serve as a prelude. Celestial glory is a desirable eternity for those who did what they could in life and show promise and a longing toward doing so much more once the limitations of mortality are lifted. The old adage is true: the reward for hard work is more work - celestial types actually find this concept appealing!

In a subsequent post, it will be interesting to think about the idea of "Judgement" which can often be viewed as unpleasant. As expected, my personal view of this might be different than most. Stay tuned!

23 October 2016

The Gated Retirement Community of Carefree Terrestrial Rest

My maternal grandmother (Gran) was a good Christian woman. She believed that her afterlife would be filled with harp-playing and quietly praising Jesus while floating in a cloudy heaven, protected from the riff-raff by an ever-vigilant Saint Peter who ran a portal called the "Pearly Gates". It was her Christian duty to denounce The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) (to which her daughter and grandchildren had converted) and to fib to her friends and family that my mother and her children (including me) actually went to another congregation of Gran's chosen non-LDS denomination because of Sunday timing preferences.

Again, Gran was a good woman and accustomed to hard work, likely a product of her upbringing in the highly religious and relatively hard-pan frontier of west Texas and eastern New Mexico. She never thought much of her progeny's religious choices, but she was kindly and loving regardless. I knew her primarily in her retirement, where she was an industrious cook, always had a nice car, a nice home, a big TV, and had resources enough to eat in restaurants regularly. My early view of what constituted a proper conclusion, and hoped-for afterlife, was something along the lines of what my grandmother enjoyed in her latter years.

In this promised continuation (previous post here) of philosophical visits to different levels of "glory" or "kingdoms" that one might aspire to for an afterlife, which I interpret from the Mormon Plan of Salvation, I now consider the middle or "terrestrial" reward. (Please understand that what follows is my personal concept of the afterlife and doesn't necessarily reflect the doctrines of the LDS Church.)

If you think of what my grandmother believed about heaven and her life as I perceived it as described above, I think that is an apt concept of what the middle reward will be like. I will go on a limb here and estimate that most Christians aspire to this middle glory as their version of "Heaven". This concept goes approximately as follows:

Picture in your mind a very upscale retirement community. People play golf, they grill and pursue pleasant hobbies, the place is maintained perfectly, and you don't have to lift a finger to make it happen. You worked all through a good life and this is your reward - not having to work anymore! Alternately, you can think of an never-ending tour on a cruise ship - everything is already paid for and you can just relax and recreate forever.  To people who toiled away for most of their lives, a pleasant retirement in their autumn years and an eternity at rest sounds just divine, doesn't it? Where the catchprase for the telestial (lower) reward was "no consequences", a simple description for the terrestrial (middle) reward might be "no responsibilities".

There was an entertaining display of genteel and light-hearted Christianity in the original VeggieTales video series. The following snippet showcases my perception that the terrestrial glory would be very familiar to residents of gated retirement communities.

I don't want to make anyone who achieves a terrestrial glory feel bad about it - It is a very good reward that follows a life of basically doing good. Of course, I have alluded to the fact that there are three basic glories to which one can aspire alongside God's marvelous grace. The highest "kingdom", known as the celestial, has a description and posting of its own that is soon to come.

16 October 2016

An Eternal Groundhog Day of Telestial Hedonism

You remember that funny and touching Harold Ramis movie Groundhog Day? Phil Conners, played by Bill Murray, lives through countless renditions of the same day. Philosophers, theologians, and psychologists have cheered the movie and its message (intended or not by Ramis and Company) for all sorts of reasons, from the idea that we should "live in the day" to the benefits of the concept of reincarnation.  In that grand tradition, I offer my own take on the premise of the movie and how my wonderful wife helped me see such things in a wider context.

Mormons believe that God has a plan for us, often called the Plan of Salvation.  The official plan from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is HERE and my own interesting adaptation can be found HERE. (Please understand that what follows is my personal concept of the afterlife and doesn't necessarily reflect the doctrines of the LDS Church.) At the distant "end" of this salvation process, every person is sent to a "kingdom" or "glory" that they earned through their thoughts and doings while on Earth, combined with the grace of Christ. There are three basic glories - The telestial, terrestrial, and celestial. I am going to reserve any comment on the high (celestial) or middle (terrestrial) kingdoms for now and focus our attention on the low (telestial) one.

The telestial kingdom is the catchment glory for people who don't merit a better kingdom - the bulk of the population of the Earth throughout time will end up there because they didn't put forth much effort toward getting a better reward. Every kind of low-life and scum will be there alongside the lazy and those who never got around to being particularly decent.

Can you see the character of Phil Conners in that description?  I'm not talking about the one at the end of the film who had finished his development program in piano and tire-changing.  I am talking about the guy who, in the company of Ralph and Gus, made this realization early on:
Driving with a Phil unconcerned by consequences

Phil: What if there were no tomorrow?
Gus: No tomorrow? That would mean there would be no consequences, there would be no hangovers. We could do whatever we wanted!
Phil: That's true. We could do whatever we want.

Behold!  The ruling attribute of the lowest glory! From the most powerful ruler to the most powerless serf, the telestial man has the same desire - they want an existence where they can do whatever they please and suffer no consequences.  Like the Groundhog Day movie, these people want to wake up to each new day as if the gluttony, pleasures, and pillaging of the nights before never happened.

LDS teachings also say that every person will be resurrected after their mortal life ends with a glorious body that has no pain or sickness and will never die again. Likewise, I believe these "kingdoms of glory" that I spoke of before will be similarly indestructible, worlds that cannot be ruined or destroyed.

Imagine the possibilities! Your rotten neighbor steals all the apples from off your trees every night, but you don't care because the apples are regenerated every morning. You can go to the mountains and burn down the forest that surrounds you and no one bats an eye because it will be regrown in the blink of that eye! No consequences. It will be a dream-world for those who choose to practice no self-control - the telestial people.

Of course, God will not be trusting anything he truly values to such people, so there will likely be nothing particularly worthwhile on such worlds. For instance, God will not trust such people with treasures like children so he simply removes their ability to procreate, leaving a favorite activity from mortality (unbridled sexual pleasure) without any of the responsibility (parenthood). Again, such an afterlife is a "heaven" for those who love their vices more than anything else but hate the aftermath.

Please remember that this is the lowest glory that God offers. There are better glories to be sought for, but a person needs to be able to forgo a future of telestial hedonism to have them.

Coming up, I will describe my take on that middle or terrestrial glory.  Stay tuned!

09 September 2016

Luna Lovegood is a Happy Person. Would You Like to Be as Well?

My wife and I have read through the Harry Potter book series by J.K. Rowling. It was the first time for me as I avoided it during its publishing heyday. It was good together time for us and ended up being quite thought-provoking for me, which was a surprise.

For instance, I particularly enjoyed the character of Luna Lovegood. She is a transcendent person already in her teens, rising above the pettiness of her cohort, speaking truth and kindness when everyone else choose the paths of covering their egos and nursing their hatreds, wearing their hearts on their sleeves. She will tell you what you need to hear in such an unassuming way that it bores into your soul past your typical defenses. Luna was almost ethereal yet unbendingly upbeat compared to those around her, reliable in her honesty and thoughtfulness. I consider her an excellent role model.

Luna, as a character, represents one of those people that it is an uplifting experience just to be near. Although she is initially odd and off-putting, she ends up being the greatest of friends. I wouldn't mind being such a person.

Wouldn't you rather be like Luna?  She is happy almost all the time, forgives everyone, and always looks on the bright side, even in the dungeons of life.

It brings to mind the story of Glenn Beck and the Amazing Mr. Plastic Man, who helped the talk-show host desire greater happiness and a way to get it. Not surprisingly to me, it came through the restored gospel as taught through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which, like Luna Lovegood and our own Psychic Proximity Principle, is often viewed askance. Worthwhile relationships and pursuits are often seen that way in the beginning.

Perhaps you are searching for something that you lack - true happiness. You have a good chance of finding it in the path followed by Luna Lovegood and the Amazing Mr. Plastic Man!

14 August 2016

The Freedom to Choose, Abortion, and a Warning

If you haven't already noticed, I am a classical liberal in my political bent and I most greatly appreciate the political philosophy of the late Harry Browne, who was the Libertarian Party candidate for POTUS in 1996 and 2000. Although I support many of the principles of the LP, I am not a member nor do I particularly support the ideas of Gary Johnson or Bill Weld.  However, I tend to vote for libertarian candidates when I am given the option because I want to record my desire for very small government, greatly expanded liberty, and the original intentions of the writers of the founding documents of the United States of America.

Given all of this, my attitude about much legislation these days reflects a desire that federal governments not be run by zealous social engineers of any stripe, right or left.  Individual choice is good and should be given as free a rein as possible.  Although children should be beholden to their parents until they reach maturity, adults should be primarily beholden to themselves and have very few compulsions placed upon them by external forces such as government.  Adults should be able to choose their own actions insofar as they do not curtail the choices of other adults.

Everything above summed up:  Choice is good.  Additionally, I have a personal attitude that Abortion is bad.

The practice of ending the development of new human life, except in cases where the life of the mother is gravely threatened, is an evil thing in my eyes.  My desire is that the rather flippant aborting of new life, often with the excuse of inconvenience or "symbolic" assertion of women's rights, become more and more rare.  It seems I am not going to get my wish in this case given the current social climate, but I will keep stating my stance on this subject.

Although I think abortion is an odious act, I also think that each person involved in a decision to abort or not should be able to choose their actions in relation to it. If a woman wants to abort, that is her choice to make. If the doctor involved doesn't want to perform this abortion, they also have that choice and a more willing practitioner could be found. If the biological father is an adult and desires to curtail the abortion and take responsibility for the birthed child, that choice must be considered as well and the justice system may need to be involved to resolve any conflicts over the shared pregnancy (the woman didn't conceive without help!) and its outcome. As (potential) children are beholden to their (potential) parents, principles of choice dictate a rejection of any appeal to the "rights of the unborn" in a purely pragmatic sense in this case - the waters are muddy enough.

I repeat, I think abortion is an evil thing.  However, people have the right to choose to be a party to abortions.  Further, I really hope that these people will choose not to pursue abortions, especially as an answer to relatively small embarrassments and social inconvenience. This is a very serious decision to make, often wrapped in large emotional and religious consequences and associated responsibilities.

I view very dimly those who "promote" abortion for any reason beyond a clear threat to the individual woman's life. Any coercion used to encourage an abortion impedes a woman's ability to choose their acts in full understanding of their culpability. Legislators that authorize the use of public funds to subsidize abortion and its promotion are just as liable to consequences as direct promoters. Funding for abortion services can, with greater integrity, be raised from sympathetic donors with full understanding of the activities being funded.  The act of taxing people opposed to abortion for its subsidized provision is, at its heart, unjust and foul. The tenets of liberty are offended by the forced subsidy of abortion by those who oppose the practice (ala Obamacare).  

Women still have choice - one can choose not to have an abortion.  Sadly, forces are working diligently with the young, the poor, and the troubled (feeding on ignorance) to convince them to hate children (Baby Think-it-over), to have (protected) sex like drunk monkeys (I apologize if I offend monkeys), and to abort every "unwanted" (actually every) conception. These are veiled cousins to the old eugenics and sterilization programs that tried to eradicate "undesirable" groups, like blacks. Such abortion promoters are actually enlisting each woman's help in the destruction of her own culture, race, and society!

May I offer a warning to my Judeo-Christian/Islamic friends?  God is really weird about a few things - one of them is taking human life. He punishes "fooling around" with non-productive sex and aborting sexual "accidents" just as strongly as he does murder.  If your spiritual leader is too shy or liberalized to say so, I will: You put your soul in serious jeopardy through the flippant disregard for God's stance regarding intimacy, conception, childbearing, and human life.

You can choose to honor life and use your procreative powers appropriately. You can stop supporting abortive practices yourself and implore others to do the same. The point is that we don't use instruments of force, like government, to make others do things in a fashion that pleases us.

31 July 2016

Being the Second Choice - Alma 50:37-38

On occasion, a work supervisor will tell me that I was not the first pick for a job. That bothers me a little. I know that I can be a controversial decision, given things like the Psychic Proximity Principle, the Trump/Clinton ticket, and other bizarre pronouncements, but I would hope that in a few realms, I can be the first person considered. I am always grateful for my employment, no matter how it comes to pass, but it can be tough to think that you essentially were something like a back-up plan or a fall-back position and someone else was originally more preferred. Apparently, there is always a little more room for some more humility!

I am heartened by the fact that a great man in the Book of Mormon was the stated second choice in a matter of great importance concerning the record of the people of God. Alma the Younger, the only man to be both the leader of God's church in America and the political chief judge of the Nephite nation for a time, was deciding who was to be the next custodian for the sacred records to which he had been entrusted, essentially who would be the next writer in the Book of Mormon.

There are only two direct references in the Book of Mormon to Alma's first choice for the next record-keeper: a man called Nephihah. Earlier, this man was Alma's appointed successor as chief judge when he wanted to focus more on religious matters. The other reference is at Nephihah's death that is mentioned in Alma 50:37, which gives just a touch of background to this man's life:
And it came to pass that in the same year that the people of Nephi had peace restored unto them, that Nephihah, the second chief judge, died, having filled the judgment-seat with perfect uprightness before God.
This sounds like a good man "with perfect uprightness before God." The people thought enough of him to name a new city after him. Alma obviously liked him, because in the next verse, it is revealed that Nephihah was Alma's first pick for the job of the keeper of the sacred records:
Nevertheless, he had refused Alma to take possession of those records and those things which were esteemed by Alma and his fathers to be most sacred; therefore Alma had conferred them upon his son, Helaman.
So, Nephihah had "refused" the job and it was given to Alma's son Helaman, the second choice.

Now, Helaman was no slouch - eventually leading the legendary 2,060 stripling warriors that also looked to him as a father and became an important prophet and church leader in his own right. However, in the most sacred responsibility of keeping and adding to the record of the Nephites, he was the first runner-up that got the job because the original "winner" refused it.

Sometimes, we get the joy of being the "next choice", but neither I nor you should let this sort of fact get us down. Most of the important things in life are not a competition and we hopefully choose to do the best we can with opportunities (even second-hand ones) that come our way - just like Helaman did.

19 July 2016

Don't Give Up on a Trump/Clinton Ticket

I've gotten some flak for proposing a Trump/Clinton presidential ticket in the past.  It was just an impression that I got a la the Psychic Proximity Principle that seemed compelling at the time. Now that the Donald has declared an absolute nobody as his running mate and is heaving his way through the Republican Convention, everyone is ready to say that what I said in the past was wrong.  I respectfully disagree.

Donald Trump was the star of a reality TV show I never watched (my TV blew up in 1997). He fired someone every episode or so I am told. Life imitates art and I think the pick of Pence at this juncture is a tactic to get the Trump juggernaut through the Convention.  I predict that Trump will "fire" Pence as soon as negotiations with Hillary are concluded and the opportunity to maximize the impact of a Trump/Clinton announcement are engineered.  It is bold thing to do - bringing opposing party candidates together - but that makes for very popular reality TV (which is what our political leaders long to emulate).  Trump is up for the challenge of bucking the system (call it "trumping" the system) and Hillary continues to be willing to bide a bit more time to guarantee her ascension as the first woman president (through a stint as congresswoman, secretary of state, and now vice-president).

Honestly, Hillary can't really compete against the flash of Trump - she is stodgy and steady.  Her accusations of Trump as crazy don't enthuse her voters to turn out - they will trust that a crazy person can't become President. Trump will win because Hillary can't get her people charged up enough to get off their duffs and vote.

I still think my inspiration will prove correct and you will see a Trump/Clinton ticket in the White house come January.

11 July 2016

Encouraging the Development of the Different and Explaining Xenos

 The prevailing cultures in which we live have been sold the idea that there is a "perfect" person.  This idea pervades every aspect of our lives and is defined by corporations, government, media, and ourselves.  These things set the boundary (that black one in the picture) where people are expected to live within.  You, with the help of all the institutions we create to service or rule us, are expected to fill in the defined space (the rose colored stuff) and be a competent, useful person, as society defines this.  Are you not smart enough?  You need more school.  Are you not rich enough?  You need to get a better job.  Can you not hear music in your ears everywhere you go?  You need an mp3 player!  These are a few of the numerous expectations that society has for you and to be a good member of society you are expected to meet them all as an adult.

Society's expectations of what a person should be can be compared with a cookie cutter (the black line).  People are expected to fill that cookie cutter completely, which is what a lot of people call being "well-rounded".  The ideal goal in our society is to be well rounded, which is to have some ability or interest in all acceptable and anticipated areas and no serious deficits anywhere.  Our society assumes that nearly everyone has (or should have) sufficient dough (or ability) to fill in the established cookie cutter expectations.

There are some people who don't seem to have enough ability to meet society's expectations.  This is like having too little dough available to fill up the cookie cutter form. Society has a label for that problem:  disability.

As a disabled person, you are deficient somewhere and that is a problem for everyone.  Other people feel badly about the fact that your cookie cutter is not filled in everywhere and they want to “help”.  Society has decided to form entire industries for the purpose of trying to make disabled people more "perfect".

Our society has decided that there is one way to fix disabled people: remediation.  If you cannot fill in the cookie cutter society has designed, outside help is required in the form of medicine, psychology, therapy, and other interventions.  The goal is still to make a person well-rounded, but if that cannot be accomplished, the most important thing is to make the person “look” more round to outside observers.  If a disabled person is good at something, it is often ignored in favor of working very hard to address the things a person is not good at.  Essentially, remediation is an attempt to steal dough from “unwanted” places to fill in blank spots within cookie-cutter expectations.

There is an interesting sort of person that we will call Xenos.  It is an ancient Greek term for a stranger or alien (to one's village). These people are obviously very different from "perfect" people, much like the disabled are different.  For the most part, a Xenos person would have the same amount of ability as the "perfect" person, it is just distributed differently.  A Xenos is someone who focuses on one facet of life, often has greater than normal ability and interest in it, and typically has shortcomings in other areas of life.  This person is often called "obsessive".  For the Xenos, this obsessive nature is inherited and cannot really be eliminated, though it can be hidden by "behavioral training" or “healing” obvious and socially-disquieting quirks out of a person.

Fortunately for everyone, these Xenos people can often learn to steer their obsessive abilities toward interests that make the world a better place.  It was Xenos-type people who created industrialization, telephones, the light bulb, radio, television, nuclear energy, computers, and ultimately iPods and iPhones, as examples.  No one can doubt that people like Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and Bill Gates are pretty obsessive and odd and were able to do things that normal people cannot do or would have never thought of doing.  Thankfully, many people were willing to ignore Einstein's unkempt hair and interesting mannerisms and focus instead on his theory of relativity!

Unfortunately for the Xenos, society doesn't like obsessiveness particularly.  It gets in the way of making people well-rounded.  Society's institutions (think about schools as an example) are designed to produce and service people whose ability and interests fit into the established societal cookie cutter.  A Xenos person will have serious problems and cause serious problems when faced with a world (such as ours) that is heavily and inflexibly oriented toward institutional well-roundedness.

You can see in the picture above that there is some dough outside the black line.  This is the indication of someone obsessively pursuing an interest or ability beyond what is considered normal and acceptable.  To make up for things required to follow an obsession, material is missing from other facets of life.  Often, the Xenos person is poor at mundane everyday tasks like hygiene and may lack common sense or common manners.  In a typical Xenos, the basic dough (or level of interest or ability) is roughly the same as (or greater than that) in a "perfect" person; it is just distributed differently, some of it outside of the cookie cutter definition of what is normal and acceptable.

Our society grows more and more myopic and can only see value in what is considers to be normal and (frankly) profitable. If you were to cover over the dough that is outside the black circle in the picture, the Xenos person looks just like the disabled person - someone who doesn't have their cookie cutter filled in. To most people, a Xenos person is considered disabled, being practically unable to see ability outside of the boundaries of social normalcy.

It is important to remember that society controls not only the way things are done but the institutions created to do and run things. There is really only one cookie-cutter definition of normal and there is really only one established way of dealing with things that are not normal: remediation. Therefore, Xenos people end up being put through the same people, institutions, and processes that disabled people face. "Johnny, I want you to stop designing the next Mars rover and sit with the therapist and practice blowing your nose properly. It is much more important to fit in with the other kids than it is to win the Nobel Prize in physics."

Most disability professionals would excitedly attack that unsightly blob of "wasted" ability outside the established circle in the picture above and chew up someone's childhood or entire life trying to fill in that missing place in the cookie cutter that dictates how well one holds their fork. Thank goodness there were no therapists engaged in fixing Einstein - who knows how much we would have lost!

It is important to note that there can be truly disabled people among the Xenos, just as there are among typical people. These disabled Xenos are often labeled "autistic". I am sure you can see the picture in your mind of the cookie-cutter and a small amount of cookie dough stretched out toward some obsession, resulting in very little lying inside the circle. There is some need for therapists and doctors and psychologists for those people, with an understanding that you cannot beat or drug the obsession out of the Xenos, only help channel obsessive behavior toward something positive. A helper's focus can be better set toward expanding existing ability to help the Xenos achieve their potential to go where no normal person could ever go!

02 July 2016

Child Development Flashbacks - Exploring my Academic and Philosophical Roots

It was a silly misstep. You are supposed to include every document requested by a potential employer and focus resume information toward the specific position being sought. I did neither.

In this age of electronic application submission, it is too easy to fall into traps of convenience.  One generic resume can be used for a whole swath of positions, at times even at multiple organizations with one click of a mouse button. The inclusion of a cover letter is often optional to submission, but probably should not be. Harried HR departments in some larger organizations must filter through thousands of applications daily and choose to mechanize the process based on a handful of answers to questions or scanned keywords. In this case, I treated a smallish university steeped in more traditional ways in the same fashion that I would approach a highly outsourced HR process at a multinational government contractor. I knew better than to do that and I will likely be discarded out of hand for not following instructions.  The sad part is that, unlike those who send hundreds of applications into the wind, I really wanted to be seriously considered for this specific job.

The Child Development Center (CDC) at Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) is advertising the position of Director, long held by one of my most influential mentors, Francine Stuckey. I worked as a student caregiver at the CDC from 1988 to 1993, created and ran two centers during that time, was a trainer at a military child care center after graduation and trained myriad others as a program specialist at the ENMU Child Care Training and Technical Assistance Program, and served for a number of years as a subject matter expert and consultant/trainer in child care management, parenting, and public health, concurrent with other employment. In other words, I have been around this block several times and in several capacities. I could also include the fact that my wife and I raised our six children along the way. I last worked directly in the field of child development in 2004 and my earlier undergraduate work focused on this, so I haven't had big and specific child development thoughts for a bit over ten years. Saying that, the ideals I have promoted over time, like family sovereignty, are being dredged back up just as I seem to need them as I present myself as a candidate for post of ENMU CDC Director.

Let me present some thoughts that have come to mind over the last day or two in regards to directing a place like the CDC and leading a community dedicated to child and human development.

I am a home economist at heart and by training - I am practical and I prefer “hands-on” demonstration to other forms of knowledge transfer. I have never been much of a formal "teacher" though I was employed in the role a few times. I have always skewed toward home and family over the school ethos - smaller, more intimate, less institutional, more personal. I relate more toward and better serve people than abstractions like the schooling institution.

My leadership style has always been along the lines of the servant-leader. I run an "input and consensus" shop, knowing that I don't have all the answers, I often miss important elements in a situation, and have learned that the best answers and solutions often come from unexpected people and places. I am much more a leader than a manager with an understanding that the center director is most responsible for crafting the "feel" of the organization, making things work from a regulatory, accreditation, and "get'r done jack-of-all-trades" standpoint. These tasks assigned, caregivers (master and student) can concentrate their time and thought on facilitating children’s development and serving families. To put a "Harry Potter" twist on things - the center director is a "Dumbledore"-type figure who directs and services community rather than formally “teaches” children.

A university Child Development Center is essentially three things - Laboratory, Community, and Environment.

The "Laboratory" - This is our academic purpose (why we are on campus). To be a good lab, we don't just cater to one type of child or family, which other child care settings can better accomplish ("best Hispano-Catholic care anywhere!”). The better child development lab must be more accommodating of different families and attitudes so university students can observe interaction, gain a wider breadth of experience with children of different families and cultures, and test out new theories of fostering development among divergent people. Students do this with children in our care - Instructors (director/master caregivers/mentors) do this with students through coursework and “on-the-job training”.

The "Community" - This is the voluntary collection of families that are served in a communitarian way. We serve families directly and through their children in our care. In this way, the center bears little resemblance to the compulsory catchment and attendance “school” where parents have little choice in associations and little influence in the institutional function. The center director spends as much time opening up possibilities for parents as they do working with the children - the family is the most important unit of society and the Community must honor and service this.  In the case of child development, parents choose a Community (center) that works best for them and best “fits” their family and their culture.

The "Environment" - 'You call this a "pre-school" and I will instruct you differently (hopefully without violence).' We have no “teachers”, a role which implies the centrality of lessons and methods where children are passive consumers or followers. Here, caregivers create and foster an environment where children lead the way, patterned more after a safe, orderly home rather than a "school" (within our obvious physical constraints). We also don't set up “simulated” environments, we make it as authentic as we can - "play" living rooms and kitchens give way to "working" versions with real equipment for instance. Parents should be able to see this as a place to observe "professional" (well, often student) "child developers" in action and find encouragement, insight, and empowerment toward fostering and leading the development of their own children, often to other settings that may bear little resemblance to this center.

Priority for the hiring of workers is given to CDC is CD/ECE students. After this, we encourage a breadth of background, knowledge, and experience put in service to the Community.

Guiding Principles and "Promises" that Hold Sway in a Nemrow-led Shop:
  • We put other people’s needs ahead of our own.
  • We owe it our Family and our Community to be our better selves.
  • We work to create a safe place for growth.
  • We discover and honor contributions (efforts that improve your Family and your Community).
  • We help others realize their potential and build toward it.
  • We make decisions to be helpful and not hurtful.
  • We explore the balance between roots (safety, order, heritage) and wings (unbridled expression/action, "pioneering", taking risks).
  • We honor and foster individuality and each family culture within our Community.
  • We present alternatives. Maybe this situation and Community isn't for you and your family, and this fact is okay.  
  • We leave it better than we found it (and not just our personal definition of "better").

25 June 2016

Brexit, a Blow to Social Engineering, and the Return of Family Sovereignty

It is amazing to watch the scramble happening around the referendum decision in Britain to separate itself from the European Union. I listen to the BBC as Lisa and I wake most mornings and the accusations and fear-mongering from many directions on the question has finally been settled. I, for one, am excited to see any people declare themselves the masters of their own destinies and free to choose their own course! Hurray for the British people!

Some thirty years ago, I was revealed as a bit of a radical as a college student when I was "outed" as a liberty-minded person. Many of my "sisters" in the home economics department were preparing for careers in "human services", "social work", or "education", mostly the bastion of the high-minded who believe that most people are incompetent to run their own lives and must be "managed" by educated "experts". I rejected this idea and came up with my own ideal worldview. I garnered a lot of strange looks from my peers but was lucky to have interested and encouraging mentors and professors. My fellow students saw the world separated into two groups: the managed mass of people and those who manage the mass. Of course, we were all in college to qualify for the position of the manager of others. I was a bit odd for saying that people should be free to associate and act as they chose - basically, I preach that everyone should have the opportunity to be either unmanaged by others or choosing their own management.

Over the years, I formulated an idea that I call family sovereignty. I realized that "rugged individualism", one of the hallmarks of the American experience, was a bit of falsehood and saw that individual people cannot be truly independent - they need other people to get along well and be fully realized. I also saw that collecting people into homogenized "communities" or "societies" has become the road to dehumanization and a domineering few "lording over" a repressed many through legislated governance and social controls. People need other people, but how do we provide maximum liberty and minimum tyranny? The solution that I found and still promote these days is the procreative family and the concept of family sovereignty.

My preaching on this subject is this:
  • Be a supportive member of your family by bringing honor to your parents and ancestors, and "lifting" each family member toward their potential.
  • Form your own procreative family by marrying, conceiving/bearing/raising children within that marriage, and looking to each other for fulfilling your needs.
  • Put the needs of your family members before your personal desires, especially as a parent.
It has been rightly said that the family is the basic unit of society. However, larger constructs (community, state, nation) and their institutions (corporations, schools, governments) have developed an attitude about the powerful social force that families can be:  either bend the family to service outside forces (example: "full-day schools") or weaken the family so individual family members can be dominated by outside forces (example: promotion of gay/single lifestyles). Agencies that claim to "help" families often do the exact opposite by training them to run to social workers or other "experts" to solve internal family problems instead of discovering their own answers. If other interests can break potentially strong families into dis-unified and relatively weak individual people, those individuals will come running to corporations, schools, and governments to help them meet their needs, often only to become practical slaves to these institutions. The basic unit of society (family) needs to become the most important and central group in any individual's life!

Brexit is a wonderful example of a smaller group taking back sovereignty over their lives from a larger entity. I already see that Scotland and even beloved Shetland are considering afresh their independence and ability to chart their own course. The idea of managing yourself and choosing your own associations, rather than having someone else choose for you, is getting traction in a big way and that is exciting to a liberty-minded fellow like myself!  Someday, I hope this attitude will rise to the point where families will realize their inherent strength and power, choose to stand up to domineering institutions, and chart a course that works best for their family and family members.  Hail, Brexit! 

23 June 2016

Re-editing Posts in the Wake of Orlando

You might think that I am here to tone down some of my previous words about LGBT(Q) "harlots" in the wake of the recent rampage at an Orlando gay bar. If anything, I went back to re-edit old posts to sharpen up my point that such attitudes and activities spend our cultural strength, run everyone down a cultural rat-hole, and waste resources and time we should be using to solve more deserving problems.

On an individual level, the shooting of so many people in Orlando is very tragic. No one deserves to die for simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. My heart goes out to families and friends that were truly touched by this despicable act.

I don't think we could have predicted a mass-shooting at a gay bar (never happened before), but what will happen next? Will LGBT(Q) cheerleaders demand larger gatherings that are better policed with more public funds? I daresay they will, if their craving for attention and their need to dominate conversation holds steady. They are loving partners with the anti-gun lobby, forces that would have everyone strip-searched at multiple opportunities each day, and those who use fear to oppress and subject everyone to the will of powerful interest groups. When the LGBT(Q) "prostitutes" come around, you must look about for their political "pimps" and the goals of these spin-doctors that profit off of the terror that incidents like Orlando create.

Orlando has become a wonderful opportunity for profiteers as professional "mourners".  I would look for more attention being demanded from excited LGBT(Q) leaders and their convenient friends. The anti-gun lobby and anti-family forces are secretly cheering the carnage as they first weep and then get indignant on-camera. You and I are being manipulated and forced down the convenient rat-holes once again by media-hogging harlots.  Thanks to the interest groups, Orlando has been cast as another battle in a handful of larger culture wars - why are we surprised when some professed cultural warrior decides to bring guns to the battle?

12 June 2016

Becoming an Authorized Priesthood Holder

I have written a few times (here and here) about the duties of priesthood holders and some might be feeling a bit left out.

Some people get hung up about Christian rites they have done in the past that God and his authorized priesthood don't recognize.  "Why do I need to be baptized again?"  It is simple - if you don't fulfill God's prerequisites, you don't get the priesthood. It is like wanting to make a fine wine but getting weird about crushing grapes in a certain way - You want the results? You have to do what is required!

Any man can qualify to be considered for priesthood ordination. I have not heard of any qualified man being rejected, only those not who choose not to meet the qualifications.

Please understand that I don't slight the role of women in God's plan:  they have the higher calling of motherhood that is built into their very bodies. Priesthood is something given to men as one compensation for their basic lack of in-born child-bearing and nurturing ability. I also won't go into it - you can read about the subject here if you like.

The priesthood is the power of God. An ordination gives this power to men to act in God's name and do what God would do. Scripture is replete with instruction on how the priesthood should be used and what sort of man you need to be to exercise priesthood power. It is the pursuit and study of a lifetime (and longer) to develop yourself into a worthy and powerful priesthood holder.  This is neither a casual nor a easy road to travel - God also puts those who accept priesthood responsibilities under covenant to rise to the challenge of it, proscribing great rewards for your efforts and punishments for a man's neglect of it. It is a very serious undertaking.

The whole purpose of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) in relation to men is to imbue them with increasing priesthood responsibility and a greater call to service, leading to the ultimate goal of become like God. All men are welcome to worship with us, but one must understand that we are about the goal: if a man is not interested in taking on priesthood duties and becoming like God ultimately, the LDS Church may be an uncomfortable place for that man. Though every man has the opportunity of taking on himself the priesthood, rejection of it is indicative of a man unwilling to fundamentally better himself, to walk a higher road, and to perform more meaningful and efficacious service to others as a life-long commitment.

Don't get me wrong - I honor all service performed by everyone in any capacity. However, to have the added spiritual ability afforded by having and honoring the priesthood is like having a hammer at a roofing "party": there is plenty of good work to do when putting on a roof if you don't have a hammer with you, but you could perform the central work of roofing better if you had that hammer and were experienced in wielding it! Likewise, having the priesthood and experience in using it effectively makes you so much more useful in God's larger work. Wouldn't you like to be such a man?

So, what are the steps for men to become authorized priesthood holders?
  1. Contact missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - chances are you see the familiar white-shirt-and-tie wearing bicycle riders that are Mormon missionaries.  Flag them down and invite them to your home.  If an on-line "flag-down" is more to your liking, you can click here and chat with someone who will set up a visit for you!
  2. Qualify to be baptized by an LDS priest - you will need to be a part of several lessons regarding Latter-Day Saint doctrine and practice, read parts of the Book of Mormon, and act on spiritual challenges to embrace a handful of good practices and eliminate certain unholy ones.  If you still desire baptism and meet the requirements, the ordinance will be arranged for you by missionaries and local priesthood leaders.
  3. Receive the Aaronic Priesthood and fulfill its duties - Shortly after baptism and the additional ordinance of receiving "the gift of the Holy Ghost", men are typically ordained as priests in the preparatory Priesthood of Aaron and given responsibilities during sacrament meeting (the LDS worship service) and to help with "home teaching" (priesthood visits to families in their homes), among other assignments.
  4. Receive the Melchizedek Priesthood - After some months, your dedication to fulfilling the duties of a priest are reviewed by priesthood leadership and, if satisfactory, you will be offered an ordination to the office of an Elder in the higher Melchizedek Priesthood. Elders fulfill several functions in the LDS Church, conduct meetings where assigned, may be assigned local priesthood leadership roles, and provide priesthood leadership within their families and other assigned families through home teaching.
For those of you who desire to serve God and your fellow man with the enhanced authority and power that the authorized priesthood provides, I hope you use those desires to qualify yourselves for it and join our ranks!

24 May 2016

Pointers to Some Interesting Things

Every once in a while, I point people to some of the interesting things available on the Internet that I have either produced or enjoy.

There are a handful of podcasts that I listen to and get inspiration from.  Maybe you will like them as well.

http://www.econtalk.org/ - Econtalk is hosted by Russ Roberts, a libertarian-leaning economist, who interviews other intellectuals on a variety of topics, not just economics.

http://www.dancarlin.com/ - Both of these podcasts, Hardcore History and Common Sense, are absolute gems on History and current events.  Both end up being occasional recordings, but always worth it.

http://3950.net/3950-and-the-liberty-net/ - This is actually the recording of a weekly ham radio net that has been going on for over four decades. Hard-core conservatism (way beyond me) and just wacky news and commentary from regular ham operators.  The absolute opposite of "production quality" broadcasting.

http://longnow.org/seminars/ - Just when you think you have me pegged, I also listen to the podcast straight from one of the Merry Pranksters and folks that made Berkeley and San Francisco libertine - hippies all grown up.  No more LSD (maybe), but hard-core neo-liberalism just the same.

I write other things besides silly blog posts.  I used to style myself a fiction writer.

The Miracle of the Quilt - Still my most popular and published short story, available for free and on Amazon.

Rachel and Her Knight in Shining Armor - My wife Lisa's favorite novella, the pinnacle of my Great Writing Year of 1998.

Navigiary: Escape is my first novel-length fiction story, actually the first part of a trilogy that I haven't further worked on in a while.  Maybe a few sales will give my initiative to finish Part Two and Three!

Feel free to enjoy one or all of the these!

22 May 2016

"May We Bless Your Home?" - Matthew 10:13

I hope I don't alienate too many of my readers in addressing some thoughts that came out of The Things that Constitute A Good (Religious) Visit blog post and various scripture "jags" posts. I am a priesthood leader in the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, so I blog about insights that come from my work there alongside more quasi-secular things like The Psychic Proximity Principle. There is significant value in perspectives gained in one area of endeavor that can be applied to another, so I always hope my non-Mormon readers can find these posts of some value.

In chapter 10 of the book of Matthew in the Bible, Jesus gave his twelve apostles priesthood authority and sent them out to preach and do the miracles that they had seen him perform.  As part of his instructions, he told these disciples to do the following as they visited the homes of believers as they traveled:

Matthew 10:13
And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
I am a descendant of Aaron, the brother of Moses, who was ordained, along with his male progeny called the kohenim, to lead the Levitical and Aaronic priesthoods. My resulting family heritage includes the reciting of the priestly blessing in certain settings.  At its conclusion, this blessing states this:  "May the LORD lift up His face unto you and give you peace..."  I personally connect these "peace" references together - if you are in a worthy house, or are visiting a worthy family (I interpret this as being welcomed in the home and the family being accepting of your spiritual message), you should leave "your peace" (or your priesthood blessing) with them.

As a home teacher, priesthood holders are commissioned by the local bishop and the quorum leader to serve their assigned families. This service is meant to keep each family diligent to their covenants, help them to progress toward exaltation, and to bring the power of the priesthood into their lives. As part of that service, bearers of the priesthood should leave their blessing ("your peace") wherever they visit. You holders of the priesthood should always offer to leave a blessing on the home and the family before you leave a visit.  As a bearer of the Melchizedek Priesthood, it is your duty to bless the homes you enter as permitted by the head of the household.

Here are my suggestions on pronouncing a blessing on a family and their home:
  • Seek inspiration in what words of blessing to give.
  • Respect the head of the household. Offer to give a blessing and accept their choice regarding this. If they request specific blessings, honor that request within the inspiration you receive.
  • Personalize the blessing to those you bless and their circumstances.
  • State that this is a blessing and state your priesthood authority, similar to the way you would do so in an ordination.
  • State that all blessings are contingent on faith and worthiness.
As I have personally done this, I have found my power in the exercise of the priesthood has increased and I have be inspired with the words of blessing that the LORD desires to be said. I have also found that the families that I bless are strengthened in their desire and ability to obey the commandments of God and grow more worthy of further blessings. I know that you will also have needed inspiration as you prepare yourself to receive it and share it more often in the form of a home teacher's blessing to those you serve.

17 May 2016

Personal Radio and Randomized Inspiration

For those of you seeking to apply the Psychic Proximity Principle, I provided the example of long and quiet walks that help a person feel "weak magnetism" and listen to the heart.  Today, I provide a more interesting way to open yourself to inspiration:  personal radio.

Many years ago, I set up a server at my house to publish web pages and sites for myself and some friends. I didn't feel like the server was well utilized, so I rigged up a small FM transmitter to the server's sound output and create some scripts to play sound files that could be heard through the various radios in the house and out in the yard.  Nothing fancy at all.

I "broadcast" old radio shows, Celtic folk musicnews and philosophy podcast episodes, and "talks" from the general conferences of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS).  Before I got fiber internet, I had service that was spotty at best, always living on the fringes of Internet coverage.  Therefore, it was often necessary to actually download my radio content and store it locally so that there weren't breaks in the broadcasting schedule due to bad connectivity.

Late at night and on weekends, the schedule turns predominately to the LDS Church general conference talks, which are kept in a folder on my server and played randomly.  If you don't know, many of the speakers at LDS general conferences are prophets of God and apostles of Jesus Christ, men who give their lives in connecting people to the divine and sharing what God wants them to say.  Like the Psychic Proximity Principle, you don't necessarily have to apply a religious spin to listening to such men, but the effect will be there: these are men of experience and insight with very inspired things to say. During the quiet hours of the late night and early morning and on weekends, my radio puts out speeches from these men, again, randomly. In the process, I have noticed something very interesting.

It seems that themes begin to emerge from the random sorting of these talks. For instance, I often get "music jags" where several hymns, usually interspersed between talks in the original broadcasts, come out the radio in bunches! It is almost as if "someone" is scheduling the programming for me.

We don't have the radio on all the time, but it always seems that when I am listening, there is some insight being talked about that applies to my life or helps me with some challenge I'm facing. Of course, inspiration is everywhere if you look for it, just like the Psychic Proximity Principle says, but it is just another example of that weak magnetism between us and where we need to be. It just seems uncanny how a random playlist can produce what I need in the occasional moments that I access it!

As usual, I figure that it is God pulling the strings as I permit it. As I leave more opportunities open for him to take the driver's seat in my life, I find that the most amazing things happen for my good.

You can do something similar to my radio station to give inspiration a chance to reach you better and more often:

Put a folder or inspiration talks or music on your phone or mp3 player. I choose those conference talks, but you may have other sources. For uplifting things to come to you, however, you need a folder of uplifting things - weak magnetism doesn't attend low entertainment. That done, you set up your player to present things to you randomly. Then, you listen.

If you have an experience like mine, from day to day, you will hear words that you need, presented to you in the times when you need them.  Sometimes, they will be words that make you think or indite you.  Other times, they will buoy you up during difficulties.

The point is to give God, your heart, the wisdom of others, or whatever you choose to call it, better opportunities to communicate with you.  Whether it is long, quiet walks or listening to a "radio" that can be influenced by the Psychic Proximity Principle, either will open you up to the weak magnetism that will lead you to your best potential!

Happy Journey!

27 April 2016

Spending our Strength and Losing a War

As a culture, America has turned a very sad corner and seems hell-bent on destroying itself in the name of unfettered selfishness. I hope to provide a few examples of this and what needs to be done to bring ourselves as a people back from the brink of irrelevance.

For all of its terror and brutality, I think groups like the Islamic State embrace a few social traits that strengthen their chances for survival and success beyond our own:
  • They marry women to their most loyal men permanently.
  • They get these women pregnant by their husbands early and often.
  • They indoctrinate their children into their worldview and religious convictions.
  • They demand that their members sacrifice many of their personal desires to serve the requirements of their culture and its success.
I am not any sort of fanboy of ISIS nor do I approve of their methods, so don't turn me in as some traitor in our current hysterical climate! I am also not comparing any religious dogma in particular here, say between Islam and Christianity.  Everything I am talking about is sociological in nature and points to the fact that a group that inspires as ISIS seems able to do is going to outlast the possible collapse of Western civilization.

If we "Westerners" don't re-discover the traits that build and perpetuate a society, we will continue to become culturally weaker. At some point, we will be unable to withstand groups that simply out-breed and out-"culture" us. Ultimately, I see Americans either being supplanted by, or more likely assimilated (as an underclass) into, cultural groups who better know and embrace "social success traits" that we have chosen to abandon.

How are we accomplishing our own decline?
  • Women are in a hateful competition with men that denigrates both genders and ruins marriage and family - those who don't want to fight it out with the opposite sex in our current climate are presented with the now lauded societal option of avoiding the battle by choosing to be "gay".
  • Children are either unborn or birthed outside of natural families. Many are forced into circumstances riddled with developmental disadvantages like systemic poverty and missing parents, robbing them of things needed to thrive and succeed.
  • Our public "education" of youth has become a huge social laboratory for any will-o'-the-wisp cultural re-definition scheme that happens along in the name of "non-discrimination" and "inclusion".
  • Fewer and fewer people are taught or choose to sacrifice momentary personal pleasures and a single-minded quest for material wealth in favor of the propagation of some higher cultural standard.

Spending Our Strength with "Harlots"

As you have observed in our own society, we are setting aside all the culture-promulgating bullet points above as antiquated foolishness. As an example, let me shine a little light on the current Western "love affair" with LGBT(Q) practitioners.

Judeo-Christian/Islamic tradition has the concept of the "harlot". This is a person who traffics in sexual distractions, often for money. One can always find a market for this because sex and things like it are very physically pleasurable. The LGBT(Q) movement can be viewed most basically as an "open-source" avenue to a cornucopia of such pleasuring "harlots" - you can get your sexual distractions without spending much money on it! If prostitution was a taxi service, the LGBT(Q) movement would be like Uber.

Sadly, at the behest of LBGT(Q) types, every young person now has to struggle with questions about their gender and its role in their lives. They are encouraged to do this by profiteering harlots in media and popular culture by spending vast amounts of time and energy exploring the rat-hole of their personal sexuality. LGBT converts spend themselves on "pride" marches and politicizing their supposed "discrimination" to gain wider acceptance. They often co-op the natural love of parents, siblings, and friends, getting them to support their "cause" as well by marching beside them, all in the service of a libertine sexuality that discourages natural marriage, encourages divorce, produces no children, and "spends" our cultural strength.  If you don't support the LGBT(Q) community and their purposes, you will angrily be branded as a bigot by those who say they just want to be loved and accepted. All of this harlotry is fought for in courtrooms and legislatures, ignoring far more important and challenging matters, because some people want "respect" for their open desires for unfettered sexualized pleasuring.

If people gave as much concentration to, say, financial help to family and friends as they do to such navel-staring, its public promotion, and other rat-holes of societal time and energy, there would be far less poverty and we would have more resources of all sorts available to contribute to solutions to far more deserving issues. Unfortunately, the LGBT(Q) "harlots" demand our strength and attention and we have becoming very willing to forgo things like family and society to appease them.

Losing the "War"

Let me be frank, I think we are totally losing this "war on terror" with our willingness to use our amazing weaponry at the slightest provocation and our willingness to throw away our few remaining values in the process. We are using the wrong tactics and weapons. Our enemies, possessed of little more than their devotion to a God that asks for a higher standard, will easily dominate us at some point unless we come to our senses! Groups like ISIS will not win because Islam is necessarily superior. Such a people will win because they have chosen to embrace the pillars of societal strength like family and childbearing and child-rearing that we are spending our strength to banish from among us.

24 April 2016

Your "Religion" as "Devotion" to Your "God"

As you know, I take issue with people who profess to be "atheists". I know it is very trendy and "intellectual" to disbelieve in God or, more likely, to consider oneself above the need for something like God. It brings to mind a quote from Star Trek: First Contact where Jean-Luc Picard evokes his supposed "evolved sensibilities" that didn't include things as low as enjoying murder or revenge. Many people, hoping to look sophisticated, claim to have likewise "evolved" beyond a low belief in and devotion to things like God or religion, but I see this as a terrible self-delusion.

I hope you have learned that I acknowledge a God in my life. If you hadn't yet noticed, The Psychic Proximity Principle, as expressed in my Feeding the Soul of Steve Jobs booklet, is simply a way of accessing the wisdom of God in relation to yourself and your relations with others. Such things work because I have found that my loving God will always share his farsightedness with those willing to act upon it. For me, facing someone who militantly decries the existence of God is like listening to someone who preaches that they don't require oxygen to live - it's hard to hear such arguments when both my God and air have been such active participants in my on-going life!

In the end, I see the argument of atheists as a rationalization to embrace some "evolved sensibility" against a "devotion" to the predominate Judeo-Christian/Islamic God. Humorously, to "embrace" atheism is simply another example of devotion, which such people waste their time trying to convince themselves and others that they have "out-evolved"!

I'm sorry to break it to you, but human beings are hard-wired toward devotion. It can be a positive thing directed toward spouse, friends, a military "band of brothers", or other worthy causes. It can also be directed to various rat-holes, such as a favorite television show, the collecting of possessions, the navel-staring of sexual perversion or "gender confusion", or the single-minded acquisition of wealth or fame. The real "evolved" path is not the (impossible) effort to rise above devotion, but to make sure that our inescapable devotion is well placed.

There is also another truth about devotion - you can only really have one. You can like a lot of things and do a lot of things, but only one thing can command your true devotion.  Christians can read the pronouncement of Jesus on the subject in Matthew 6:24. This one devotion and your efforts to honor it constitute your "religion". I know that is a hateful word to a lot of people, but they need to get over their hatred - we all practice a religion, whether we call it that or not.

For instance, if you are devoted to the teachings of the prophet Muhammad, Islam is your religion. If you are devoted to quasi-sexual pleasuring with someone of your same gender, "homosexuality" is your religion. If, like me, you are devoted to the Christ as revealed through the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, Mormonism is your religion. If you are devoted to all-terrain quasi-military vehicles, either Jeep or Hummer is your religion. Hopefully, I get the point across - your religion is defined by your devotion.  Since we are all hard-wired for devotion, we are likewise all practicing a religion as we support our devotions and spend our time with similar devotees.

Do you have a problem with God, hate the God of those around you, or choose to believe there is no God? Again, you are being a bit self-delusional. The thing that you put your devotion into, the object of your devotion, is your "God". Be it Allah, Money, a Vehicle, Christ, a Gun, a Person; just as much as you are hard-wired for devotion, you are similarly attached to the object of that devotion, like it or not. You have a God of your own choosing, every second of your life.

Are you confused about what your devotion and God might be?  Here is a little quiz to help you realize where your devotion is, what religion you practice, and what God you worship:
  • What do you spend the bulk of your free time doing?
  • What do you spend the most effort coercing your family and friends into doing to share time with them?
  • If you are facing a great loss, what things would you be most concerned for?
  • Leaving aside short-term infatuations, what things have motivated your actions long-term?
Take your answers and analyse them.  If you are honest with yourself (a tricky pursuit) and dig deep, you will end up with one thing that best answers all these questions. It may very well be a devotion/religion/God that you had really hoped would be more impressive or more aligned to a group to which you really want to belong.  If your devotion/religion/God turns out to be a bit embarrassing to you, I suggest a dose of The Psychic Proximity Principle, its inherent soul-searching, and perhaps a course change!

Just like you really can't have two devotions (God and mammon, for example), you also can't honestly practice two religions or serve two Gods. One will always take precedence and the other will be eventually tossed aside in a crisis. Again, it is simply the way we are wired.

Let me give an example.

Mormon missionaries are an interesting lot, known throughout the world. I was once such a missionary, as was my wife. One of my children has served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) and another is doing so right now. We have a constant procession of missionaries over to the house for meals. I know a thing or two about these folks!

On occasion, one of these (typically very young) people will come for lunch or dinner and make some pronouncement over what is being served like "I am a vegetarian", which just bothers me. I don't want to be a bigot, but I have to question the devotion of such people to what they are meant to be preaching when such things are said.

I usually reply with something along the lines of "so, what is your real religion?" and they often become confused or offended.  These young people think they can follow the tenets of two religions, Vegetarianism and Mormonism, and get away with it! You don't think that vegetarianism qualifies as a religion? If someone comes to my house to partake of free food and then turns their nose up at what is served, barring allergies, they are preaching more of eschewing meat than they are of embracing a Christ. They can't effectively follow both, so which one is honored (talked about) and which will eventually be cast aside?

Let's wrap up.

We will all have a passion (our devotion), embodied in some object or person (our God), which we will pursue with vigor (our religion). You have all three: a devotion, a God, and a religion. If you think you don't, you need to stop deluding yourself. If you don't like your current version of the three, you have the power to redirect your devotion to a God and religion that is more to your tastes. Personally, I have found a God that I find worthy of my devotion and I am striving to follow the associated religion. I hope you find your own "three" worthy of your devotion and acknowledge your own God and religion.

14 April 2016

How to Get the Inspiration You Desire

Imagine yourself as one of my devoted readers. I know - it's a stretch.

"Jason, I find The Psychic Proximity Principle really intriguing and read your Feeding the Soul of Steve Jobs booklet through a hundred times!  I am really mad, though. You talk all about how important it is to pay attention to inspiration and follow your heart, but you never told us how to actually get inspiration!"

Well, I really didn't intend to put everything in one booklet.  I do want to write others, maybe even on the same subject! However, because I want to be helpful and not make anyone pine away, let me expand on something I talked about a little in the booklet and hopefully fulfill someone's request.

I talked about walking in the mornings.  I would go either up the big hill and around an elementary school in one town, or the five miles to work in another. I took anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half with me moving at a pretty stiff pace. At first, I did what any first-world dude would do when faced with a lot of quiet time - I rigged my cell phone as an MP3 player with earbuds and entertained myself! I am not much of person for back-to-back music, so I downloaded podcasts from interesting people and subjects.

No long into these daily walks, I found myself running out of anything interesting to listen to. I know there is a LOT of material out there on the Internet, but I could only come up with two or three hours a week of material I consistently liked, which left me several hours of walking without listening material.

Now, let me reveal a bit more about myself - I do recordings.  In addition to walking, I have traveled a lot in a car alone commuting and doing field work for several years. That made even more "alone" time beyond the available entertainment, so I would turn on the sound recorder on the phone and talk. Talk, talk, talk. I tried to act like I was broadcasting, but I fear I'm not very good at it.  You can listen to years and years of recordings of mine on my home server, but I think it would drive anyone, including me, insane!  To top it off, I would start thinking about something and there would be long stretches of nothing being said - a terrible waste of bandwidth!  I still do it to this day, but if I were you, I wouldn't spend much time listening unless you just want to hear what I sound like on a bad recording.

Back to the walks!

I found myself spending more time recording than listening over the months and years. I also spent increasing amounts of time not talking at all. As I was trudging along silently, my mind would seem to empty and I wouldn't be thinking of anything much at all. It was predominantly during these times that impressions would come to me.

Things I need to do at home.  What I should say to my wife when I often made her upset. An impulse to wave at a passer-by who I didn't know. When my mind seemed occupied with breathing and putting one foot in front of the other, especially on a cold or stormy morning when it was more difficult, my heart seemed to open up more to impressions of things I needed to know or needed to do. It is nearly inexplicable except to put yourself into such quiet situations and feel the effect yourself.

That is just one example of how I put myself in the position to feel the "weak magnetism" of the Psychic Proximity Principle and to hear what I have come to call the "voice of God". As usual, choose the descriptive words you like to communicate what comes to you at such moments, just as the Feeding the Soul of Steve Jobs booklet explains.

I think the most important part of getting inspiration is to eliminate as many distractions as you can. Our modern world seems stuffed with noise and passive entertainment to the point that most of us can become nervous around quietness that is so foreign to us. There is always something to watch or listen to, some distraction that can occupy our mind, at least partially. When we can get away from these things, like when I would take a hike in the mountains or walk on empty early morning streets, we are able to hear softer things and feel that "weak magnetism". We can hear the quiet inspiration that flows from God.

So, "how to actually get inspiration"? Get away from things. Take time to avoid mental distractions. Put yourself in situations where it is just you and your heart.  Inspiration is a shy thing, but it will come as you give it some undivided attention!