Our family watched the previous seasons on Netflix, and this scene occurs in season 2
Which matter most, the household tasks and the making of a home, or the buttressing of the militant actions that patrol and protect the group? Making tea and cakes or guarding the perimeters and shooting things?
The whole show (at least in the second season) is obsessed with whether a life that is reduced to animal survival and the lowest forms of brute morality is even worth living.
Hmmmm, tea and cakes and cleaning bathrooms suddenly seems to gain a notch or two in prestige and honor.
It turns out that just about everything we do involves cleaning the bathrooms. Creating an environment where care and trust are expressed. -Seth Godin in “Clean Bathrooms“
It was never about either or, but about understanding that people need to give due respect to each others roles and vocations, to have the freedom to grow as a society and support one another by occasionally giving precedence and hands on help to something other than our own little tribal preferences.
My disclaimer on this post is that I’m going to use illustrations that come from my experience in the church, but don’t think that people act like typical people just because they belong to a certain socio-economic or religious group. If you do that, you are going to miss the whole point.
Pixie Dust and The Wizard Behind The Curtain
Before I get to that story, let me tell you about an old blogpost I re-read from Kathy Sierra. Called “Pixie Dust & The Mountain of Mediocrity. The gist is that people use marketing techniques to game the system and it’s that “pixie dust” that is promoted to be the magic answer to the branding and promotion of ones product.
It is not unlike the last topic, taking to task the online and marketing Gurus who provide methods, for a fee, to making you and/or your customers (clients..fans….whoever you want to win over) an overnight success. Even if they are well-meaning, plenty of so-called experts aren’t really helping you to be what truly makes you awesome: being the best you can be, living to your potential, inspired to rise to greater heights of what you hope to be or accomplish.
Buzzwords, Buzzword techniques, and the fast path to wealth and awesomeness is something people will pay for, and that means a lot of gamers are going to enter the field to make sure they can take advantage of it. That also means there is going to be an aftermath of broken dreams, and the disillusioned.
Sierra succinctly sums it up:
There is a world of difference between helping someone *appear* more awesome and helping them actually BE more awesome.
And that in some ways reminded me of a small, but rather sorry, experience I had a long time ago that left me with a distinct sense discomfort that helped shape how I like to deal with people to this day.
A Moment of Clarity
I had gone to one of those big Christian conferences that are comprised of all sorts of people from different denominations, cultures, and backgrounds. It was one that had really pumped up my own sickly and struggling grip on walking out my faith. It wasn’t called a Revival, but it was effectively working as one for me.
Maybe because of that, I was a bit more open, hopeful, and vulnerable to what people said to me. Anyway, after one of the services (there are several at this sort of convocation), a well meaning man spoke to me. He said something very positive, something like “I see you are -positive ‘blah,blah,blah’, and you will -positive ‘blah,blah,blah'”. I felt very encouraged, I felt that he had been moved by some inner insight to share that with me.
As the conference moved on I happened to pass by that man speaking to someone else, using the very same words, the very same expression, the very same way. They weren’t special insights meant for me. This well meaning man was gaming the system.
I suppose he felt this was his ministry of encouragement or something, but for me, it was a searing disappointment, because it didn’t feel real. It didn’t feel sincerely anything. I felt my sense of trust was breached and trampled. I didn’t ask for his words, and wasn’t even hoping or looking for them. He offered me something artificial, when I truly needed the genuine. He sprinkled around some pixie dust, because it had good effects on people. For him.
And to this day, as convinced as I am of the importance of affirmation and encouragement, if I cannot garner together the individualized and sincere words that are infused with my own sense of care and compassion, or affection or desire to connect… I don’t want to give a substitute. I don’t believe in “placeholder” love, that consists of words or token actions merely meant to make someone feel good for the moment.
That is a terribly selfish thing to do. It is pixie dust spread around to make the giver feel better about themselves. If you tell someone they are awesome with that motivation, spare them.
They are better off without your false words and insincere methods. The world is better off without them.
How To Tell Someone They Are Awesome
First -to outline the negative shape before drawing in the detail- do not tell someone how much they matter or how great they are when showing them is better. Words will often cloud the message, even if you intend to mean them. That too often turns into “meaning well”, and you know what the old saying is about good intentions.
If words are all you have, tell people something that you can follow through on… a generally inclusive way of telling them they matter and are awesome “I look for the beauty and glory in you”… because I look for that in all. And then make that your purpose, your own rule of life.
Do something for them that helps them be the best version of themselves.
Then when you tell them you think they are awesome, or that they matter to you, they will trust it, and it will build something meaningful into their lives.
Give them tools of value, words of value, and actions of value. Take something of yourself, and invest it in those tools, words, and actions. Infuse something of your love and care into what you give to others. That will make them feel awesome. Then you can tell them they are awesome and might even have an opportunity to share something that will make them even more awesome.
The outcome of that is what they do with that thing themselves, what they get to experience from it.
This has its way of spilling over and making us feel pretty awesome as well, but that is not the goal or the point of what we tell others, or what we share with them.
What Am I Really Saying?
What really works is love. Love is never cheap, and has no substitution. Everyone needs and wants it, and when you give words or anything to another person with real love attached, you give the world what it really needs.
How useful is apologetics, making a systematic and reasoned defense for your faith?
I’ve always loved the practice, since it combines the way my mind works, helps answer difficult questions for me, and is useful in arguments. I think it is that last part that raised the question of how useful a working knowledge of apologetics may be. Winning an argument with someone is not winning the person, and what is the point of that?
Should we as followers of Jesus Christ be self satisfied, feeling good that “we are right”?
To be clear, there are a couple places where St. Paul strongly advocates being able to make a defense, or argument, for our Christian faith. It fortifies the mind against the hostile assaults that are so common today. If you don’t think that American society in particular, and the global community in general, doesn’t have an axe to grind with Christianity I’m not sure where you’ve been keeping yourself. Having a solid set of reasons for believing in Christ and the tenets of the gospel is a strong protection against the ridicule and bitter diatribe aimed towards Christians.
There is no question in my mind about how useful strong, reasoned defensive arguments are for a Christian, personally. I do have serious doubts about the application of this type of thinking and communication in the interactions of evangelism. That is the use of apologetics in sharing the gospel seems far less effective than some groups of Believers would have it.
I spent the better part of my life in some sort of debate of this kind with people around me who I desperately hoped, and fervently prayed would come to faith in Christ. I so much wanted to see them experience the peace, the joy, and the wholeness that a relationship with God can bring. But, frustratingly, the arguments, even when masterfully destroying every barrier and stronghold, just didn’t produce much fruit.
The best that could be said for such conversations is that they bulldozed through preconceptions and paved the way for possible consideration of Christ. But those arguments didn’t bring life. And ministering life is what the gospel is all about. Even if that brings death to old traditions and cherished misconceptions.
So, it can be said that all the time spent with my Dad, or on forums arguing the merits of Christianity were not all time lost, but they were not times that produced what I most hoped they could.
Apologetics are useful for the intellect of a person, but that isn’t where most people’s struggles take place. For most, if not all, it is in the heart. And if apologetics aren’t so useful in that arena, what is?
The answer seems like a cliche waiting to happen, but if you combine the clearly defined explanations of 1 Corinthians 13th chapter, and the book of 1st John, (for starters) you will find the real power of conviction is steadily applied Agape love. Caring, honoring, self-sacrificing, serving, healing, longsuffering love. The type of love we call unconditional, but which we so often mar with our conditions.
In the face of such love, hostility and the hardest internal barriers are defenseless. Nothing in the world or the depths of hell has any weapon of use against it.
If I were to look for a reason to say apologetics is important or necessary, it would be to say that it is as a support for the formation of that sort of love and enduring spirit. Apologetics are more for us as Christians, and it is the good works, the signs and wonders, and the kindness that is evangelism’s companion actions. With the heart, sometimes a good argument just gets in the way.
Christianity is a whole package deal, and without putting the whole of ones heart, soul, body, and spirit into God’s hands, there is little of worth we can produce. Today’s piecemeal ala carte Christianity doesn’t represent Christ well, and it doesn’t deliver life dependably, but the gospel as it was meant to be believed and lived offers the only antidote to death, and all its horrible manifestations in humanity.
No where else is there the answers we need. The application of Christian apologetics establishes a plain pathway to see that more clearly. And that is its usefulness.
I read a couple unrelated blogposts today which, of course, I am piecing together in my mind. They do have something, both of them, to do with productivity. Productivity is a subject I am interested in at the moment. Should I list the posts in the order that I read them? Why would I do that? … it really doesn’t really matter. What matters is what they have to say and some ideas that the two of them sparked.
One of the writers cited in the first post submits,
“…by keeping your options open with more choices, you’ve levied higher opportunity costs.”
I haven’t read the books, but I know that people who keep their options always open are frightened to close the deal on their decisions and -more often than not- in order to escape responsibility. They can feel like victims who are helplessly overrun by those who do make decisions. So the ideas caught my interest, and I started to consider them. I don’t have problems making decisions, myself, I go through a deductive sort of process, but there are times when I have difficulty knowing when a good time to close the door and take a specific direction is the best thing to do.
The difficulty is in the balance, because being quickly decisive is not always a good thing “act in haste, repent at leisure”. And yet, none of us wants to be in a constant cycle of confusion, unable to move forward; nor do we want to have expensive life failures from seeming (or being) arrogant.
If you are thinking what I am at this point, you realize that, yes, this can be complicated. Another time in which wisdom comes in handy, to steer our path in the right direction, to close doors, and/or keep them open at the best times… for relationships, for career moves, for retirement, for most of the decisions that crop up. These are often the things that make or break resolutions and goals.
The Other Post I read
From INC., 5 Trends to Ignore in 2013 posits that we don’t always have to listen to the Gurus. What must we do in investments, in blogging, in relationships, in child raising, … IN LIFE? Everyone who writes articles seems to want to establish their authority, to be the next important guru that everyone must pay attention to…. only, sometimes that is not going to work out for you. And I might suggest here that if you have lots of experts all telling you things that are musts, necessary, and urgent… you will likely be unproductive in the very area you hoped you would find your magic formula for success. It is the “too many cooks” syndrome.
Most of that last paragraph is my own thinking as inspired by a somewhat more business oriented information article. INC. simply pointed out how unnecessary some of the big trends in business are. They aren’t necessarily important for you. Which is exactly what we can apply to many voices of authority.
Although what I wouldn’t try to say is that we can figure everything out on our own, or that whatever seems right to us is just as valid as what anyone else thinks. Like it is all some homogenized cosmic palaver.
It might appear to be in certain cases, but that would likely be just a fluke… a random stroke of luck. There is true authority, actual expertise, and we would raise our chance of success and happiness if we found and followed those voices.
It all comes down…once again… to discerning what is true. That is always the big quest in life, isn’t it?
Not “what is true for you”, not “What is truth?”, but finding real truth. Gurus may not be the best way to do that. Just saying.
January is my number one planning month. I like to plan, but in the past I had more plan than execution which always translates into disappointment and frustration. In more recent years, I moved into an action-oriented way of doing things which then resulted in the type of LaLaland distraction which I have always been prone to. Come to think of it, I wonder if my love of planning had some of its origins in how well it worked to help me cope with the outside world and its demands.
Whatever… that is an example of the rabbit trail kind of thinking that dogs my life 🙂
Back to telling you what I did today that relates to you- my dear readers, or happenstance visitors…
I made plans today that incorporated two activities and goals that are at the top of what I would love to accomplish this year:
You might be disappointed in how cliched, how prosaic, those goals are, aren’t these the goals of 99.9% of the people out there? Maybe not the blogging, but some part of their life like that. Health and fitness always rate right up there for most people. But for me, I linked the two, and outlined them on paper.
There is a part of my brain that is convinced that uniting goals and making connections between dissimilar parts of our lives leads to a better balanced and successful overall life.
‘Blogging’ and ‘Health’ goals have been at opposite poles for me in the past few years. when I spent lots of time blogging, or making websites (the involvement with sitting long periods at the computer), the worse the effect on my physical well being. I became sedentary, I snacked on food I usually don’t even like (always unhealthy processed, fat-laden, sugar-infused foods), sat in awkward positions, just to name a few of the worse side effects of loving to blog.
When I exercised, gardened, took walks and hikes, cooked from scratch… interacted with people, you know, real life activities, I not only did not write or work on computer related website-making or graphics, or any of the many tasks linked with blogging… I lost my place. That’s right, I had no idea of what I wanted to do with the sites or blogs, and had problems with the software. Updating, using plugins for function, fixing things that go awry, became a giant learning curve again.
That also is very much my natural personality default. Long periods of focus sharpen my thinking, as well as create the logic and connections that my mind works well with. If other activities take me far away from the thought and concentration and I sort of forget everything.
So, I have decided to harness the power of blogging to sort through and create accountability in some of my desired improvements, including taking ownership of health. It isn’t enough to know the requisite knowledge of what to eat or how to exercise, etc. I need to incorporate the actions, and in a way that I don’t lose sight of other important goals in my life, like communicating with people.
So, I made my map for a couple goals, and this long dormant blog is going to be a part of this experiment.
My experiment in this years resolutions, which I confessed to my family in our conversation time on January 2nd, that I have not even formulated yet. Until I wrote my plan for the health/blog/outline, I didn’t even have much of an idea that I was going to focus on health this year. At least not in a real, organized type of way.
And do you know what inspired it all? God works in mysterious ways, I tell you: a Sam’s Club Advertisement magazine. Yes.
I think it congealed with the Copyblogger articles I was reading which lead to an INC article and BOOM! There I was making my plan.
I remembered I joined the affiliate programs for these businesses, so in the spirit of integrating goals, plans, and actions I’ll post my affiliate banners here. Perhaps at some point I will know how to sync serving my posts linked with business affiliations etc.that will be of real value to the readers. For now, it is just sort of a non sequitor random banner posting… just because reading Sam;s club’s ads sparked a whole new direction of my thinking in a positive way.
Among other projects I’ve been designing on Zazzle. Remember all those past New Year’s Resolutions I posted on this blog? Well, I’m finally getting to the “making art” part. I even have made a studio for creating some hardcopy original art. Tat will make it to the net in the new year 2013.
I also had to deal with a particularly bad hacking job on my sites which are hosted by Netfirms. I am very put out with that host, as this has happened in milder ways often this year. But this last time I had to completely reinstall software and recover and rewrite all the articles.
I’m going to deal with this in such a way that I won’t have to stop my writing to recover from such things… in the coming year. I am determined to keep my blogs alive.
Nicholas Christakis, a physician and social scientist at Harvard, found when examining data from a long-term study of the residents of Framingham, Mass., health habits can be as contagious as a cold virus. By his calculation, a Framingham individual’s chances of becoming obese shot up by 57 percent if a friend became obese. –People Who Forget To Die
This good advice comes directly from my experience on this blog. When I was in my heyday of blogging here, I did make some communication mistakes, with people, with writing, with rankling some readers, but I was honestly me and just wanted to speak opinions on the issues and topics I wrote about. Those topics could be just about anything. I had been on lists previously to blogging so had a fairly thick skin when it came to opposition and the psychological games that are sometimes played online (if you wonder what I’m talking about just look through advice on dealing with the many guises of trolls)
There are many types of disjointed negative people who troll the internet, but it seems they are not as visible to me now. I suppose it is because I have simply stopped giving much of my opinion and become somewhat apathetic about some of the former topics I once blogged passionately about. It also made my writing a bit more boring on those topics, so I stick to just sharing some the introspection for now… like this post. I also don’t “engage” nearly as much as I used to…
Anyway, back to the story…there was a story? yes. A blogger making a name for himself rating other blogs and bloggers decided he didn’t like me too well, and at some point said I was third rate or second rate or something like that. I don’t remember the actual verbal weapon he used, only now I can see the long-term damage. Sometimes these words are wielded with psychological knowledge and intent, but it is always difficult to say when it is all happening behind the screen.
Perhaps it was the timing or who knows, really, but the problem was that somewhere inside myself I listened to him. I shouldn’t have, and there was no real authority for him to have that sort of power over my own opinion of myself, but as those things sometimes go, it did.
I think its power came from somewhere deep inside myself where I was convinced that yes, I was no more than second or third rate as a person , and might as well give up blogging my opinions. Of course, I didn’t altogether, but you might say that is when the wind went out of my sails on this type of blog. The first of many climate changes to my life. I had had about enough of the interminable religious arguing that some Christians enjoy, politics became toxic and polemic. I am sure that contributed to the loss of interest in internet crusading. I went back home, you might say, to deal with the fires of my crumbling hearth and home. I wrote mostly about gardening.
How many times have I seen a talented blogger fold because they were harried or harassed by comments and unkindness? Many a time, in fact it was almost the norm for “blog-life”. I still hear complaints about rude, troublemaking feedback from people who I wonder are simply new to the way the wild world of the web interacts (which is simply an exposure of how real people often act and react – they are just more invested in hiding it in real life). It isn’t easy to see either intent or effect of words on the internet medium.
This is not an obscure thing that happens on the internet or elsewhere in life. Everywhere there are people who thrive on saying negative and discouraging things. Not just criticism, which is sometimes necessary, or voicing different opinions and perspectives, but those who belittle and wish to cripple others in their endeavors. I suppose there is more than a little envy at work.
The trouble is that many of us have been exposed to influences that assess, ascribe to us, or even assassinate our character and value as a person. And we become marred in our own image of ourselves, while vulnerable to those who can damage us and discourage us from following our dreams or building something worthwhile.
Those people speak into our lives and we let them.
That is why I think we should be careful who we listen to… even if we think we are armored against them, even if we think we are confident, strong people. We should be careful who we allow access to the place inside where our identity is formed. Of course, a person heals over time, and with efforts, but it is a lass of time and of momentum in life to step into the snare of harmful,negative people.
As an antidote I truly believe we should find those, including what God says of us, who will help us find our true core, the identity of ourselves as we are meant to be, as we best are. It isn’t a matter of surrounding ourselves with “yes-men”, but of being discerning, careful who give heed to in our lives.
Today is a new moon, on October the fifteenth of 2012, a Monday. We don’t think of new moons in our modern age, although we might still observe a full moon just because we like the way it looks or we equate it with a time when people act oddly. But it used to be that a new moon once had significance.
Since the Hebrew year was marked as a lunar year, the new moons would mark the beginning of a new month, and had the spiritual significance of new beginnings, considered Holy convocations in some instance; especially the first new moon of the new year.
There are questions about just what constitute a “new moon”. In the Lunar calender that didn’t seem to be so much of an issue since it was defined as”The New Moon is the beginning or the first day of the month.” We can guess that it is the transition from the full moon to the crescent, presumably with a specific point, such as the visible crescent. However it was, the moon at the beginning of its new phase was the beginning of a new month and so the “beginning” had a certain importance.
During the New Moon observance in ancient Israel the shofar was the blown. It was holy, a Sabbath Day. Worship, singing, and sweet incense was burnt to mark the observance.
A beginning was an important event, taken seriously, entered into joyously.
Today is the change from the month Tishrei to Cheshvan and it has two days set aside:”two Rosh Chodesh (“Head of the Month”) days for the month of (when a month has 30 days, both the last day of the month and the first day of the following month serve as the following month’s Rosh Chodesh). So the two days celebrated this month are the 16th and 17th of October.
I feel more in control, while at the same time less controlling; which I think is the natural turn of that correlation. controlling people are that way often because they feel so insecure about how little control they have in their lives. It seems to be a way of achieving sense and order inside a very chaotic existence.
But the more sense one makes of life, the less need to orchestrate everything, and manipulate. Oh yes, I like it!
To be my usual didactic self…
I am putting together my plans of resuming the age-old efforts at decluttering.
Tightening up my blogging plans and efforts, which hallelujah, means more posts
Paying more attention to the world of stocks, hoping to make up for the fact that I have not had a paying job for the majority of life as a SAHM
Finishing up my homeschooling career this coming year
Changing my life. Focus on exercise, eating better, drawing- then painting, reviving spiritual life.
This starts to sound like a list of New Years resolutions, doesn’t it? Perhaps it is the influence of Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur, which fall in September, thereabouts. We think we change times and seasons in the modern age… but we don’t really. The times of sowing and harvest, of moons and observations somehow remain and exert their influence even when we blithely ignore them.
Better to celebrate, to flow within the natural course of life, then always reinvent. Just as a general statement, mind you?