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Showing posts from November, 2013

Is Nothing Sacred?

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One of the things I've come to appreciate about my extended family is that it didn't matter to them on what day a holiday was celebrated. It was somewhat of a pragmatic decision; being one among fourteen grandchildren, there were lots of celebrations to coordinate. And my Nana thought it best to defer to the individual get-togethers of her five children and their in-laws, and simply celebrate as a family later. Often times, a week to two weeks later.

Now I know that this really matters to some people, but the one thing that I learned from all this (apart from the fact that one can never have too many turkey dinners) was that holidays are just human institutions.

I don't think most people would agree with that. For instance, a few stores will open their doors on Thanksgiving evening this year. Now I used to hear enough complaints about Black Friday years ago, but ever since this trend started, the backlash has been incessant. As if there are those who feel personally offend…

5 Ways Social Media Makes Us Better

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Technology bashing has been in vogue for some time now. Not by my generation, mind you, but by those who I can only assume are feeling left out of things they refuse to take the time to understand (reminds me of when our grandparents told our parents that movie theaters and rock music would destroy their souls).

Now I won't belabor the point that blaming the device is not unlike blaming the symptom of a disease. That should be evident enough. But what I will take issue with is the notion that the latest technologies are making us worse people. Such as the common argument that social media is making my generation narcissistic. No, people are inherently narcissistic and they'll take advantage of any opportunity for self-aggrandizement. Everything can be used for good or evil. And I think it's worth investigating how social media has actually championed good qualities in us.

1. Facebook makes us more discrete

We like to complain, particularly about other people. It's one o…

Consider It

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My biggest pet peeve is ignorance. When people don't know what I think they should (i.e. what I know), it makes me want to set myself on fire. Which should firmly establish that I'm both incredibly pretentious and a big, fat hypocrite (but at least I'm not ignorant of how ridiculously unreasonable that standard is).

Now, my second biggest pet peeve is being inconsiderate. And unlike the first, this is a standard I intend to hold my kid to, all but a month away. Because as far as I'm concerned, how considerate we are of others is the measure of our maturity.

Think about it. We all begin as a fusion of cells that lacks any self-awareness. Even as we develop inside the womb, for all we know, we're a part of our mothers who are incubating us. It's not until we're born that we gradually begin to realize that we have autonomy, that we're distinct entities. And with this knowledge comes the realization that there are other people in the world too.

Yet it takes…

Not Amused

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For a skeptical, cynical critic, few activities are mindless. And rest, being something I don't come by honestly, it requires diligence on my part to take vacations from thinking. Perhaps this is why I'm so drawn to stupid humor and physical comedy. Studies continue to pour in regarding the health benefits of laughter, and I've found that in those brief (but frequent) moments, my mind is silent.

Which makes sense as a friend of mine recently reminded me that the word "amuse" literally means "to not think" (a- = not/against, muse = think). This ought to bring new meaning to the phrase "mindless entertainment" and the therapeutic value it can have. We need entertainment. Just like our bodies need rest every night, our minds need entertainment every day to recharge from the daily grind.

I don't think most us need much convincing on this. Entertainment is championed in our society today. And for many, it's become the gold standard against …

Intellectual Terrorism

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Twelve years ago, America learned a new word: terrorism. The rules of warfare have changed from the days when men marched stoically across a field and prepared for the order to attack. Now, men strap bombs to their chests in public areas while others use women and children as shields. As if it wasn't enough before, war has gotten dirtier.

Most people think that terrorism is about fear, and this is somewhat true. A suicide bomber can't take millions of lives; but he can terrify millions. Fear, more than the bomb, is the primary weapon. A plain clothes man walking the street before leveling a city block means that such men could be anywhere. It sends a powerful message that any one of us could be next; we could all be sheep awaiting the slaughter. And this makes us victims already. Not of a bomb's detonation, but of terrorism's true purpose: coercion.

This should be easy for Christians to spot seeing that we point out manipulation everywhere. Science teachers are trying …

Unglobal

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I suffer from "out of sight, out of mind" syndrome. Ask any of my friends with whom I'm no longer in direct, daily contact. We don't talk (unless you count Facebook likes...I don't). Now there are a handful of dudes who I can just pick up with right where we left off, but most of the past people in my life I've largely left in the past.

Part of me wants to feel guilty for this. That I shouldn't discard friendships so easily and, instead, keep up with those folks. You know, invest the time. And a fine sentiment that is; it's just not realistic. Reality is my wife and I about to have a baby. Reality is closing on a house next week. Reality is having a full-time job that leaves me just enough time to decompress at the end of the day (media is a fast-paced industry).

In other words, I don't have the time. And if reality's taught me anything, it's that humanity was never meant to live globally.

That's not what our culture would have us beli…

The Cure for Cynicism

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With our first child less than 50 days away, my wife and I have been talking a lot about parenting. Particularly, we've been discussing what we anticipate will be our biggest weaknesses as parents. And one of my most notable shortcomings as a person is my cynicism. That's not to be confused with my skepticism. Those words are often used in place of each other, but they mean very different things. Skepticism is related to doubt, while cynicism has to do with trust.

When I described the difference to my wife, she indicated that skepticism was healthy (I've re-programmed her well), but she didn't see any redeeming qualities in cynicism. Puzzled, I replied that if such was the case, I didn't know how to combat my natural distrust of people and their motives. She thought for a second and simply said, "Give people the benefit of the doubt."

It's a handy phrase I've heard many times before, but it never carried the same weight before. You see, trust, as …

For the Sake of Argument

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One of the key principles in civil discourse is establishing common ground. Without it, there is little pretext for discussion as the parties involved will arrive at hopelessly divergent conclusions based on completely different knowledge criteria. Like when an atheist debates with a Christian. Ultimately, they must both admit that one places their trust in the reliability of science, reason, and empiricism while the other solely in the reliability of God. Thus, there's virtually no common ground to be found.

When Christians debate, however, there should be plenty as both would confess that the revealed will of God is their shared source of knowledge. Sadly, this is not often the case because most Christians are unwilling to concede any common ground. Even with each other.

That's because good Christians know their theology. They know what they believe, they've prepared their defenses, and they're fully convinced in their own minds. Having all the right answers and desi…