Cultures

Biology is the story that nature tells us about ourselves

Culture is the story that we tell about ourselves

True that we often attribute our cultural story to some other force

A deity
Or deities
Sometimes our ansestors

But ultimately we ourselves are the ones who pass on those stories

That’s why they’re so variable from group to group

Even groups like Christians who have a book that records their story can’t agree on how to tell the story

And as a result you get versions of the story so different that it becomes difficult or even impossible to see them as one

We tell our story
We create our culture and renew it
We tell ourselves who we are

I want to make sure I am proud of the story I tell myself
I want to make sure the story I tell others about myself is a story in which I actually want to be a character

As a Christian
As a man
As an American

And not only the story of who I am
But also the story of who I want to be
The story of who I strive to be

Be sure to tell your story well

Gospels and War Stories

If you were going to tell the story of US involvement in Iraq, where would you start? The invasion in 2003? The Gulf War that started in 1990? Or would you go back farther?

You could go into detail about US, French, Soviet, and British support for Iraq through the course of the Iraq/Iran war that took place between 1980-1988. You might even want to go into detail about Soviet involvement in Afghanistan and the 9/11 attack because of its impact on the worldwide war on terror.

Or you could skip all that and tell the stories of the individual soldiers themselves. Both sides even, giving an utterly different and far more personal account.

It would probably be best to touch on all these topics to some degree or another, just placing emphasis on a few of the events while being briefer on others.

The same could be said of the 4 Gospels. When reading these biographies of Jesus’ life many notice the differences in the way they are told. And the differences are notable. One author may leave out details that the other authors emphasize. They may have events happening in slightly different order. Some contain the same saying but worded in a slightly different way or told in a different context.

They even start in completely different episodes in Jesus’ life. Matthew and Luke start with Jesus’ family genealogy as well as the events before and during his birth. Mark and John start in adulthood and scarcely mention his birth at all, although John includes a preamble which explicitly states that Jesus existed before the beginning of creation. In fact John tells us that Jesus was the agent of creation, through which all things were made.

So which of the Gospels is telling the story “right”? Whose timeline is “right”? Whose testimony should we trust? Luke doesn’t even claim to have witnessed anything at all. Luke claims that he investigated the different eyewitness accounts and carefully constructed the best & most orderly account based on his investigation.

I recommend thinking about the Gospels the way you would think about the war in Iraq. It’s not about whether the story is wrong or right, it’s about where a particular author puts the emphasis, what information they found most pertinent. If you were going to try to learn about the war in Iraq you should read a multitude of accounts to take in as many perspectives as possible. By comparing the different accounts you will find details that one author casually glossed over or ignored, that a different author spent more time on. Through the different accounts a more complete understanding will emerge. Each narrative will converge on  a more decisive & complete story that is more complete than any one book alone.

That’s why we have four Gospels
That’s why we shouldn’t be worried about the differences
The differences make the Gospels stronger.
The differences reinforce that we are getting multiple, real accounts

Everyone sees and experiences the world differently

The Bible acknowledges that
The Bible canonizes that

I trust the Bible because it brings me the same diversity of experience I see everyday in the world around me

The Theory and the Revelation

There is one sure way to completely shut down an argument: show the person you’re trying to sway that you haven’t done the background research to know what you’re talking about.

In the realm of religion and science there are 2 perfect examples

Evolution
&
Revelation

The Book of Revelation is the last book of the Christian Bible. It can go by a number of different names:

The Revelation to John
The Apocalypse of John
The Revelation
Revelation

I’ve even seen a long form of it spelled out as The Apocalypse of St John the Apostle

But it’s never called “Revelations”.

And anytime a person who’s trying to argue with a Christian adds an S onto Revelation there is a good chance that the Christian checks out.

The thought being:

This person isn’t taking this argument seriously enough to go do the tiny amount of research necessary to even argue with me.

Why would I listen to them, then?

The same in arguments about science.

The book The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin can also go several names:

On the Origin of Species
On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection
On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life

But it is never called “The Origin of the Species”

That’s not the name of the book and the same thing happens when people call it that in an argument.

The opponent checks out and doesn’t take the rest of the conversation seriously.

If you want to convince someone of your argument or even get them to take it seriously you have to understand the terms and sources they use. At least casually, so they’ll respect your thoughts on the subject.

In both these cases I’ve even seen works published with the wrong title. That shows that even editors of texts meant to be taken seriously haven’t done their due diligence to know the title of the book in question.

But these are just good examples

There are many more

The point is, before trying to persuade others you have to spend the time to know what others believe.

In all productive conversations I’ve ever had, it’s only when I try to see the world through beliefs that are not my own that I can approach someone to try to change their mind.

THOSE people are destroying society

Whoever they are. I’m not sure who it’s supposed to be anymore that’s unstitching society. Uprooting our morals, our standards for what is acceptable. I really don’t know because so many of the arguments are silly

And so many don’t care to make an argument at all. They just care to identify a scapegoat

It’s

The Gays
The Jews
The Rednecks
The Latinos
The Blacks
The Scientists
The Atheists
The Catholics
The Mormons
The Millenials
The Capitalists
The Socialists
Hillary Clinton

THOSE people

Whatever

I don’t care about the scapegoating and labeling that obviously has nothing to do with what’s actually driving our society into darker and darker places

I did come across a great example of what’s destroying our society that has nothing to do with a scapegoat

The example is an incident that distills popular sentiments into a simple act

This young man knocked on a door for assistance and was met

With a gun

That my friends, is what’s destroying our society

I was a stranger and you welcomed me
– Matthew 25:35c NRSVCE

For someone you love

9C8A2AE7-401B-4A8F-B4B4-94828D756A7E.jpeg

It’s hard to talk about love & suffering

they don’t seem to go together well

especially when it comes to the idea of a God who loves but allows suffering

So my thought for this Easter is something I think parents will understand better than I do

If I asked:

What would you do for your children? How far would you go? To protect them? To keep them safe?

Most of the parents I know would have the same answer:

Anything
I’d do anything for my children

I think maybe that’s why suffering exists, because love means you’ll suffer for someone you love.

You’ll place someone’s needs above yours

Above your own life

This is My commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends

John 15:12-13 NLT

E63ACF52-5E13-4CDE-AC2D-68644D1EC01F

A’ Chàisg sona
Ka hari Aranga
Kristos sotonnheton;
oriwiio tsi sotonnheton
hyvää pääsiäistä
M’shee ho dkom!
Happy Easter

Links to

the images above

We already know the solutions to the Opioid crisis

If you take one notable thought away from this post, I hope it’s this:

Drugs hijack an important part of the brain and it has a devastating effect on the rest of the brain. The chemicals and cells being hijacked can’t perform all their functions correctly and it takes away your ability to be yourself and control yourself. If we want to stop this the answer is multidisciplinary medical intervention.

The ventral tegmental area (VTA), the nucleus accumbens, and the prefrontal cortex

👆These brain parts are the most important element of the answer to addiction👆

I see/hear people say it all the time

“Addiction is not a disease!”
“It’s about selfishness!”
“Addiction a moral failure”

No it’s not. It’s a function of your brain.

“But the mind can-“

No it can’t
Your brain IS your mind

There’s no debate about this anymore. Maybe you could talk about other parts of your nervous system as components of your mind, that’s worth discussing.

Doesn’t change the fact that your mind is biological

Not spiritual

We may have a soul (I think so)

But whatever the soul is, it’s not your mind.

And your mind is where addiction happens.

Those chunks of the brain I listed above are part of the reward pathway.

It’s a simple part of your brain.
It has one simple function: it tells you that you need to do something again.
It says “What you’re doing is important! Do it again!!!”

It usually reinforces pretty important activities

“Eating is good! Do it again!!!”
“Water is good! Drink it again!!!”
“Sex is good! Have them babiesssssssssss”

Chemicals carry those messages from one cell to the next. The more chemicals that tell you “do that again!” the stronger the urge to do it again.

And that’s where addiction is a monster.

All the big ones; opioids, alcohol, cocaine, meth
All of the debilitating drugs

They all highjack that reward loop by increasing those chemicals that tell you to repeat a behavior.

But they don’t just increase them.

They hyper elevate the level of those chemicals beyond anything your brain could do on its own.

They create an urge that’s stronger than any activity you could engage in.

They don’t say:
“Do this again! It’s important!!!”

They say:

“DO THIS AGAIN AT ANY COST!!!”

“DO THIS AT ALL COST!!!”

“DO THIS AGAIN EVEN IF IT KILLS YOU!!!”

“DO THIS OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN BECAUSE NOTHING COULD EVER BE AS IMPORTANT AS THIS DRUG”

Fixing that pathway is not about willpower
It’s not about freewill
It’s about biology

Even though other parts of your brain are capable of rewriting that pathway, they can rarely do it to correct drug addiction because drugs are UNNATURALLY strong

Medicine,
Therapy,
Inpatient Care

These are the answer to fix that part of the brain

Then comes the dumb response:

“Well if that’s how it works then you should never start in the first place blah blah bla blah bla”

Great idea 👍

Too late

Thousands, millions are already addicted. They are our friends, our neighbors, our family members. They’re doing what the reward pathway tells them: these drugs are important enough to kill your self over.

People you have loved your whole life, people you KNOW are not selfish will ignore anything and everything in their lives. Because the pathway is high jacked. And it tells them what’s important. They lose the ability to tell themselves.

So go build a time machine if you think the answer is to make them “not start in the first place”

I say we help them now.

ASAP

Use education to help prevent more addiction. Absolutely
But help your loved ones in the throws of addiction NOW
Support medical intervention, public health policy, cheaper healthcare in general.

Because this won’t stop

I know that my brain is the way it is on purpose. It functions the way it does for a good reason. Those simple parts provide basic functions. The complex parts surrounding those simple parts help you make sure the simple goals are accomplished as efficiently and effectively as possible.

I wouldn’t know that👆if I was addicted

None of that works if the simple parts are highjacked. The complex parts just can’t overcome that invasion.

Because the brain is a nested hierarchy
I should probably explain what that is 🤷‍♀️

And why I named this website after it 🤔
Of course you could google it too

Whatever

Educate yourself
Don’t take my word for it
Find the information

And use it to help save your neighbor

Don’t judge; do have compassion

Ask yourself:
What does it look like to love your neighbors?

Be the one who shows them mercy
Mercy for these accosted humans is treatment

Not punishment

I’ve definitely tried to keep the information I’ve presented here as non-technical as possible

Because who likes boring?

Even so, the chemicals and brain cells and brain functions I’m referring to here are all very complex and have many different functions.

Go learn about them all if you’d like

It’s very interesting and I recommend it

Information

Is

Power

Use

It

The Evangelical Ethnicity

(Links in Blue)

Usually ethnicity is used as an overly complicated term that is very difficult to pin down

So I’m going to make it simple;
Ethnicity is a combination of ancestry and culture.

How that plays out looks different from group to group

but there it is.

And that’s what Evangelicalism has become.

It’s not a denominational distinction,

as in

“That’s an Evangelical Church over there, and that one over there is not!”

Evangelicalism has become a way of identifying yourself as part of a broader cultural identity

(The Last Temptation)

Identity centered on a culture of Biblical Literalism, Appeal to Tradition, Hostility to Science, and Political Conservativism

(👆Just to name a few)

There are Evangelical Catholics now, Evangelical United Methodists, PC(USA) Evangelicals. Doesn’t matter the denomination, the culture is everywhere, including the Mainline Churches!

…but now an ugly serpent is slowly uncoiling itself, slithering from the base of Evangelicalism.

Till now it’s been hidden.

It’s always been there, but for years it’s been lurking in the background.

Now it’s come into the light.

It’s the other aspect of ethnicity:

Ancestry

For decades the Evangelical identity has been growing in influence and exposure, coming to define Christianity in the public square

And the whole time it’s leadership has maintained that ancestry isn’t a component!

We’re not racist!
Everyone’s welcome!
We’re all brothers in Christ!

I guess it’s possible those leaders meant it.

(Demanding Change)

But their congregants did NOT all believe it

Ancestry is clearly woven into the Evangelical identity.
Intimately
Irrevocably

The cries are clear:
We’re losing “our country”!
We have to take “our country” back!

It’s not subtle; the “our” part is ancestry.

(Taking “Our Religion” back too)

Call it race if you want (a ridiculously unscientific fiction)

But it’s been revealed as a cornerstone of Evangelical identity.

Some that have come from the “Evangelical Denominations” have now realized they can’t call themselves Evangelical anymore.

(Just listen to The Liturgists podcast)

(The Liturgists)

These former Evangelicals are the few who actually believed that ancestry wasn’t a part of the identity.

Now they see it and it’s undeniable.

(I could no longer ignore)

It shouldn’t surprise them.

Some stay. Trying to battle this rise in ancestry as central to the identity

(Trying to Fight)

Not surprisingly the most vocal opponents are the leaders who recognize the change in demographics (and don’t want to lose their new base)

(Fighting for the groups that we need to take “Our Country” back from)

Still

The truth plain; Evangelicalism is in the process of fully transforming into Evangelical Ethnic Identity

And the contingent that has conjured that identity around European Ancestry

is LOUD