For someone you love

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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

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

Links to

the images above

Bridging the Gulf & The Argument for Altruism

George Price*
 
created a simple and elegant equation to explain altruism as an evolutionary strategy
 
Basically, life is a game

You can use different strategies
There are different players
As well as alliances and teams
 
All with similar goals
 
Live long
Have babies
& try to make sure your genes get passed on
 
A lot of strategies exist to accomplish those goals
 
One of them is altruism

Sacrifice for your reproductive partner
Scarifice for your child
Create social networks that support your family & make sacrifices for the group

So the group will protect your child
So the members of the group want to reproduce with you and your children
 
Altruism is a good strategy that can work very well
 
The others can work too
 
But many of them are based on dominance and violence and fear
 
The Bible is a complex argument about the right way to play this game
 
The authors of the Bible are players in the game trying to find the best strategy, arguing with each other
Sometimes arguing with themselves

And out of those arguments comes a clear answer
 
Altruism
 
The Bible is an argument that Altruism is the best, the correct strategy
 
Self sacrifice and loving your neighbor are the best way to play the game of life
 
And the Bible adds something else
Another reason to play the gam without judgment
To play the game with love
 
The Bible argues that Altrusim is the strategy that pleases God
Altruism is God’s strategy

That God became human and gave his life for us

because self sacrifice is the only strategy a loving God can use
 
When we choose a strategy based on dominance and violence and fear
A space between humans and God is created
And a space between you and your neighbors
  
God’s sacrifice in Jesus closes the gap
Bridges the gulf between humanity and God
Bridges the gulf between us all
 
Faith in Jesus
Faith in his life and death and resurrection
Means accepting the sacrifice
Answering the call to make altruism our strategy
Answering the call to make sacrifices in your life
As individuals
As socities
 
There’s no expectation that you’ll be perfect
And no one answer God’s call the same way
Your sacrifices will be different from mine

God’s strategy isn’t based on performance
You don’t have to earn God’s love

God’s sacrifice is absolute

But if you accept the strategy
If you accept the sacrifice

The strategy will begin working through you
 
The call to this strategy has always been here
It’s God’s call screaming from the books of the Bible

And it is now fully revealed in Jesus
 
Embrace the strategy of Jesus

Bridge the gulf

*The conclusion of George Price’s life is very sad. I recommend reading about it and thinking about why I’m encouraging everyone to think👆this way

George Price, the man who gave himself away

I should really do a post just about Peter Gomes & why no one knows who he is

But for now I’ll just post this quote

And think about what it says to me today

Then also think about the fact that he spoke these words in 1989

And think about what that says about us today

“There must be such a hope for the destitute of our American Calcuttas,’ Gomes said. ‘There must be such a hope for the prisoners of the inner city within sight of this cathedral church and beyond; there must be such a hope for the aged and the destitute; there must be such a hope for persons with AIDS and those who love and care for them”

I encourage you to think on these words

at least this one’s dead

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the death of my wife’s slayer
brought no comfort to me
now a shape for loneliness
for a dream

-Silver Bride by Amorphis

What happened

What really happened

In the aftermath of the school shooting in Maryland (best time to talk about it) I’ll point out one thing:

the resource officer didn’t prevent the shooting

The school resource officer killed the shooter, preventing further violence.

That’s to be commended.

He stopped the shooting
He did not prevent it from happening

And there is something I don’t believe

I don’t believe that the parents of the 2 injured in this incident

or the parents of all the maimed and deceased from other school shooting over the years

Can now rest from their sorrows
Can bury their pain
Can forget the horrible loss they’ve suffered
And will be at peace with the fact that their children will grow up with a terrible physical reminder of their experience

Or not grow up at all

all because this one is dead

I could be wrong
But I don’t think those parents will be all that comforted tonight

(and for what it’s worth I don’t celebrate anyone’s death. In situations like this it was unavoidable that the officer take one life to protect the lives of other. But a human being is dead. I find no pleasure in that fact no matter how justified)

Update

This incident seems to fall outside the definition of a “school shooting” where we’re usually talking about a mass shooting

This likely fits into the category of domestic violence

Which is also a problem.

Maybe we should talk about that too.

Update

And now Jaelynn Willey’s dead

I doubt it’ll come as much comfort to her parents as they miss her presence, that the man who shot her is dead.

Because the violence that man started was prevented from going any further

Which is great

But it wasn’t prevented

And now she’s dead
And no one wins
Not in this lifetime

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

Suffering

Old question. REAL old.

If God loves us why do we suffer?

Does God control our actions? Our future? Every event, moment to moment? If so, why the moments of suffering?

I saw my friend today wondering out loud,

“Is God punishing me?”

I don’t think I’m going to end this debate in a blog…but I’ll try. At least a little bit. A smidgen.

My first thought would be about control.

What do I mean if I say God controls my future?

Do I mean God controls my every action? (kinda don’t think so)

Do I mean God controls all circumstances I find myself in? (kinda don’t think so on this one either. If I have control of my actions shouldn’t I think others do too?)

Do I mean that God has no control then!? (nah, but what do I mean then?)

🤔

I’ve come to the conclusion that I think about control in terms far too limited. I’ve started asking myself what kind of control the God I believe in has.

Reading the Bible does the trick.

The authors of that old collection of books all wrestled with the idea of God’s control, how evil could sometimes triumph.

Emerging from their frustration, through the books that claim to reveal God’s will I think it is very clear.

God controls the outcomes.

There may be a number of potential circumstances but God controls the eventual circumstances.

The events that will come to pass.

Over time they are all fulfilled and eventually they will culminate in a transformation of this world. In that culmination we will see the full triumph of light, love, mercy, compassion, humility, self sacrifice, and all that is good.

These will win out in the end.

In the meantime all our choices create the circumstances we see around us. Slowing eliminating the paths into the future. All of our individuals choices swirling together in a tumultuous converging path.

Each path we take leaves another behind,

& another

& another

Until there is only one left: that path of culmination.

Our burden is to chose the paths available to us. Then we have to deal with the paths laid before us by all others.

Which by the way includes God. I definitely think God acts and moves along these paths just as we do.

But God’s path is built of all the virtues listed above👆

And more

Ours, not so much.

Why bring us into this universe of possibilities where some choose viciousness and others chose tenderness?

Why allow the choices?

Why not start and culminate simultaneously? Why do we have to go through the long, grim pilgrimage of time?

I’d like to know, wouldn’t you?

So I guess I failed on that note. Maybe I’ll come back to that question later.

Until then I have faith that when time does culminate, peace will reign.

And all the wrongs of the past will be made right.

I can’t wait to see what THAT looks like

🙏

Without a doubt I have my own take on the way grace, forgiveness, and faith worm their way into all this. But that’ll have to wait till a later post 🤘

Brief warning: I’ll mostly be posting from my phone. Using a mobile device to view may work best 😎