Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Heroes

When I was a kid, my favorite superhero was Wolverine.  Despite a mediocre spin-off movie, he is still my favorite.  When I was younger, I admired him because he was cool.  What intrigues me about him now is the redemptive story interwoven throughout his narrative.

I think that there is something hardwired into us that makes us search out role models and heroes.  We need them, but where have they gone?

Heroes used to be the embodiment of the characteristics society held in highest regard.  Their stories comprise so much of ancient literature.  Look at Gilgamesh, Beowulf, Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, and so many more.  The heroes of these epics represented the best that society had to  offer.

Look around us today.  Our heroes have almost completely disappeared.  They've been replaced with celebrities.  Heroes we look up to, celebrities we scrutinize and wait for them to fail.  And if they don't fail quick enough, we lose interest in them.  The only reason we care about how high they fly is so that we can watch their spectacular crash.

This is a societal problem.  Nothing short of a cultural mind-shift will change that.  I don't think that is going to happen, so what do we do?  The need for a hero to emulate is so deeply ingrained within us that we can't shut it off, at least not while we are young.  So we take celebrities, doomed to fail, and copy them.  Then as a society, we wonder why the younger generations are constantly getting into trouble.  What's the solution?

Instead of scouring the media for people to emulate, I think we need to take a better look around us at the natural mentors we have and focus on them.  I think individually we need to stop focusing on the faults and shortcomings of other and instead praise their positive contributions.  Only then can we start to emerge from a culture that awards so much time and energy to exploiting the lives of celebrities engaging in infidelity and instead focus our attention on those who spend their time making the world a better place.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Much needed

Last night Destree and I went shopping at a giant, evil, faceless corporation.  No, we didn't take a quick trip to Disneyland.  We went to Walmart.

As we were leaving the parking lot, we saw a homeless man sitting next to the exit.  We didn't have a lot of food with us or any cash, but we were able to give the man (and his friend who was there for some of the time) a few apples and some graham crackers.

We also stayed and talked with them until we had to get home and put the frozen/refrigerated items we purchased away.  It felt good.  

Especially when we had more time, we used to go out and bring hot meals to people on the streets a lot more.  I miss it, and it was nice to be a blessing to others last night.  Equally enjoyable was our conversation.  Simple acts like that show more compassion than we realize.

Almost all of us have something to spare.  We can tone down on our wants to help meet the needs of others.  And if you're in a place where you're down to your own needs, take the time to strike up a conversation.  It's impactful for you and the person you're talking with.  Next time you pass someone on the streets who is looking for a handout, don't drive by and ignore them.  Don't just give them something quick and then speed on your way.  Take the time to have a conversation with them.  Ask their name.  Don't let them be just another statistic.

On a side note, Destree asked him what he needed most.  He said socks.  I've heard that before.  Keep an extra pack of socks with you to give away next time you see someone in need.  It could really brighten someone's day.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Deuteronomy 11

I read this the other day.  Just thought I'd share.  There's a lot of good stuff here.

Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.  Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country; what he did to the Egyptian army, to its horses and chariots, how he overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea as they were pursuing you, and how the Lord brought lasting ruin on them.  It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the wilderness until you arrived at this place, and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them.  But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done.

Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, and so that you may live long in the land the Lord swore to your ancestors to give to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey.  The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden.  But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven.  It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.

So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul —then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.  I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.

Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them.  Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him and to hold fast to him—then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you.  Every place where you set your foot will be yours: Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea.  No one will be able to stand against you. The Lord your God, as he promised you, will put the terror and fear of you on the whole land, wherever you go.

See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.  When the Lord your God has brought you into the land you are entering to possess, you are to proclaim on Mount Gerizim the blessings, and on Mount Ebal the curses.  As you know, these mountains are across the Jordan, westward, toward the setting sun, near the great trees of Moreh, in the territory of those Canaanites living in the Arabah in the vicinity of Gilgal.  You are about to cross the Jordan to enter and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you. When you have taken it over and are living there, be sure that you obey all the decrees and laws I am setting before you today.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hurt by the Church?

          A phrase that I've heard used (and even used myself) before is that someone has been "hurt by the church."  I didn't even stop to think about this phraseology until a few days ago.  Really?  You've been hurt by the church?  Did you stub your toe on the corner of the building?  Did a ladder on the church property fall on you?  Have you been hurt by the church?  No.  Have you been hurt by people in the church?  Well that's another story.
          The church is made up of people.  And people, by their very nature, are imperfect.  Sadly, I think too many people are treated poorly by someone associated with the church and remember that pain and wrongdoing as an action by the church as a whole instead of the action of a single individual.
          It may sound like semantics, "hurt by the church" or "hurt by someone in the church," but such a viewpoint can poison one's outlook towards the institutionalized church and organized religion.  It can negate the benefits of being part of a church body.  It also raises your risk of putting God by the wayside because of a mistake a person made.  Don't do it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Afghan Tandoor

There's a small Afghan place nestled between Cold Stone and Quiznos.  A few weeks ago Destree and I decided to check out their food.  I've been interested in trying them for a while now.  Now that we have, I can't wait to go back.

We split two dishes: chicken kabob and a mix of chicken and lamb curry.  Each came with naan, saffron rice, and a salad.  We were a little cautious getting everything because Destree is allergic to anything spicy.  If it passes her threshold, then her tongue breaks out in a rash.  I didn't think the chicken was spicy at all, but her tongue apparently did.  Everything was amazing, especially the green sauce that they give you to go on the rice.  It's spicy, but so much more.

What really stepped this place up to the next level was its service.  Neither of us had ever eaten Afghan food before. Occasionally, I will have Pakistani and Indian food, but I'm not familiar enough with most of it to order.  We told that to the guy behind the register (along with the "no spicy" rule), and we had him order for us.  He did a great job.  He wasn't irritated, in fact he seemed jovial about getting to order food to us.

The food was great and warrants a few return trips to try their gyros, Persian burger, and cheese steak sandwich, but it's their service that will keep us coming back again and again.

Brave

So this week we took Chloe to see brave.  It started out a little disappointing--we had dinner over at my parents, so I wasn't able to go home in between work and the movie, so I wasn't able to change into my kilt beforehand.  Otherwise I would have.

Brave is a Pixar film years in the making.  They developed two separate programs to help control the movement of hair.  Knowing that helped me appreciate that particular aspect more, but if I hadn't known, I wouldn't have noticed anything.

I see a kilt and I'm happy, so of course I'm going to be a little biased towards the movie.  While I'm not a feminist, neither am I a "barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen" type of guy, so it was nice to see a heroine who wasn't obsessed with finding a husband.  Bravo to Pixar for emphasizing that element while still maintaining the importance of family.

The movie had a darker tone than I had expected.  Not quite what I was expecting when I took my 3-year old.  She enjoyed it, but not as much as she did other movies we've taken her to.  If she was a little older, I think she would have liked it more.


Brave is a good movie.  The moral of the story is how important family is.  Brave is not a great movie for very young audiences, but older kids will definitely enjoy it, especially girls.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Evil

Evil exists, right?  So what does that say about God?  It's arguably the biggest objection to the existence of God.  So how do rational, logical Christians explain how a loving God allows evil?

Evil is a very complex issue, and needs an equally complex answer.  It would be awesome if there was a succinct, all-inclusive answer.  But there's not.

First off, we need a description of what evil really is.  If reality is subjective, then evil is all in our minds.  What may appear evil to us could in fact appear neutral or even righteous to someone else.  When faced with infanticide, rape, or equally heinous crimes, that explanation just doesn't sit well with me.  While there is a certain amount of subjectivity to morals and ethics, something within human nature screams against inequality, bigotry and the casual way in which life is sometimes tossed aside.


Therefore, I believe that evil can have an absolute, concrete, objective definition.  I would define evil as a moral rebellion against God.  Any time someone chooses to do something that is outside of God's will an evil act is born.


So why doesn't God stop evil?

Well, if God stopped us from doing anything evil, then we would have no freewill.  If He eliminated the source of evil, then there would be no humans.