If only Aristotle had a radio talk show…

Success requires wisdom and eloquence.

This statement from my COM theory text is one that really struck me. I think a brief refresher in Greek history is in order to articulate this!

In the time of Aristotle and his mentor Plato, there were these travelling speech ‘teachers’ called Sophists, who were essentially the original FOX news anchors, just dressed for frat parties. They went around Athens offering public speaking lessons for aspiring politicians, lawyers and the like, and they were known for their technique of showboating; elevating style over content. One might accuse any presidential candidate of sophistry. It’s just too easy, and can make you sound educated in Greek history! But these days if you explained what that meant, the moderate voter might reply “And what’s wrong with that? It’s how this thing works.” In a culture run by mass media we are not only taught that this is a good thing, but we are conditioned and controlled by this technique. If you have ever been to a grocery store, been in a job interview, or bought a MacBook, then you’re a sucker. And so am I. (Except for the MacBook. I can’t afford it. Still, props to Apple for making me lust for inanimate objects!) Continue reading

The War On Christmas, Revised

@Jesus_M_Christ I can see why you’d make
Christmas about Santa. He brings you cheap plastic toys. All I did
was die for your sins.

The fake Twitter Jesus might have a point.

As Christians, we tend to declare war on things. (both figuratively and literally speaking) With good intentions, of course.. i think… ironically enough. We are famous for declaring war on democrats, people who follow non-protestant religions, and anything that has a European feel to it. We even declare war on people that declare war on things; and when we respond to a cashier that has been told to say “happy holidays” or get fired with a firm, resounding “And Merry CHRISTmas to you too”, we feel that the battle is ours. I don’t know. It’s dumb, but these are our orders, according to James Dobson and Glenn Beck.

But while we’re busy declaring war on neutral things that we subjectively dub as the enemy, a real enemy gets away scott free. The one thing we don’t declare war on that we probably should: consumerism.

Everything that Christmas has become in western society is entirely anti-Christmas. Whether it’s giving or getting, the media has helped us redefine a successful Christmas by what we buy.

Essentially, spending = loving.

And when this is the case, sorry Dr Dobson, Christ has already been taken out of Christmas. We profess Christianity, when really we are consumed by the religion of buying stuff. If the things we desire are the things that we worship, and if the object of our worship is indicative of our religion, well then aren’t we just a bunch of pagans come December each year?

I’ve been reading the book “Advent Conspiracy” which talks about countering this consumerist religion with a dose of spending less on gifts for Christmas and instead giving to charities and orphanages and clean water missions. Given the amount of brainwashing we’ve been raised in as good American citizens, this has a bit more a crazed feel to it than should naturally exist for followers of Christ. It’s a sad but true state.

I think instead of being afraid of the war on christmas, we should embrace it. A war on everything that Christmas has become. We should actually declare it ourselves. Yeah, don’t worry, it’ll have a very intuitive feel. Just replace “Obamacare” with “Wal Mart”.

oh, and happy holidays! 😉

The Infinitude of Our Debt to God – and Vice Versa

This is my final Kierkegaard paper which basically says God is in debt to us big time.

In chapter 5 of Works of Love, Søren Kierkegaard discusses our moral indebtedness to each other on the basis of love.  The Apostle Paul in Romans 13:8 says “Owe no one anything, except to love one another.”[1] and by saying this makes the implication that the only good debt for one to have is the debt of love.  Kierkegaard focuses on the idea that love is not just a debt, but a different kind of debt.  The difference, he claims, is that opposed to monetary debts which are dealt with in finite quantities, love is dealt with in the infinite.  With finite debts, the goal is to get out of debt as soon as possible.  With the infinite debt of love, however, it would be “speaking unlovingly, coldly, and harshly”[2] to try to get out of debt as fast as possible.  Keeping records with love would be an offense.  If, however, one acts in a loving way toward another and expresses that he wishes to remain in debt, this, Kierkegaard says, is speaking lovingly.  To make calculations and assessments of love, an infinite act, would be inherently impossible. This is impossible because to try to quantify the infinite on a finite level is a task which will never be complete but rather continues on forever; it is a logical impossibility.

Continue reading

On Health Care, Pt. 2

Damn it, poor people, you win again.

Start living up to your name and give the wealthy a chance for a change.

Sincerely,
Nathan (and all of his credit card/student loan debt.)

oh. wait. nevermind.

Does Sexual Addiction Exist?

This is from a paper I wrote for my Human Sexuality class last fall. The most marks that were knocked off of it were based on my over-reliance on John Davies as a source, and I figure I could probably use some of William Glasser’s work as additional reference, but the fact is that there just isn’t much out there on this view, since it is not a very popular one – a lot of people base their careers (or adversities) off of what I’m warning against. My hope is in the very least that people pay more attention the complexity of this issue rather than oversimplify.

We live in a highly addicted society.  There are drug addicts, smoking addicts, gambling addicts, alcoholics, workaholics, shopaholics, et cetera.  Ever since Carnes wrote his book Out of the Shadows in 1991, it seems like sexual addiction is everywhere.  Western society is highly and intensely sexual after all, but exactly how accurate is it to attribute repetitious sexual behavior to external factors, as if the person involved had no choice otherwise? Continue reading

Attribution: Tom Hits Mary

excerpt from the book The Myth of Addiction, using Harold Kelley’s ANOVA model of attribution:

“Suppose we observe one day that Tom is hitting Mary, and that we have information available (of whatever type – observations, second-hand reports, stereotypes, prejudices etc.) about the pattern of consensus, consistency and distinctiveness surrounding this act.  For example, it is just Tom who hits Mary (low consensus), he seems to hit Mary quite often (high consistency) and he also hits other girls (low distinctiveness).  In these circumstances, we are likely to explain the event in terms of a negative property of Tom; he is aggressive, unpleasant, a bully, and so forth.

Imagine, however, that our information suggests high consensus (other children also hit Mary); high consistency (they hit her often); and these children are not generally noted for hitting other people (high distinctiveness). In these circumstances, we are likely to attribute the act to some disposition of Mary; perhaps for example there is something she repeatedly does that test everyone’s patience.  Whatever the truth of the matter, we are likely to attribute the behaviour to a negative property of Mary.”

“TOM HITS MARY.

consensus               HI           or           LO

consistency             HI           or           LO

distinctiveness         HI           or           LO

Using Kelley’s three dimensions, we have seen how the pattern LO, HI, LO leads to explanation in terms of negative attributions about Mary.  It is amusing and instructive to consider other alternatives, and to try and predict the type of explanation which might be forthcoming. Some patterns are quite easy, others are more subtle. For example, HI, LO, HI implies that there are particular situations in which Mary gets on everyone’s nerves (i.e. a person x situation interaction); and LO, LO, HI suggests that the incident was due to some unfortunate and unforeseeable circumstance.”

In reading this I can’t help but go back to a conversation I had with my friend Lauren yesterday. We were talking about being quick to pick out things in other people that annoy you. She says that we do that because we are the ones that possess that trait. Because we know so much about what it looks like, it is much easier for us to point it out in other people, and it annoys us, because we don’t like to have that behavior. Yet, instead of correcting it within ourselves, we pick apart other people. It’s a crisis of self-awareness.

This concept has been messing with me recently.

My friend Tim gave me an object lesson in this a couple weeks ago. I have a tendency to call other cars on the road parts of the male anatomy in a derogatory manner. I call this one car an asshole because he makes a mistake that I myself make all the time. Tim, who has known me since diapers, swiftly and confidently shares his observation that I recognize it so well because it’s my area of expertise; I know an asshole on the road when I see one. …

For the next 20 minutes I just sat there waiting for the light to change to a color that didn’t reflect my attitude, coming to a slow and painful realization that he was right… that I’m either the only one or the quickest one finding fault in these situations (low consensus)… that I do this quite often (high consistency)… that I tend to do this with a lot of people (low distinctiveness)… and to add to the ANOVA model (sorry, Kelley), that I seem to always do this strictly with people that possess traits very similar to mine (we’ll call this ‘high commonality’).

That’s a LO, HI, LO, HI, in case you’re counting, or in other words:

Nathan hits Mary with behind-the-back remarks because he sees his own negative traits in her, and this is his own passive-aggressive way of addressing dissatisfaction within himself as a person.

On health care

yay.

Health care is good, and everyone should have health care, just like everyone should have firefighters to rescue them from a burning building, and police officers to call when they feel threatened. It’s a basic building block of not only society, but of humanity. The poor and marginalized deserve it as much as the fortunate do. America is the only functional western society that seems to fail in making such a provision.

Continue reading

Speaking for Boyd: A Defense of Open-Theism

This is a paper I recently wrote for “God and Freedom” one of my upper-level philosophy classes.  I’m still not entirely sure about my stance on divine foreknowledge on conjunction with human free will, but I figured picking a view and arguing for it was as good a place to start figuring it out as any.

The problem of reconciling libertarian free will with God’s sovereignty is one which many theologians and philosophers alike have been trying to solve for a long time.  It brings many different people to many different conclusions about how they will settle this difficult issue.  No view has brought as much theological and philosophical debate as much as open theism, which has become so polarizing that all other views are united into ‘classical theism’.  Gregory Boyd, a well known theologian and proponent of open theism, makes the case that the classical theist is wrong for interpreting scripture anthropomorphically (giving God human characteristics just for our ease of understanding, even though He is ultimately beyond understanding), and that it is more beneficial to simply read scripture for what it is at face value. He cites examples for verses that appear to say that God had unfulfilled expectations (Isaiah 5:4), or that God is not sure what humans will freely choose (Jeremiah 3:19-20).  The classical theist counters this argument by presenting verses like Acts 2:23, where it directly mentions God having both foreknowledge and control of future events.  Boyd does not seem to have a response to this, though I believe there is a certainly a response to be made.  In this essay, my goal is to use the Acts 2:23 counter-argument of classical theism to the advantage of Boyd to show that God’s having foreknowledge of a future event is simply a result of His divine intervention to predetermine that situation, and is therefore fully compatible with the open-theism view.

Continue reading

The Myth of Addiction

This is an essay I wrote last semester during my study abroad term in Leicester, England. It was for the class “Psychology of Love and Attraction” and was written about John B Davies’ book “The Myth of Addiction”. I’m going to expound upon this later in the semester when I work on my thesis for Human Sexuality class about whether or not sex is addicting. You’ll notice I wrote like a true Brit for this essay spelling words like behaviour and centre like so. When in Rome?

Throughout the medical community, the psychotherapy community, and especially the news media, a stereotype exists about drug addiction and recovery. This stereotype is quite a few years old and it is based around the notion that a person becomes dependent on pharmacological drugs while simultaneously sidelining his willpower. This notion paints a picture of the drug that pharmacologically enslaves the user upon first or second contact and dooms him to a life of utter helpless dependency. This inevitably becomes a deadly lifelong pursuit of a fix to match the involuntary dependencies and the need to resort to drug pushers and shady dark alleys; as author John Booth Davies puts, “life becomes a nightmare of withdrawal symptoms, involuntary theft, and a compulsive need for drugs which cannot be controlled.” (Davies 1997) Davies, however, seeks to paint a different picture. In his book The Myth of Addiction, he proposes the idea that none of these stereotypes necessarily have to be true, but that they are a fabricated idea by drug institutions and forcibly accepted by the user. “The helpless junkie only exists because we all want him/her to exist; and because drug research continues to make naive use of what people say about their addictions.” (Davies 1997) Davies states that most people that use a certain drug really just use it out of their own ambitions, because they enjoy using it. He stresses learned choice over learned helplessness.

Continue reading