Prayer Partner
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Everything posted by mererdog

  1. I actually started to pie on the list. I decided to go with cake. Why? The cake is a lie. That is a joke you probably won't get, but there are a couple of forum lurkers who are chuckling right now.
  2. Civilization requires a common language, a shared commitment to a social structure, and an econcomic surplus. Everything else is details, situational necessities, and gravy. While I do not believe that civilization is necessary for a good life, I do believe it holds clues for what humans need. A common language allows us to connect with one another. As social animals, this is vital to our long-term health. A shared commitment to a social order provides us with a sense of connection to the future and to "something bigger than ourselves". It provides us with purpose, and with confidence in our ability to cooperate with others. Important stuff. An economic surplus provides the ability to look beyond the problems of the day. It provides free time for rest, or play, or esoteric research. It also provides assurances that our children will survive the winter, allowing us the emotional room to enjoy the summer. But note that an economic surplus is not about money. Its about stockpiles of grain, but also the knowledge of how to make bread. It is about what you have available, but mostly about what you have the ability to do with it
  3. A man who thinks he needs money is like a man who thinks he needs a hammer. What he really needs is the realization that there is more than one tool that can do the job. A man who thinks he doesnt need beauty is like a man who thinks he doesn't need dental care. Let him go long enough without it and he'll change his mind. If you think about it, you can substitute mobility for shelter and achieve the same results, because shelter is only needed if you aren't somewhere hospitable....
  4. Speaking of things that are funny... You have to wonder how twenty-somethings could possibly think they know the answers to this kind of question. Yet they all do, and we all did.
  5. Goals. Dental care. Positive social interaction. Food security. Hygeine. Moral courage. Perspective. The ability to ignore instructions. Cake.
  6. It is. The proof is in all the people who have chosen to sacrifice themselves in this and other ways. If we do not recognise that it is a choice, we rob heroes of the recognition they deserve. After all, if self-sacrifice is not a true choice, there can be no glory in choosing to sacrifice yourself for a worthy cause. If there is no possibility of makong a bad choice, no choice can be good. If there is no possibility of negative consequences for our choices, our choices don't really matter.
  7. More than one definition of the term exists, just as more than one dictionary exists. I consider that particular definition to be faulty. Actions exist as the interaction of our will and our environment. To define free will the way you propose ignores that interactive nature of existance. Intention and outcome are different, right? Your mind can be free when your body is not. Your body can only be free if your mind is. I consider these to be important truths. Free will is a refutation of the concept of fate, not an assumption that we are all-powerful.
  8. Always. Every choice you make limits the choices you have available in the future. There are always consequences and there is always a price that must be paid. It is only really a question of how dire the consequences and how dear the price. Because when the price is easy to pay, it is easy to overlook.
  9. I believe there is more to it than that. At the core, forgiveness is about short-circuiting the desire for justice. It is about allowing things to be unfair without feeling a need to balance them out. Because suffering cannot be measured or undone, we either forgive or we endlessly reprosecute the crimes of the past. When you forgive someone, you grant them permission to prosper, despite their crimes. When you forgive yourself, you see yourself as deserving of happiness, despite your failings. This allows for the release of anger but, perhaps more importantly, the release of guilt and shame. I would caution that if you attempt to release your anger without making the fundamental change in perspective that is forgiveness, the anger is destined to return.
  10. There is nothing for me to forgive. My initial reaction was to agree with you about absolution. But then I noticed something odd. You asked for fogiveness while saying there is no absolution. That made me ask myself, "What is absolution, if not forgiveness?" That led me to the dictionaries, and they told me that absolution is just a formalized process of forgiveness for wrongs. So I had to rethink my position... and I'm still not sure where I'm going to end up landing on this. I am a firm believer in the power and importance of forgiveness. I dislike formality and tend to see it as useless and wasteful. But honesty requires acknowledging that it can be helpful, especially when dealing with strangers. I want to say that absolution is just a poor substitute for actual forgiveness. I want to say that it is just a way to con ourselves into feeling better. But that isnt really ringing true. A song I like has a refrain that includes the lyric "I'm more than just a little curious how you're planning to go about making your amends to the dead." I find it haunting. Perhaps absolution is the answer to that question. Perhaps by establishing formal ways to atone, we give ourselves ways to earn forgiveness from society, when the individuals we have harmed are unavailable (or maybe just unwilling?). I can see a potential for real value in that. But I still want to call it a con. It still feels fake. Thank you for sending me down this rabbit hole. I suspect there is room for self-improvement here.
  11. Well, no. A woman can have a choice, and it can still be rape. The choice between struggling and submitting always exists and is often the most important decision we can make. While it may have no discernable effect on outcomes, it will shape our psyches on a fundamental level. Note that "rape" is a word used to label an action but "slave" is a word used to label a person. Your choices do not define the other person's actions, but they do define you. I took a self-defense class in high school that was designed for girls (but not advertised that way). The thing they stressed the most was the need to not be passive. The advice was basic- If you can't fight, scream. If you can't scream, memorize details. If you can do all of that, do all of that. Acknowledging that victims have choices is not meant to lessen, excuse, or justify their victimization. It is meant to empower victims to take whatever control of their own lives they can. This is sometimes expressed by refusing to label the self as a victim, instead using words like survivor. You dont have to be a slave. You dont have to let your husband beat you. You dont have to accept less than you deserve. You can fight. You can struggle. You won't always win, but you can try.
  12. How do you tell the difference between being inspired by God and being fooled by the Devil? The thought process normally goes like so- Can I believe that? I believe this. This supports that. So I can believe that. But should I believe this? Well, I believe that. And that supports this. So I would be stupid to doubt this. Now shut up. It seems obvious that if we admit that we can be fooled, we admit that we can't tell when we are being fooled. It is painful to look at straight-on, so we rarely do.
  13. I have done a lot of things as well. I often use the phrase "I have done a lot that I am not proud of." The truth is, that's just a euphemism. I have done a lot that shames me deeply. Do you believe that the drive to survive absolves you of any and all potential guilt for the things you did? Or do you believe that there are certain things you just can't justify doing? I try to walk a fairly delicate line. On the one hand, I do not believe that ends can (or should) justify means. On the other hand, I do not believe that bad actions can (or should) prove bad actors. Seing a person's panic and desperation can render their actions relatable and understandable enough to empathize with their humanity and see their actions as a reflection of our common flaws and weaknesses, exposing that basic value and potential that everyone has. Yet the actions still stand on their own merits. A bad idea remains a bad idea, even when it is the only idea I can come up with. And we can't uncreate the suffering we create. Thanks in advance for putting up with the rambling.
  14. Indentuered servants often had no say in the conditions of their employment. Many would sign contracts specifying a set length of servitude, a set payment at the end of their servitude, and basically giving the employers carte blanche to fill in the details as they went along. Still others would sign contracts they could not understand (often due to intoxication, often due to illiteracy) after being lied to about what they were getting themselves into. When power dynamics are that lopsided, abuse will run rampant.
  15. The thirteenth ammendment states (emphasis added)- "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction" The wording of the Ammendment is intentionally designed to hide this simple truth, but slavery was never actually abolished in the US. It was never made illegal. There was simply a narrowing of the legal conditions regarding who can be enslaved, and under what circumstances it can happen. Over that long term, chattel slavery was replaced with mass incarceration. The same economic and social goals get served, but it has a patina of "justice" that lets everyone feel good about themselves.
  16. If your neighbor can't find a job and can't qualify for welfare, or other government programs, murdering you and stealing your stuff would likely be preferable to dying in the streets. To my way of thinking, that has absolutely no bearing on whether or not it is moral to do. You?
  17. But they do opt in. Enslaving someone requires convincing them that they should do what you say. While you can wall me up or straightjacket me without my help, getting me to do work requires that I decide to do the work. Even if my only other cboice is a torturous death, it is still a choice. Some men have chosen death over enslavement. Some men have chosen to die in order to stop being a slave. Others have chosen to run or to hide. Still others chose to pretend to be slaves while biding their time for the right moment to kill their supposed masters. The idea that slaves don't opt in is dangerous because it suggests that they can't opt out, which is precisely the notion that keeps them enslaved. When the prostitute sees that she chose to let herself be controlled by the pimp, see begins to see that she can choose to walk away. At that point, she becomes able to plan a way to do it as safely as possible, and maybe get a little justice along the way. Make sense?
  18. In reading the Bible, I form my own perspective. That does not help me understand your perspective. Bear in mind that when I speak to Christians who have spent their whole lives studying the Bible, I find that their understandings vary, sometimes only slightly, but sometimes drastically. This specific issue of judging is one where I have encountered a lot of disagreement among Christians. That way two people can read the same book and come away with different understandings is fascinating to me. I believe it says a lot about who we are as people, although I don't claim to know what it says about us as people... If that makes any sense?
  19. And yet, in the same speech... “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." The Bible contains a lot of text. That creates a lot of context that each passage is considered within. Interpretations vary, leading to different understandings of what is asked of the faithful. Its not a simple thing. As for consequences, the consequences are a result of not being surrounded by like minds. People in comminities form habits based on what is normal in that community. Those habits can cause problems when interacting with people from other communities, with other norms. A thing you say that gets you rewarded when speaking to the choir may get you punished when speaking to your neighbor. But the more used you are to talking to the choir, the harder it is for you to realize that your neighbor is not a part of the choir. And the the more isolated from the non-choir neighbors you become, the harder it is for you to see them as potentially impacting your life. So it becomes harder to see them as possible friend or possible enemy, and harder to understand how your actions could turn them into friends or enemies. A dangerous combo.
  20. Ugh. Formulas. I am more linguistic than mathematical, thinky-wise. My sister loves that stuff. Which is convenient, because shes a programmer by trade.
  21. I gave up trying to understand Native religions when I saw an exhibit on "Chiefing" in Cherokee, North Carolina. As a white guy, it seems silly to think that I can sort the real from the fake, the authentic from the bastardized. Frankly, I'm not even sure anyone can. Memories are short, so many were killed, and so much was burned and tilled under. So many small assimilations were made in the name of survival. And so many found easy money selling pretty stories and pictures to ignorant tourists.
  22. People tend to treat others better when they see the other as a fellow member of a group. Reminding other Christians that you are a Christian serves the purpose of getting them to treat you better. People tend to treat others better when they believe they share a common enemy. Reminding your athiest-hating neighbors that you also hate athiests serves the purpose of getting them to treat you better. A core component of many Christian faiths is the notion that Christians are required to loudly proclaim their faith, basically all the time and to everyone. They dont have to think it will do any good to believe they have to do it. And where they are surrounded by like minds, it is consequence free.
  23. It sometimes works better if you focus on what isn't, rather than what is- Water is not sufficient for human life, because we die if we don't eat food. Meat is not necessary for human life, because we can survive on other food. Another tack- Practice is necessary to win gold in the Olympics. No one wins gold who did not practice. Practice is not sufficient to win gold at the Olympics. The guy who wins silver also practiced, but the guy who won gold had other factors in his favor, in addition to the practice. Bear in mind that beyond the very basic and the very imaginary, it can be almost impossible to tell what is necessary or sufficient. You are almost always going to miss a factor hiding in the giant ball of interactions we call the universe. Life is risk.
  24. How do you resolve conflicts without judging? Does it not require saying "You are in the right" and "You are in the wrong"? Does it not require saying "You should not have done that" and "You did what you should have done"? How can you be just if you do not judge? Sorry if I seem strident. Your perspective is strange to me and I'm trying to get a handle on it.
  25. People can justify just about anything, given enough motivation. To clarify my postition: Slavery is always wrong. My conscience will have it no other way.