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This book, Fundamental Change, was named after the dramatic changes, in my life, in the last year (slowing down and getting more rest), as well as discovering information, that profoundly transformed my understanding, of: world politics, Old World history, and the history of Christianity in Africa and Asia, during the Asian Golden Age (also known as the European Medieval Era). I have gone from having some vague understanding, of Christians being more numerous and with closer ties to the disciples, in Asia and Africa, to getting enough background information, to fill in many more pieces of the puzzle and answer many questions (as well as to bring up more). In this time frame, and in this book, I have come up with some of the final great insights, to explain the major remaining factors, that brought about my unique understanding, of the world. This book continues, with the same philosophical point of view, while providing concrete applications, that really work and refusing, to give simple answers, to the major problems, in our lives and world. Simply out, I have come, to find a more restful peace, about myself and my place, in this world.
Get this book plus much more for free at www.benjamin-newton.com
by Ben Huot
When reading my books, you need to first identify what type of person you are. If you are a person that is new to Christianity, you are an average person emotionally, you are resistant to other people's advice, and your life is bad because of your lack of motivation, then reading my books is good for you. You are a person that would benefit from discipline and need to try harder.
On the other end of the spectrum there are what is called a highly sensitive person. A highly sensitive person may or may not be Christian but they are ambitious people who want to make the world better and have put that as the highest goal in life. These people are trying too hard and need to cut back, simplify there life, do less for others, and enjoy life more.
These people need to realize that it is normal to fail, to sin, to relapse, and to be in pain and suffer and that you will never get to the point where all your problems are all solved. The only way they will get victory over sin is to be honest about where they are at and give up on trying to do everything alone. The secret is that failure is a natural part of maturing in life and that you will never totally overcome all your problems. God want this to happen because it keeps you humble and realizing that you need God and other people. Enjoying life comes from enjoying the process of maturing and not focusing on the outcome.
Both of these types of people would benefit greatly from meeting with other people they trust which ideally should be what the church is should be about, but many times the church is the last place to go.
by Ben Huot
8.1 The Cause of My Epiphany
8.1.1 The Books
I wanted to thank the authors of 2 books, for their help in my epiphany, as well as the Holy Spirit, who is my muse and inspires in me me the words to write. The first book is "Christian Beliefs" that Can Drive You Crazy: Relief from False Assumptions by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. The second is book is Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. There is a movie coming out soon, that stars Julia Roberts, based on the book, with the same name. Elizabeth Gilbert is probably the person most emotionally similar to me, that I have ever found (at least in a currently living person).
She is Like Me
She was raised by workaholics, taught to be totally independent and self reliant, she is very intelligent and spiritual, as well as being a gifted writer and teacher. She has trouble relaxing, accepting her limitations, and being patient with herself; she worries too much about things she has no control over; and she is a very talkative and likable person. She also suffered from a year of depression, like I just have, and is within a couple years of my age.
How We are Different
The things different about her is she lives in New York City, she is a world traveller and has a great network of friends, she follows what some call the Perennial Philosophy and has studied in the Indian Religious Tradition, and she has been married before. The other big difference is that I am a disabled veteran and have lived with Paranoid Schizophrenia for over 10 years. I also don't have a movie made about me.
How the Book Affected Me
I found her book to be a very fast read. I read her book in about 3 sittings. I found her book very easy to read and a very worthwhile read. She helped me to come to several epiphanies about myself and discovered what core issues I need to work on. I feel guilty, that I don't have to work for a living and so have kept myself constantly doing work mainly in reading and writing books. As unbelievable as it sounds, I would greatly prefer working a job, even if it was only minimum wage, then have Schizophrenia, but I was never given a choice.
8.1.2 My Problems
My Veteran's Pension
As far as the veteran's disability is concerned and even how I left the military were both under very unusual circumstances. I left after 13 months, in the space of 5 weeks, with an honorable discharge. Even when the military knew about my mental problems, they wanted me to stay. It bothered me, for a long time, how people who have been burned seriously, often get less of a veterans pension, than me, but as my mom says, I have given my mind for my country. There is a good reason why I get more money, than people with physical disabilities. It is very hard to get any pension at all, as it costs a lot of money for the government, and they are very selective about who gets a pension and how much they get.
My Limitations and World Problems
It is very hard for me to accept my limitations. I wanted, before I became mentally ill, to be an international business man, working in the distribution side of marketing. I had to scale down from this, after I left the military and became mentally ill. I still felt responsible, to help out the world and try to at least speak out about all the injustice in the world. It bothers me greatly, that we in America live the lifestyle we do, because we are living at the expense of those in the Third World. Our lives are as good as they are, because we have taken away, from other people, whose lives have been made worse, as a direct result.
What Drove Me
Just living independently is a great achievement for someone, with my mental illness, and I have also written 50 books and I am only 32. I have pushed myself tremendously, to get this done, because of the uncertainty of our future. Even before I learned how precarious our situation is and how easily we can go back hundreds or even thousands of years in technology, if the price of oil increases too much, I knew that the world as we know it may not last long. I am even more concerned about our future, if we do find enough energy, to continue our world economy, as some of the new technologies made possible will give people too much power and it will then be too easy, to abuse the situation.
I am Not Responsible
I also have a hard time being patient with myself. I need to accept that I am only responsible for myself and only need to worry about my actions. And it doesn't matter what other think of me or what I do. I need to accept where I am and who I am. I need to expect less out of myself. Just as people do not expect diabetics to eat too much candy or developmentally disabled people to do brain surgery, so I cannot expect myself to be able to do things that increase my stress. I already have done more than most people accomplish in a lifetime and I should be happy with where I am now. There is no need for me to worry about world problems, as I did not cause them, cannot change them, and am not responsible for them.
8.2 My Life
8.2.1 Where I am Now
I have been looking for new directions in my life, for the last few years. I finished my independent study of the humanities and I have suffered from severe depression, for about a year and found out finally, after trying everything else, that I needed a change in my anti-depressant. I ended up stopping writing for a month and got my iPad. I just finished writing the last of Technical Collection and Book of Lists.
Things to Write About
I also have had some time to think about things, while I have been avoiding the news and other types of TV and movies, that cause depression or paranoia. I have moved to another part of town, so can get out on the weekends now. I have finally thought of some new things that I wanted to write down. Some of this inspiration comes from talking to my family about some of the world problems we are facing and I found a very encouraging book, that showed me that I have bought into some very common Biblical sounding ideas, which I acknowledge are wrong intellectually, but I still believe on an emotional level.
8.2.2 What I have Learned
Normal to Fail
I have finally accepted that it is normal to be in pain, to fail, to sin, to not have progress for a while, or even regress. I now know that the reason why God gave me some of the big problems I have had to deal with, at a young age, that few people have to deal with, is that the thing that scared my most was becoming arrogant. But I have so many problems, that I never have to worry about that. I have finally accepted where I am and am ok with it. I think I really am happy and at peace now.
The Psychological Approach
I have realized that a skilled Psychologist is the best approach, to my problems and that it might be best to stay away from churches, as I believe that they contain more negativity and are the source of more problems than they help with. I am not alone in thinking this and believe that this is the best way to improve my relationship with God. I think for me to live like a life that is patterned by Biblical teaching I need to avoid the Church and focus more on my emotional and physical well being.
Why Wait to Get Antidepressants?
There are several reasons for why I did not ask the doctor to change my antidepressant medication at first. One of the reasons why is that depression can be caused by different things and psychiatric medicines only work when the symptoms are caused by a chemical imbalance rather than behavioral/lifestyle causes. Another reason is that I also suffer from Schizophrenia, so I take an anti-psychotic medicine as well. On the simplest level the anti-psychotics work as sedatives/tranquilizers and so they make you more tired and generally bring you down from your excessive thoughts and the antidepressants often do the opposite and keep you from being depressed by elevating your energy and mood. Often times an increase in the antidepressant can works against the anti-psychotic medicine. Another reason is that I suffered from what I can best describe as a combination of both depression and paranoia, which is supposed to be impossible.
8.3 My Core Problem
8.3.1 Exploring the Problem
Recognizing the Obvious
My core problem is that I am a workaholic and all through my writings I talked about the mystical aspect of Christianity, the importance of rest, and the importance of humility. I understood all of that very well in an intellectual manner, but have just began to accept these ideas on an emotional level. I am one big paradox as we all are. But realizing that life is based on paradox is not sufficient - we need to look for the correct aspects of these paradoxes. I have thought of being either a mystic or being an analytical person as I saw in the paradoxical relationship of Taoism and Confucianism. I have learned a lot about both of them but it has been hard for me to take the best of both.
Obstacles to Taking a Break
The Bible speaks about this a lot, but people with my personality and background miss the main point, which appears to us as a very subtle idea. There are various reasons for my feeling this way, including how I became so serious after serving in the Army and having a very serious and difficult disease to deal with in my diagnosis of Schizophrenia. For people who know little about this illness, it does more than just cause paranoia, voices, and delusions. It even goes farther than causing apathy, having inappropriate expressions, depression, very strong anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders which all make it hard to get along with others. It goes as far as making it difficult for the person with Schizophrenia to even find joy in doing anything. I didn't find out about this last part, until this last year and that, in addition to my study of survival topics, was a big part of what made me feel so seriously depressed for such a long time. The anti-psychotic (Schizophrenia) medicine causes many, including myself, to be completely exhausted constantly and to never feel rested up. Often the person has to choose from the pain of trying to stay awake during the day or the pain of paranoia. This is even on the newest medications. They just aren't as smart and focused as there developers intended.
Negative Social Factors
A lot of people who suffer with Schizophrenia ore so preoccupied with dealing with the paranoia which is rarely overcome due to people not being able to accept that they need to take the medicine. It also doesn't help when so many people use the word crazy as being a way of describing someone as being worse than evil or as an insult when they disagree with you. It also doesn't help when someone with a mental illness commits a crime and although it is not politically correct or socially acceptable to attribute their motive to be based on race, age, or physical handicap, it is considered acceptable to attribute their motive to mental illness. It also doesn't help that whenever someone has Schizophrenia on a TV show or movie they are always violent criminals. And one of the most destructive thing people say who have used psychiatric medications that didn't need them tell everyone that it is a sign of weakness or personal failure to be taking psychiatric medicines.
I feel that being as rational as I am while having Schizophrenia is more painful (not just mentally but physically as well) because I see really understand what it is that I lost due to my disease.
8.3.2 Finding Possible Solutions
Enjoying the Process
So what I have finally realized, which probably is very obvious to the average person, is that Christianity is not defined by a certain result, but is rather a process. Just as the means determines the end (while many people say the end justifies the means), so doing good works to become closer to God is having everything mixed up. We are supposed to grow, by God working in our lives and the fruits of this may be good works. Being a Christian is exactly that, being, rather than doing something. God wants use to grow spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually, as well as take care of ourselves physically. I think we are finally realizing that there are a multitude of things that interact with each other, that form who we are, just as there are many aspect to what produces a healthy nation, or a healthy social group.
I think Christians are too focused on fighting an outside spiritual evil. We go out, as if to war, when we should rather focus on self improvement. People are given much more freedom than evil spiritual forces do and the battleground is mostly in our minds. We need to break our desire to do what we want and rather decide to do what God wants. This is the real battle. For people like me (who are more like Martha than Mary Magdalene) following God means that we are taking care of ourselves, but doing so by faith in God's power, over time, with other people and not try to do everything ourselves. Excessively doing good works doesn't get us anywhere spiritually, if it destroys us physically an/or emotionally.
I think one of the things that has kept me from spending time relaxing is that I like to be busy doing things. It is very hard for me to just sit and do nothing. I think that it would be good for me to combine some activity, that doesn't use my mind, with relaxing. One of the reasons why I wanted to join the military after high school was that I was so overwhelmed by all the work in high school that I looked forward to not having to use my brain for a while. And my inability to motivate myself to relax probably goes back to my experience in the military, when I was never able to relax, because I never felt safe.
8.3.3 Reasons and Motivations
Overworking isn't Biblical
For those unwilling to do anything for themselves, think of it this way. The Martha approach is like that of the Pharisees. If you think that you need to do more than others, then you think of yourself as better than others and if you think that these good works are necessary to improve society, than you are saying that God needs you. Either way, excessively doing good works, to improve yourself or to help others, is s sign of arrogance and sinful pride. You are also not a good witness to others, when your example implies that it is not possible to both be happy and to follow God. And, eventually, you will be locked into a very miserable existence or else you will give up God. It would be better for you to give up on your projects instead. And by pacing yourself and by giving yourself resting time, you will actually be more productive, in what you can accomplish for God.
Bible Teaches Rest
Not only is overworking unbiblical, but there are many examples of resting in the Bible.
The first is that God rested on the first day, after He created the world.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
The second is one of the ten commandments: the sabbath.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Third is the command to let the land rest on the 7th year.
And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.
Fourth is a command called the Year of Jubilee.
And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubile shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. For it is the jubile; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his possession. And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour's hand, ye shall not oppress one another: According to the number of years after the jubile thou shalt buy of thy neighbour, and according unto the number of years of the fruits he shall sell unto thee: According to the multitude of years thou shalt increase the price thereof, and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price of it: for according to the number of the years of the fruits doth he sell unto thee. Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the LORD your God. Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety. And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety. And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store. The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land. If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it; Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return unto his possession. But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubile: and in the jubile it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession. And if a man sell a dwelling house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; within a full year may he redeem it. And if it be not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house that is in the walled city shall be established for ever to him that bought it throughout his generations: it shall not go out in the jubile. But the houses of the villages which have no wall round about them shall be counted as the fields of the country: they may be redeemed, and they shall go out in the jubile. Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses of the cities of their possession, may the Levites redeem at any time. And if a man purchase of the Levites, then the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, shall go out in the year of jubile: for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel. But the field of the suburbs of their cities may not be sold; for it is their perpetual possession. And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase. I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God. And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant: But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubile: And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return. For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen. Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God. Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour. And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger's family: After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: Either his uncle, or his uncle's son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself. And he shall reckon with him that bought him from the year that he was sold to him unto the year of jubile: and the price of his sale shall be according unto the number of years, according to the time of an hired servant shall it be with him. If there be yet many years behind, according unto them he shall give again the price of his redemption out of the money that he was bought for. And if there remain but few years unto the year of jubile, then he shall count with him, and according unto his years shall he give him again the price of his redemption. And as a yearly hired servant shall he be with him: and the other shall not rule with rigour over him in thy sight. And if he be not redeemed in these years, then he shall go out in the year of jubile, both he, and his children with him. For unto me the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
Then there was Elijah who was given food and rest by an angel.
But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
1 Kings 19:4-8
Jesus and His Disciples rested.
And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.
Christ has Already Won
I have felt like I need to fight, to struggle for what is right. I often imagine myself dropping out of a plane and parachuting to a battle, when I think of what might be my ultimate fate. But Jesus Christ already defeated the devil. Christianity has successfully spread beyond Europe and now outnumbers Islam 2 to 1, with most of those still practicing indigenous religions preferring Christianity over Islam, even though Islam had a thousand year head start and Christianity has only had a hundred years, in most parts of the Non-European world. We also are not responsible for the conversion of others to Christianity. God brings people to himself. We may be able to be a good witness, but it is not our responsibility beyond that. Only the disciples and those called to the ministry are charged with spreading the Gospel.
8.4 Being Without Doing
8.4.1 The Solution
By God's Grace
I have realized that the way that we become is not through doing. And the way be become more Christ like and mature as Christians involves 3 aspects: us being willing to change, God giving us maturity as a free gift by His Grace, and allowing time for this to take place. Praying ourselves as well as having other pray for us will enhance this effort.
God Does all the Work
The reason why it works this way (that God does the whole thing by Himself once we give Him permission) is because this is how God chooses to work with us. Despite are lack of belief in the power of the spiritual in our lives does not mean God is not constantly defying physical laws, to the benefit of those who want to serve Him and to bring others to Himself. Just as God has chosen for us to become righteous enough to enter Heaven, by our faith and His grace, again with God doing essentially the entire thing for us, so He will do almost everything needed, for us to mature in a similar fashion, if we would only consent to His desire to do this.
8.4.2 Spiritual Laws
Most people have a very flawed understanding of how God works and why things happen the way they do in the physical world and we also have a poor understanding of the spiritual world, which makes the former seem more confusing. The way we see the world from our human vantage point, we see throughout history that when one group of people becomes more powerful through technology, economics, weather, or any other factor it dominated the other weaker group of people. The spiritual world also has laws and things also work according to a predictable pattern, but the pattern is different, because of the different rules God governs this realm by.
How Americans Think
One of the big reasons why the US is hated throughout the world and we get ourselves into unwinnable wars is because we don't study history. Many of the same groups, who feel discriminated against and marginalized, did the same thing to others earlier on in history. The US needs to understand, that there are no good guys and in many parts of the world, so we need to choose between the lesser of two evils, or just not get involved. The only other alternative is to occupy a country, for at least a thousand years and the US is not likely to exist in its present form that far in the future, nor does our country have that kind of patience and resolve nor is it unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary for this to happen.
8.4.3 Real Freedom
God Values Our Freedom
Many people have a poor understanding of God's perspective, motivations, and personality. Great thinkers often spend their entire lives trying to explain why we suffer, when God is all powerful and also perfectly morally good in nature. In America believe we really value our freedom. We think that freedom comes from having more choices and less restrictions in life. But God really values true freedom, especially of people, and God also likes to use people, so that people can be in control of their future.
Why and How Bad Things Happen
God allows bad things to happen, because all these things all arose, from our rebellion against God. God created everything, so that it worked together perfectly. We then screwed it up, by our decision to follow what we assumed was our own will. Many people might also wonder why, if there are powerful evil spiritual forces in the world, why have they not already enslaved us and why we have waited so long for the End of Times. In the spiritual world, God greatly restricts what other spiritual forces are allowed to do. God allows people much more latitude. That is probably why the anti-Christ is a person and why a lot of powerful people are trying to advance technologically and corrupt people morally - they are not allowed to do as much spiritually, so they take the physical approach.
Our true enemy though is not an outside force, but ourselves. What we need to worry about first is our own lives and how we treat others. We need to "submit to God" which is really a bad approximation, because God already is infinitely powerful and controls everything that happens. How do we really praise God, when the best things we say about God are not flattering, but factually true. To submit ourselves to God is really only about acknowledging reality. What we need to do, to allow God to work in our lives, is to accept His help. So salvation is not so much about faith or about repentance per say, but really just acknowledging what we already know is true.
Only 2 Choices
The only thing we need to do is to ask God to rule our lives and for His will to be done in us and not our will. Some people would say this is not freedom and they are allowed to follow, what they think is their own choice. But there are only 2 choices spiritually: serve God or serve money (the devil). Just like in an addiction, what feels right is not always best for you, nor are you always in control, when you have your own way.
8.5 True Humility
8.5.1 God's Perspective
The Other Side of Humility
I think one of the things that has held me back in my spiritual growth is that I saw God's desire for us to be humble as Christ was as a one sided equation, where we know we have blown it so bad, that we have no reason to have a high opinion of ourselves. I thought of it as that basically all our problems are our fault. The other side of the equation, which I am only now discovering is that God does say that we have failed, but because of His choice and His grace, we are given direct and supernatural help, to become better people.
God Doesn't Want us to Suffer
God doesn't just judge us and then expect us to become more moral, by our own effort. God only wants us to be humble, so that we are willing to ask God for help. God allows things bad to happen to us, but we do not grow by becoming more willing to deal with pain, because we have learned to be more patient and persevere. The reason why God allows problems in Christians' lives is to get their permission to enter their lives, so that God can remove the obstacles and strengthen us, by His grace, so that we learn to stop trying to so everything ourselves.
God is not trying to discipline us, with punishments, like some parents have or the legal system does, to get us to behave better. God has realized that we can't do things by ourselves and so He wants to help. We are worthy of being happy and at peace, not because we earned it, but because God decided to take the penalty Himself and gave the ultimate sacrifice. So even though we are not highly esteemed, by our actions, God does value us more than the protection of His Son (who is also God Himself).
8.5.2 Living a Happier Life
What is Life For?
We are not just to endure life, but to have a happier and more peaceful life. We don't deserve this, but God has decided to give this to us, because He chooses to. A Christian's life is not supposed to be a constant struggle, with no time for rest and recovery, but rather a meaningful and positive existence, where despite our failures, we have hope and the ability to improve our lives (but only by God's divine intervention). God gives us things to do, that we cannot do, not for us to fail, but for us to ask for help. It may be surprising to many people that despite our terrible track record with responsibilities given to us, God really enjoys being with us and is willing and able to take the time, to change anything in us and in our circumstances, to make our lives better.
Consequences of Free Will
We will never get the credit, but we can have better lives. It is hard to understand why God doesn't just force us to do what is best for us. But God values our freedom and is unwilling to give that up just so that things work out better. God wants us to make the right choices, but ultimately sees us as adults and wants us to choose of our own free will, because love cannot be forced. We are allowed to makes bad choices, only as a logical consequence of having the ability to love God and His creation, while still retaining a free will.
God doesn't want us to settle for good enough. He doesn't want us to just grin and bear it and just stay alive, because God doesn't want us to commit suicide. Neither is our life's purpose to get some project completed or to help so many people. When we die, the only things we take with us are our identity, personality, and our memories. The most important thing we can do in life is to first be honest as to where we are at, then to learn more about God and get His help, and finally to have a good relationship, with the people we know. If God really wanted us all to be perfect, at any cost, He wouldn't have given us a free will.
8.6 Problems with Theories
I Love Theories
Most of what I write about is not about practical things, but rather theory. I am a person who loves working with ideas and I am very creative about it. I make mosaics of ideas by combining pieces, that I have cut out of other theories, much like people cut out pictures in magazines to make a collage, or people make scrapbooks out of photos. What I do is like a kind of abstract art.
How I Write
You may wonder how I plan out what I am going to write about and stay disciplined to write on related topics. But I was never good at making outlines and I have learned in school to think in complete sentences and to write very rapidly. This makes it possible to write, without having to be disciplined about it.
I write what I do directly and then fix it for typos, but I never rewrite or re-think what I have written. I very rarely throw any of my writing away or rewrite something. I can also keep the idea in my head long enough for me to get back to my house, so that I can write it directly in my word processor. I don't keep a list of things I want to write, as this stresses me out. This approach actually creates a problem for me in writing books, in that I never know when I am finished with them.
8.6.2 My Theory on Theories
Many people do not like studying theories, as they find them very impractical. I did not feel this way about philosophy though, but the reason why I think people feel this way is that many theories are not a very accurate explanation of reality. I read somewhere (I think in reading some of the philosopher Hume's writing) that reality is the truest judge of any theory. If you ever run into a situation where the theories you learned about it are not useful, then the person who taught the theory needs to rethink it and develop a better theory.
Reason for Failure
One of the big reasons why theories fail to help explain reality is that they don't allow for failure, contradictions, and inconsistencies. What people think is often not well explained by philosophy, because philosophers are too consistent and rational and people aren't. We philosophers often strive for perfection and this ends up not being very useful, to those who study philosophy. I think it is hard to reconcile the way the world works with any theory, because there are many factors that influence the major events, that happen in the world, over the course of history and there are also many factors, that determine why people decide how to respond, to the situations that they were born into.
People are Different
Whenever you try to explain history or an individual's beliefs, by finding just one theory developed from just one perspective, it often fails. One of the problems with reducing people and history down to one theory is that people are very different and things that work for one person, in one time of history, in one situation do not necessarily help another person, in a different situation. I recognized early on that in my writing that I needed to explain things differently, for different people, with different strengths, weaknesses, and situations.
I also realized that I was setting myself up for inevitable failure, if I asked for followers, because I could not predict what someone else would get inspired to do, from what I have said. That is why I have asked people to use my writing to inspire them, but to decide on what is important to them by themselves and not try to take an approach that works for me and expect it to work for them. You can also feel responsible, for people abusing your theories, if you try to convince other to believe the same as you.
This is the problem with trying to get different people to approach problems in the same way: it doesn't work, because often some people have exactly the opposite problem of other people. Just like people have very different tastes in music and different sense of humor and often don't appreciate different styles, so it is hard for a person to understand how someone else has entirely different needs and problems than another person. It is interesting that, when people asked Jesus what to do to be saved and go to Heaven, Jesus told everyone to do something different then everyone else.
8.6.3 The Biblical Approach
More than a Philosophy
There are a few things that I believe are absolutely true, which the Bible is very clear about, but most things in the Bible are not that simple. Just as Buddha gave different kinds of people different advice, based on their level of understanding, so the Bible is not arranged, so that we can make a detailed theory to consult, to solve our problems. There is no way we can find a philosophy of the Bible, because it is more than a philosophy. The Bible is the word of God, simplified so that we can understand it, but it was designed to work for billions of people, over at least thousand of years of history. That is why it is not easy to explain everything in the Bible by one theory.
Relationship with God
It is often said so many times, by a certain type of really intense Christian, that the Bible is about a relationship with God. I cannot argue with this as there is a good deal of truth to it. But there is more to life then just relationships and that is not the only way to approach God. I think too many people dismiss large portions of the Bible, thinking they are outdated and are not useful for them to study. I also think many people make what God asks of us too complicated.
Point of Life
God simply wants us to be happy. He wants us to live better lives and become better people. But trying to find some sort of goal is missing the point. The best way of understanding the eternal perspective of God, that I know of, is to think of God as existing in a kind of eternal moment. Living is a process and consists of a variety of experiences and dealing with a variety of emotions and situations.
What God Wants
God wants us to experience His presence in the world and not worry so much. God doesn't require us to know something specific, or attain a certain level of faith or of understanding of theology. Being a Christian means that you decide things for yourself, based on a lot of different types of information. The Bible is the most important one, not because it explains everything, but rather that everything it says is true and accurate.
Who God Is
We can always depend on God, but God will never be able to depend on us. A relationship with God is not like a close friend, where you are complete equals. God is not a drinking buddy. He is our Lord and Savior. We need to understand that, in dealing with God, we need to have a sense of wonder and awe about Him, revere Him, and we need to express this by living serious lives, and in taking things like sin seriously.
Take Life Seriously
When we see Jesus as God, we need to understand that God is also God the Father and God, His Holy Sprit. God definitely does have a sense of humor, but God knows that there is a place and time for it and does not elevate having fun at the expense of our safety and well being. There is a reason why the Bible is not very funny. Life is an experience and the only things we take with us are our minds, emotions, spirit, and everything else that we can't see. We need to focus on what is everlasting and we need to do this by maintaining a balanced existence, just like God is balanced.
8.7 Being Realistic
When people are young, they all think they will be famous and that they will be able to solve all the world's problems, all by themselves. I used to want to be famous, so that I could help solve world problems.
8.7.1 Working with People
The Reality of Fame
The thing is that when most people become famous, they are only famous for a short period of time, which is often not at the end of their life. This sets up a situation, where you are going to experience a low of the same magnitude of your high. That is the same reason why drugs cause depression and destroy people. Another thing about fame is having a lot of money. But wealthy people have the same problems everyone else does. In fact, for people making over $50,000 a year, an increase in wealth does not improve the person's life.
I think we also have unrealistic expectations of others, that we have relationships with. One of the big reasons for divorces among young people is that they expect too much of their spouse. You have to be happy alone, before you can be happy married. Everyone has habits that will make you angry and they will fail you when you need them most. The only one who will unconditionally love you and consistently be there for you, when you need them, is God. The closest thing we can find in physical form is an animal.
Hard to Meet People
I used to be upset and feel myself to be a failure, because I have a hard time finding friends. But I am not the only one. In fact, this is quite common. It is ironic that, in a world filled with ways to communicate instantly and continually, with almost anyone for almost no money, we actually feel more lonely than ever before. The Internet, as many have found out, is a bad way to meet people.
Problems with Virtual Dating
The biggest problem with meeting people first online is that people lie, when they can get away with it. The idea of sharing intimate ideas with someone, before you meet them, is not a good way to start a relationship. I want to see the person first, so that I can find out basic things about them, like whether they are a woman or a man, instead of investing all sorts of time and emotions in someone, who could be making up everything and you have no way of being sure it is not a scam or a stalker.
I also have more problems forming relationships than other people, as I have trouble getting to things that start at a certain time repeat in a schedule. I get tired very easily and I have a lot of anxiety about how I will get along with other people that I don't know. I feel bad that I don't know more people, but when I see people in public, who work at the places I buy food from, or I see on the bus, I would rather be alone than be around these people. My sister said the other day that it would be really easy for her to find a bunch of really annoying friends, but that the hard part is finding people who are worth getting to know.
Lack of Maturity
I would like to marry someone in their twenties, but I think it is unrealistic to expect someone of that age, to have the maturity, to stay in the same marriage, for the rest of their lives. Most women over 30 are single today. I think most people marry young and then get divorced, before they start to even get to know who they are and what they want out of life. In the past, people were more mature at a much younger age, but today people seem to mature, at later an later dates, as time goes on. Most religions consider this time in history to be one of the most immoral and corrupt.
8.7.2 Anxiety for No Good Reason
Downsizing Our Lives
I think it is also unrealistic of us to think that we can continue to consume more and more resources and to not pay back our debts, while continuing to increase them. The earth is a finite place. There is only so much water, so much energy, and so much room. The way of the future will be to downsize our lives and have simpler and more basic ambitions. We can change the world, in our homes and in our lives, and we need to narrow our focus on this area, and not worry about the decisions everyone else makes.
Problems with Journalists
I think one of the problems with the liberal counterculture media and even the mainstream conservative media is that they are too negative. All we hear all day is the problems. Maybe reporters should stop brining up problems, without giving possible solutions for them. I think one of the reason why the alternative media is so negative is that they expect the common person to give up something for the greater good. And then they are unwilling to work with religious groups, which are the vehicle, for many of the positive developments, in the world today.
We Worry Too Much
At this point, most people are so overwhelmed by our problems and are so busy just trying to keep their jobs, that they get discouraged very easily. If you knew how your life would be 10 years from now, would you really want to know? I think it is unrealistic to expect that we will never get sick again or be depressed or in pain, but knowing about it before then is just unbearable. We need to spend less time worrying and more time enjoying what we do have.
Why Life is Short
Most people will not live past 80 and this has been the case throughout history. And the reason for this is that life is only manageable, for a certain number of years. We are not designed to sustain ourselves, beyond this period of time, in the world, the way it is now. And trying to extend your life does not increase your happiness. Many people now worry about dying, because of heart disease or cancer. Maybe it is ok that we finally die of something. Maybe dying of a heart attack is not the worst way to die. Maybe this is actually progress.
The Cost of Being Healthy
Many scientists now think that we would be healthier and live longer by eating a near starvation diet and work out intensely. Most people have lived this way, throughout most of history, and the people that could afford to not do this, didn't follow that route. Being overweight was once the sign of healthiness and wealth. We also worry about getting fresh air and getting a certain amount of sunlight. We want to travel and vacation outside and in a warm climate.
Staying Inside is Good
There is a reason why people decided to live in a controlled setting, in houses, and in living in the same place. Living a life out in the elements and living off the land is very difficult and the land can only support so many people. Civilizations were able to start when people settled down together and started living off agriculture, instead of hunting and gathering. The populations increased and the first cities started, because they could finally produce enough food, to sustain a large population.
The Best Location
What people don't often see, about these supposedly ideal tropical islands, is that most people who live on them want to live on the mainland. In the tropics, the bugs are bigger, more aggressive, and more poisonous. Most people, if they lived in somewhere outside of carefully maintained hotels, in these tropical climates, in the third world, would realize that living in a temperate climate, in the US is actually one of the best climates to live in. The most rapidly growing cities are ones, where they are big enough to have things to do like concerts and plays, but small enough, to avoid major inner city problems.
by Ben Huot
9.1 American Problems and the Bible
9.1.1 Where I am Coming From
Anyway, I decided to write this to encourage people today and to give some historical perspective partly gained by now being 32, living on my own for a number of years, my study of history, and my insights about God, that have come to me over the last 12 years. I think it would be best for people to stop watching the news. There are major changes happening in the world today, but I think we should be excited about them and not afraid of them.
No One Knows When
First of all I believe that no one knows the future or controls it except God and that just as the first coming of Jesus was not predicted by anyone, the same will happen in his second coming. I think that studying prophecy should only be done to show how God is in control of history and not to predict future events. The smartest theologians in history could not even understand the most basic theology of the Bible and they have never successfully predicted the future.
I also have no clear idea about the future, but I do have an unusual perspective on world history, I am very creative, and am good at connecting things that seem unrelated. First of all, America has nothing to fear in the future. America will no longer be the world power but will likely be a world power. I think that the American big business view of the world is going to be proven wrong and will fail. Things will get harder economically in America, but things will improve in many other ways. One of the things that scares me most is being in the world all alone, but that is unlikely. Even if we have an apocalyptic event like a nuclear war, there will still be a huge number of people left.
9.1.2 American Problems
Not So Bad in America
Another thing that people don't seem to understand in America is that economists have a very poor record of understanding and explaining the present and have an even worse record of predicting the future. I think that we tend to overestimate our weaknesses and underestimate our strengths. I think that a lot of our world problems come from other world rivals trying to make things more difficult for America by distorting what other countries know about America. Just like I think Microsoft will be important in the future as a spoiler so is Russia. Russia still has global ambitions and blames us for its fall. Many of the growing powers in the world may well self destruct long before they threaten the US.
I think Americans are often very naive about international politics, because we do not study world history in schools. The most important part of history is the very first part and the last couple centuries are actually least important. America is a anomaly in world history. America has lot fewer and less severe problems compared to the rest of the world because of our geography (no enemies on our borders), our abundant natural resources (which were mostly wood and fish), and our low population density. Almost everyone in the world, who is trying to improve the world would choose to live in the US, if they had a choice.
9.2 World History
9.2.1 Role of Technology and Economics
Origin of Middle East Problems
The Middle East was the way it is today because of decisions the people who live there made in the past. The spread of Islam and the Arab people was another anomaly of world history. Throughout most of history, people had far fewer freedoms than we enjoy today and at the most there were a few religious choices that were approved. The others were persecuted.
Technology and History
One of the keys to world history is the level of technology available at the time. For a very long time, throughout most of recorded history, what is now Europe traded with what is now India, Southeast Asia, and China and this was important for the world economy. Our modern way of life is all based on the energy we get from coal and oil. Without it, we will lose our technology very fast. How many people could build a printing press from scratch or know how to make an effective plough. These inventions took centuries and can be lost very easily.
Roman Empire Success
The Roman Empire was made possible because the technology of that era allowed people to navigate the Mediterranean, but was not advanced enough to allow voyage by the major world oceans. Rome became powerful when they took over North Africa (which supplied most of the food for the Roman Empire), Egypt, and the Middle East (which allowed them to financially benefit from the trade that went from the Mediterranean through the Red Sea and into the Arabian Sea to India).
Ascension of Europe
Europe was able to dominate most of the world during the last 500 years, which a big contributing factor was that the Portugese figured out how to go from Europe and around the coast of Africa to India, China, and Southeast Asia. One of the very important things that Europe needed from South and East Asia were spices, because they needed to preserve food and make them taste good enough to eat without modern refrigeration.
Technology vs. Morality
At this same time, Asia became increasingly weak and Europe became much stronger. This was partly because of slight weather changes and European mastery of weapons technology like guns and the shift in warfare technology that favored discipline over personal combat skills and bravery. Another factor that made India and China weak was the desire to focus on moral development and to not pursue technological advancement as aggressively as the west. European nations also gained wealth and power through taking over what they called colonies which were mostly along their major trade routes to the Orient.
9.2.2 European Experience
Rome Not First Church
The Roman Catholic Church has convinced many people that it was the first church, but this is wrong. There were four equal and independent Christian centers and Rome was the least important (although it and the churches that separated from it after the reformation were the most successful politically for the last 500 years). The centers were, in order of importance: Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Rome. The Church out of Alexandria became the Coptic church and the Ethiopian church is part of this, the Church out of Antioch divided into the East and West Assyrian Churches (who were responsible for the Islamic renaissance) who spoke Syriac, the Church out of Constantinople became what is now called the Eastern Orthodox Church who spoke Greek, and the Church out of Rome became the Roman Catholic Church who spoke Latin.
The Roman Catholic Church has historically persecuted the other churches more than any other church. Each of these centers were political and economic centers as well. Antioch was an important economic center and Alexandria was an important intellectual center. The Western Roman Empire out of Rome became the basis for the church and political power of medieval Europe, but mostly just in the former Roman Empire lands including what is now Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, and England and Ireland shortly afterwards.
Christianity and Paganism
During much of the Middle ages, much of Europe was pagan. Christians, in what is now called England, where pillaged and then if caught were tortured, until they converted to paganism, by the Vikings (from Norway, Denmark, and Sweden). The reason the English came, to what is now called England, was that they were invited from Germany, to fight off the pagan Vikings. The English became powerful enough and pushed the indigenous Celts into Cornwall, Wales, and Scotland and took over what was now England, with what started out as separate kingdoms.
The English monarchy starts with when the Normand's invaded England in 1066. The Scots came from Ireland and the King of Scotland eventually inherited the thrown of Scotland and England. They were united in the start of the 19th Century and that is where the Union Jack comes from. England never took over Scotland. The Vikings eventually converted to Christianity and the ones that settled in northern France became the nobility throughout Europe and became the leaders that started Russia (with the help of the Byzantine Empire). Russia was considered by many to be the third Rome after Constantinople and was a major center of the Eastern Orthodox Church until the Russian communist revolution during World War 1.
Christianity as Unifying Factor
During what Europe called the Middle Ages, Europe regressed technologically and became very religious and the Church was the only unifying factor. People starved for centuries, until they started to join kingdoms together and England, France, Spain, and Portugal united, to form the countries in roughly as they are today, the weather then changed in the 13th century, then after the bubonic plague which killed 1/3 of Europe, the Renaissance was started with the help of the Byzantine (Eastern Orthodox) monks, just before church in Constantinople (more important than the church in Rome) was taken over by the Ottoman Turks and turned into a mosque.
9.2.3 Asian Experience
Asia was the World
During this same period, Asia was the world and Christianity was most active in Syria, Iraq, and Iran (as well as Ethiopia) and a small part of India. During the Roman Empire, Asia was just as important or more with the Persian Empire and the Chinese Empire (Han Dynasty). From the 4th to the 14th centuries Asia was at its zenith. The Church out of Rome and Constantinople persecuted the Church out of Antioch, so the Syriac Christians moved into the Persian Empire.
Reasons for Spread of Islam
Then after the western part of the Roman Empire fell apart, the Byzantine Empire (out of Constantinople) and the Persian empire became weak after fighting each other. Islam started and became a politically uniting force for the Arabs (who lived in what is now called the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and then they were able to take over the Middle East and North Africa. The Christians there welcomed the Arabs (who were Muslims) into the Middle East, because they feared the Byzantine Empire more.
Europe Fights Off Islam
The Islamic Empires almost took over Europe twice, the result of which would have made Christianity an obscure African religion. The first time was after the Arabs took over North Africa, they went into Spain and luckily were defeated in southern France. Centuries later, the Ottoman Empire almost took over Europe, but were defeated by the Hungarians. The reason why the Muslims were there in Bosnia was that they were settled resettled there by the Ottoman Empire, which was expanding its empire into Eastern Europe (at the expense of the Christian nations there).
Ethnic Cleansing of Christians
Muslims got along with Christians in the Middle East for centuries, but many Muslims began to persecute many Christians about the same time as the Ottoman Empire was born. In fact the word genocide was developed after World War 2 to describe how the Muslims were destroying an entire linguistic and religious group (the Syriac Christians). At the beginning of the 20th Century half of the Ottoman Empire was still Christian. There are still some Christians in the Middle East. 10% of the population of both Syria and Egypt are Christian. There is also a large community of Christians in modern Lebanon (mostly Maronite).
9.3 The US and the World Today
9.3.1 American Perspective
I remember as a kid how we feared Japan would own most of the US and how we thought we couldn't compete in areas like electronics. Now Sony and Nintendo are afraid of Apple and Japan has been declining for some time and has a much grimmer outlook than the US. The problem we have in America with too many old people and not enough young people is much worse in Japan. People seem to be afraid India and China will overtake the US.
We Can Feed Ourselves
The thing that people in our country don't understand is that China cannot even feed itself without food imports and the US still produces 25% of the world's food. Even without modern technology it would be conceivable to be able to feed our entire present population if we were smarter about what we grew, where we grew it, and where we lived. If we lost our modern technologies we would very quickly adapt.
Life will Return Soon
For a few weeks, things would be rough. But there would quickly be less crime. Once one person loots and they are shot for it, people will stop stealing. When the electricity (including hospitals and the sewage system) is off for a week, people will realize that it will never come back again and adjust. People will actually become closer friends as we will need each other. The church will be much stronger because people will feel they need God. People will be so much healthier that most people who need modern medications will no longer need them. Most people will be happier than before and we will likely have a higher literacy rate.
Importance of Economy
I think the thing that is most dangerous to the US is our debt. I think that every country that wants us to fail including the Muslim extremists (there are Christian Arab terrorists as well) are trying to kill us by bankrupting us. Wars have often been one by one side over spending to fight the war. When we spend 100 times what the terrorists spend, then we are losing the war. The key to our economic problems in America is our personal and corporate debt. The most important part of national independence is the economy. Many empires have failed because they didn't understand economics.
9.3.2 Rest of the World
Another problem China has is that its population is growing, so that it needs substantial growth just to keep everyone employed. China is also very polarized between the rich and fast growing eastern coast and the remote inland parts of China where people are of different ethnic groups, very poor, and the agricultural land is being destroyed by sand blowing in. China will likely split into multiple countries. This would make democracy more likely in at least one of the new countries.
Indian and Russian Problems
India and Russia also have large problems. Russia depends a lot on oil prices being high for its economy. Another problem for India which directly affect Russia is that in the next generation or two global warming will likely dry up the major river in India. Russia might have a hard time integrating a billion people into Siberia.
Europe will suffer a lot from global warming with increased immigration from the Middle East and North Africa (as they will become uninhabitable in a couple generations). Europe could also become a lot like Siberia very quickly if the major ocean currents change. Europe has a very dense population and even though they have diversified their energy sources more than the US, they still depend on oil, especially from Russia. Europe will not do well in this situation and cannot feed its population without modern technology.
Europe is Falling Apart
Many people think that Europe will outdo the US economically. But this is unlikely, if we think about the history of Europe and its geography, demographics, and natural resources. Before the 2 World Wars, the UK, France, and Germany were all global power, by themselves. When they lost their colonies, mostly after the next few decades following World War II for France and the UK and World War I for Germany, they almost destroyed themselves from centuries of war after war. Now the UK, France, and Germany have to unite together, to compete against America economically.
9.3.3 Comparing the US to the World
Europe is Falling Apart
Many people think that Europe will outdo the US economically. But this is unlikely, if we think about the history of Europe and its geography, demographics, and natural resources. Before the 2 World Wars, the UK, France, and Germany were all global power, by themselves. When they lost their colonies, mostly after the next few decades following World War II for France and the UK and World War I for Germany, they almost destroyed themselves from centuries of war after war. Now the UK, France, and Germany have to unite together, to compete against America economically.
Non-US Economies Weak
One of the big weaknesses of Europe and Japan, which makes their economies less resilient than the US, is that they focus on only a few industries and these are dominated by a few big corporations, so when one of these companies loses market share, the whole economy suffers. At this point, there is little still left that can keep European countries at First World economic status, over the next two generations. Many people now think the same fate will fall on the US, but our empire is mostly in the continental US, and we are much bigger and have many more resources than Europe has. We are still the world's main consumers, so China, India, Europe and all the other major economies still want to trade with us, for their own survival.
US Not Like Europe
Another thing to consider is that we have plenty of free space in our country and will have a big increase in our population, which will allow our large quantity of baby boomers in retirement a big enough base of young people, to support them. Of course, we will still go through tough times, in the US, but in Europe, China, and Japan these countries are all going to see a much bigger bubble of retired people, to support, as their countries are shrinking in population and cannot afford to keep increasing in numbers, even if they did have enough kids.
The other major factor, that puts the US in a better position than other major economic powers is that our empire is not far away geographically, nor is one part of our country holding another part of the country under their control. Even if the US split up, into regional countries, we would still be able to provide for ourselves, because most of our country has a least enough natural resources, to survive on their own, especially if they are willing to trade with each other.
9.4 Limits of Studies
9.4.1 Limits in Reading
My Focus of Study
I have studied world religions and philosophies for the greater part of 12 years. I have studied all the major belief system of the world including Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern Belief systems as well a the Enlightenment, Existentialism, Nietzsche (based on the Pre-Socratics), Epicureanism, and Stoicism. I also studied about the major events in history focusing on the between the 4th and 14th Centuries and focusing mainly on the Asian region.
There were a number of different religious texts which I did not read. Christians would call these occult, but I have been searching for a word that would explain the same things to non-believers. I have just recently thought of the basic differentiator that separates the occult religions from the major world belief systems (revealed religions) is that the occult religions all worship more than one god. Sometimes people refer to this as Polytheism.
What the Bible Forbids
Some belief systems like Animism or Neo-Paganism I would not read any primary texts, while with Middle Eastern, Indian and Chinese belief systems I have avoided the ones that talk about worship of other gods. The main thing the Bible forbids Christians to take part in are supernatural practices not done by the one Creator God, and not done how it is prescribed to do in the Bible. Christians do have rituals but they are not the same as the ones used to worship other gods.
9.4.2 Limits in Worship
Some of the more well known and widely practiced Christian rituals described in the Bible include: The Lord's Prayer, baptism, communion, Pentecost (also known as "speaking in tongues"), laying on of hands, anointing with oil, fasting, testimony, reading scriptures in public, the Sabbath, Easter/Passover, and other various festivals talked about in the Old Testament. Other ones were added later like Christmas, weddings, funerals, dedication of young children to the Christ and His Church, and others, some with less scriptural basis.
Places of Worship
I also do not practice any other religion other than Christianity nor would I attend worship services of a number of religions or go into their places of worship like: Hindu Temples, Tibetan Buddhist gatherings, Religious (or Esoteric) Taoist gatherings. I have attended a zendo meditation and visited a mosque. I would also like to visit a Sikh temple and a Jewish temple. The only one I would worship in other than a Christian church would be a Jewish temple.
9.4.3 Limits in Travel
Disadvantages of Traveling
I also have not traveled outside my country at all and am not likely to travel to Europe, Asia, or Africa. I am not going overseas because it is very stressful for me to travel and I do not do well under stress. I like living in a city where I can go anywhere in town without being in a dangerous neighborhood. It also is very expensive to travel and I think I could use my money more productively. Also, many of the greatest treasures of Asia and Europe are in their written works that I can get modern English translations of them very inexpensively.
I would also break my heart to see the castles and cathedrals in Europe and know that they had to give up their great forests for these. I would not want to travel to Africa because of the instability of most of the governments there, and the parts of Asia I would want to see would be very polluted, remote, or not a good place for Americans to go. I know many people visit places like China and Russia that they think are friendly to Americans, but I don't want to take a chance. After being in the military I know that traveling outside your country poses many other risks, that many world travelers manage to avoid, but could cost them dearly, if they run into the wrong situation or violate certain laws.
Life is Good Here
I live in a very beautiful and safe part of the world. We don't have many natural disasters, we can grow our own food, we are sparsely populated, we have mild weather (just enough change to see the seasons) we have plenty of water and the best quality of water, and very few poisonous or even biting insects (other than some small mosquitos). We even have many types of environments, including: desert, beautiful unspoiled beaches (although very cold and with dangerous undertows), mountains with enough snow to ski on them, huge forests, even many virgin forests (never before logged). The only bad thing where I live is the lack of jobs. There are also not many young people in my town.
9.5 Why I Wrote my Books
There are a number of reason why I decided to write what later turned into 50 books.
9.5.1 Documenting My Experience
One of the reasons why I wrote these books was to document my personal progress, in learning to cope with Schizophrenia and to document what is happening in the world today, as I believe we are in a time of one of the biggest changes in history. This documentation was prepared, by me, for others, who might be going through similar situations.
9.5.2 Why Re-Write the Classics?
The Value of my Work
I also wanted to keep a record of the most important Asian classics. There are two reasons why I didn't just buy and store a bunch of copies of these Asian classics, in modern English translations. It wasn't because I think I can write on the same level. History will decide what value my books are, but an encouraging sign is my lack of popularity in my own time. Many of the greatest thinkers in history were considered failures in their lifetime.
Increasing their Survivability
One of the reasons then for writing about these great classics was because I was able to condense them into a very small space (relatively), so they would be easier to transport and store safely. The other major reason is that I own the copyright on my own books and can let people copy them freely, but I cannot do the same, for modern English translations, of these Asian classics.
9.5.3 Restoring Asian Christianity
Asian Religions are Not New Age
Another reason for my books is to let Christians know that most major Asian belief systems can be studied, without violating scripture, and also letting them know that the New Age movement takes nothing more from any other Asian belief system than it takes from Christianity. I want Christians to have an appreciation for Asian belief systems other than Christianity, so that they can see Christianity as it was originally understood - as an Asian religion.
Christianity is Not European
One of the things that really changed how Christians practice their faith (for the worse) has been the assumption that Christianity is a European religion. In most of the world it is now understood that Christianity is either or both Asian and/or African, but in America and Europe many still are not aware of this. In the next couple generations the conception of a white Christian is going to be vary unusual, even in America and in Europe.
Christianity in Europe
Christianity was only considered European, because of the genocide committed in against Asian Christians. Despite this situation, Christianity has taken hold and is on the increase in most parts of the world, which more than makes up for its loses in America and Europe. In fact, the only reason why the European royalty ever accepted Christianity is because the Christian God was more powerful than the pagan gods and they believed this would help them win wars.
9.6 Gifts from Europe
9.6.1 New Ideas
Europe has often been behind Asia in terms of the value of its contributions to the humanities. There are some positive things that European culture has either taken on or come up with itself. One of the big ones are the Sciences and Social Sciences. Asian cultures did invent things, but they did not use the Scientific Method, per say. I think Europe brought about the idea that there are separate physical forces, that affect us, that are not directly related to spiritual problems.
Understanding that the physical aspects of the world behave according to certain physical laws, that are not directly attributed to spiritual causes was an important discovery. In the not too distant past, people would have thought that I was possessed and they would never realize what is the direct cause of my mental illness (which is chemical) and so not be able to treat it effectively. In the not too distant past, concepts like the idea that the mind could be treated separately from the soul and the concept of studying economics was not even dreamt of.
9.6.2 Physical and Spiritual World Complimentary
Both Realities are Important
I think it is bad to see the world as entirely physical or to think that the physical part of the world is more important than the spiritual world is a grave mistake. I think that people trust Science to solve all their problems and don't realize that most conflicts are spiritual in nature. On the other hand, thinking that everything is spiritual makes it difficult to stay rooted in reality.
Both Aspects Need Each Other
It would improve our society to have people aware of the spiritual consequences of their decisions and behavior, but the world would never function well enough, to allow time to reflect on these kinds of things, without most people working in a concrete, rational, and analytical focused endeavors. In other words, even though the most important parts of society, that makes us human and life worth living comes from what is not necessary, but without most people focusing on keeping the economy going and maintaining basic infrastructure, the former would not even be possible.
9.6.3 Value of New Ideas
New Concepts of Freedom
But another great idea that came from Europe or was developed by Europeans primarily is the concept of personal freedoms, both as a legal concept and as well as a social endeavor. While in contrast to the cultural sophistication of Asia, Europe appears very simple and barbaric, the freedom to express yourself, without conforming to any tradition is uniquely European in origin.
The Asian Burden
One of the things that has increased my stress recently has been trying to think exclusively from an Asian perspective. I think one of the downsides of such a vast wealth of truly inspiring cultural traditions, that the desire to emulate these traditions causes undo stress. Sometimes I want to just write a poem or draw a picture and I shouldn't feel it needs to conform to some traditional expression of some profound concept.
9.6.4 Combining the Two
Living a Balanced life
A life that is obsessed with the study of ethics and discipline is not a very balanced life. There needs to be a place for relaxation and enjoyment of life experiences and we need to keep ourselves firmly in the here and now. One of the ways to get relief from the focus on self improvement is by doing things that do not require thought. And both can strengthen each other. Often I get my best insights when doing something mundane like copying files, listening to music, watching a movie, or riding the bus. And I when I feel good mentally then I am able to be more positive and useful in my writing.
The Best of Both Worlds
I think it would be great if both East and West could learn from each other and I look forward to a day, when most people are willing to takes the best from every culture and not feel that they need to choose between important ideas, even if they are only paradoxically related. It is in the embracing of the paradox of living in a physical world, consumed with an overflowing of our emotions and in the simple daily tasks we do, to keep our bodies and minds strong, while still being aware of a bigger spiritual world that we also take part in, through our interactions with each other and knowing, that the basis for our sense of purpose and direction, in our lives can only be understood spiritually.
9.7 Technological Progress
Many people are afraid, that everyone will eventually be so focused on technology, that they will end up not having an human contact. But that is not the direction that things are going. Instead of people serving computers, now computers are serving people.
9.7.1 New Priorities
Mobility and Simplicity
One of the biggest changes, in how people use computers and what they expect of them, is the focus on mobility, being the most important requirement, in designing new products. The other big change in computing is the willingness of the average end user, to spend lots of time getting things set up, on their computer, doing computer maintenance, and needing to repair things, that break down over time. The web is changing in the direction of not making the user have to think, to navigate the website.
Reliability over Function
People are not getting more interested and obsessed about how technology works, but rather are losing patience with it taking up so much of their time. To sum this up, computers are becoming mainstream for consumers and people's needs are more simple then the developers think, and they are more interested in improving the way they do things, than what they can do or how it is done. Sometimes the process is more important than the outcome and sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
9.7.2 Current Trends
Think of the big hit technologies of the past few years, like the new Apple mobile devices, or the Nintendo Wii and other game consoles. People have even tried using the web, to keep in contact with their friends and family, that live far away. Twitter and Facebook have become as important as Google. People used to have fun looking up things, that they heard, that they did not know much about, or enjoyed just surfing the net and following links, but today they are more interested in finding a restaurant, or directions to the nearest movie theater. Google now focuses on giving relevant answers quicker and more directly, rather than making you do all the work. Technology is changing, to improve people'e ability, to engage with others socially.
Land Warrior: Finding Things Faster
There has also been a revolution in technologies used in combat. The Army and Marines are now rolling out into production a system called LandWarrior. It is designed, to allow instant communication, between every soldier, from private to general, instantly. One of the big things it helps soldier, on the ground, do is allow them, to get to the sites, where they have received intelligence about more quickly. This allows fewer soldiers, to be more successful and has helped turn the tide of the war, in Iraq.
Land Warrior: Being Aware of Its Limits
One of the ways, in which this helps soldiers is to give them real time maps, for their navigation. In the past, they had to consult a map and compass, to navigate, but now all they have to do is look in the eyepiece, of their squad leaders computer, and they know instantly where they are. At first, the soldiers would constantly have their eyepiece down, but found out soon, that they only needed to consult it, from time to time. Just as soldiers are finding a way, to make technology serve them, instead of being run around by it, so the consumer is becoming empowered, to use technologies, to improve their lives, instead of the computers wasting their time and making them less productive.
9.7.3 Future Trends
Sci Fi Tech
When you see how computers are used in futuristic Sci Fi films like Star Trek, most the devices they use are simple and small and they only have one traditional computer, in the form of a mainframe, for the ship. The devices they use, that they carry with them, are thin and light and are designed for the most common uses and do not try to do everything every specialist would need, in rare occasions. They have a tablet style computer for writing and reading, a sensor about the size of a smartphone, and specialized devices for things like sensing life and doing medical procedures.
A Generational Thing
While my parents generation see computers as a novelty and are so surprised, with what they are able to do and so intimidated by how they work (their complexity) and my generation is most experienced, with getting things to work for them and has little confidence, in relying upon them, to get work done, the next generation is taking technology, as a given, and are comfortable enough with it, to see it as a tool and nothing more. Just like when phones were invented and many were upset, that people would stop visiting each other, in person, or when VCRs came out the movie industry thought they would never get anyone, to go to a movie theater, so we will find the most useful role, for computers, in our lives and will stop allowing them to be some sort of mysterious and feared monster.
9.8 The Apocalypse
9.8.1 Making Predictions
What Christians Think
Many of the most prominent and influential Christian leaders have thought that we are very close to the End of Times and the Apocalypse. There are several reasons for this. One reason is that there is a certain number of years between the major events in biblical history and the year 2000 timeframe gives the same amount of time between Christ's death and His return. Another reason is that technologies are available now, that would allow people to be able to destroy, on the scale described in Biblical prophecy about the End of Times. The third major reason is the return of Jewish people to Israel and the establishment of a Jewish nation, which was prophesied to happen before Christ's return. The fourth major reason is that we are getting close to bringing the gospel to all the nations on the earth. The fifth reason is because of all the wars going on in the Middle East, where Armageddon is supposed to happen.
Every Prediction was Wrong
This belief in the eminent return of Christ has had profound impact on the focus of Christian' efforts. Because so many Christians believe God is coming back so soon, they are not going to invest time in bringing social justice and the relief of suffering to the masses. But this generation is no more likely to be the End of Times than any other time in history. Biblical scholars have all been wrong in their predictions of the End of Times and this is because that Biblical prophecy is very cryptic about when this will happen, just like how people were surprised about the first coming of Jesus.
9.8.2 God will Help Us
God is in Control
Many people think that the devil is planning the apocalypse and we are waiting for him to decide what time, but this is not biblical. God is in control of history and the Apocalypse and the reason why Word War II, Napoleon's empire, or the Cold War did not end up being Armageddon is because God said no, even though the devil wanted it to happen then. In fact, the cryptic nature of the prophecy about the Apocalypse was designed not only to keep Christians on their toes and motivate them to do what is right and spread the gospel, but it was also designed so that the angels, including the fallen ones, could not predict the time either. We continue to try to put our preconceptions about reality on God, and we do not see His plans, because we are too focused on worldly endeavors, like politics and business.
We Know Very little
Jesus could come back today or even a hundred thousand years in the future. In fact, when it happens we will likely not even see it, until the end of the first half of the seven year Tribulation. Also, from God's perspective, a day is the same as a thousand years, so the time could be very different than we have guessed, from the prophecy in the book of Daniel. We don't even know whether or not Christians will be in the world during the Tribulation or how to reconcile the battle of Armageddon, which is the last battle, with the battle that seems to follow it, called Gog and Magog.
No Reason to Worry
There is no reason to worry when we know so little about it. God has always been with us and provided us a way to cope with everything, that we have had to deal with, and He will do the same in this situation. The fact is God intervenes supernaturals almost constantly, so we do not need to fear any situation. We should focus on improving our own lives and stop worrying about things we have no control over.
Trust in God
God cares about humans, even though we have done nothing to deserve it, and we are in control of our destiny. We can make choices that make our lives better or worse. We were born into different situations, which we have no control over, but worrying doesn't solve anything. We need to accept the things we cannot change and change the things we can. Besides, what would knowing about the future now help you to deal with it? If there was some way to prepare for it, don't you think God would give us that information. We often cause more worry from fear beforehand than we suffer from the situation we fear.
9.9 Peak Oil Worries
9.9.1 Moderating Factors
Not like the Dark Ages
Many people now worry about, when we run out of oil, how our country will be affected. I had at one time compared what could happen, in the worst case scenario, as similar to the end of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Dark Ages. There are also many reason why this situation, although very traumatic and serious, will end up being much easier to deal with.
Preservation of Information
The Internet may be the poster child of what is wrong with out society, but it has allowed us to gather supplies, from the far reaches of the world and preserve books, in many different locations. One of the big things that allowed the Industrial Revolution was the invention of a more effective plow. All the secrets to doing well, without oil, are already in books and they will still be here, if and when modern society falls apart.
It will Happen Slowly
Not only will we avoid a lot of the really bad possibilities, due to the preservation of information, but the shock will not be there, because at this point, if things fell apart, it will happen very slowly. The most dangerous and devastating effects of a break down of the world economy is not the lack of modern conveniences, but, rather the violence and disorder caused by the rapid change. The federal government has a plan to deal with these things, and it looks like bailing out the banks was one of the best ways to start.
Violence will Decrease
Another thing that we worry about is that we think society will break down and there will be no political or social order. One of the things that will help deal with a lack of law enforcement is the number of people with guns. Once one person steals something, from another person, after they get shot, the violence will stop suddenly.
No More Red Tape
The biggest reason why people commit crimes is that they think they will not be caught, and one of the big factors that helps them with this is the red tape, of the modern legal system. The beauty of having no official police means that we don't have the problems of a bureaucratic government and we don't have to convince anyone else of what happened or prove it. In Saudi Arabia, they cut off your right hand if yous steal, as the left hand is the hand use to wipe your butt, and there are very few robberies there anymore.
Increasing Church Involvement
Another real benefit of this kind of situation is that church attendance will skyrocket and it will be much easier to meet people and form long term relationships. Churches will be a great way to organize and form communities, around those who survive. The Church was the major center of civilization, during the Middle Ages, in Europe, and will likely rise to prominence again in this kind of situation.
We will Be Healthier
This will have a moralizing influence upon the entire population. Many of our addictions to video games, junk food, the Internet, and sex will die down, as they will be hard to maintain, in this situation. Most people, who depend on modern medications, will become healthy enough, so that they will no longer need those medications. And the polluted environment will finally have time to heal and future generations will live better lives, the sooner this happens.
9.9.3 Likelihood of this Situation
Somewhere in the Middle
The most likely thing to happen is some situation in between, where we are now, and the complete breakdown of modern life. We will likely have more disasters, both man-made and natural, in most parts of the world. The US will fare the best, compared to the rest of the world, from the more violent weather, caused by global warming.
American Future is Bright
We may not still be one nation, and we will we have a vastly different culture, but whoever lives in America as our descendants will do well, in almost any likely situation. The only conceivable event, that could destroy America, would be a once in a million years asteroid hit or a once in ten thousand years event, like the eruption of a super volcano.
9.10 Worst Case Scenario
9.10.1 First Obstacles
Full Scale Invasion of the US
One of the things, that scares Americans, in a Worst Case Scenario, is an invasion by China or Russia. Some might think this could be a possibility, if things get bad enough, in our struggle for limited oil, that we decide not to honor our debts, or some other hypothetical situation might happen, so that things get out of control, to the point, where our leaders feel they have no other choices. We can piece together what would happen, if we look at situations, that involved some of these factors, that have happened at other times and places in history and the unique combination factors specific to the US, including: our geography, our demographics, our military readiness, and our willingness to accept loss.
Our Military Strength
Some people might think that a country as large and advanced as China or Russia could take us on and have a chance at winning. The biggest thing that protects America is that we are an ocean away from our major enemies and rivals. Even Hitler wasn't able to reach as far as America during World War II. It is certainly possible, with current technologies, but it is more expensive and slows things down significantly. If our enemies get that far, other factors will hold them back. The first is that our military is the best in the world and is 25 years ahead of the rest of the world, in things like stealth. Even the latest Russian technologies are not as reliable or have the same abilities in key areas, that would allow fewer US tanks, helicopters, aircraft, and ships to inflict as much damage as their opponents.
9.10.2 Secondary Obstacles
Special Forces and Intelligence
Another major factor, if we don't count in the conventional military, is that there are other agencies that would step in. We have very large army of intelligence agents and special forces, which could even, just by themselves, make the war so bloody, that there would be somewhere like 90% casualties. Think of what the success of a tiny group of terrorists can be when the target us. The intelligence agents and special forces use similar tactics, but are much better trained, much better armed, there are many more of them, and they have better intelligence, than those they are fighting against. They have been through training, that makes this kind of situation, as easy to operate in, as it does for a kid playing paintball.
More Sources of Weapons
You also have to figure that the US military has a whole range of technologies, that are unknown, to the rest of the world, but we are ready to use, if we needed them. We had laser guided weapons and night vision battlefield ready in the Vietnam War and we had a whole fleet of stealth fighter/bombers ready to go, when we bombed Libya in 1985. Another thing to consider is that in many rural areas of the United States, the local population is often armed to the teeth already. In many rural states it is legal to have fully automatic military-style assault rifles, and that right is exercised, by a large number of people. Many people have enough ammunition rounds, to last 20 years of war. Our Department of Defense has already planned and prepared, for every possible scenario, including this one.
9.10.3 Final Obstacles
Weapons of Mass Destruction
And as for weapons of mass destruction, we have them too in as large or larger quantities, so that we can drop the same stuff on them. Also, it is not possible to destroy all the nukes of ones side, because we have nuclear powered submarines with nuclear weapons. No one knows exactly where they are, except the captain on the ship, those missiles can reach anywhere in the world, and they can survive for years, without any more fuel and only need to briefly rise up, to get food, every 6 months. Even if we had a full nuclear war, with a major nuclear power like Russia or China, most people would survive, if they build a simple shelter in their houses. The kind of nuclear bombs, that would be dropped currently would be very small and targeted, because destroying the entire country's infrastructure makes the land gained much less valuable.
We Won Last Time
If the US were invaded, we would have instant unity, between the most fundamentalist Christians and the most extreme feminists. The last time we fought a major world power on US soil, during the Revolutionary War and War of 1812, we won. It is true that the end of the Revolutionary War was a stalemate and the British decided it wasn't worth it, but it doesn't matter how you win a war. The British were the biggest military power at the time and the US was just becoming a nation. In Vietnam, the communists never won a battle against the US and were technically losing the war, yet the US was forced to leave and the communists are still in power, decades later.
Final Limiting Factors
Having a much bigger army does not mean that you will win, even if you have technology that is almost as good. This was proven in a number of wars, when Arab armies fought against Israel. Also you have to consider that even the Soviet Union was forced out of Afghanistan because of public opinion even, with no free press. Another factor is that we would likely be able to arm and train resistance in China or Russia and take the war home to them and could quite possibly break down the public order in their countries.
How to Respond
by Ben Huot
10.1 Stop Getting Mad
10.1.1 Why They Hate America
One of the things that makes people hostile to America is not that we are worse than any other empire or even that we are not really promoting democracy and equality, but that we are more than any other thing terribly inconsistent and unpredictable. Many nations are also unstable, but they don't have the most powerful military in the world, in addition to being a very globally aggressive country. People don't know whether the US is going to be involved in the Middle East, support Israel or the Palestinians, is fighting terrorism or Islamic fundamentalism, is going to intervene to prevent unstable regimes from getting nuclear weapons, is going to be a friend or foe of Russia, is going to support or undermine communist China, or is going to work through the UN or going to fight wars unilaterally.
As I said before, many Americans are very naive about global politics. One of the things that Americans don't understand is that all the problems we are experiencing in the Middle East are not our fault and existed long before America was even a British colony. Another thing we don't seem to understand is what we call democracy the rest of the world calls Imperialism.
Find Out Why
We don't really understand that not every country has a political will and infrastructure, and military and economic base to support a liberal democracy like ours. When getting involved in things we have little knowledge about, we need to find out why those who made the decisions, that they did, in the past, before we make a major change in our approach. This is certainly true of not only politics, but also true of almost any situation.
10.1.2 Lose-Lose Situation
When we don't have the patience, or the will, to stay in a country, for a thousand years or more, before we overthrow a government, we need to find supporters, in the region, that can stay in power, when we leave. It is not in the interests of either the United States nor the local population in having democracies in the Middle East outside of Israel. The reason why the US doesn't want more democracies in the Middle East and has helped support dictators like those running Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and formerly in Iraq is that we know that the local populations would vote in terrorists as their leaders, if given the chance to vote.
The US and Saudi Arabia want to smooth over this reality and not emphasis this situation, as it makes things difficult, for both our countries, if it is announced on the nightly news. Right after the World Trade Center was bombed on 911, the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were celebrating in the public streets. Osama bin Laden is revered as a hero in the Muslim world. The Palestinians voted in the Hamas terrorist organization into power in the Gaza Strip. When we invaded Iraq, and the Shiites grabbed power in Iraq, the few Christians still in Iraq suffered worse under them, than under Saddam Hussein. And people think that Bush was loyal to Christians.
10.1.3 Money is Power
The reason why the people in the Middle East don't want democracy is that is just another word for Imperialism. We say democracy, but what we mean is capitalism. American democracy means more of their kids are getting addicted to MacDonald's restaurants and Playboy magazines, in the middle of the holy city of Mecca. We think of ourselves as so different from the colonial powers, but we were allied with all of them and helped them keep their empires, before they lost them, over the last 50 years. The exact same oil companies, that controlled Iraqi oil, when the British owned Iraq are the same ones that control it now. Like any addiction, just because someone indulges in it doesn't mean they want their kids doing the same, or even wants to keep being controlled by it.
Money Runs the Media
American entertainment culture, the media, and the marketing departments of the major multinational brands have the power they do, because they have got people all over the world addicted to their products. Do you really think that you are saving money, by having advertising pay for your TV and newspapers? Do you think that even though the only legal responsibility of a CEO is to make as much money, for its shareholders as possible is going to sacrifice profit, to help the environment or to be non-partisan, in their news reports?
10.1.4 Recognizing the Problem
Cost of Advertising
Do you really think that newspapers are not a business, like every other and that they are run and controlled, by those who pay their salaries, meaning the advertisers? It would be much cheaper for us to buy our media, than support it with advertising. The only reason why companies are willing to give away free entertainment or news is because they know that you and your children will spend more money on their products, than you would spend paying, for the free Cable programming.
Keeping Kids Safe
Just like you don't want your children's values destroyed, by their exposure to sex and violence, so parents of those in the Middle East don't want their children exposed, to this same American culture. When American tanks role in, shortly behind them come Coca-Cola, Disney, Playboy, Time Warner, Nike, Mac Donalds, Walmart, MTV, and all the other top multinational corporations start appearing next to mosques and holy sites. When Muslim men see how typical American women on movies dress and behave, the rights of women in the Middle East go backwards about a thousand years. We like to think that you can separate money from politics, but it doesn't matter what you think, because they all own your souls and so you will think whatever the advertisers on the American media tell you to believe.
Do you think that the current conservative-liberal political divide in America was not invented by mass media corporations? Isn't it surprising that liberals are elected, when the economy goes bad and bail out corporations and that conservatives get in power, when the economy is going well and remove all rules for corporations and give them the seed money, to gamble away, and this money on both situations comes from middle and working class Americans? Why is it that you can steal the retirements of millions of people and not go to jail, but if you rob a convenience store, you serve big time in prison? Why is it that most people who are in prison are poor and most convictions are from plea bargains?
10.1.5 The Solution
Divide and Conquer
The way to beat this thing is to stop watching the news. The way we are manipulated, by the big corporations, is when we get mad at what happens, in politics. Why aren't moral liberals and moral conservatives on the same side? Why aren't social liberals and fiscal conservatives on the same side? Did you know the best way to destroy a country is by siding with one local group and against the other one and then the remaining ally is slowly exterminated?
Stop Getting Mad
Let stop trying to change others minds and start focusing on liberating our own souls. If something happens in the world, that you need to know, they will stop the TV and the radio and break into tour shows or games to announce it. And after you have been watching the news for a while, you will realize it is a waste of your time, because nothing ever changes, year after year.
10.2 Everything is Useful
As it says in Ecclesiastes there is a time for everything and every skill and every person has a place of value.
10.2.1 For Individuals
Some of the personality characteristics, that are considered to be negative, have a positive side and vice versa. The same people, who make good leaders and can be depended on, for their strength of character can also have problems with anger and have control issues. People who are moody and perfectionists often have surprising abilities like passion, perseverance, and commitment to a project. People who always make jokes and are silly can be very encouraging and optimistic, in situations, where others would break down.
Some of the things that are valued the least are sometimes the most necessary and useful, depending on the situation. A manager may not have what is considered practical skills, when it comes to building something, but they will prove to be useful, when you need to organize people and solve relationship problems. A computer programmer may not seem important in a survival situation, when electronics break down, but they might be able to use these skills, to solve engineering problems. An engineer may look down on a machinist, but they may need to work together, to complete the building of a machine.
The Most Important
The most important jobs in society are farmer, sanitation worker, truck driver, and the people who maintain the power lines and the pipes that bring us water and electricity. The first thing that needs to be cut in a difficult situation is often the person at the top, rather than the workers. We may not need many people with farming knowledge right now, but if our technology fails, we need to know how to make a plow.
10.2.2 For Society
Don't Cut Taxes Now
Many people may feel that the police are a waste of money, or that they don't need hospitals, because of their good health. But even when things you don't use yourself stop working, the systems around you, that you do depend on, cease to function properly, when even an unrelated service is interrupted. Just like people who use computers don't need to worry about the technical details, when things break down, you need someone who does have this knowledge. People often want to save money, by not buying insurance, but then are surprised that the police usually don't recover stolen items. People rarely value janitors, until there is a sewage leak and things need to be sanitized.
Every Service is Essential
This is the situation we are in now, where businesses and government decide to cut non-essential services, when the economy goes bad. But the problem is that most government services are necessary and are often preventative measures, that are only visibly necessary, when they are stopped. And they are often more expensive and may take considerable time to restart them. Just like when you are on certain psychological medicines and then you feel better and stop taking them, by the time you then realize what they were doing for you, it makes it that much harder, to restore yourself to your previous state.
The Downside of Efficiency
What makes our are society so easy to break down is that people are just doing enough, to keep things going, when everything works fine, so that money is saved and the system is as efficient as it can be. The problem with pursuing efficiency is that your infrastructure becomes brittle, when it does not have fallback support and extra insulation, to protect from those unusual times, when society needs more than is expected or something else fails. When I was in the military, many things were starting to be done by computers, which had previously been done manually, and I remember many of the NCOs were concerned about relying on computers, because everybody know that computer break, when they are needed most.
When building and maintaining infrastructure and basic government services, we need to plan and expect things to fail and develop solutions, that need to be maintained, for when things inevitably fail. Just because it is unlikely that most cities other than New York City, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles will be attacked by a terrorist, the severity of the possible damage makes it worthwhile to plan, for this possibility, in every major city.
Preparing for the Unlikely
There are many things that can be done, to prepare us, for things, that are very rare, like asteroid impacts, super volcanoes, or natural disasters, in areas where they were not expected, but they require a tremendous investment, which only pays itself off, when you end up not having to spend as much money, to rebuild after the disasters. New York city doesn't get hurricanes very often, but when it does the glass used in most skyscrapers cannot withstand even minor hurricane winds, and so this would cause enormous loss of life, injuries, and damage, if people are unwilling to invest the money, to replace them with stronger glass.
10.2.3 What You Can Do
Necessities Not Glamorous
Just like the news reporters focus on cars chases and fires, because they look exciting on film, so society seems to want to focus on spending money on exciting things and often decides to pass on the necessary, but unglamorous things. This is one of the reasons why it is good to have survival supplies in place, before disaster strikes. Even in areas that are hurricane prone, most people wait until the last minute to buy supplies and the stores empty in a matter of hours of everything.
We always see on movies about the elite military and government agencies, that are tasked with preventing catastrophic events, like nuclear wars, that they wait until the very last second, to prevent the disaster. If the Department of Defense really did everything at the very last possible moment, it would continue to run into times, where they had a delay and we would be living in a post apocalypse world tomorrow.
Everything is necessary, at a time, when you don't think you will need it. Always prepare for the unforeseen events, that are going to happen, at any time. The time to prepare, for living without an income, or outside help and without basic services, like modern plumbing and electricity is now. If you wait until it happens, it will already be too late. There is a reason why the kids you called nerds, in high school you call boss, later on in life. Responsibility and preparation pay off.
10.3 Affecting Change
10.3.1 Learning Helpful Concepts
Memories and Attitude
Just as life is more than choices, ethics is more than how you treat others. The most important things in life our are our memories and our attitude. This means that we need to focus first on our own lives and find peace and joy within who we are and what we do with our time, before we can expect to have fulfilling relationships with others. God comes first, but your family comes before your community or your country. It is better to be family man than a patriot.
One of the reasons we get to the point, where we have no more energy and are completely without hope, is that we are unwilling, to scale back our ambitions, to what is realistic. Having more power gives you no more influence, as you sacrifice the degree of influence you have, by extending how the number of people you influence. Who influences your child more: you or the President? When we look to expand our lives into new frontiers, the largest frontier is the human heart.
Mind Body Connection
We often see reason and emotions and mind and body as being opposing forces in our lives, but everything in our lives influences everything else in our lives. Having good self esteem can help you be more rational and getting enough sleep increases your spiritual health. Just as the people, who have the most important jobs are often the least powerful, so aspects of ourselves that we take for granted are the key to our complete health.
When we think that changing our lives involves buying something or joining something, maybe the answer is to cut back and do less. We often think to transform our mind, that we need to read books, but maybe the answers to our problems are not intellectual. Sometimes taking a nap or watching a movie can give you a better insight, just because you allowed yourself time to think.
10.3.2 Starting with Ourselves
Changing Our Own Minds
We spend so much time increasing our resumes and our relationships with others, that we often forget about how important our own well being is, in creating a better life. To change the world we need to first change our own mind. The most important factor in our growth as a complete person is often a series of experiences over a long period of time. Sometimes being a man of action requires a person to first be a thinking person, in order for the actions to be beneficial.
Time to Think
We spend too much time worrying and too little time allowing our mind enough rest, to work through all possible solutions. Getting enough sleep can be more important than psychological therapy. The way to improve our lives lies less in what we do and more in how we think about it. Having a job you do not like, while having a lot of free time may be better than enjoying your job, but not having a break from it.
Attitude Trumps Action
Instead of sending more money to the United Way, you may affect greater change by volunteering in your community. Sometimes we are so focused on the tangible influences like sending letters and canvassing door to door, that we don't realize that way we make members of our families feel when we talk to them. There is more to charity than how many people you help.
Thinking for Ourselves
When we learn new things about ourselves, we often focus on acquiring knowledge and forget that we need to spend time thinking and this second part is the more important, in our emotional growth. Stopping doing something harmful to yourself can be more useful for your self improvement than doing more to help others. When we only spend time on how others perceive us our relationships will become more shallow and less meaningful to our lives.
10.4 Learning to Say No
10.4.1 Total Situations
I have narrowed down the precise reason why I am so intense and serious. I got so serious because of my total experiences. A total situation or experience is where you are in a situation where: you do not want to be there, you have no power or choice over what happens to you, you cannot leave no matter how much pain you are in or how scared you are, you are in the situation 24 hours a day, there is no break or relief, and other people are the ones who make all your decisions for you.
Most people never have this kind of experience, but, if you do, it will change you profoundly. My total situations include: my time in the military, being in the gas chamber during basic training, my stay in the psychiatric ward of a private hospital, when I lived in a group home, and when I lived in a retirement home. You can never really appreciate your freedom and having legal rights, until they are taken away from you.
I think these experiences made me feel like I didn't have any control over my life, so it drove me to continue to work hard, to create something that I did have control over. It was hard, for me, to take breaks, because I found that I was able to deal with my total situations, by focusing my whole self on something else and taking a break made it harder, to keep my mind off my situation. I think setting limits on myself will be empowering and help me feel more in control, even though it is me that is making the decisions, because I am not really in control, when I have an addiction to work.
Truth in Experiences
Just like when I ran, I didn't focus on running, but rather thought of other things, because I found running to be boring and painful, and I used the same strategy in these total situations. This desire to be in control of my own destiny also made my appreciate being an adult and being able, to make my own decisions, over how I spend my money and my time. I remember during basic training, I was happiest when I was running, because the drill sergeants finally stopped yelling at me and gave me some space during that time, probably because I was fast enough, by their standards, so that they had little to say.
Everyone has Limits
When people asked for my help in the past, I felt that I should always help, but I am finally ok with saying no. Everyone and everything has its limits. When I was living in a retirement home in my mid twenties, everyone thought that I worked there and constantly came to me for help. Anything I would do for them was basically pointless as their memory only lasted for about 5 minutes. I think that the CNAs on staff at night may have been tempted to just not give the residents pain medicine or help them with whatever problem they had, because they would ask again 5 minutes later no matter what you did.
Limits Improve Relationships
When giving money to people, either homeless or not, the people you are helping tell others and continue to ask, and become increasing aggressive, until you finally say no. It is not good to loan money to most people or even give someone money to buy something for you. I remember that one of the guys living in my quad, while I was in advanced training, in the military, I have him money to buy me some boots, when he went to help the drill sergeants trade in the clothes, that we were issued during basic training, if they did not fit. He never bought the boots and never returned the money and it ruined our friendship.
10.4.3 Humility Requires Weakness
Everyone has his limits even Jesus and his Disciples left the crowds, they were ministering to, on occasion. If you allow people to push you too far, then you will end up resenting them and your attitude will be so bad, that it would be better to do less and be positive about it. Everyone needs time to rest and recover. You cannot just do good deeds continually, without pacing yourself, or you will give up and become bitter. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to stop helping, when your focus is entirely on getting things done.
Be Patient with the Process
Life is a process and not an outcome. Service only needs to be one part of your walk with God. If it becomes the focus, then you will destroy yourself eventually. To grow spiritually, we need have the patience, to allow God to work with us and ask for other people to help us. We are not islands and we cannot just go into a cave and meditate non-stop. We need to balance our service with rest, fellowship, worship, and prayer.
It's Ok to Have Needs
This idea that we can be happy, if only we had more discipline, is a very destructive and biblically wrong attitude, that many people in churches perpetuate. It is ok to be weak and to need others and God. This is what being humble is all about. Our life as a Christian needs to meet our needs, as much as we need to meet the needs of others. You can only be spiritually strong, when you are emotionally and physically rested and balanced. Before you can be of use for others, you need to strengthen your own body and mind.
10.5 Little Things Matter
10.5.1 We Worry Too Much
When people want to change the world, they often set their sights too high. Then, when they inevitably discover, that the world is the way it is, for a reason and powerful people actually want it to be the way it is, they realize that things are not so easy to change. I think many also find some exciting new theory, which they think will cause a revolution and have a hard time being able to embrace a more subtle and complex worldview. Most people are afraid of and hate change and with change there is always a risk of things getting worse. But nowadays Americans are so beaten down, by current problems, that we have trouble seeing the big picture.
10.5.2 Assault on Christianity
American Christians are even more worried about the future. They believe that people will find the church irrelevant in these times. Christians have taken a beating, for the last 300 years or more, from all directions, in academia. These ideas are not coming, from individual people and it is not a coincidence, that so many people were coming up, with such a well thought out plan, to destroy faith in Christ. This was a spiritual battle, that played out in academia. I think one of the reasons why academia was chosen was because the Church, in all its original sects, including the Latin, Greek, Syriac, and even modern Protestant based Christian churches were all very committed to education. The Church became the center of learning, everywhere is existed.
Ok to Bash Christians
It seems that the only acceptable prejudice is to denigrate the Bible and Christians. People who pride themselves on being rational and objective, use entirely emotion-based reasons, which based on their personal experiences, to make Christians seem as backwards and irrational as possible. Academics have gone to such great lengths, to make it sound like Christians have caused all the problems in this world, that anyone coming from another planet would think our intellectuals were not very bright or logical.
Being the Scapegoat
Some for these often repeated messages are factually and historically plain wrong. As I have said a number of times, Rome is not the original church, is not true to the theology of the early church, and European civilization is based on the Enlightenment and on the Greek and Roman classics and has nothing to do with Christianity. Most Christians are not white and that was true throughout most of Christian history and European and American leaders have not ever followed the Bible, especially not for the last hundred years. Europe did not reject Christianity, because it caused world problems, but rather Europe caused world problems, because they rejected Christianity.
Christianity was not bad for the environment either - the Bible says that humans are responsible for taking care of the environment and the prophets talk about environmental disasters, in the future, that were caused by sin. It never says anywhere in the Bible that the world is flat, that the earth is the center of the universe, or anything racist. These things all came from ancient Greek thinkers. Christ was never in India, nor is what Jesus said based on Indian or Chinese belief systems. Isaiah gave a complete and accurate prediction about Christ before Buddha, Lao Tzu, Confucius, or Socrates was born. Most of the major Indian religious, cultural, and literary writings were written down well after Christ was born.
Christianity Won Anyway
But despite all these denigrations of the Bible, Christians, and Christian theology, more people are Christians today then ever before. Pentecostalism and Catholicism are successful international phenomenons, that are popular across at least 3 major continents, with very few white people. Christians outnumber Muslims 2 to 1, in the third world and most of the areas with mostly muslim populations converted hundreds of years ago. Christianity only arrived in most parts of Africa and the Orient a hundred years ago and the practices and beliefs of Catholic church in Latin America, for hundreds of years now, is only superficially Christian. And most Africans were converted by other Africans.
10.5.3 Spiritual Battle
Finding Small Solutions
So many Christians and Americans in general are worried about the future and at the same time have no big solutions, nor the power to change things, nor even to have our voices heard. But little acts of kindness, manners, and civility make a big difference. We often feel we are not making a difference, because we do not count everything we do, like the small things, like holding open doors, for other people, or saying thank you. Most of the big political events in history are the result of spiritual warfare and are only one part of the picture. The most important battle goes on in our own minds. The attitude with which we do our work is more of a witness than a televangelist giving a sermon, to hundred million people.
Ok to Be Emotional and Weak
The big reason why many people do not become Christian, or drop out of the church, or the faith is not because they do not believe in the Bible, or find it important in their lives, but that Christians are so negative and unrealistic about what they expect of their members. We can make a difference in the world today with very humble acts, that we may never see the results of. No one is going to thank the person, that was the final straw, that led them to Christ. We have to realize that Christianity is not a science and we need to understand how God works and His power through faith. Faith can only exist, when you have no sufficient rational explanation for something.
Focus on Relationships
Having a relationship with someone is more powerful than sending lots of money to charities. People are much more influenced, by their friends, than their political or church leaders. It takes time and patience, to really make a difference in someone's life and there are no shortcuts, to real spiritual and emotional growth. It is worth our whole lives, to save just one person, or improve just one person's life. Individual people coming to faith in Christ are more important than which party controls congress or our nation's foreign policy. A few Christians praying together affect more change than all the political leaders in the world.
See with Faith
Stop seeing with your eyes and hearing with your ears. Dream bigger than saving the world. Save yourself and your family. That is the greatest achievement. Stop limiting yourself to the physical world and the rational reasons for your situation. We can only see what really matters through faith and God prefers to work, through people, who have no power and no abilities, so that He gets the credit. We never have to deal with things alone and God wants to fight the battle for us, if only we would open our hearts to Him.
Bible Verses about Rest and Peace
by Ben Huot
11.1 Before Psalms
And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.
The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming. The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation. Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous. The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away. The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth. For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off. The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed. Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore. For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever. The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him. The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged. Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it. I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever. For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous; lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity. Do good, O LORD, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts. As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the LORD shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity: but peace shall be upon Israel.
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her. The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew. My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.
And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve,
And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: For he bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground; he bringeth it even to the dust. The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy. The way of the just is uprightness: thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just. Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD. LORD, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them. LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.
And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken. The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly. The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful. For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the LORD, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail. The instruments also of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right. But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand. Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech. Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come. Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins. They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine. Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city: Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;
O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee. O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee. Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness. But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore. Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood, Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks? Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion; they, they are thy lot: even to them hast thou poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat offering. Should I receive comfort in these? Upon a lofty and high mountain hast thou set thy bed: even thither wentest thou up to offer sacrifice. Behind the doors also and the posts hast thou set up thy remembrance: for thou hast discovered thyself to another than me, and art gone up; thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made thee a covenant with them; thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it. And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell. Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way; yet saidst thou not, There is no hope: thou hast found the life of thine hand; therefore thou wast not grieved. And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared, that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me, nor laid it to thy heart? have not I held my peace even of old, and thou fearest me not? I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee. When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them: but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain; And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people. For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him.
Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.
11.4 After Isaiah
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.
Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.
Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.
And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.
11.5 New Testament
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Still New Surprises
by Ben Huot
This book is titled Still New Surprises because I continue to make new discoveries that revolutionize the way I see the world, myself, and God. This book follows Positive News and includes psychological and ideological (politics and religion) topics, all put into the proper historical and/or spiritual background. I talk about how my being very literal and highly motivated and having low self esteem and trust issues impacts my life and relationship with others. I talk about how individuals are powerful by themselves, how crises can bring out the best in people, how Christianity is fundamentally Asian (or African), the predictability of religious people, reasons for lack of Church unity, the importance of the humanities, and America's fundamental problem. Some of the most interesting topics are in the last chapter. New ideas include: how the Middle East shares more in common with Africa than South or East Asia, what things were like for Christians in the Persian Empire, early Christian heresies, how Christians should respond to the New Age movement and ideas, the information revolution, cultural reasons why America doesn't understand world politics, how government services benefit businesses, and a different perspective on animal rights.
More Psychological Insights and Inspiration
by Ben Huot
14.1 Dealing with Self Esteem
14.1.1 The Military
As I have said before, I think that my continued study of psychology, compared to studying other things, will give me the best opportunity, to grow emotionally and be a happier person. I believe that my greatest enemy is myself. I believe that the most important factors in how I live my life are the choices I make. One of the things I have realized over time, that causes my great stress, is my low self esteem, coming mostly from my experience in the military.
Soldier with Schizophrenia
I always was more sensitive, than most people, and held onto things others did to me, for too long and was overly occupied, with what others thought of me. But in the military, these situations became much more intense and my emotional response became ingrained, much deeper. A lot of my motivation, to try to make life more fair for myself and others, comes from some of the extreme circumstances, that I had experienced, while in the military. Like most people, I already knew what was important to me, so that later in life, most experiences just re-enforced, what I had believed all along.
Also, as a person with Schizophrenia, the main disability that I have, which covers most symptoms, is that everything in my life is exponentially more emotionally intense, than it was for me beforehand, or it is for others, like me, in similar circumstances, that do not have Schizophrenia. Some of the things in the military, that caused my great stress was my fear of even tear gas and my constant failures, to be able to perform the combat skills correctly, while under such extreme stress.
An even bigger stress was, for me, to recognize and correctly respond, to the correct rank of the person walking by me (you only salute officers and you have to use the correct exact rank, when referring to the soldier, whether enlisted or officer - if you get this wrong, then you get into a lot of trouble and are publicly embarrassed). One of the reason why this was so hard for me is that the ranking system works different, depending on service, but also the ranks, for enlisted, are on the upper arm and for the officers, on their shoulders or on their lapel.
This makes it very hard to see what their rank is, when you pass by them. You constantly need to know the rank of everyone in the room, at any given time. This is because the highest ranking person in the room has to tell everyone, to stand at attention, whenever an officer comes in, or stand at ease, whenever an NCO comes in.
I realized soon on, that if I was in a combat situation, that I would be of no use. I remember, when we did the manual of arms (this is how you learn how to move your rifle, in a marching formation, which also helps you keep your rifle away, from being pointed at others, during basic rifle marksmanship target practice), I had to drop for push-ups, after each move, because I would always get it wrong.
I was so bad at shooting (although I had to shoot and qualify, with my left hand, even though I am right handed) that the drill sergeant gave me the spot on the test range, where it was rigged, for the farthest target to pop-up and do down and it count it as hit, no matter if I hit it or not (when you qualify with the rifle, you shoot at targets, that look like green soldier outlines, which pop up for 3-5 seconds and then go down, to simulated the difficulty, of hitting a moving enemy solider).
14.1.2 Coping with Stress
There are many coping mechanisms people, who have low self esteem, use to cope, with their relationships with other people. Some of the major ones are minimizing, blaming, non-competing, overachieving, inflating, and projecting. I use a lot of these, to cope with my low self esteem.
Basically, I try to find a way to deflect any kind of ranking, because I want to find equal relationships and am not interested in fighting for control. Arrogance is what bothers me most and I link that with leadership and any kind of hierarchy or ranking. But it would be good for me to be aware of this, because at an extreme level, this will make it harder for me, to meet new people.
Probably the ones I use most is non-competing. I am very good at a lot of things, but I never have the ability to perform under pressure. That is one of the reasons why I never enter any competitions, or take any tests or classes, to prove my abilities.
I also would say I overachieve, which is partly because I really care about the future of humanity and the rest of the creatures that live on this earth, but also I constantly run into people, who tell me my life is easy, because I don't work.
I also use minimizing as a strategy, because I often find that others will challenge me and say that I am wrong, because they disagree with me, even though I have more experience than them. I don't wish to get in an argument, to prove what I know, partly because I don't think of good responses, while I am under stress.
I think I do projecting often, too, as for most people the things, that bother me most, about others are things I don't like about myself. I don't like anyone who is loud, intense, and controversial.
14.2 Dealing with My Illness
The symptoms of my mental illness expound these problems. One of my most disabling symptom of Schizophrenia for myself is paranoia. I think that people are against me or that they can hear my thoughts. I worry that people will reject me and and that is why I have a hard time making new friends or find new hobbies. In the military I took lots of risks, so now I am very careful not to risk anything important and I over emphasize this, in my mind.
14.2.1 Power Issues
I also see people sense my fear as a weakness and abuse that knowledge, which happens with abusive mental health workers. These people think that I won't or can't speak up for myself, but, of course this isn't true. Whenever I run into a situation where a person is abusive, I leave the situation, as soon as possible.
There are lot of people on the bus, that are looking for an easy target, to solve their problems, so I keep an unpleasant expression and do not make eye contact. Old people are the worst, in my experiences, and I don't mean retired people, but people who cannot even walk and are very rude and thoughtless and expect everyone else to stop what they are doing and sacrifice their time and energy, to help them.
The most traumatic situations I had to deal with all occurred for me as an adult. My parents weren't perfect, but they did a very good job and I am still friends with them to this very day. My sister and I did not get along well when we were kids, but she has been a close friend, since we became adults. The traumas I experienced are what I refer to as total situations.
A total situation is where you have no power and no control over almost everything in your life and you have no way of getting out of it, nor is their any break from it. These are situations in which I never was able to relax, or trust the people in power. The total situations, that I dealt with were in the military, being voluntarily committed to a behavioral psychology ward in a private hospital, living with 9 other mentally ill men in a group home, and living in a retirement home in my mid twenties.
These situations reinforced my sense of wrong and right and my commitment, to do all I could to bring social justice, to the poor and persecuted. They have also permanently altered how I see others and myself, so that I now am able to appreciate even small freedoms in life. It has also convinced me to be very risk adverse and to not trust other people, especially people in the mental health establishment.
14.2.2 Breakdown of Trust
I felt helpless in the military because I had no control over my freedom. I felt that I was lied to by my recruiter. I specifically asked about the NBC training and its possible use in wars. I was told that none of our enemies would use it and that the gas chamber doesn't hurt at all and you only have a little trouble breathing for half a minute.
When I went into the gas chamber, we had out protective masks on at first and I could fell my hands burning terribly. Then we were told to take off our masks and open our eyes all the way. I felt like I was drowning in fire and I could barely breath. My lungs and my eyes hurt the worst. When I got in my platoon was in the last group so as they added another stick of CS gas for each platoon, we then had the highest concentration. We were in for only 5 minutes, but it felt like an eternity.
My Psychotic Break
I asked to be let out when it was my turn to leave, but the drill sergeant threw me back in to the end of the line. I found out later that you have to go through the gas chamber once a year for active duty soldiers. Other soldiers in my platoon later said my experience sounded like a bad trip on LSD. Later on I found out that during the first and second Persian Gulf wars that the US military expected to be gassed and the front line troops all went in in full MOPP4 gear (protective masks and chemical suits).
This time in the gas chamber was when the Psychiatrist reviewing my pension case for the VA said that my mental breakdown and first paranoid episode occurred. The military is actually the most common stressful event that brings about a mental illness if you have a a high genetic probability, meaning close family with the same mental illness.
When people vote for wars in the Middle East, they need to understand that the chemical weapons that will likely be used in future conflicts, are many times more painful than CS gas, by factors of 100 or 1,000, and most often they are not fatal, although most would likely wish to die. People wishing to serve in the military need to understand this very well. The only reason why we do not have as many deaths as in Vietnam as we do in Iraq and Afghanistan is that we keep people alive, that are so badly burned, that they would have died, of their wounds, in any other time in history.
My situation, where I was able to leave the Army, with an honorable discharge, and receive a full pension was a miracle and I would be in Iraq or Afghanistan to this day, if my pension was not approved a few months before September 11th. All enlistments are 8 years long and the military can call you back at any time, especially if you have a specialized skill, or they don't have enough troops. Everyone, who passes through basic training, is considered first and foremost an infantry soldier and no matter what speciality you have, you will be on the front lines, carrying that special equipment, in addition to your combat gear.
I often have trouble making relationships because I do not trust other people. It takes a long time for someone to gain my trust. I am especially untrusting of people in power over me. I remember what it was like to at once point to be honest and let them help me and the next thing I knew I was locked in and couldn't leave. When you admit to having emotional problems, you quickly lose your rights and another person gets to decide what you are allowed to do and what kind of freedom you have.
You lose control over how you spend your time, what you can eat, where you can live, where you can go, and most importantly they are in control of your access to your medication. The people are paid very little and have almost no knowledge of mental illness. It is common for them to never believe anything you say and they are attracted to this field because they enjoy having power over others.
I will never seek help when I have an emotional crisis, because of how I was treated by the mental health caregivers. My latest experience going to the hospital when I was severely depressed, I was put in a padded room and told I could not leave with nothing to do and a camera focused on myself. When I am depressed, locking me up is just going to increase my stress and my emotional pain.
14.2.3 Other People's Problems
I am quick to say no to others and am not very friendly, when I am walking on the street or waiting for the bus, because I know that when you appear weak, people take advantage of it. If I see someone in distress, or someone asks for anything, who I don't know, I always refuse and, if I can, get away as fast as possible. I have learned the hard way, that many people are opportunists and have various scams set up, to make easy money and profit from nice people, trying to help out. Just because I see someone who is dressed in rags or can barely walk, I know that it is likely a trick.
Too Good to Be True
Whenever anything I read seems to good to be true, and I cannot find enough information about it online, then I stay away from that group. I used to try to find another person with a website that is from a Liberal Christian point of view, but all I have found is people mixing Paganism with Christianity, social liberals, or the Christians involved in the paranormal. Whenever I read something about an interesting scientific discovery like quantum mechanics or string theory, new abundant energy sources, or environmental solutions all paths lead to very dark and disturbing places. I have found out that most things alternative are either very depressing, anti-Bible or both.
I think most of the good things going on in the world are done by Christian groups and that there is a good reason why so many Evangelical organizations have decided to be very narrow theologically and conservative socially. When people get creative with theology, they have no sense on what areas they should stay away from. I guess I have a good understanding of what the Bible says, so I know very well what is clear and what is not. It seems pretty obvious to me, but most people don't research the subject well enough, before making major decisions, that will affect the rest of their lives, like joining groups, purely based on personalities they like. There are certain decisions, that you cannot just undo like: sexually transmitted diseases, drug addiction, committing crimes, and making poor decisions, in other aspects of their lives.
14.3 Going Forward
14.3.1 My Decisions
Leaving the Stage
I have learned, to be happy, without taking major risks, in my life. I know that this part of America is the best part of the world and I have no desire, to see the destruction to the rest of the world and the injustice and violence, that is only intensifying. I have realized, that no one cares about what I say and people do know what to do, to solve the major world problems, but the reason why they won' take these steps is that they would require giving up things, that they are addicted to and cannot imagine living without. I don't know the future, but I won't be surprised if the future looks more like the past, and it might be the best thing for us.
That is why the path forward for me is focused on making my life, my home, and my family the best it can be. Just as the monks of the Eastern Orthodox church decided to withdraw, to the wilderness and pursue their relationship with God and forsake worldly ambition, as Christian Constantinople fell to the Muslim Turks, so I end my criticism of my generation. I am only responsible for myself and my own actions. Whatever happens to the world will happen, as the result of the collective decisions we make, and even more directly, as God moves it.
14.3.2 Who I am
I am not just sensitized due to trauma and due to my illness, but I am also sensitive by nature. I am risk adverse, by my very nature. I spend a lot of time and effort trying to understand all the factors and consequences of a perceived mistake. I try to prepare for the loss of everything and am religious about making backups of my files. I spent a whole year getting ready for disaster survival, even though few disasters have or even would likely happen, where I live.
I take it personally, when I am rejected or exploited. I am more sensitive to physical pain and social problems. I like calm and organized places like libraries and movie theaters. I do poorly under pressure and am very sensitive to negative feedback. I find the Internet hard to navigate as I am overstimulated, I have too many options, and everyone is so negative and rude.
I think that honesty with ourselves and with others we work with is a good start in dealing with stress and trauma. I have found that despite people's lack of education about mental illness and the perpetuation in the media, that we are serial killers and terrorists, that most people are open to the idea of my having mental illness. They don't know much about it and don't seem to hold any stereotypical views about it.
Many people are also very interested, in what it is like, to have a mental illness. Some people, after seeing and talking to me, think that I was too smart and that is there is some connection between insanity and brilliance. That is not true, in any sense, but it is a better stereotype than thinking I am violent. Some people also talk about famous people, who supposedly have mental illnesses, although these people generally have clinical depression or are bipolar (manic depression), which are much less disabling.
One of the things, that makes me so unusual, is that I take my medicine regularly and didn't have any trouble accepting my illness. I also am highly motivated and can understand abstract thought and very subtle ideas. None of this is supposed to be possible. I think that it is a miracle.
The reason why I have been able to write so many useful books about philosophy is just like how God chose a shepherd to be king of Israel, Moses was a person with a speech impediment, and Sarah was elderly when she had a baby - I have this ability because it gives credit to God and not to myself or my training. The reason why I accepted my illness, at first, was that I knew something was wrong with me and then I asked, if it was going to get worse, and I was told that it wouldn't. Only in this last year, when I read about some of the other symptoms of Schizophrenia, was I depressed about what I had lost.
One of the things that helps me most is a good night's sleep. That is the most important thing I can do, to stay positive and motivated. I also produce better work, when I have enough rest.
14.3.3 Building Relationships
I am the kind of person, who wants deep and intimate (emotionally) relationships, with a couple people. When I am in groups, I have learned to say little, so that I do not say anything controversial and end up alienating others. But, since I did not feel relaxed, in these situations, I have a hard time feeling part of the group. Often I am so uncomfortable in these situations, that I end up not going at all.
I am looking for equal relationships. One of the ways, to have equal relationships, is to have an equal amount of time talking about yourself, as they do talking about themselves. It is good to be concerned about the other person, but it is not always appropriate to respond, by giving advice, on how to solve the problems they face. Don't ever assume that their situation is like yours.
It is important to think about what the other person is saying and adjust your responses accordingly. And when you ask, for the other person to open up to you, you must sincerely want them to, or it will alienate you. It is important, to get emotionally involved and empathize, with the other person. But most importantly, you must stop trying to use specific formulas, because they can be transparent.
When someone offers help, if you do not agree the first time, they likely will never ask again. Another important factor is that for the relationship to be equal, you must offer a roughly equivalent amount of help, to the other person, in the relationship. When accepting help, make sure that it is something, that the other person is able to do easily, and that you really would be helped by their contribution.
You need to know what to do, at the right time, to ask for something, or reveal more about yourself. The right time will be when the other person is in that place too. Feel out how much they are willing to get involved and allow them to make the decision, without pressure. But you must continue to be honest, straightforward, and direct. Temper this with your friend's point of view and emotional state.
Often asking for input about situations, that you thought went bad, is often a good way to get a more balanced view, on whether you need to improve, as we tend to over personalize other's reactions to us. Giving and receiving must be balanced, in a healthy and equal relationship.
When someone rejects you, there are generally four major reasons for the rejection. One of the reasons for rejection is when the other person sees every relationship as a part of climbing the social latter. Sometimes asking for a relationship with another, in this situation can be considered weak and therefore they are repulsed, by your offer. In some groups, this is the general tone or culture of the group. Try making relationships elsewhere.
Another reason, for why you may be rejected, is that the other person is using a coping skill, for dealing with being under valued. You may get a response that is part of minimizing, blaming, or noncompeting. Let go of trying to respond directly, to the accusations, but understand why the other person feel this way. The best response is to acknowledge the other other person's feelings as normal and empathize with them.
Add that you want to pursue a relationship, with the other person, and admire one of their great qualities. Talk about this situation, in the context of the whole length of your relationship, with them. Keep avoiding blaming either one of you, but keep acknowledging the frustrations, of the other and agree with them.
Some people have a hard time building relationships and are afraid to take the risk, because they think they will always be rejected. There is no way to get them to open up to you, but you can express your concern for them.
Some people will constantly respond to your attempts to form a relationship, by starting an argument. The other person sounds very emotional, but loud and intense, or the other response is that the other person starts a debate and never lets you respond.
If you will never see the person again, then just ignore them. Otherwise, you can try to deal with the other's emotional trauma by refusing to argue, refusing to agree something negative about yourself, by not allowing the other person to blame you, by trying to reduce the other person's shame, and by talking it over the next time you see them.
Avoid Simple Formulas
Make sure you are genuine and honest. You can build on what you have read, but without really caring and acting natural, you will be obviously superficial. The worst thing to do is have some predictable way of responding to people, so it is better to be clumsy and shy than to overemphasize what you have read.
Like no theory explains things for everyone, so must even the best advice must be filtered, through our experiences, and we should not put all our faith, in the latest books we read. People do not like being treated, like some kind of experiment and will respond very negatively, if you seem too predictable.
14.4 Artistic Freedom
I wanted to say something about emotions. I believe that emotions are important and useful, but they can also easily spiral out of control. Some people recommend mediation, tai chi, yoga, guided relaxation, and those kind of things. While many of these things can be useful, to certain people, in certain occasions, it isn't for me.
The big reason why is that it is too difficult and complex for me. Something I can do and look forward to doing more often is to take recreational breaks every so often and to walk a good ways each day. I am starting to like playing simple games, drawing sketches, listening to music, and seeing pictures of maps, art, and scenery on my iPad.
Religion and Emotions
I have some incredibly strong emotions, in my relationship with God. I said recently, that reading a whole chapter of scripture was scary to me, because it felt like I was going to burn up, due to the intensity of God, that I could gather from reading the Bible. Sometimes, when I am swept up in emotions, I think that having no free will, or that not doing anything for myself would make me closer to God.
I have enjoyed Pentecostal/Charismatic churches in the past, because they are one of the few churches, that don't teach you to suppress and dominate your emotions, with your intellect. It is good to be rational and have a good grasp, of the mortal world, in which we live, but I think it is dangerous, to ignore what we think our emotions are telling us.
Faith is a belief in something that you cannot prove and Paul called Christ's death on the cross the foolishness of God, that is greater than man's knowledge. Like it or not, we have a number of parts of us, that need to take control or give up control, much like instruments start and stop, at various points, in the symphony. The key point to remember is that God is the conductor.
14.4.2 New Developments
One of the things that makes me very grateful and gives me much peace is that God helped me write 50 books. It is inspired by the Holy Spirit as my muse, but I will take credit for the mistakes. I finally feel like I can relax and just enjoy life. My situation is difficult, for a number of reasons. Some of the major ones I just wrote about and the vast majority of people will never have to deal with it. On the other hand, I have some unique assets, that other people would kill for: I have no debt, I can't lose my source of income, and I have plenty of money for what I want to do.
I also live in the best place on earth and my apartment is the best in the town and is close enough, so I can walk to the bus station. My place is also beautiful and a gated community and my landlords are really nice and helpful. It seemed that there were people out cleaning and keeping things up, all summer and they really seem to care about the place. I have my own clothes washer and dryer, that came with the apartment, I am renting an air conditioner, that they set up, my house is very well insulated and the sound doesn't penetrate. I can get up whenever I want to, I can eat whatever I want to, I can spend my money anyway I want to.
I am excited that it the fall season has just arrived and I can already imagine the holidays. My sister lives in the same city as me and my parent only live about 45 minutes north of me. My sister just got her own house and so we will likely celebrate, at least one of the holidays there. All of us have put in a tremendous amount of work into improving our lives and it has really paid off for all of us. We also use our creative abilities in unusual ways, that make us happy and help others.
I love the fall, because it starts getting cool, cloudy, and rainy again this time of year. I do badly in the heat and I also have sensitive eyes, so summers can be rough on me. Summers are often downers for me, because hardly anything is going on. If I walk by the local University, in the summer and on a Sunday, the streets are deserted. I likes the fall, as it is like a new beginning, because this is when school starts again. A lot of my best memories happened in the rain and the cold and on cloudy days. A lot of those are memories from high school, when I was on an event for cross country or speech.
14.4.3 Sources of Strength
The biggest factors in my resilience and ability to overcome the odds stacked against me in the combination of my personality, my traumas, and my mental illness are prayer and family support. One of the biggest reasons why people are not well adjusted, confident, and content with their lives is that they experienced profound traumas, in their formative years.
The way you raise a child makes the most difference, in what a young adult has to draw from, when encountering obstacles and tragedies, that arise due to conditions we mostly have no control over. When you can build your sense of self on a good foundation, it makes emotional recovery much easier and more successful.
Not only has having a good relationship with my family and being raised in a supportive and healthy environment been a key to my success, but the divine intervention of the Christian God has made all the difference. No matter how damaged you are, due to living through difficult circumstances, God can always transform you into a better person, if you are willing to make the effort. Real spiritual and emotional growth does not come quickly or easily.
God works on a different time frame and in a complex series of events, that we cannot discern. The most important thing that God gives those who are willing to ask is grace. And it is His grace that gives purpose and value, to any circumstance you are in, for whatever reason. This grace is what makes life worth living and gives purpose to our lives.
The final major influence has been my inheritance of certain personality traits of my parents, like stubbornness and curiosity. As I said before, all character traits have dual aspects. No matter how bad people assume a personality trait is, there is always an equally great positive aspect, to every one.
Stubbornness is often thought to cause people to not ask for help, but, if you have the grace to use it in a useful way, it can be a great source of strength and motivation, to do what is right, even when others don't understand or appreciate the importance, of what you know in your heart is right. Curiosity has sometimes led me to study things that only led to dark and depressing thoughts, but everything I have learned has made me a better person and helped me understand how the world works, how I can change it, and how to get along well with others, who don't share my values.
My Understanding of God
One of the things that makes me so different is the things I am sure of and those I am unsure of. Sometimes I have no doubt about a certain direction I should take or insights into why things happen the way they do. Other times I doubt everything. The most important thing I just intuitively know is that the God of the Bible is the real God.
I know from nature, from experience, and from intuition that the universe was created by an eternal, all-powerful, and perfectly good God. I know that His personality is the same as the one described in the Christian Bible. And the Bible continues to amaze me, with how well it explains why the world works the way it does, or why I experience life the way I do. I always feel there is so much more that I could understand, when God would choose to reveal it to me. The God of the Bible is beyond everything I could hope for or imagine.
Final Psychological Insights
by Ben Huot
15.1 Too Literal
Why so Different?
One of the things, that has continued to perplex me, throughout my life, is the explanation of why I am so different, than everyone else. Part of it, I now know, is due to my mental illness, service in the military, and level of intelligence. But those factors are not enough, to explain my perspective, on the world. One of the ways, in which I am different, than most other people is that I know things, that no one else seems to understand, and things everyone seems to understand, I have immense difficulty in wrapping my minds around.
What Being Literal Means
One of the things, that my parents keep on repeating, is that I am very literal. I just recently have realized what they meant by this. I know my parents would have explained it, if I had asked, but I just didn't think to and they thought I knew what they meant. This literal interpretation, of everything, has had more impact on my relationships, than any other factor has. It is hard, to explain, what being literal is, but I think it is related to my binary view of the world. This is similar to what people often differentiate different views of ethics being either black and white or shades of grey. But I am using this analogy, in terms of broader thinking, than just ethics.
I think this comes, from my aversion, to thinking of myself, as being arrogant. I like to make things simple enough, so they can be understood, by the average person. I really despise elitism. I am on the side of the poor, the discriminated against, and the powerless. This is probably because I thought of myself, as being under the same situation, at one time. None one was there to help me, so I want to be there to help others, so they don't have to go through it alone, too.
15.1.2 How it Works
Because of this combination, of both wanting to be intellectual and being a man of the people, at the same time, I ended up, with a bizarre combination of: precise, thorough, rigid, consistent, logical, simplistic, and extreme patterns of thinking. I have tried, to find a way, to be smart and still be populist and see others, in the same way. This combination is probably rare, except for: revolutionaries, prophets, serial killers, and cult leaders. I think I will end up better, because of my willingness to follow rules and my aversion to physical pain and isolation.
Examples of Being too Literal
When people asked me to do something with them, after I had first met them, in a number of cases, it didn't work out for me, so they didn't ask again. I took the invitation literally, but they meant to show an interest in me, so that when they didn't ask me again, it wasn't because they didn't like me - it was because they thought I had rejected them.
Just like I feel pressured into doing things, so that when I run into someone and they ask what I am doing, that I have things to share. I then get so busy trying to do things, that I end up not seeing them again. But, I realize now, that they didn't expect me, to do anything, and I actually was doing way more, than they were anyway.
When I talk to someone about something academic and they don't tell me, that they don't understand, I think that they do understand, but they likely feel the need, to hide their lack of understanding, because they think I will take it as a sign of weakness in them. I think many people I run into think I am elitist or have high expectations of everyone, because of my degree of motivation to learn.
How Others Perceive This
This inability, to see things symbolically, is something, that most people do not have a problem with, so many times people might have thought because I was so smart, but appeared unable, to grasp the most basic things, they thought of me as an idiot savant (someone who is very good at one thing, but can do little else). The other things that people used to explain this was to think I was crazy or messing with them.
15.2 My Motivation
15.2.1 The Military Factor
My Pain is Not that Great
One of the things, that people have a hard time understanding, about me, is my immense motivation, to pursue interests that are: extremely demanding emotionally, take up a huge amount of time, and make me no money. I think the motivation comes, from the perspective I have had, when in the military. I know, that as difficult as things are for me, they are much harder, than that, for most people, in the world today. I also had experiences, in doing things, in the military, that are much more scary, than anything, in causing me physical pain.
Damage to Self Esteem
Many things, in the military, that I was very afraid of, I had to do anyway and I was treated like I was of no more value, than a piece of meat, at the same time. The drill sergeant of my platoon treated us like we were worthless, for our entire Basic Training. One of the things, that made things even harder was my lack of sleep, during Basic Training and Advanced Training, in the military. I got, at the most, 7 hours of sleep a night, during Basic Training, and then, during the first month or two of my Advanced Training, I only got 3 hours of sleep, at night.
No Control Over Anything
I have always needed, at least 12 hours of sleep, to feel rested. When I was in the military, I never felt safe. I felt, that I was constantly being evaluated and could have anything demanded of me, at any time. I had no power, over anything, in my life. At the same time, I knew that, as tough as the training was on me, that during a war conditions could cause a exponentially greater amount of pain. The only possible way, to get out of something, the NCOs tell you to do is by your own death.
15.2.2 Making Sense of It All
Causes and My Response
This tremendous amount of stress, combined with my genetic predisposition to mental illness, and my very sensitive personality are what caused me to get diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia. My mom has always thought, that, one of the reason why I was able to do so well, was that shortly after getting out of the hospital, I began again reading philosophy and my decision, to not just give up, was the catalyst. My not giving up comes from my inability to comprehend what giving up means or how to do it.
Why This Had to Happen
My immense motivation has caused me unnecessary pain, but it is likely the reason why I was able, to understand these insights, these last few years. Maybe I needed to work very hard, to understand how to not push myself so hard. Just like I said, that people are not emotionally ready to accept, that we are going to go back to the stone age, technologically, so I think that I may of not been emotionally ready, to accept, that pushing myself less, was not giving up. I guess that my biggest fear is that, if I take a break, that I will never be able, to motivate myself, to go back, to work, on what I find important.
Problem of Suffering
Being a Christian gives me a sense of purpose, to much of the things, that were very hard, for me, to go through, but the idea that God is perfectly good and cares about you is very difficult, to understand, when you have to go through things, very few others have to. One of the things, that really bothered me, throughout my life, is that I didn't understand some of the things, that I have learned recently and I thought, that if I knew about these issues earlier in my life, then I could have made my life better.
Sometimes Ignorance is Helpful
But, I have also realized, that God might give us ignorance, in parts of our life, when knowing these things, about our lives, would not make them better, because we either could not change those things, about ourselves, even if we knew about them, or that not understanding those things actually made us able, to do things, we would not have been able to do, otherwise. Sometimes, your ignorance can be an advantage, to you in, certain situations.
Difficulty of Explaining Suffering
The way things happen, in our lives, little makes sense of most of it, but that is likely because our brains can't handle the complex web, of causality, that God works through. And maybe there is no real good answer to why God allows us to suffer, that would be sufficient for us. Maybe the death of Jesus Christ on the cross is the best explanation of why God allows us to suffer - He, at least, was willing to Himself.
Beyond Our Suffering
The other things that I don't think people realize are: the amount of control God gives, to people, to affect our world good and bad, how much God holds back, from what should happen, as a result of our poor choices, and exactly how devastating sin was, to God's creation. God actually set up things perfectly for us, by both giving us free will, but, at the same time, not understanding what evil was, so we could have a rational world, have freedom of choice, and the impossibility of doing evil. I guess that explain why we just can't seem to live by even simple rules. I do know that pain, in any form, is a powerful motivating factor and greater pain generally motivates us more.
15.3 Big Changes
15.3.1 Kinds of Change
Change Causes Stress
Making big changes, for me, usually ends up, in failure, because the rapid change gives me both depression, over what I have given up, and anxiety about having, to commit, to something long-term. Instead of getting less stress, by taking on a new simpler and easier pursuit, I just remove the thing, that gave me purpose and joy. The most stressful thing, to me, is not the stress of dealing with the difficulty in what I have chosen, but starting new, unrelated things. And when I want to make a change, I can do so, only if I have no pressure, to achieve something, or feel like I am under a timeline. The most successful things I have done I did little bits, at a time.
When I started writing poetry back in 1998, I didn't plan on writing even one book let alone 52. But, I just kept writing and learning about technology, then I had enough material, I tried putting it together, in bigger chunks, learned LaTeX, and just tried making nice PDFs. When I was able to do that, then I entertained the possibility of writing books. When I tried to write an entire book in a month, I got stressed out, but when I put together my collections and added a chapter, at a time, to one book, I had much less stress.
15.3.2 Avoiding Stress
I have learned not, to make any long term commitments, like signing up for: college classes, volunteer work, social clubs, or even gym memberships. When I have a certain time, that I have to be, at a certain place, on a reoccurring basis, it stress me out and it triggers depression and paranoia. I obsess about having to keep doing the things over a long period of time and have trouble taking it one day at a time.
Having No Plans
That is why I don't plan out any books or website changes, or keep lists of things to do. I also find most activities much more intense, than other people do. I do better, in controlled settings, like a movie theatre or a library. But, I have the freedom, to not have, to commit, to anything and trading one set of stress for another would not be an improvement.
15.4 New Projects
Reaching the Logical End
As I have finished studying virtually everything, that interests me, in the humanities, I have come to a logical end, to my studies. This doesn't mean that I won't write, but maybe on different topics, or at least with the addition of subjects to my usual mix.
Consistency with My Worldview
As I like to think of myself as a "man of the people," I have decided to start learning some things about sports and entertainment. I expect it to take some time, but there are people who follow sports and entertainment that could never understand anything as complicated and subtle as philosophy.
Instead of giving up everything else, that I enjoy doing now, I have decided, to just move, in this new direction, when I feel like it. I might also be able, to both gather enough material and get inspiration, to write a new book, on these new subjects. The two best outcomes would be making it easier to find people with common interests and because I am just very tired, of all the effort involved, in having, to think so deeply and so much.
Making Life Easier
I think, that my interest, in the humanities has made my life more difficult, than it needs, to be. I just need, to remember not to over research it, so that I don't bring the negative aspects, of more academic pursuits. After all, studying and memorizing about the history and statistics of sports, or the addresses and trivia of all the celebrities is kind of missing the point of watching a game or a show.
More Ideological Insights and Inspiration
by Ben Huot
16.1 The Power of One
16.1.1 The Individual
Don't Give Up
I am continuing my writing, in order to encourage others, that we can make a difference, as individuals. The bulk of my writing, before the depression started, in 2008, was trying to get people to realize that the problems in the world we keep hearing about are serious and need to be dealt with now, but that many people, who would be willing to make the sacrifices necessary, to make the world a better place, are just getting discouraged and think that it is time to just give up.
Just One Person
I just started reading a book written by the president of PETA, the animal rights organization, and she make a great case, for how we can make a difference, all by ourselves. Most people would give to charities, if they were wealthy, or try to change the government, if they were able to get into power, but much of history was changed, by a single person, who was just like everyone else, but decided to spend their years on earth making a difference, for others. A few people have changed history starting all by themselves.
16.1.2 As a Group
Lessons from History
In my life time, I have seen the Soviet Union fall apart and atheism lose political power. The Soviet Union was such a huge power that, even as a kid, we feared the Russians, to be our greatest enemy. For much of the Cold War, many Christians were afraid that the majority of the world would give up their faith in religion. My parents saw major changes, in tolerance, for those of other races, within the span of just a decade, so that it is now unpopular and untolerated to be a racist. The US was winning the Vietnam War militarily and the war would have easily gone on, for another ten years, but it was cut short, by the the American people's unwillingness to let the issue go.
More Power than We Think
It is interesting, that we still do not seem to realize, that a government cannot keep itself in power, no matter how much power they have over their citizens, if they push things too far. The reason why the world is in the state it is, is because the US citizens may not want to be aware of some of the dirty things done to maintain our power, but basically expect someone to do those things, and that is the main reason why they are done. For instance, the reason why torture is likely still used, within the intelligence community, is not because it is thought to be useful or justified, by those who perform it, but that the leaders of the country would be held liable, if there were a terrorist attack and the people, who were involved, were in custody and did not give up the information needed to prevent the attack.
Power of American Citizens
Basically, Americans really don't care about what happens to non-Americans and feel justified in doing so, in order to maintain the kind of lifestyle, that we are used to. And yes, as always, I am referring to Americans, when I say we, as we have the ability, to change the world, as someone born in the third world does not have the resources, power, and the protection afforded by our civil rights. The really difficult thing, for us to accept very soon, is both the gravity of the situation, but also the great opportunity, that even one American has the ability to exercise, at little risk to themselves.
16.1.3 Keep Working Hard
The future is not set and we don't need to continue down this road. Things will change tremendously, in this generation, more than things have, for maybe thousands of years, and there will be some major losses, but there are also some great things, that will happen, that we cannot even imagine yet. God still has many wonderful surprises, for all of us. We just need to believe and take a chance.
16.2 Usefulness of Crises
16.2.1 Psychology of a Crisis
I have spent about a year preparing, for surviving the end of the world, as we know it, caused by anything, from natural disasters, to the end of cheap oil. I wasn't happy, with the online communities, because people are so mean online, so I looked up about local Peak Oil advocates and I came across an interesting development and controversy. What had happened is that the local advocates brought this scenario, to the community government and after the case was presented, it was decided, that, instead of spending money, to become more self-sufficient energy wise, the budget was spent on improving the infrastructure, for increased car usage.
Apathy to Despair
This decision seemed to anger and frustrate those, who spent so much time and energy, to present their case, but I was not surprised. The things is that most people today consider not having electricity and modern plumbing is the same as being in the stone age and would likely just give up and wait to die, instead of working hard, to survive, in a more difficult situation. The problem is, when people are confronted with the possibility of a disaster, they quickly jump from apathy to despair.
Afraid of Hard Work
I think the big reason for this is that people who have grown up in the situation, that we are in now, have basically adopted the idea, that a successful society is one that: keeps on getting more and more advanced technologically, has fewer and fewer rules, and requires less and less effort, to keep it going. Since they have adopted this worldview, it is hard for them to think about the possibility, of losing this, and still surviving, in a rational manner. The only thing that seems to scare this last few generations is having to do an honest day's work.
16.2.2 Short Attention Span
Crises are Helpful
This may seem discouraging, but this situation has happened before and people will survive. I know it sounds cruel, but the fewer Americans who survive, the better it is, for those left. People will learn the value of hard work, but it is going to have to take a big shock, to get their attention. Unfortunately, Americans seem to jump from crisis to crisis, but have a hard time staying focused on the same thing, when there is no longer and imminent threat.
Understand the Reason Why
We have seen this happen with Homeland Security. The federal government spent tremendous amounts of time and money making sure, that we would never allow another tragedy like 9/11 to happen again and then, less than ten years later, we have the same problem, except the disaster was prevented, due to some fast thinking and brave airplane passengers. We also seem to gravitate between huge economic growth and huge depressions, which we could prevent with some simple oversight, but when no one is watching and the economy is going strong, we get rid of these important rules. We need to learn why things were set up the way they were before we start changing them.
Homeland Security Example
We also had a similar situation with joining the different intelligence and law enforcement agencies under the Homeland Security umbrella. The problem was that these agencies had been organized properly beforehand. We purposely separated the CIA and the FBI, even though it is inconvenient, in order to keep from these agencies from getting too powerful and end up like the SS or the KGB.
The other agencies were under different heads for equally legitimate reasons. Immigration does more than deal with terrorism. It also allows people to become citizens and the Coast Guard does more than just fight terrorism. They help in case of natural disasters and the help fight the war on drugs. And similar reasons explain why all the other agencies were arranged the way they were before we formed a Homeland Security cabinet position.
16.2.3 The Solution
Hit the Reset Button
One of the thing, that really differentiates post World War II America, from before, is that we have no frontier. We need to find a way, to start things over again, as a society, as well as have a way, for people, to start over, as individuals. A big enough disaster may just give us the opportunity, to reorganize the way society operates, into a more healthy way of life. The worst thing that could happen is that we never do get hit by a big disaster and we continue on this same path. Without a major disaster, we will learn to work harder and appreciate the opportunities we have, but it will happen much more slowly.
People are Irrational
Instead of trying to appeal to a person's rational awareness of the world, we need to realize, that people are lead, by their emotions, most of the time. Instead of fighting this, we need to just accept this. We need to stop debating and understand the psychology of the citizens we are working with. This is the big reason why the government will never admit that we are low on oil, because that will cause the very disaster people are fearing.
People Cannot Decide
The government needs to do some things, without telling the people, and needs to avoid going through a public governmental process. Hard decisions need to be made and it does not matter so much what is decided, except that something must be decided and worked toward. The military understands this very well. Most people are not emotionally able, to make their own decisions, or to run their own government. The average person will never have the education or the inclination, to make hard decisions.
The big reason why the government is so indecisive is because the average citizen is indecisive. We seem to jump hack and forward, between opposite approaches, to our problems. We are almost evenly divided, between 2 opposing camps, so we give those, who have the most trouble making decisions, the power, to determine our leadership and our future.
16.3 A Different World
16.3.1 Political and Social Changes
Defeat of Atheism
The reason why this is a turning point in history is not just a matter of the decline of the US or the decline of the world economy, but it is the culmination of the downfall of the human ability, to solve our own problems, especially through technology. If the war on terrorism has taught us nothing else is that creativity and drive beats wealth and technology. We have learned that even the smartest people in the room don't give you the right answers and that pride can beat even the wealthiest. Not only have we seen that we cannot rely on government, to save us, during Katrina, but that capitalism can self-destruct, just as quickly, as communism.
Ascension of Christianity
We used to be afraid that most of the world would lose their faith, but now we fear that people are taking their belief in God too far. During the last few centuries, the Church has seen a huge barrier, to its expansion and it very survival, in Europe and most of America now, but, in the same period, many times the population of America and Europe have converted to Christianity, in every other major continent, in the world. The biggest contribution from the US, to the world, may very well be Pentecostalism.
One World Economy
The US is not going to fall, unless the rest of the world does. What we have is a one world economy, so that no one really wants anyone else to fail, because even the slightest damage done, to one of the major economies, in the world, will damage the others, just as much. The flip side of the US's complete dependence on China for its manufacturing has the side effect of China depending on the US, for both its market and for its ability to produce so much of the world's food. Basically, if the US is hurt too bad, China not only goes bankrupt but starves.
US Power will be Regional
It is true though that the US will return to a more maintainable world status as a major world power instead of the only world superpower. Some of the most successful and happy years of our country came as a result of our ability to focus on our own problems, and let someone else be hated, for interfering, in world politics. It looks like China and Saudi Arabia might be the world's police force, in the future, and people will forget about the US, just as quickly as they forgot about how much they hated the UK, France, and Russia.
The next generation will most likely see the greatest changes, in the recorded history, but they will be more social, than technological. The biggest commodities of the future will not only be oil, but water and soil. One of the sad things, that will happen, in just a matter of time, will be the die off of a major part of the world's population, because there are just too many mouths to feed and most likely Africa and Southern Asia will be hit the hardest. The world balance of power will shift, as a direct result of climate change and weather will be the biggest destructive force and the major focus of national security in the future.
16.3.2 Future of Society and Technology
Do It Yourself
There will be many positive changes, especially social. People will be more focused on the local community and will be more self-sufficient. People will be more and more interested in creating things, rather than consuming things. The do-it-yourself community will grow immensely. The big thing that the web based economy will have to do to survive is to focus on selling novelty and the personalization of products.
If Hollywood survives, their market will not be on selling generic products, to a mass audience. Every form of media will be online and there will be no way to get people to pay for it. More and more social groups and individuals will come out with their own media and use it to further their agendas. I think making money purely by advertising will become less and less valuable, as there will be so many more places for ads and so many more companies out there, that they will get lost in the static.
The big companies will be the ones with Big Brands. The big thing that will separate the little players from the big ones will be a matter of how they differentiate themselves. Americans will no longer find it profitable to sell commodity products for commodity prices.
All Information Public
So much information will be available, that the information itself will be less important and the way to sift through it faster will be where the money is. Every piece of information will be available, for everyone, by some point in the future. Scams will become much more convincing as they will be able to make use of this information.
Insignificance of Government
The most important factor in your life will not be the country you live in, but the technology provider that you use to access media and the Internet. The big reason why governments will stop being as big a factor will be because they cannot move as fast as technology can, so people will stop using the government to help them, when someone commits a crime against them.
People will pay others mainly to give themselves more free time. The thing that will take more time than anything else will be finding things. Even though all information will be online, there will be so much of it that being able to answer meaningful questions will be a major source of income for many businesses. One of the things that people might enjoy most is having a break from technology and creating devices, that are fashionable and easy to use, will be a huge business.
Reaction Against Technology
Eventually people will actually start putting technology into their bodies. About this time, there will be a major reaction against technology and many people will try to exist off grid, but it will be much harder to do so, then ever before. Just like we all have phone numbers and email addresses, but don't have to have them, the same will be true of our access to the Internet and services that help us make sense of all the information.
16.3.3 Why I Am Certain
The Future is Now
One of the reasons why I can say these things with such certainty about the future is because these things are already happening. The reason why they seem futuristic to many people is that they are not mainstream yet because people aren't emotionally ready for them. The biggest changes in the future will be social, not technological.
Computers are Dumb
The big thing in technology, that will take a very long time, if it is ever possible, unless we find some other advanced technology some other way than inventing it by ourselves, computers will not be much smarter in the near future. Many people are afraid of computers taking over the world, but the most advanced robot in the world can just barely walk upright on two feet up stairs.
Problem with Engineers
The social revolutions will be much like what Facebook is now and the reason why it was not done ten years earlier was not a technological problem, but a social one. People were afraid to give out personal information, when the web first came out, although it was designed originally for two way communication. This is the exact reason why the biggest challenge to change in technology is the older generation, especially the engineers.
The Next Generation
Science Fiction writers with little or no knowledge of science often in-vision some of the greatest technological leaps. The first people to adopt a new technology will always be the youngest generation and one of the key things that holds us back is that our leaders are so old and unimaginative. Some of this will only happen as that generation dies off.
Applications to Politics
These things all sound like they are only related to technology, but the same thing occurs on a political level as well. The big reason why I see the major climate changes, shifts of power, and wars over resources will happen is because people are not emotionally willing to make the changes necessary to avoid these changes.
Not all changes are bad, but people who seek to influence people of the future need to understand not just history, but modern psychology, as well. Philosophy is much less important. The real great thing that philosophy provides is training in thinking rationally for yourself, plus philosophy is also a humanity and the humanities encourage cross-discipline study, more than any of the sciences or social sciences. When you study Asian philosophy, you are studying Asian history, Asian religion, Asian literature, Asian art, and Asian music.
16.4 Finding Your Approach
It is true, that people tend to be unwilling to change and unwilling to listen to rational arguments and, as individuals, we have little power, to changes the way things are, on a grand scale. But this does not mean that we need to give up. Just like in a job, who you know is more important than what you know. Also, when you want something right, you need to do it yourself. The reality is you can get a lot of people to do small things, if you appeal to their emotions, but the most important and the bulk of the work must be done by you and maybe a few others.
The most important factors, in determining your ability, to influence the future, is to never give up, work much harder than everyone else and to be creative. There are some things that you could do that would be very valuable, but they take a lot of money to do. Avoid these things. One of the big things we can now do, with minimal funding necessary, is to advertise and distribute information online.
16.4.2 Information Laws and Rules
Before you do this, make sure you are not violating any laws, because there is a very good chance that you will get caught, sooner rather than later. The big laws you need to worry about, beyond the obvious ones about not scamming people, making things up about people that are not true, distributing drugs, or other similar things are copyright, privacy, patent, and trademark laws. Copyright problems are the most common.
Ask Permission First
The easy way, to avoid running into a violation of someone's copyright, is to understand that everything is copyrighted automatically, as soon as it is created, and that you should ask people's permission, before using anything, that you have not created yourself. Copyrights cover everything, that is a creative work (in the broadest sense), so copyrights can include software, any kind of media like books, pictures, music, and the like. Patents cover a specific implementation of an idea and the patent laws, that you are most likely to run into, are about software and file format patents.
Copyright laws are in some way very logical and in other ways make little sense. You cannot copyright a short phrase, lists, fonts, or designs. You do not need to register, pay money, or to put copyright notices on your work, to protect your work with a copyright. Copyright laws only extend back a short amount of time. Book copyrights only go back to the 1920s, so anything done before then is not copyrighted, but modern translations (done after 1920) of earlier works are still copyrighted. You need to understand every license, that you have, before you use any piece of software. There are a few major categories of licenses, for programs and they can vary widely, but the main concepts are very similar.
16.4.3 Software Rules
The first one is a proprietary program, like Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop. Both these programs are considered to be licensed to you and you need to pay, for each copy that you use. One copy means being on one computer at a time. Sometimes, you are allowed to have it on both a laptop and a desktop, but you can't use them at the same time. Many companies, governments, and non-profits often buy a license, for a certain number of users. Many people steal these programs and you probably won't be caught, but if you use them for business and they find out, you can get big fines. The way they find out is that one of the people working for you reports you and gets a big cash reward in exchange.
Variety of Proprietary Licenses
The software companies, who design these programs, often offer better deals, for those who work in education, usually just students and teachers, and for individuals that are not producing anything, that they will make money for. Legally, it would be better to outright pirate (steal) the software, than to use an academic license, for something you are going to sell. The educational licenses are getting stricter and stricter. Some companies monitor whether you are still in school and how many classes you are taking and can revoke your license remotely.
Open Source Licenses
Some people do not like these kinds of restrictions on software, so they use what is called open source software. This basically means, that you can use the software and distribute it all you want, but if a programmer changes the source code and distributes the modified program, then they need to give away their source code as well. Not all open source licenses require this though. Another advantage of open source software is that it survives, even if the company producing it goes out of business, or decides to stop developing it. Open source programs generally use free and open file formats, so you can usually take your work into other programs, to edit or view.
Other Common Licenses
Some other major categories of software include shareware and freeware. Freeware is free, but with the condition that you cannot distribute it, without getting permission. Shareware usually means that a program has a certain time limit or is limited, in what you can do with it, until you buy the program. Other names for shareware include demo ware, donation ware, trial ware and other similar terms.
16.4.4 Media Rules
There are different types of licenses, for media, than for software, which includes every kind of writing, graphics, designs, audio, video, and multimedia. The same concepts apply as before with software. Ask someone's permission, before you use something, that someone else created. No matter what license is given, any rights to the media not specifically granted are retained by the copyright holder and you never get the copyright, unless you get permission stating exactly that. There are also things called moral rights, which means that if you use the images in a way that make someone look bad, then you have to get the rights to these as well. Some of the restrictions on copyrights, when you don't have moral rights, include using the media for things like pornography, racism, or promoting drug use.
One of the rules, that is unique, to media, are privacy laws. It is illegal, to use someone's image without their consent, unless you recorded the person in photo or video, in a public place. So, before you use anyone's image, be sure to get them to sign a written permission. Also, I recommend not using pictures of children or women of any age. I just avoid people entirely. More and more things are copyrighted, like the insides of buildings and museum art. The main principle to remember is, if it is not a public space, get permission, before you use the images, or video.
Many designers keep a number of design elements like fonts, illustrations, photos, video clips, and sound effects, for later projects. The most popular licenses are called royalty free, meaning that once you pay for it, you do not need to pay again, no matter how many copies you distribute. You need to check the exact license, because there are often different fees, for different usages like web, TV, or print. There are also restrictions, to try to keep you from selling these same media collections to others. Generally, most clipart, stock photos and fonts are royalty free.
There is a new license system, that has come out, in the last 10 years and is mainly used on the Internet. Creative Commons licenses include 4 main parts and most any combination of those. The 4 things, that can be allowed by the creator, without permission, are commercial use, free modification, free distribution, and no credit. So any Creative Commons license can allow or disallow any number of these things. So for instance, I license my books, to allow people to distribute them for free and use them for commercial use, but do not allow modification, and they have to give me credit. I license most of my photos, to allow people to modify them, as long as they give me credit and they allow anyone else, to modify their modification, of my original work.
Public Domain licenses allow you to do anything, with the media in question, without even needing to give credit, or having any others restrictions. After copyrights expire, which currently happens for books 75 years after the authors death, or 90 years after it was written, which ever comes first, they became public domain. This is the main reason why theaters love to do Shakespeare (because there are no royalties, that need to be paid). One of the things, that people think is public domain, that is not is the traditional happy birthday song.
16.4.5 Other Information Laws
Patent laws usually only affect those publishing media, by having to pay royalties, to use certain patented computer concepts. Some of these are file formats that include MP3, if you use it on a large scale, and recently MP4 video, for any use. I know this sounds terrible and it makes little sense, but because there are so many patents in video compression, that many think it is not possible, to come up with a video compression, that is good enough, to be practical and not violate someone's patent.
Some people have recently tried to sue people for using JPEGs, accessing any files over any network, web browser plugins and equally stupid patents. The big way, to get a lot of money, for not doing anything, is to file a patent, for an obvious and trivial idea, and then wait ten years, for everyone to adopt it, mainly doing so because it appeared to not violate any patents, and then sue a rich company, for violating your patent. This is not how patents were intended to work.
When you start a new company, you can get in trouble, if you use the same name, as another company, in the same industry, especially if the name is not a generic and obvious name. For instance, if you start an office company and you call it Apple, you have no problem, but if you start a software business and call it Apple, you will get into trouble. Logos are not industry specific, so if you make a logo, for any business, that looks like a bite out of an apple, expect Apple, to force you, to change your logo.
Topics in Religion and History
by Ben Huot
17.1 History Proves Christianity is Asian
17.1.1 My Home Towns
Springfield vs. Eugene
The town I grew up in, Springfield, Oregon, is considered to be a very conservative and working class town. It used to be a logging town and now the economy is more based on the largest hospital in the area, that has expanded tremendously, very recently. The town I now live in, Eugene, Oregon, borders Springfield on the west side. Eugene is considered to be a very liberal town, very anti-business, and its economy is based around the University of Oregon and the local community college. Eugene is famous for having most the really violent anarchists living here, that gave a bad name, to some world trade organization protests, especially one time in Seattle.
The truth actually is somewhere in the middle. There are many progressives, that live in Springfield and many conservatives live in Eugene. The neighborhoods vary widely, even within a couple of blocks, in both cities. Eugene is presently the larger city and Springfield is growing much faster, mainly because the cost of housing is so much cheaper, in Springfield. I lived practically my whole life, up until I became 18 in Springfield and have lived practically the entire time since then in Eugene. The big reason why I live in Eugene is that I am much closer to main bus lines and areas that I shop at and find entertainment at.
Most people who live in Oregon are very unfriendly, idealistic, small-town minded, and anti-traditional religion. More serial killers come from Oregon and Washington then from any other states. Most people in Eugene are over 50 or students going to college. This is because, even before the economic depression in 2008, Oregon had very few jobs. Many people, with advanced degrees, work minimum wage jobs, if they can even get them, due to competition, with illegal immigrants.
Lack of Government Income
We are also one of the few states, without any sales taxes and a few years ago property taxes were removed, due to a myth that the only people paying property taxes were small, poor, family farms. Most farmers are actually very rich. Land is expensive and so is farm equipment. The lack of taxes benefited the large businesses, like the hospital and the dwindling timber industry. Several high tech firms came here, while they were exempted from taxes, for a few years, and then quickly left.
What Kind of Liberal?
Many of my perspectives on education are based on my experiences here. There are many different ways of being liberal, but the liberal element in Eugene is liberal in the sense of being very extreme in its feminist views, its white guilt, and its anti-Christian bias. Basically, the big stereotypes in the area is against white male Christians. Some of this is intensified by having very few people of color or Christians in this area. My experiences in both grade school and in community and university college reflected this.
17.1.2 Worldwide Perspective
My Academic Experience is Typical
It seems that my experience with feminism being the major emphasis in college is not unique. The majority of books I read on history constantly berate white Christian males, as causing all the problems in the world. This is simply not historically accurate. The problems that made Asia weak in the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia happened well before France and England became world empires. Furthermore, if western Europeans hadn't taken over much of the world that the Ottoman Empire would likely have conquered Europe and Christianity would be an obscure African religion.
Christianity was Always Asian
During European Medieval times (also known as the Asian Golden Age) Christianity was strongest in the Middle East and on the Silk Road and before Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire, there were already small Christian communities in Southern India (Kerala). The Roman Catholic Church was only one of four or five different centers of Christianity and was the least important academically, financially, and politically. There never was just one original Christian church structure.
Persecution of Christians
Half the Ottoman Empire was Christian as late as 1900. All the areas that the successors to Mohammed conquered were all Christian and stayed that way for hundreds of years. Many historians decry the persecution of Jewish people in Europe, but the persecution of Christians in the Islamic empires was much worse. The concept we now called ethnic cleansing was done to the Christians who lived in the Middle East for hundreds of years. The world genocide originates as a word to describe how Syriac Christians were persecuted in the Middle East.
Christians in the Modern Middle East
The main Christian group in Lebanon is a descendant of the Syriac Christians as well as 10% of both Egypt and Syria. Many times, when you see on the news, that Palestinians are referred to as entirely Muslim, you hear some local Palestinians say they are Christian. Christians have done much worse under the new Iraqi government and most Iraqi refugees were Christian, although they only make up a small percent of the general population. Much of the violence in Darfur is Muslims against Christians.
Christians were the Indigenous Population
The Syriac Christians were the descendants of the people who originally live in the Middle East and during Biblical times were known as Assyrians and Babylonians. The people now known as the Arabs lived originally in the place now called Saudi Arabia and are in so many countries in the Middle East, because they ruled it for over a thousand years. The big reason for the Crusades was to liberate some of the local Christians in the area and take back the land previously taken from Christian rule. The Inquisition happened at the end of the time, when the Spanish finally liberated their country, from the Muslims. It makes sense that the Spanish were extra vigilant about the purity of their people's faith, as it the land was ruled by Muslim Empires, for hundreds of years just prior.
Mostly Poor and Non-White
Most of the Christian world now lives in poverty in the third world in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. There are very few Christians left in Europe and a very small minority of them are white. Islam is a bigger force in Europe than Christianity and there are more terrorists in a number of Western European countries than there are in a number of the countries in the Middle East. There are many African churches, who are sending missionaries to Europe.
Myth of the Rich White Christian
The idea of the rich white Christian is a very rare situation, that only was true for a few hundred years in Europe and America, while the Western leaders were giving up their faith in Christ. Christianity outnumbers Islam 2 to 1 worldwide and is growing at a much faster pace, with most of the remaining strongly leaning to Christianity. Christianity has only been allowed, in most of these countries, for the last hundred years, but Islam has been converting in these areas in Africa and Southeast Asia, for over a thousand years. Christianity has a a dominant presence in the Philippines, Korea, and now in China.
Global Relevance of Christianity
The Koran must be read in Arabic and people becoming Muslim take on the history of the Arabic people. The Bible has been translated and can be accurately understood in almost any language. The only history that Christians take on is the history of Israel. Most African Christians were converted by fellow black Africans and many places in the third world believe that Christianity is more culturally relevant than Islam. Ethiopia has been Christian from the same time that the Roman Empire legalized Christianity and has been almost completely isolated from Europe most of that time.
17.2 What Faith Means to Genuine Devotees
17.2.1 Types of Religious People
Reasons for Conversion
One of the downsides, to the dominance of historians, who have an anti-supernatural bias, is that much of the world, throughout history and most of the world today is religious and they usually underestimate the significance of religion. Many people choose different religions, for different reasons. Some people convert to a religion, because they are opportunists and they believe that they will do better financially and/or politically. This can be because they believe in the supernatural, and they think that one God is more powerful than another.
Another reason would be that they believe that the religion will serve the purpose of their career advancement by means of a socially powerful force. Some people, though, actually believe the religion to be true and to be either the only way to God or a much better faith, because it makes their life better, or it makes other people's lives better. Often times, either way, that political loyalty and religious loyalty imply ones loyalty to one as loyalty to both.
When Faith is Ultimate Loyalty
But, oftentimes, if the person is genuinely devoted to the religion and not just, to what it gets them, or their country, then the religion is more important to them and their loyalties will be religious, at the cost of patriotism, family ties, or fame/money. I, for instance consider myself to be loyal to the Christian God, and that even my family comes after that.
This often scares non-religious and religious people alike, because a lot of people, with supreme loyalty to their faith will do whatever they think their religion tells them to do, even if this can result in irrational and unpredictable behaviors. For most people, who really understand their religion, as a consistent worldview and have enough common sense, not to do what one particular scripture says, without factoring in the main concepts of their faith, (which are generally moral and productive to stable societies) there is little to worry about, especially in the unpredictability factor.
17.2.2 Characteristics of Genuine Devotee
There is always going to be a certain instability, when you start factoring in faith, because part of faith is going beyond the rational, into things that cannot be proved, as that is what the word faith literally means. But to people, who follow a major branch of their faith, are not creative in a dangerous way, and not person that likes taking unnecessary risks, people of faith can, at the very least, be predictable. Really, the same kind of person, who you would not trust, if they were a person motivated by prestige or money is the same kind of person you wouldn't trust, who is motivated by faith.
Some people will be irrational, regardless of motivation and having someone of faith on your side means, at least, there is some kind of a moral angle in the motivation, which makes their loyalty much more predictable and also makes them more worthy of trust. A person motivated by just money or what they think is good for a group of people can be just as irrational and divided in loyalty, as someone of faith, who is not in their right mind and is unreasonable, in the logic, used in defense of their doctrines.
Any belief system that is moral will have good reasons for their doctrines, that can be understood, by others, who don't believe. Someone, who is open with their beliefs, is very likely to be extremely honest and public in their practice, if they really believe that their faith is legitimate. Fundamentally, a genuine person of faith is much more transparent and consistent, if not more moral, than those motivated by nationalistic or career advancement reasons.
More Willing to Follow
People easily find other ways, to get what they want, for them or their group, when their motivation goes no higher and they meet an impasse. But a person of genuine, rational, and open faith is someone who puts socially useful limits, on what they will do, to push an agenda. The only situation, in which you wouldn't want to trust a person of faith is when you are both doing things that are immoral and you pressure the person of faith to take part in this. As far as Christianity is concerned, the Bible very clearly says for us to follow all laws, unless we cannot do what the Bible commands.
The bottom line is that a person of faith is the kind of person that follows rules, that are given by others, even if they don't want to follow them. They are willing to sacrifice their immediate desires, for what they believe is more important morally, in the long run. The only way you can get an opportunist to do so, is by convincing them, that following laws, gets them their objective or that their objective would be undermined, by their breaking the rules.
17.3 Problems with Church Unity
17.3.1 Historical Background
Many Christian seek to unite the entire Christian church and get rid of all the divisions and denominations. Some are closer than others and some Christian churches are more interested in joining together than others. One of the biggest divides in the church in America is the Evangelical branches and Liberal or Mainline Protestant branches of major American denominations like in the Methodist and Presbyterian churches. There are a number of theological, historical, and political reasons or a mixture of both in the divisions of the churches, especially the Protestant churches, over time.
The Halloween Coalition
There are good reasons why the Evangelical and Mainline Protestant branches would have trouble uniting. If God worked a miracle and both groups were willing to make major changes one in politics and the other in theology, it could work, but the scenario is as likely as what is referred to as the Halloween coalition, in American politics, where extreme conservatives and extreme liberals find commonality enough, to launch a third party, capable of defeating the American 2 party system. There must be some fear of this, because during the last few presidential campaigns (probably after seeing the success of Ross Perot) local police have been used to keep secondary candidates, like Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan, from showing up at the presidential debates.
Minor Attempts at Unity
For most Evangelical denomination branches in the US, it is probably hard for most members to tell the difference in the theology, if they joined another Evangelical church. Definitely Churches work together, for things like homeless shelters and for disaster relief. There was an Evangelical cross-denomination movement for men, called Promise Keepers. I don't know if it is still going though. I don't find an easy fit in either the Evangelical or Mainline Protestant churches, the first due to the politics and the second due to theology, but I am very unusual and ahead of my time.
Roman Catholic Church Problem
The Roman Catholic church combines those two aspects, but not very neatly, and I also have a low opinion of the Roman Catholic church, for its arrogance and inaccuracy in telling everyone that they are the original and only true Christian church and that they have been responsible for most the big persecutions in Church history. The Catholic church was responsible for everything from: the Crusades, the Inquisition, the safe passage of NAZI war criminals, and the mixing of Christianity with Animism in Latin America. And my biggest complaint: the persecution of churches, not affiliated with the Roman Catholic church, when they sent missionaries to parts of the world cut off from other Christian, for centuries (who were Christians before anyone in the West was a Christian).
Chance for Failure
For any churches to be brought together successfully, every member must be onboard, because if anyone splits, we would then have even more divisions, than ever before. And in some parts of the world, the indigenous Christian churches would do more for Christianity, to stay separate, from European originated churches. I can appreciate why the Evangelical and Mainline Protestant churches had to split. I think the Evangelicals started more as a theological-based split, with the focus on Evangelism (recruiting new members) and keeping to a rigid theology, to keep from having Christianity losing essential theology, which would have transformed the church into something that didn't follow what the Bible said.
17.3.3 Points of View
Certainly, from many of the strange opinions on the Internet, including things like: outright cults, combinations of Paganism and Christianity, Gnosticism, and other obvious perversions of Biblical doctrine, all claiming the title Christian, I can see that there reasoning is relevant today as it was when they started. There are obvious others, but I think most Evangelical Christians are aware of those. I think a lot of this comes from the Church rejecting education and people not understanding what the Bible actually says, by not reading the Bible, church leaders not being thorough in explaining theology, and people deliberately trying to push certain political agendas, very similar to and would help prove many of the popular conspiracy theories.
Mainline Protestant Perspective
I also similarly feel the pain of the Mainline Protestant churches, from a political point of view. We have Christians trying to justify torture of people not even proved to be enemies, the forfeiture of several very important constitutional rights, the creation of organizations whose purpose and structure are very similar to those set up in NAZI Germany and Soviet Russia, the removal of every law that prevented the Great Depression from reoccurring and another Great Depression following, the removal of almost all environmental laws, the invasion of a nation that had not attacked us, was a former ally, the occupation of done by volunteers, because of the cowardice of Congress not issuing a draft, and the situation made worse for everyone involved, the same failure that caused 9/11 happened less than 10 years later, the complete failure of our disaster management agencies to deal with an inevitable hurricane, and on and on.
17.3.4 Chance of Success
Making the Situation Worse
One big lessons, from history, as to the possible outcome, of even a very obvious and popular movement, with groups very similar in both theology and politics, is that it can easily backfire and make inter church relations much worse. If there is an defection or suspicion of the process, things could end up like, when the leaders of the political regimes supporting the Ethiopian church and the Eastern Orthodox church, both, at different times and places, asked for help from the Catholic church. In both cases, the political situation and the survival of the church in that part of the world was dire and it seemed like the differences were more political then theological, but when those leaders renounced their versions of Christianity and accepted the Roman Catholic church, the people who also were the members of those churches revolted.
Don't Try this at Home
To sum up, this is a good idea ideally, but it would never work in practice. The best and only way, for this to happen, without making the situation worse, would be to pray for it. But never bring up the idea to Evangelicals and by no means use my name, as many Evangelicals think I am New Age, even though they don't have the knowledge to make that judgement and I do.
17.4 Subtlety and Moderation
Make it Happen
I am a person of extremes. I am a passionate person, when it comes to ideology. If I do decide to do something, that I think is important, I do it with all my strength. I never half do something. I am persistent in things I find important and am so stubborn, that I keep at something, until I am able to finish it. I often times circle around a subject, look over the major terrain, sort through the information later on, like zooming in on a photo, I finally find the right angle, and I go in for the kill. It is good, to have strength of character, conviction, and commitment, to following through, with what you believe in.
Subtle in Subtlety
On the other hand, subtlety and moderation are equally important, as I am finding more and more, in my life. I even would say that moderation and subtlety are the keys, to a happy life and getting along well, with others. But a person can go to extremes, even in being moderate and subtle. Remember to be subtle, in your moderation and moderate, in your subtlety. No one likes a person who splits hairs and makes things more complicated, than they need to be.
I have found, that with Schizophrenia, that I experience life, in a much more amplified way. For me, Schizophrenia increases my emotions, exponentially. I tend to enjoy activities, that have little interaction and require little thought. I enjoy food, that is simple and not strong in taste. I don't like: strong cheeses, spicy ingredients, food that is hot in temperature, too much sugar, too much oil, I find chips too salty, I can only eat a small amount of chocolate and like dark chocolate the least, I don't like most nuts, and I don't like hard candy. Moderation makes my mental illness more manageable.
One of the keys, to getting along with others, is to be assertive, but not aggressive. In other words, to get people to cooperate, with you, you need to both not appear weak and at the same time be gentle enough, so that you don't anger them or scare them away. Subtlety is important in writing, as well. Politicians, who are basically the popular crowd, are very good at not offending anyone and making everyone feel, that their views are being represented.
Popularity and Politics
The problem is that while people agree on most things in general, the details are what make or break the effort. When politicians get into office, they start making decisions, and inevitably disappoint, at least part, of their supporters. Politicians are hated mainly because they never want, to commit, to anything, or accept blame, for when things go bad. People don't feel that politicians are being honest. So, when you add moderation, to your life, and learn to be more subtle, be sure to use these ideas sparingly. Think of moderation and subtlety, as the outer shell, but your passion should provide the bulk of who you are.
Most important, you must be honest, with yourself, and accept who you are. Sometimes things we would like, to change about ourselves, are just part of who we are and help us more, than they hurt us. Many things, that we think we need to completely remove, from our personalities may just need a minor adjustment. An example for this would be writing, to be understood, while still not insulting people, by making them feel you are beating them over the head, with your ideas. And some of the things, that really bother us, about ourselves do need to change, but we need to be patient, because major life changes aren't going to happen, over night.
Some of the problems the communists had, with ruling over a population, were due to their lack of subtlety. This is also a major American problem, as well. When we see many people on the news, that hate us and most of them are Muslim, we start to think that maybe the Koran teaches violence. It is likely that Osama Bin Laden is more popular, in most of the Muslim world, than the American President, but this does not mean that every Muslim is willing to act out in violence, against people, that can't defend themselves.
Liberals vs. Conservatives
Many liberals in America jump to some very wild and inaccurate about their impression of Evangelical Christians and vice versa. Many liberals think that Christians and radical Muslims approve of the same kind of treatment of women and that because they believe in something, by faith, that they cannot be smart or rational. Many Evangelical Christians think that liberals are unpatriotic, want to remove constitutional rights, and control the media. When we cannot see subtleties, in how we and others believe, we intensify the conflicts, over religion and politics.
Theory of Elections
One of the reasons why I think, that Americans vote for candidates, that alter back and forth, between 2 extremes, is because most of the population is reactive, rather than proactive. Just like our unwillingness to be disciplined in what we eat, how we spend our money, and in how we use computers, so we are unwilling, to make choices, that require sacrifice, in the short term, for long term happiness.
Businesses are in Control
And businesses have realized this and have exploited this, for their own gain. It isn't a coincidence, that, when we do well economically, that we cut taxes, on the wealthy and remove regulations on businesses and when things go bad, we interfere, with the government, so that the same businesses don't go bankrupt. We do the same in the stock market as well: we invest in companies, when they are at their peak and sell them, after they start dying and continue to lose money.
Leadership and History
Throughout history, many leaders were people of extremes, as well. Just like very few people, who are religious, bother studying about any other religion, so leaders, that were good at some aspects of governing, were unwilling to gain other ranges, of expertise. One of the big choices, that affected a nation's survival was whether the national government should be strong and put a minority of the population in power, or to allow regional areas and people of other ethnicities share power. Going to either extreme is usually not the best, but it is hard to take a middle course and what to do, in ruling a country, varied widely, on what country you were leading.
17.4.4 First Steps
The Middle Way
Buddhism is famous, for being the middle way, because Buddha rejected asceticism and hedonism, alike. Christianity is too, in many ways. Christianity is a religion of moderation: between being mortal and feeling pain and being spiritual and confident of eternal joy, between law and heart, between reason and faith, being sure of salvation and yet in control of your own destiny, and between be saved from sin, but to try not to, even though you often fail.
Find Your Path
Many people think, that pleasure and pain are complete opposites, but that doesn't work, that way, in extremes. The Epicureans were widely thought, to have a philosophy of pleasure, but these philosophers realized, that extreme pleasure can bring pain. Some good examples, of this, are: addictions, ambitions, and self-esteem. Being moderate, by following rules and finding pleasure outside of work are both important. Embrace paradox, and find your own middle path, but start slowly.
17.5 What are the Humanities?
17.5.1 Major Fields of Academic Study
The humanities consist of every kind of academic study, that is not a natural science, an applied science, or a social science. Some of the major natural sciences are: physics, chemistry, and biology. Applied sciences apply scientific methods to different technical disciplines, including things like: engineering, research and development, and medicine. The social sciences came, as a result of the European Enlightenment and are an application of science and math, to explain people and cultures. Social sciences include: anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, linguistics, political science, psychology, and sociology.
The humanities include every kind of academic discipline, relating to culture, that existed before the Enlightenment and social sciences were developed. The humanities include: ancient and modern languages, literature, law, history, philosophy, religion, visual art, music, and performing arts (like dance and theatre). The humanities study the same thing, as the social sciences, namely cultures, but differ in their approaches. The humanities are a way to understand what is important, to another culture, by studying what has survived, of what the culture has created, rather than using the scientific method. In other words, the humanities are more subjective, than objective, in their perception of the world, which makes their perspective broader and more honest.
Advantages of the Human Approach
The humanities tend to be more cross-discipline, as, in many cases, especially in the Asian humanities, compared to the social sciences, in that studying literature often means the same as studying philosophy, religion, history, and art because many of these classics are literary, historically, and philosophically significant. The humanities are also more culturally and historically relevant, than social sciences, because they let ancient and Non-European cultures speak for themselves, rather than using scientific principles, as the primary sources were often written by the same group of people, that they were writing about, and are so old, that the concepts of science and social didn't exist yet.
17.5.2 Variety of Areas to Study
The part, that really interests me most, in the process of learning about cultures and the humanities, is the mixture and cross-pollination, of belief systems and creative works. Many of the most interesting belief systems brought ideas, from other belief systems, so that the result often brought together the best of both worlds. I think that studying culture is exciting, because different groups of people, who live even in the same country, often have very different: religions, histories, languages, ethnicities, geographies, allegiances, values, goals, and worldviews.
Variety of Asian Cultures
Asian cultures are so much more interesting, than European one, because their history tends to be much longer, the quality of the creative work is much higher, and the field is much broader. When you study about Asian culture, you really are studying 3 or 4 different cultural areas, each as diverse, as all of Europe. China, which influenced mostly East Asia, India, which influenced mostly South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, which influenced mostly Southwestern Asia and North and East Africa, and Central Asia, which influenced mostly the Silk Road, Eastern European, and Russian crossroads are all very different.
17.5.3 Importance of All Methods
Usefulness of Sciences
The social and natural sciences, especially earth sciences, meteorology, economics, and psychology, in particular, give this generation and the ones succeeding it insights, into how, to make the most of our resources and predict, prepare for, and explain the current trends, that will shape our future. We now have the opportunity, to make better use, of our circumstances and our abilities now, that we have more ways, to see the world. In other words, we have the potential, to have much more control, over our future. The thing, that I hope we don't lose, along the way, is the humanities approach, to education. If we lose that, then there will be little left, to live for, even if we secure a better future, for ourselves.
Usefulness of Humanities
Just like we need people, to run our sewage and waste removal systems, our national, criminal, and environmental defenses, our education, health, and safety, and other support needed, for basic survival, if we don't have purpose and meaning in life, than we are no longer human. While the natural and social sciences do a good job in showing us ways, to keep the system, from breaking down, the reason for the system only becomes apparent, if we continue our written culture. Without engineers, doctors, and soldiers we would not be able to live, but without philosophers, theologians, writers, and artists, there would be little point in keeping things going.
17.6 America and the British Empire
I have thought for a long time, without enough evidence to explain it, that the greater purpose of America, in the eyes of its leaders, is the same as that of the British Empire. I was going to devote a considerable amount of time and effort, to develop a complete explanation, of the connection. The funny thing is, that I had already understood it, quite well, from several other angles and had not attached as much significance to it, which is primarily explained, by my fairly unique perspective, on world history.
This connection had eluded me, because I had assumed, that it was more complex and hidden. Ironically, throughout English and American History, society has consistently been moving, in, what I call a socially liberal direction, to be distinguished from my very different economically liberal political views. In other words, the common people have been given more and more freedoms, in areas such as religion and speech. I still hold that power was never given up and that the ideology of democracy does not reflect how America is governed.
So the heritage, that connects America with England, is basically a development of the European Enlightenment. So, in realizing the simplicity in this view of the world, I have decided, as before, that modern European history just isn't as interesting, to study or as significant, in world history, as the Asian Golden Age, which confirms my whole emphasis on history and ideology. I think that the main reason why people of other countries don't understand Americans, is because we are naive about world history. This is because we do not learn about any history other than our own in public schools. One of the reasons why Americans feel so bad about America's role in the world is because they have nothing to compare it to.
America is Not So Different
I really believe that America is an Empire (it is definitely an Empire, when the country extends, from one side of the continent, to the other) and that we did kill off the native population, when we came over, to this continent. But, this is a continually repeated theme, throughout history. Almost every major empire has slaughtered those, who got into their way. The reality is America is no better or worse, than any other nation. Americans need to stop seeing everything, as we are told, by our government. We are being manipulated and made to feel bad about something we are not in control of and secondly are no different than anyone else.
Why I Criticize Europe
Many people, who read much of my writing, may think that I look down on Europe, for being a world bully or that European cultures are generally not as refined as most Asian ones. But this is not true. Again, Europe is no better than any other continent. The thing that motivates my criticism is that there is so much Anti-American sentiment coming from major European media about how American's caused all the problems in the world. The reason why I know this is not true is that America did not even exist, when these problems were fully developed.
Many Europeans like to think of themselves as very cultured and peace loving, but they almost destroyed themselves through almost 3 world wars. Many European nations also had major colonies well into the 1970s. Even though it might appear as though I am disparaging the state of life in Europe during Medieval times, because of my description of the common people's poverty, I actually think that Medieval Europe, in many ways, was more ideal, than the present time, or during the Enlightenment. My views on world history are spiritual in nature and I do not think more highly of Asia, because of their greater wealth, during this period.
Strengths and Weaknesses
It is true that American has no culture. But we also haven't invented chemical weapons, car bombs, machine guns, tanks, and modern terrorist techniques. Americans also have no great pieces of architecture like cathedrals and castles, but we do have more tress left. American politics are run by big businesses, but so are European politics. Europe has much more advanced infrastructure than America, but in America our population density is much lower.
More General Insights and Inspiration
by Ben Huot
18.1 Politics, Religion, and Empathy
Understanding the World
I have come to the conclusion in my 12 years of independent study that the two factors that are the most important to understand if you want to know why the world works the way it does are modern psychology (starting with Freud) and history (especially before 1500 and especially Asian). The key thing to understand about psychology is that most people's decisions are almost entirely emotional.
It is very dangerous to play on people's emotions in things like religion and politics, but it is the key to motivating large groups of people. The key to understanding history is to start from the very beginning and read as much, from original sources, as possible. Read Buddha's explanation of Buddhism, read about the Coptic church and the Syriac churches to understand Christianity. Then continue to follow the development, of the major belief systems, into the major modern branches.
Risking Empathy over Objectivity
The idea that unites both these endeavors is the concept of empathy. Empathy means understanding something, from another person's or group of people's point of view. Most people use the term objective, in their study of people and history, but saying you are objective is like saying you are perfect. Only God can be truly objective.
Instead of ignoring your emotions and others' emotions, embrace them. Feel what others feel. See things as other people see them. It is hard, because you have to not think about your beliefs at that time, but, at the same time, you still need to see with your heart, as you have to care and take a position. Too often students are afraid of having a controversial opinion, but forming an opinion helps you understand the situation much better, because you are forced to give adequate support, for your decision.
Creativity and God
There is never just one solution to a problem. And being creative in your solutions will always be more effective than trying to make the most common and obvious move. One of the biggest reason why I continue to be interested in learning more about God and enjoy this pursuit is because God is not just perfect and perfectly objective but that God also feels as we do and is even more creative than the greatest thinkers.
Outmaneuvering His Enemies
God is very subtle and He often takes an approach that appears like He is giving up and forfeiting His success, to those who oppose them, but then ends up outmaneuvering them, because He sees and controls the greater picture. God always takes the hardest route, and allows the enemy a certain degree of success, because He really enjoys being creative and wants to show all His followers, that they need not fear any enemy, or any situation. Where His followers look outnumbered, He wants to grow their faith and surprise them, so that they learn to trust Him by their faith (or our lack of understanding), because of what He has done in the past.
God is always perfectly consistent and His personality is always the same. God always does what He promises and is in direct and complete control of everything that happens, could happen, or could be imagined, but He does so in His own way and in His own timeframe. God knows the future perfectly and has come up with a plan, for everything, that will happen and He follows it. But no one knows what it is now, anytime in the past, any time in the future, or in any different reality. Things are rarely as they appear and truth is much stranger than fiction.
18.1.3 History Lessons of God's Work
Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ
We can look at several major events in history to see how God has out maneuvered His enemies. The first major surprise, that we are all very aware of, is God coming to earth as Jesus Christ and allowing His enemies to kill Him, but then outmaneuvering them, by taking on the sins of the world, rising again from the dead, and defeating death and hell, in the process. His enemies were outmaneuvered, because they thought that Jesus would fight a political and military battle.
The Threat of Islam, Then Atheism
Many Christians are afraid of the growth and the power of Islam today, but the Islam was at its zenith of power, during the time of the Ottoman Empire. If Western Europe had not risen, to become world powers, at the time they did, then Christianity would likely have been wiped out in Europe. Then, as the enemies of God tried to push the entire world, into unbelief, in the last few hundred years, culminating in the Cold War, they focused too much on Europe and America, and at the same time, a much larger part of the world became Christians.
In just a matter of about 20 years, the situation has turned totally around. Now Christians are afraid of people of other religions of becoming too religious. This is a major victory. Paganism is on the rise in the West, but this next generation has too little knowledge of Christianity, to share their parents rebellion from it, so they are equally interested, in other spiritual things, like Christianity. Christianity has had the most success, in recruiting people, from polytheistic faiths, than from any of the world religions. Most of those, who are willing to convert, are from these polytheistic religions, who already prefer Christianity to Islam.
Christ has Already Won
Islam may be growing and may be the religion of a billion people, but it took over 1,000 years to happen and Christianity has grown to twice that size, in only the last 100 years. Christianity is still growing much faster and is considered more culturally relevant, to more people, than Islam. The ironic thing is that the enemies of God tried to convince people that Christianity was the religion of the rich and powerful and unbelief was the religion of the masses, but the poor masses chose Christianity when these rich and powerful rejected Christianity.
18.1.4 American Social Split
In America, we seem to be culturally divided between an emotionally driven conservative movement and a rationally driven liberal movement. There are positives and negatives to both sides, but they seem so bitterly divided so that half the people in America hate the other half of Americans. Then our national foreign and domestic policies flip flop back and forth between 2 extremes after each elections, both presidential and congressional.
I think one of the big reasons for their animosity is that there are religious undercurrents that fuel a lot of the divisions. Both seem to only see the negative side of the other one. One of the reasons why I think so many Christians are so emotionally motivated is that many Christians are convinced they had to choose between Christianity and reason and they chose their religion.
I think much of this goes back to the resentment that many Christians feel towards the education system which has pushed many anti-White, anti-Male, and anti-Christian points of view and so many white male Christians were not going to believe that they were wrong, because of how they were born, and were not going to give up their religion, so they just decided to reject the pursuit of education. We have this term politically correct, where the government claims that you can have any opinion you want, but really only want you to take their position. And they use the word objective, to describe this one politically correct government-sponsored opinion.
Finding Common Ground
Most Christians are social conservatives, in that they oppose the direction society is going, in legalizing many things, that were for most of history considered anti-social and deviant. I and many of my generation are fiscally liberal, in that we want people and animals in need, to be taken care of and, without government funding, these needs will not be met.
Many Christians would be willing to support things like the environment or increased funding for the poor, if the same politicians adopted a more socially conservative point of view. Basically, two opposing groups can pick the things that they want most and compromise on the things that are not as important to them, then everybody gets something they want instead of one group winning and the other losing.
18.2 History and the Future
18.2.1 Religion and History
In America today, we take for granted, that we have one of the most inclusive of religious beliefs historically. In the recent the past, even more religiously tolerant governments, like the Mongols only allowed certain religions. The major writing, that put weight behind tolerance, in modern Europe and America, was written by John Locke and, in his letter, he talked about the reason for tolerating religions, other than the dominant and government supported religion, of the country, but he did not extend this toleration, to those without a religion (atheists).
Throughout most of history, being patriotic and loyal to your country was the same thing as practicing the state approved religion. One of the reasons why the Church did some of the great persecutions periodically was because of politics and not due to theology. During the last thousand years or so, Christians from different countries fought each other and politics and religion were intertwined.
Major Christian Churches
This is because each of the different original centers of Christianity were political, intellectual, economic, and linguistic rivals. Most had imperial support, after the first few hundred years of Christianity. The Eastern Orthodox (Greek) church was supported by the Byzantine Empire, the Nestorian and Jacobyte (Syriac) churches were supported by the Persian Empire, and the Roman Catholic (Latin) church was supported by the governments of Western Europe.
Success of Islam
The fighting, between the Persian and Byzantine empires and the persecution of the Syriac church allowed the Arabs, to take over the Middle East, all the way, from Spain, to India. The Christians living there (who were most of the population, for hundreds of years, before and afterwords) actually invited in the Arab armies, as they thought they would be treated better, than under the Byzantine Empire. And they were for hundreds of years. This changed history profoundly.
Islam as a Unifying Factor
This is what allowed Islam, to become a major world religion and, over many hundreds of years, Christianity shifted its center, from the Middle East, to Western Europe. One of the big reasons why it will continue, to be a capitol offense, to convert from Islam, to any other religion, in the Middle East is because just like the Afghan or the Scots, the Arabs are a tribally organized people with a common language. The thing that unifies the Arabic people is the Islamic religion. In other non-Arab Muslim-dominated countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan the country includes multiple ethnic groups and Islam also provides a unifying factor.
Latin Church as Unifying Factor
Christianity also served as a similar politically unifying force, in Western Europe, as Islam was, for the Arabs. The Roman Empire adopted Christianity, because the emperor at that time believed, that the Christian God was more powerful, than the pagan gods and so believed he would win more battles, if he and his empire became Christian. The Germanic tribes eventually converted to Christianity, for similar reasons. The Roman Catholic Church was then the only institution, that survived the Dark Ages, after the fall of the Roman Empire, and was used to keep the royalty in power, until the French Revolution, when the government took all the money, from the Church, to fund Napoleon's war campaigns.
Paganism and Christianity
The Roman Empire and Greek and Roman culture were preserved, by the Latin Church, during the Medieval period. They are the basis, for modern European culture. The Roman Empire was not the biggest, or most important empire, of its time, even in the Old World and the city of Rome was a backwaters during that time, but Europeans glamorized it, because it was a successful empire run by a white racial group. It is ironic that the Church, that is so afraid of the New Age movement, voluntarily chose to synchronize itself with the pagan Greek and Roman philosophies, religions, and cultures. Some of the big sources of tension between Scientists and the Roman Catholic Church were not over Biblical doctrines, but came about as a side effect of the Latin church adopting pagan Greek and Roman views of the world.
Importance of Middle East
The big reason for the success of the Roman Empire and any other empire, that controlled the Middle East, was because the maritime technology of the time allowed easy navigation, of the Mediterranean, but was not able to allow navigation in an open ocean. Basically, there was some very important trade, that happened, between Europe and the Far East, including China, India, and Southeast Asia. The Middle East was the central point, in this trade, and those who transported these good back and forth became very powerful and rich.
18.2.2 No Rules
Why Liberals are Progressives
Many people believe the conventional wisdom, that people get more conservative, as they get older, but when people get older, they change less and less. The reality is that society is going more and more in a liberal direction and has since the Renaissance, to as recent as the last 50 years, depending on what part of the world you are living in. The reason why liberals sometimes use the term progressive is because what is now considered liberal will be considered conservative in the future. Liberal is another word for change or "progress".
The Slippery Slope
I think many of the changes, in the last generation or two, of American society are good, but I think several more generations, in the future, it will be taken too far. The big problem with being more and more liberal is not about being liberal fiscally but about being liberal socially. We now are making it acceptable for two men or two women to marry, which, I think, makes sense.
Many social conservatives see this as a slippery slope, where the sexual revolution goes so far, that certain things, that most people consider morally wrong sexually (even radical liberals) may become common place and socially acceptable, far into the future. I don't see this even starting to happen in my lifetime or even the generation after that's lifetimes, but later on this could well be a serious problem, in the making. Think about how much has changed in the last 50 years and how things are changing, at an accelerated pace. Think about what might happen, if the current trends continue, to be pushed, at a exponentially faster pace. Where will it end?
Not Enforcing Laws
What I am concerned about is something quite different. What I am concerned about is the desire of those in power and the average citizen on making more and more things legal and even not enforcing laws, that are unpopular, but are there for a good reason. For some people, this brings up the idea, that our government makes laws about what the criteria must be, for someone to legally come into the country. Then we decide, instead of changing the laws, that we should just not enforce them, and so some people, from certain countries, get away with things we would never allow people, from other countries, to do.
Taking Risks with Safety
But even more basic is the unwillingness to follow, even the most simple and obvious laws, designed for safety. For example, people seem to think it is ok to run red lights and not signal, when they turn. This happens so often, that you never know, which way a car will turn. And the reasons for these rules are so obvious and following them so simple, but people are still unwilling to follow even these rules.
Fear of Hard Work
People in various jobs, I come into contact with, refuse to show up on time, or even follow the most simple directions. The average person toady is an expert in how to give impressive arguments about why they are unwilling to follow directions. It seems that most people's greatest fear is having to perform an honest day's work. And this still happens, when many people still have no jobs and if someone loses a job, there are no jobs open, but this still doesn't motivate people, to do their work properly.
Now that we have budget cuts, because of tax cuts and welfare for the big corporations, we have to cut basic services, like public education and law enforcement. We have so little money left, to even keep public order, that crimes against property are not prosecuted. We won't even spend money, to repair bridges, never updated for over 50 years, even though they are crumbling, right before our eyes. We refuse to even provide the most basic security updates, for computers, that run our critical infrastructure, because we are too cheap.
Unwillingness to Save/Invest
Businesses seem unwilling to save up money, before they invest in new projects, so when they lose money, they go bankrupt and the average citizen ends up bailing them out. And businesses seem unwilling, to invest any of their own money, into improving their business, and never adopt any new ideas, or take any risks, to differentiate themselves, from the other brands and then are surprised by their failure. Most people are deep in debt, because they are don't have the discipline, to save their money, before they buy new things.
18.2.3 Fundamental Problem
Victim of our Success
The fundamental things that is ruining America is that we are the victim, of our own success. Things are too easy for us, which has made us weak. Since even national governments are unwilling, to even think one generation ahead, and the public is unwilling to make any measurable effective sacrifice, things are going to get exponentially worse, before we even realize, what has happened. One the critical amount of momentum has happened, it will be very costly, just to slow down the increase in damage.
One of the biggest problems, we are facing today is that our leaders and our citizens can't seem to understand how exponential growth works. Exponential growth explains how when the English came to America, that the fish in the rivers couldn't move, because the rivers were crammed full of fish. We had so much timber in America, that we used old growth wood, that we can't even find today, for firewood, or just cutting it down, to start farms. When we started making cars, we never thought that all of the people in China and India would eventually be able to afford one and that we would have billions of cars.
Exponentially Greater Problems
This is the same way, that diseases spread, from one person, and then infect hundreds of millions. When we wait 10 more years, to solve environmental problems, the damage could easily be 10,000 times harder to fix then. The reality of Global Warming is that when the temperature rises just a little bit, the entire ecosystem falls apart and the natural controls, for the climate stop working. Then the weather gets exponentially more destructive. This is the reason why environmentalists made such a stink about it, as early as the 1970s.
Out of Our Control
People made fun of Jimmy Carter, when he pushed alternative energies, but how much better would the world be if the country had the political will, to get the problem under control then. At this point, the US has lost their ability, have the leverage, to push other countries, to use less fossil fuels. At this point, the bulk of the environmental losses will be the result of India and China, so that if we give up a certain amount of fossil fuel consumption, they will increase their consumption, to the point, that it will offset our reduction.
The "Easy" Solution
I have already talked about a return, to an earlier level of technology, as a way to deal with our current lack of resources, to solve our energy problems. Most people would consider that giving up, but there is another, more popular solution. This solution would involve finding a much greater source of energy. But the problem here is that we need more than just 100 or 1,000 times as much energy, and we need to continue to find exponentially increasing amount of energy, every generation, or else we end up, with an earlier level of technology.
Many More Solutions Necessary
Basically, we are addicted to energy, and out energy desires will increase exponentially, so instead of us needing a one time increase of energy, we need to find, either an almost unlimited amount of energy, or else we need to keep on finding more and more powerful energy sources. So this problem will keep happening, every 20 years, and we will be in the same situation, that we are in now then. That is the biggest problem, with keeping things comfortable, and avoiding a collapse, of the world, as we know it. The largest amount of energy will be needed, to engineer projects, to protect people and society, from the increased destructive power of weather.
Will God Return?
Many Christians think God will come, if society collapses, but that is not Scriptural. Jesus talked about returning like a thief in the night and that no one wold know what hour or day He would return. You can basically be sure nothing will happen, at any time, that is forecasted. So, if people give a date, when they think the world will end, you can almost guarantee, that that will not be the time. History proves this.
Very smart and good intentioned people, with great faith, a lot of good evidence, and good scriptural support gave exact dates, when Christ would return, and all were wrong. I think it is a waste of time and resources, to continue this pursuit. Remember, that that even the devil and the angels have no idea about this, as well, and they are much smarter, have more resources, have had much more time, and want to know more badly than us.
God's Return will Surprise Everyone
The timing will likely come, when things are very peaceful and society is very stable. Before Jesus comes, people will have tired, of being afraid of His return. We will likely experience things, in a different order, and in a way, as surprising as how Jesus came and what He did, compared to what people thought would happen.
Jesus will return, when there is a spiritual crisis, that we will likely be unaware of, and it will not likely be at a time of a political or environmental crisis. The fist half of the tribulation could happen, without us knowing, until we were half way through. Only God knows and controls when this happens. When it does happen and the government wants us to take the mark of the beast, it will be the number 666 exactly and you will be crystal clear of what that is, when it happens.
The Best Solution
The best solution is a solution, that God will bring. Prayer for God's will to happen, keeping a Christ like attitude and doing our best to avoid sins are the best way to help. What is spiritually significant is different than what is socially, politically, militarily, or financially significant. We need to have faith in God and follow His will.
The only way to be sure, that what we attempt, will succeed is to make sure that we are doing what God wants us to do. If God wants you to do something, He will make it crystal clear. And success will need to be defined, as serving God's purposes, which we will unlikely know how, what we do, will help God's plan. God doesn't need us, but we need God. We will fail God, but God will never fail us.
New Lessons Continue
by Ben Huot
19.1 Religion and History
19.1.1 Middle East, Africa, and Christianity
Many consider the Middle East, to be part of Asia, but the more I study about Africa and the Middle East, the more similar they seem. Biblically, Ham is African and the major descendants are Mizraim (Egypt, North Africa, and Crete/Philistines), Canaan (Modern Israel), Cush (Ethiopia), and Put (Central and Southern Africa). It is likely that the Garden of Eden is in Central Africa and modern genetics can trace the origin of people, back to Central and South Africa.
Genetically, it seems early humans travelled from Central Africa, to North Africa and the Middle East (likely through Ethiopia, across the Red Sea). Linguistically, based on archeology, it is most likely that the major Middle Eastern languages like Aramaic, Syriac, and Arabic were descendants of languages, that originated in Ethiopia. Also, North Africa was a huge forest, about 10,000 years ago, and most people lived there, before they migrated to Egypt, once the Sahara turned into a desert, due to a 1 degree shift, in the Earth's orbit.
Race and Skin Color
Interesting enough, there is no Biblical evidence that the descendants of Ham were all black and color and race are not necessarily related. This is very evident in the Middle East and in Libya, where you cannot tell if someone is from the Middle East based solely on skin color. And in America, people don't ask you first, where you are from, before they discriminate against you, but rather discriminate racially, against anyone with darker skin, whether Latino, African, Indian, Native American, or South/Southeast Asian.
That is why dividing people into groups, like African American and Latin-American make little sense, since there are white people from Africa, there are both light skinned and dark skinned Latinos, and I wouldn't be surprised, if they are treated very differently. Also, if anyone in America that is black is called African American, then why aren't white Americans called European Americans, and what do you call someone, born in Africa, who emigrated to the United States? - they likely have more in common, with recent immigrants, from other parts of the world, than black Americans. Also, much of the world outside America is biased, against people, with darker skin.
Africa was also connected, to the Middle East, via trade, for centuries. Islam spread in Africa, mostly through traders, which one of their major commodities was the sale of human slaves. The Swahili trade language, common in East Africa, is derived from Arabic. The major areas that Islam spread most successfully were in East Africa and just South of the Sahara desert, along what were both referred to as the "shorelines" (of the Sahara Desert and of the Indian Ocean). Up until the Ottoman Empire began to lose its power in the region, the Ottomans had the most political influence in Africa. It was because of the power vacuum, that happened once the Ottoman Empire left in Africa, that lead to Europeans moving in to colonize Africa.
The reason for the lack of stability, in any modern African country, and the common political situation being dictators, running the countries, that keep in power, due to the wealth gained, from mining, is due to the Europeans leaving, during the early Cold War, so quickly and not providing a smooth transition, to independent rule. Later, during the Cold War, Russia tried to befriend many of the new nations, but the US knew they would never leave and so many in Africa blame both the US and Europe, for their situation, but is is a little more complex than that.
Christianity in Africa
We often think of Christianity as coming into Africa, via white missionaries, from Europe and America, but this is not very accurate. Some of the very earliest Christians were in Egypt, North Africa, and Ethiopia, long before most of Europe became Christian. Ethiopia even practiced Judaism, before even the Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon, and the most logical explanation, as to where the Ark of the Covenant went, is Ethiopia, as well. Much of the early doctrine, of the Church, was formed in Alexandria and North Africa (including such famous theologians as Augustine). Most of those who were recently converted, in Africa, were converted by fellow African prophets, that often came back, from slavery, in America.
There is a common saying about Christianity and Africa, that goes something like this: When the Europeans came, we had the land and they had the Bible. We closed our eyes and prayed. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land. Some of the biggest Churches in Africa are Catholic, Anglican, and the AICs. It is likely that there are more Africans, who are members of the Church of England, than there are in America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand combined.
The AICs are the fastest growing churches, in Africa. They are often called African Independent Churches and often take their inspiration, from the Ethiopian Church. They have no connection, to any Churches in America or Europe. They follow the Bible well, but very differently, than we do, in America. They are very often supernaturally aware (one of the greatest fears in the African churches is witchcraft) and often follow many of the laws of the Old Testament.
Future of Religion in Africa
The US once feared that communism would take over Africa, but that is very unlikely, because not only is Christianity very compatible with African traditions, most Africans are extremely religious, and it would be hard to be atheist and still be part of the tribal community. Even as more and more Africans move into cities, religion is still fundamental for the average African. Many Africans are proud of being African and actually feel sorry for Americans, because of how most Americans, even though rich in material wealth, are poor in spiritual knowledge.
Africa will likely be the center of Christianity and fulfill an important prophetical role, for a long time to come. Christianity outnumbers Islam 2 to 1, is growing faster than Islam, is culturally relevant in more countries and regions, and Islam had over a thousand years head start. There are now more Africans sending missionaries to Europe, then the other way around. There are also a number of American Anglican preachers being ordained, by bishops in Africa, to avoid having to accept liberal social values, like gay marriage (because of recent decisions by some American Anglican leaders).
19.1.2 How Greek Philosophy Influenced Christianity
How Greek Culture Came to the Middle East
The Greek language and culture first came, into the Middle East, via the conquest of Alexander the Great (who was educated by Aristotle) and the setting up of Greek centers, in a few cities, throughout his empire. When the Roman Empire took over the Middle East, it reinforced this Greek culture. Greek became the international language of scholars and of those in major cities. The elite spoke Greek, while Aramaic was spoken in the higher interior lands and Hebrew was spoken in the lowlands. Syriac was an important dialect of Aramaic, which became the scholarly language, of the medieval era, in the Middle East.
Much of this land was traded back and forth, between the Persian and the Roman Empires, depending on the success, of the current military campaigns, of each side. Persia was slowed down, by having to fight the Mongols, on their eastern borders. Rome was an opportunist and took more and more territory, as situations opened up, but only became a world power once they were able, to take over Egypt and the Middle East, which had a very lucrative trade based economy.
How the Church became Greek
The chief proponent, of Greek culture, was the Christian Church, that was based on the open and international center of scholarship, in Alexandria. Greek philosophy was considered, to work well, with Christianity, because all the scholars were raised in a Greek culture and they outnumbered the Jewish converts. Early Christians' worldview was that philosophy supersedes religion, as they were obsessed with explaining theology, in a rational manner.
From the Greek point of view, religion progressed in 3 stages: first there were pure rituals, second came moral agency, and the third step was speculative philosophy. The Greek view on Christianity was, that everything was guided, by a philosophically based theology, that set about a higher rational purpose: to explain the problems of existence. Morality was based on the speculation, as to the human place, in the universe, duty was involved in our reason for existence as well, and that rituals are the expressions of morality, based on doctrine. Basically, both ritual and law came out of a rationally explained reality.
Rivalry between Christians and Jews
The main rivalry, of the time, that shaped later religious debate, in the Middle East, was started, with the rivalry, between Judaism and Christianity. Many, of the early persecution, of Christians, was pushed, by Jewish zealots, and their influence, upon the political powers, that be. Just as Christians were opening themselves up, to a wider world and embracing new ideas, the Jewish community decided to take the opposite approach.
The Jewish community started a reformation, that pushed for increased focus on rituals and the law and the separation, between the Jewish people, and outsiders. The Jewish community went back to an earlier, more conservative era, while Christians decided, to be progressive, and embrace a more open future. This early persecution was one of the major causes, for the spread of Christianity, beyond the confines, of the Roman Empire.
Why Reject Greek Philosophy?
The problem. with the Greek view. of Christianity. is that it is based on a pagan world view. This comes. from an intellectual approach, to Christianity, based on the flawed understanding, of the relationship, between the rational and the mystical, in the Biblical tradition. The universe and humanity are designed by a rational Creator, but we can only understand Him, by faith, because all the Biblical doctrines are based on the concept of paradox. Just because God is rational does not mean we can explain Who God is, or our relationship, with Him, relying on reason alone.
Christianity, from a Biblical point of view, is not going to be accepted, by those who are elite intellectuals, because the only way, that we can understand God, who is a mystery to us, is by faith, in what we cannot explain. The Bible gets both those who are obsessed with supernatural power and those, who are believers in human wisdom angry, because it shows clearly, that they are both wrong.
The Bible is a sore point, to non-believers, because they cannot reduce it down, to what they can accept, from an emotional, or rational human point of view. The Bible requires, that we first humble ourselves, before God and are saved, not through what we know, or what we can do, but based almost entirely, upon what God has done for us and gives us freely.
Starting from Scratch
This means, that accepting Christ, as our Savior, means giving up doing things our own way and, so we no longer get to receive credit, for what we have done. We give up everything, when we come to God and He then gives us everything. What separates us from God is not unforgivable sin, but our pride, in our own abilities.
Just like when die, we give up all earthly possessions, so, to before being born again, we first give up doing things, our own way. We have to start all over again, in Christ, after we have spent many years accumulating earthly success. The reason why Christianity is so popular amongst the physically weak, materially poor, and persecuted is that there is less for them to give up.
19.1.3 Unknown Religions
Major world belief systems have had different times, in history, where they were at their peak, much as countries have, as well. Buddhism, for instance, peaked, at about a thousand years ago, and Islam has likely peaked, within the last couple hundred years, while it will likely take Christianity another hundred years, to peak (mainly depending on the growth of Christianity in China and the (resurgence) in the US, as well as how the situation evolves in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia).
Some of the major religions, of the past, are not as relevant today. Two of these religions were popular, along the Silk Road, during the Asian Golden Age: Zoroastrianism and Manicheanism. We still have Christian histories, covering this period, as Christianity was also very popular, in this part of the world, in this time period, as well. Today, very few people practice either of these religions, although the very popular Kabbalah likely shares much in common, with these religions.
Origins or Zoroastrianism
The Zoroastrian origins are highly debated, but these early Christians were convinced, of the commonly held belief, that Zoroastrianism went, at least as far back, as to when the Jewish people were taken captive, by the Medes and Persians (Iran). This was about the same time, as the Old Testament prophet Daniel lived. Zoroastrians were famous for their fire temples.
The three wisemen, who came a few years, after the birth of Christ, to deliver expensive gifts, following the star, over Bethleham, were likely Zoroastrian priests. Ancient Persia and ancient India had some very similar religious ideas, one of which was an aversion to writing, which helps explain why there is so little evidence, of exactly when Zoroaster lived, or when the Vedas were first composed.
Zoroastrianism and Christianity
Zoroastrianism is described, by early Christians, in Iran, to be a combination of astrology, sun and star worship, and the indigenous pagan religions of ancient Assyria and Babylon. Also, Christians were persecuted, by the Zoroastrians much like they were, under Islam, or the Jews were, during the Medieval Period, in Europe. Zoroastrians were forbidden, from converting, from Zoroastrianism, to any other religion and Christians were made, to pay higher taxes.
Often, their bishops were prohibited from traveling, to their congregations, or proselytizing, and there were even officially recognized persecutions. The pope of the Persian Church was appointed, by the Shah-in-Shah (King of Kings of Persia), the priests were paid by the Persian government, and the members of the church there were required, to follow the rules, of the church, that they were members of.
But the Church was encouraged to split, by the government, as it was thought to weaken the Church. The state involvement in the Church was so accepted, by the Persian Christians, that they would not all accept a new Pope, until he was approved by the Shah-in-Shah and Christians leaders often used their connection, with powerful Zoroastrians, to help them change Church rules and doctrine.
Practices that Angered Zoroastrians
When Rome first legalized Christianity, things went down hill, for Christians, in Persia, as they were thought, to be disloyal, as the official religion of Persia was Zoroastrianism, and Christianity was always in the minority, in terms of followers. The things, that really upset the Zoroastrian priests (Magi) the most were the burying of dead bodies and the popularity, of taking vows, of chastity, amongst the Christian population.
The Church later encouraged Christians, to marry, and have children, as they found it difficult to find new converts, due to the legal situation. Christianity was popular amongst the artists and craftsmen, the nobles, and the best doctors will usually Christians as well. This also angered the Zoroastrians. The Persian Church successfully spread the Gospel further, along the Silk Road, all the way through Central Asia, to China and India (in areas that presently are some of the most hostile to Christianity).
Church of the East
Many people think that the Persian Church was part of the Antioch Church (which is modern day Beirut, Lebanon), but, although they did use the Syriac language, from the rural areas of Syria (Greek was spoken in Antioch originally), they formed their own Church, called the East Syrian Church, Nestorian Church (although they disagreed with the Nestorian heresy), or Church of the East. The center, of the Church of the East, was Ctesiphon/Seleucia, which was near, what is now Baghdad, Iraq and also near Babylon (of the tower of Babel and the Babylonian Empire). The reason for the various heads of the church (Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, Rome, and Ctesiphon/Seleucia) was due to the heads of each empire wanting one head Christian, to be a kind of ambassador, representing all Christians in the empire, so the King could easily communicate new laws, for all Christians.
Things got really confusing, as to whether the churches, on the borderlands, were under the control of Antioch or Ctesiphon/Seleucia, at any given time, because the same diocese was either part of the Roman or the Persian empire, depending on where the current border was. Ironically, the number of divisions in the Church in Asia, although obviously, causing a weaker church, was actually one of the things that helped it hold on so long, as there was no central structure, that could be taken down, all in one place (just like it is hard, to fight against modern terrorism, for the same reason). The Church of the East eventually accepted most the major "western" Church councils including the Nicene one, but chose slightly different book for their canon. The Church everywhere agreed that practicing occult rituals was forbidden.
Manicheanism was practiced, by the famous Christian theologian Augustine (who came up with the idea of the Trinity and lived in North Africa), before he converted. It was described, by these early Christians, in Persia, as a secret religion. This is a bad sign, from a Biblical world view, as the Bible talks about how evil is practiced in secret, because of people knowing it is wrong, so they try to hide it. The secret societies are often reported, to be a place, where occult rituals are performed. The word occult itself means hidden.
Manicheanism was very similar, in many ways, to Gnosticism, which came from Plato's philosophy and before that the Kabbala, derived from the ancient indigenous pagan religions of the Assyrians and Babylonians. This is where the Star of David comes from, which is actually the Star of Solomon, as the sign of Judah was a lion and there is no reference, of a star of David, in the Bible. King Solomon, who was King David's son, was famous for ruling over Israel, at the height of its political and economic supremacy and, for the great wisdom, that God gave him.
Solomon was also known, for taking many wives, who later corrupted him and lead him, to practice their pagan religions, as well as being the one chosen, by God, to build the permanent place, for the Ark of the Covenant (where sacrifices were made, to God, of the Bible and where He dwelt, on Earth, by the Levite Priests): the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. In the tradition, of the Christian group, that has historically been the dominant group and long time leader, of Ethiopia, Solomon had the Ark of the Covenant taken from him, after the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon, by their mutual son. This is still the best explanation, as to what happened, to it, since neither the Bible, nor do any of the writings of Israel's conquerors, explained, where it went to.
The modern secret society, called the Freemasons, were originally started, by a powerful group, called the Knight Templars, who became too powerful, due to their lending huge amount of money, to European royalty. The Knights Templar started out, as guards, for European Christian pilgrims, traveling to and from the Holy sights, in the European Crusader's kingdom in Palestine. They produced some of the greatest soldiers of the Crusades. They got some sort, of special status, from the Pope, due to something they found, when digging, under Solomon's temple (their headquarters at the time), which they blackmailed the Pope with. Most of them disappeared, on ships, after the French King rounded up a number of them and tortured them, because he was deep in debt, to them.
They may have went, in many different directions, but there is likely a Scottish and or Swiss connection. The Scottish were excommunicated, by the Catholic church, over their king killing off a rival, in a church, so the Knights Templar (also excommunicated) were offered land in Scotland. One of the key battles, that kept the Scottish independent, from the English had considerable help, from a small group of excellent archers, whose origins were unexplained. The Freemasons have ties to some Scottish clans and the American founding fathers. The Swiss, who were mostly raised sheep, all of a sudden became the source of the best mercenaries in Europe, as well as creating the most famous banking system, which they have never revealed the origins of.
The Cursed Become the Blessed
It is ironic that the evil cursed nations bordering ancient Israel were the very first and most dedicated, of Christians, many of whom kept their faith, up until they left (and still practice it today in America, Europe, Canada, Australia, and India), after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, against centuries of great persecution, but that God's chosen people rejected Him, because they were trying to fit in with and raise their social status, with the surrounding peoples. Many people, who don't know the Bible very well, are perplexed at how different Jesus Christ appears, in the New Testament vs. how God the Father is portrayed, in the Old Testament. But if you read the Old Testament Prophets and the History of Israel, God the Father was just as kind and merciful, as Jesus Christ (Who are one and the same).
19.1.4 Christianity in Asian Golden Age
There were more Syriac Christians, at one time, than that of the Latin and Greek churches combined. This was the time period referred to, as the Middle Ages, in Europe and the Golden Age, in Asia. Syriac Christian priests were scholars in fields as varied as diplomacy, linguistics, and medicine.
Syriac Christians were the best doctors, at the time, and they were early proponents, of the importance, of fresh fruit and vegetables, in keeping healthy. They used sugar, from India, as medicine and popularized the use of Sherberts (boiled fruit mixed with honey) and Rhubarb, for medicine. They built a teaching hospital in Susa.
Christianity Amongst the Turks
Christianity was popular, amongst the Turkic people, at first, with many of the major kings converting, to Christianity. There were, at least, 8 million converts, amongst various Turkic tribes, during this period. Syriac Christians developed the written language, for the Uigur language, from their center, for translation, Merv. which was later adopted, by Genghis Khan, and his Mongol descendants.
Syriac Christians were treated better, under Mongol rule, than any other government. Genghis Khan's uncle was Prester John (which is a legend of a Christian missionary spreading Christianity into Asia or Africa). Genghis Khan himself believed in one all powerful creator God and it was one of his first laws for his subjects. Many in Genghis Khans royal family were Christians. The Mongols and the Crusaders attempted an alliance, to hold off the Arab retaking, of Palestine.
Many of the major cities (also major Christian centers), along the Silk Road, were destroyed, by Genghis Khan, including: their churches, the people, their libraries, artwork, wealth, and industry. The Mongols killed off a larger percentage, of the Earth's human population, than any other single ruler has ever done, in human history. When the Mongols gained power, they helped rebuild the churches perviously destroyed and removed most of the legal restrictions, on Christians, like having to pay a non-Muslim tax.
Christian Influence on other Belief Systems
Christianity had considerable influence, on the theology and rituals, of a number of different religions. Syriac Christianity was popular, at this time, in southwest and north India. The future Buddha called Maitreya and the Hindu incarnation of Vishnu were likely inspired, by Christianity. The hand symbol commonly used, in meditation, in the Indian belief systems comes, from Syriac Christian practices. Tibetan Buddhism likely based much of their practices and organization upon Christian traditions, like: prayers for the dead, holy water, demons, confessions, red ceremonial clothes, and the Delai Lama (Pope).
In China, Christianity was called the Luminous Religion. Syriac Christian missionaries were first sent, as ambassadors, from the king of Persia to China. In China, during the Tang Dynasty, the Emperor gave monetary support, for churches, in exchange for the Christian priests praying for them and their ancestors. The emperor knew enough about Christianity, to know, that it was irreconcilable, with Buddhism, when he ordered that Buddhists and Christians stop working together ,on the translation of sacred scripture. Syriac Christians developed a simple alphabet, for the Korean language. The lecture Hall of the Koryuji Buddhist temple, in Kyoto, Japan, was once a Christian church.
When Tamberlane and the Chinese Ming Dynasty came to power, Christian communities were persecuted relentlessly, until Christianity fell from prominence, in most parts of Asia.
19.2 Politics and History
19.2.1 The Information Revolution
When I was a kid, we heard from futurists, who predicted, that the advent of computers would bring about a technologically based revolution, which would affect society, as much as the agricultural and industrial revolutions. In the 90s, most Americans thought that the revolution was over and the Internet would basically stay the same, that America would be the most affected, and that it would make America more efficient and prosperous, without much of any social or political pain. There is a growing number of people now, that are just waking up, to an entirely different world order, which is just, in the beginning stages, of revolutionary change. Some of the greatest threats, to our nation are: our economic depression and the destruction of the environment.
The Rise and Fall of America
This happened because Europe, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan invested in education and built up their manufacturing capabilities basically handed to them by Americans with no vision. Actually, it was a little different, because the big perceived threat, to America, was the Soviet Union and one of the means which the US did its best, to prevent Europe and East Asia, from becoming communist, was to spend exorbitant amounts of money and resources building them up, from third world nations, to the economic power houses we made them into, by the end of the Cold War.
And it was during World War 2, where the European colonial powers stretched themselves too thin fighting a world war, so that they ended up giving up their empires, to win the war. The British very directly and knowingly handed their world leader status, to the United States. The US became the world's leading superpower, only after Europe almost completely destroyed itself. The US became rich, in the next couple decades, because all the industrial centers in Europe were destroyed and the US had reserve capacity, being unused, because of the Great Depression.
Rise of China and India
China and India found a way to make use of computers and the Internet, to give them a big enough market, to fund their re-emergence and the means to compete for jobs, they were too far away geographically, to be eligible. The other aspect often forgotten is that the Internet, as we now know it, only really took off, when computers reached the magical price point of $500.
This was only achievable, due to the politics and economic decisions, of communist China. China did the same thing as Japan did. The problem with this situation is, who will be what China's was, for Japan. The other problem, that China currently faces is that how long will America keep on buying Chinese goods, as our unemployment rates remain high and is so difficult, to obtain business loans.
Relationship between Technological Revolutions
But before we can even glimpse the possibilities, of the information revolution, we need to look at what happened, with the industrial and agricultural revolutions, to both see the scale of disruption and the relationship, between the different technological advancements. The first thing to understand is that the information revolution, depends upon the industrial revolution, which depends on the agricultural revolution. Contrary to the ideas of the average American consumer, the most important jobs are not software engineer or support centers, but farmers and the entire infrastructure that produces, brings the food to us, and gets rid of its waste.
The agricultural revolution depends on seeds, soil, and water resources, also being reduced by environmental destruction. On top of this agricultural base, the industrial revolution depends on fossil fuels (Coal, Oil, and "Natural Gas") as well as some nuclear. There is also some very limited experimental research occurring, in all the "green" energies, with basically no potential, without fundamental progress in technology (on the level of difficulty faced, with currently inventing and powering time and space travel, or understanding the brain enough to cure Schizophrenia), to make them efficient enough to be viable.
The agricultural revolution brought about the first cities (permanent settlements), writing and records, governments and laws, more specialized and complex jobs, as we know them today and the rise of world powers in the Middle East, major parts of Africa, and most of Southern Asia. Some of the major breakthroughs, of this time include: the cultivation of seeds, domestication of animals, long term food storage techniques, and irrigation techniques.
Before this everything is considered pre-history, but many people have great evidence, that we once had a much more technologically advanced civilization, that was destroyed somehow. The industrial revolution was started, because of a slight warming in weather in England and the rudimentary atomization, of wool production. Factories, street gangs, unions, communism, modern secretive societies, consumer protection laws, telegraphs, photography, and Europeans, as world powers, were some of the results, of this transformation.
So far, the information revolution has produced personal mass transportation (cars), computers and the Internet (instant access to most media and the digital creation, storage, and transmission of earlier technologies like written documents, music, photography, and movies and related intellectual property issues), outsourcing, globalization, modern terrorism, global warming, and the economic and political rise of Asia. Most of this technology was first introduced, during World War 2, by the NAZI (German) military, and was developed, by the US and Soviet military industrial complexes.
The major factors influencing our future world are the interplay and decisions related to: environmental problems (more powerful and destructive weather, decline in fundamental natural resources, and an increase in the number of people), sustainable energy other than fossil fuels, the rise of global Christianity and Islam (and continued decline of religion in Europe and the United States), and the global economy.
The real fundamental issues, that hold our country back, are our naivety and our laziness. If we can find, within ourselves, the will, to fight, for our future and make the necessary sacrifices, we will do well, into the future. The funny thing is that many Americans are afraid of global climate change, but the US actually will be the least affected, by these changes. Europe, Russia, the Middle East, South Asia, and China will be the most affected. The technological developments, that will enable many of these social changes, will be increased reliability, bandwidth, compression, commoditization, and fault tolerance of the Internet infrastructure worldwide.
The US need not become a third world nation. For this to happen, we need to focus on our economy and alternative energy and stop draining our wealth due to buying oil and fighting unending foreign wars. Empires always fall from within and the reason they call it terrorism is that it is only effective in scaring us. If the terrorists were capable of destroying us, then we would be currently fighting an invasion force.
19.2.2 Business and Government
Evils of Government Regulation
We hear how awful communism is our whole life, or any government involvement or regulation, on how businesses operate, no matter how they behave. We hear how terrible environmentalists are, so much, that they are now designated, as terrorists, and we hear about how bad is, is to have any consumer protection laws, or to ever sue a company, whose product kills them our causes an awful disease. It seems like the press has swallowed this false belief whole: that any regulations placed on businesses are some how the same as being communist; that capitalism, with no restrictions is necessary, for democracy; and that businesses are always perfect and government is always evil.
We hear how bad it is, to give money to the poor, but somehow it is ok for the rich, to get welfare. Businesses don't want, to follow any regulations, but then they want, to get bailed out, when they make stupid business decisions. Conservatives talk about how they believe, in the right of states and individuals, but they only apply this, to corporations and only, to get rid of responsibility, for their actions and as an excuse, to starve the government, for money, so that it cannot perform basic services, like law enforcement, emergency health care, and public education.
We constantly are told that what is good, for business, is good, for the poor and that businesses never benefit, from any government services. Businesses benefit from basic infrastructure and related services, like: public transportation, to get their employees to work; public utilities, to keep business factories and offices powered; the public infrastructure necessary for Internet, cell phone, and telephone services; the road system, to get their supplies, to their customers and from their warehouses; and the fire fighters, that protect their investments, from burning, to the ground.
Government Programs Help Businesses
Businesses also benefit, from basic military and police protection and related services, like: the fighting of foreign wars and keeping the sea lanes open, to ensure businesses have access, to cheap and plentiful oil, necessary, for the world economy, to continue running; the law enforcement services, that keep their assets safe from looting, theft, vandalism, and arson; the homeland security services, who pays to rebuild their assets, after natural disasters, protects them form destruction, by terrorism, and guarantees them access, to cheap illegal labor, in the form of illegal immigrants.
Businesses also benefit from seemingly liberal uses, of tax money, like: the saving of natural resources, so that businesses still have what they need and no business is kept, from access, to critical resources, to keep their factories running; the public education system, that gives businesses access, to highly trained employees, available locally and government paid for loan and scholarship programs, like the GI Bill, Pell Grants, that make these possible; government programs, that encourage the purchasing of homes, by middle class Americans, that provide incentives, to take care of and get involved, in keeping neighborhoods safe and clean, keeping property values high; welfare programs, for the disabled and elderly, that keep them off the streets and out of criminal activities; protection, from electronic and other delivery of scams and other information related crimes, like identity theft, that create so much stress on employees, that they either cannot perform their work properly, or encourage them, to steal, from their work, or even scams that target businesses directly, due to government regulations; consumer protection laws, that protect employees, from health problems, that cause downtime, for businesses; and the protection of consumer bank accounts, that protect the banks, from failing, in crises.
Business cannot Replace Government
And, at the same time, businesses both claim they have a higher rate of taxation, than poor people, but end up not paying any taxes, because they find loopholes, in the system. The key issue, that gives a good example, of how pro-business legislation is not good, for consumers, is, that, unlike, in a democracy, businesses allow no governance, by popular vote: businesses, by their very nature, are dictatorships. And the assumption, of the government, of being the only system, of power, that can be abused is ridiculous. The reduction, of the power of government, over business does not allow more freedom, but rather subjects the population, to the whims of businesses.
Many people say, that, between charities and businesses, we can cover the same services better, than the government. We have a good example, of how that works, as we have seen, from the contractors, that provide Department of Defense services: businesses can be just as inefficient and bureaucratic, as the government and often the same services cost more, when done by businesses. And it is a nice idea, that people would give directly, to charities, but the reality is there is barely enough money, to help the poor enough, to keep the system going, with all the sources of revenues, including: charity, business, and government programs. Finally, the reality is, that, when consumers spend less, on taxes, they do not give more, to charities.
19.2.3 The Ends Don't Justify the Means
Wars Without End
One of the really scary things, happening in our country, is that we have another major world war, without end. We had this situation before, in what was called the Cold War, between the United States and the Soviet Union. We had come out of a very brutal war, with terrible acts of cruelty were lived out, by millions of victims, and then, when the political situation switched, these serial killer like personalities were free from punishment, as they now formed the hardest, to replace part, of our defense.
The experiments, done by the CIA, were shockingly similar, to the kinds of things done, in concentration camps and the KGB became very much like the SS and Gestapo. Our own military personnel were subjected, to being exposed, to mustard gas and nerve agents, without their consent or foreknowledge. Mentally ill residents of state hospitals were tortured and brain washed, into being a Manchurian Candidate (hypnotized assassin). The CIAs own agents were drugged, with LSD, as lab rats.
Becoming Your Enemy
During the Cold War, as now, people were so afraid of imminent doom, that anything and everything was justified. The sad thing is that the reason why these things are done is because the public expects the government, to do these things, on their behalf. They just don't want, to have to do it or know about it personally, but if an attack happened and these things weren't done there would be a huge back lash, by the general public. So many people have sacrificed, so much, for our freedom, that it is sad, to see the public give these rights away, when we need them most, out of fear.
Many people justify this kind of behavior, because they believe, that the end justifies the means. They believe it is ok, to do bad things for good reasons, but I believe that doing bad things leads to worse things, until you become what you have been fighting against. The real enemy is not another country, but our own sin and our own response, to the scary things in life. We cannot continue, to get rid of civil liberties, whenever they are inconvenient and expect that we are immune, from becoming or supporting people, who are as evil as the NAZIs or Soviets.
What is Terrorism?
The threat, we are now facing, is a type of war, known as unconventional warfare. It is the direct counterpart, of our own special forces. Terrorism is not meant to destroy the enemy, but paralyze them, with fear and destroy them politically or economically, when the enemy cannot be defeated militarily. Just as in Vietnam, we cannot lose militarily, to any group of people, that resorts to guerilla warfare and the best defense is to avoid fighting against them entirely.
There has never been a long protracted war, that has benefited either side. We fought and won World War 2, in 4 years, and that pushed our country and all our allies, to the very limits. If we spend ten or a hundred times as much money, as the terrorist, we are not winning, even if we beat them, in every battle. World War 1 was one economically and this war will be one or lost, by the strength of our economy.
The strategy, that our enemy is using, is to get us involved, in wars, in countries, where there is little to no infrastructure to destroy and if we do succeed, in controlling the country, it will be at a huge cost economically, politically, and militarily. Then the terrorists will go to another nation and we have to fight another war and this sequence repeats, almost indefinitely, until economic conditions destroys our nation.
What we need to do is either be a clear enemy or a clear friend. We either need to get the people, in power, in these nations, to see us as allies, by converting our entire country, to a very extreme form of Islam, or we need to be mean enough, that they fear us more than the local powers. I think it is unlikely, that we will do the first and the second is only possible, if we no longer depend on oil. If we ever do get off oil, there are things we can do, to defeat a guerilla force, in a desolate country, with no infrastructure.
How to Win
For example, we can send special forces in and poison their oasis', or spread diseases, amongst their livestock. We could also create a DNA specific disease, that targets a specific race. These sound awful, but that is what we need to do. If you see some of the injuries, that they have inflicted, onto our soldiers, your opinion will quickly change. In fact, the terrorists have already used chemical weapons, in IEDs, on our troops.
When we fought against NAZI Germany, and we sent in an air strike, we used what is called carpet bombing. If there was a factory somewhere, within say 20 miles, we just bombed everything, to the ground, within a twenty mile range. We just accepted the fact, that there would be civilian casualties and that was part, of the cost of war. When we fought against the Japanese, we could not get them to surrender, no matter what we did, so, to get their fortified machine gunners, to stop killing our troops, we burned them alive, with napalm flame throwers.
That is what war is like and the people responsible, for getting us into wars are Congress and the President . The military never gets to decide where or when they go to war, although they bear the vast majority of the cost. If you think the military's job is easy, then join yourself. If you want to prevent wars, stop electing politicians that vote that way (which would be both Democrats and Republicans).
19.2.4 American Naivety
American Point of View
Americans are very naive, to how the world works. I read on a blog recently, where a high school kid thought, that instead of devoting billions of dollars, to Department of Defense information warfare, that we should refrain from doing anything, that makes others outside the US mad at us. I have a response that may surprise many: the reason why we are hated is because we are the dominant world power and the world will hate us, until some other country wields the same amount of influence, that we do. We will know, when we are no longer the major world power, because people will hate the next superpower, more than they hate us. Much of the world hated the French and the English, but most don't anymore, because they are no longer world powers.
There are two things, that Americans really don't understand about the world: how things work politically internationally and how other countries respond differently to our intervention, than we would to theirs. They both are due to our ignorance of world history. In America, we seem to think that none of the major world problems existed prior to World War 2 and that we caused all of them. In America, we have a long history of not getting involved worldwide and were content, to ignore most world politics, until World War 2. I think that this is due directly to the American psychological response, to national threats. We are willing to leave others alone, until they directly attack us.
The CIA was designed, for the main purpose, of preventing another Pearl Harbor, from happening, during the Cold War. The Homeland Security Department was set up to deal with attacks, from within America, that were not military threats, but rather psychological threats (like Terrorism). America generally waits, until the last minute, to solve a problem, over reacts, and then ignores any problems again, until the last minute. We are not proactive. It seems that the things we do to win wars often trigger later conflicts. Our support for the Soviet Union during World War 2 made that country a world power, that we fought several major regional wars against (sometimes via allies) in East Asia and the Middle East. The final straw that broke the Soviet Union was the war in Afghanistan, which we trained and armed the same Taliban, that we fight today.
These wars, that we started getting involved in, starting with World War 2, all were happening, in a larger historical context, well beyond World War 1, or even this millennium. Much of this history involves the struggle between 2 religions, that look very different, but in fact are very similar. One of the big problems, that started, in the early Church, was the development of complex doctrines, like the Trinity, by the application of Greek philosophy and the struggle for the survival of Christianity, under many different empires. Most people today think of Islam, as a direct opposite of Christianity. What most Christians, in the US, don't realize is that early Church was far from united, either politically or by doctrine. Many groups of people ended up following what they thought was the one true God, when they were, in fact, being led astray by a heresy, while others were called heretics, but were, in fact, doctrinally correct.
All these variants, of the one true faith, were also entangled, into the politics, of their region. We here a lot about the success, of the Latin speaking Church of Western Europe (France, England, and Italy), now called the Catholic Church. What we haven't heard of is the other 5 major regional centers, of Christianity. Eastern Europe (Greece, Turkey, Balkans, Russia) was dominated by the Greek speaking Church we now call the Eastern Orthodox Church, Africa was dominated by regional Churches in Egypt (who spoke Coptic, the direct descendant of the Egyptian hieroglyphics) and Ethiopia. The other major centers were the Syriac speaking churches (the rural Assyrian regional dialect of what Jesus and the Apostles spoke) in Asia (Syria/Lebanon and Iraq/Iran).
There were many heresies, of the one true God, in the region, at first, including: the Gnostics, the Aryans, the Manicheans, the Zoroastrians (the ancient religion of Iran, before Christianity or Islam), the Jews (Pharisees), and the Muslims. The Arian and the Gnostic heresies quickly lost power, but the other 4 hung around, for a considerable amount of time, with only Judaism and Islam still here today. The success of Islam had a lot to do with politics and timing. Many people in America are aware of Islam, as a religious force, that affects politics, but don't realize that the politics is an important part, of the formation, of the religion of Islam. Basically, Islam united the Arabic speaking tribal people (like the Afghans or the Scots), who came from what is now called Saudi Arabia, which contains the Holy Sites of Mecca and Medina.
Christianity and Islam
One of the reason why the Koran contains many of the same characters as the Bible, but with different theology comes from the Prophet Mohammed hearing many Biblical stories, that were not part of the Bible, and were works of fiction or heresy, that spread amongst the local population. Other reasons include there not being a Bible translated into Arabic by this time and the obsession of the early Church, with confusing technically worded theology, that didn't appeal to the masses. The political situation, that allowed the Arabic people, to take over what we now call the Middle East was a combination of many wars, between the Persian and Byzantine Empires, as well as the persecution, based on obscure theological positions and political rivalry, of major Christian regions, made both the regional powers weak and the local population supportive, of an invasion, from Saudi Arabia.
Islam was, at first, considered a religion, of the Arabic people, and the local Christians (who were the direct descendants of the original inhabitants) were treated better, under Islam, than they were under rival Christian sects. In many ways, both in practice and in spirit, Muslims, in the Middle East practice their religion, that both looks very similar, to how the original Christians practiced their religion and also is more philosophically related, to Christianity, than the synchronization of Greek philosophy and paganism, with Christianity, in the Church, outside of the Ethiopian and Persian Churches.
In America, the only history we study, outside our own, is Medieval English and French history, so we often think of Europe, as being strongly Christian. The reality is that, although the Roman Empire converted to Christianity early on, most of the Germanic tribes like the English and the Vikings took a very long time, to convert and the kings only converted, because they believed, that the Christian God was more powerful, than their pagan gods, so that, as a result, of conversion, they would win more wars. The Church was also the only thing, that held Western Europe together, politically. We don't hear much about the persecution, of Christians, at this time in history, because we only learn about Latin speaking Christianity and then Protestantism.
The reality is that Christians were persecuted, under Zoroastrian and Muslim rule, much, in the same way, as the Jewish people were persecuted, in Medieval Europe and at the same time, in history. We hear over and over again about how evil the Crusades were, but we never talk about the Muslim conquests, of the Christian Middle East, North Africa, and Spain, as well as the later invasion of a Muslim empire, into Eastern Europe, from the Renaissance, up until World War 1. We also hear about how evil it is, that the Israelis control the 3rd most holy site, to Muslims in Jerusalem (which sits in the exact location. that the Jewish Temple sat, making it the number 1 holy site. for Jewish people) but we do not hear about Muslim control of the Christian Holy sites of Bethleham, Nazareth, and the Hagia Sophia (The Vatican of the Eastern Orthodox Church, that was turned into a Mosque). We also heard about the evil ethnic cleansing, of Muslims, in Bosnia, but not about the ethnic cleansing of Christians, by Muslims, that were the reason, for the Muslims, being in Bosnia, in the first place, or the ethnic cleaning, of the Syriac Christians, in the Middle East, for hundreds of years, under Tamerlane and the Ottoman Empires.
We here a lot about the rise, of Islamic fundamentalism, in the world today, but the Muslim world has fought the Christian world, so long (even as Europe and America are no longer Christian nations), that the same battle has been going on, for over a thousand years. Even this recent wave, of fundamentalism, is over 100 years old. The difference is, that Europe, even all together, is barely a world power, and Saudi Arabia is one, of the richest countries, in the world, due to our addiction to oil. It is likely, that only a small sum goes, to fund terrorism, but that is still a lot of money, mostly due to alms (like the Christian tithe) given to the major charities, in the Middle East (to help the Palestinian cause, which is mainly done by terrorism). Iran directly and publicly funds terrorism.
The best thing American and European women can do, to help women in the Middle East is to be much less aggressive politically and much more modest in dress, and less promiscuous. The more women gain power, over men, in America in Europe, the longer it will be, before women, in the Middle East are treated decently. Just like the extremism, of Bush brought in what many consider the much more liberal Obama, so the increase in concessions made to women in America, makes things worse, for women in the Middle East.
19.3 Parting Wisdom
19.3.1 Do More by Doing Less
(Religion is the Problem: Religion is the Solution)
New Age Movement
One of the things that is very destructive, to the Church, is the New Age movement, which is very different, than Asian philosophy and religion. The New Age movement strategy is to co-opt many Christian (and other major world belief systems) values, on the surface, and try to string together ecology, quantum physics and supernatural forces, so that they can convince people that Science is the same as magic. The New Age movement often focuses on uniting Atheists with Occultists.
The thing, that most people are not aware of, is that this movement is not going to solve any major world problems and, at the same time, create some real spiritual problems, for those, that get drawn in. This is one of the major reasons, for theology in general, and the Evangelical movement, in particular: to be precise enough about Christian doctrine, so that Christians don't end up thinking that these New Age cults are compatible, with the Bible.
The biggest things to look for, to recognize is, if the movement: has a major sponsor, connected with Hollywood or the entertainment industry; is trying to make money; is trying to unite Science and the supernatural; is trying, to provide Scientific support, for things, that are obviously spiritual; supposed proof, for their ideas, is in Science; they treat Science, as both the problem and the solution; claims, that people, practicing indigenous religions, lived in a utopia; claims, that individuality, is the root of evil; focuses on famous people; and is very vague about their doctrine, or their proposed solutions.
It is common in America, for many non-Christians, to think, that the problem, with religions, starts when they become organized. I am a major criticizer, of many major Christian denominations, but of all the Churches I have visited or been a part of, the pastor was never the problem. And the people, who create the problems, in the Church, are often uneducated and don't have a strong foundation in Biblical doctrine. Most cults have very little structure or organization and many of the abuses done in the name of Christ (mostly by the Catholic church) are both easily shown to be unbiblical and were done more out of political than religious reasons.
We are often told our problems are caused by Europe and America, but China now contributes more to global warming, than the US does. The biggest reason why US companies outsource their manufacturing to China is not to save money, on labor, but to save money by polluting more. And we here a lot about how wonderful alternative medicine is, but you never hear that this is one of the leading causes of animal cruelty. For example, bear bile is used in many traditional medicine treatments. They keep bears in cages so small that they cannot stand upright in them.
We see Asian style cooperation as something to emulate, but the Japanese economy is doing worse than the US. India brags about how tolerant it is, but the reason why they have so few problems is that Pakistan and Bangladesh were split off, because the British found them the hardest to control. Pakistan actually has more justification, for calling itself India, than India does, as it has the Indus river, where the Aryan civilization started in, and the river Indus, from which the words Hindu and India come from.
The Europeans, that think they are so much better than Americans, depend on oil as much as we do, despite all their experimental alternative energy, that contributes virtually nothing, to electricity production. France is using nuclear power and is leaving its storage, for 10 thousand years, for future generations, to worry about. The UK had the same problem that the US had in its housing markets. The European Union is a total failure, as the mostly southern European countries (PIIGS) are having to be bailed out, by Germany and France. America and Canada have many more trees than Europe does, as there are virtually no forests left in Europe. Europe has so many problems with terrorism, as England, for example, has more terrorists, in their country, than Pakistan has.
Some of the things Americans think they should do, to help the world, just makes things worse. Americans think if they buy a hybrid gas-electrical car, that they are helping the environment, but they fail to understand, that they get that electricity from gas or coal and that they would use less oil, if they bought a highly efficient gas powered car, instead. Many people also help raise money for children's charities, which is great, except they are a major source of animal cruelty, because they finance animal experimentation. Many Americans think that they can help the world, by eating fish, instead of beef, but we are running out of fish, worldwide, because so much of the world eats so much fish. Those super efficient light bulbs, that are supposed to last years, have mercury in them.
Many people believe that the solutions are social, economic, or political. Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, and Desmund Tutu are often seen as Christ figures. But Jesus did not lead a social, economic or political revolution or teach a social, economic or political ideology. Although Jesus often healed people with physical, psychological, or spiritual sickness, Jesus said that what we really need is the forgiveness of our sins. While some people were told to give all they had to the poor or to not be hypocrites, Jesus main message was personal salvation. The most important thing Jesus did was not His ministry but His death and resurrection.
Jesus was more interested in who we are than in what we do, as illustrated by His rebuking of Martha and His praising of Mary Magdalene. Our attitude is more important to God, than our accomplishments. Jesus was very critical of the establishment, but He also called His disciples to spread the Gospel and form the Church. Even though Jesus brought in a new contract with His people, and extend this so everyone, Jesus did not change the rules of His law. Jesus appointed the the leader of the Church, who was a traitor and His head missionary, to everyone non Jewish, was the head of the opposition to the Church.
It is not important what we have done, but what God wishes to do through us. Those who were the enemies of Israel were the first to convert to Christianity and those who were chosen by God rejected Him. Even though God intervenes on our behalf, when we are incapable of conquering obstacles, in our lives, God wants us to be mature and responsible and do our best to prepare for problems and only take on projects, that we are prepared for. He wants us to flee from sin and temptations, even though He forgives us. We need to let God determine the direction of our lives, but we need to do the leg work.
Source of Our Problems
The solution to the major world problems is one fundamental spiritually based solution. If you look at what is driving, so much of the destruction of the world and is contributing to the most violence: it can be easily and directly traced, to the sin, of individual people. I have talked before about America not really being a democracy, but the other side is that, if people disagreed enough, with what our country is doing, then we have the power, to resist these policies and force political and economic change. The problem though is with our own selfishness and our desire to be part of a group.
The major problems in the world are driven by our one world economy, which is all based on having enormous amount of cheap energy. Many people often fear what would happen, if all the computers went down, but the real foundation, of our way of life, is on cheap and plentiful oil. America is actually in the drivers seat, as US consumers drive demand, for products and the US is still 1/2 of the world's consumption. We have created a situation, in which we are going to go bankrupt, and it is easy to see why.
We value electronics and cars, we want them to be as cheap, as possible, we don't want the government to interfere, and people in other countries are willing to produce these goods, for less money. We want the ability to have personal transportation and so this sends a huge amount of our money, to the Middle East. Some of this money is used to support terrorism, which we fight against, but are losing, because we spend many times more money, than the terrorists, on fighting them. One of the big reasons why we don't want to do what is necessary, to defeat the enemy, is that we still want their oil, so we don't want to offend them. When the US gets broke enough, the entire world economy will fall apart, because there will not be a big enough consumer market, to buy what China, India, etc produce.
What We Should Do
Many people think the solution to the problem is to not be individuals, but that is exactly the problem: we are not being individuals. Individuality is standing up for what is wrong and doing what is right, no matter what everyone else is doing. We need more will power, to stand up for what is not popular, because the solutions will not be popular. As individuals, we are weak economically and politically. The most effective way, we can influence the situation, is to become born again and pray. The most effective prayer is to pray for God's will to be done.
Even one person praying, like this, makes a huge difference. You will likely never see how your prayers have affected the situation, but they will. God also protects Christians spiritually, much more than He protects us, from other people, so not only will you be more effective spiritually, but you will be safer. The greatest thing, to work on, to change the world, other than prayer is to conquer your own personal sins, in your daily life, by giving more and more of yourself to God. Many Christians fear spiritual forces, but our greatest enemy is our own selfish will.
19.3.2 Tips for Animal Welfare
One of the things very close, to my heart, is the health and welfare, of animals. From my experience, with animals, I have found animals, to almost always be, of stellar morality, on all the things, that really matter, so that, when deciding, on whether I should help and animal or a person, I will almost always choose the animal. I think, that improving the life, of even one animal is a worthy goal, for a well lived life and is very important spiritually, as well. One of the things, that really has kept me, from writing more about this, or to get involved, in animal rights organizations, is that it breaks my heart hearing about all the terrible things animals have been subjected to, done not, for their benefit, nor are they aware, of the reasons, or able to choose their fate.
Animals, Money, and the Law
I am not going to talk about all the awful things done, to animals, but I am going, to help you understand the kind of ways, in which you can prevent cruelty, to animals. Animals are experimented on, for a variety of reasons, all related to making sure chemicals or technologies are safe, for human use. Many otherwise fine groups, like many children's hospitals, hurt animals, in their quest, to find new and more effective treatments, for human diseases. Animals are also hurt, in the process of making sure that cleaners and cosmetics are safe, for humans.
There is hope, though. There are less well known children's charities, that do not experiment on animals and you can buy cleaners and cosmetics, that were not experimented, on animals. If a product is labelled "not tested on animals" than you are clear. You can find lists of charities, that do not experiment, on animals and chemicals, that are not experimented on animals, by going to the PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) website. The main reason why animals are experimented on is that the chemical companies are using chemicals, that are too toxic, for human use. A good rule of thumb is that, if you think you need, to test a chemical, on an animal, then it is too toxic, for human use.
There are other reasons, that animals get hurt, by humans. Many of these are due to cruel ways, in which animals are made, into food, or young serial killer like personalities. The good news is, that there are groups, that monitor the conditions, of slaughterhouses and help bring about the ban of cruel practices, like foi gras. As times goes by, our laws are being extended, to help protect the rights, of animals, to be treated fairly and humanely. People can now serve time, in prison, for abusing an animal. If you know someone, who is mean to animals, stay away for them, because people, who are mean, to animals, are much more likely, to abuse people, as well.
Pet Care Responsibilities
Some of the ways, in which animals are mistreated usually involve pets. One of the major ways, to make a good life, for your small pet is to give it enough room, to move around in, by letting the animal out of its cage and making sure the cages are big enough, for the animal to move around adequately. For little animals, like hamsters, they have a kind of clear plastic ball, that you can let your hamster roll around in and keep it from getting hurt or lost. Birds should be let out of their cages. I wouldn't worry about a bird escaping, because they will likely find their way back to you. You can also clip their wings so they cannot fly to far, or let them fly around indoors.
There are other ways in which pets can get hurt. Make sure, that you have everything toxic put away, so that none of your animals can get, to them. This is like childproofing, but realize that animals can get into many places, that kids cannot. If you lock up chemicals, in a secure and completely enclosed storage, this should be adequate. Cats cannot be kept in, by fences and rodents can generally get into very small spaces and chew through almost anything. You need to be careful about poisons, that get rid of insects and weeds, because they can make your animals sick. Just because you are not sick does not mean that they are safe. Animals are much lower to the ground and get into things that people usually don't.
Many animals have special needs, depending on their species and/or breed. Some animals need to eat living animals, like reptiles or snakes and some need things, to chew on, like rodents. Different animals are susceptible, to different diseases. Different animals live to different ages. 2 years is long for a hamster, but not as long for a dog. Different animals have different ranges of healthy weight. Taking animals, to the vet is expensive, so make sure you can afford it, before you buy a pet. Also exotic and bigger animals often cost more, than smaller and more common ones. There are legal restrictions, on what kinds of exotic pets, that you can have and how to handle them. Some animals need constant human attention, some are happier with other of the same species, and some need special diets. The best way to find out, about these things, is to read as much, as you can find, about your pet.
19.3.3 Notes on Major Developments
As I have had the same basic beliefs most my life and think out things very thoroughly, I don't end up changing my opinions very often. Here are some major developments, in my ideas, that I came up with, after additional research.
Roman Catholic Church
In some of my early writings, I talked about my interest in joining the Catholic church and I believed that it was the one true Church. I now know better, after I read a book about the Church, in Asia, during the European Middle Ages. If you read my Main Series, in chronological order, you will see this.
In my earlier work, I talked about how the establishment was one, of the major sources, of problems and recently, I have said, that organized religion is not where the Church's problems come from. How I reconcile these divergent views is that there are two types of Christian leaders.
There are the leaders, who wield power, by their fame and money, like many well known televangelists and other famous Christians, like authors, who, I believe, create many of the problems, in the Church. I also believe these leaders have little evidence, of faith, in Christ. The other type of Christian leader is a spiritual leader, who is part of a Church, like a pastor or seminary professor. This second type of leader is what I believe is part of the solution, to the Church's problems.
What We Should Do
I have given different advice, in different places, in my books, about what we should do, to help the world. In some places I said that we need, to get up, and actually do something, rather than just pray and be the answer, to our own prayers. I also talked about how Jesus did not take part in politics, or even focus on healing. I also said that we need, to pray, for God's will to be done.
The way I put these together is that like Jesus said to different people, who asked what they should do, to go to Heaven, and Jesus gave a different answer each time. All of us can and should pray, but the other things depend on what kind of person we are and what kind of problems we have. Some Christians are workaholics and need to do less, while some Christians have no drive and never get anything done, for God. These two kinds of people need to do opposite things.
Ultimately, God wants us to have balanced and happy lives, and He helps us, but we need to have some common sense as well. Modern psychology is based on Biblical principles and, if your theology does not accept these ideas, as compatible with the Bible, then you will not be following God's will and you will never be happy.
Before, I talked about how it is Europeans, who are the root cause, of the instability and violence prevalent, in most modern African countries. I have now refined this, as I have learned, that there are other reasons, for the sad situation, in Africa, including the lack, of a period, of time, for political transition. I also found out, that the Ottoman Empire was intervening, in Africa, long before Europeans were dominant.
I see the same problem happening, in the Middle East and North Africa today, where citizens are revolting against their rulers, without any single widely agreed upon plan, for the future, of their countries. Just like after the Iranian revolution, many people believed, that the government would be a democracy or a communist country, but the Islamic fundamentalists won instead.
Ecology Driven Science
In the past, I said that ecology driven Science is related to my philosophy, but recently I talked about the New Age movement using ecological ideas, to drive interest in the Occult. Just like every other belief system that the New Age movement claims, to be influenced by, this connection is only superficial.
One of the big ideas in Science, that the New Age movement uses, to support their beliefs is quantum mechanics. Quantum Mechanics is a theory, that can only be really understood, through math, as that is what it is based on and the multiple dimensions, referred to, in this theory, are all physical, not spiritual.
Ecology can mean different things, to different people. New Age proponents often like to bring up the interconnections in ecosystems, similarities in DNA, and the idealist view of indigenous peoples, to get people, to give up their personal will, as a way to gain power, over them. It is important, to note, that we are social creatures and that our place, in society, affects us tremendously, so that we can only fully understand ourselves when we learn about others. The flip side of this is that we are individually responsible and accountable, for our choices, that lead to sin/addictions, that the problems in the world are caused, by our poor decision making, as individuals, and that the only thing we can change in life is ourselves.
The non-Christian solutions to our failures is often knowledge and/or discipline, while the Bible alone says, that we cannot fix ourselves, by our own effort. Christianity is fundamentally more spiritual, than most other belief systems, because its values are not material and its solution, to our problems, requires divine (supernatural) intervention. In most belief systems, you feel good about what you have accomplished, but, as a Christian, you feel good, because of what God has done, for you.