Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

I am back in the frigid tundra. I kind of missed it a little. I'm not sure where I want to be, but anyways... that's not the topic at hand.
The topic is New Year's Resolutions.
It's curious how successful resolutions are. How much impact do they really have on our behavior? They are really just the first step- identifying goals. This is also the easiest step. It's hard to follow through and change our behavior. Nevertheless, here's my first step:

1. In the coming year, I'm going to have a lot of changes. In under a month, I'm moving down to Texas to stay with my dad for several months. Then I'm moving out to Nova Scotia. I don't want my environment to negatively shape me. I want to remain strong through the changes and grow from them, rather than compromise my morals as I have seen college do to some of my friends.

2. I want to make a stronger effort to do my devotionals. I have two books I want to go through, I want to finish reading through the Bible, and I want to find a church community in Halifax. I want to make God a bigger priority

3. I want to find a healthy balance between schoolwork and socializing. I can easily see myself getting wrapped up in school and not meeting many people. I am introverted, but I also get lonely, so I want to join a couple clubs and figure out how to prioritize my time.

4. I want to continue on my 101 in 1001 list. For this year I want to take a picture every day, just to practice. I also want to continue the reading I've done this year. I like that I made an effort to take the time to do that, and would like to continue. I want to finish my quilt in January.

5. I want to make a bigger effort to listen and be supportive rather than self-centered.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Hey guys, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. It's hard this time of year to relax because there's always something to do. Just remember to savor the time with family and loved ones, and remember the reason for the season. Whether you're in four feet of snow or in a tshirt, I hope you have a marvelous day! I am in Texas until the 30th, when I will resume my regular blogging.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Wonderful Book: Original Sin

I just finished Original Sin, by Alan Jacobs (HarperOne, 2008) who is best known for his biography of C.S. Lewis (which I have been meaning to read). Amazing book. The key is the title description: "A Cultural History." Though the book is a chronological look at the history of the theology, most of the sources aren't known Christian specialists. I would describe the book more as a philosophical history with a strong emphasis on the Christian aspects. The book goes into fascinating viewpoints, always careful to show both sides. Though Alan Jacobs's opinion is obvious, he does not force his conclusions upon the reader, but allows them to draw their own based upon the mountains of research he has done.
The book is essentially a look at the natural instinct of humanity and the different figures who have advocated for both the saints and sinners.The book starts with Augustinian beliefs and the ancient church, but quickly moves on to examining Milton's Paradise Lost and the fall itself, frequently referencing Genesis, but paying attention to the language that notable poets and authors have used. Over the whole of it, Jacobs focuses on genetics (Is goodness/badness inherited? What are the implications of the conclusion?), slavery (Are we all equally bad? If those of different races are equal in morality, how can we justify slavery?), education (Should children be raised with strict discipline, or left to nature's whims?), and economics (If Marx believes in the good of society collectively, and Smith believes in the individual and the invisible hand, aren't both essentially saying humanity will make the best choice? Is there an alternative?). I've found the book's conclusions to be fascinating, and Jacobs has compiled it all with witty humor and tasteful jabs at historical figures.
The most important thing I am taking away from it is that history has proved through countless acts of violence and deceit that humanity, left to its own, is sinful. Jacobs points out that this drives many people away from it, or those who accept it feel there must be more to it. Many people who have advocated against the doctrine of original sin did so to deter complacency among the congregation; they were worried that people would use their "nature" as an excuse for their behavior. However, the acceptance of that doctrine should only encourage those who are struggling that they are not the only one. Furthermore, it only emphasizes the grace of God.
Again, I highly recommend Original Sin:A Cultural History. It's easy enough to understand if you have a mediocre grasp of world history and significant events/literary works (basically everyone I know...). I found it at the Calgary Library, so I'd recommend checking a local library. If you do take my advice, let me know what you think! ;)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Pro-Life's Shadowy Past

I'm reading a book called Fatal Misconception and it's probably the most challenging read I've had in a long time. It's written in a very cynical voice, and at first, it appeared like the author was edging towards the pro-choice stance. However, after reading on, I see why. See if any of these phrases create a picture for you:

"After 1936, [the Soviets] withdrew contraceptives from the market, made abortion illegal, and offered mothers cash incentives to bear large families" (p.79-80)

"Women who failed in their duty to produce healthy workers soldiers, and settlers were also targeted..." (p.79)

I think the reason that people have diverged to the opposite extreme is because of motive. Obviously, though children are a blessing and abortion is murder, banning contraceptives and abortive surgery was not done on a moral belief- it was done to "benefit the state." There has to be a moral foundation for a law, otherwise people do not understand its benefit.

Likewise for feminism. I love love love the movie, Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio. It's based on a true story of a housewife in the 50's and 60's, and how she provided for her family of ten through entering poetry contests and jingle competitions- very encouraging. It's also a highly accurate representation of the times. The director found old footage of television clips, and intertwined them through the scenes. At one point, they ask a Miss America competitor, "If a woman was running for president, would you vote for her?" and she responds along the lines of, "I would not because women are emotional." Women may be emotional, but men are aggressive. Neither is essentially bad; they both have their place. However, men are designed to lead and they have God-given authority over their families. It would be wrong for a women to be president if it meant putting herself in authority over her husband.

The point of, the conversion to a pro-choice and feminist society was in rebellion to irresponsible beliefs. Banning contraceptives and abortions for one group, while eugenically discriminating against another only serves to benefit the state. Its racial preferance would naturally create tension. Similarily, saying women shouldn't lead because they can't is inacurate. I know plenty of respectable women who would probably do an equally decent job as some past presidents we have had. However, they love their place at home, and understand it's not for lack of ability, but a desire to serve elsewhere, that they do not hold that position.

I'm not sure if this makes sense. It's just something that has stood out to me as I have been reading this book. The ends don't justify the means, because the ends mean nothing without the means.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

*Sigh* Oh, Canada

I'm a little ticked at the whole democratic system. We had an election. Conservatives won. Now the opposition is forming a coalition and taking over. They claim Canadians aren't happy with Stephen Harper's economic plan. Well, then why would they vote for him!??! Everyone knows he's a conservative and wasn't going to spur on the economy. Not much has changed in the last couple months. It's "a slap in the face to all who voted in October."

They're leaving the decision up to the political candidates that usually vote with their party anyway. Insane!

Here is a good editorial.