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Musings of a Non-Cigarette Smoking Man
"...a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing..."

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29 June 1999 18:13CST
Again, allow me to apologize for the amount of time that has accrued since last I wrote something. Hopefully, today's spiel will make up for lost time. Enjoy:

Your truth, or My Truth?

To many, it's a matter of taste. What do I find most palatable? Some can be insistent that their preference in the best. Yet, most seem to agree that ultimately, it is a personal and subjective choice, and that no one else has the right to tell you that you are wrong. Now, I could be merely talking about our thoughts on the best flavor of ice cream. Unfortunately, I am not. What I am referring to is what we each of us deem as spiritual or religious truth.

For at least several decades now, the Western world seems to have endorsed the idea that such matters can not be objectively verified or authenticated. Religion is purely subjective "faith". All world-views and religions, therefore, must all equally valid. In a "pluralistic" society we must all tolerate every belief as an individual's "truth" and not criticize or question another. To do so is labeled as "intolerance" or "religious bigotry".

This concept has manifested itself in various religious ideals, primarily that "all roads lead to God" and that your religious "truth" and my religious "truth" are both true and tangential to the same God. Could this be true? Does God tolerate whatever characteristics or name one might assign to Him (or Her), knowing that all beliefs are equally true? I have even been told that God IS whatever we personally belief him to be. So He is a cow to the Brahman, the Goddess to the Wiccan, and Allah to the Muslim. In short, He is the Great Cosmic Lump of Playdough, molded and shaped by the whim and imagination of every Tom, Dick and Harry. This whole premise, that spiritual matters are subjective and equally true, I reject categorically.

To many, this sounds intolerant. And indeed it is. If that really bothers you, then ask yourself, why don't you tolerate my intolerance? If you are indeed tolerant, then my belief in intolerance should be just as valid and true as your tolerance.

The fact of the matter is, the great post-modernist hypothesis that all beliefs are equally true, is really just a road sign that the human race is slipping from it's hard-fought position of being a rational animal, into a quagmire of irrationality and cognitive dissonance. To say that all religions are valid is a mental cop-out; it is turning off our upper cerebral functions in the name of pluralism. For example, in respect to science, we cannot logically hold to the contradictory ideas that the solar system is Geocentric and Heliocentric at the same time. It must be one or another, and our brain weighs the data and makes a determination. How can we say then that Humanistic Atheism and Christian Theism are equally true? You cannot. They are contradictory at their very core. Likewise, most every religion makes specific claims, and many are contradictory with the claims of other religions. For example, Christianity says that Jesus physically rose from the dead. The Koran repudiates this. One must be right, the other wrong. Consequently, employing the presupposition that it is better to believe what is true and right, and disbelieve that which is false and erroneous, we can see we have an obligation to weigh the data and make an educated judgment on what various religions claim. One might call that intolerant. In reality, however, it is simple common sense.

Where does one begin with in the quest to discover what is objectively "true" and what is "false" with respect to religion and spirituality? Like anything else, there must be some degree of evidence to examine to form an opinion. Although most Christians feel that their religion is one of "faith", (Belief in something despite the evidence) that is not an accurate representation of what Jesus and the apostles preached. Throughout the Bible, we see Jesus making a point to show that he was the fulfillment of previous messianic prophecies. The apostles go to great lengths to prove this fact, and the resurrection of Christ, attested to by some five -hundred individuals (according to the apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 15) is a real event by necessity, that must be grounded in historical fact ("If Christ be not raised, then your faith is in vain"-1 Cor. 15:17) .

This is perhaps the root of why so many non-Christians think of Christianity as judgmental and narrow-minded. It is not that the nature of the belief is automatically condemning or damning to those on the outside, but Christianity makes specific truth-claims that cannot co-exist with the tenets of other belief systems. Granted there are plenty of Christians who are condemning, but the Spirit of Christ's message is the proclamation of the Good News, free salvation to "whosoever will", rather than the message of hell fire to those not subscribing to a doctrinal point of view.

When the claims of each religion are scrutinized for such objective markers as historicity, logical congruity, or empirical evidence, what beliefs are left standing? Certainly, there are millions that have to fall back onto the subjective "my truth" paradigm, having nothing objective to offer. From what I see, however, only historic Christianity, as defined by the apostles, demonstrated by the early church, holds firm under the examination of rational minds. This is not to say that there are not any intellectual arguments constructed by skeptics and sincere seekers that need to be explored, but that overall, the Christian faith satisfactorily addresses the world as we see it, in a consistent, comprehensive fashion. Christianity, as a world-view and belief system, is the only one that transcends from being merely "my truth" to being "The Truth".

19 June 1999 20:54CST
I know its been a while since I have made an entry. I have been too tired and busy to think of anything to write about. I still am in fact, so here is something from a while back. Enjoy.

Apparently trenchcoats are not required to kill people. There was another school shooting today (20 May). NO trenchcoat on this boy. I wonder what they'll blame this one on. No one wants to point a finger at themselves. No one wants to recognize that it's this mindless, soulless society so shaped by self-centeredness that compassion is tossed by the way side that has produced these "monsters". They are not monsters; they are kids who were shunned by a sick elitist culture that demands conformity under the guise of individualism. Anyone could be these kids; anyone could be pushed to the breaking point. Hundred of "normal" people are pushed to the edge every day. Spurned lovers, jealous spouses, angry drivers on the freeway... the list goes on and on. Why is it so surprising that a society obsessed with violence, narcissism, conformity, and self-gratification could produce such a volatile concoction as today's youth? It isn't television and movie violence, it isn't video games, it isn't Marilyn Manson. These are not a disease, but the symptoms of one. The disease is called the dilapidation of Western Civilization. This society is tearing itself apart in a search for something real, but when reality shows is grotesque face, it shies away from it, tries to explain it away, to place blame on its own creations, its own symptoms. Never do they want to address the illness, for to attack the disease itself, involves blaming themselves. Its a sad world we live in, tragedies due occur, but when the tragedy is one created by man, one which could have been avoided had society not so warped and mangled the fragile soul of youth...this is the saddest of all tragedies. The culture is robbing children of their youth, of their innocence, their hope, and their very lives. Yes, mankind itself has become the most terrible of tragedies.

15 June 1999, 18:58CST
Well, now comes a discussion of the theme of A Clockwork Orange. It is the unending debate, prevalent now especially, in the wake of Columbine. Which is more important, free will or social order. How much of their freedom are Americans willing to give up in order to live in a "safe" environment? Many it seems are willing to give up the right top bare arm, as it is a right they never practiced anyway. But will this really make us safer? Will taking guns out of the hands of the average citizen going to make him safer? Or will it ensure that only the criminals have guns. Will it make it all that much easier for criminals to terrorize the populace knowing that the average citizen can not defend himself? I say yes. We all know how effective outlawing something is at keeping it out of people's hands. Drugs are illegal, but do not people still use drugs? And at an alarming rate. Drinking under the age of 21 is illegal, yet the majority of young people have tried alcohol before reaching 18, let alone 21. Restrictions on guns are a necessity, but how much is too much? Obviously, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear from a background check. Woe to you if you should have to wait five days. But when the government finally pushes over that last barrier and convinces the American people that it is their best interest to give up guns, they will gladly do so. This is because most people never stop to consider their rights. Most people go along with their lives, oblivious to the higher powers that are slowly stripping their right from them. If they notice at all, it is because they are so fooled that they gladly give them away. Too late they will realize what is happening, they will look behind them and in the distance they will see the point of no return and there will be nothing they can do. They will be powerless as all the tools of revolution that our founding fathers believed should always be available, will have been taken away. There is nothing that can be banned that will prevent violence, only love, care, and knowledge can do this. We must educate our youth, correct them, and above all love them. The main cause of all these shootings has been feelings of isolation and feeling unloved. They lashed out at the society that lashed at them first. Love, openness, and acceptance of differences is the only thing that will cause these incidents to cease.

14 June 1999, 18:28CST
What to talk about to today...Nothing deep at this moment. Just got back from work. So, instead, let's talk about Star Wars. Now forgive me if you are a fanatic (I might be considered one as I have the previous three all but memorized) because I am about to bash on the newly released Phantom Menace. Where should I begin?

First of all, what the hell kind of stupid title is Phantom Menace? Rather cheesy one must admit. I was against this name the minute it was released months ago.

But, that aside there is a plethora of things wrong with the film itself. For one thing, WHY EXPLAIN THE FORCE?!?!?!? Not to mention explain it in such a crappy manner. Mitechlorians? Tiny symbiotic beings that speak the will of the Force? Ooookaaaay. It was far more believable as a "mystical energy field" Now it seems more like schizophrenia. "I hear tiny voices from inside my cells".

More you say? Okay, why didn't Qui-Gon disappear when he died? Does this mean he was a crappy Jedi? My only theory is that you have to reach a certain level of Jedi-dom to have the privilege of becoming one with the Force. Which means Obi-Wan must have been near Yoda's level. I find that rather hard to believe.

Then there are the obviously reused plot devices. Let's explore: master dies fighting Sith Lord (Qui-gon Obi-wan). Royal chick bestows token of gratitude on heroes in a huge ceremony at the end of the film (Amidala, Leia). Weird alien sidekicks (Jar-Jar, Chewbacca--equally unintelligible I must say). Lone young fighter pilot blows up huge battle station when the whole squadron could not (Luke-Death Star, Anakin-Droid Control Ship---as if I didn't see it coming as soon as he jumped onto the cockpit).

Then there is Jar-Jar. No explanation needed.
The cheesy Buck Rogers, 60's sci-fi style ships.

That pod race scene. All though it looked incredible, it took up way too much time. It was as if Lucas was trying to eat up screen time, as if he didn't have enough plot to stretch out to feature length.

And on that note. There really wasn't a lot going on in the movie. Cut away all the BS, FX, and side trips to Tatooine and Coruscant (very little happened at either place) this whole movie was about one tiny skirmish on a dinky little planet that no one cared about. It all seemed contrived just to introduce us to Anakin, Obi-wan, and Senator Palpatine.
Well, despite all the crap, the lightsaber battles were cool. This is about the only salvageable aspect of this movie aside from the effects. All in all it is an effects movie, nothing more. See it anyway though. After all, it is Star Wars. That alone is reason enough to see it. As a film, I give it a C. As an effects movie, I give it an A. Overall, I give it a C+. Which falls far short of its predecessors.

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