Same Team, Man! Same Team!

After last weeks post, I feel the need to clarify some thoughts.

I don’t dislike you.

In a culture of binaries, this tends to be the thought process many people jump to when confronted with conflicting ideas. You have your opinions and I have mine.

As I’ve said before, I know that Christians tend to be seen as meddlers and bigots in recent times, but I try to live by a “you do you” philosophy. Granted, there are some people who claim to be Christian whom we can all acknowledge have missed the finer points on the gospel of love.

The current cultural and political climate in this country seems to be driving people further apart rather than tie them together. We’ve all dug ourselves into foxholes within foxholes while we lob grenades indiscriminately.

Seeking out those we relate with or those of our own “kind” is called tribalism. Tribalism was a way for us to approximate danger and risk factors as we grew as a species. Different cultures did not coexist well with others and we learned to avoid those different than us. We stuck with our own “kind” much how Cera rebuffed Littlefoot’s friendship.

Three Horns never play with Long Necks!
— Cera Triceratops

 

We’ll search for just about any way to divide and disassociate from each other-

Just look at the Scots and the Irish. Two cultures that would be relatively indistinguishable by an outside observer, yet these two brother countries have a history of fighting and antagonism that goes back hundreds of years (at least according to Braveheart).

The tribalism mindset creates a herd mentality where the success of others is my loss. This perceived threat of a lack in goods automatically leads to tension between us. Steven Handel speaks about tribal mindsets in his articleThe Us vs. Them Mentality: How Group Thinking Can Irrationally Divide Us”-

It appears that thinking of ourselves in terms of groups automatically leads to a kind of irrational group favoritism.

In studies done on minimal group paradigm, participants are usually given an opportunity to allocate money or “points” to other participants, and tend to favor giving points to members of their own group vs. members of another group.

Even more interestingly, it was found that participants will often maximize relative in-group gain (“Group A” vs. “Group B”) rather than absolute in-group gain. This means that participants are more willing to see their Group “win,” rather than have outcomes where all people end up better overall.”

You probably know some people like this, I see it all the time in P.E. class. We play different tag games as warm ups and one such game involves rescuing downed teammates after they’ve been tagged. Kids will go out of their way to rescue a friend, yet ignore others even when their rescue would require less work.

We can also observe tribalism in politics as well.

As I’ve self identified as a conservative Christian, some of you may think you know my political leaning. Allow me to request you dispose of those opinions in favor of my real attitude.

POLITICS IS AN ICKY INDUSTRY FILLED WITH ICKY PEOPLE

Democrat, republican, liberal, conservative-from opposite ends of the political spectrum and everywhere in between- all of them thrive off of creating false binaries and setting us against each other to elevate their own stature. Their speech is calculated, their actions- meticulously planned. We divide ourselves along their terms and castigate outsiders, sometimes violently.

Let me say, while I appreciate our democracy, I also recognize that its continued existence and ability to flourish depends on man, who is by nature a sinful beast. At all times he is seduced by his carnal natures, which tend to be most appealing when in a position of power and authority.

I pledge my allegiance and put faith in my Father God above all men and their forms of government. He is the only true force of love and compassion who cares completely for my well-being, despite what some licentious politicians say.

Speaking of faith, how does God see tribalism?

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
— Galatians 3:28

 

This isn’t a commentary on gender fluidity, rather a proclamation that God does not give better salvation to those of a certain nationality, gender or social position. God does not judge us based on paltry things like geographical area and skin tone- we are all the same race to God.

Human

 The sacrifice of Jesus Christ unites us into one body. It was a blood price paid for each and every single human throughout history, despite the lines in the sand we’ve drawn for ourselves. We see this among Christians even now. It seems the modern Christian journey to achieve Heaven is justified in the notion that there is a proportional amount of sinners burning in Hell.

[not that you go to Heaven or Hell the moment after you die...but that’s a different blog on its own.]

God is not so petty

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth
— 1 Timothy 2:3-4

 

God created mankind as a vessel of His love. His plan is and always has been to create a family of like mind and heart. I believe from what God says about Himself in His own book, He is a being of supreme love and compassion and created mankind with the intent to keep as many of us around as possible. However, God does have some prerequisites before we can receive our inheritance. We have been given a life on Earth unique to each of us. God asks that we use this time to A. live in a way that honors Him and B.use the resources given to us for the benefit of others.

What God does to those who choose not to incorporate themselves into Him is up for some discussion. The Pope would tell you they’re condemned to eternal damnation and torture at the hands of Satan, but I don’t buy into that for two reasons. Primarily because the Christian Heaven & Hell as taught by modern theologians was ripped off of the pagan Greco-Roman Elysian fields and Tartarus, but also I don’t believe a God who is love and mercy incarnate would take pleasure out of eternal suffering. Again- that’s a different post for later.

Paul compares our Christian journey to a marathon or a boxing match- very appropriate for the time period. To put things in more of a modern context, think of the race as a ninja warrior or wipeout obstacle course stretching out for miles and miles- each obstacle increasing in difficulty. Yes, some challenges repeat through the course, but if you’re learning then it won’t be as hard the following times. The scary aspect of this game however, is the lack of perceivable goal post. You are always able to see a picture of the prize as often as you need, but are required to run on faith that it awaits you at the end.

While playing the game you never reach the physical goal posts, instead when your time is up you vanish in a wisp of smoke, where you await the resurrection to have your final score judged. The great news however, is the lack of limit to the amount of first place winners and team play is not only necessary, but required.

Sadly, some of the obstacles will be former runners who have turned and set themselves to knocking people off. Our first reaction to these encounters should always begin with trying to get them going the right direction again, but ultimately this may not work. Sometimes you must leave them by that waypoint and hope they catch up. I can help you get over the next wall, or stretch out a hand to pull you from the murky waters of failure, but ultimately, you are responsible for your own salvation. You will not attain a place in the kingdom of God by riding piggyback.

When thinking on tribal terms, if there are victors, then there must also be the vanquished. We are quick to portray each other as the Van Pelt who hunts us through life, but there is something we all need to understand as we plug along through the game.

Satan is the only one is desires your downfall. He is the creature who stalks you on the course, he is the miscreant who revels in your failure. He will cast his shadow on your fellow athletes and cause them to be seen as obstacles as well. In these times we must remember the real enemy is not each other. I am much more interested in us reaching the goal together as allies than adversaries.

So, in conclusion-

Can we all just get along? There’s a giant spinning mechanical robot up ahead and I might need your help.

This Might Sting A Little

I'm going to offend you.

It's going to happen at some point and when that time comes I would like you to ask yourself several questions.

Why am I upset?

What specifically upset me?

Is my anger justified?

Is my anger driven by emotion, or logic?

I feel like I should take a moment to preface this post and this entire website and its contents with a declaration of concern and support. I live my life with a "you do you, I'll do me" mentality, but at times I will disagree with you. I recognize some people may feel like my disagreements end with condemnation to everlasting hellfire.

Let's clear something up first, shall we?

I am not the judge of your salvation. I am not going to weigh you in the scales of justice- that's God's job. My place here on earth as a Christian is to try to get along with everybody on the planet as best I can. I look to the New Testament scriptures and see examples of people who were living amidst some of the most vile civilizations, yet maintained their Christian lifestyle to be a living example of just how great it is to live by God's commands. We literally get the word cretin from the island of Crete- a place known for being a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Yet here was a flourishing, vibrant Christian culture whose members were commanded to show love and compassionate concern to their neighbors and community. 

With the ease we're able to travel and communicate across the globe, the sense of community among neighbors seems to be dwindling. I understand the need to be protective of my neighbor for the same reason I would hope he feels the need to protect me. We provide a symbiotic relationship, wherein we both benefit. Now, the rule of Christianity is to think of everybody as your neighbor. Every single person you meet in your day is to be a neighbor to you, worthy of your protection and love. 

Despite my actions toward this goal, I am accused by those on a pedestal far removed from my life, (or what real life is for so many people) for not bending the knee to how they think I should behave. To them, love means accepting them for the person they are right now in this exact minute. To God, it means loving the person despite their flaws and actively encouraging growth and personal development. I'm not anywhere near where I hope to be by the time my final day ticket is punched. I'm working very hard to keep old Scott dead and buried in the waters of my baptism, because I know exactly just how badly that guy sucked.

When I hear groups accusing me as a Christian of being hateful, the first thing I think to myself is how selfish these people must be to assume I spend my Daily Loathing Quota on them. I use about 97% of my DLQ for myself and the rest for a select number of people I know personally. I can say with absolute certainty that I "despise" people of a different faith or lifestyle much less than the homeless vagrant who threatened my wife and verbally wished death upon my newborn after I told her to stay out of my yard.

With allll of that said, let's have a litmus test over just how much we disagree on things, shall we?

The SJW/Antifa/BLM/Leftist movement has been an alarming scene to watch unfold these last three years. Do you remember those kids in elementary school who couldn't accept they got out in kickball so they ran and tattled? Well, they're all grown up now, and instead of solely whining about the "unfairness" of the world, they've decided to cut out the middleman and take a bat straight to your kneecaps themselves. If that doesn't work, they'll just riot- oh I'm sorry, I meant "have space to destroy". 

These groups all rely on emotionally driven rhetoric, often focusing on skewed statistics, misleading information or outright lies to push their own agenda.

For example, the week I'm writing this, there was a terrible shooting in a small church in Texas. The suspect used an AR-15 to murder close to 30 people before he was heroically stopped and pursued by a civilian with another AR-15. The media outlets, ever hell-bent on their crusade to destroy the second amendment have done a disastrous and completely incompetent job reporting the facts, as Steven Crowder points out in this video. 

Just a week ago the media was lecturing conservatives for politicizing the most recent terror attack in New York City, aghast that anyone dare bring up immigration reform in the wake of such tragedy. Yet the day of this shooting the media (Hollywood included) sent up these lovely tweets about what else? "Common sense" gun control and the uselessness of prayer. This of course relies on their skewed vision as God as a gumball machine, distributing candy every time we chant our "magic words". 

The venom dripping off their tongues as they mock us knuckle-dragging invisible sky-friend worshippers is palpable. They ridicule our faith and accuse us of hypocrisy and lack of compassion, all while reveling in their own morally ambiguous filth. I assume if the killer really only thought of those slain as a "clump of cells", then he really wasn't acting out of line with his own moral virtues, and who's to say if that's a bad thing? Truth is subjective after all. 

Emotions are great- some are more constructive than others. Sadly, people are all too often willing to place emotions over facts on the pyramid of relevance which frames their world view. 

Caitlyn Jenner for example, feels very very strongly that despite having been born a man, his personal truth is one of gender fluidity. This has absolutely nothing to do with reality and is entirely in his head. Our subjective truth culture now worships at his altar and in a strange twist of fate seems to have abolished first wave feminism in the process. When Caitlyn Jenner won Glamour's Woman of the Year Award, he proved men are better at women than anything, even being a woman! This paved the way for men to be better than women at lots of things in the public eye, like Fallon Fox.

Fox is a transgender woman (man) in the UFC's women's division, and has made his claim to fame by repeatedly beating some of the toughest women in the sport. Is Fox truly a great female MMA fighter, or is he just a guy who's really good at beating up women? I mean he's really really good at beating up women. Even the UFC Women's Bantamweight leader and all around amazon Ronda Rousey refuses to fight Fox specifically because he's a man. 

Both of these men, feel very, very strongly about their identities, but they are identities formed from a lie. The truth is, they have some serious mental health issues, and Caitlyn seemed to have made this realization, if only briefly when he woke up from his first reassignment surgery with the completely rational thought "What did I just do to myself?".

I wish them both only the very best for the future, and I hope at some point in time, they get the help they truly need. For the present, forcing society to comply on a mass scale lie so these people can continue to live in a fantasy world seems like the opposite of helpful. People with Cotard's Syndrome who think they're really dead shouldn't be encouraged to "live their truth", neither should Jenner or Fox.

Now, I can go off on any of the tangents I've just demonstrated all day if need be, but I find that "having a discussion" on race, gender, etc. has a double meaning for some. For me, a discussion is a back and forth of ideas backed by credible evidence and rational logic. When people of a leftist liberal viewpoint say they want a "discussion" about any topic, what they really mean is, "Shut up, bigot. Here's your new cue cards"- and that's the end of it. Celebrities grandstand for all kinds of things and unless you agree with them complicity, you're a part of the problem, right Jimmy Kimmel?

Wow. What a rant, eh? 

I know the last few paragraphs have probably been fairly difficult for some people to wade through and the fact you've made it this far is a surprise to me as well.  

In the spirit of being honest with you I've made very clear allusions to some core beliefs I personally hold. If any of those beliefs offend you, please know I value your ability to disagree. My opinions are my own and I know better than to assume every person on this planet is either a functioning or malfunctioning replicant of me. God provided you with free moral agency and I'm not about to try to rob you of it by legislation. My line of friendliness and respect end when you try to force legislation on me.  

[Sidebar abortion advocates- 1. Quantifying certain human life as viable and other forms unviable is the basis for every historical figure advocating mass genocide since the history of ever. 2. Just because something is legal does not make it moral. You obviously have agency to do as you wish, but that does not mean your decisions are righteous and just. I know you were thinking that just now...hence the sidebar.]

 

Scriptures like Matthew 5:37 and Philippians 4:8 suggest to me we need to speak honestly and openly with each other. There are universal truths worth fighting for. They are worth pursuing even unto personal discomfort. It is not easy or fun to be the person who withstands wave after wave of assaults from those who violently disagree, yet as Christ was hated by His brethren, we too, must bear that burden if we are to call ourselves His disciples. 

Money, religion and politics are the three things we've all been told to avoid discussing in polite company, specifically due to their offensive nature. Allow me to set precedent and give a sweeping answer to all the thunderous emails and comments I anticipate in the future for including these topics in my content-

I'm not sorry.

I unapologetically will hold and share my opinions on a plethora of subjects like gay marriage, abortion, why the 7th day sabbath is still actually important and many more. At some point you will think I'm being insensitive, bigoted, or even too conservative for my own good. Here is what I would ask of you-

Instead of filling my inbox with irate keyboard smashing, consider why I'm saying these things. I've done my best to come to my conclusions by using logic and knowledge and very healthy doses of seeking wise counsel. You may have your own opinions and morals and preconceived notions to which I disagree strongly, but I respect you enough as a person to let you have those views. All I ask, is that you take a moment and remember I speak out of love and concern, no matter how prickly it may sound. 
 

First things first

In church communities, there is a sense of urgency and desperation to ensure our younger generations continue to learn and grow in the knowledge of God. There can be a sense of desperation at the task, because the clock is ticking against us. Time itself is robbing us of many of the older warriors of the word, and the grey crown of glory has touched the heads of many that are left. I don't feel like I'm breaking a huge scoop when I say-

The ministry is old.

Not that there's anything inherently wrong with elderly elders, but the divide becomes even more apparent in the lack of connection the attending youth and those in charge- the two parties are having a harder time finding common ground. Culturally they grew up in different worlds so it's unsurprising such a rift has occurred. Love of God and country is sadly not as emphasized as much as this personal deity culture, free to pick and choose doctrine at will depending on what suits them currently. This is of course the mind of Satan and as much as it pains us to admit, this mindset is ever present and flourishing within the halls of Christianity.

I'm not saying I want to see us trying to appeal to the youth culture with things like Skateboard Jesus, or Buddy Christ- I'm not a big fan of the new age Christianity nonsense trying to make religion hip and apologizing for everything along the way. What I am saying, is we need to try to find some way of connecting with each other- this is where I think I fit in. 

Think of me like the fun loving Andy Dwyer meets Ron Swanson's austere facial hair (and then some). I'm young enough to still remember all the stupid things I've done, yet removed from most of it to have a sense of clarity on the matter. I love shenanigans, but also know when it's time to roll up my sleeves and get things done. I love playing kickball with kids, but do so maintaining a beard to make Paul Bunyan blush. 

I'm not so old that I forget what it's like to be stuck in a cynical culture saturated with hedonism and the peer pressure associated with it. I fought the same kinds of battles growing up, and I am proactively rewiring my brain to undo all the years of programming done by public school and college. Regarding those I grew up with in the church,  I saw many of my close friends slowly turn their back on God and I want to do my best to defend the people who remain. 

I feel like we've all had a person we were close to drift away from the faith, and I've often wondered what role I might have played to perhaps achieve a different outcome for them. This project is my response to those feelings. This is how I feel I can best utilize my talents and abilities, for a multitude of reasons, but primarily so that at the end of my physical existence, I'll not have felt I wasted my time on earth.

I have a BA in electronic media and broadcasting from Northern Kentucky University, where I studied how to create and produce all kinds of content for the internet. I primarily have been on youtube the most- my wife and I enjoy making adventure videos from our travels around the country, but as much fun as those can be to film and edit, I'm always asking myself why I'm actually posting my content. I think like most people, it's purely so that I can rack up as many internet points across as many social sites as possible. 

What a waste. 

The people of God, the flock of the Almighty is being decimated by the wolves and I'm over here making videos about cleaning fish? Not that there's anything inherently wrong with pursuits like that, but I'm wasting so many of the talents God inspired me to achieve, on content that ultimately is the chaff of my life. What I want now, is to use my time to give a voice [vox] of encouragement [robora] to the people who are increasingly fatigued by a society actively flushing itself down the toilet. 

As we begin this journey together, I would ask several things of you.

Keep an open mind.

Odds are, you're going to disagree with me on some things-I'll cover this more in my next post, but please don't go looking for ways to be offended by what I say. Those genuine moments will come soon enough- I promise.

Focus on critical thought.

I'll be talking about a wide range of things, based on conclusions I've attained after hours of brooding and meditation. I try to come to conclusions logically and if you see a flaw in my reasoning, let me know (respectfully, please).

Pray for me.

This is a big risk for me. I'm willingly putting myself in the internet crosshairs, fully aware of how much sleep and peace I'm going to be sacrificing in the future. I can use all the support you and God can provide. 

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin.
— Zechariah 4:10

 

As we embark on this journey, please know that regardless of what I say and how it makes you feel, my attitude is not one of condemnation. I seek to share the glory of my Father, who is working in me, much like He desires to work in you.