Saturday, June 27, 2015

Love is not love

My Facebook feed had blown up recently over the SCOTUS decision. I've seen arguments, horror, jubilation. But the overwhelming train of thought I've seen is the sentiment that love is always good, love is always right, we should not stand in the way of love.

I get it, it's a nice thought, it FEELS good. It's a bunch of bull honkey.

Love is not love. The Greeks had six different words for love and an expanding of one of them to two separate meanings. You can read about them here.

For followers of Christ you are called to practise and live Agape as such in given situations Philia and Pragma will develop.

Agape love, is a selfless love, the best definition I have ever seen for it is seeking the highest good for those to whom directed. Agape love is not the exclusive realm of Christians, however Christians who are committed to the real and living God and follow his commands this love will be strongly evident. A definition that makes this clearer for Christians would be: always seeking the highest good for God, others, and myself. And in that order.

So what is the highest good? Is it just something each of us decides for himself? Or is there a guideline of concrete absolutes to base it on.

First to dispel the notion that it is an individual ideal. Man is an inherently selfish individual. Left to his (or her) own devises and without outside influence every action and desire will be to let the self survive and if possible to do so in comfort. However as humans interact with other humans things begin to change. People begin to go out of their comfort zone to improve other people's lives. Often this is still done for selfish reasons. Such as winning someone's affection for the purpose of sex and procreation to extend ones own legacy our pleasure. Their are glaring exceptions to this (remember I am only talking base instinct here) such as motherhood.

A mother if left to her own devices (take the animal kingdom for example) will absolutely give up her life to protect her offspring. In humans this instinctual behavior can often be overruled, and there are even exceptions in the animal kingdom but the fact remains the behavior is common place.

All this to say though that for the most part as humans we are shown how to survive, we are doted on as babies and as children we learn that our needs are important. Apart from a concrete guideline we learn that our needs are the most important, that our individual needs are always right. The idea of "if it feels good/right it must be right" is rampant.

In this type of environment emotion becomes the guiding factor. Emotion is a fickle beast. That is not to say emotion is bad. Emotion can and are very good things, they allow people to empathize with others, they reward some behaviours and punish others. They increase human experience and make things possible. They are also inherently deceptive. Think of something falling in a closet at night in the dark when you are alone. You jump your emotions begin to lie to you "something is there." they say, "you are not safe." You have two choices at this point listen to them out fight against and overrule them. Emotions can control you they do not have too. But if we base out guidelines on things that make is feel good or feel right, what happens when that changes? 

So say you like punching people in the face, it FEELS good to punch then in the face. It makes you happy, you feel fulfilled as an individual. "This is right" you day to yourself. And then one day you punch the wrong person in the face. "This is wrong, this doesn't feel good, I don't like this, I an not fulfilled" you day to yourself as you get the every loving daylights beat out of you. The same behavior that had fulfilled you is now your least favorite thing in the world. If you continue this behavior later you will always wonder if what you are doing well being on the bad consequences and the behavior will not be as rewarding.  Emotions are a bad guideline for the highest good.

So we will base it on laws of the government. Laws tell us what to do and what not to do. They tell us it is wrong to murder right? Well they do.... Unless they don't. Governments can do whatever they want unless restrained by the governed. Imperial Japan, pre ww2 Germany, the Soviet Union all had laws that said murder wasn't always wrong. Laws change. As the government grows in power it behind to serve its own interest more than the interest of the governed. So if you base the highest good on government law what do you do when it changes. Most likely you will go along with it just add many many in history have turned a silent eye to atrocities committed by their own government.

To the Christians you fall most often into these two categories above as well. Yet we have a concrete bases that can be used, but we twist it, we try to make it fit the above. Yes I'm talking about the Word of God. We like to provide lip service to the good and easy parts. We love the "God is love part (in John 4)" but the bible is very clear what it means by love. It's not a lip service to love. It says "No one has greater love than this--that one lays down his life for his friends.(John 15:13)" that's Agape love, self sacrificial love. Love that recognizes life has value and that you are in a position to protect that value even if it means dying.

The Bible lays out in detail how to live a Christian life. It provides a set of guidelines for what the highest good is. A concrete set of guidelines. It says in Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!" So what is the highest good? To define that we have to define what the bible is.

The bible is a book about the love of God. It chronicles the creation of man, the fall of man due to sin, the war against sin, and the restoration of man back to him. I'm not going into detail here but it lists what sin is and the overall theme is sin is placing yourself first. Sin is almost completely synonymous with selfishness. In fact despite the fact that hate is often portrayed as the opposite of love the bible shows that selfishness not hate is the opposite of love. So as such we can see that it is in selfishness's own interest to redefine the argument.

Christians WE ARE LETTING SIN DEFINE THE PARAMETERS OF OUT ARGUMENT! For example: say I have a friend. Now this friend of mine discovers something about himself. He discovers he likes to jump down. One day he is standing on a curb and he jumps off. "Wow" he says "that felt awesome! I feel fulfilled." The next day he climbs a concrete barrier and jumps down. "That was even better! I feel completed" he says. The next day he climbs to a low roof and jumps down about ten feet. "I feel so alive!" He shouts. He goes on and on to you about how this is who he is and how nothing can change him. So I being the level-headed guy I am tell him "be careful you could get hurt".
"Oh you just don't understand" he says "this is right, it makes me feel good. It can't be wrong I was born this way" he says. "No really" I say "you could really get hurt I don't want to see that happen."
The next day he climbs a 20 foot roof jumps down and says "ouch that hurt, but oh man I feel alive" he strained his ankle. This continues I warn him I try to stop him by breaking his ladder "you hate me!" He yells. What do I do at this point do I back-peddle and be like "No no I don't hate you, I love you, you should do what you love." Except in this case his love is misplaced, it's not love as defined by agape. It's an uncontrolled lust for adrenaline and risk.  One day he tells me he is going to climb to the top of a 300 foot overpass and jump off. "No don't do that" I plead earnestly. "Stop hating on me." He says "I need to do this to be who I am. If you love be you'll let me live my own life." And so not wanting to be labeled a hate-monger. I let him go. He dies of course. Yes it's absurd no one on their right mind would do that.

Except as Christians WE do that every day rather than letting the bible stand on it's own we twist it to make us feel good about others contrary behavior. We've redefined love and twisted it to conform to societies ideals. We stand by and do nothing as people jump off that overpass into hell. Because well after all, love. Except love isn't love.

Too those that aren't professed followers of Christ. This blog may make you mad, it may speak to you. It's not directed at you. But know this whoever you are, whatever you have done. You are loved. I'm still learning this but you are important to God and so you are important to me. I may not agree with your decisions, but I don't want to sit idly by and watch you jump off that bridge. Ultimately it is your decision. I can tell you this the road through life with Christ is not easy, it requires sacrifice maybe even unto death. But the rewards are eternal.

Too the professed Christians solidify your belief, know why you believe it, and get it from the bible not from the world.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Ongoing Hostage Situation

The story you are about to read is true, except for the parts that aren't, the people named herein do exist albeit with different names.

So the other day I was involved in an Ongoing Hostage Situation (or Occupational Health Service) O.H.S.

As part of my conditional job offer with Medstar I was required to go and take a physical, agility assessment and a drug test. This was scheduled by Medstar with OHS with the understanding that I would not become a hostage. I arrived at 9:30 well within my scheduled time ad proceeded to fill out my forms which I then promptly turned in and was told to take a seat and wait. and so it began.

The first problem I had was with the take a seat instruction. I mean taking a seat is usually well and good, and well within the range of my ability. After all there where probably about 35 chairs in the waiting room. The problem was they where all full ( I fact I had seen when I walked in but seeing as I had an appointment I disregarded) so I went to look for some wall to hold up, but most of the available wall space was taken up by chairs or people already doing their best to keep it from falling down.

I waited, and waited, and saw more people come in, a whole group from Goodwill in fact, they signed in and waited too. I met Bill, Bill recounted his whole life story, something about the fact that he was born, and watched tv and other stuff. It was now 11:00.

For the next hour I played with my phone, until the battery started to wear down, at 12:00 somebody a few names above mine on the sign in sheet was called, finally getting closer I thought, and I was right. 45 minutes later I was called in.

I had my drug test - passed, my vision test - pass, pulse -pass, Blood pressure....

Ok I have a general Idea of where my blood pressure normally is about 130/80 sometimes a little lower sometimes a litter higher. I can generally feel where my blood pressure begins to read from the pulsating as the cuff releases, and it usually around there, I have done this at doctors offices in the past and am always close. Today I felt it around 135, the Medical assistant finishes and ask me:
"Have you ever been diagnosed with high BP?"
me- "Uh no why"
her- "Because its a little high"
me - "Oh really what is it"
her - "155/96"

At this point the dumbfounded look on my face must have worried her a little because she asked if I knew what I normally was, to which I answered I did and told her, so she says ok we will try again later. Now that said I did expect y BP to be a little higher than normal, I mean I have some serious stress in my life right now, with my kids and the NICU and everything in my career depending on this physical, not to mention the ungodly amount of salt on my breakfast sandwich earlier. So I go back and sit down.

and sit
and sit
and sit

30 minutes later they bring me back and retake my BP a differ ant MA this time, and again I feel it about 135, this time the MA says its 138/88, then she says ok go sit out in the lobby.

The entire group of goodwill people now leave they are done, Now I meet John, John works for Chesapeake and has been here since 9, John's sister is out of school for the day, His mom has also taken the day off from work, ad they brought john to his 1 hour appointment, little knowing they were dooming him to be part of the Ongoing Hostage situation, it is now 1:30 and he is about the same place in line I am, basically meaning there is no line just some sort of "whole sort of general mish mash".

The Hostage takers, (or should I say emotional and psychological terrorist) seem to take people on a whim and build our hopes up, only to give us a cookie, let us take half a bite, then yank it away and beat us over the head, as if to say "haha no way are you even close to done yet."

So I finally get called back again around 1:45 this time to see the master terrorist (aka doctor) "sit there and take your shirt off" II am told as the MA gestures to a table. So I sit and wait.

He comes in 10 minutes later with an eery, eager grin o his face, fangs glistening in the florescent life sucking light. He beats me across the knees with a hammer, applies metal ice to my chest and back, and then forces me into strange contortions then while having me stand he sits down his face right about waist level to me, and tells me to drop my pant! this was getting weird fast. Finally after some awkward coughing and some sharp pain, he leaves, I am left shuddering in a fetal position, until I slowly regain my dignity and pull my clothes back on . I am then sent back out into hell.

Things speed up a bit this time I am only sitting for about 30 minutes and then I am called into the work room, here I am given impossible tasks, and task so repetitive the only way to stay sane is to gibber and drool endlessly. I hooked to a chain across my chest, and one on my wrist. First I am told to walk up a stair case going no where, but I am not even allowed to go to the top, merely one step up and then back down. Over and over I do this a faint rhythm begins to beat in my head, up -up - down - down - up - up - down - down. over and over, mind numbingly....

Suddenly the stop me and move me to a moving belt, I am told to get on and walk, so I walk, and walk and walk. Always walking, never getting anywhere, On and on I go, its another form of waiting. on and on and on.

Again without warning I am stopped and rug to another room, this time to help move some stuff, there is a box weighing approximately 125 pounds. first they have me move it up a staircase, then back down, then set it down, then pick it up, back up back down. they just can't decide, finally they decide on down. So then I am told to pick it up and move it about 10 steps to the front of the room and set it down. "No" they decide move it back to the back. then back to the front. then the back, and finally the front, its mind numbing work. "Ok" pick it up and move it backwards a little" they say, finally they get it where they want it and I am unchained ad sent back to the wait room.

Shortly afterward I am approached by a woman in a black cape with fangs hanging out of both sides of her face, I notice she is very pale with blood red lips. I am dragged into a little room and she jams a fang into my arm. I begin to feel faint as my blood flows away...

I come to a little while later and what can only be described as a succubus is standing their with an device that I am told to blow into, I know she is trying to steal my soul, but I am forced to blow into it as hard as I can for as long as possible without inhaling. Instinctively I know that if I hold back she will win.

Finally she frowns, looks around and says, "I have to let you go now. You have passed all our test" You are free to go.

It had been 5 and half years (or hours) of pure hell (or boredom) and suffering (or inconvenience) and I was finally free, I walked out the doors a changed man, my life is now different I have a job to go to next week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Birth of Two

“Dada, wake up.” “Dada, Buzz Lightyear.” “Dada, hug you.” That’s pretty much my daily wake-up call. This morning was no different, except that shortly after Emmer came in Kristen said, “Hon I just talked to Emily they think I am starting labor and we need to go in and try and stop it…”

…and that was how my morning started.

In August, Kristen had been feeling “off” and we thought she might be pregnant, 6 pregnancy tests later we found out we were right. It was exciting our second child was on the way. It was exciting but scary. I had just finished working for the Census Bureau and was now for all intents and purposes, out of work, I had also just enrolled at Hill College to get my EMT certification, and so money was tight. So began the chaotic task of enrolling Kristen for health care and the search for a midwife.

When we had Emmaline the search for a midwife had been easy because our criteria had been she had to work out of a birthing center, and in the Nashville area this narrowed it down to one choice. This time we had a plethora of choices. We found at least 8 Birth centers in our general area, many of them with more than one Midwife. Our Financial situation eventually narrowed it down to three, and we began interviewing. We eventually settled on one in Grand Prairie, which was about 50 minutes away from us.

And so began our pregnancy routine, once a month to Grand Prairie. Everything seemed to be going fine. Kristen measured right, weighed right, and felt right. The baby’s heart beat was very good. Kristen began to feel it moving much earlier than she had with Emmer but figured it was because she knew what to look for this time. Our first Sonogram was scheduled for December 2nd about 19 weeks into Kristen’s term. We arrived excited knowing the we might be about to find out if we were going to have another little girl, or our first boy. Kristen got on the bed, I moved to be able to see the screen, and the sonographer, got all his stuff ready. He put the gel on Kristen’s belly and started the sonogram…

...Something was Very wrong! I had seen a sonogram before a time or two; I had a general idea of what it should look like on the screen. I was looking at two circles, unconnected, and side by side. “That is not what a baby looks like.” I thought. “It’s almost like those are two heads.” I continued to silently think to myself. The Sonographer looked at my wife and said “Are you in a good mood?” And then I KNEW! It was not a baby it was babies. We were having twins.

I had always thought twins came from the female, meaning if the female has twins in her family it is possible for her to have twins. My dad is a twin, but all that means is I can pass on the twin gene to my daughters, Kristen had no twins in here family… Or so we thought. Turns out we were wrong. Needless to say that day we spent most of our time in shock, the car ride home was one of our quietest rides ever. The Mid-wife had told us we couldn’t deliver twins at her center as she was not authorized for that. We felt our birth-plan was shot.

After the shock wore off the excitement began to build. We picked names the one on the left and in position to be born first was to be named Declan Thomas, and the one on the right, Finn Oliver. Declan Means Full of Goodness or Man of Prayer. Finn means Fair Warrior or Small Brave One. Their Middle names we took from Family. Oliver means Peace. Thomas was a different matter we like the name, but didn’t really like the meaning, all the name books say Thomas simply means twin, accurate but kind of boring, so I did a small hermeneutical study on the word Thomas in the bible. I knew Thomas was a Hebrew name and so I began looking at the Hebrew root words it came from, there seem to be two that it could be, most scholars assume it is the Hebrew word for twin as the only time we see the name is for the Apostle Thomas who was a twin; but looking into Hebrew names that didn’t make since to me. Most Hebrew names seem to be associated with an action or inheritance of some sort, not simply with a state of being. They didn’t name their babies’ the word for sleep simply because they slept. So I looked at the other word and found it meant Honesty, Integrity and innocence. This seemed to fit much better, both with what I knew of names and what I saw in the character of the Thomas of the Bible. All that to say Thomas means Honesty, integrity, and innocence.

We found a midwife, Molly Germash, that would deliver twins, and so we went and interviewed her. There was an immediate connection, and everything felt right. She did not take Medicaid, but she did give a substantial discount to those who were on it, even more so if we would use her daughter Emily. We decided to use Emily. Kristen felt at home at their center, it was just a comfortable place to be. They were brilliant in their care of Kristen. Everything was going great, they had told Kristen to increase her protein intake and we had. Our first sonogram had shown that the boys where just a little bit small, by the time our second sonogram occurred under the care of Emily and Molly, they were exactly on target.

At 31 weeks Kristen’s body began getting ready for Labor, she was slightly dilated and had lost some mucus, she was told to stay off her feet whenever she could and do no more than small walks. By 32 everything seemed back to normal other than the fact Fin was now inline to come first. 33 weeks was the same. At 34 weeks she started losing more mucus in very small amount. Then March 21st came.

The night before we had been going through the boy’s clothes setting aside the ones we wanted to bring to the birthing center with us, and talking about everything we wanted to have packed ahead of time, just so we would be ready in the coming weeks. When I woke up the next morning everything changed. Emmer woke me like she usually does, but Kristen was already up. Kristen told me we needed to go and so we gathered everything up. Dropped Emmer off with dad and headed out with every intention of being home that afternoon. We did bring some clothes, the boys clothes, and other stuff, ”Just in case”, but neither of us thought we would really need it. Kristen’s contractions began getting pretty regular in the car on the way to the Center. When we got there Emily and Molly took her and checked her out, she was dilated 5.5 cm, they were pretty sure they weren’t going to be able to stop her labor at the center. They were able to slow it and check the position of the first baby, Finn; he was in a frank breech position, meaning he was butt first. They thought it best we go to the Hospital, but only due to the fact that boys born before 36 weeks often have lung development issues. We left for the Hospital to go to the Doctor they had recommended, Dr. Fredrick Cummings.

Kristen’s Contractions began to get longer, and I began to drive faster, I half hoped a cop would pull me over and then escort us around all the slow trucks. By the time we got to I-35W I was pretty sure we weren’t going to stop this labor, when we passed the Texas Motor Speedway, where NASCAR races I remember thing they might hire me if they saw me driving now. We made it safe and sound to the Hospital about 2:00pm. Kristen was admitted, and I had to fill out all the admission paperwork, running from Kristen’s bed to the front desk and back.

Both Emily and Molly had come with us to the hospital and they were a tremendous help to Kristen and I. Doctor Cummings got there and said that they were indeed coming today and it was time to go to the OR. We were in the OR as a precaution due to their age. Kristen was outstanding and at 3:02 she vaginally delivered without any drugs a breeched little boy. Finn Cried almost immediately and I cut the cord, however I was suddenly torn my boy was with strangers crying, and my wife was still in labor. At her last pregnancy we had both held Emmaline within seconds after she was born. This time I could see him, but hadn’t even touched him yet. Kristen could hear him crying and was worried about him as well but another baby was on its way.

Declan had a Prolapsed Cord, which with almost any other Doctor, and almost any other patient would usually result in a C-section. Doctor Cummings is an amazing Doctor, and Kristen is even more amazing. The Doctor had to move the cord out of the way and around Declan’s head before he came out… there is only one way to do that without creating a surgical opening, and Kristen did so well, and stayed as calm as possible under the circumstances. Then the water broke and Declan came out head first, it was 3:12, only nine minutes since Finn and it felt like seconds or hours. Finn had had a little trouble breathing and was given oxygen and so they took him to the NICU, I was able to hold Declan and show him to Kristen, then he too was taken to the NICU.

Declan never needed help breathing, and Finn was breathing on his own almost as soon as he got into the NICU, nether got breathing tubes. Kristen was soon relaxing in bed, and around 5:30 she got her first look at both our sons. Their blood sugar was low, and as they were unable to eat enough at this point they were still in the NICU. As of this writing they are still in the NICU, but the only thing we are waiting on for them to get out is to be able to eat.

And so our family of three has gone to a family of five, and I love those little boys who I have only know in the flesh for less than 48 hours, just as much as the rest of my family.

Special thank you’s go out to My Beautiful, Amazing, STRONG, wife. Kristen I love you!

Emily, thank you so much for being there and for your calm demeanor in helping my wife

Molly, thank you for your knowledge, and understanding and selflessness

You are both amazing people and I am honored to know you

Lauren, thank you for all your help with Emmer

Mom and Dad thank you so much for all the little things, and big things you have done to help us get ready for this.

To everyone that spent even part of that day and the days since in prayer for us, thank you so much, we are seeing the result of your prayers daily

To God, thank you for your amazing plan and timing.

Other interesting notes about the day:

While in the delivery room, I got an e-mail and phone call, with a conditional Job offer from Medstar EMS, I start April 4th.

The lady we got to watch Emmer for the first couple of nights was not working that night and her schedule immediately allowed her to be there and spend the first two nights

The Doctor was completely available for us with nothing scheduled despite the fact that he is usually in high demand.

Our midwife had nothing scheduled that day either, although we did keep her from being able to clean her house.

Even though we drove around the lunch hour we did not hit one bit of heavy traffic

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What Is Originality?

Merriam-Webster Online defines it as:
1 : Freshness of aspect, design, or style
2 : The power of independent thought or constructive imagination

And Webster 1828 Diction are says:
3 : The power of originating or producing new thoughts, or uncommon combinations of thought; as originality of genius.

Fresh, independent, uncommon.

Originality does not have to be completely new.

Why Do I write this?
Because I have noticed a cultural drought in the area of originality, especially in the entertainment industry.

I remember Going to the movies and watching the previews, and out of 5 previews the odds would be good that I would want to see at least 3 if not 4 of the movies that where being advertised, lately I go and I am lucky if I see one preview that makes me want to see a movie. Why is this, it seems more and more movies are rely on poor writing, bad acting, no plot structure and rehashed themes, with either a big huge fx buget, or some political speech to drive it. Yes special effects are cool. but fx don't make a movie good.
There are just not that many fresh movies lately, and Hollywood trys to blame the lack of revenues on things like pirated movies, well the immediate cause of why their crappy movie doesn't make any money might be that someone downloaded it for free, but the real cause is the quality of the movie in the first place.

The Music industry is to some extent going the same way, and while taken as a whole it is not nearly so bad, if you look at the individual labels, the main part of the industry is also quite stale, Brittany spears makes it big so suddenly there are 50 spearettes out there (yes I mean Aguleria and Simpson and all the others) seriously listen to a top 100 radio station sometime and the majority of the music will vary by genre, but the any thing within those genre will sound almost identical to everything else.

Even Television is not immune look at the rash of so called reality TV shows, and you begin to see that the attack of the clones is more than just a crappy starwars movie.

Now I am fully aware there are really notable exceptions, there are innovators and risktakers out there, there are people who don't give a damn whether the critics and studios and labels like them or not they are just gonna do it anyway. I applaud those people. There is also the occasional movie/show/music group, that comes out from the mainstream with a refreshing breeze of fresh air.
But these are few, and getting rarer all the time. And the FCC and everybody else can crack down on the "illegal" downloaders and filesharers all they want, but until the root of the problem is fixed its not gonna go away.

We need innovators, we need people that don't just say things to be heard, the entertainment industry needs people with vision and passion for quality.

So this is a call for fresh air, before we all die of asphyxiation.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Interesting isn't it how people are divided on the war, and how people on both sides will get so angry and go postal if you disagree with them.

Even more interesting is looking at this country's history of wars.

Most people will agree that the revolutionary war was a good thing, most will agree that so was World War II and just about every other war we have been in (and I mean real war, not counting conflicts and civil wars)

However it as also interesting to note that in every war we have been involved in people have opposed, sometimes even violently the war effort, and when I say people I mean other Americans. The revolutionary war split the country before it was even founded, newspapers degraded and berated the colonial troops, no not British papers, but American papers.

In world war II the American press was adamantly against what they called the occupation of Germany, and before the war began many people thought it was the wrong thing to do.

It seems in each case history judged what the right course of action was... Does this mean atrocities where not committed no of course not. War is Ugly, it is horrible, it creates an environment where weak men can give in to evil, where evil can even be condoned as the proper course of action... War also breeds hero's and self-sacrifice, and loyalty and a thousand other positive things. It brings redemption , and love, and freedom.

Is the war in Iraq wrong? I think I will let history be the judge of that. Is freedom worth fighting for? Is it worth being disliked for?

In closing I leave you with the words of John Stewart Mill
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.