Category Archives: Selfishness

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Owl Post 2-17-12

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The Problem with Sexual Compatibility:

about-me-beach-calendar-options-couple-cute-couple-Favim.com-143393Last year, while working as a counselor at a Christian camp for young adults, I had the pleasure of spending a few months with hundreds of young men from around the country. If you have ever spent a large amount of time with a group of young men discussing life issues, you know I received a variety of crazy questions about sex.

For example, one of the campers asked, “If I’m supposed to wait to be married to have sex, how am I supposed to know if my wife and I are sexually compatible? Don’t I need to try out a few other girls first?” I wasn’t taken aback by his question because I knew he was just another teenage boy looking for an excuse to bend God’s guidelines. So I brushed off the question with a shallow answer so I could get back to the topic I was discussing.

Instagram, More Selfish than Facebook, Really?

IMG_0835Slate added to the wheelhouse of Facebookmakesyouselfishandlonely articles that seem to be littering the online atmosphere these days. And, while we would position our argument a little more towards the preexisting tendency to navel-gaze, the diagnosis for what social media makes us think is no less true for it.

But Slate makes the argument here that Instagram–that handsome friendzone we know and love, with those scrolling, squared filtered funshots–is actually a war app, where we battle our friends’ self-images with selfies of our own, and all the while lose ourselves more quickly than we would with Facebook. Slate, per usual, sounds a bit morose about it all, but they’ve got a point: the images of friends, coupled with the semi-valueless “Likes” we are expected to give and expected to expect, lead to a perverse self-image that is checked and rechecked with little payoff. Besides, the simple prettiness of the whole production is a bit misleading to experiences–awkward conversation, farts, inner-tensions.

The Wedding Vows | 20 Years Later:

Today my wife and I are celebrating 20 years of marriage. I could write the obligatory post or FB update on how amazing she is and how undeserving I am and how I’m glad we get to go on this journey together and I hope we get 20 more years on this journey. I believe those things and could easily say them and mean them.

I could talk about how much joy I still have when I see her or hear her voice. But we’ve both come to realize that after 10 years those things were easy to say, but after 20 there’s a whole lot of other things in our lives that won’t allow me to write something trite because 20 years of marriage isn’t easy. It’s been very hard. The fun of the first 10 years disappeared a bit in the light of other developments. We often say to each other, remember when we used to make up corny songs or give each other silly nicknames? Of course we remember, but we don’t do that nearly as much now. We still do some of that, but they have mostly disappeared in the light of other developments.

10 Ways to Save Barnes & Noble:

barnes_and_noble_450Dear Barnes & Noble,

When you announced the resignation of your C.E.O. and Nook failure, some may have called it the beginning of your end. Idea Logical’s Mike Shatzkin said you could only hope to “make the slide into oblivion more gradual.” But take note: not everyone is so pessimistic about your future. The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki argued that print books are still “an exceptionally good piece of technology—easy to read, portable, durable, and inexpensive,” and he referenced Codex Group findings that 97 percent of those who read e-books are still “wedded to print.”

So perhaps you aren’t a dying relic after all, and merely need some revamping. Over the past several days, commentators have burst forth with a cacophony of competing ideas for your revival. The following list contains some potentially promising options for you to consider –

The Freedom of Robert Galbraith:

51m4P63APoLAs we all know, expectations can be crippling. Success breeds expectations for more success and higher, sometimes unfair, scrutiny can be placed upon a person. This scrutiny can be debilitating, and after an acclaimed bestseller – well, what do you write next?

Last year, J.K. Rowling published her first book since the finale of Harry Potter, called The Casual Vacancy, under her own name. The book received mixed reviews, but almost all of the negative reviews (e.g. in The New York Times and The LA Times) used Harry Potter as the baseline – the standard – by which to evaluate the merits of The Casual Vacancy.

To escape the daunting pressures of recapturing the magic of Harry Potter, Robert Galbraith was born and a manuscript for the new book The Cuckoo’s Calling was written. Rowling sent the manuscript to several publishers under the pseudonym, and it was rejected at least once by the review staff of a publishing company who, I imagine, feels very foolish right now. But that was okay for Rowling, who knows failure is inevitable and can sometimes be a good thing. It was eventually accepted by Little, Brown and published in April.

 

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Brave – The Review I Did Not Write

I have been thinking about writing a review for this movie since I saw it. It has not gotten the praise that it is due in my opinion. I was all ready to write my own review when I ran across this one at Mockingbird.com. This review says everything I would have, but much more eloquently. If you have been on the fence about Brave, I encourage you to see it and then read this review (There are spoilers in the review so be warned). Brave is the perfect family film for the summer, especially mothers and daughters; so grab the kids and enjoy a film that builds up the idea of family!

Mothers and Daughters and Bears, Oh My! Pride and Expectation in Brave:

Just in time for Independence Day, a wonderful (if spoiler-heavy) review of Pixar’s latest from resident animation guru Jeremiah Lawson. Have a great Fourth and we’ll see you back here on Thursday:

Now in its 17th year of box office activity, Pixar may have entered into chronological adolescence, but the studio is far from becoming a brazen teenager who’s unaware of the past. With Brave, the people that brought us the Toy Story trilogy–arguably the greatest film trilogy originally conceived as a story for the screen–have given us a movie that, at first glance, runs the risk of being confused with the work of a more simple-minded studio. Superficially, at least: the protagonist Merida is an impetuous red-haired princess who feels shackled by tradition and tribal expectation. It’s a set up which, in less capable hands, could result in yet another recycling of the Dreamworks’ “be true to yourself” mantra or Disney’s own set of princess-genre bromides. Fortunately, Brave is a much better film than any of the cookie-cutter examples with which it might be confused. Continue here.

 

The Happiness Trap

Don: Why do we do this?

Roger: For the sex, but it’s always disappointing, for me anyway.

Mad Men has been asking this question all season, what is it that drives us and what do we do after we get everything we thought that we wanted? Can things really make us happy? Can one really be fulfilled in this life or is it just a quick succession of busy nothings? There always seems to be something better, just over the horizon, the grass is always greener, our friend’s wife is always prettier, our coworker’s car is always better and the list could go on forever.

Temporal things only bring temporal enjoyment. Don vividly and viciously explains this truth to a client when he says,

Are you? You’re happy happy with 50%? You’re on top and you don’t have enough. You’re happy because you’re successful for now. But what is happiness? It’s a moment before you need more happiness. I won’t settle for 50% of anything, I want a 100%. You’re happy with your agency? You’re not happy with anything. You don’t want most of it, you want all of it. And I won’t stop until you get all of it.

We are slaves to this drive and we will do and continue to do anything to fulfill it. Just look at the world with its debt and credit, all because if we can just get that thing a the very moment we wanted it, it would complete something in us like a missing puzzle piece. And yet it doesn’t, it fails.

Glenn: Why does everything turn out crappy?

Don: What do you mean?

Glenn: I don’t know. Everything you wanna do, everything you thinks gonna make you happy just turns to crap.

Don: You’re too young to talk that way

Glenn: But it’s true.

Soloman, the richest , wisest man that ever lived said,

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after.
(Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 ESV)

There seems to be little hope when we look at the world. If nothing here can give me lasting happiness, joy or peace, what is the point of living? The Apostle Paul says there is hope and he reminds us of where it comes from in Galatians 5, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Jesus says to his disciples in John 15,

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

When we look at this we think, “But this is hindering my fun, this is taking away my freedom”. Yet we have already seen we are slaves to our drive for happiness and that drive is insatiable. Jesus is offering us freedom from slavery and the gift of true fulfillment. He calls us to abide in his love and obey his commands; but if you look closely, his love and his commands are one in the same. For loves sake he has given us the way to navigate life that will lead to ultimate joy, fulfillment, peace and identity if I let go of myself and my desire to chase after the cheap thrills of fast-food dreams and one-night let downs. Jesus has lovingly given everything, provided everything if we would just let go of the mud pie and accept the vacation at the beach he is offering.

The Hell of Rights, Freedom and Entitlement

There is a a sickness that has been infecting the human race since the beginning of time. A woman decided that all she had was not enough and took the only forbidden object and ate it. Her husband followed her and ate as well, thinking, “I want to be like her and God, I want to be more than I was made to be. I don’t want to be just what I was created to be, but exceed that, break the mold.” The festering idea that I have a right to more than I have been given was born. Out of the pride of that moment the idea that humans had rights beyond what had been graciously given took over and fueled a desire for freedom beyond its original meaning. Freedom became the battle cry. Things were liberated from their intended purpose and design, warped, becoming twisted and evil. What people called freedom or rights became slavery, slavery to ideals that never should have existed.

C.S. Lewis in his dream book on Hell, The Great Divorce, illustrates this well in chapter four.

Almost at once I was followed by what I have called the Big Man-to speak more accurately, the Big Ghost. He in his turn was followed by one of the bright people. “Don’t you know me?” he shouted to the Ghost: and I found it impossible not to turn and attend. The face of the solid spirit-he was one of those that wore a robe-made me want to dance, it was so jocund, so established in its youthfulness.

“Well, I’m damned,” said the Ghost. “I wouldn’t have believed it. It’s a fair knock-out. It isn’t right, Len, you know. What about poor Jack, eh? You look pretty pleased with yourself, but what I say is, What about poor Jack?”

“He is here,” said the other. “You will meet him soon, if you stay.” “But you murdered him.” “Of course I did. It is all right now.” “All right, is it? All right for you, you mean. But what about the poor chap himself, laying cold and dead?”

“But he isn’t. I have told you, you will meet him soon. He sent you his love.”

“What I’d like to understand,” said the Ghost, “is what you’re here for, as pleased as Punch, you, a bloody murderer, while I’ve been walking the streets down there and living in a place like a pigsty all these years.”

“That is a little hard to understand at first. But it is all over now. You will be pleased about it presently. Till then there is no need to bother about it.”

“No need to bother about it? Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?”

“No. Not as you mean. I do not look at myself. I have given up myself. I had to, you know, after the murder. That was what it did for me. And that was how everything began.”

“Personally,” said the Big Ghost with an emphasis which contradicted the ordinary meaning of the word, “personally, I’d have thought you and I ought to be the other way round. That’s my personal opinion.”

“Very likely we soon shall be.” said the other. “If you’ll stop thinking about it.”

“Look at me, now,” said the Ghost, slapping its chest (but the slap made no noise). “I gone straight all my life. I don’t say I was a religious man and I don’t say I had no faults, far from it. But I done my best all my life, see? I done my best by everyone, that’s the sort of chap I was. I never asked for anything that wasn’t mine by rights. If I wanted a drink I paid for it and if I took my wages I done my job, see? That’s the sort I was and I don’t care who knows it.”

“It would be much better not to go on about that now.”

“Who’s going on? I’m not arguing. I’m just telling you the sort of chap I was, see? I’m asking for nothing but my rights. You may think you can put me down because you’re dressed up like that (which you weren’t when you worked under me) and I’m only a poor man. But I got to have my rights same as you, see?”

“Oh no. It’s not so bad as that. I haven’t got my rights, or I should not be here. You will not get yours either. You’ll get something far better. Never fear.”

“That’s just what I say. I haven’t got my rights. I always done my best and I never done nothing wrong. And what I don’t see is why I should be put below a bloody murderer like you.”

“Who knows whether you will be? Only be happy and come with me.”

“What do you keep on arguing for? I’m only telling you the sort of chap I am. I only want my rights. I’m not asking for anybody’s bleeding charity.”

“Then do. At once. Ask for the Bleeding Charity. Everything is here for the asking and nothing can be bought.”

“That may be very well for you, I daresay. If they choose to let in a bloody murderer all because he makes a poor mouth at the last moment, that’s their lookout. But I don’t see myself going in the same boat with you, see? Why should I? I don’t want charity. I’m a decent man and if I had my rights I’d have been here long ago and you can tell them I said so.”

The other shook his head. “You can never do it like that,” he said. “Your feet will never grow hard enough to walk on our grass that way. You’d be tired out before we got to the mountains. And it isn’t exactly true, you know.” Mirth danced in his eyes as he said it.

“What isn’t true?” asked the Ghost sulkily.

“You weren’t a decent man and you didn’t do your best. We none of us were and we none of us did. Lord bless you, it doesn’t matter. There is no need to go into it all now.”

“You!” gasped the Ghost. “You have the face to tell me I wasn’t a decent chap?”

“Of course. Must I go into all that? I will tell you one thing to begin with. Murdering old Jack wasn’t the worst thing I did. That was the work of a moment and I was half mad when I did it. But I murdered you in my heart, deliberately, for years. I used to lie awake at nights thinking what I’d do to you if ever I got the chance. That is why I have been sent to you now: to ask your forgiveness and to be your servant as long as you need one, and longer if it pleases you. I was the worst. But all the men who worked under you felt the same. You made it hard for us, you know. And you made it hard for your wife too and for your children.”

“You mind your own business, young man,” said the Ghost. “None of your lip, see? Because I’m not taking any impudence from you about my private affairs.”

“There are no private affairs,” said the other.

“And I’ll tell you another thing,” said the Ghost. “You can clear off, see? You’re not wanted. I may be only a poor man but I’m not making pals with a murderer, let alone taking lessons from him. Made it hard for you and your like, did I? If I had you back there I’d show you what work is.”

“Come and show me now,” said the other with laughter in his voice. “It will be joy going to the mountains, but there will be plenty of work.”

“You don’t suppose I’d go with you?” “Don’t refuse. You will never get there alone. And I am the one who was sent to you.

“So that’s the trick, is it?” shouted the Ghost, outwardly bitter, and yet I thought there was a kind of triumph in its voice. It had been entreated: it could make a refusal: and this seemed to it a kind of advantage. “I thought there’d be some damned nonsense. It’s all a clique, all a bloody clique. Tell them I’m not coming, see? I’d rather be damned than go along with you. I came here to get my rights, see? Not to go sniveling along on charity tied onto your apron-strings. If they’re too fine to have me without you, I’ll go home.” It was almost happy now that it could, in a sense, threaten. “That’s what I’ll do,” it repeated, “I’ll go home, I didn’t come here to be treated like a dog. I’ll go home. That’s what I’ll do. Damn and blast the whole pack of you . . .” In the end, still grumbling, but whimpering also a little as it picked its way over the sharp grasses, it made off.


A Selfish Post

I have to share something that happened to me today and it was kind of a big deal; I got my first famous person retweet. Now I know what you are think, “Seriously, you have over a thousand tweets and this is the first time that you have been retweeted by someone famous?” It is true though, today was the first time. What made this so interesting was that I have been thinking about social media and have read some things in the news recently about them. I was struck with how wrapped up I have gotten with getting myself heard, read, retweeted or followed. I was even complaining to a friend the other day about having a blog that no one reads. I write all this stuff and does it really just disappear into the digital void of Al Gore’s creation? I have been thinking all about me, social media has become another way to indulge in my proclivity for selfiness. In fact a new study about Facebook shows that we are more apt to be selfish on Facebook than giving (I know shocker).

The way this plays out is that the average user is more “liked” than they click “like” on other’s posts. They receive more friend requests than they send. On average, 63% of Facebook users studied received friend requests in the survey month while only 40 percent made a friend request.

The result? It feels good to be on Facebook. It might even feel better than life off Facebook. After all, there’s no dislike button, and friends are unlikely to post harsh comments on your page. Instead, people you might not have seen in years bombard you with positive affirmations day after day, year after year.

“You keep getting all these wonderful positive rewards,” said Keith Hampton, the study’s main author and a Rutgers University professor. “That’s pretty hard to give up.”

Getting more than you are giving, in terms of emotional support, “is kind of what you are looking for,” he added.

This might be the lure of Facebook, the reason it could be worth $100 billion and the reason it has 845 million users who are not leaving even if they’ve been on the site for years. The study found no evidence of “Facebook fatigue,” the idea that people get tired of Facebook after they’ve been on it for a long time.

In fact it was the opposite. The longer someone had been using Facebook, the more frequently they posted status updates, pressed “like” and commented on friends’ content. (Source)

I am finding this to be completely true. I want people to like my comments or read the articles I post and yet I am unwilling to engage them and their postings. So it’s not really social media because the social part is not happening; it’s more a affirmation hub where I can look for people to tell me that I am funny, witty and the like. This sense of entitlement that I have and that my earlier comments portray is dangerous and can be seen all over our world. I have this idea that I deserve to be heard that,

No one looks the way I do.
I have noticed that it’s true.
No one walks the way I walk.
No one talks the way I talk.
No one plays the way I play.
No one says the things I say.
I am special.
I am me. (Source)

This hit me today, I don’t have any right to be heard, read or liked. I am no different than the millions of other people that have blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and all the other myriad ways that we have created to make ourselves heard. Tim Challies summed it up nicely the other day on his blog when he said;

I’m entitled to Hell. That’s the only entitlement I have. That’s all I deserve, because of my sin. Anything else is grace, an unmerited bonus from the God of all grace. I don’t deserve a breath of life, a crumb of food, a drop of water, a stitch of clothing, a cent in my wallet, or an hour of education. I’m not entitled to one friend, one vacation, one verse of Scripture, or even one sermon. I’m certainly not entitled to salvation and heaven. I’m entitled to damnation and Hell.

That sense of entitlement makes me seek mercy, receive mercy, enjoy mercy, and be merciful to others. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, “What have I that I did not receive as a free gift of divine grace? How therefore can I ever boast as if I had actually been entitled to it or earned it?”

So, there are basically only two ways to live: with a proud and angry sense of entitlement or with a humble and thankful sense of responsibility.

To summarize, “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). (Source)