Thursday, November 25, 2004

the past
by Aein

So I'm in the middle of writing one of the most difficult papers I will have to compile while here at Briercrest, and I decided that I'd like to poll the audience.... A question that comes up every so often in conversation is:
which is worse, a paper or an exam... ?
so the question for you all is, would you rather write a paper, requiring some research and constructing well supported arguments, or would you rather take an exam, requiring some studying and being able to remember facts and/or concepts.... and why....

two pages, double spaced, please refrain from using the first person, ok I'm just kidding.... paper or exam, choose your poison...

Sunday, November 21, 2004

"Requiem of a Dream"

I've been battling the concept of accepting more traditional means of acquiring knowledge (and what exactly tradition is, because it seems we have a fairly modern idea of tradition) and attempting to step away from individualistic tendencies that have been established in me.

One of my friends, who is seen (by his self as well as others) as very traditional (him being a mennonite it's very easy to attain that characteristic), put forth the argument that we shouldn't step away from, or be counter-cultural to, our society (I unfortunately don't remember what his argument was for that... if he had one). It seems to me though that there is a definate need to break away from Individualistic mindsets which are so deeply rooted in everything that our society stands for. So I don't understand how we could possibly break away from the mindset and hold onto to our society when all it stands for is that mindset... It also stikes me as odd that someone who holds characteristics of being traditional is one of the most vocal persons on not being counter-cultural...

Moving on, it is apparant that there is this very modern, individualistic mindset that has engulfed North American society, and we view our other option as tradition. But... the thing that I get stuck on is 'what is tradition??' I have this debate about our sense of tradition that has some difficulty of finding a solution (hopefully y'all can help me with this). Many times when I hear tradition being talked about (and this includes class discussions/presentations that I have observed) it comes across as a shallow 'just because' form of reasoning. And how do we know the traditions that we are leaning on are truly good... especially when it seems that we're leaning on practices or thought that didn't become the tradition until 100-200 years ago... Not every tradition that has been established over time has been a good thing. Many times when I hear tradition talked about it comes across as something we should just accept and that thinking is some evil force that destroys all the goodness of tradition. When tradition is put up against the modern force of individualism people condemn those who would think for themselves... who says tradition has to mean dumbly follow any pracitce established over time, whether it have meaning and depth or is a hollow just because we've always done this??

I think now is a good time for an example (yay verbal visuals!!). Being at Bridal Quest the subject of engagment rings happens to come up every so often (like every too often) . I have one friend that just can't understand why I didn't want a diamond in my engagement ring ( he also couldn't understand why I didn't really care so much about getting an engagement ring at all... a twist tie would make me happy if I knew that that man wanted to marry me... anyhow). I'm pretty sure he's still under the misconception that the only reason for acting counter-cultural to the norm of engagement behaviour is because I just wanted to act against 'tradition.' I don't hate tradition, I in fact have a deep love and appreciation for well established practices that have a meaning (notice the key words, well and meaning... ok, ok, I know my readers are genius' I'll stop pointing out the obvious). What I hate are shallow (materialistic...??) and meaningless tradition.

Let's evaluate the tradition of engagement rings... here is a link to circa 1930's (click on circa) with their explanation of engagement rings (I can't verify that it's the honest truth... but I do love the phrase "a time-honored tradition, dating back to ancient times"... such a sense of history... heh heh... cracks me up). Anyhow they note that diamonds didn't show up in engagement rings until very end of the 15th century, but at that point it was only for the royalty and really wealthy. In our society, for the more common folk, the huge tradition of diamond engagement rings didn't really catch on until DeBeers put out a huge campaign...(I can't quite pinpoint when they started their engagement ring campaign, but here is a link to their timeline, it points out the same date for the emergence of diamonds in engagement rings and notes that DeBeer's became a company in 1888) which would partially explain why diamonds have been used for engagement rings in recent days. Now do we really think they did this to bring depth to the marriage process, because buying her something sparkly will ensure that she won't run off with some other guy (well if it's a really big sparkly maybe...). I think most of us know how the business world works and if anything they use our sentiments against us to make them money. And I think for a lot of girls these days we come to take getting a diamond (or some other expensive rock) for granted, and most conversations have little reference to symbolism of an engagement ring and more to do with their preference of size and style. Where is our sense of tradition there? A twist tie is probably be more equal with the tradition of a simple iron hoop from the early Roman times than our sparkly rocks.

What might have started off as a well established practice really has turned into cold materialism... and when we think of tradition all we can think of is diamond, because that's the only tradition our modern minds are aware of... but that is just one example of our modern sense of tradition.

Moving on, Char left a quote on my last post from Oswald Chambers, "Stop listening to the tyranny of your individuality and get emancipated out into personality." I love it. We cannot help being influenced by something, (I'm sorry I think I'm repeating myself from other posts...) but instead of thinking we are making ourselves and being pushed around by influences we refuse to recognize will (thank you Oswald) become a tyranny over us. Our ideas of an individual 'creating' himself (thank you existentialism...ugh) a crock, a lie to ourselves that only destroys us. But to blindly follow traditions seems also destructive (could you imagine if we were still sacrificing animals... because it's tradition...). We humans have a grand way of screwing up good things, by holding too tightly to the practice of a tradition, we loose the heart of the tradition.

(Conclusion time...) Maybe it's just me, but I think that if a tradition is established on a solid truth, if it is done in Spirit and truth, than no amount of thinking will ever change it. The truth, is the truth, and that's the truth... or to put it more eloquently, "All truth is God's truth" (aaah... can't remember the guy...). If we honestly are willing to let truth prevail, willing to admit our minds are susceptable to false thinking, than wouldn't questioning, or thinking for ourselves only cause us to realize the depth of that already well established tradition and appreciate it? I suppose that's where the problem comes in, we have difficulty knowing what God's truth is, and regress into allowing personal preference affect what we would choose to stand as the truth... hmmmm, ok people... gimmie some feedback, bwa ha haa

Thursday, November 11, 2004

It's official folks, I am an ass. I've been caught in the web of my own foolishness once again, and God has been faithful to save me (and others) from myself.

It turns out God has a lot to teach me about humility (I know this is a shock...) and breaking down how I see the world through human perceptions. In the midst of a conversation with a friend a few days ago I asked him if maybe we all just need to stop assesing the world through our own abilities to percieve things and look to what God would show us; wondered where we'd be then. It now occurs to me that if we'd only listen to ourselves for half a moment we'd probably be a whole lot wiser for the wear, at least I would.

Have you ever noticed that a person who is irritated by a downfall or vice is often guilty of that exact vice... yeha, me, right here, I get so irritated by people who try to slot me into a category or peg who I am, and all the while I've been pegging others around me without even realizing it. (Somedays I feel like such a retard, but I guess that's to be expected when you've realize you're being dumb) I've been doing this, trying to asses the world and all that is in it by my own faulty perceptions, when God would rather me just to stop and humbly wait for him to show me what I need to see. Maybe I'll be more patience with those who peg me now... besides it really doesn't matter what they think of me seeing as it's God who is our final judge.

well, on that note, all this makes my mind turn on what Paul was saying in his letter to Timothy, that "The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen."

Since Paul already self claimed the title of being the worst of sinners all that is left for me to take is the queen of fools (or the biggest of jerkfaces...). But like Paul I am thankful that He is gracious and merciful, not only so, but also that he has blessed me with friends that have shown that grace and mercy; in this I have truly been shown love. Hopefully also like Paul I can be used for God's great good.

And also, my friend Chan headed back to California this evening... I'm going to miss her, she has one of the sweetest hearts I think I've ever met, but I am so very glad that she is taking the courage to follow what she believes God wants her to do. Chan, I know you're going to read this so, I want you to know that I've appreciated the honor of getting to know you, right from the first absurdly early morning I met you.

ok, with all these posts on matters that concern our hearts it is long past due time for a post written on looking into ourselves and taking a long hard look at what exactly this thing is that we constantly refer to. I've actually had these thoughts running through my head for a long while, even have had some of the notes for this written out on my whiteboard for some weeks.

The question
that has of late come to my mind is exactly what our hearts are, or rather where our hearts are placed... the two questions sound vastly different, its their answers that make them the same. For if you answer what is the heart? than the answer to where your heart is at shall be answered and vice versa. I can imagine that there are probably a few of you scratching your heads wondering what kind of babble I am speaking. Well if you will allow me to lead you through answering the ponderings in my mind then you will see the questions that I am getting at.

What is this thing called a heart? There is a strange assortment of definitions and connections that this word has attached to it, from the most physical representations such as pink paper shapes and a muscle to the less visible understandings such as our emotions or the gist of an idea. I motion we grab the peak of the iceburg and pull it up in order to expose it's underbelly... we shall start with the physical.

We see it everywhere, mostly in pinks and reds, but it is not restricted by colour these days, two little round parts with a little point. Somehow this has come to represent our hearts and a symbol that is interpreted as love. On valentine's, in notes to our friends even on that crap that is propagated throughout New York City, our hearts have come down to a cartoonish figure that pretty much equals love. But more literally what is a heart? A muscle, a muscle in the centre of our body, that pumps blood (hopefully) soaked in the breath of life to all the parts of our body. If we were to try and reconcile the nonliteral understanding of heart to the most literal, I would say that our heart is the centre of who we are, and that who we are in our heart will be pumped to every part of our existence.

So how does that reconcilation of terms connect to those little paper hearts... well it seems that our society (I cannot speak for all of existence I only know views that infilitrate North America) has taken the thing that represents what is at the very core of who we are and reduced it to nothing but a flimsy peice of coloured paper; it's been reduced down to emotions.

Is that all we are? Is that all we want to be? Is the only thing that is holding us together down in our heart of hearts is how we are feeling? If that is so we have one very shaky foundation, and its no wonder that we have generations of people who constantly ride these rollercoasters that they just can't get off of. I'm fairly certain that how we view our hearts... that is how we view what is at the centre of our lives... will not only change what the things that are in it look like (such as love as feeling vs love as a choice, but what love truly is, is a rant of it's own)... but will also change what is pumped to every inch of your life. That is to say how you will look at life and how you will interact in the world. If emotions are at the centre of your being, than you will act and make decisions based on emotions.

What else is there? What other options do we have?

I personally think we should all become vulcans... but really vulcans have feelings too, they're just repressed... I don't ever recalling repressing anything being such a fantastic idea (just turns out quite ugly in the end). More seriously I think we need to search for something deeper to put at the centre of our lives. Emotions are still there, goodness I couldn't get rid of them if I wanted to, but it 's the focus or centring on emotions that is the problem.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I have a daily devotional book called A Year with C.S. Lewis (who is one of my favorite authors), and yesterdays and todays devotionals were on courage... I really appreciated what he was saying (though I should note I most often appreciate what he has to say) and felt the desire to share with you all a few notes on his thoughts.

Both incerpts are from his book, The Screwtape Letters, a book written from the perspective of a demon in hell.

"He [God] see as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chasity or honesty, or mercy, which yeilds to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful until it became risky."

"The point is to keep him from feeling that he has
something, other than the Enemy [God] and courage the Enemy supplies, to fall back on, so that what was intended to be a total commitment to duty becomes a honeycombed all through with little unconscious reservations... For remember, the act of cowardice is all that matters; the emotion of fear, in itself, so sin and, though we enjoy it, does us no good."

I encourage you to read the Screwtape Letters if you want a good read that really puts how the devil twists truth and tries to manipulates us into perspective. I also encourage you to check out 'tell me no lies' the poetry blog (the link is under literary links) I just put up a poem from char....

I will have another post very soon, possibly today, cause I think too much. I guess that's why I deemed myself a chronic thinker, there must be some benefit from it... in any case it's not hurting me, at least not in any permenant ways.
ok kiddies, maintain good feet health and trim those toenails cause you never know where those little guys are gonna take you.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Yesterday I went out for lunch at a Thai restaurant with some friends, after we drove around Moose Jaw and found some really cool spots. I really enjoyed their company, just hanging out going on little adventures in Moose Jaw. Although finding really cool hills that over look the river and super old biuldings that are now retirement homes is fun and random, I would have to say the thing that I truly and most deeply enjoyed about these people was the conversation that we had over dinner. One of the major topics is something that crosses my mind from time to time... but it was more than just the topic, it was how open it was, how intimate and deep it was. mmm.. it was very encouraging, and made me smile.

Anyhow, I'm going to share with you about what that major topic was... we were talking about boys and girls and the difficulties of knowing how to approach the whole letting the other person know that you are indeed interested in them. It is one thing that I've had many conversations about, pretty much what I think, and we all somewhat agreed (it was good to know that I wasn't completely off in my thinking), was that there is a careful balance that a girl needs to obtain.

There are two extremes, the one extreme (which I tend to more resemble) is to completely shy away from the person to become introverted around them and not allow yourself to be vulernable. The other extreme is to be flirtatious to point of manipulation and pursual; there is careful flirting, and then there's flirting that manipulates the other persons feelings, attempts to convince that person to like them. I say this is pursual because the girl is indeed chasing after the boy.

So, finding a balance, a girl should not pursue the boy, this isn't a "it isn't proper for a girl to be the pursuer" statement. Just drop the whole what is proper idea, this isn't about social boundaries (which in todays North American society it is actually acceptable for girls to be the initiators, or at least it's frequent) this is about finding the correct role in a relationship. If the girl is pursuing the boy, the whole relationship is off on a bad foot, because the guy is not leading... and if the girl continues to be the leader than it's going to end up being a weak sauce relationship. Or the guy will wake up and realize later that he didn't actually like her, he just thought he liked her because his emotions were manipulated. And then everyone gets hurt.

Ladies, it's an art, not a competition. If you think there might be a mutual interest, if you think you need to let a guy know that there's an interest on your part, you need to find that careful balance between pretending he doesn't exist and pouncing on your prey. There is an inbetween point where you can show interest without being overbearing. If you show nothing you can't be disappointed when he doesn't ask... he needs to know there is some slight chance that you would be interested. Ok he needs some very definate signs that there is a chance. But if you are overbearing than... well... I already explained that.

How do you find that balance? What does it look like? Well I can't give you a method or formula, if it were that easy there probably wouldn't be so much debate over the subject. All I know, is that we need to be aware of our actions and to be careful not to hit either extreme.

One thing that occurred to me when considering this topic was that if the girl makes it too easy for the guy (by being the pursuer) than there is no challenge for that guy to be a man. He risks nothing if she makes it too entirely clear where she stands. If there is no risk, than there is no challenge for him to grow some balls, become a man, and pursue her. And every woman needs a man (Carolyn Dawn Johnson even says so, so there).
And on that note I would like to say, boys are confusing.

hmph, well, that's about it, please give me some thoughts!! INTERACT PEOPLE!! stop leaving me hanging... I love you all by the way and appreciate the fact that you spend time reading my meager thoughts.... but I want to hear yours!!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

How to get Jo's look

That's right kiddies, you can get down with the styling's of Jo.
You've noticed everyone around you has caught the fever,
seen those stars flaunt the fashion on tv,
seen the popular girls at school getting down with it,
everyone wants in on the Jo flare!

With these simple step by step instructions you too can acquire the unique Jo look!

Step 1: Stop catering your appearance to others tastes

I was signing into hotmail the other day and the 'hot topic' of the day just happened to catch my eye. Oh don't get me wrong it was as useless and dull as most popular media 'hot topics' usually are, but seeing as I already had the wheels constantly turning on this subject it just happened to spurn me on. I suppose you're wondering what this elusive topic was that got me all fired up... no my blog readers are much too smart to be wondering that, I'm sure you've all picked up on the completely and utterly obvious theme that I've already given... it was "How to get Kiera Knightly's look" You know Kiera Knightly isn't a bad looking gal, I'll admit that, but personally I don't think I want to emulate someone who admitted that she was quite concerned in her last movie that her breasts didn't look large enough (which was conviently fixed by the editing crew). She, like many others, unfortunately cater to what the Western society percieves to be as beautiful... or at least catering to the lustful minds of guys. (at this point I will make note that not every guy is like that, nor is it just a case of girls catering to guys, it goes both ways... but we've got to admit a lot more girls spend time, money and concern trying to make themselves look good... there's nothing wrong with looking good... what I am calling in to question is motives and the heart).
I'm sure a few of you have heard me say this before but we've got a generation of victims of society... There are teenagers out there who are pummeled by mass media being told what looks good, what they should look like, what is normal. These kids are ignorant of the motives that drive the fashion industry, thus making their motives innocent. Stupid, but innocent... They're just trying to fit into the norm that they are told to conform to.
But I'm actually getting off track, I meant this theme to lead into a more different form of catering to tastes, a more specific catering of tastes. I suppose this could also lead back to loosely connect with my thoughts on peacock rituals (refer back to my post on Feb. 15, 2004... actually now that I reread that post its not a loose connection at all... this actually expands on that original observation) Anyhow the more different thing that I am trying to get to is that the unfortunate drive we humans feel in order to attract the opposite sex... the peacock rituals as I've called them before. Now it is inevitable that we will want to make ourselves look extra-special for that super awesome great person that we know. There's nothing wrong with wanting and wishing that person would take notice of you... What saddens me is the level that many people take it to. (I guess I should also note that this happens outside of sexual attraction, it is also an issue of being accepted by people, or idolizing an image; wanting to be the thing that you are dressing/acting like)
"What is this next level Jo?" you ask, well kids, I'm sure you've seen it, I know I'm not some sort of observant genius... I'm usually the least observant person (I'm not dumb, but I space out a lot... space out to Joland of wonderfully deep thought...). Well this too I noted in my age old post, but sometimes people feel the need to deliberately cater to someone elses personal taste. (And because I love visuals I will give you an example) Say Susie has a crush on Johnny here at Briercrest (cause this place seems to be one of the ultimate breeding grounds for stupid behaviour) and finds out that Johnny is an avid fan of skater girls. Susie, most definately is not a skater chick, more of a preppy girl really... so Susie one day, or maybe just every often, starts wearing skater chick clothes. An unfortunate thing about this silly attempt to appeal to someone else is that quite often it is done subconsciously. Not realizing that the reason they suddenly want to dress the way that just happens to appeal to that super awesome great person really is them just appealing to that person... Or to put it outside the context of sexual attraction... Say George has always thought that cowboys always have appeared as the menliest of men (well cmon they don't get any manlier than Clint Eastwood... really) and desires to appear, desires to be a man himself. So what does he do? Well duh, dress like a cowboy.
These people are dressing as something they're not, appearing as something they're not in order to appeal to that person (or in the case that was outside of sexual attraction they're doing this to convince themselves, and everyone else, that they are something they aren't). This creates a false image of who you (turning it away from little Susie and back on ourselves) are, and honestly is slightly manipulative... maybe not intentional, but manipulative none the less.
There are million different questions and thoughts that tie into this or extend from here, but what I want to get to (and I have to tie this up soon because I'm supposed to be studying for my exam of death that is tomorrow...) is that really I want a guy to be able to choose me for qualities other than how well I can cater to his taste (or dress like Kiera Knightly) this doesn't mean that I won't make myself... presentable... (though it has often crossed my mind to shave my head and wear only grubby clothes... but I mean I would like a boyfriend, so doing my best to turn off every guy in the world probably isn't the best approach) but it does mean that I'm going to do my best to not cater to a specific persons tastes in order to make him like me... Of course this can be swung to the other side of pendulum where you go around purposely not dressing anything like the tastes of the super awesome great person. This is also silly. How do we find a balance? I haven't a friggin clue, I just rant about it.
What it comes down to is that you are going to always be influenced by something, you can't really be an individual (and this is coming from someone who stands out like a sore thumb even when she tries to blend in), there really is no such thing.... existentialism is a crock, you're going to be influenced by something. The best thing to do is to accept this and carefully choose your influences instead of falling victim to any old influence that comes around. The first best influence of course being God, following Christ, being shaped by His Word... this by no means will dictate how you dress (despite what some Western Christian subcultures might think) but if you allow God to shape your life, He will make you a more stable person with a solid character. From there we can handle, and choose our other influences more wisely...
Ok I am done... please tell me what you think.... tell me if I'm wrong, tell me if I'm an obnoxious jerk... just talk to me.... studying time.