Saturday, April 19, 2014

God Doesn't Hate Evolution

     More and more Christians, at least in the Mennonite church I've noticed, are starting to accept Evolution and various other scientific truths as something they believe in. They are starting to admit that, "Oh yeah. The universe is definitely more than 6,000 years old." But then there's just one thing they don't want to admit. They will say, "I believe in evolution, but I don't believe we came from apes." What? How can you admit that there's some hard evidence in favor of evolution but then refuse to acknowledge the various fossils and bones that prove we are not excluded from evolution?
     The answer is simple. I once believed in the evolution of other species of animals but thought the idea that we came from apes is a slap in the face to God. I imagine that's basically how others think. It's almost degrading to us knowing that our ancestors were once very much like Chimpanzees. How does this disprove God though? Why does it matter how God created us? It disproves a lot of the book of Genesis, yes. A lot of people think that was just symbolic though. There was no Garden of Eden, or Adam and Eve, or talking Serpent. That was just symbolic of what actually happened in creation. Plus you gotta admit that the reason there is so much suffering and "sin" in the world today just because some people ate a bad apple way back when doesn't really make much sense. That's what we were told as children, but really, that ain't fair. You would think that an all knowing god would have known that the humans he created would have disobeyed him/her. It's not like he/she didn't see it coming.
     Okay so if you're one of those people who believes the universe is only 6,000-7,000 years old, let me quickly explain how you're very wrong because Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey explained it to me well. You must believe in some parts of scientific fact, such as the speed of light and lightyears, right? Most of the stars you see in the sky are millions of lightyears away from us. That means we are only seeing what they looked like millions of years ago because that's how long it took the light to reach us. The night sky would be a heck of a lot dimmer if the universe was only several thousands of years old. See my point?
     To me the magnificence of the universe is so fascinating. It kind of makes me believe that there is some kind of god out there. Although I have to admit that it's only natural for us to call everything we don't understand supernatural. Before we knew how the atmosphere worked and the different weather patterns, every time it rained or something we believed it to be a reaction from God whether it be anger, sadness, etc. We have a strong fear of the unknown.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What Am I Missing?

     Something I've been thinking about tonight is the importance of romantic relationships in our society and culture. I was trying to ask myself, why ARE they so important to us? It's so ingrained in everybody's mind that we just have to find the right person and we have to spend the rest of our lives with this person. It's like we wouldn't be complete without a romantic partner. But why?
     I've hit a time where I see pretty much all of my facebook friends are either in a serious relationship or are married. Everybody my age has found someone who they want to spend the rest of their lives romantically with. Lately I've been sort of giving up on love though. 50% of marriages end in divorce. Everybody knows that statistic by now, but we all know for a fact that we're on the winning side.
     I can't help but kind of come to the conclusion that it's passion driving our relationships instead of true commitment, especially with young couples. Since it's so ingrained in our brains that we have to get married people want to do it as quickly as possible. They may find a special someone in college and then hop on that opportunity to tie the knot because they may never find another person that good. It's a gamble and we always take our chances. Comedian, Aziz Ansari, in one of his stand up acts about marriage mentions how he's had shirts for two years and then realized he doesn't like them anymore, and those are just shirts. How can young people already think they've figured out what they want in life? Over time we learn more about ourselves and we change.
     Please do not take any offense to what I am saying if you are young and in a romantic relationship, which no doubt you probably are. I have to admit that maybe part of what's driving this vent of mine is maybe some slight jealousy. I see all these people who appear to be happy in a relationship. What am I missing? I feel like I'm not a part of the club. I've never really been in a relationship before. My shyness has a lot to do with it of course. I also fear making mutual life decisions with a partner. I have a hard enough time trying to figure out what I want to do with my life by myself. I can't imagine trying to figure it out with another person. Couples have to make sacrifices for each other. You can't always just go off and move to Costa Rica for a while (which is what I'm thinking about doing).

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Modern Day Pharisees

     I look at Jesus' teachings, and most of the things that he said and did and I think, "Yeah, this guy is great!" If everybody just followed what he said the world would be a better place. Even if Jesus was never real. I'll admit, I'm not even sure I believe in him... But whoever made him up must have been pretty smart. You can still learn from a fictional character. Samwise Gamgee wasn't real but I still learned from him. I mean Jesus was all about love, compassion, forgiveness, and helping the oppressed. If the whole world lived like him imagine how great life would be.
     Unfortunately though most people who claim to follow Christ don't actually live like him. Yeah, there are a lot of good Christians out there but it's the one's who are very dogmatic and black and white in their thinking that I have a problem with. I would say a good 90% of Christians today Jesus would complain just as much about them as he did with the Pharisees.
     A lot of Christians put way too much attention on the idea of sin. What's an acceptable way of living and what's not? Churches are split on issues of homosexuality, women in leadership, etc. Jesus wasn't about rules though. In fact, the way I see it, he mostly did things that broke the rules of the religious leaders. Jesus often healed people on the Sabbath, which was a huge No No at the time. He talked to a Samaritan woman at the well, which was also forbidden. What rules do we follow today just because the scriptures tell us to?
     Form your rules based on love. You take away love when you don't allow someone to marry another person based on their gender. You take away love when you don't allow a woman to serve in leadership even though it's her gift to be a leader to other people. You take away love when you don't allow another person to live in your country just because they weren't born here.
     But it's really not about studying the scriptures to see what they really meant in the context of their times. I end with one of my favorite quotes... 

"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our 
own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness." 
-Dalai Lama

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Politically Correctness

     Okay so this is going to be a short post. It's just something that was on my mind today. There are some words in the english language that when used people get offended. I'm not talking about your typical curse words like fuck, shit, ass, etc. I mean words like Retard. Words that are not politically correct to say.
     I used to call my friends retards or say something was retarded. But then I learned that many people are offended when they hear people saying that. So I stopped. But I could care less if I heard someone say that word when using it to describe something as stupid. To me the definition of that word has changed and I would only be offended if I heard someone use it to describe a mentally handicapped person. And actually mentally handicapped might not be politically correct to say either apparently. Gosh, it's so hard to be good person!
     But is there a line to be drawn? I know plenty of people who use the word retard in the non-pc way of using it but who would also be offended if you used the word "gay" to describe something as stupid. I even have always been offended by the use of it in that way, but if I can justify the word Retard than I could justify using Gay in that way. Is it possible that the people who use the word gay to describe something as stupid mean no disrespect to homosexuals? I think it is all in the intentions behind how you use it.
     What about the N word then? Oh boy... I went there. I remember when I was in the DOOR program. The people in my household were very concerned about the usage of the N word by the neighborhood boys, who were primarily of Latino decent. The way they were using it was in no disrespect to people who are black, at least in their minds. You could often hear it in this context, "What's up my nigga?" Mind you, no "er" was added at the end. It was used in a very playful, friendly matter. Again, if the intentions aren't negative is it still wrong for them to say it? I honestly don't know. Let me know what you think. I'm leaning towards no. Most words we use today used to have a different definition. Does it really matter where something originated from? People don't celebrate Halloween by worshiping the devil and evil spirits, they celebrate it by using it as an excuse to dress up and get free candy.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ridiculous physical attractiveness expectations don't just apply to women

     In this day and age you can not avoid hearing the big feminist topic of the beauty expectations for women. And they are all true. I'm all for eliminating these crazy expectations. The way the media displays women in advertisements and films are outrageous. A female does not have to be skinny or have perfect hair or skin to look beautiful. In fact, call me a chubby chaser (actually don't because I don't have a preference), but I think big girls are very attractive. Women in all shapes and sizes are beautiful. But nobody ever seems to point out that these crazy expectations apply to men as well, just in other standards.
     I don't have to explain it to prove my point. Just watch any commercial or movie with a leading man. They always have a perfect muscular body, and of course it's free of any body hair. Look at how times have changed. Sean Connery, the first James Bond, was considered very attractive in his day. Now look at the current James Bond, Daniel Craig. See the difference? Look at how the standards of masculinity have changed.
     Maybe I'm more self-conscious than most guys but I have always been concerned about my outward appearance; whether it was my long and strange neck, my lack of muscle, and once I hit a certain stage in development I realized my genes had graced me with a very hairy chest and back as well. Nowadays I trim that stuff down but should I have to to feel attractive? Should I have to take the time to go the gym to tone my muscle to have a nice body?
     Sure, the issue probably relates to females more so than males. I don't mean to stereotype but it seems that women on average don't care quite as much about physical appearance when it comes to picking a man. And men do tend to objectify women more, which of course is wrong. Girls should not have to live up to the beauty "standards." I'm just saying that some men feel pressured as well.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Movie Cliches you may not have noticed

Over the years of watching many movies, and I guess television shows can be included in this too, I have noticed certain situations that you can almost certainly see happen while watching a movie or show. Nobody else seems to notice these cliches, or at least they don't mention them. Of course, you can argue that for the sake of filmmaking and storytelling these elements spice things up. I believe that there's a way to make things more realistic yet still be good filmmaking at the same time. Here are a few film cliches that really grind my gears:

1. The Boeing 747: If a character needs to travel by air to get to a destination, they are always taking those big-ass, double decker, planes. Maybe it's because I'm cheap but I've never flown in one of those things before, and I travel a lot. I also don't see many of them when I go to the airport. Yeah they look the prettiest but the majority of air travel, even cross continental, is done in planes that are smaller.

2. The Un-interrupting Phone Call: When was the last time you were having a conversation with someone and your phone rang conveniently after you finished the discussion? This happens in movies and television ALL THE TIME!! Possibly my biggest pet-peeve. How does the person calling know if they are going to interrupt your dialogue or not? They always call at the perfect moment. This is one of those examples that is used for the sake of filmmaking. The filmmaker doesn't want to interrupt whatever important conversation is going on so they have the phone ring as soon as there's a break in the dialogue. In real life it seems like when someone calls you they are always interrupting something.

3. No Hello: Another phone cliche... When the phone rings and the character clicks the answer button, the person who is calling often won't wait for the initial, "Hello?" They assume that the person answering already has their phone to their ear and can hear them okay. Think about it next time you make a phone call. Even if the person you're calling has your number in their phone, they always give you a sign that they are really there by speaking first. In movies this doesn't always happen. The caller will just start talking.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Simplest Problem

     There are a lot of hot topics out there. I often find myself focusing on one important issue and then wondering if that's really what I should be putting my effort into. Certainly there have got to be more important issues to talk about, such as ending poverty. And sometimes I feel guilty that I'm just picking the most easily solvable problem to debate. Nevertheless, each issue is important and it's hard to multitask. One of the most important issues and the simplest problems to solve is equality for the LGBT community.
     I just watched a documentary called "God Loves Uganda." The film takes a searing look at the role of American evangelical missionaries in the persecution of gay Africans. As I watched the film I became just plain disgusted by the approach of these missionaries. Their mission is obviously to spread the gospel across the world because it's their "calling." All they preach though is rules, and they specifically make it clear that homosexuality is wrong. There is a bill now in Uganda currently in the works to make it illegal to participate in homosexual acts. The punishment will be life in prison and up to the death penalty. That's sick.
     Let me talk about why I don't think homosexuality is wrong. Many Christians say that it's a choice to be gay. Okay, but even if it were a choice why would it matter? Why can't a person be attracted to someone of the same sex? How is it going to make life worse for them and for others? Why does marriage have to be between a man and a woman? These are all questions that I haven't heard a good answer for.
     "Because the Bible says so," is not a good answer. Seriously, the verses about homosexuality are like the only ones where Christians read them without trying to find the context. Jesus says to give everything you have to the poor, "No, what he really means is..." Women must cover their heads, "No, that was just part of their culture..." A man shall not lie with another man as he does with a woman. "Yup, sounds about right to me." That's conservative Christian logic for ya.
     The negative perspective and inequality towards gay people must be stopped! It's civil rights all over again. A transgender black woman once told me about a time when a black man was calling her names like fag and saying various hurtful things to her. She mentioned how both of them grew up in a time when there were separate water fountains just for white people. She couldn't understand how this man who had once been discriminated against could be so discriminatory himself. The issue of ending prejudices against homosexuality is just as important as ending racism. Freedom for everyone is a basic human right. The gay community needs an activist like Martin Luther King Jr. to help them, someone people can look back on in history books and admire all the work he or she did to end homophobia. We are slowly moving towards equality here in the US, but hate disguised as religion is stronger than ever in some places of the world.