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Benjamin-Newton.com and Cloudy.diamonds Books Online in Parts by Ben Huot

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Complete Introductions Collection 2: Chapters 3

Ben Huot

July 1, 2018

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Table of Contents

Mission Articles

Ending Suffering

Mission Approach Overview

Most problems we encounter, in the world, these days are solved by highly intelligent people, in elite teams. But the most difficult problems have to be solved by you, as an individual, often times without any outside help. The most difficult problems do not have answers: the solution is to manage the problems and not let them control you. These are the problems I deal with, on this website and in my own life. These are also the kind of problems our current world has to deal with, as well. Nothing less than divine intervention will save us; for the biggest problems, we need to enlist the grace of God.

I have spent a decade and a half studying the major world religions and world history, to try to find a way to explain who I am in a way that is both accurate and understandable to the lay person. The technical terms would be my unique philosophy combining Philosophical Taoism and Christian Existentialism, in order to find a way to understand the Bible better within its Asian and mystical traditions. I found along the way that Christianity first caught on in what is now occupied by Islamic fundamentalists, from North Africa and East Africa to Iran and Central Asia and has surprisingly close connections to Islam, in almost all of its practices and worldview.

I am now able to explain who I am in a few simple words. First of all I am very religious, I am very literal, I have Schizophrenia, and I have extremely bad luck. To deal with these challenges, I have leveraged my creativity, my attention to detail, and my inability to give up on anything, to live a happy life. I took many risks, when I joined the military, and came out of that miraculously well. I now choose to live a very carefully thought out life and take as few risks as possible.

In my designs and my writing, I aim to be as clear, concise, and direct as possible, while still being polite. Do not assume that because I use simple words, to explain the ideas, that I talk about, that my writing is easy to understand. This site is based on philosophy, so there is little challenge in the vocabulary, but it requires you to think, to understand.

Our society tries very hard, to get us to not think, so it is not easy for most people. If you want to have purpose and meaning, in your life, it will require a tremendous amount of time, effort, and discipline. There are no shortcuts, to peace and happiness. You may not be able to change the world, but you can change the way you think and the decisions you make. You may be in a very bad situation, but no matter where you are, you can always improve your situation, by making good choices.

One of the things that makes my ideas unusual is how I put together the simple ideas that our establishment perpetuates to divide us and find a more convincing complex situation. I have never been interested in fiction, as I believe, from reading and experience, that reality is much stranger and more interesting than the overly simplistic ideas one person can think up.

For example, I am very patriotic and I am not very convinced of the public perception of the Islamic world, but, at the same time, I cannot accept that a religion would be as dominant and successful for these many centuries without having wisdom and balance in it. I think that the big movements in extremist ideas in Islam today remind me of the people that anger me, when I go to church (although Christians in America today rarely go out and commit genocide, no matter how extreme or delusional their ideology is).

Just around Columbus and after the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the three most powerful empires and advanced societies in the world were all Islamic countries. And these extremist ideas in Islam, although I don't think are fundamental to Islam, but have been there for many centuries before Europeans or Americans dominated the world. The real downfall of Asia and the ascent of Western Europe is economics - the Industrial Revolution introduced manufactured goods which people paid more for than commodities (raw materials). And that is all based on cheap coal and gas.

Although I believe the modern world economy is in free fall, I cannot see any other political power providing a better place to live than America. Everyone will either sink or fall together while the Islamic world, India, China, and Russia will be hit so hard by global warming that they will descend into a much worse situation than we will be in.

I see the same unemployment problems in America spread to China and India. What people don't seem to realize businesses are naturally going to cut as many jobs as possible, because salaries are their biggest expenses. The sad reality is this Information Revolution has created a society, that does not need the entire work force to operate. The bigger problem is what we are going to do with all the extra people and increased energy desired, with less energy and space available.

The scariest threat to America is the increasing power of private businesses and their ability to take down the entire world economy because of their obsessive compulsive gambling addictions. Everybody now is afraid of the NSA, although they seem to not connect the dots to the Patriot act. Facebook and Google have more information than the NAZIs, STASi, or KGB ever had and both face few laws constraining what they do with it and people gladly giving up this information of their own free will.

This situation will only get worse, until we ask God to intervene. People now seem to think we are entitled to modern conveniences and that our lives are better because of our modern plumbing, SUVs, electricity, and Internet. Also, discoveries do not just happen when you need them to happen and there are certain physical laws of the universe that we cannot just transcend, meaning we struck gold with oil and squandered it and there likely be nothing that can replace it. America has only been around for 200 years. North America will certainly be there in the future, but without the world economy the concept of America may be irrelevant.

But wouldn't a life free from our addictions and the ability to be closer to one another be worth the downfall of the one world economy. We have no control over the future. But one thing is certain: the world will be entirely different at the end of my life than it will be at the end of my parents life. There will be greater changes in the 21st century than there were in most of recorded history. We are definitely at a great crossroads and no one knows where it will take us, except God.

Problem of Suffering

Many people think about the problem of suffering as a problem for religions, that profess there is an all powerful, perfectly good ruler of all His creation. Many people overly simplify this situation and think because God can get rid of suffering and doesn't that He is being cruel by not doing so. That is caused by a poorly thought out chain of causality and responsibility.

Just because one person has more money than someone else or is smarter or stronger they are not entirely responsible for fixing the weaker person's problems, if they did not directly cause the other person's problem. All suffering comes from our mistakes, that God has given us the ability and the strength to not do and warned us of this and we refused to follow these rules. God then also intervenes constantly, in order to bail us out, of all sorts of self-inflicted suffering we find ourselves in.

I am certainly not at peace about myself or others suffering and I very much would like God to always intervene, to prevent any suffering, but God owes me and everyone else nothing, as He did not cause any of the problems. It also seems very unfair that entirely good victims like animals that are weaker suffer do to the bad choices of stronger people's bad behavior. Additionally, God offers us the freedom to choose to live forever, without suffering, just by humbling ourselves before God and admitting our mistakes, which even kings and emperors have done willingly.

So suffering is a problem, but it is ours, not God's. The problem of suffering will never fully be resolved. Many of the major world belief systems deal with nothing but the problem of suffering. I do not blame God for suffering because it is our immorality (sin) that causes all suffering. The attitudes we have and how we treat others are the causes the all suffering in the world.

But I do not trust God or feel as close as many other Christians are. People say that God gets you through suffering and that He gives you peace, but that is of little comfort to me. I just don't want to suffer the pain. God constantly intervenes supernaturally, to bail us out of the consequences, of stupid decisions and protects us from powerful evil forces, but that does not make the pain we do suffer any less painful.

I appreciate that I will never suffer after I die, but even 5 minutes can be an eternity, as I learned in the military. As far as having God help you through suffering, from my experience, you make it through, whether you want to or not and the human body can suffer unbelievable amounts of pain and still survive.

So how is it helpful to have the strength to get through? You will suffer whether you like it or not and it will pass eventually. This is of little comfort. There is no promise that you will not suffer beyond description, for the rest of your life. There is no limit to the amount of pain you can suffer.

Just because you felt you have gotten your share of suffering, there is no less chance you will not suffer in every other way a person can suffer. Just because you are mentally ill does not mean you cannot have physical disabilities, as well. And many that suffer the most are very kind and do not cause others suffering but are just innocent victims like animals.

Good people suffer terribly and for no reason and evil people often don't suffer at all and for no reason. The Bible is the only belief system, that I have studied, that gives sufficient explanation, to how the world works, but that is of little comfort, when you are suffering. This may all seem irrational, but it is how I feel about it.

Faith is not easy, but not believing in God will not make the pain hurt any less. I believe everything the Bible says, but the Bible doesn't give a solution to how to not suffer in this life or even put some sort of limit on how much you will suffer or how long you will suffer. I do know that karma does not explain this well, I certainly do not have the strength to control my mind through meditation, and modern medicine can only provide so much relief.

It is ironic, that when you are suffering from severe depression, the psychiatric response is to lock you up, which makes you more depressed. Doctors never prioritize highly people who are in severe pain and so, if the problem you have is not life threatening, they just ignore you. But depression can be very painful, even physically, and though although you may not be suicidal, you still suffer greatly.

There are not any fast acting anti-depressants, so do no not go to the hospital, if you think you are in crisis, because all they will do is lock you up. Get on an anti-depressant, as fast as possible. Do not attempt street drugs, because, while they may provide temporary relief, they will cause even deeper depression afterwards.

That means you are on your own and you need to rely on yourself and your creativity and determination to find a way to suffer as little as possible. The biggest thing to avoid is military service. The happiest day of my life was when I left the military. I would even go so far as to say happiness is not being in the military. There is no place more depressing than an army base, except maybe prison.

Helping others suffer less is a major goal in my life, which does provide some comfort. If I cannot experience happiness, maybe someone else can and maybe I can help with that. Sometimes there are no solutions to a problem and the best you can do is manage the situation and minimize the symptoms. The only thing you can be sure about suffering is your response to it.

The Ends Never Justify the Means

I have enjoyed watching a TV show called Burn Notice. In the fictitious situation in which a government intelligence contractor gets blacklisted, because of corruption in the intelligence agencies. One of the things his character says, on the show, that sticks with me is: If you are to work for the CIA, you will have to accept that they will do bad things for good reasons and good things for bad reasons.

We often think of ethics in terms of objectives. We think it is wrong to do something, because of our bad intentions. What really matters is not why you do something so much as what you do. You cannot start out doing something evil and expect something good to come out of it. People have the rights to believe anything they want to, no matter how crazy or ridiculous it is, but it is only when they attempt to hurt someone that they are breaking the law.

The sad thing, that happened recently, in the US is that people are afraid of death so much they will do anything to prolong it. People go through huge amounts of pain and their entire life savings just to live a year or two more. This is why Americans pay much more than the rest of the world for only I sightly better health care. Americans are so afraid of the very low chance that they will be hurt or killed from a terrorist attack, that we just threw away our entire constitution and reason for our nation's existence.

Many people have suffered greatly, to protect our system of government, which was purposely designed to limit any one person's ability to do anything they wanted. We just ended up implementing our own secret police, like the Gestapo, STASi, or KGB, just using computers instead of people informants. We have a higher chance of being killed by a toddler than we do of a terrorist attack. Generations of Americans have sacrificed greatly in many wars, some of them worldwide, to keep our system of government, so that we would never have to live in a country run by secret police.

Hitler was evil not because of his intentions, but because of how he treated people, in order to reach his objectives. Despite what you hear from academics, there is nothing wrong with Nationalism. Nationalism means promoting things, that are good for your country. Every government should be run this way. But when you try to destroy an entire race to do so, this is evil. Ironically, Hitler was actually elected into power, even though people knew he was going to be a dictator, because they had a stagnant economy and politicians could never agree on anything.

Many pro-NAZIs have tried to blame Poland for the Holocaust, but the only reason why the death camps were all in that country was that was where most of the Jewish people in Europe lived. Poland was a very powerful, progressive, wealthy, and tolerant country for centuries up until the 19th century. It was the best place to live in Europe, until the last couple centuries.

The reason why the French and English treated Jewish people better, during World War II, was that they kicked them out of their country, back in the Middle Ages. The English were the first to deport everyone practicing Judaism. When Jewish people escaped Germany, during Word War II to America, we wouldn't let them in and sent them back to Germany.

Americans did not know about the Holocaust until after the war, but American leaders did know, during the war. The Catholic church was running an intelligence operation against Hitler, so they are falsely blamed for promoting anti-Semitism, during World War II. And the British were the first to create concentration camps.

This is the way our justice system works, too. If you destroy property or hurt someone, in the process of promoting something positive, like government reform, you still go to prison. If you kill someone for a good reason, the living loved ones are not going to find your apology sufficient compensation, for their loss. If you destroy something, even by accident, you are responsible for replacing it or compensating the affected person's loss monetarily.

Some things are just wrong, no matter what the reason. While it is inevitable that people eventually die and in a relatively short period of time, for all of us, there is no excuse for torturing people. When someone sacrifices themselves for this country, especially if they prevent a whole war, we should be willing to go to war, to protect them and make sure they get home safely. If we need to be able to deny any involvement, if agents are caught, we need to not do that mission, in the first place.

People who are permanently disabled, because of injury sustained, while serving in the military, need to be well taken care of by the government, no matter what the cost. People serving in the military need to be paid a livable wage and priority for military expenditures should go first to inexpensive boring equipment, that really protects people on the battlefield. When we can have the best education system in the world, by buying one less aircraft, we need to focus on where the money can go the farthest.

Living Christianity

God will not guarantee you will be free from suffering in this life. First of all He didn't cause it. Second of all, He never promised us we would not suffer. Third, He constantly intervenes to help save us from our stupid decisions. Fourth, he has guaranteed we will never suffer again after we die, if we would only choose to believe in Him.

It is a complex and scary world. What then is the solution to suffering? Use common sense, be important enough (but not too important), learn as much as you can, and communicate that to others, all to prevent avoidable suffering. This is difficult to accept, but we need to be the vehicle, for the prevention of our own and the planet's suffering.

Some of the best ways to suffer, as little as possible are: trust people to only do what they think is in their best interest, do not stand in the way of wealthy and powerful people, do not stand out or be famous, avoid getting addicted to anything, expect things to not work and for things to fall apart. Be happily surprised, when things do work out.

Our civilization may collapse, at any time, just as we may die at any time. We have peaked a while back and making money and dealing with the government will get worse and worse. Nothing will remain secret, things will cost almost nothing, but few people will have a job at all, we will have a huge die off of animals, huge sea level rise, much more extreme weather, insects and disease will be out of control, corporations will rule in place of government (as they are even now basically the same thing), and our country will become a third world country (and other countries will do much worse).

Do not look for hope, in the world of money and science. We have created the ultimate society, that human minds can create. This is what is killing us: we all live like kings did in the past. The world cannot provide a life like a king, for billions of people, but we will try. Things cannot grow forever.

The earth is finite and getting to other planets is many times more difficult, than the average person believes. Even with many times more severe climate change and environmental damage, it would be much cheaper and easier to fix the Earth, then to get to another planet, which (even if Earth like), would likely be many times worse than a worst case scenario Earth.

You cannot change the way the world works, but you can change the way your mind thinks. You can make where you are the way things should be. Find a small place or small group of people with whom you can make the best it can. Focus on your family, your friends, and your neighbors and keep on improving the kind of person you are to them.

Pray for God's will to be done, rather than your own. Be creative in finding things you can help fix or improve, that is within your direct power. Be happy about even minor victories. Don't expect to see the results of your prayers - faith means believing when you cannot see. Don't expect politics, charities, business or government to help you solve your problems.

Get a basic understanding of the spiritual world and orient your thinking from material things to spiritual things. Believe that the spiritual world is more important, than the physical world. We think that having more money or people makes more difference, but intention and choices are the most powerful of all. God is really in control and the government and businesses really are not. The enemy to your happiness is you, not your rivals.

Just one person praying can and will literally change the world by God's direct intervention. God wants to and does intervene all the time, but we are unwilling to believe that, because we want to be in control. But God will only intervene, when we ask Him to, as He wants us to have the freedom to be able to control our own world.

Forget everything you see and hear. This is not real. What you feel and what you believe are many times more real. Positive things are happening now and will in the future. You will never hear about them on the news. The next generations are very interested in spiritual things and do not have any negative preconceptions or believe any sort of heretical theology. They are clean slates and are prime for huge changes.

There are more Christians in the world now, then ever before. Christianity is not dependent on America or Europe, in any way. Missionaries are now being sent from Africa to Europe. What you see now in America and Europe is not typical of the rest of the world or the rest of history.

America only makes up 5% of the world's population. Christians out number Muslims 2 to 1 in the world and are in the fastest growing countries on earth. Even China has a huge number of Christians, out in the open, despite living under complete dictatorship and an anti-religion government.

Most Christians in the world are poor and are being persecuted by rich Muslims in parts of the world our media rarely reports on. There are still Christians in the Middle East who are still there from New Testament times and they are not Arabs or Jewish. America and Europe are evolving into third world nation status, but the rest of the world is getting worse than that. Europe may be overrun by Islam, but America is not at risk of that, by any stretch of the imagination. Despite what you hear in the media, Mexico is merging its culture with America; we are not becoming Muslim.

Just understand that big changes does not mean anything you will be directly aware of and does not mean you will be able to witness huge changes in numbers of people or money or politics. The things that really matter are that you try your best and refuse to give up. You cannot let what you cannot do be a measure of what you should do. The world will turn more and more against God, but that does not mean that God is intervening less.

We are conditioned to believe, that only what we see is real and if we do not have factual evidence, that we can measure that something isn't happening. Do not give up that easily. You either believe in Christ or you do not. You have to choose to believe in God and you have to choose to believe His methods work. No powerful person is ever going to give God credit for anything. So, yes we can live happy lives as the world burns. But there will also be good surprises coming too.

Defy your greatest adversary - your own mind. Choose to be happy, as you choose to follow God. Find the good things in life and cherish every little victory. And choose to believe that God will answer prayers and His will will be done. Worse case scenario, we will only live a little longer and we know there will be no suffering after we die, if we choose to take God's offer of grace.

Advice

Who Should I Follow and What Should I Do?

The point of my writing, other than supporting those who already feel the same as idea, like people with similar experiences might, I encourage people to think critically. I see this as the chief aim, of at least my studies of philosophy. Critical thinking might sound like a buzz word, but all it means, as I use it, is to not just believe everything anyone else tells you. If you hear from a friend, a website, a TV show, a sermon, or whatever I encourage you to not just take what is said at face value.

We are all worried about financial scams and risky financial investments, but there are also things to avoid in terms of belief systems and individual beliefs. For one thing, I think it is perfectly reasonable and almost always necessary to not accept every single belief of any belief system. God is infallible, but people aren't. God knows everything about your situation, but people don't. Whenever you read something that isn't scripture, it is an interpretation of the source of your faith.

Even in Christianity, other than salvation and general rules, there are a wide range of different ways to understand, believe, and live your life for God. Most importantly, you need to find a way to serve God and be happy at the same time. It is worth doing almost anything to get to that point. Dying for God is great, but living for Him is greater. Christianity is supposed to be a lighter burden, than living for ourselves and money, so do not give up joy in service of your God.

Ultimately, I think most people can agree that ethics is about doing what is best for everyone, including you, in the long term. People sin (or do immoral things) because they are fun, but the consequences later on are not fun. The consequences cause most of the pain we experience in life.

Many people like to drink alcohol in excess, but the next day feel lousy. People have sex with different people without protection and then find they have a disease that they may or not be able to get rid of. People get a huge bunch of things on credit and then have to pay for it (literally) for years on end. You eat the wrong foods or not enough of the right ones and you have worse health later on in life.

Many people believe that the Bible is about sacrifice, but it is really about following God's rules (obedience). God's rules are designed to make us happier in the long run. Following God is rational because you suffer less, by following Him, than by not following Him.

I am all for minimizing pain in life, and it is hard to see in the Bible but the Bible subtly does answer this question: accept God's free gift of salvation, follow Gods rules, learn how to live wisely, let God make you a better person, choose to grow and treat others better, and become an example for other believers.

For some reason God lets us have a huge amount of freedom, to run our societies how we want to and many people suffer because of this. God constantly intervenes to help, but why does He allow this freedom, in the first place? I think this can be understood better with the analogy of sin or breaking God's rules, as similar conceptually, to overcoming addictions.

In addiction counseling, people debate over whether or not addiction is a disease that you need others to intervene and cure you of and the other side that says you are addicted because you choose to be and until you find it within yourself to say no, your life will only get worse. This is another paradox: both are true. While God gives us the strength to say no to what hurts us in the long run, we must continually choose and not give up on the path to recovery.

The important thing to remember, that will guide you, as to when you should follow what others say and when you should not is first your conscience, second your common sense, and third reflection, reading, and talking to others you respect. Ultimately, what makes you happy in the long term is usually the right things to do. The concept of delayed gratification is hard to accept, for many of us, but having discipline, even in a fragile and weary state, can be one of the critical thing, that brings you up.

Although God does not want us to suffer continually in life, we should work to help reduce the suffering of others. This should lift us up emotionally and help us get perspective beyond our circumstances. Hard work and making good choices is a healthy way to live and the biggest way to reduce your pain, that you have control over. Be creative and enjoy life, but do not forget to be responsible and wise: you do not have to choose between the t

Risk and Change

People almost always do what is in their own best interests, unless they hold to a certain ideology. For someone who believes in an ideology, that ideology is the most important motivating factor for them. I'm an ideologue too, but of a very different kind.

People who do what is in their best interests are often called opportunities. Is an independent thinker an ideologist, opportunist, or something else entirely? Can both motivations coexist and not contradict each other, in one person? Is it really necessary to suffer, for our convictions? Is there a better or, at least different way?

Fundamentally, we are all created and designed, to be individuals, whether we like it or not. We certainly will be judged that way. Eventually, everyone is forced to make many decisions and face the consequences.

I realized, soon, that it would be very difficult, for me to have joy in life, if I couldn't get it, from attempting, to improve the world, because it is always a bad day to have Schizophrenia.

It quickly gets more complicated than that. And there are other major factors, as well. For one thing, most decisions are at least partly altruistic and partly self serving. Risk and addiction complicate things further.

Some decisions have more risk, to yourself or to others, than other decisions. There are also some decisions, that are just plain bad decisions, all the way around: mistakes or misjudgments. Addiction happens, when you do something over and over again, even though you really do not want to, and the long term consequences are not good, for yourself or others. Thinking long term is almost always good, for everyone.

Sin and addiction are very closely related. In Romans, the Apostle Paul says that he does what he does not want to do. This is the definition of both sin and addiction.

You often hear about the Saint Francis quote, that a person prays that they are able to accept the things they cannot change and to change the things they can. The essential third part is to ask God, for the grace, to know the difference.

Existentialism is very Christian, in its very nature, because it is the study of what makes people people and not inanimate objects. Christ came to earth, to show us how we should live, as human beings. We define who we are, by the choices we make.

If you want to change your behavior and your thinking, or want to think or act different, from those around you, you need to first change what you read and seek out different life experiences. Then you make these changes to your mind real, by making different choices. This makes you a different person.

To change your mind, it would be wise, to ask and let God help you. This is one of the few choices, that everyone has absolute control over. This also takes time and the making of many decisions, along the way.

People today think, that to solve their problems, they need to change others and the world. To really change the world, you need to change yourself. The only thing you really control is your own thoughts and actions. And the hardest and most critical thing, to change, is your own mind. It is always easier, to solve other people problems, than to solve your own (and less useful).

This is something never tried before, except by a few people. In this way, even one person makes a huge difference, but you will only see this through faith. And the really good part is that this can be done, at little to no risk, to your own health or safety.

Who we are is determined by the decisions and actions we take, in response to our situation. People are often in very unfortunate situations, that they have little control over, but wherever you are, you can always improve your situation, by making better choices.

Let's do something greater then changing the world; let's change our own minds and live better lives, so that we become better people. The rest will follow, but you will never see the connection to the results, and someone else will take credit for it.

Just remember, this is not an all or nothing situation. Use your brain a little and you can both take good care of yourself and your family and still change the world, for the better.

Realistic Expectations

Many people look at the ideas of contemporary socially conservative Christians and are shocked, that their views seem so extreme and oppressive, from a socially liberal point of view. The original ideas of Calvinism have often been criticized, even within the Christian community, as being unkind and uncompromising. Calvin emphasized some things, that before then and even today, people don't want to hear about, which come directly from what Jesus said and did.

Our popular conception of Jesus is that he was all about compassion and humility, which is very true, but there is more to a balanced life and the teachings of Jesus than that. It is more difficult to ignore this in the writings of the Apostle Paul, in the letters to the early churches, which are now part of the New Testament. God is not just compassionate and forgiving. He has an absolute and unchanging moral standard for us.

God is first and foremost all powerful and perfectly God. He was the only One, Who created us directly, in a model that reflects His spirit and His mind. He had established certain guidelines, for us to follow, which we rejected and all suffering comes, as a result of this. This is exactly what sin is: we know in our hearts what is right and wrong, but we deliberately rejects this, for momentary pleasure. We create our own prisons and suffer, from our own actions.

God did not give us a code of conduct, because of some arbitrary exercise of His will. God hates sin, because it hurts us, not Him. God does not need us, but the reverse is not true: we need God. God does not want to punish or control us. He wants to free us, from suffering and return to being part of His family. The reason why Christ came to earth and lived as fully human, while still being fully God, was not just to heal people, or even show us how to live well.

God, as Jesus Christ, took upon Himself the terrible consequences of our sins and created a very trivial way, for us to be restored, to His family and not suffer for eternity, because of our actions. He made a sacrifice of Himself, to reconcile within Himself the absolute standard, of His purity of morality, which is His identity, and at same time be, merciful and accept us, even though we have rebelled against Him, for no good reason. He suffered, in our place.

Much of Christian theology and, especially the description of God, in the Bible, introduces us to paradox after paradox. How can God be perfectly good and not compromise, but still forgive us and be merciful to us, when we deliberately choose evil and reject Him? This is the biggest reason why Christ came to earth: to die on the cross for our sins. Because we could never be good enough and earn his forgiveness, He suffered our punishment, after being perfectly good and suffering, while He lived, as we do, with all our limitations.

So modern man sees the world, as the emergence of man and his ability to dominate and control nature, as the highest good, but we know better than that. What has humanity decided to do, with the power they acquired, through learning how to control and gaining power over the created world? If we are so wise, why do we continue to destroy the earth, more each year, even as we recognize the need to cut back and let the earth rest and start to clean up our poisoning of the earth?

We look for solutions to the destruction of all other life on earth and we fail to realize that we will never find a solution, that we can create, because we are the problem. Our energy problems will not be solved, by creating more energy, and we will not bring peace on the earth, by legislation or through humanitarian aid. We are not at a crisis, because we cannot meet our needs. Our fundamental problem can only be solved by our Creator, the Christian God, because our problem is with our own lack of self control.

It has been clear what we needed to do, to fix the world's problems: to share our resources with each other and the other species on earth. The reason why we cannot make this happen is that we are addicted to energy. Sin is basically the same as addiction.

While we very much have the ability to change, we choose not to. Just like in an addiction, we must accept the paradox, that we both don't have the power within ourselves to cut back and, at the same, we are fully responsible. We both need to make better choices, while also accepting that we will ultimately fail, without direct divine intervention.

Being an addict is both about free choice and about humility. Just because we have outside help and we don't have the strength to change, the only way we will change is to find it within ourselves, to care enough and overcome our selfishness and then actually make better choices. The changes are completely dependent on our willingness to change.

No matter what God does, if we do not make the effort and overcome our weakness, nothing will change. We are both fully responsible for our poor choices, but also will not find it within ourselves alone to change. We both need to have the power but also the will to change.

So how does this relate to Calvinism? Calvin realized that accepting, that we are undeserving of forgiveness, we are fully responsible for our all actions, and that we fully deserve, to be punished for it. God offers unconditional acceptance and mercy, and, in response, we only have to accept responsibility, for our actions, feel sorry for what we did, and choose to not do it again (although we will continue to fail).

For His grace, God requires us unconditional surrender, to His control, over our lives. This is not a one time decision, but a long term journey, where we need to continue, to submit our wills to God. Salvation is free and God gets full credit and we get none. At the same time, we must give up everything, for this to work.

Thinking you deserve a good life is not going to get you anywhere. Accepting that no one owes you anything is the first step to happiness. You are always fully responsible, for all your actions and, while God forgives you fully and unconditionally, in this life you will often suffer the consequences of both your bad choices and the bad choices of others.

Heaven is pure bliss, but life on earth is not fair. Do you really want to be judged fairly for your choices in life? Then you must choose God, instead of yourself, every day, for the rest of your life. You greatest enemy is yourself and you will never conquer your pride and selfishness, without divine intervention.

All of us our equally bad and are in the same boat. Salvation is free, but it will cost you everything (your pride and the credit for your own salvation).

Bucket List

Many people have goals for themselves in life and so make a list of what they want to do before they die. Many people are under the impression that they must do something special to save the world and must be able to show numerical success. We think solutions for improving life come from academics and raising money. Everyone feels they need to start their own charity and that they are individually responsible for solving the world's problems.

I think we could accomplish more real change and work on something we can really change and that is ourselves. It is great to have goals, but I find it more satisfying and many times more difficult to work on self improvement. I look at self improvement not as trying to be a perfect person, as this is ends in sure and quick defeat, but to simply genuinely try to treat others better. We need to change our attitudes and our worldview, not our job or the charities we give to.

It is not a list of goals, but a changing, in our way of thinking, that will make us truly better. We need to pray regularly and ask and let God slowly change the way we think, so that we no longer desire to be mean to others, even when we feel bad. One of the loftiest goals is to become more kind to others and this is really something we not only all can do but must decide is a basic requirement for being a moral person.

There are many very different views of life talked about in each of the major world religions and many are contrary to each other, but the basic ethical rules are very similar. Throughout most of society and history, the basic laws are mostly in agreement. What we learn in life through experience and reflection is that we all do really know what is wrong, even if we try to justify our evil actions.

People spend a long time thinking of what is right and wrong and why, but the simplest answer is the best one, in this case. This is especially true in Christianity, where many people want to rationally understand everything in the Bible, before they follow God's commands. You will never fully understand the Bible or really anything in life.

In the military, most people would agree life is hard, but at the same time we all are aware that it is not hard intellectually. Living a good life is also hard, but not of the kind of challenge, that society and school teaches us to deal with. I remember, in basic training, that one of the most complicated combat survival task was setting up a claymore mine. One of the drill sergeants said that it was on the intellectual level of a 4th grader.

In the military, attitude is everything. Even in the more advanced areas of the military, the primary goals are not to complete the mission. You need to follow every tiny rule, immediately without question, and work as hard as you can. I remember when I messed something up in basic training and apologized to the drill sergeant. He said don't apologize - just don't do it again.

The military has no time for distractions and you should not be distracted from what is most important in life - self improvement and treating others kindly. When I was in the military, we trained alongside both men and women in the same platoons and this was the period of the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy. What was the military attitude? We need women and minorities in the military because we cannot win wars without them.

There was a criteria of an equal number of black, white, and "other" amongst sergeants in the army at that point and officers that didn't have the right mix could get in a lot of trouble. One private told the drill sergeant that he was gay and the drill sergeant told him he didn't care and just go back top work and stop bugging him about it.

The army works top down and so when congress ever passes a law, that affects the military, even the general must immediately follow them, to the letter. When they pass a law, allowing women to work, in direct combat or people being openly gay in the military, that will happen immediately, whether or not anyone in command wants it to - it will not be optional. We were talking about race in the military and the drill sergeant said we all bleed red and we are all pink on the inside.

You should obey the Bible just like God is your drill sergeant. Nothing in the Bible is optional. Do not think about how to justify what you do; simply act on what you know is right. Like Judge Judy says on the TV court show, you do not have to think to tell the truth.

Raising kids or owning pets is a similar difficult challenge, although not intellectually, for the most part. Good parents and good animal owners don't necessarily need to be academics - that is not what determines being good at raising kids or taking care of animals. Improving your own life is even more difficult and even more personal in its challenges.

Being a good person cannot be put off. It must be acted on now. To know what to do ethically, all we need to do is follow our conscience. We need to do what we know is right. Even having an addiction or disability does not absolve us from doing what is right. But being a good person is not a binary thing and, although it is always difficult, it is not beyond any of our capabilities.

Morality and Individuality

Our society has gone to extremes and has actually managed to promote the negative sides of individual expression and mob mentality. The average person today is both selfish and has no backbone. People want to be unique so that they can get a following.

The Bible does promote individuality, but in the opposite way. We are individually responsible for the choices we make and need to stand against the world. We are also supposed to not be proud and self-centered.

Just like every personality trait has equally good and bad possible outcomes, so self control is the key to leveraging both individuality and unity at the same time, and incorporating the best of both traits in our lives. We need not be selfish to express our individuality and need not sacrifice our conscience just to follow the group.

The key to know when to use one or the other is the same with any decision: our conscience. It is good to work together for a common cause, just as long as you continue to critically think about the moral implications of the results of your efforts. The Bible wants us to stand out not just to get attention, but wants us to stand out in that we stand up for the weak and do what we know is right, even when we face overwhelming opposition.

Individuality need not always be applied in rare or extreme situations and God definitely wants us to express how we honestly feel. There is a whole book of the Bible focused on romance, many of the commands of the Old Testament are celebrations with lots of nice food, and God shows a huge amount of creativity in entering His own creation as a person while still remaining God. God was the first to come up with the idea of the anti-hero and God used people to speak through in the writing Scripture, which is also a creative literary work of art.

Modern psychological concepts comes from the Bible. The Apostle Paul was the first existentialist. The Apostle Paul also was the first to write that women and men are completely equal. The Psalms can be very helpful for those dealing with depression and encourage people to be critical of God, while still being respectful. Apostle Paul talks about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as an early example of personality types, which also eludes to the difference between a public and private self.

In fact, God created the best inventions ever: animals and plants. God created the very creative and bizarre world of quantum mechanics and general relativity and made them work together, even though they work in extremely different ways. He also talks about time travel and other dimensions in Scripture. God created DNA and made such a diversity of creatures, that we have a very hard time classifying them. God predicted the catastrophes caused by global warming/climate change and correctly identified people as the cause.

So God is very creative and wants us to be so as well. Instead of using innovation to make money, we should be doing so to help people in need. Just expressing yourself in art and writing can be a moral act as well. Much of the history of art throughout the world is a celebration of religious and philosophical writings and concepts. Through symbolism, art can be as accurate as writing. Just encouraging people to take time off from work to think and encourage them can be helpful and altruistic as well.

The only real bad thing about creativity is when we use it to draw attention to ourselves alone, without any other benefit to society. One of few things that Chairman Mao talked about, that we should follow, was making art and literature accessible to the common person. Popular music and art need not be selfish and can actually bring moral ideas to the average person, in ways they can relate with. Just like being rich, being famous is not necessarily bad, as long as you don't compromise yourself to do so, and it is not your primary aim.

Nationalism and religious unity are great, as along as they don't use the persecution of others, to unify the group. People who are not part of the group technically can actually be very useful and the mixing of groups can bring out better parts of cultures. The modern world was only possible as an outgrowth of a mixing of Germanic and Roman cultures throughout the medieval period in Europe.

A similar mixing of culture is happening between American corporate culture and Mexican popular culture. The Christians in the Muslim caliphate in medieval times were useful in government because they were considered outside the political scene and so were neutral. Christians in medieval Europe were illiterate and so Jewish people became leaders and scholars, because they learned to read and write, to keep their religious traditions.

Creative

Opposite World

Welcome to Opposite World. One of the reasons why we have so many problems and that they are difficult to solve is that, from a science and technology and atheistic perspective, we have actually solved everything that this worldview sees as problems. Throughout most of history people have struggled for more. We always wanted more food, more time off, more recognition, more rights, more power, more money, more resources, more freedom, and more of every physical thing. This only makes sense because we were lacking in all these areas.

The world you see today is the world after all these "problems" were solved. This is the reason science and technology cannot solve major world problems: it already has. We live in a world where science and technology have won. You could argue this has nothing to do with Science per say, but this is how most people see Science and life.

The problems we have today are hard to understand because they do not sound like problems. How can we have too much of a good thing? How can we possibly eat too much, have too much access to information, spend too much time playing games, be in too much contact with each other, have too much music, have too many things, have too much advanced technology, and the like?

What we need to solve our problems today is basically to undo the last 500 years. We need to rethink what we really want. In many ways, our world actually has few problems. We have few problems in life due to a lack of material wealth. What we do lack is spiritual maturity and spiritual wealth. There are going to be problems no matter what decisions we make, as we live in an imperfect world. We already life in the best world that people can create, without God.

What is not usually thought about, when we think about the world today is that we have never had this situation before and that, even today, most of the world does not live in any situation remotely like this. We are talking about America, Europe, South Korea, and Japan and very small parts of most of the rest of the world. So there are actually two opposite problems today: some of us are dying from too much food, whereas most of the world is still dying, from not having enough food.

In America and the rest of the first world, we consume too much and the rest of the world has too many kids. Science can easily explain the problem, but we do not understand Science in the way we need to to solve our problems. Scientists tend to have a hard time accepting that people do not usually make decisions based on reason.

The first world consists mostly of what I refer to as the "opposite" person, because they have the opposite problems most of the world and most people throughout history have had. In the first world, there is also another kind of person I refer to as the "opposite opposite" person, people who are sometimes referred to as "highly sensitive people". These "opposite opposite" people have the opposite problem from "opposite" people. Opposite people have life too easy and need to work harder, whereas "opposite opposite" people work too hard and need to take things easier.

This seems intuitive enough, but most first world people's problem is exactly opposite of what they think: "opposite" people think they work too hard, but actually don't work hard enough; whereas "opposite opposite" people think they don't work hard enough, but actually work too hard. The way to confirm this is to ask people, who know you well, and expect to be surprised, by their answer. Many people sit somewhere on this spectrum, so don't expect a simple to diagnose problem.

If we want to solve our first world problems, "opposite" people need less of everything. We need to work harder and play less. Instead of taking the easy route and learning as little as possible we need to start working as hard as we possibly can and learning as much as we can. For "opposite opposite" people, take a break and enjoy some of your life, or you might die, from being a workaholic.

Everybody needs balance in their lives and our world is struggling with different problems, but they are all about a lack of balance and a lack of an accurate perspective, of who we really are. Know yourself and you will know your problem and you can then find and then work on the solution.

Zen and Major Problems

When we confront major problems, in society today, we look to one time/action solutions often called "silver bullets". We approach problems, from statistical and intellectual points of view. We ignore things, that cannot be reduced to measurable phenomena and numbers. The key to improving the world starts with improving ourselves. When you deal with deep institutional problems and hedonistic and politically correct attitudes, you need to first understand, that the causes are fundamentally spiritual ones.

These kind of problems are not ones, where you can find a definite solution, so that you can go on, to the next problem. When you are dealing with spiritual and emotional things, you need to accept that there will never be a final resolution. These kinds of problems are dealt with and controlled, rather than fixed. Solving these kind of problems is like going on a journey and the destination is just a stop along the way.

In philosophy we call this "Tao" or "Zen" - the unidentifiable substance that makes things real and brings healing to our emotional self. The focus is on discipline and ethics. Solving our own problems must start with commitment and direction and ends up, with a deeper moral understanding and practice. Just like Zen cannot be pinned down and analyzed, so do many emotional problems - oftentimes you feel a certain way, for no rational reason.

One of the reasons why so many self improvement systems, like diets, fail is because we fail to accept, that the solution is a process, that never ends. When you are hurting, you just want relief and it is hard to accept, that you must continue, to work hard, even when you feel you cannot exert anymore effort. It takes hard work, to heal the heart, and you have got to find someway of pushing yourself, beyond what you think you can do. Although people are not anywhere near, as smart, or talented, than we often think we are, we can endure much more, than we think we can.

Tao means path and that is the way Zen works. Zen also means originality, creativity, and beauty. There is no formula and it is not a tangible or measurable object. Zen is fundamentally a feeling and can be understood, through experience, rather than teaching. Zen comes from practice and the practice itself, when done correctly, is the solution. When you push yourself past what you think you can do, whether in sports, the arts, forgiveness, or fighting addiction, this is Zen.

Most animals understand Zen better than people do. When you see animals angry, at each other and fighting, and then, later that day, you see them curled up together, fully relaxed sleeping soundly, this is Zen. When an animal knows when you are in pain and comes over, to give you company, this is Zen. When you feel you have communicated, with an animal, even though they don't understand our human languages, this is Zen.

Instead of trying to find a secret formula, realize, instead, that major problems are still there, because they are big, otherwise you would have solved them by now. Life's major problems require major effort, over a long period of time, and there are no shortcuts. You will continue, to deal with the same issues, for the rest of your life. Be willing to make mistakes and forgive yourself and you will be well along the way. The missing ingredient is your decision, to do what is necessary.

Zen is more than anything the Grace of God, the Holy Spirit. God will never give up on you, so never give up on yourself. Don't worry about your failure, as everyone has equally failed. Instead of rushing, to the finish, work on small manageable chunks. Just like exercising, a little bit done consistently is better than a lot done rarely. Remember, you cannot ever be be permanently defeated, because God will always send sufficient grace.

My Mission Overview: Moving Forward poem

We are in the midst of an epic battle, and on an epic journey

We are blind to what is before us and yet we see beyond the horizon

We have wondered far from the path we know we must take

We are not afraid of what is before us, but rather what is within us

We have given the Holy Spirit access, to our hearts, but not our minds

Sometimes the answers do not come, in words, but are more like a feeling

Sometimes you fail to understand, yet you know what you must do

Sometimes it does not matter what has happened before

But is always matter what you do next

When you are totally lost, then only can you find yourself

Only when you totally give up, can you see God

Some people think the solution lies in secrets and in numbers

I believe that what we must do we already know

The path is not hard, because we lack understanding

It is difficult, because we lack self-control and discipline

Many would rather live like kings and give up friends

I would rather work forever, with no hope, than do nothing

The solutions are so very obvious

But we have no will, to commit to them

I want my country to be the best it can be

But no one wants our help

If you destroy a person's income source

And demolish their house and electrical grid

Merely sparing the persons life

Is not enough to base a friendship on

The same thing happens again and again

We have the same situation we had ten thousand years before

Our environmental problems directly reflect the state of our soul

We will not solve our problems, by finding ancient knowledge

Or by putting machines, into our hearts and minds

As we take each step, the road changes

We can always tell where it goes

Even when it seems to disappear

There is always hope within our hearts

Even as our soul abandons the future

It has been said ten thousand times

But we can barely remember it

It has been said in ten thousand voices

Yet we cannot make out the words

The answer is choice

And it is very much within our control

There is a direct connection

Between the state of our mind and of our world

There is always a way to deal with the situation

This is not an obstacle, that you will pass

It is more like a pack you need to carry

It has always been possible, for you to carry less

The burden is your very own making

We are often hard on ourselves

In what we think we should do

But the battle is not in the world, but in your mind

The way forward does not need to be so hard

We are never alone and He can carry more than a mule

Why we fight the battle alone

We will never be able to give a useful answer

That way forward is more about not doing things, rather than what we do

There are no silver bullets

Our freedom is dependent on our attitude

We need to fight our thoughts and not worry about others actions

The solutions are no hidden anywhere

And the steps forward are plain as day

We must continue to deal with this every day

But it can be a happy road

And it need not make us so weary

Sometimes we know not why we cry

Or we desire to stop trying

It is not for us, to know the future

Or be able to grasp the mind of God

All things happen, for a reason

But suffering is not easily explained

Life often treats us the same: monster and mother

We fight this daily

In our struggles we find

That all evil comes from immorality

We often suffer from the wrongs others have committed

It is ok to cry and be angry with God

Sometimes you even give up totally

But God will never leave you

And once you die, there will be no more pain