the first and last bachelorette

by Andrea Elizabeth

that I ever want to see. Not to mention the bachelor shows. It is the Hunger Games where people watch heart break and devastation for fun, aided by a too cheerful, but paradoxically sympathetic host. At first I sort of thought it could work despite the contrivance because of how Nick and Andi seemed to be able to find something real, but I guess having to consider 25 and then ditch 24 guys takes it’s toll on a person’s soul.

In the beginning it seemed the disappointment wasn’t warranted in the rejected guys who didn’t really spend that much time with her. But towards the end, it really seemed that she was leading the final 3 on, but especially Nick, whom she encouraged more than anyone. The way she suddenly turned icey cold on him that last day took everyone’s breath away. She had a lot more conscience with Chris, but I guess that last bit of goodness wore off too. It’s not healthy to string that many guys along at the same time, and to seriously consider 2 or 3 right before getting engaged. It’s pretty gross, actually.

survival of the fittest

by Andrea Elizabeth

To the atheist, evil = suffering. To the Christian evil = sin, and suffering is the consequence of sin. Then the atheist asks, why do innocent children suffer?

Firstly I would say that suffering can be seen as a merciful deterrent to doing destructive things like not eating, getting too close to fire, or staying out in the cold too long. Doesn’t seeing a suffering child motivate us fix what ails him? If there were no suffering, people would die from neglecting themselves and others.

Secondly, if morality comes from God (I’ll lazily posit that as a given), then why should the atheist concern himself with virtues and vices? Isn’t the honest atheist one who uninhibitedly avoids pain and pursues pleasure without conscience? If power feels good, he should intimidate and lord it over others with the best of them, for example. Why should an atheist be conscientious at all? Unless it is a means to get more of what he wants. But some people get pleasure out of making other people happy, so the atheist wouldn’t act in a uniform way.

The evolutionary theory of survival of the fittest does not look out after the weak. If that is the case, why worry about whether weak things suffer and die? Unless they think that the survival of the fittest scheme is evil. I bet strong atheists approve of it, and weak, trounced-on atheists disapprove of it because they have suffered under it, and therefore they strike God from the record books.

So if survival of the fittest is a godless scheme, those who take advantage of it must not be Christian. But should the strong not compete, for example? Aren’t they lording it over the weak if they win? I suppose it depends. If they are defending the weak, then they are using their strength well. If they are taking advantage of the weak, then they are misusing it.

What are worthy things to defend? Truth, honor, beauty, life, faith, hope, love, righteousness, health, peace, innocence, excellence etc. One would think that good triumphs over evil, and I am wondering if this is true only if the strong hold these good, but fragile things up. Isn’t God himself upborne by the angelic hosts? But who gave the angels the strength to do that?

Divine right

by Andrea Elizabeth

Reading about Oliver Cromwell is contributing to my running inquiry into revolutions. I know history is complicated, but I wonder if basic philosophical precepts have guided it.

Seems to me the Protestant Reformation was the beginning of popular uprisings, followed closely by the 1600’s English Civil War which was the precursor to the American and French Revolutions, and which pretty much marked the end of monarchy in the world. The events around the Magna Carta in the early 1200’s could be seen as the end of absolute monarchy as it was the beginning of parliament where the nobles could thwart the king, which they apparently did since William the Conqueror. I also read that his reign was the beginning of the castle age, which fortified the nobles, as far as I can tell.

Still, monarchs up to Tsar Nicholas II, believed themselves to rule by divine right. It seems that even though this belief eroded among the people, there was enough support for it till recently, and even a small remnant probably remains for Queen Elizabeth II. What I don’t understand is why monarchs did not have this same respect towards each other. Why would a divinely appointed King invade another King’s divinely ordained realm? Doesn’t seem very faithful to their calling to me.

Unless they actually believed in survival of the fittest, which is either an atheistic or Calvinistic doctrine, instead. This brings me to my next post.

stray cats and alcoholics

by Andrea Elizabeth

The other day a stray, skinny female cat showed up on our front porch. We have four cats already, so I told my daughter to just give her some dry food and water, but that we can’t do anything more for her than that. A couple of days later during the early morning, we heard lots of cat distress sounds under our window. My husband thought that the female cat will now have babies. Then the next day a big, mean-looking male cat strutted across our back porch and brazenly looked in the window.

At first I was filled with guilt for not taking Priscilla in and having her fixed when she had asked for help. I felt it was my fault that she now would have to fend not only for herself, but for her babies. I thought that Priscilla and I had lost, and that Bluto had won, and was triumphantly gloating in my face.

Then I thought of how perpetrators of crimes gloat. I guess they’re the ones that say Aha! Aha! in Psalms. But the Psalms also say don’t be upset when sinners prosper in their way. Being upset does a lot of damage to our souls. Reading Psalms is a nice way to work through it.

Monday I listened to the first half of the Diane Rehm show on new treatments for Alcoholism, and at first I was caught up in the terminology and the ways of determining the stages of admitting one has a problem. Then when Ms. Rehm cut off a guest and he protested, I started paying attention to the dynamics between the guests. I bet all of them are recovering alcoholics themselves, or were maybe children of alcoholics. I got the impression that they had worked hard to overcome dysfunction, but that underneath they were still upset. It seemed that when there was tension over the unfairness, that each also began taking on the roles that individuals in families take on to cope with dysfunction.

I think these roles are a perceived fix to being upset or panicked over not having supportive relataionships. They are quick fixes to prop themselves up when the someone is taking a wrecking ball to the family. They can’t let things just lay around broken, and they are very upset. They can’t cope with how upset they are, so they desperately try to fix it or some other exaggerated response.

So here are these adult, functional professionals who are still upset and acting according to their childhood habitual way of problem solving. They should probably admit they have a problem and read the Psalms.

Vessels of wrath (cont)

by Andrea Elizabeth

Last night we saw Prisoners in which 2 young girls are kidnapped and one father, Hugh Jackman, and the heretofore undefeated detective, Jake Gyllenhaal, go after the perpetrator. The two messages are, if you are really trying to get the bad guys you’ll become a vigilante; and losing your child will turn you into a monster.

Why does it feel good when someone will break the law to stop a slippery criminal? Neglecting to get a search warrant because you’ll otherwise miss your chance is the most common example. Search warrants are to protect the innocent, but really it just says, we trust a judge to decide these things more than the cop on the street. There’s not really a perfect law to keep bad things from happening in such cases. Maybe that’s why it feels good. We trust good people more than good laws. And someone who takes the risk of getting in bad trouble sacrifices himself for the victims.

As for the monster part, even before that point was made clear, I thought that the horrible grief sort of gave the characters an excuse to either check out with drugs and alcohol or to become uninhibitedly angry, which is pretty scary coming from Jackman, not so much from Gyllenhaal, who generates more sympathy. I don’t think the worst tragedies inevitably and deterministically turn people for the worse, but they do make the slope pretty slippery, and it’s pretty hard to navigate your way up to higher than you were before. I hope it’s possible, however.

current thoughts on providence

by Andrea Elizabeth

It is an interesting question, how do free will and God’s providence and sovereignty co-exist?

My current thoughts are that God places highest priority on our free will. There are natural laws and other rewards that contribute to positive and negative reinforcement for the types of decisions we make and act upon. God’s number one will for all of us is that we will become one with him in theosis. Most people ambivalently want and don’t want this because there are hard steps to take to get to that blissful state. I am thinking that every step towards God that we agree to leads to a softer heart and often more difficult steps. Every step away, and indecision and procrastination are most often negative votes, contributes to a harder heart and often easier steps. Going down is easier than going up. One reason I admire athletes, is that they are not afraid of difficult, painful steps.

I guess I’ve already explained how God hardens people’s hearts, making them become vessels of wrath, which I believe are used to provide difficult steps for those seeking a tougher workout in order to have their hearts softened and thus conformed to God’s.

example: glutton, with either jealous malice or ignorance, offers (hopeful) ascetic rich food, who gets stronger by either saying no thank you, or more humble by either not wanting to rub it in the offerer’s face and eating a small amount with him, or yeilding to temptation and realizing his own weakness and dependence on God’s mercy, which will hopefully make him more resolved in the future when he realizes the emptiness of the temporary satisfaction. The glutton will become angry and resentful at the temporariness of the satisfaction and will escalate his efforts to maintain it by seeking more and more thrills in quantity and quality, which will make his heart harder and harder.

observer effect

by Andrea Elizabeth

They say observation causes phenomenal changes on the thing being observed. So even flies on the wall have a butterfly effect, as it were.

In quantum physics and in Schrodinger’s box, they say things exist in multiple places or states until they are observed. While classical people say the cat is either dead or not dead even before this is known, I will submit that things need to be known and that this has an effect on the thing waiting to be observed. Yes, when we travel to a “new” moon and find a “new” hill on it, the hill will show signs of age, but since it is now a mapped hill, it will exist in a different state.

But this is all in your mind. It is an observer-oriented paradigm, and not an ontologically independent philosophy.

No, it is a relational paradigm. No man is an island. Neither does one man exist only in the mind of another man. But one man’s existence is very much dependent on being known by another. If he is not known, he will exist in limbo, an unsteady state.

Let’s say that’s true. But doesn’t being known by an unstable person also introduce instability?

Yes it does. But surely closure is possible. This is why the nuns pray for those who died alone in a field, or fell off a cliff, or were lost at sea. Somehow this brings those poor wandering souls closure.

Does the closure depend on the stability of the nun?

Somewhat, but they guard against it by saying, “and for those who have asked us to pray for them, unworthy though we be.”

Then how can they bring closure, and an unstable person can’t?

Because they are doing it in obedience, humility, and in love. The unstable person is the murderer who seeks chaos. I saw a true cold case show about a man who murdered his ex-wife in front of his identically twin brother, who did not help her, and then hid her body. I believe her soul did not find rest until the twin, moved by thinking of how she looked at him for help before she died, finally confessed what happened, bringing closure to her look. Her brother in law went from unstable non-support to stabilizing in that moment. And his act had to be demonstrated, believed and acted upon by the detective who couldn’t let the case stay cold. Then she could rest in peace.

Let them go

by Andrea Elizabeth

I just remembered what I was looking up that lead me to learn about the King of Germany being the Holy Roman Emperor till 1806 and then about Austria. It was Lutheranism. I don’t remember why I was looking that up. But the first paragraph of the Wikipedia article has this statement,

“The split between the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics was made clear and open with the 1521 Edict of Worms:[2] the edicts of the Diet condemned Luther and officially outlawed citizens of the Holy Roman Empire from defending or propagating his ideas, subjecting advocates of Lutheranism to forfeiture of all property, specifying half of any seized property forfeit to the Imperial government and the remaining half forfeit to the party who brought the accusation.”

It was the seizure of property that caught my attention. How did the state have the right to do that unless there was no division between Church and state, which of course there wasn’t so much in those days. But all this leads me to the notion of coercion. Whatever the political or financial motivations, if you believe someone is defying God or the truth, what should you do? Force them through these other means to stop? The problem to me is the indirectness of it.

Property rights should involve trade rules, not religious rules. If someone is convicted of murder, should their property be seized? They may have to make certain restitution to the family, but that should be about damages, not removal of property. It’s the indirectness that is also involved in bribery, which is what the Empire was doing to the people who brought accusations of someone being Lutheran by giving them half the spoils.

So to say I’ll be nice to you and give you favors if you worship as I do, and I’ll be mean and take something of yours unrelated if you don’t is wrong. Do I feel this way because I’m a post-enlightenment American? I just found this on the Wikipedia article on the Separation of Church and State,

“The concept of separating church and state is often credited to the writings of English philosopher John Locke (1632–1704).[8] According to his principle of the social contract, Locke argued that the government lacked authority in the realm of individual conscience, as this was something rational people could not cede to the government for it or others to control. For Locke, this created a natural right in the liberty of conscience, which he argued must therefore remain protected from any government authority. These views on religious tolerance and the importance of individual conscience, along with his social contract, became particularly influential in the American colonies and the drafting of the United States Constitution.”

We are used to being able to think, and mostly to say what we think without state consequence. It seems an act of desperation to try to force someone to think and say differently. The Church has the authority to declare what is proper to think and say, with certain ramifications, mostly closed communion for those who declare with the agreement of their conscience the truth about Christ and the Church. She lets those who don’t go. So is it bribery or coercion to send gift-bearing missionaries? I think we have to be careful and examine our conscience. Am I feeding this poor person because I want to add numbers to my Church? We may not be able to help that that may be part of it, and if it is, if we also believe it is wrong to not feed a hungry person, then we should go ahead and pray to be cleansed of our wrong motivations. It’s the difference between schmoozing and ministering.

Friends, Romans, Countrymen

by Andrea Elizabeth

I don’t remember what triggered my wikipedia searches the other day, I think maybe it was wondering about the history of the country of Germany, but I ended up finding out that the confederation of German states were the last vestige of the (western) Holy Roman Empire until Napoleon’s Wars ended it in 1806! Then I learned about the 30 years war, Prussia, and the Habsburgs, who were frequently Holy Roman Emperors as well as Kings and Queens of most of the other countries. Then that lead to finding out that Friday was the 100th anniversary of the assassination of the Habsburg’s Archduke Ferdinand that triggered World War I. And it was for the freedom of Bosnia that the Serbian guy did it.

Then I found through Facebook this interactive map comparing 1914 Europe to 2014 Europe. The first thing that struck me, was my, there were a lot fewer nations then. Then I read about the very complicated history of Austria since the Protestant Reformation where their Catholic monarchs instigated the very devastating to Germany, 30 years war with many and various aftermaths across Europe for centuries. I think that was why Germany didn’t include them in their unification of all their states after Prussia beat them. Back to the fewness, it seems to me that on the upper levels, all the related monarchs vied for land and feudal power, but on the lower levels, there remained much smaller cultural identities with very long memories. The maps don’t reflect that at all. To me to understand geography, you need to know the traditional names of the towns, so I think it is more about language and names than ruling uppities. I don’t know what an alternative to these political dynastic monarchies would be, as Democracy and Socialism obviously have their drawbacks as well. Eastern European communities just hunkered down and lived simply no matter which country claimed them until that educated Serbian, Gavrilo Princip, made a much louder, ultimately devastating statement.

Suddenly, Last Summer

by Andrea Elizabeth

is a 1956 movie I caught on one of those local lesser channels the other late afternoon. It stars Katherine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Montgomery Clift, 3 years after the car accident and subsequent plastic surgeries and self medication. He still looked good though. I think it portrays, with beautiful, if stark, dialogue written by Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal, certain viewpoints common to the pre-civil rights, feminist modern era.

That isn’t to say that Katherine Hepburn’s character, Violet Venable,  isn’t a force to be reckoned with. Neither are Elizabeth Taylor’s (Catherine’s) powers. But both of them would concede that the dead son/cousin, Sebastian’s powers of being a poetic soul and liver of life, however dependent he was on the two women to achieve his goals of universal understanding and other men, were greater. Back then women were considered back seat drivers, indirectly and discreetly escourting men through life.

What I like about the movie is its honesty and frankness, with which only Montgomery Clift, psychiatric neurosurgeon Dr. Cukrowitz, is strong enough to handle. He gives honest, but hysterical Catherine the strength to deal with it too, while Violet is exerting her inherited power to cover it up.

What I don’t like is Catherine’s dependence on the Dr.’s romantic interest to be part of his bolstering. But it is part of her character’s love/hate relationship with her own powers of attraction.

The worst thing about the movie ***spoiler***  is the prejudice against poor and Latin young men. Their primitive tribal brutality, albeit provoked by Sebastian’s usery, uncompensated for by his throwing money at them, is the ultimate villain, not Sebastian’s flaws, of the story.

I suppose I should explore tribal brutality. I know “primitive” cultures do/did things we would consider gross and savage like eating bugs, and scalping people. I forget what the philosopher’s term “noble savage” entails. So I’ll look it up. I like what Benjamin Franklin had to say towards the middle of this Wikipedia article,

Benjamin Franklin, who had negotiated with the Indians during the French and Indian War, protested vehemently against the Paxton massacre that took place at Conestoga, in western Pennsylvania, of December 1763, in which white vigilantes massacred Indian women and children, many of whom had converted to Christianity. Franklin himself personally organized a Quaker militia to control the white population and “strengthen the government”. In his pamphlet Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America (1784), Franklin deplored the use of the term “savages” for native Americans:

Savages we call them, because their manners differ from ours, which we think the perfection of civility; they think the same of theirs.

Franklin used the massacres to illustrate his point that no race had a monopoly on virtue, likening the Paxton vigilantes to “Christian White Savages'”. Franklin cried out to a just God to punish those who carried the Bible in one hand and the hatchet in the other: ‘O ye unhappy Perpetrators of this Horrid Wickedness!'”[25] Franklin praised the Indian way of life, their customs of hospitality, their councils, which reached agreement by discussion and consensus, and noted that many white men had voluntarily given up the purported advantages of civilization to live among them, but that the opposite was rare.”



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