Monday, November 4, 2019

While He is Near

"Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near."

If you want to develop a discipline, get up at 5 AM every morning and do it.

If you want to develop a habit, taste, or delight, catch yourself at a receptive moment and reward it.

If you want to meet a friend in person, you have to do it when they're in town.

You listen to a friend out of discipline and delight, but it is better when there is delight.

You speak to your friend when you do, and say what you say -- that is how he comes to know you. You are not in control of your relationship with God.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Knowing Others Better

It's dangerous to think that you know someone better than they know themselves.

First, it's dangerous if you're wrong. You may see certain aspects of a person clearly, but it's unlikely that you have all the data. So you can possess a distorted view of someone which is very compelling to you. Then, you reflect that view back to them, directly or indirectly.

But also, it's dangerous if you're right. You have a lot of power if you understand someone better than they understand themselves. You'll know better how to defeat them in arguments. You'll approach them with a settled confidence about who they are which they can't contradict -- after all, you're the one with a better command of the facts of who they are. You set yourself up as the trustworthy, wise one, and the wise are those whose decision-making has legitimacy, and thus social power.

When in possession of this power, you can put the other person in a dependent state, setting their horizons within the bounds of your vision. This can prevent them from being the person that God wants them to be.


Which is better, to know someone accurately, or to share the same reality as them? People who share the same reality can be friends. So you make the choice (or life makes it for you): to see things your way (to see the facts) or to share a journey with someone else.

If you know someone better than they do, you don't need to listen to them anymore. Speech is how we create reality, how we express ourselves.


I was talking to someone once about life choices. Should he marry a particular woman? He said she would affect his horizons. He could still be a Christian but he couldn't become a preacher.

Becoming a preacher was far off, not something his self at the time was too visibly interested in doing. But horizons limit the person you might become as well as the person you are.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019


Sometimes when you're younger, you have not been tested. You don't trust yourself, because you haven't been pushed and pulled. You haven't seen the terror of death and survived. You haven't seen yourself in the midst of temptation -- you doubt that you could walk through the room without slipping the gems in your pocket.

Then you are tested. You are hacked at by temptations, fears, the desire to die, opposition from other people, or whatever else, and your flesh is broken and reformed. Until then, you live in tension, closing yourself up and craving to be changed. Some of what you think are your desires for other things or other people are really just that craving to be changed.

Having been tested, you might think that you have arrived. Or you might think that the process of being tested itself is something to arrive at, something to think of as "the answer" for the rest of your life.

"Flesh", "Spirit"

Sometimes I think of people as "flesh" and "spirit". The "flesh" is like muscles, is strong and thick. The vivid and obvious parts of human psychology are "fleshly". Also there is "spirit". The "spirit" is lightweight and thus can connect with the quiet, subtle, gentle world. The spirit can be easily blown about, can see all sorts of different angles. The spirit is under a person's control, it is free but weak. But the flesh has inertia out of its very strength.

The spirit can truly intend what the flesh can't bring out in the visible world. We tend to judge each other by what we bring out in the visible world. We even judge ourselves so.

Friday, September 13, 2019


The silver cation is a unique ion, different from all other silver ions. It slides chaotically in the water, electrostatically unfulfilled. It entered the solution with a nitrate anion, which is similarly lost.

But after a time, the silver cation found a bromide anion, which resolved its tension. They fall out of solution.

Things are ideal: There is a silver cation for every bromide anion. Things work out for all the silver ions and all the bromide ions: there are none left in solution.

Atheistic gods

When we do not believe in God, do not trust God, who is going to save the world? We have to. We have to be God. We have to be good, we have to be effective. We have to be responsible. We have to know best what to do.

This sounds good.

Except that when we do not believe in God, do not trust God, we set up ourselves as gods. We take responsibility for other people's lives, we take over their lives. We interfere with other people's development. We see things from our point of view -- who could be wiser than us? We attack other people's developing points of view and self-trust, attack their trust in God. We insert ourselves in people's lives, as though we want them to worship us, for them to give us glory, so that we can be acknowledged as trustworthy. We want other people to see the error of their ways. We think we have facts, we act like we know things beyond any doubt -- unless someone else can make themselves god over us, beat us down and dethrone us. We do not choose to give glory to the God who doesn't tend to beat us down and dethrone us, the true God.


People want to be considered trustworthy by other people. They have a point of view on reality, on well-being, and want the other person to both have their values and also trust in their path toward realizing those values.

We point toward things that are trustworthy, make a public noise about it. We say "This movie is deep", will stir deep things. Depth is good. This movie is effective in bringing it to us. It is trustworthy. We are impressed and wish to make others be impressed in the same way that we are.

This rendering of "this is trustworthy" toward something, about something, can be called "glory".

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Shared Vision

We have a tendency to think that things that all of us can see are more real than things that only one person can see. This protects us from wild ideas and claims about reality, and also from the insights of sensitive people.

Realistic Sword-fighting

Sometimes as part of a drama on a stage, you want there to be sword-fighting. A more realistic drama (a drama with more reality), requires a metal sword. You can blunt the edge to some extent, but you can still do a lot of damage with it. Or you can use a wooden or plastic sword, if it's not as important to be realistic.

Real Self

What is the real self? Is it the self that we choose? We choose images.

If you would prefer to be someone, you might try to be that person, and project that image. But you may not be able to be that person. You can't live in this world as that image. So then you just are yourself -- but are you really yourself? Or is the real you the one that you would choose if there were no other constraints, the ideal image?

Max Stirner made the point that you don't know what a slave wants until they get freedom.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Lift Up Your Head

Sometimes it's a relief to see that you're part of a bigger battle. The enemy soldier close at hand can fill your gaze, can make you feel like there's nothing but you and them, all risk to you and nothing else to fight for.

Sometimes literally lifting up your head takes you out of the mindset of narrowmindedness.


Skills and anti-skills are both learned. A skill is something that helps you to enact your will in the world. Magic, technology, taking charge. An anti-skill is a lesson learned which is about something outside of you taking charge of your life, or is you not enacting your will. Prayer, waiting, making space, can all be skills that aspire to be anti-skills. But true anti-skills are not part of the order of Law, doing what you have to to survive. They happen to you apart from instrumental or even, sometimes, epistemic rationality, are orthogonal to human goals, even, sometimes, human perspectives. Coming to see things properly is less often a skill, is more often an anti-skill. When you see things properly, you are not more powerful than reality. It is affecting you.

We like to be born with the right anti-skills, because acquiring them is often beyond our ability, no matter how hard we try. Some anti-skills may never be learned through our own strivings.

Skills and anti-skills work together, and both are components of wisdom, spiritual and practical maturity.