Sunday, October 11, 2020

Change of the World and Love of God

"It needs to change", we might say or embody. But the world can't change forever. Someday it must reach a really good state.

Complacency is a bad in itself. Being complacent is being closed on a deep level. So how can we stay open?

Should we love the world? That may mean that we love the status quo. Both the good and the bad come from the status quo. Sometimes you can separate the bad from the good, but the default assumption is that it's a package deal. A system is one thing, is what it is with all its parts. So if we love any one existing thing, maybe we have to keep the status quo. If we love (or "love") any one thing enough, we can't risk changing the system, at the risk of losing that thing. Does this mean that people who want to see change can't love? Can't trust?

Perhaps this is why the world is so messed up (in part). People can't sustain "it needs to change". They crave to love, can't refrain from loving, though refraining might make things better in the long run. Maybe to make things better, you need to hate some specific thing. Hate evil -- but then, hate can be evil, and is definitely unbearable in the end, a maintaining of lack of trust. So the hate that brings about good comes intermittently. And refraining from love is hard to sustain as well.

I think it's good to say "this world is not all there is", which is akin to "this world as it is not as it should be". Both say "the world, everything that adds up to my own satisfactions, my own wealth, is insufficient."

God exists outside this world. The love we have for God is not the love we have for the world, the love for all the gifts that give us satisfaction and security. We can love and trust God, and thus take weight off of seeing the world as it is as a good thing, which we might feel is necessary to keep from cutting ourselves off from loving and trusting as activities that are good for us.

Hate and alienation are akin. We are sometimes alien in ways that are natural and familiar to us. But God's alienness is not our alienness. God is a father (a familiar image), but also an alien. To love an alien as its child requires that you become an alien yourself.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Mental Health and Holiness

A lot of times, when you do something wrong, it's because you're crazy, not because you're sinning. You operate from a place of poverty when you're crazy, but from a place of wealth when you're sinning. Sometimes people use the place of wealth as a way to mask their sense of poverty -- I'm not sure what to think there.

Does God care only about your intent, or also about your actions themselves? I think both can go against his preferences. So while you may have been crazy when you did something desperate to someone else, which harmed them, if you don't do anything about being crazy, maybe that is a problem of intent, since you may not have regard for God's feelings (nor the human victim's).

There's a connection between mental health and holiness. Holiness involves mental health. But mental health by itself does not cause you to be or become holy, to love God or set yourself apart for him.

There's a lot out there about mental health, by qualified people. I think it's important to add to what they say a concern with integrating God into your mental health practices, so that they do not become purely humanistic.

For instance, practicing journaling can be a way to understand how your life works, so that you can make interventions to reduce mental problems. You might want to evaluate different areas of your life, to see what situation you are in. One of those areas can, or should, involve God. So you might say, "What's the situation? in financial, mental, physical health, in my relationships with humans, with God". You are interested not only in mental health, but in your whole life.

By talking about what they talk about, and not about what they don't, thought patterns can imply that there is this, that, and no other thing, though they don't rule those other things out explicitly. Something to avoid is a vision of life that doesn't include God, explicitly or implicitly. Perhaps it is good to bring God's existence to mind whenever you try to use some sort of therapeutic technique on yourself, or whenever you visit a therapist. This technique of remembering God can be applied to other pursuits, such as thinking. (Thinking in partnership with God can itself be therapeutic.)

We find our treasure in what we work for, and our life of securing what we treasure becomes our real life. So if we do not make our pursuit of mental health theistic in some way, we will fail to develop our connection with God in that part that seems so real to us. We treasure our well-being -- and what else?

Monday, October 5, 2020

Work For Treasure

We have a tendency to treasure the things we work for. As an experiment, you can try this and see if it's true for you. Pick something you don't care about, then work to preserve it. You may find yourself caring about it. I have found this to be the case for me with house flies and with computer game monsters.

"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". It is when we are doing the work to secure our treasures, or when we spend time in the presence of our treasures, that we live real life.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Knowing and Seeking to Know

If you are really open-minded, people can scam you. And you may not be able to commit to what really needs to be done.

But if you close your mind in order to be effective, you participate in another evil, not being aligned with reality.

It's a hard balance. But you can certainly aspire to both know, and seek to know.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Broken and Stuck

I used to have a cassette player when I was younger, maybe a little fancy, that had different modes. It could play in reverse, but there were other modes as well. It's been a while since I had it, so I don't remember specifically what they did. I do remember that there were some switches that, after many years of use (or abuse), were either broken, so you could move them without changing anything, or they were jammed to one setting, I can't remember which -- either way, you couldn't affect the cassette player on that dimension. The cassette player was broken and stuck.

Sometimes things become less stable when they're broken. But other times, being broken makes you more stable, by making you stuck. Maturity is (in part) a process of becoming more stable. But it may come through being broken. There can be an emotional meaning to "broken", a sense of being messed-up. But there's also a functional sense. Things just don't work the way they used to.

When do you need to be right? When you have something valuable to say. Nobody is right about everything, but if you're in an environment where people are trying to shut you up, and will use your mistakes as reason to discount you as a voice, overall, and you have something valuable to say, you had better act like you're right about everything. So you gravitate toward being stuck.

Can you forgive people? You need to be on your own side, if you're in an environment where people are trying to shut you up. You can forgive people on some levels. But like the word "listen", there's a stronger and weaker version of the term "forgive". To listen to someone is to really take into account what they're saying, which in some contexts is to act in accordance with what they say, not just be able to make sense of the words they say. To forgive someone can mean, in its stronger form, "to enter into a relationship as close as or closer than the one that was lost". If you do that, there is no doubt that you have forgiven someone. Do all relationships need to be restored? Maybe not. But if there is a good reason to restore a relationship, can you do that? Or are you stuck, unable to let go of your threatenedness?

Can you deal with your own contradictions? In the old days, we would have called these hypocrisies. Being a hypocrite is too much fun for our days. Nowadays, we are self-contradictory, holding contradictory views, and not living out the views we have, out of fatigue and brokenness. We want to move the switch that makes us turn toward consistency, but as it's broken, it moves too easily, disconnected from the mechanism that really changes us on the inside.

Can you convert to a religion or worldview -- to any religion, or any worldview? Can you see things as being true that you didn't see as being true before? On what level? Can you deeply change as a person, even if it is merely to acknowledge the facts? If your will and intellect can't affect the rest of you, because the switches are broken or stuck, then it is not so easy.

Can you hold to a religion or worldview? You may try to stay in tune with your religion / worldview, by repeatedly moving the switches back to "ADHERING". But if the switch is broken, you may not really adhere, no matter how often you get the switch in the right place.

You can feel stuckness in your brain, a physical sense of rigidity. And the broken switches can be felt. For some people, just recognizing that there are these problems can help to fix them.

Friday, October 2, 2020

News: 2 October 2020

A while ago I had a Twitter account that was both for writing and personal. I wanted to split it into two, one for writing, one personal. I did, and the writing one got suspended, probably because it was too sparse and may have looked like a spam account or something like that. I appealed the suspension, and recently (a few weeks ago), Twitter unsuspended the account. So now I have a writing Twitter account.

I don't really like Twitter that much anymore and don't expect to invest a lot in the account unless someday it has more followers. So far it's just for announcements.


I started two reading projects, as you may have seen: reviewing Rawlette's The Feeling of Value and going through a reading list on population ethics from the EA Forum.

I probably shouldn't start any more projects right now. I do have Moynihan's X-Risk pre-ordered, should get that in early November. I might be able to finish the reading projects I've started before then (we'll see). If so, I may have a gap where I can consider starting another project. I think I may get through X-Risk quickly, maybe read it concurrent with something else.

Two philosophy projects occur to me. One is re-reading I and Thou by Buber and Totality and Infinity by Levinas: a showdown between two different theories of intersubjectivity. I like the toughness of Levinas, but I generally think that Buber is saner. At least, that's based on a couple of maybe-adequate readings of Buber and one not-so-good reading of Levinas. (I will definitely look into secondary literature if I try this project.) Can I come up with a take on intersubjectivity that is in keeping with my existing project?

The other is to read Berkeley's Principles of Human Knowledge. I have read about Berkeley and assimilated some of his ideas, but have never actually read anything by him. I expect to get some unexpected ideas, likely enough. But also I expect to be interested in his attempt to be skeptical of material substance.

Also I saw an Emily Dickinson poem that I liked, and may check out her work.


The philosophy projects sound kind of heavy. I'm conscious that getting committed to something heavy might be a waste of my time. Maybe I'm better off doing a lot of light work, rather than a few heavy projects. Rawlette isn't too bad -- clearly-written book, and the ideas are fairly straightforward, so far. But the other three philosophers mentioned wouldn't be like her.