Sunday, June 30, 2013

Step One...

My son, who cannot read, was helping me make mac and cheese.  He picked up the blue box and squinted.  "What's step one, Mom?"

I sniggered and replied, "Cut a hole in the box."

"K.  What's step two?"

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Conservative Christian That Supports Gay Marriage

As a Republican Gay Baptist pointed out, we are not a country that likes complexity.  We like simple solutions to complex problems.  Failing schools?  Test the snot out of them.  Crime problem?  Throw them in jail and let them rot.

Whether you're right wing, left wing, or you hang under the dark underbelly of the plane, like me, the debate over gay marriage is a hotbed of stoutly held opinions.  Lobbyists and other political players benefit from fanning  the flames of outrage on both sides of the issue, complicating things considerably.  In this instance, a simple problem has been made very complex, and the solution is in actuality very simple.

In my opinion, gay marriage shouldn't even be an issue.  It should be legal.  Government should not have its nose in the bedroom unless one partner doesn't consent.  Most of those who oppose gay marriage do it for religious reasons.  Religious intrusion into law and politics usually causes more harm than good.

To understand how religion and politics can be harmful, one needs to understand emics and etics.  Emics view behavior from within a system or a culture, and etics view behavior from outside a system or culture.  Mental refers to what a subject is thinking, and behavioral refers to what one can observe them doing.

Traditional Religious Conservative View of Gay Marriage
Preserving the sanctity of marriage.
Advocating politically to ensure the country stays on a moral path.
Afraid of change, and of losing both religious and political clout.
Fanning a debate with inflammatory language to keep from losing power.

By dissecting the motivations behind the opposition to gay marriage, I find that it's more about self-righteousness and power than about protecting Christianity.  I believe Christians should not be seeking power in any way.**  Like an anonymous young man points out, the brain can be a lot like Lindsey Lohan's defense lawyer, because "it may be the best advocate out there, but at bottom, it's still defending every kind of immaturity and poor decision-making there is."  The degree to which we can delude ourselves that we are doing the right thing instead of acting like power-hungry control freaks is astounding. 

I was raised to live and let live, to study the Word and live one's life accordingly.  The two men that had a major effect on my moral development were extremely homophobic, but one would never know by the way they treated homosexuals.  They shook hands and spoke with respect, kindness, and good humor, which I think is a closer reflection to what loving one's neighbors should look like.**

I know that other conservatives will strongly disagree, citing that law is a reflection of morality, and for the majority of Americans, that morality is strongly based in Judeo-Christian ideals.  But, religion and politics never mix without an explosive reaction.

Atheists often point out that religion has lead the clarion call for violence and war, and they have a point.  Think of the Inquisition, the Reformation, the Crusades...the list goes on and on.  Those wars had emics and etics, too.  The emic mental reason for those wars were religious, but etically, the violence was about power, either maintaining it during a time of tremendous change or grabbing it from another country.

Though I'm a religious person, the law should be as religiously neutral as possible because religious viewpoints behind the laws are often biased, which has been demonstrated time and time again throughout history.  I have no problem with legalizing gay marriage.

**I have verses that I could cite to support my beliefs, but I have found that citing verses usually leads to citation wars that are more about winning and less about actual dialogue.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Those Who Want to be Broken

I'm a singer.  Most of the time stage fright is not a problem.  As a pianist, not so much.  I can have mini mental breakdowns in between the Gloria and the Sanctus when I'm playing organ at church.  As a writer I deal with my own fear of not being good enough on a daily basis.  As a music teacher, I teach my students how to deal with their fear from a very young age.  I've had to develop numerous techniques to battle anxiety because all but one of my private voice students are nearly crippled by it.
Image by cobrasoft at stock.xchng

Though music is my game, fear is my specialty in a lot of ways.  I realized the other day that I've noticed a trend.

There are those who conquer their fears and feel amazing for having done so.  There are those who still feel it, but trudge on anyway.  There are those who quit because conquering fear is more difficult than living with it.  Finally, there are those who deliberately sabotage any effort at improving one's physical or mental health because, quite frankly, they get more satisfaction from being ill.

I've seen those who deliberately sabotage personal progress in my professional and personal life.  They get more emotional needs filled from being mentally ill than they do from being well.  When one is ill the others in their lives get to take the consequences.

Julia Cameron calls people who thrive on drama and manipulation "crazy makers."  I'm certain we all know a crazy maker, like the folks that post cryptic status updates on Facebook, then refuse to talk about it.  Drama is about attention.  Adolescents aren't subtle about it, but one person in my life so subtle as to be Machiavellian, having manipulated everyone in her life to hum along to her pity ditty.

What are your experiences with crazy makers or self-saboteurs?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Those Who Are Irredeemable

My father loves to argue a point.  As most of the people he knew did anything they could to avoid
engaging in an argument they'd never win, my sister and I got to debate with him as we were bouncing in the farm pickup's passenger seat.

Photo by cahdequech from stock.xchng
He strongly believed that all people are born inherently self-centered or evil, ourselves included.  He saw it in his animals, and most especially in small children.  (Think about it.  Most kids have to be taught to share, to take turns.)  I can't find any numbers to back this up, but it seems as though most folks I run into believe the exact opposite:  that evil people are made that way.

There are a lot of misconceptions about psychopaths, most of which I've covered in a previous post.  I happen to agree with my father, that people are born selfish or evil, so I never thought much about how believing in man's inherent goodness could make one a victim.  One thing that's really been driven home to me while reading Lovefraud is that believing that selfish, evil behavior is due to previous trauma makes you a prime mark for psychopaths or other personality-disordered individuals.

At Lovefraud one can see countless stories in which victims of disordered individuals were reeled in by the psychopath feigning remorse and a trauma-filled past.  Many people react by feeling like they can help "fix" this person, lead them to the light, etc.  What victims do not realize at the time is that one can NEVER trust a psychopath's word on anything.  They lie to lie.  Even if their stories of traumatic pasts are true, they never try to overcome it.  They use it to their advantage.

Psychopaths have no other goal in life other than to get what he or she wants.  They are only interested in you as long as you have something they want.  Any emotion that a psychopath shows other than impatience, anger, or sexual desire is a feigned, and people who believe that there is good in everyone are easily reeled in by this tactic.

The hard fact is that psychopaths are irredeemable.  They see no purpose in "good" behavior because it does not give them what they want.  (Read this letter and another from a psychopath written to the founder of Lovefraud.)  A lot of people violently disagree that psychopaths are irredeemable because it would mean changing that core belief of inherent goodness.  I actually had one person go into hysterics over it.

What do you think?  Please take the survey, and leave your reactions in the comments.

Are people inherently good or inherently evil? free polls 

Monday, June 3, 2013

New Review Policy

It's been a while since I've done a review here.  I've had several really bad experiences for a variety of reasons, and I've been taking some time to create a new policy to address several problems.

The majority of books I have received are self-published.  Many authors sent me books in dire need of editing.  I felt obligated to read the entire book, so my reviews wound up turning into editing sessions.  This was not always a bad experience.  As a teacher, it's fun to help folks find creative ways to address problems in their projects.  However, I was only able to manage to do it while I had a student teacher, which gave me a lot of time to ruminate on issues and how to solve them.  After I returned to full time teaching, editing was incredibly time-consuming and took time away from my projects.

Additionally, I felt I had to be honest, but I'm very good at spinning feedback in a positive way.  However, I had so many books that were substandard it was beginning to be hard to be positive, which led me to make some bad mistakes with one author that I regret deeply.

As a book blogger, I feel it's important to be honest.  Those who visit my site to read reviews are deciding whether or not to purchase a book based on what I say, but I do not like publicly stating why a novel is lackluster.  As a teacher, that is something that should be done in private, but I am not an editor being paid to polish an entire novel, so I couldn't really win.

From now on, if you would like a review, please send me the first chapter.  I will read the whole chapter.  If I don't see issues like excessive exposition, poor editing, flat characters, etc., I will read the whole book and give it a review.  If I do not think there's a possibility of a good review, I will reply with a short blurb as to why I would rather not review the book.  Sometimes it may be due to personal taste, more often because projects are rushed to self-publication without enough rumination.

I feel the new policy will allow me to give self-published authors a chance, and give me a chance to have a relatively stress-free reviewing process.  For more information on what types of books I like to review, click on the "Want a Review?" page above.

If you have contacted me for a review and have not received one, please go ahead and send me the first chapter.  After changing computers I lost many of the files I had set aside for review.