Entries Tagged 'The Modern Condition' ↓

MIA, time to blame

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted in this forum, not due to the absence of thoughts nor to an end of seeking, let me assure you.  I’ve simply been struggling to find balance ever since starting a new job back in September.  My independent writing career, aka blogging and commenting, has taken a back seat these last couple months. I’m still searching for that balance, so expect my posts to continue to be a bit sporadic in the short term.

In light of searching for that balance my thought for today is an introspection into the use of time and its connection to happiness. We all have the same amount of time in a day and it is our decisions about how to use that time that really defines who we are and what we become. I have experienced a profound shift in time culture over the last year or so.  It seems like only yesterday I was in Africa sitting in a store called “No Hurry in Life Enterprise”, a virtue in their community but an oxymoron in the culture I find myself part of on the East Coast. Everyone is very dedicated and in my particular workplace we are all working for a very noble cause which might justify it more but sometimes I question whether the long hours are really the legacy I want to build and have to show for my time on earth. There is always a time and place for long hours/intense work, they are a component of nearly every great achievement, but a culture of work that over the long run cuts out family, recreation, time for contemplation, etc. is, I think, detrimental to the individual and society as a whole.

Can I have it both ways or will I need need to move to Africa… only time will tell.

Humans and our need to interact with the natural world

The other day after work I decided to walk through the National Zoo and I came away with a couple thoughts.  First, we humans are not the only ones with cognitive powers.  There was one orangutan that was completely working the crowd, luring everyone away from another ape and then, once he had their full attention, sending them all away in disgust to his own delight as he regurgitated a previous meal and slurped it back up again.  The thing is my nephew gets the same sense of pleasure from showing everyone his chewed up fish sticks.  A particular seal lion also resembled my nephew in his tactics for stalling to go to Continue reading →

Revolutionizing the Treatment of Young Girls

In my continued seeking for goodness Friday at work I had the privilege of sitting and listening to Betty Makoni, a reknowned activist for girls’ rights, as she was in the country to receive an award from Amnesty International. I was humbled as I listened to her matter-of-fact description of the problems facing young girls in her country and then completely humbled as I listened and observed her personal drive and remarkable capacity as an agent of change to drastically change the lives of thousands upon thousands of girls and eventually millions as her model is being replicated around the world.

2500 years ago a man named Jacob rebuked a gathering of men who had through their actions abused their wives and children.  He spoke in the name of the Lord saying “I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women and whoredoms are an abomination before me… I have seen the sorrow and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people [and can suffer it no longer’.”  In our modern day men continue to destroy these most precious and tender daughters of God.  Thanks be to God that He has raised up a woman named Betty Makoni to continue this battle for what is right and the only acceptable mode of behavior towards these most precious souls in the eyes of God.

In blogging fashion I will honor with her with links to her story–

Her official website

Her Ashoka Fellow profile

A speech she gave at the Global Philanthropy Forum

From the Global Fund for Women

From the United Nation’s Girls Education Initiative

From the BBC

The modern religious seeker, the Buddha, and Enos

In a recent post I compared the seeker experience of Siddartra Gautama before he became known as the Buddha, “The Enlightened One” and Enos, the third writer found in the Book of Mormon. The reason I find their stories interesting is that I believe certain elements of their experiences are quite common in the personal religious dilemma of many in the modern world yet most in the modern world have not had the outcome of “enlightenment” or report “having their guilt swept away” or being able to say “my soul did rest.” Instead the common outcome is apathy. “It doesn’t matter” or “nobody can know, so why worry about it” are the responses of our day.

Why is this so?  Am I wrong in regards to apathy?

Money Can Buy Happiness*

These two articles caught my attention recently. The first I first heard discussed on NPR; here is a blurb in Scientific America. Basically researchers found that “money can buy happiness” only on one condition–if you give it away. The second was the NY Times op ed piece about the modern do-gooder, namely the social entrepreneur, which referenced my employer, Ashoka, to start the conversation. Now I’ll go on a couple tangents–

Some may hear that first finding and think that they should go chasing after money with the intention of giving it away after they’ve accumulated it but I think that is a faulty and dangerous interpretation. (This happens to be a view I believe is quite common in my own cultural community, particularly along the Watsatch Front). Although the intent-to-do-good motive is the only justifiable reason for pursuing wealth, doing so in the mode of pursuing wealth now with the intent to give later is dangerous. If you cannot give when you have little then I will predict, and the data supports it, you will not give as readily if you do become wealthy. As wealth accumulates so do appetites and the ability to consume.

It is interesting that the study was conducted giving $5 and $20 donations, which is a small price for happiness and very much in the budget of every individual especially if it is truly a sacrifice and not just a skim off the excess.

Perhaps psychiatrists should consider prescribing gift cards to Global Giving instead of packets of pills.

Could giving be somehow measured into the GNH Gross National Happiness.
Now that you want to give away your money, who should you give it to?

I think there is a strong argument for the answer being found in the second article.

The day that poses the greatest question to mankind

Today marks the commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is the day around which this entire human drama pivots.  If there were not an Easter, there would not be a Christmas.  Were it not for an empty tomb, there would be no meaning in the cross.  Take away the reality of the resurrection and Christianity  simply becomes a collection of stories for decent living.

Today it is in vogue within Christianity to deny the reality of the resurrection.  However denying the actuality of the resurrection yet still wanting to hold on to some elements of Christ’s teachings has been a point of contention within Christianity from the first century, so this is not a new development nor a matter of an ‘enlightened’ modern mind.  The report of a man who was publicly killed coming back to life three days afterwards, being touched and interacting with multiple groups of people, is indeed foolishness to the logical mind.

I think it is nearly impossible to explain or describe the mystery and glory of the resurrection in conversation.  Such a topic is best handled by the poet, artist, and musician.  I provide two pieces to ponder: Continue reading →

Light pollution affecting belief in God

I was Stumbling around the other day and came across these fantastic images from the Hubble telescope. I find it absolutely mind-boggling to look at a photograph such as the one here and ponder on the vastness of space, the apparent infinity of matter, stars, galaxies, space, and time. This picture, in particular, is breathtaking, each point of light being a galaxy made up of billions upon billions of stars. I cannot comprehend it.

This is a good launching pad to share one of my pet theories which is that the modern decrease in religiosity and faith is correlated with the rise of urbanization and the associated light pollution. Might sound strange but hear me out– Continue reading →

Getting Beyond Isolated Quotes

An interesting post the other day at Summa Theologica about the traditional text-centered dialogue about Mormonism as opposed to one that analyzes actual practice, ritual, and devotion in an attempt to understand a group of people.The post resonated with me because part of the reason I started this blog was because I was absolutely bored with the dialogue that so often accompanies Mormonism on the internet; Continue reading →

Stephen Colbert Wheel-O-Religion

This is all in good fun. I got a kick out of some of his little side comments.

Behind the silliness are some potentially more serious and thought-provoking questions:

Is chance really the driving mechanism behind our lives? Is the family, location, and religion of our birth simply chance? Is all of life an accident? That is the answer of science. I’m in the middle of reading E.O. Wilson’s The Diversity of Life and in a section I recently read he makes the point that everything, the diversity of life, all of it, is an accident, “beauty arises from error.” Life is a statistical anomaly. There is no plan, there is no meaning. Continue reading →