Jesus an Idol

Progressive Christians are so aghast at the idea that the Old Testament is a true portrayal of God, that they, rather than going full-on atheist (an atheist being one who calls God a liar rather than being one who denies God’s existence) they accuse the O.T. authors of being liars, and from there, recreate Jesus into their own image. They make Jesus into an idol. You would think that wouldn’t be possible, but they’ve done it.

I’ve seen Jesus made an idol here in S.E. Asia — the Jesus shrine hanging on the wall next to the Buddha shrine — and Progressive Christianity is no different than that; only a more sophisticated idolatry.

Related reading:

Postmodern Jesusism

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God

Explaining Postmodernism

Are Progressive Christians the only ones guilty of making Jesus into an idol?

jesusgun

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12 Rules for Life (Book Review)

jordon-peterson-bookCanadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson has gained quite a bit of fame in recent years through his controversial (but not really controversial) stance on some social issues. Many people have been listening to what he has to say and are finding answers to the tough questions about life which they’ve been unable to find from, what should be, the normal sources for such conundrums. All of that has compelled him to write this book: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

This book is kind of like a Christian book written by a non-Christian for Christians and non-Christians. There’s really two types of Christians: 1) The born-again and goes to church every Sunday type; 2) The merely product of western civilization type.

A brief story explaining what I mean by the second type (which I heard someone tell once, but can’t remember when or where)….

A reporter travelled to a middle eastern country for a story. Going through passport control, he noticed the border officer stamp his passport “Christian.” He then said to the officer, “Why did you stamp ‘Christian’? I’m an atheist, not a Christian.” The border officer ignored his complaint and waved him through.

Later, at his hotel, he observed some boys outside the building playing a somewhat gruesome game: They were hitting newly born puppies with a baseball bat, sending them flying against the hotel wall. That in itself is horrifying enough, but what really bothered the reporter is that the mothers of the boys were all sitting around watching and doing nothing, enjoying their day, laughing, and conversing together. The reporter then thought, “Ah, maybe I am a Christian after all.”

The point of the story is that if you are western, your morality is Christian. Whether you like it or not, you are heavily influenced by Christianity.

Jordan Peterson is a type two Christian. His book is full of Biblical quotes. Even though he might not even believe in the God of the Bible, he knows that the values of western Christianity are what shaped the best culture in known world history. He knows that if Christian values are forgotten and abandoned, it will lead to chaos. Indeed, this is already happening.

Peterson has dedicated much of his life to studying totalitarian cultures (the ones in which millions are murdered by their own governments), and he has had many patients in his practice whose lives are a “bloody mess,” as he would put it. Using his studies, his own experience as a psychologist, and his Christian influenced wisdom, he’s put together a fine book designed to help people get their own lives in order.

The 12 Rules are:

Rule 1 Stand up straight with your shoulders back.

Rule 2 Treat yourself like you would someone you are responsible for helping.

Rule 3 Make friends with people who want the best for you.

Rule 4 Compare yourself with who you were yesterday, not with who someone else is today.

Rule 5 Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.

Rule 6 Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world.

Rule 7 Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient).

Rule 8 Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie.

Rule 9 Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.

Rule 10 Be precise in your speech.

Rule 11 Do not bother children when they are skate-boarding.

Rule 12 Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.

This is a dense book with a lot of information. I imagine the number one complaint by readers is that it is too long, and overly explanatory. But, if I were to give a one or two sentence long explanation of each Rule (which is far from the thorough conclusions put forth by Peterson), it would go like this…

Rule 1: Don’t be passive. Stand up for what you believe in — literally. Stand up straight. It has more effects than you realize.
Rule 2: Take care of yourself as though you were someone you deeply love and care about. Of course! But, many of us are quite negligent in self care.
Rule 3: Don’t hang around with losers, or you will become one too.
Rule 4: We’re all on different paths — some are further along than you, some are behind. Comparing yourself to them will either discourage you, or make you proud.
Rule 5: Of course you love your child, but do you like your child? Do others like your child? Will your child grow to be a likeable adult?
Rule 6: If the world around you is in a chaotic mess, start with the small space directly around you, put that in order and move out from there.
Rule 7: Think long-term.
Rule 8: You might not be able to know the truth about everything, but at least you can know what’s not true. So, don’t lie.
Rule 9: You can learn something from anybody.
Rule 10: Words have power. Use them carefully.
Rule 11: Kids need to gain confidence when they’re young so they can grow to be strong adults. That means doing dangerous things. Leave them alone.
Rule 12: Life is suffering. Take time to enjoy all the small pleasures when you can.

I give the book 4/5 stars, and I recommend you pick it up.

Related articles:
Jordan Peterson on Channel Four News
What are the Most Valuable Things to Know?

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Constitutions and Marriage Vows

Second marriage vows.When two people get married, they speak their vows. Now, even though those two people will change over the following ten, twenty, thirty years, the vows will remain the same for the life of the marriage. If the husband says after twenty years, “Our marriage vows are outdated. I think we should rewrite them to fit our current situation more accurately,” what he’s really saying is, “I want our marriage as it has been for the last twenty years to end, and I want to create an entirely new marriage.”

It is the same with a nation’s constitution. The constitution, as written by the nation’s founders, is meant to remain unchanged for the lifespan of that nation. When you hear people saying that it’s time to update the constitution, what they’re really saying is that they want a revolution — they want a new nation.

Related reading:

The Age of Empires

There’s no Going Back

Revolutions & Counter-revolutions

Perplexity of Rats and Dogs

pavlovexperiment

I, like most people, get frustrated when working in unpredictable situations. I worked many years in construction, and even though I don’t anymore, I still oversee the occasional construction project or some other kinds of projects. Nothing drives me crazy quicker than being told wrong information which causes me to make faulty plans. If the unpredictable conditions persist, it becomes impossible to function and the work stalls.

Following is an excerpt of an essay titled Visual Presentation of Social Matters written by Michael Polanyi…

Perplexity of Rats and Dogs

Even rats and dogs cannot live in perplexity. Take three sets of rats: give one set a meal a day; give the other set the same meal only every second day; and restrict the third group to a meal on every third day. All three groups will thrive (…) But take a fourth set of rats and feed them at periods varying irregularly between one and three days and you will see the rats of this set die. They get more than the [fed only every third day] rats, yet while those prosper on their meager diet [the irregularly fed rats] perish because their organism is thrown into a state of confusion, all their reflexes of digestion are dislocated, they die of perplexity.

Dogs are more human than rats, and so the experiment by which Pavlov drove his dogs mad shows us even more closely what is wrong with ourselves. He trained a dog to expect food when a luminous circle appeared on a screen, and to recognize that no food would come when a flat ellipse with a ratio of semiaxis 2:1 was produced. The dog learned to differentiate precisely between the circle and the ellipse, showing signs of appetite when the former, not when the latter was shown. The shape of the ellipse was then approximated by stages to that of the circle (ratios of the semiaxis 3:2, 4:3 and so on) and the training of discrimination continued through the successive ellipses. The dog found it increasingly difficult to distinguish between the ellipses and the circle and finally, when the ellipse was given a ratio of 9:8 he became quite uncertain in his discrimination. But Pavlov tried to educate him to the limit and continued with this experiment for three weeks. The result, however, was no improvement in the dog’s training but a total breakdown of his discriminating power. At the end he could not see the difference even between the at 2:1 ellipse and the circle. The dog’s behaviour also underwent a complete change. It began to squeal in its stand, kept wriggling about, tore off with his teeth the apparatus and bit through various tubes. In short, as Pavlov says, it fell into the condition of an acute neurosis.

This dog broke down when his powers of understanding were overstrained. They were overstrained when it became too difficult for him to distinguish between the symbols signifying food and hunger. His happiness was destroyed, not by need of supplies but by what Pavlov describes as a conflict between excitation and inhibition which its brain found too difficult to resolve.

Notice the last sentence: “His happiness was destroyed, not by need of supplies but by … a conflict between excitation and inhibition.”

pavlovs-dogs-mark-stiversIt reminds me of Proverbs 13:12…

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.

Predictability, habit, and routine are good things in life, and the best excitement is the one that comes as a result of hard work and planning. It is a battle though, and can easily be frustrated.

The best things you can do to overcome perplexity are to remove all unpredictable elements in your life as much as possible, focus on always telling the truth, and expecting the same from those around you.

Three Old Books About Cambodia

PP 1929
Phnom Penh – 1929 – Photo by Georges Portal

I enjoy finding old books about Cambodia online, especially history books.

Here are three public domain books I recently found. The first is about the ruins of Angkor written by P. Jeannerat De Beerski. The second is about how India was the main influence on early Cambodian culture, by Bijan Raj Chatterji. And the third is a short history of Cambodia, by Martin F. Herz. Enjoy….

Angkor – Ruins in Cambodia ~ 1924

Indian Cultural Influence in Cambodia ~ 1928

A Short History of Cambodia ~ 1958

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