Free Will, Chance and Predestination

I was reading a particularly boring novel today, and of course my mind started to wander. For some reason I started thinking about free will, chance and predestination. I stopped myself and re-focused on my homework, but I figured the topic would make for a good blog post.

Let’s ignore chance for a minute since the other two are tricky as it is. It is a self evident truth that humans have the freedom of choice. It is also true that God has a plan for this world. Some people believe that this plan includes a selection of the people who will be saved or not. By this thinking however, one has to believe that it does not matter how “good” or “bad” a person is because God has already decided their fate. This does not leave any room for redemption or for the choice to turn to or away from God, which obviously, people do. I would argue that God chooses people to be His followers, but he also allows them to freely make that choice. God knows what people will choose, and perhaps He will influence them one way or another, but ultimately, the choice is theirs.

But how does it work with less theological issues? Is there such a thing as chance or is every single event and situation  planned out? Why do bad things happen? In computer programs, sometimes variables are included. If X, then Y. If Y, then Z. If Z, then X. Perhaps parts of God’s plan allow for chance in this way. Obviously parts of it are fixed; people live and die; the world as we know it will come to an end some day, somehow, but it seems that there is some kind of “if, then” variable in some parts. Perhaps this variable is what we call human nature. This does not leave chance unacounted for because God “programmed” or “designed” human nature, and He allows for it, so it is still under His control.

Bad things happen because there is evil in the world like a virus in a computer program. Human nature was tainted by original sin, which made it impossible for the world to be perfect anymore. God allows bad things to happen as part of the redemption process, and ultimately, He will “fix” everything when the End comes. He could take care of everything instantly, but he doesn’t for a perfectly good reason that I don’t think humans can ever be fully aware of.

Well rheres a first attempt at least. Back to work now! Please leave comments!

Not Quite 12 Pages

I’m taking a break from writing a paper. It’s about the Shakespeare play Othello, specifically my interpretation of Iago. I’m taking a break because it’s a difficult paper to write and I need to work on something else for a little bit. I had to meet with my philosophy group at school today because we’re having a debate in class on Tuesday. The question is, “Can machines think?” We were assigned to argue, “no.” Thank God for that, because I would never argue that they could. I just flat out don’t like the idea above any other argument against it.

Anyway, before I came here I checked my email to see if anything needed to be taken care of. I checked my Gmail first because that’s my church/fun email. Then I checked my school email because I’m waiting to hear back from my professor. I had a question about the bibliography of my paper. It’s due Tuesday, so if I don’t hear back from her by noon or so tomorrow I think I’ll try and give her a call. I really dislike talking on the phone. I’m not sure why.

I had no new messages, so I’m running out of procrastination options. My brother got me addicted to a silly game for my phone called Dragonvale. You basically build and take care of a zoo for dragons. You can also do races and things with them eventually. I’m currently poor and wimpy though, so everything is ridiculously time consuming, which means that’s not a good procrastination option.

I’m only giving myself until 6:30 anyway (I started procrastinating around 6:00), so I need to get back to work.  I just felt like rambling a little.

Open And Honest With Perfect Strangers

In my time of being on various discussion forums and of blogging, I’ve noticed something that is actually quite concerning. It seems that people in general (myself included) are much more open and honest about just about anything through the medium of the internet. Many people feel much more comfortable talking about their dirty secrets, how they feel about things, what’s troubling them, etc, and by the same token, I think people are much more likely to give advice and “say what needs to be said.”

This of course brings up the question, “why?”

I know anonymity must be a huge part of it; it’s easier to say things from behind a user name and across cyber space. I just don’t quite understand why It’s easier to talk to people who might as well not exist rather than people we know and love. For example, I’ve mentioned on this blog that I had a “religious experience” through a dream that has really helped to shape who I am this past year or so, and yet the only person whom I personally know who knows about it is my cousin who I’m not actually that close to and who is almost an atheist. I could have told my best friend who I actually do tell almost everything to, and I could have to told my friend/mentor/teacher who likewise, knows a lot of my “dirty little secrets.”

I think the fact that we’re never actually going to meet the people we talk to on the internet plays a part in this as well. Many of the things people talk about are just embarrassing. I suppose It’s sort of like throwing something out there and not having to look at where we throw it. Perhaps having to interact with the person who knows your secrets can feel like having to interact with a manifestation of them in a way. Perhaps seeing that person is just a reminder that you have these thoughts, feelings, secrets, etc.

Perhaps it isn’t all bad that we do talk about these kinds of things on the internet. After all, humans are all fallen, and we are meant to confess our sins to God and to each other, so if the internet makes that easier, maybe It’s a good thing. I still can’t help feeling that It’s kind of like taking the easy way out. Perhaps what needs to happen is that if people insist on discussing these things on the internet, then they should make themselves a little less public. What I mean by this is that maybe people should try to make stronger connections with a select few whom they will share things with. I think people need to try to make genuine friendships and I think it can be done. I think there will still be a sense of anonymity, but also a sense of intimacy that will make talking about serious matters less stressful and more meaningful. I also sincerely think that people really need to just try and be more open and honest with the friends and family they already know and love.

Being Helpful

Being helpful is one of the most rewarding things in the world. It doesn’t matter what you do to be helpful; big or small, when someone thanks you and tells you you’re helpful, it feels so good! I’m a little bit of a workaholic, but I can honestly say that most of the time I’d rather be helpful than productive, if I had to choose.

I read a post in October by a blogger who calls himself Marcel. It was his first post and he said that he wasn’t expecting anyone to read for a very long time. Well, I’m sometimes an overly friendly, sentimental nuisance, so I left him a comment to say “hi” and give a little advice. He thanked me and said he hoped I’d keep reading. So I’ve been reading and commenting on some of his posts, but I realized that sometimes trying to be helpful can be kind of annoying to people. I asked him if I was in fact being annoying, and he said that I wasn’t and that he appreciated me reading and commenting. Not only that, but he said my comments were helpful!

When that’s exactly what you’re hoping to hear and you’re easily excitable (I’m so easily excitable), it can kind of make your day.

Throughout high school, I wanted to “save the world.” I’m sure there are many 14 year old girls who think they can do that, but it’s ridiculous, nonetheless. Of course I’ve learned about all kinds of different organizations that seek to help people overseas and in third world countries, but I also think that saving the world can start at home. I like the idea of the movie “Pay It Forward.” If you’re nice/helpful to someone, they’ll be be nice/helpful to someone else. If you’re nice/helpful to a few people, it will grow exponentially.

Lately, since I’m almost halfway done with my sophomore year of college, I’ve been thinking about what I want or could be doing with my life.More importantly however, I’ve been trying to figure out where I “fit in” to God’s plan. I figure if I can understand that, it will help me to decide what I should do as a career. Because of things that have been going on lately, I’m starting to think that it has something to do with “doing big things in a small way.” I think of it sort of as a movie. There’s the actors on camera, and then there’s the “tech” crew behind the scenes helping with costumes, special effects, script, props and everything else that goes into a good movie.

This blog is actually an attempt at “doing big things in a small way.” I’m hoping that what I write is helpful to whomever reads it and that maybe it will make people think if not do something to make the world a better place. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but nobody said I couldn’t dream, and this is my internet bubble!

Poetic Newbery

Well you guys (whoever the heck “you” are) just a few hours ago I plucked up enough courage to submit a poem to a Christian literary magazine called “Relief.” I had never heard of it before, but I just did a Google search of literary magazines that accept submissions from “newbs,” and this one came up. So I gave them my name and contact information and submitted the thing, but I may have done something very “newb-ish.” They wanted a “cover letter” to go with the submission. They provided a little text box that I was supposed to write the thing in; the trouble is that I don’t even know what a cover letter is. I wrote in the text box something to the effect of, “This is my first time submitting anything to a literary magazine. To be honest, I don’t even know what a cover letter is. I am Christian and I have a passion for writing, and this was the first place I thought I’d try to get published. Thank you for your consideration.”

Ok, so that’s all well and good, except I have a feeling that with a “cover letter” like that they’re not going to consider my poem. I guess I’ll find out soon what the verdict is. I didn’t have to pay any money to submit the thing, so all that can happen is I get rejected. It was really just a shot in the dark. If I get rejected I’ll look into what in the world a cover letter is and try again. I might try something other than poetry as well. They said on their website that they accept poetry, but it seemed that they were sort of geared more towards short stories and articles. Poetry is just sort of my fall-back.

I would publish the poem here because I actually thought I did a pretty good job with it, but I’m not sure I should do that if I do happen to get published. I just kind of feel like there’s some kind of rule against that. Once I know if my newbery cost me a publication I’ll let “you” all know and if it did, I’ll post the poem.

Wish me luck!

Why Do You Read?

I noticed something interesting just now. I was looking at my “stats” for how many views I’ve got recently, and what I’ve found is somewhat surprising. The most views I’ve ever got in a day is 30. Maybe that’s a lot, and maybe not. I just don’t know. What’s interesting is that I posted “Faith Lives On” and “Caught In A Lie” on that day. The former is about the current state of the Christian faith and really theism in general in the U.S. today. The latter is about nearly getting caught in a lie and feeling bad about it.

On October 29, I got 14 views. On that day I posted “Writing A Road: To Somewhere Great Or A Dead End Job,” which was essentially more of me complaining about not knowing exactly what I want to do with my life.

Just as a side note, I’ve decided to stop doing that on here. The internet really doesn’t need to know about me feeling bad for myself.

I don’t know if my views were all of the posts that I published on those days, but if so, it would be very interesting to know why. I’m not sure I’ll be able to figure that out, but I could speculate. Perhaps it’s because of the empathy factor. It could be that people like to read these types of posts because they want to know that someone deals with the same issues as they do, and perhaps (and I don’t mean this in a bad way) it’s comforting to know that somebody has it worse in one way or another. Perhaps there’s even a bit of nostalgia involved. I’m not sure of the age group of my readers, but I get the sense that many of them are at least a few years older than me. Perhaps it’s somehow gratifying to be able to say “I remember when I was dealing with that.”

What’s interesting is that I seam to get less action on the “big issue posts” that I sometimes write. I’m generally more interested in writing those, because I’m usually more interested in reading that kind of stuff. I write the shorter, more personal posts either to clear my head or because I think something just might be a little amusing. Sometimes I just feel compelled to throw something out there and see what happens. It’s kind of like fishing. I’m just trying different bate.