Monthly Archives: June 2013

Belief vs Knowledge

Is believing something different from knowing it? I had a theology question a day or two ago, so I went to a discussion forum I had joined about a year or two ago to see what people thought. It had been several months, if not a year since I had gone there because last summer I decided that I was addicted to social media, so I quit everything except Facebook and flyinguineapig.

Anyway, I couldn’t find any threads about my particular question, and I didn’t feel like posting a new one so I left. Before I did though, I read a few posts on a thread about believing versus knowing something. I almost posted something, but I didn’t feel like getting into an argument, which actually happens a lot on that forum, but I thought I’d share my thoughts here.

Normally I would like to keep this open to belief in general, but I think in this case I might have to talk about it in the context of my personal beliefs. I think “belief” implies a lack of knowledge in one way or another. The online dictionary says that belief is “the acceptance of something as true or real.” Knowledge on the other hand is “What is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information.” I think faith may actually require both. There are things I know because I have accepted them as fact. There are also things that I believe, but don’t have enough information to accept them as fact or make judgments one way or another.

I think if one is to follow a particular religion or philosophy that there are beliefs within that system that they need to accept as fact. For example, Christianity is a very individual-oriented religion. One’s personal relationship with Christ is often what makes or breaks their faith. Therefore at the very least, people need to accept their salvation from sin and death as fact. Not knowing that for certain makes for a weak faith. I think Knowledge actually implies a very strong belief. There were facts in science that people accepted as true and real until they were proven false by innovation. For example, at one point in time people thought the earth was the center of universe. This was accepted as a scientific fact until it was refuted and a new model of the solar system was created.

In short, here are my definitions of  knowledge vs belief:

Knowledge: The acceptance of information as true based on evidence and conviction

Belief: The acceptance of ideas as true based on limited information and one’s personal desire/inclination to believe them

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

A Part Of The Show

My brain just did a 360.  For weeks now I’ve been trying to figure out how to get gigs. It’s been such a painful search that I just sort of gave up (not completely, but I’ve mostly been playing open mics). I think life will be easier once my album is finished, so I’ve decided to mainly focus on that. I’ve also been trying to figure out how to make God part of the show. I believe that God inspired and continues to inspire my music and I want to make that clear to the audience. I just couldn’t figure out how to do that without being annoying.

When I started my gig search I decided that I wouldn’t play churches because my music wouldn’t exactly fit. I think it’s Christian music, but it’s not worship music in the way people normally think of worship music. I never come out and explicitly say “Look how awesome God is” in any of my songs.

Of course that sneaky little voice in my head piped up a few minutes ago and said, “if you talk about what inspired the songs before you played them or something it would probably be perfectly acceptable to play in a church. That and if you want God to be part of the show, that should be more important to you than what the audience thinks.”

*sigh* Yeah, I know. 🙂

The only thing I don’t like about this plan is that I partly wrote music that isn’t explicitly Christian so that i could try and reach people who wouldn’t listen to explicitly Christian music. I’ll admit it’s a little bit of a sneaky evangelism thing that probably doesn’t even work. I think in order to get anywhere I sort of have to separate my faith and my music a little bit, which I sort of didn’t want to do. I do want to gain fans, and that means playing for everyone. Plus if I play churches I can practice making God a part of a show so that it doesn’t feel weird when I play for the general public.

My job now is to find churches that like contemporary worship music. I’m hopefully getting back to the studio tomorrow, so I can talk to Ken about it. I know his church uses contemporary music in their Sunday service, so that might be a good place to start. In the mean time I’ll be spending lots of time with Google.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Marshmallows And Gratitude

I complain a lot. In fact, you guys probably see my whiney side most of the time. I’m always complaining about being lazy or not trying hard enough or wanting to do more and not knowing how or whatever else.

The fact of the matter is that I have a really easy, comfortable life and I should be thankful for that. By itself it’s not a bad thing, and I need to remind myself of that. My dad built a really nice fire place out by our pool and we were sitting out there just talking and roasting marsh mallows a little while ago. It was making me warm and sleepy and very happy. Before I came in Mom said, “We have a really nice house and a nice pool and a nice fire place and a nice family.”

Well, we do, and we have all this stuff because we grew up in a free country and because my parents work hard. Having all of this stuff allows us to be comfortable and allows us to be generous and helpful. I can work on my music career and go to college because my parents are willing to help me. I don’t have to fight for my freedom because it was given to me at birth. It doesn’t mean I’m better than anyone else. It doesn’t mean I’m “the favorite” or anything. It does mean that I have the responsibility to speak my mind and help those who are less fortunate in any way I can.

Saying that I don’t appreciate everything I have would be lying, and it would be ungrateful. I really do appreciate being able to write and access the internet whenever I want. I appreciate being able to spend the afternoon playing guitar. I appreciate that I don’t have to hide my opinions or feelings or beliefs. I am glad that all I have to worry about is what my future will be like and what the problems are in far away places because the here and now is good.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Happy Bday, FGP!

A few days ago; June 17 was flyinguineapig’s first birthday. I think I’ve actually changed quite a bit in the past year. I think it’s for the better. I’m glad I’m changing because it means I’m growing. I still have some old habits I need to kick, but I think most people probably do.

Anyway, this post is for you guys; my readers. As of today, 84 people follow this blog. I was super happy when I had 20 people following me. Heck, I was happy that anyone read at all. I can’t believe that I’m on my way to 100. As many of you guys know, I have a “gonna save the world” kick, and this blog is my little contribution for now.

Thanks so much for reading. ❤

Thoughts On Universalism

A few things have just been bugging me lately, so I thought posting about them would be helpful. My 3 main questions are:

1) What is the best way to evangelize?

2) Is universal salvation plausible?

3) If everyone is saved, should we still evangelize?

I’ve always found evangelizing annoying. It seems a bit pretentious to try and talk to complete strangers just to convert them to your religion. Students are told over and over in writing classes that we should show, not tell. It took some getting used to as I developed as a writer (I’m still no brilliant writer), but it really does make for much better writing. I try to take the same approach when it comes to my faith. Sometimes actions speak louder than words, so I try to act like I follow Jesus instead of just saying I do. I find that weirdly enough, people are willing to listen to me talk about my faith once we’ve hung out for a while. I never come into a conversation with the intention of talking about my faith. I want it to just sort of umbrella over everything I am and do. Have I converted anyone? No; so it’s certainly not very effective in terms of evangelism, but it’s much less obnoxious.

I read a blog post by a woman who was an atheist, talking about what Christians should not do when trying to evangelize. She said the thing that would help the most would be if no one proactively evangelized. She said a lot of people are atheists or follow another religion because they have at some point, looked into Christianity and rejected it as a viable religion. Therefore, trying to convince them that it actually is right looks a bit crazy or is at least annoying. She said that it would be best if we were less exclusive as well, which I agree with. A big part of this would be changing the way people talk and write. Sometimes it’s almost like we speak in code and I find it downright silly at times. I sometimes find myself using “Christainy” expressions and then asking myself, “What does that even mean?” It almost seems artificial. We need to just find better ways of talking about stuff.

I read a bit about Islam the other day because I was curious, and something I found interesting was their interpretation of some verses in the Bible. There are many verses in the Old Testament that most Christians see as foreshadowing the coming of Christ, but Muslims read them as foreshadowing Mohamed. I thought about it, and I didn’t see anything particularly wrong with that interpretation, and the way the website explained it, it made sense. In fact, couldn’t it foreshadow both? It is an interpretation after all. I read a blog post by a guy who used to be a missionary who said that Muslim leaders actually like to study Jesus’ words and life because they see him as a great prophet and role model for leadership. The author of the article suggested that instead of trying to strictly convert people to Christianity, we should teach them to follow Jesus’ example; i.e. to stand up for what is right, to do right by our neighbors, to advocate for peace and love and to love our God.

This brings me to my next question; is universal salvation plausible? I read one article that talked about mistranslations of the Greek Bible into Latin. the author wrote that universal salvation was actually accepted through the first 500 years of the Church. I personally believe that the farther back you go in time, the closer to the truth you will probably get. Of course this isn’t always the case, especially when it comes to the medical field, etc, but I think it is probably true when it comes to religion. They believed in universal salvation because according to the article, the Greek originally said that torment in Hell would last for an “eon” or an age– not eternity. That meant that everyone would eventually be reconciled to God, even if it took a really, really long time.

This seemed awfully compelling, but there are still a few things that don’t sit quite right with me. It doesn’t completely make sense with statements that Jesus made such as “no one gets to the Father except through me.” I suppose he could have meant that his sacrifice was necessary so that all people could be reconciled to God. That is in fact what Christians believe, but maybe it extends beyond just one group of people. Furthermore, if salvation is universal, why bother praying in Jesus’ name or celebrating the Eucharist? There are things within Christianity as a religion that seem potentially inseparable from salvation. The only thing I can come up with at the moment is that we do those kinds of things to say “thank you” and so we don’t have to wait to get to Heaven when we die. I know I do it in part for emotional reasons. I’d bet a lot of people do. In large part, Christianity is about relationships with each other and with God.

I’m not saying I’m a universalist just yet because I’m still researching and I don’t want to jump that way if that’s not where I should be jumping. I’m just theoretically mind spewing at this point. My next question is; if salvation is universal, do Christians still need to evangelize? I would say “yes,” but maybe we need to get a little more creative with it. I’d also say that maybe we should focus less on converting people to our religion and focus more on teaching them about Jesus and what he did and represents.

To be honest, I still don’t even entirely know what salvation really means. It probably means a whole lot more than what I think it does. I don’t think anyone can be 100% right about it anyway, but it’s worth trying to figure out.

Discussion would be lovely. Just don’t fight, please. 🙂

Gremlins (not the movie)!

This is sort of terrible, but I needed to vent. I apologize in advance.

I have these two cousins; we’ll call them Thing 1 and Thing 2, who are 7 and 5. The 5 year old is actually pretty mellow– unless she’s with her brother. Thing 1 on the other hand is an insufferable little boy. He doesn’t follow rules, he lies and he asks too many stupid and annoying questions. We made the horrible mistake of letting him onto our Minecraft server where he proceeded to blow up my portal, thus stranding me in the middle of nowhere for 4 Minecraft days. I know I shouldn’t get all testy about something like that, but he’s just been so annoying the past couple days. I kicked him out of the pool last night for not listening and picking on his sister. It was kind of gratifying. I know I’m supposed to be nice to him because he’s my cousin, but it’s getting harder and harder.

I’m used to doing things at a relatively laid back pace. I like peace and quiet and I’m mostly interested in mature, intellectual things. I think a lot of kids’ TV shows, stories and movies are pointless and idiotic and I don’t have a whole ton of patience for children in general. They wanted to watch me play Journey last night, which happens to be my favorite video game for the art, animation, open ended story and amazing music. I agreed because I thought it would keep them quiet. It turns out nothing can shut these kids up. I owe my sanity to my mom and brother because they ended up taking the gremlins to Pet Co while I played. I ended up playing with a very entertaining person too.

We watched Monsters Inc last night, which I’ll admit is one of the better kids’ movies I’ve seen. After that, Thing 1 asked me what time I was going to get up the next morning “8 or 9?” I told him 10:30 and slept until 11:30 or so. I could never be a mother. Maybe it’s selfishness, but I just can’t cater to the wants and needs of bratty kids. I have a couple other cousins who are 11 and 13. There isn’t as much of an age difference, but I don’t remember either of them being bratty when they were 7 or 5. In fact, they’re both mature for their age, caring and best of all, quiet. We’re even interested in a lot of the same things.

I have some work to do this afternoon and the rest of the week, so hopefully the little monsters will stay out of my room, though i kind of doubt it. If I’m not already crazy, I will be by the time they leave on Wednesday.

Anyway, sorry for the rant. Love y’all! 🙂

Dreaming In Sound

I played an open mic on Monday in the tiniest bar ever! In fact, the room seemed to be full of musicians and their friends/family and no other patrons. No one else would have fit. It was a really fantastic atmosphere and everyone there seemed awfully nice. I met a band that consisted of two brothers and their dad (who had an awesome beard btw) who were visiting from Florida. There was also a tiny middle aged woman (probably in her 50’s) who played some really strange original songs. She had a good voice and an adorable hat.

Everyone only got to play 2 songs, so I played “One” and “Passenger.” The whole room freaked out. I actually remembered to promote myself this time, so I even got a few Facebook “likes” out of it.

Last night I heard back from someone at Jade Tree. They’re Jets To Brazil’s record label. I had emailed them a while ago because I was wondering what I would have to do/what it would cost to record and sell my own version of one of their songs. Apparently it’s pretty cheap and simple, so I think I’ll put it on an EP or something at some point. Once “Replace My Empty Spaces” is done I’m going to hold off on recording for a while and write some new songs and perform as much as possible.

I met a lady the other night who came up to me after my set and said she wanted to feature me at her open mic in Beverley. I’m going to give her a call today. I’m hoping to play there on July 2nd. Sometimes coordinating this stuff is difficult because I don’t drive so I usually get a ride from my dad and he’s been traveling for work.

The album is 70% finished. I have 3 songs to record and then it’s gloriously done! As much as I love working on it, I’m so ready for it to be finished. We’ve had a lot of delays because Ken is doing some upgrades at the studio. I’m really hoping to finish it before I go back to school, but we’ll see.

I’m also not sure what to do about a release party because Ken’s friend sort of dropped off the face of the earth. There are a few places that I could probably set it up at. It just won’t be as big and grande and epic as I was hoping.

Well I ought to get to work. Thanks for reading!

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

The Hipster Strikes Again!

I am a self proclaimed hipster. I refuse to wear brand name clothes purely for the fact that they are brand name– that and they’re pointlessly expensive. I avoid shopping like the plague– unless it happens to be guitar shopping. I listen to music no one has ever heard of and only old people and fellow hipsters recognize the songs I cover. The only jewelry I wear is a little cross that my parents got me for my confirmation a few years ago and a pin that I bought from a friend (it’s currently on my favorite hat). I don’t wear nail polish. I collect odd but stylish hats. I suck at using technology– I’m always at least one or two generations behind the current “thing.” I kept my little purple iPod up until my parents got me an iPhone 5, even though I had a smart phone already. For the longest time I refused to use the internet with my smart phone.

I mention all of this because I’ve never cared a whole lot about what people thought of me– at least not the way I look. I still have arguments with my mother about shaving my legs. I think I’ve basically lost though because I think she’s probably right about image being a significant part of performance. I can honestly say that I almost never notice what bands or artists are wearing, but I’m not particularly observant sometimes– a lot of times, actually. I do care deeply about what people think of me personality wise though. I want people to know that I’m caring and sensitive and even naive. I really am still a kid in a lot of ways.

The truth is that I can be selfish and judgmental, and I hate that about myself. I try very hard not to be, but it’s like it was just put into my head without me knowing and it seeps through sometimes. I think a lot of things have made me skeptical and cynical over the years. I think it was a combination of the crap my friends and I dealt with in high school and all the terrible things I see on TV. Sometimes the things that make me laugh simultaneously make me feel guilty. I know I think too much, and that’s part of it. As I’ve said many times before, it has helped me a lot to be able to say “I don’t know,” when it comes to big, scary questions. When a “yes” or “no” answer could create waves or just freak me out, I satisfy myself and try to satisfy others with not knowing.

I am afraid of over simplifying or over complicating things. Neither usually has good results. I’m especially afraid of doing this when it comes to my faith. There are things that I vehemently believe, and I will defend my beliefs, but there are questions I just don’t know the answers to– most people don’t, and sometimes I think taking a stand one way or another can cause more harm than good. There are things that I think humans just can’t know. If we could know everything I think it would make God seem less significant. I want to need God. It seems weird to want to rely on someone because I’m a very independent person in a lot of ways. I don’t know how to explain it. I guess needing him keeps me humble. Knowing he’s with me all the time makes me want to be a better person. I honestly do think that a lot of bad things happen because people don’t love and don’t fear God. I don’t want to sound preachy, but it logically just makes sense. If people believe that there is an ultimate judge watching over them, they will try to be the best people they can be. Of course this is what would ideally happen since people have always and probably always will twist scripture and put God into a mold that suits them best.

I read a blog post last night talking about how people will always pick and choose what they like from scripture. It’s impossible not to. I think it is possible to objectively look at it and pick out the big, overarching message. Most of scripture can be boiled down to “God is awesome,” “Do the right thing” and “Don’t be a jerk.” Most religions and philosophies have a moral code that can be broken down into these three things. Christians often call other Christians brothers and sisters, but the family extends beyond just believers in Christ. Everyone is included: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, gay, straight, crazies, nerds, hippies, actors, artists; everyone from the dudes who pick up our trash to the CEOs of huge international companies. We are all equal in the eyes of our Father and we should all love each other as family.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Crazy, Bad Or Misunderstood?

What is the difference between crazy and misunderstood? I think a lot of things and people who look crazy or dangerous truly are just misunderstood. It’s easy to write off things we don’t understand as disturbing, crazy or just plain bad. There are many factors that contribute to this a big one is popular opinion/societal norms. Another is our own interpretations of media, literature, various situations we encounter and rules or guides such as those that are presented by religion or philosophy (something like Transcendentalism). Therefore, it is important to learn about these subjects as objectively as possible.

In my opinion, it is important to engage with things we don’t understand because learning about them in a safe and responsible way can help us make connections with more people and in doing so, make changes that need to be made. To do this, it is important to understand every side of an argument and to have a basic understanding of various philosophies, religions or ideas. In my opinion, it is wrong to disagree with someone or write off their beliefs or methods of doing things if one does not understand them enough to give a good reason for disagreeing with them. Quite frankly, it is simply impolite to say someone or something is wrong just on a gut feeling.

Often, if we engage with new ideas, cultures, etc, we can find answers that we otherwise could not. If we are careful and critical about this, and balance it against what we already know, it can help us grow as people. For example, an American songwriter who is used to rock and roll, 4/4 time, etc can learn from Eastern rhythms and styles and can broaden their musical horizons extensively.

Learning in this way and making these connections is extremely important when it comes to bigger issues such as education and working towards world peace. We need to stop being afraid of things that are foreign to us because we were all created by one God. We are all brothers and sisters, and if we take the time to understand each other there will be no need for fighting. We are all unique people, but we are all human. We all think and feel. We all live and we all die. Therefore, we must spend our time spreading love and not hate.

Ideas In The Dark

I was bored last night. I’ve been having trouble finding new gigs and I was feeling a little bummed out. I was playing a game on my phone and just thinking about stuff when I had a random, yet awesome idea.

I want to organize a benefit concert/art show to raise money to help the people in Oklahoma. I’ve already enlisted 2 of my friends: Kevin, who is super good at organizing stuff like this and Nate, who is another musician/songwriter. I’ve also possibly enlisted Ken to help us with sound. We just need to figure out a place, date and time. I’m really hoping this can be an outdoor event. Once we have that figured out I’ll put something in the local News paper and probably my church’s bulletin. I’m thinking that tickets will be around $10, and if anyone wants to be in the art show or sell CD’s they will have to pledge at least 10% of whatever they sell. If we can get the word out, I’m thinking we will also take donations from wherever, even if people can’t make it to the show. I think this will work well. I’m super excited. I’ll update you guys when I know more details.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!