Notes on becoming and guiding

Reader palegoat writes:

Here I am, a young man, about to graduate from college in a month, and I feel so powerless to become more of the man that scripture commands me to be. Is there some mental or emotional switch that I can simply flick and grow out of this inept personality and temperament? (I know there isn’t!) Should I even bother pursuing a woman when I am so very aware and scared of the responsibility and privilege that comes with marriage and manhood? Should I grip the fear and use it to compel and motivate me to be more of a man?

Yes, you should. Whatever it is that you are afraid of is generally exactly what you ought to do. You are profoundly broken. We all are. Quit using that shit as an excuse.

As to improving personality and temperament, there are some switches you can throw to improve yourself. They are all things that you have already heard and know.  Listen to the Bible. For our purposes, start with Isaiah and work your way to the end of the Old Testament. Lift weights. If you can afford it start learning a combat sport. Ditch television. You can still watch a show now and then, but not another commercial. Cut the sports watching. If you currently watch more than one game a week, cut down to one, and listen to the others on the radio while doing something productive. Spend time outdoors in nature. Build or make something. Make a list of all the things you really want to do but are scared to try, and then start doing them.

Meanwhile, Donal is hosting a discussion on how to guide young men (particularly sons) in the old paths.

I think the biggest thing here is walking the in the paths you wish to guide your proteges in. They will tend to follow you more than your advice or instruction.

Finally, commenter Kidd Cudi wonders on how to be a beacon in a liberal work environment:

I’ve been thinking about exactly this ever since joining the workplace. My personal policy up ’til now has been been to never say anything about my beliefs and opinions because I have a tendency to ramble, thus wasting a lot of time explaining, and the very liberal place I work implies that my beliefs are so far outside the local Overton Window that I’d have a lot of explaining to do. In the interest of laziness and efficiency I have just kept my mouth shut. I guess that a policy of “never say anything” is probably sub-optimal, but my natural policy among friends is “never shut the fuck up” so, I’m not sure I could strike an effective balance at work. Also, being young, people would almost never rib me for my masculinity–I just look too much like a boy. I’ve gotten the frugal jabs, though.

While you should be willing to lose your job if that is what is required to stand on principle, you don’t need to actually say that much about your beliefs at work to spread your message. Often a well-timed smirk, an honest belly laugh, or what you pointedly don’t say communicates more than what you do say. When you do say things, mentioning random facts (particularly historical facts) and asking questions without stating your person opinion is useful.

For example, you may not be able to say that you think transsexualism is a mental disorder (Gavin McInnes got fired from his own company for saying that publicly), but you can say “I read an article in the Wall Street Journal by the recently-retired top psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins, in which he claimed that transsexualism is a mental disorder.” HR can’t fire you for saying you read an article in a mainstream paper. If someone tries to trap you into saying whether or not you agree with him, you simply say “I’m not a psychiatrist, so I’m really not competent to say. I just thought it was interesting to read what someone who is a well-known and highly-respected psychiatrist at a top hospital had to say about it.”

6 thoughts on “Notes on becoming and guiding

  1. Listening is often better than reading. Instead of staring at a monitor, get one, put it on your player of choice, and go for a walk or run or to the Gym and improve your mind and body. Also look for good podcasts and other books. There are also some good text-to-speech programs which can read back long articles or convert them. I use @Voice Aloud for Android available from the Amazon App store. A Kindle can readback books.

    It is good to memorize verses, but that also can be a trap. There are two common traps when approaching scripture.

    The first and most common is the tendency to place clear thought over clear commands. Matthew 5 to 7 is the set of commands for Christians. The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus only explains enough to make the command’s spirit (as opposed to letter) clear. He doesn’t try to discuss, argue, reason. Paul and the other epistles contain a lot of philosophical explanation and reasoning. It is interesting to go into what he says on circumcision, grace, sin, etc. But that is educating your mind, not changing your heart. Trivia: There are two verses in all the epistles in Red, quoting Christ. It is easier to become a Stoic Philosopher that says he is a Christian – and understands Christianity deeply but is only shallowly Christian in his heart – than to deeply love Christ and obey him as perfectly as humanly possible. Yet the latter often has more wisdom and understanding.

    The second is to merely memorize verses. Again, head over heart. The verses become talking points – bits of text to throw out that you don’t comprehend. It is easy to memorize the beatitudes so you can quote them like a trained parrot. Contemplating “What does he mean by meek? Or peacemakers?” is much harder and you can spend hours or days. If you don’t read them at all, you won’t find those that burn in your heart (usually a sign that you need to conform to them). If you ignore the burning so you can move on and “memorize the next chapter” you are also doing it wrong. The whole purpose is not to not to know scripture – every word (even in the original greek and hebrew). The whole purpose is to know Christ.

    The more you know and conform to Christ, the less the Bible will have any surprises. You will know what it will say before it says it because your mind is reflecting the author. My recommendation is to listen, but hit pause when some verse starts jumping out at you where you need to contemplate. Christ is speaking through scripture. Don’t give him a busy signal while continuing to playback the voicemail.

    Scripture is a powerful means, but it is not an end. There are humble, almost illiterate, but wise, saintly Christians.

    Scripture is one aspect, but there is also prayer which was not mentioned above. Reading to understand is not prayer. There is the Lord’s prayer, but that takes 30 seconds, unless you contemplate each line carefully, and then it can take the better part of an hour. Few want to spend some quiet time just petitioning, meditating, contemplating, praise and thanksgiving (and not the loud, fun, dancing, but the profound joy and gratitude) and most importantly being quiet waiting for the Lord to speak. It is these quiet times when Christ can enter. We aren’t commanded to read scripture as such (it is recommended, but not commanded!). We are commanded to pray. Constantly. Hard. Scripture is not a substitute for prayer. Scripture is reading Weightlifting times. Praying is the weightlifting.

    Correction, prayer is the ultimate combat sport: “This kind only comes out with prayer and fasting”. For there is a very deadly and strong enemy. Sinners are a problem, but the tempters are a bigger problem. They are very real, and if you don’t perceive them, you need to remove the blindfold. This is a war zone. And they know scripture better than you and can find confusing and contrary verses. The Devil tempted Jesus with scripture, but Jesus defeated him. This was after 40 days of constant prayer and fasting. How do you think you are doing in the battle?

    An hour alone in prayer is better than an hour with scripture, though it won’t feel like it. It won’t feel like much where you can prove you’ve read scripture. There are rarely long church services and they are usually weekly, not daily. And my muscles don’t inflate inches after a session in the gym, I still don’t run any faster the next day when I jog 5k, but if I want to gain strength and endurance, I need to do it frequently and the right way, and then the results will be apparent.

    To make it clear, I’m not saying prayer to the exclusion of scripture, only that scripture to the exclusion of prayer won’t be profitable. And you can pray the scriptures – The Lord’s prayer, the Magnificat, the psalms, but they must be prayed, not simply read. Let the Lord speak through them, don’t just scan your eyes over them. I once did all 150 psalms in order over 2 days during a “40 hours” service.

    For those with sacraments, frequent reception is another powerful tool – if you can, do daily communion, weekly confession. If you accept it, Eucharistic Adoration is another spiritually powerful activity since it tends to be contemplative and silent.

    The problem of soft persecution is nearly universal in big cities. describes it well.

    HR can fire you for quoting scientific articles. Or in my case, I might quote a recognized ubergeek: – the problem is more that HR can fire you for anything unless you are in a union or have some other contract. And it is easier to get rid of 1 Christian than 10 pagans.
    MN: Yes, quoting can get you in trouble. Stating that you read an article in a mainstream publication and what it was about cannot be used against you in any field where you need cause to be fired.

    The smirk/laugh approach as such doesn’t usually work because it won’t communicate what you want – objective wrong v.s. your personal disapproval. It is fighting fire with fire, not water. Politeness and stoicism are not weakness, though it might take some practice to get the correct impression over. “Meekness” is power under control. You must be the perfect gentleman. Also the good Samaritan, and even helpful. Think Quaker or the Amish. The quiet strength of character. Blessing those who curse you. If you never swear, or say something bad, and indicate your disapproval (the look of “really?”). The reason a Lion is king of the beasts is not because he is strong or fast, but because he cannot be disturbed. Insouciance. At some point they will start feeling something that they have rarely experienced. Shame. They are playing in the mud around a solid granite boulder. There is spiritual authority, strength, and power. The light which is not to be placed under a bushel is not a flashing neon sign. It simply burns bright and exposes detestable things and drives them into the shadows. So the rude, profane, noisy coworker will be visibly comparable to the quiet (though silent), industrious, peaceful but strong Christian coworker. Show them there is something else. They deride, smirk, and laugh. If you do the same you descend to their level. Again it is easier and more fun to play verbal combat, but golden silence will be sorted from the dross when there is real heat. And it might be another way to build character – more temperance and fortitude.
    MN: I am not the perfect gentleman, nor do I recommend others behave as such. Smirking and laughing are not used to communicate that something is wrong, but rather that it is ridiculous. They are tools against politically correct bullshit, not sin.

    If it gets too bad, there is only one guaranteed active-aggressive approach at work, and it involves some mild black-knighting. Start documenting the slights and comments for a few weeks and a month then find a labor Lawyer – Check at church or use some of the cash from being frugal. This is not a place for pure DIY because the documentation needs to be proper. Then you have the lawyer write an “ugly lawyer letter” saying the next step is an EEOC lawsuit for creating a hostile work environment – make it seem (or it probably is) like a woman having to sit there quietly stewing while the men around her make rape jokes. They are wasting time deriding Christians while you are actually earning your wage. Ask for the right to fight back without getting fired, OR demand that the hostility stop and that your coworkers take “sensitivity training”. This is also in a sense playing by their rules, but at least you are playing to win. The law is subtle and varies by state, so that is why you probably need to at least see a lawyer.

    More likely they will pay you several years severance just to go away. Then you can move to a state or area of the country where it is OK to be openly Christian. Sometimes you have to be Lot when there aren’t enough righteous left. Or even in Acts, when the persecution started, the Christians scattered.

  2. Correct – “If you need CAUSE to be fired”. 95% of employees are “at will” employees, and it is stated plainly in one of the stack of documents you sign when you are hired most places. Union contracts are different.

    Also consider that the current crop of pagans consider Christianity to be “ridiculous”. so will smirk or laugh at such. Realize that your opponents are foolish, shallow and stupid. “The wise man pointed at the moon, the people stared at his finger”.

    Foolishness and stupidity are the hardest things to oppose because they are rooted in pride, the worst of the cardinal sins. It requires being as subtle as a serpent.

    Peter Kreeft notes evil destroys itself. Like some self-contradictory proposition.

    It sometimes takes a bit of effort to find the keystone, the critical point that when struck destroys the entire wall. But there always is one.

    My most recent example concerns the businesses that won’t cater to a gay wedding.

    I list four examples of discrimination of that which is offensive to some group:

    Photographer who does weddings (but finds it offensive to do a “gay marriage”).
    Baker (same as above)
    Tim Cook’s iTunes App store – which very specifically discriminates against “anything a majority of people find offensive”.
    Google – who censors AdSense for over the Abu Gharib photos which might offend someone (but cancelled the entire site).

    So I simply ask, why do you want the heavy hand of government to destroy these small mom&pop businesses which aren’t monopolies – there are several photogs and bakers in most cities so there is no monopoly or force – but not demand that Apple and Google be forced to provide services to things they find offensive?

    The reframe is essential. Or more specifically, once the principle that government must crush all discrimination is stated, then it is merely a matter of deflecting the bullet into their own heart. They will be themselves crushed by their own statement of what they think is just. If they appoint a fair, unbiased judge, he will sentence them to the gallows based on their very own standards.

    “So you like having an iBigot phone”. “So Google should be allowed to censor?”. “Google should control your thought – just like Baidu in China?”. So you are just a robobigot who follows Tim Cook’s program and have no mind or will?

    This sort of thing is 100% with all PC statements and people I’ve found.

    Justice is the simplest yet strongest of the cardinal virtues. Treat equal things equally. If you apply a principle, you must apply it uniformly. Few are capable, but I live my life this way to the best of my abilities and hope the Lord will say “well done”. No double standards. No exceptions for a group. Holding myself to the same standard. This often means I must extend mercy after deciding what is just – because I myself have been shown mercy. (Today is Divine Mercy Sunday). But “Blesses are the merciful for they will be shown mercy”. The unmerciful, the spiteful, the judgmental will be evaluated by their own standards.

    The contradiction in “PC” is their very split mind about discrimination, or hate. It is usually trivial to find some obvious case where they are doing the very same thing they claim to hate, and if you can get it focused right they run because they can neither admit they are hateful bigots that discriminate, but merely have different objects, nor give up on the very discrimination and hatred they practice. That is where you need to leave it to God. Hell is where such nonsense is mocked, so instead of saying “go to hell” you will show they are already there, if not merely destined.

    In one sense, the saved are already in heaven, the damned already in hell – death might sever body and soul but not really relocate it.

    A sneer or laugh might be a correct and proper response to PC nonsense, but the question is if it will simply have the opponent raise shields, or have them reconsider. Insofar it gets their attention and you can evangelize further because of a sneer, it is the correct approach. Insofar that it makes evangelization more difficult, it is wrong.

    Remember Jesus suffered and died for that soul too, and there is the possibility of recovery or salvage.

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