It’s been awhile since I last blogged and after writing this one I think people might be better served if it were a chapter in a book. I guess I tend to have a lot to say.
The most important job that I have as a missionary is not to merely fight poverty and injustice. It is to plant seeds that lead others to Christ and pull weeds that prevent it.
This is a weed pulling post.
Ironically, while I am serving as a missionary in Honduras and sometimes facing weighty and scary things, I often find myself thinking and writing with those in mind whom we left behind. Friends and family who will probably never even glance at this blog. At least while I am alive. People whom I love. People who see Jesus as just another guy and the Gospel as a lovely little fairy. Others have rejected Jesus and the gospel as the result of some misunderstanding or an offense. Some believe that they are Christians yet have no real idea of what that even means. Some think they are smarter. Some are headed for significant crises. Some have gone off the cliff in the past and are headed there again. Still, the lives and worldviews of others have drifted so far from mine that it’s nearly impossible converse on topics more in-depth than “hey how’s the weather over there.” So I don’t. Not because I can’t or won’t engage but because I don’t dare ask the wrong question for fear that an already strained relationship will come to a cantakerous end. Our society is fast losing the ability to debate differing worldviews with the honest truth as its goal without becoming offended at the passion of another then refusing to forgive and engage again. Then again, I’m probably writing all this for the sake of posterity anyway. Lord knows I would love to read the blogs of my own grandparents and great-grandparents.
Yeah I’m writing to my future great grandchildren which suddenly makes writing this completely worthwhile.
But before you read on let me ask you one question.
If the claims about Jesus and the Gospel were true; would you become a Christian?
There is a scene in Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” that I find particularly poignant if not eerie. It is the scene where Pontius Pilate obviously disturbed by the decision facing him, contemplates the fate of Jesus with his wife Claudia by his side. Claudia asks Pilot about the truth to which Pilot replies “What is “truth?”
Sometimes it seems that money a.k.a “mammon” and those things related to it are the only real truths in this world.
I’m sure you are aware of the multitudes of financial advisors and investment opportunities online. All are selling a product or service that usually amounts a belief in what they believe.
They always make money.
Sometimes their clients do too which compels others to hop on the proverbial moving train destined for future wealth. The more people on the train, the more people want to jump on the train. Funny thing is most if not all these people have no real understanding of why they are on the train.
If they are making money, they assume they made the smart decision. Besides, It feels more secure to ride the train with lots of other people. I mean that many people couldn’t be wrong. Right? The more people on the train, the faster and higher it goes until, for reasons usually only understood in hindsight, such as there were too many people on the train, it doesn’t, and everything comes crashing down. What traders call “smart money” jumps off the train with the loot while the regular people otherwise known as “dumb money” loses badly.
“People are destroyed for lack of knowledge” regarding what drives markets and more importantly, themselves.
I first watched this happen with Real Estate in 2007 when I was beginning to learn about trading and markets. My friends just laughed at me and called me a “buzz kill” when I tried to pop their bubbles by warning them that money is never free, and it was crazy to buy. You know the story. The bubble popped, and my friends rode the train with myriad others off the edge of the cliff.
All markets move in three directions. Up, down and sideways. That gives speculative currency traders a 33.3 percent chance of scoring some “Pips” (price points on a chart) without doing anything more than clicking a mouse. “Sounds like gambling,” you say. Perhaps.
Traders gather technical and or economic fundamental evidence to form or confirm a presupposition that they hope will increase their chances of success. But presupposition is often the enemy of analysis. As humans we tend to see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear and filter out the rest.
The ability to suspend emotion and presupposition is the key to placing a potentially successful trade.
I won’t burden you with the technical details of my trading tales. I’ll simply give you the conclusions to the lessons I learned that apply to life in general.
1. You can do all the right research and gather all the proper evidence that supports your presupposition regarding a particular trade and make a fortune.
You can then repeat the same steps and lose everything you have. You can also do everything wrong and be wrong. Then repeat the same steps and make a fortune.
In the end, there is only one guarantee. There is no guarantee, just probability.
2. The most important and only things you can know, understand and control are your own emotions and cognitive biases.
While they certainly didn’t like it, even sixth graders I counseled understood the reality of no guarantees. Which is another way of saying,
“sorry Dorothy but life is not fair.”
For example, the odds of safely crossing the street are relatively good, provided I look both ways and listen carefully. Still, they are never one hundred percent. Those odds decrease as I remove those safety precautions. They get awful if I take stupid risks like wearing earplugs or a blindfold. Even so, there is also no guarantee I will fail.
That’s where gambling comes in.
Ironically human beings are predictable and easy to manipulate because we prefer moving trains that are full and we live in a world where three blindfolded people can get run over by a car, and there will still be those who want to cross the street blindfolded. They will usually focus on the fourth, the exception, not the rule, the one that didn’t get hit believing that they are like him. “That’s not reality,” you say “that’s hypothetical. Ok, I’ll give you that. But what do you think happens when an extra strong load of heroin hits the street and kills ten people in a week? Sales go up exponentially. That’s what happens. Or a subprime mortgage broker tells people he can put them in a million-dollar house today and they don’t even need a job? “Well, that’s dumb.” You say. It is. It’s also not hypothetical, and several people whom I know are betting their destinies against odds like just like these.
In my experience, most people don’t particularly like the idea that life in the natural world is inextricably rooted in probability and that a handful of people on earth are smart enough to manipulate them into gradually surrendering all their wealth and power. People want the feeling of security even if they are not secure. So, they assemble tidbits of info that they have read or been told. They call these tidbits facts and then base their life choices on them. Which is fine if you are buying hair products, vitamins or maybe organic lettuce as the risk versus reward ratio isn’t going to be that far out of whack. But risking one’s future or that of a nation by the same method?
Alas but “What is truth?” says the king.
Pontius Pilate had nothing against Jesus and knew He was innocent. He could have protected Jesus but He didn’t.
Most people do their utmost to avoid Pilot’s predicament. Standing for truth can be dangerous. It’s a lot easier to jump on a passenger-filled train especially when you are pressured to so so from the very start.
For example, if you’re a staunch conservative then you probably have conservative friends in real life and on online. You get your news from Drudge, and you might listen to FOX. If you’re a dedicated liberal, then Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post might be more your speed along with CNN and MSNBC.
Ironically it doesn’t seem to matter much that nearly all major media outlets and their narratives are controlled by about six corporations; all of whom have the same basic goal.
Those on opposite sides of the proverbial aisle might be stupid Christian, racist, homophobic, misogynist, fascist pigs or they could be stupid God-hating, radical, communist, ANTIFA punks depending on your side
or should I say, tribe?
This bias, whichever bias it may, be is further confirmed in conversations among peers who agree with each other. They call this agreement consensus and pretend that consensus implies truth. Rarely does anyone in an opposing camp respectfully discuss or present evidence for their viewpoint. Rarely does anyone know or understand the history or philosophy of democracy, socialism, communism, fascism or free market economics let alone subjects like, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity or Atheism. They only know what they have been taught. They only know what they have been told. What they have been taught is right. What they haven’t been taught is wrong. Nine times out of ten neither side has a clue about the reasoning, if it exists at all, of the other. Sort of like when I hear Christian friends passionately declare that “Buddha isn’t God!” Thanks, guys. The Buddhists know that. Or non Christian claims that Christians are evil because of what so called Christians did in the crusades. Some people also think Adolf Hitler was a Christian because he liked to quote Romans 13. But Hitler was an occultist. The Knights Templar were too. Like I said people generally only believe what they have been taught.
Think I’m exaggerating? Answer this.
Is the earth flat or round?
Now tell me why you believe whatever you believe without basing your argument on something you’ve read, seen on TV or been told. Hmmm…
If you like this mental Rubik’s Cube sort of thing and are a glutton for punishment, you might listen to some of the flat earth theories on YouTube. For the record, I am not a flat “earther.” I’m not sure I can give a reasonable explanation according to the criteria above. But don’t be stupid! It’s round! Ok?!
That said, I am impressed with the flat “earthers” ability to provide evidence for what they believe.
I have similar respect for Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, and some Atheists. I have less of this type of respect for some of my so called Christian brethren. And oh yeah, ANTIFA.
I like science a lot too. Not the pop culture version of those who say,
“I don’t believe in God, I believe in science.”
Sorry guys. Science is a method. God is an entity. Science is a way of gathering evidence and arriving at a theory of what might be true based on the evidence at hand. Science is by definition, never settled. Hence the earth that Al Gore convinced so very many was about to burst into flames due to an over abundance of atmospheric tree food
may actually be cooling unless of course you think it’s warming. None of us knows for sure and those who say they believe in science really only believe in scientists. That said, it sure feels like Al Gore’s breath in Honduras right now. Turns out time frames and locations matter in climate science as well as trading and they can really fudge your analysis too.
But I’m getting off track.
For the record; I’m not a fossil fuel fan.
In fact, I think we should plant more trees, and everything should be solar powered. I just happened to know about the derivative based Chicago Carbon Exchange and the humongous wealth consolidating trade that old Al was creating for himself and his friends.
Sorry Al. Actually I’m not that sorry.
That said, even the assumption that light holds the speed record in all of creation at 186,000 miles per second upon which much of our initial understanding of quantum physics is rooted, is now in question.
And gravity? We still don’t know what the heck that stuff is.
One week it’s dark matter the next is the graviton and the next there is no gravity because we are living inside a computer program. In every case, people present convincing arguments. And every time the tidbit gatherers gather their tidbits, and present them as facts. Sometimes the “facts” seem true and others who want to be in the know jump on the moving train. The only thing we know for sure despite the efforts of physicists at CERN is that no one has ever seen dark matter or a graviton or even the devoutly worshipped
As for the computer program theory; I think I saw a movie about that once.
I actually prefer that one because a computer program implies a computer creator and a computer programmer. And besides, it supports my presuppositions about existence. Why?! Because I think it’s true that’s why!! Back off!! What are you some liberal God-hater?
I’m sure you get the point.
Lots of people swear by the theory of macroevolution too even though it is easily proven that “macro,” not to be confused with “micro” evolution is not science. The fossil record has yet to confirm what Charles Darwin said must be established if his theory of the origin of species is correct. And the idea that life could merge from primordial slime is not even mathematically possible let alone scientifically probable.
Yet millions, if not billions, of people, hold onto these presuppositions as indisputable facts. They are not. In fact, many of them require a lot more faith than do the claims of Christianity.
Can I prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is true? Of course not.
But neither can anyone else confirm that it is not. This a point is frequently missed in your normal “I believe in science” versus a supernatural God debate. In the end, it, all comes down to faith. Faith in one’s presuppositions and the probability of their accuracy. The truth is that most of us are just looking for something real to believe in. Because at the end of the day our natural lives here on earth are rooted in chance, pure probability, a proverbial roll of the dice.
As I see it, the only real game changer would have to be a supernatural one.
Stay tuned or maybe tune out if this bores you. I’ll be planting seeds more than pulling weeds in subsequent posts and presenting the evidence that supports my own presuppositions and experience regarding the reality of an awesome and all loving supernatural God.