Tag Archives: environment

Comfortable Language

This is awesome



This is awesome



This is awesome



To start, I decided to use Google to find image results for the word awesome, my tricksy plan was to take the first image from the search results, and then take something that could genuinely be called awesome and contrast the two. I got tired of looking through the following results http://tinyurl.com/yajqcyl for anything actually awesome (giant disclaimer, I have ‘safe search’ on strict, so I don’t know what comes up with it off) I have to admit that the first image would have me say ‘awesome’ but you can consider that geeky weakness.



So, the first image can jokingly be described as awesome, but it certainly doesn’t actually inspire awe or wonder in me. However having plastered the word awesome onto the first image we have nowhere to go but equivalency or ‘down’ when looking at the follow up pictures, the last being truly awesome.

I was thinking the other day about how we speak, well, truth be told I think about how we speak a lot, as I am in rather a large number of ‘discussions’. “Never!” I hear you cry, in shock and amazement, yet it is true, I have the odd verbal altercation with a very few people every decade or so. Anyway, the differences, in these incredibly rare discussions often tend to end up being a difference in the definition or perception of a word or phrase. So I have prevailing ponderings about our language and the flippancy (or not) with which we bandy words about. The general trend is to exaggerate with our adjectives, or without thinking, to apply a word to something because it sounds more exciting. I have noticed a trend in myself to define an event as “the most (something or other) EVER”. While it usually is not the most anything ever at all. As a consequence, I could come home from work, having had the worst day ever, and my wife will have the sympathy of a rock, because everything is always the most/least/biggest thing EVER. Indeed, I cry wolf a lot, to stretch a story.

This train of thought lead me to consider the possible connection between the way in which we talk and the way we respond to things we read or hear. I have commented on mankind’s rather terminal (as a species) propensity for ignoring anything that isn’t an immediate and personal threat. Global warming is not an immediate threat, and water has always come out of our taps, so that is not a problem for me, but the risk of cancer from the aspartame in fake sugar must be stopped immediately. Though, this is probably a bad example, as the massive, and massively KNOWN probability of respiratory issues smokers will face are ignored. So a better example would be the immediate and personal risk to me of wearing an outfit that does not match. Utter social suicide… people will be talking for weeks. “YAHAAAA!” you cry with gusto, causing me to spill coffee on my person, “you are being ridiculously flippant with your last example there, Mr. Finger pointing blog writer!” And yet, no, I don’t think that I really am. I see more effort going into avoiding being a fashionable outcast than goes into not wasting water, or whatever other environmental issue you currently wish to focus on. Is this sad and potentially disastrous tendency caused by or, more probably, exacerbated by our desensitization to words/phrases like ‘crisis’, ‘disastrous’ or ‘global warming’. The flippancy extends further by people joking about a particularly cold day “pah, I thought we were supposed to be getting hotter, global warming is a lie. ha ha ha ha.” (Significant looks at the conversation participants to ensure they all got the joke). While I am certainly painting myself to be more serious than the threat of aspartame death from fake sugar, my idea is still worth considering.

We are bombarded constantly by all kinds of extreme adjectives that they are no longer extreme, they are the norm. We have not found any other adjectives to replace them, to ensure that the audience actually gets the urgency of any given situation. The hierarchy of words is in a shambles. I think that this is also evidenced among Christians and/or professing Christians. God is awesome, God is Love. Yet, that packet of chips was awesome and I totally LOVE those glasses on you. Can you see the problem? Oh, we don’t really love like real love. Those glasses just look really good. Mr over exaggerating blog writer must clearly be able to see that it’s just a turn of phrase. Well turns of phrase get us into hot water as well. There are so many discussions being had, right now even, about whether or not a specific scripture was allegory or literal. Whether Christians genuinely, physically and literally receive a new nature, or are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), or whether that is just a turn of phrase is one of the discussions. If it is literal you might expect some kind of evidence, or change in this new creation, if it is merely figurative then perhaps not. If many of these things are figurative, as many are more willing to believe, then the commandments or instructions can be interpreted in any way we choose, being more suggestions than anything else.

As Christians we say certain things, we sing certain things and it’s because that’s just what Christians do… isn’t it? It doesn’t REALLY honestly mean anything, does it? It’s just a nice song; it is not to be taken literally. The song might say something like, “I will go, wherever you will lead me” and either we don’t think about what we are saying, or we just retranslate it, within our framework of how we understand Christianity to be something along the lines of “I will claim to follow you, in spirit and mind, anything intangible, as long as there is no actual change or physical requirement from me, let’s keep this just intellectual shall we?” This invades our speech and we start to sit with a Christianity that is all allegory, figurative speech, personal interpretation that won’t break any perceptions and nothing gets taken literally. The evidence of salvation becomes intangible and open for interpretation by each individual.

Could it be that we draw the definition of the word from the event we are applying it to? Or that our perception of a phrase or word is coloured in the manner we use it most? We have a perception of “romantic husband and wife love” hugely coloured by Hollywood (thanks Hollywood for your ridiculously shallow love) and when that goes away it’s time to move on, to find the new love. We define the love we have for brothers and sisters and friends a certain way too. It is usually not a selfless love; it is selfless to varying degrees but never completely. It can by no means be considered unconditional, given enough time, a spouses love will be killed if not requited, often it has to be requited in a rather specific manner too, love is pretty conditional. Now, when we read in scripture that God is Love we can only call to mind our own perception of what Love is. Or, because we have often heard others profess a love for us, and seen these great Hollywood romances where everyone claims they will be together forever we apply that understanding of unconditional Love to God. We tend to not be so impressed, but true unconditional love is really rather impressive. It is a part of true awesomeness. It is just so awesome that I am left honestly speechless, not because ‘awesome’ has been applied too often to chips and cars, but because an honest look at the literal impact of what actual unconditional Love is (even my poor understanding of it), is just something that honestly does inspire awe. It is quite simply awesome. Most other things just can’t be considered awesome anymore.

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Somebody elses problem (ist)

The only SEP's that have an excuse

The only SEP's that have an excuse

You’re quite excited about climate change, you’ve read all the articles and you know lots of url’s. If someone comes and refutes the claim that anthropogenic climate change is real you have your argument all set out and ready to go. You know it’s real, anyone who is not barking bat crazy knows it’s real. However, many people seem rather barking bat crazy. Things take rather a long time to filter into the common man’s head, usually it has to be forced in under pressure. That pressure might eventually end up being a stonking great wall of ice, inching its way slowly down the local high street. But obviously by then it’s all too late. It often has to be something rather large and imminently obvious to humans before we wake up and realise the actual impact on us.

Our brains seem rather poorly adapted to thinking for the future. Or if we do start to take notice, it’s usually a rather separated event. The thinking is that someone better clean up this mess soon, as it’s clearly someone’s rather large problem. It’s possibly our brain matters affinity for physics, except the human consciousness seems to be of rather larger mass than our physical size would hint at, therefore it takes things of epic proportions to get us out of rest and into motion, however we tend to go back to rest without any seeming effort whatsoever. Someone should discover the law governing human actions remaining at rest and work unless acted upon by a species killing event (to be clear, it has to be OUR species that is being killed, we will kill other species with the wild and reckless abandon of a toddler feeding itself ice cream).  That right there, is it, there are two categories described within which the majority of the population sits. The naysayers or denialists and the somebody-elses-problemists.

The denialists quite obviously don’t do anything about it, but the somebody-elses-problemists are generally the largest group and they don’t do anything about it either. The somebody-elses-problemists (let’s call them SEP’S from here on out, for the sake of my ctrl, c and v keys) read the articles, know all there is to know about the issue, so they know quite clearly what other people best get doing about it, while they continue to behave exactly the way they always have. Anthropogenic climate change is like voting, it takes lots of votes for someone to win, lots of votes are made up of individual votes. Without the individual votes you can’t make lots of votes. That’s like ‘mathematics’, or sex, something we seem to understand really well. It’s also something that is done by people, you’re a people… you do something about it. With enough you’s doing something about it that makes lots and like magic… you have the climate not trying to eliminate us, and you have someone that isn’t catastrophically horrible running the country.

These two categories don’t only exist for climate change, they are evident for many large issues. People will align themselves with a cause intellectually, be ridiculously verbose about it… often at the most awkward times, with a verbosity that would make aunty gossip silent. Indeed, some people seem to be spoiling for a fight and their greatest desire seems to be to offend someone with their passionate intellectual alignment to the cause. However when you examine things closely the belief as only intellectual, there is no evidence in activities and the persons decision-making at all. Christianity tends to be that for many people as well. An intellectual assent to some cleverly put argument. However, if someone comes and refutes that cleverly put argument then you sit with a crisis of faith. If the salvation is not of God, a supernatural event orchestrated by him then that’s what you end up with, people intellectually aligning themselves, sometimes passionately, with a belief. You end up with a focus group meeting however often, usually at least once a week on Sundays, with people taking little tidbits of information on how to live a better life. That often ties in with the arrogance I spoke of in another post. Because the person now has God behind him, his personal opinion has supernatural authority, and is therefore right. His morality is quite obviously superior to anyone else’s morality. After all, how can a Godless heathen deign to compete on any kind of moral ground with a believer in God?

Sadly, the one who intellectually agrees, that sits in n amount of church gatherings gaining knowledge like a window shopper, never making any item his own, generally does not have the immovable base for morality that they think they do. Their morality, that they claim to be getting from an unchangeable source, is coloured rather heavily by their culture. The window shopping Christian looks at many items they like, remembers their location and can describe them really well. However they do not take the responsibility of purchasing those items and living with all the consequences of that responsibility.

To go back to the earlier example of climate change. There is a difference between being a card-carrying fan club member and actually being someone who’s life shows the evidence of their convictions. In the same way, there is a vast difference between being someone who has faith in their intellectual agreement with an idea, and someone who’s life bares the evidence of the fruit of obedience.

Matthew 7:21 Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven.

I am given to understand that in Hebrew, the method used for emphasis is repetition. If we were to emphasise this it would be to put it in italics, or bold or if we spoke it we would shout. This can be seen as saying Not everyone who emphatically declares me to be Lord. So be careful of being a SEP (you are not a polar bear, for them it really IS somebody elses problem to fix) or a card-carrying member of the Jesus fan club. Examine yourself, determine whether your life showing the obedience to the will of the Father.

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My comfortable money

It’s all about the money.

I don’t necessarily want to go into prosperity doctrine and how I dislike the whole idea, but obviously with a topic like this, there are going to be a few encounters.

So, we have a few words which easily attach themselves to the word ‘crisis’;

  • Oil
  • Energy
  • Water
  • Food
  • Environmental

 There are quite a few alternative sources for fuel and energy, things that are sustainable and won’t throw us completely off balance in another area as we are doing now. For instance, the increase in energy demand can be met by more burning of old dinosaurs thereby lessening the energy worries but increasing the weight applied to the word crisis in ‘environmental crisis’. This is not sustainable, not because it is not financially sustainable, it is really the most sustainable choice if we like thinking short term and as a species we have shown a propensity for very little else. It is not sustainable from an environmental perspective. The patently obvious reason for un-sustainability is the environment. Anthropogenic climate change is not really a disputed topic anymore; it has become an accepted occurrence. Well, it is not disputed in the same way that the moon landings are not a disputed occurrence…

The more we consume, the more energy we use, the more we affect the climate. A phrase that is often used is “save the planet” however, it isn’t really the planet that needs saving. The planet could go on for quite some time, it’s the humans on the planet that will be in for a rather hard time. 

 So, we have these crisii (I can hear the screams of anger over my Latin abuse already) which when you get right down to it, are only there because the methods of solving them are expensive. I believe the detestable term to be “not economically viable at this time”. We are in a financial crisis but not in the way most expect. The mad rush for a monetary return for any service rendered is the real crisis. It’s far more complicated than that, granted. Affluent countries can’t just burst on the scene in the third world and install all kinds of water purification and magic crop growers free of charge because someone will want to take control of it, so they can make money, this usually involves a lot of shooting and dying. Handing freebies around also doesn’t really solve that many problems. You have the genuinely needy, the ones that would work and contribute if they could, but can’t. Freebies for them, to help them out are good. But then you get the others, the bottom feeders that could contribute, but it is easier to look and act helpless and just hold out hands for all the freebies. The problems are numerous, and yet the root cause is money, the passionate love of money. 

Millions will die rather horrible deaths, which are avoidable, because it is not economically viable at this point to do anything about it. Now this is where my christianese comes in, and this is where it conflicts with the financial prosperity doctrine most often preached. I can’t see how God wants me to have all the best stuff, and lots of it, which costs a lot, and takes a lot of energy to produce. I can’t see how he wants me to drive the best car, because firstly the ‘best’ cars are most impactful on the environment because of manufacturing cost and secondly because of their consumption of oil. I would concede that perhaps he does want me to have a fancy car or ridiculously large house, but if this is really the case then I think I would get that, without having to pay it off every month in huge instalments. 

The thing is that things like happiness and a prosperous life are definitions rather coloured by our culture. Everyone says that money doesn’t buy happiness, but we chase after it anyway. Indicating that the statement is made with absolutely no confidence and rather that it’s an untrue statement. A prosperous life therefore has to include money. If we are not financially prosperous, and showing it, then there must be something wrong. I mentioned a life of abundance in a previous blog post, I believe that definition is biblically accurate. Our financial and material prosperity by means of exorbitant interest rates and instalment sale agreements means that we are unable to help those around us. I’m not talking the unnamed masses, I am talking about the families in our churches, or social circles that are genuinely struggling. You can’t help them because we need to fit tyres onto our ‘blessings’ and ‘necessities’.

Define Necessity

Define Necessity

We can only pay our domestic workers a minimum wage because our 6 figure cars need paying off. Our cars often cost us monthly what many people earn in half a year! There are all kinds of issues surrounding paying your domestic a liveable wage. What happens if you move, that person must now go from earning R3000 or R4000 from her generous employer back to minimum wage, which causes all kinds of problems. So the solution is not a quick fix, it’s not sufficient to just decide to up the salary, it needs to be a rather large cultural and social change. But don’t let that be an excuse, you can still make a difference in a real way, by just being a little less material focussed.

Perhaps the problem is less money and more selfishness. I want, I need, give it to me now. Money is just a means to fulfil self. 

Anyway, zooming back out from the terrible desire to have all the nice stuff to the bigger and uglier picture. I believe we are at a place technologically where so many of the worlds crisii (there’s the screaming again) could be solved, if not for that little horrible phrase mentioned earlier. So, sorry most of the global population, sorry fellow countrymen, sorry neighbours and family members… We see you are struggling, and we would like to help it’s just that. 

It’s not financially viable at this time

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