Thursday, December 31, 2009

Clarifying Game Discourse

Confusion concerning Game, especially by various critics of Game, is something that has been surprisingly pervasive and shows little sign of disappearing soon. Stretching from the The Great Game Debate of August to the current week, there has always been confusion about exactly what Game is, exactly what personal motives various Gamers have, and about what sort of worldview is presented by Game. Because of the semantic confusion alone, strawmen arguments are rampant. In this post from Dave in Hawaii a couple of days ago, he addresses some major misconceptions concerning his personal stance on Game and relationships. Also, this post from Obsidian is a response to Lady Raine's opposition to certain alleged aspects of Game, which is more of an ad hominem attack against certain sorts of people rather than a rational attack on Game itself (which she does not understand). As Chuck rightly noted back in August:

The problem at hand, like most discourses on issues with less-than-obvious mechanisms, is that we have failed to lay out the terms of argument. It seems that both sides are arguing with a different definition of words like "Game", "neg", "alpha", and "beta."
As anyone familar with linguistic analysis knows, before any sufficiently complex subject can be critiqued or intellectual debated, it must first be clearly demarcated and defined so that there is no resulting confusion concerning the extent of the statements being made concerning the given topic. This is especially true in the arena of Game, since much apparent disagreement has arisen simply because of widely divergent ideas of what Game is. While there are legitimate concerns that some hold both towards Game and its practitioners, more frequently I see people talking past each other due to a lack of common ground related solely to insufficiently clear terminology. Consequently, I believe it is utterly necessary to set forth a fixed list of terms and clearly define exactly what each term means. Some of these terms are widely used and understood, while there are a couple new terms that I have created for added clarity in future discourse.

In future posts, I want to take at look at the three fundamental Game mindsets that exist, the inherent ethical nature of Game, the ethics of various Gamers, and what I believe to be the best usage of Game. But, in order to lay the foundation for those posts, I believe that laying a firm semantic foundation as a framework for the discussion is absolutely vital. As such, here is my Game Lexicon.

Game Lexicon

This lexicon may be of use to those who read various sites that discuss or advocate Game:

Alpha - A man who is extremely skilled at attracting and seducing women, including extremely attractive and desirable ones.

Beta - A man who is neither extremely skilled at attracting women, nor extremely repellent to women. Most men fall into this category.

Game - A categorical term that encompasses both Game Theory and Gamers. Sometimes it is mistakenly expanded, especially by critics of Game, to include Gamers' lifestyles and Students of Game, neither of which validly fall under the proper domain of canonical Game.

Game Theory - The comprehensive body of knowledge discovered, discussed and practically tested by Gamers, including, but not limited to, the various social and psychological theories and hypotheses concerning male attractiveness, the formation of romantic relationships, and the fundamental dichotomy between masculinity and femininity

Gamers/Gamists/Gamesmen - Advocates and practitioners of Game, in any of its various forms, who not only utilize Game for their own personal enrichment, but who also expand Game Theory and seek to share their insights with the larger community.

Gaming - The practical application of Game Theory to social relationships.

Ghosting - In response to the problems of the modern dating scene, choosing not to pursue romantic relationships, for various personal reasons.

Inner Game - Sections of Game Theory that are concerned with worldview, mindsets and character traits related to male attractiveness.

Long-Term Relationship - Any romantic relationship that is begun with the goal of being a lasting relationship or leading to marriage, regardless of the final outcome of the relationship.

LTR - An acronym for Long-Term Relationship (see entry)

Men Going Their Own Way - Those who choose to reject certain aspects of the modern cultural paradigm in any area of life, and who respond to culture by living according to a differing mindset. This may take many various external forms.

Men's Rights Activist - A Men's Rights Advocate who not only advocates solutions to the current legal systemic flaws, but also actively works to address those injustices through political involvement.

Men's Rights Advocate - One who is concerned by the present misandrist modern legal system, who seeks to raise awareness about the injustices of the system, and who advocates possible solutions, either personal or systemic, for the problems thereof.

MGTOW - An acronym for Men Going Their Own Way (see entry)

MRA - An acronym for Men's Rights Advocate (see entry); sometimes confused with Men's Rights Activist (see entry)

Omega - A man who has serious difficulties attracting women of any sort, typically due to major mental, emotional or psychological deficiencies.

Outer Game - Sections of Game Theory that are concerned with behaviors, mannerisms, personality and other external means of interacting, related to male attractiveness.

Patriarch - A Gamer who utilizes Game Theory for the purposes of providing strong male leadership to his wife and children, for the betterment of both his immediate family and society at large.

Pick-Up Artist - A Gamer who utilizes Game Theory for the purposes of meeting and seducing women, with a focus on STRs and one-night stands.

PUA - An acyronym for Pick-Up Artist (see entry)

Relationship Market - Consisting of all men and women who are looking to form a LTR.

Relationship Market Value - The overall relationship-worthiness of a person. Given the multi-faceted nature of life, the criteria for this is broad and is often not easily measurable.

Sexual Market - Consisting of all men and women who are looking for casual sex or a Short-Term Relationship. Popular venues for those in the Sexual Market are: bars, lounges and clubs.

Sexual Market Value - The raw sexual attractiveness of a person, often capable of being communicated and expressed by a numerical value. For women, it is primarily determined by physical appearance and manner of dress. For men, it is primarily determined by social dominance and psycho-sexual prowess. A person's Sexual Market Value is strongly correlated with their potential for success in the Sexual Market.

Short-Term Relationship - Any romantic relationship that is begun with the intention of being non-durable. This includes temporary relationships, casual hook-ups, and friends with benefits arrangements.

SMV - An acronym for Sexual Market Value (see entry)

STR - An acronym for Short-Term Relationship (see entry)

Student of Game - Any person who studies Game Theory or reads the writings of Gamers. (This includes even those who oppose aspects of Game because of moral or personal convictions. This also includes students of all skill levels, from an utter Game neophyte, to an experienced Gamer who continually expands Game Theory and seeks to enhance his mastery of Game.)

Readers: Feel free to offer comments on my definitions and suggestions for other terms that should be added, or for modifications that should be made to certain terms.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Year-End Resolution Review - 2009

I always find that I make the most progress in my life when I set clearly delineated goals for myself. As such, at the beginning of this year, I decided to set a lot of goals for myself. In July, I took at a look at all my goals and identified how much progress I had made on each. Here was my mid-year summary:

To date, I have completed 3 resolutions, abandoned 2 goals, and am on track for completing the other 7 resolutions. The only one that I am technically behind on is number 7, which would be very easy to finish with a tiny bit of focused effort. Overall, I think that, with the exception of the abandoned 2 goals, all of the resolutions I set are very achievable, easily measurable, and well-aligned with my values and direction in life. I am quite happy with my progress and look forward to the remaining half of this amazing year!

Here is my final update on all twelve resolutions:

1 - Listen to the entire New Testament
This goal was completed during the first 40 days of the year.

2 - Read at least 15 new books
Reading is something that I tend to do in bursts. Often I'll race through several books and then not read much for a month. During the first six months of this year I read: Better Off, How to Get a Date Worth Keeping, The Case for a Creator, The Broker, Digital Fortress, Sway: The Irresitable Pull of Irrationl Thinking, The Appeal, The Power of Positive Thinking, and The 4-Hour Workweek. During the second half of the year I read: Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Mystery Method, Amusing Ourselves to Death, The God Who Is There, and The Paradox of Choice: Why Less Is More. Also, I re-read Orthodoxy, Out of the Silent Planet, Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality, Stick To Drawing Comics, Monkey Brains and He Is There and He Is Not Silent. That's a grand total of 17 new books read and 5 old books re-read.

3 - Deepen at least two close friendships
This goal has been slightly trickier than I originally expected, and I have made some interesting discoveries regarding friendships this year. I will probably write a blog about some of my thoughts on relationships in general and friendships in particular during the next month. Concerning my goal, I can definitely say that I have significantly deepened my friendship with my best friend, whom I love dearly, and with my sister, who is a thoroughly enjoyable person to be around. My life is much richer and fuller because of both friendships. Having my best friend gone for the first six months of the year definitely helped me realize how much difference it makes not just to have friends, but to have close friends who are present. Being able to go on spontaneous adventures, talk through various thoughts and dilemmas and having someone who you can completely be yourself around is a blessing of the highest order. Close friendships are of much more practical value than ordinary friendships, by several orders of magnitude.

4 - Connect with at least one person every day
As a naturally social person, this goal has been quite easy to complete. This year I have expanded my social circle significantly. I have made a lot of new friends, met a lot of interesting people, had a lot of fun adventures, and gone on a good number of dates. Mission accomplished!

5 - Exercise at least 2 times per week (except when sick)
Catching colds this month and last month definitely threw a bit of a monkey wrench in my exercise schedule. For most of the year I've been pretty consistent about exercising, although I also think that this goal is probably one that I haven't met as solidly as I could have. Though I didn't play quite as much tennis and basketball as I wanted to, I hit the gym a bit more than I expected. My arm strength, leg strength and endurance have improved by a small margin, and my abs are much stronger and more toned than they were earlier in the year. Also, I've increased my pull-up capacity somewhat. I really miss running, though...

6 - Record at least 12 music tracks
This year was an interesting year musically. During the late spring and early summer, some friends and I formed a jazz band and played a few shows. It was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed the cohesiveness of the group. I have live recordings of twelve different charts that we played. Six of them are up on my website: F Minor Blues Jam, Anthropology, Cantaloupe Island, Chameleon, Bulletproof, and Girl From Ipanema. Anthropology is one of the charts that I'm the most proud of. Sadly (for us, not for him), our amazing trumpet player has moved to Texas, since he now plays for the Air Force Band, which is pretty much a musician's dream job. Apart from playing bass in the jazz band, I've done several complete pieces of music myself. I recorded remixes for two small music competitions and placed first in both of them. Also, I wrote and recorded three original compositions, one of which (Digit Game) was featured on Nevar Say Die, Volume 3 and will also be featured on my upcoming album, which should be finished sometime in the next two months. On top of all that, I am presently recording another remix for Dwelling of Duels, which typically gets between 30-50 entries in December's competition. Rather than going with my usual progressive metal/rock sort of sound, I'm throwing together a really smooth piece centering around bass and keyboards. All in all, that constitutes 18 new tracks of music recorded this year. This resolution is an unqualified success!

7 - Play bass in a band or orchestra (minimum 4 performances)
Though I didn't play a lot of shows this year, the ones that I did play were thoroughly enjoyable. I played bass with our jazz band in three different shows, and I played bass with a worship band twice. Also, I played guitar three times this year, which was a bit unexpected; twice was with the same worship band that I played bass for, and once was at a small Christmas dinner party. This next year I will probably be playing a lot more. Though the jazz band pretty much fell apart since our trumpet player left, we have reformed as a pop band with my best friend as the singer. Also, another worship leader at a nearby church is looking for a regular bass player and wants me to come play with them once or twice sometime in the next month, to see if we click musically. This next year should have plenty of musical opportunities for me. I'm excited!

8 - Graduate from college
In the spring I finally completed the last class that I needed to earn my degree. Now I have graduated from college with a BA in Humanities (emphases in music, literature and philosophy) from Thomas Edison State College. In the next month or so I will post a blog on the most important things I learned from earning a college degree.

9 - Move out of my parents' house
This one was accomplished immediately upon starting the year. I've now been living on my own for nearly a full year. It's been a very satisfying experience.

10 - Get rid of extraneous possessions
When I moved to my apartment in January, I pared down my possessions significantly and got rid of numerous extraneous things that I did not need.

11 - Establish and maintain a consistent bedtime and daily schedule
This resolution was abandoned halfway through the year. Arbitrary restrictions are things that I need less of. Someday it might be useful to change my schedule, but presently it's working quite well to be partially nocturnal.

12 - Keep a progress/goals journal and write in it weekly
This resolution was abandoned halfway through the year. I have no regrets about discarding such a timesink.

Now that the year is finished, I am quite proud of myself. I completed ten resolutions and abandoned two of them. Of the ten that I completed, only one of them was slightly below satisfactory, while three of my goals were surpassed by a sizable amount. While twelve goals initially seemed like a bit of a challenge, most of them happened fairly automatically, which means that the goals I set were attainable, measurable and fairly well aligned with the ways I wanted to grow personally this year. While continually sharpening the saw is a valuable thing, for my next year's resolutions I am thinking of setting only four goals total, two major ones and two minor ones. But, I still have 48 hours before I have to decide--which is more than enough time!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Political Kleptomania

While my Christmas was very nice overall, I stumbled across a small piece of news that angered me grreatly. Rather than giving us a gift of any sort, the Senate decided to royally screw our nation on Christmas Eve's day. The healthcare reform bill, which I've written about here, here, here and here, was finally voted on by the Senate. On Wednesday I wrote a lengthy e-mail to both of my senators, imploring them not to bring further ruin to our nation and detailing the great evils that the healthcare reform bill will unleash. As usual, both of them happily disregarded my warnings and proceeded to vote "yes" on the healthcare reform bill.

To me this is a tragedy of no small import. While it is not unexpected, it is very sad to see our freedoms eroded further, our rights to our own possessions further rescinded, and our number of choices reduced. Apparently running up a deficit of over one trillion dollars this year simply isn't enough for our nation's benevolent guardians in DC. The kleptomania of our current legislature is being disguided as a humanitarian impulse, and deadly poison is being sold to us labelled as antidote. Obama is delivering the change he promised--by increasing the tyrannical grip of our monstrous government on each and every American citizen. The liberal wet dream of completely removing personal autonomy and having the government provide for everyone's daily needs is closer to fruition than ever before in our nation. Continually I find myself more able to indenify with the antihero of Dominici's O3 musical trilogy. From O3, Part 2:
Corrupt politicians, purveyors of law
Give us daily bread, but not a crumb more
Premiers, Presidents and leaders of men
Fleece us like sheep again and again

All we can do is suffer the grief
And shake our heads in disbelief
A penny here, a dollar there
We’re nickel’d and dime’d into despair

If we should ever come on days
When all would start to change their ways
There’d still be some who would only see
A brand new opportunity

I’d go along and wag my tail
But still they’d throw me in their jail

The beginning of the end has come and gone in America. The passage of this bill will hasten the setting of the sun on the American experiment. While we may still raise our voices in protest, there is very little that any one person can do, so long as the masses are deadset on electing confused, demagogic, kleptomanical politicians. The ignorant and brainwashed majority is inflicting their will on everyone else, and the politicians are more than happy to play the power game regardless of its ruinous effect on our nation. In the end, all I can really ask is, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Realizations: Comfort-Building

Experience itself is always the best teacher. Talking and reading about certain aspects of life only gets you so far. All the most important and pertinent insights strike you when you're actually living life. Just this week I had a somewhat unexpected realization. A lot of the writing and discussion of Game centers around relationship formation. In his book, The Mystery Method, Mystery calls the three critical phases of relationship formation the attraction phase, the comfort phase and the seduction phase. The attraction phase commences when boy meets girl, or in some cases, when a guy and girl begin to view each other as possible romantic interests. If at least a minimal amount of attraction is established, the comfort phase begins. At this point, both parties are already at least mildly interested in each other and at least somewhat attracted to each other. The comfort phase constitutes of everything that happens after two-way attraction is established and before either a formal relationship is established (LTR) or sexual relations commence.

In many ways, the comfort phase is a multi-dimensional sort of thing. Though an initial attraction has been established, for anything to occur between two people, there has to be more than just attraction. There needs to be connection. When you are first interacting with someone, and even sometimes after a date or two, your date still seems like a stranger. You may be good at reading people and you may know what sort of a person she is, but you still don't quite know her. Similarly, while she may know a little bit about you, she really doesn't know very much about you at all. This is especially true if you maintain a slightly mysterious persona during the attraction phase. In truth, there's nothing especially magical or mysterious about the comfort phase. It's as simple as starting to get to know one another and beginning to interact with each other in different contexts and in different locations. Until this week, I always thought that the main goal of the comfort phase was to make her feel more comfortable around me. And that's true. But that's only half of it.

The other crucial part of the comfort phase is for you to feel more comforable around her. It's a very different thing than just feeling generally comfortable, or socially comfortable. You can feel socially comfortable, and happily mingle in a social group, and yet that still doesn't mean that you feel individually comfortable with each person in the group. Similarly, if you're a confident and well-adapted person, you may feel reasonably comfortable in different situations and settings, even with unusual ones. But that's not the same as feeling comfortable with a person. It's different. And that's what struck me as surprising and unexpected. While anxiety and nervousness around new girls can be squelched with a little effort, being comfortable is something more than just not feeling nervous. Comfort is the antithesis of anxiety. Anxiety is felt because of dealing with the unfamiliar. Comfort is felt when you are with a person who is familiar. The more familiar a person is and the more emotionally safe a person seems, the more comfortable you naturally feel around them. So, while part of the comfort phase is for her to become more comfortable around you, it is an equally vital part of the comfort phase for you to become more comfortable around her. Both halves of it are necessary.

The nice thing about comfort building is that if everything is going well, you become more comfortable more quickly. It's a snowball effect. The first bit of comfort is the most difficult. From there on it gets much easier to become more comfortable with each other. It works that way because the more comfortable you feel, the more positive your emotional state is, the more you feel free to say what's on your mind and the easier it is to relax and enjoy whatever you're doing. Additionally, not only do you being to feel more comfortable, but your emotional state is subconsciously communicated to your date, and she can sense that you feel more comfortable, which causes her to feel more comfortable as well. Comfort is both a self-reinforcing feeling and a socially-reinforcing feeling. The challenge is just to start things off well. From that point, the momentum keeps things going with hardly any effort.

While it's nice to know that a girl I'm with is feeling more comfortable being around me, it's even nicer when I start to feel more comfortable around her. The more comfortable I am, the more fun I have. It's a beautiful self-perpetuating, self-reinforcing, socially-contagious cycle. In any case, I have come to the realization that the comfort phase is as much for me as it is for her. Becoming more comfortable with each other is a necessary and rewarding experience. Being comfortable around each other is an essential prelude to any sort of deeper enjoyment of each other.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tyrannical Housing Act

As my roommate will be moving out at the end of January, I have begun the hunt for a new roommate. Ordinarily I would try to find a close friend to live with, but at the moment I don't really have that luxury since all of my closest friends either don't earn enough money to afford living on their own, or don't want to pay for a place when they can live at home for free. Given the present condition of the economy and the housing costs in my little part of the world, I really don't blame them. In addition to letting several of my social groups know of the available room, I also thought it would be prudent to post a few online ads. I was just about to start posting a little ad on Craigslist, which I've had much success with in the past, when I was confronted with the pleasant little warning:

Fair Housing is Everyone's Right!

Stating a discriminatory preference in a housing post is illegal.

When making any posting on craigslist, you must comply with section 3604(c) of the Federal Fair Housing Act. This law generally prohibits stating, in any notice or ad for the sale or rental of a dwelling, a discriminatory preference based on any of the following protected categories:

Race or Color
National Origin
Familial Status
Handicap / Disability

--You can be fined more than $10,000 for each discriminatory ad, plus damages in court, plus loss of license if you are a professional

--Avoid phrases which could be interpreted as discriminating by race/color/origin (e.g. 'hispanic area'), religion (e.g. 'christian home'), age / familial status (e.g. 'no kids'), disability, sexual orientation, or source of income

As bad as that is, for my state they have even stricter restrictions. Even stating a preference for age is illegal, such that I could be fined $10,000. Of course, this all completely goes against anything remotely akin to common sense! Not only can I not state what sort of roommates I will and won't allow to live with me, I am not even permitted to state ANY preferences about what sort of person I would like to live with. Now, perhaps if I were a business owner renting my properties to the masses, I can possibly grasp what possessed our egalitarian politicians to create such a law. But, as an individual who does not even own my own property, and will necessarily be sharing my domain with another human being for at least a few months, this "Fair Housing Act" cannot possibly be seen as anything but tyrannical.

Given that one's home is such a sacred and vital place, it is essential that one's roommate be someone who is easy to get along with, who communicates well and who treats the apartment with respect. Beyond those basic essentials, it's a nice bonus if you have a roommate whose presence you actually enjoy. It goes without question that one must be selective in process of choosing a roommate. As such, I really don't see the point in making such selectiveness illegal. It makes no sense! Not only does it not prevent any discrimination from occurring (since I'll choose whoever I damn want to, thank you very much!), but it also makes the entire roommate-finding process needlessly more cumbersome. Since I cannot state any preferences regarding age or lifestyle, I'll have to filter more people out than I would if I could clearly state my criteria in my ad.

Thank you, oh gloriously tyrannical legislatures, for stripping me of my freedom and wasting the time of both my prospective future roommates and myself! Keep writing such marvelous laws that herald the ceaseless progression of our nation towards its new egalitarian utopian form!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Androgynous Nation - The Prevalence of Jeans

Often the most seemingly random topics find themselves percolating in my mind. The past couple of days I have been thinking about jeans--you know, the denim pants that everyone wears. I would actually say that jeans are quite wonderful, if it weren't for the fact that everyone wears them. To be sure, they are fairly practical, and they are at least decently comfortable. Actually, what bothers me most about jeans has almost nothing to do with jeans at all. What bothers me is that women wear them. Everywhere you go, women are wearing jeans. Old women and young girls, trendy chicks and frumpy gals, gorgeous babes and grotesque women all have a commonality in that they all wear jeans. While there are occasional obvious exceptions, as a rule, women wearing jeans look significantly less feminine than girls who wear more traditionally feminine garb.

As I was growing up in a socially conservative family, occasionally my mother (who ironically now wears jeans most of the time) would read some sort of article on how women wearing pants is immodest or unbecoming in some way. I even remember watching a video sermon that nearly insinuated that wearing pants was a symbol of rebellion and a rejection of authority. At the time, I really didn't care one way or the other, since what women should or shouldn't wear seemed to have no pertinence to my life. While I still wouldn't quite agree with such an extreme socially conservative position, I find it both interesting and even somewhat surprising how similar the view of many secular and even liberal minds is to such a position. The truth is, those who understand and value the intrinsic differences between men and women, between masculinity and femininity, also recognize that certain forms of dress are more masculine and certain ways to dress are more feminine. Femininity in women is something that is desirable and attractive. All other things equal, women who act and dress in a more feminine manner are nearly universally considered more attractive than women who act and dress in a less feminine manner. Sadly, modern culture has lost sight of that simple truth in its destructive march toward an egalitarian utopia.

In fact, since the rise of feminism (which is quite a misnomer, since it diametrically opposes all things feminine), American culture has set forth an androgynous ideal in nearly every aspect of life. Men are told to be more sensitive, less angry, more talkative, more submissive and overall less masculine, while women are taught that they should be stronger, more determined, more independent, more assertive, more driven and overall less feminine. In many ways, this cultural shift is perfectly mirrored and revealed by the very clothing modern people wear. Not long ago, Dave in Hawaii wrote an excellent blog on how this shift in thinking has changed the way women dress today. Personally, I think that the prevalence of jeans and other unisex clothing flawlessly illustrates the fact that modern America neither understands masculininity and femininity nor values them.

The truth is, a woman wearing jeans is something much bigger than simply the wardrobe choice of a single individual. Either consciously or unconsciously, it is a symbol of conformity with the modern utopian ideal, which is based on the flawed premise that there is no ultimate difference between men and women. A girl wearing jeans is either making a statement that she accepts what culture teaches without critically examining it or is a making a statement that she rejects the natural differences between men and women and chooses to forsake the pursuit of beauty and femininity to chase after uniformity and aesthetic dullness. Neither of those statements are good ones to make. Why should a woman typically dress in a way that minimizes her natural beauty? Why should dressing up to look nice only be for special occasions? Androgynous dressing is as much an affront to nature and God's design as wearing a burqa is. In one case it's a rejection of femininity because of fear and lack of self-control, in the other case it's a rejection of femininity out of spite and rebellion.

While it virtually goes without saying that the way a person dresses has a major impact on how they are perceived, I especially notice how much a girl's wearing jeans changes my perspective of her. Recently, I saw a girl that I'm mildly attracted to at a social function. She was wearing a really thick and colorful sweater, had her hair pulled back in a ponytail and was wearing some generic-looking jeans. As I looked at her, the word "boyish" sprung to mind completely unbidden. Never before would I have connected that particular descriptor with her. Just the fact that she was wearing jeans radically changed my instinctual impression of her. In contrast, a little while back I ran into a girl that I don't consider very attractive, but on this occasion she was dressed very nicely. She wore a cute dark coat and a medium-length skirt of subtle color. Just because of how she was dressed, she looked sweeter and more feminine than usual. Some would say that such perceptions and impressions of girls based on how they are dressed is a bit shallow and doesn't take enough factors into account. To this I simply reply that how a girl is dressed is not merely an aesthetic factor (which does matter a lot to men), because it is also something that speaks volumes about how she perceives herself and the world.

But, don't just take my word for it. Decide for yourself. What sort of girl looks more beautiful and feminine: a girl wearing jeans, or a girl wearing a dress or skirt? While androgyny is something that contemporary culture advocates, it seems clear that working towards such a goal defies nature, makes a people more drap and dull, deprives the world of much-needed beauty, makes both men and women less attractive, and shows a lack of appreciation for God's creation. Now, if a woman wants to diminish her beauty and attractiveness by dressing in an androgynous fashion by wearing jeans, then she is certainly welcome to do so, regardless of the stupidity of such a goal. But in such a case, at least it should be an informed rejection of nature and her own physical appearance, rather than simply cultural conformity out of ignorance. Those women who properly know their place in the world and value their appearance will dress themselves in a feminine manner and avoid wearing clothes that would look equally fitting on a man.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Inner Game Traits: Indifference

In response to my last blog, Thoughts On Inner Game, one commenter remarked that even though it might be useful for me to integrate the other six main fundamentals of game into my life, that perhaps, since I am a high-quality guy, indifference would not be a trait worth cultivating. A year ago, I might have agreed with him. However, I think the reason he doesn't think indifference would serve me well is not that he misunderstands me or my aims, but simply that he misunderstands the concept of the form of indifference being advocated by proponents of Game.

Admittedly, if pure indifference were being set forth as an ideal for men to aspire to, I would probably oppose it. But, what is being postulated is not a pure form of indifference or apathy; instead, it is a selective indifference with a focus on long-term consequences and meaning rather than short-term feelings and experiences. It is a selective indifference that results in greater emotional stability and a groundedness that serves as an effective foundation for rational decision-making, even in the midst of difficult situations or transitory emotional turbulence.

As such, the quality of selective indifference primarily emphasizes two things. First, selective indifference is a general indifference towards any particular girl or relationship. Secondly, selective indifference is a general indifference towards a girl's present emotional state. This means that sometimes you can allow yourself to care about her emotional state or the status of your relationship with her, but that such considerations should be the exception, rather than the rule. Next, I will expand on each type of indifference and explain the value of selective indifference in boosting male attractiveness.

The first type of selective indifference that is crucial is a general indifference towards any particular girl or relationship. It doesn't matter whether you're meeting a new girl, in a long-term relationship or married, it is crucial to have a perspective that is bigger than the relationship. Practically, this means a couple of different things. Above all, it means that your life is bigger than her. You don't need her in you life since you already live a full, fun and independent life. If she breaks up with you or divorces you tomorrow, your life will not be shattered since you have your own friends, your own interests, your own values, your own life goals, your own spiritual foundation and your own hobbies. A woman never wants to be the center of man's life. She wants to join him, get wrapped up in his world and accompany him on his journey through life. She wants to be part of his life; she doesn't want to be his life.

Additionally, selective indifference towards a particular girl or relationship means that not only do you have a life that is much bigger than her, you also are not especially concerned with losing her. Since you are a high-quality man, you are attractive to many women, and if she decides to be foolish enough to end the relationship, it isn't a big deal, because you can easily find a better woman who wants to be with you. Since you don't need her for your life to have meaning, and you don't need her to have relational success, you aren't dependent on her in any way. I would also like to point out that being indifferent to losing her is not the same as being indifferent to having her in your life. While you are happy and thankful that she is in your life, you are not fearful of losing her. While you enjoy her presence, you also aren't bothered, bored or unhappy when she isn't with you. This sort of indifference synergizes with the traits of independence and confidence. The fact that you don't need her sets up a framework for gratitude. If she is enhancing your life, then you will feel thankful and glad. If she is bringing you down, then you can simply end the relationship or spend more time doing your own thing until she fixes her behavior. The confidence that you exude from this sort of indifference makes you irresistible, and reminds her of what an exceptional and strong guy you are.

The second type of selective indifference that is crucial is a general indifference towards a girl's emotional state. While females primarily view the world and live their lives through emotional lenses, the male nature is radically different. Women tend to confuse their present emotional state with truth. When she doesn't feel loved, she completely believes that you don't love her. When she doesn't feel heard, then she believes that you're not listening. Whatever she feels, she views as truth. Men, typically, are not as emotion-centric. While we definitely feel emotions and make decisions based on emotions, men are always cognizant of the fact that life is bigger than emotions, and that actions are more important than feelings. If this fundamental difference between the male and female perspectives on life is not understood by both men and women, then conflict and communication problems are certain to arise. Alternately, if this difference is minimized by men becoming more feminized and emotion-centric, men lose the vital aspects of masculinity that women crave. A woman subconsciously longs for man who is in touch with his emotions, but who is also emotionally stable. A man who is completely out of touch with his emotions is inhuman, and therefore incapable of emotional connection, which women need. However, when a man is both in touch with his emotions and also in control of them, he possesses the inner strength necessary to stabilize her emotions and comfort her when she needs that. She knows that nothing she feels will be too much for him to handle. No matter what she is going through, he is capable of providing emotional solace since she knows that he isn't afraid of her feelings, won't be manipulated by her emotions, and won't lash out at her for expressing her emotions. That masculine emotional stability is something that women long for and need in a man. He must be able to be an emotional leader in the relationship.

However, selective indifference towards a girl's emotional state isn't just for her benefit. It's also crucial, as a man, to actually have complete emotional independence. To the degree that a man has control over himself, he also has influence over others and impact on the circumstances in his life. If your happiness is dependent on how your girl is feeling, then you are in for a wild ride. Girls' feelings change all the time, and you won't be able to be happy when she's tired, in a bad mood, upset about something, or PMSing. To give someone else so much control over your happiness is a certain recipe for disaster. Additionally, being in fear of a girl's emotional reaction will cause you to act in ways that are fear-based, apologetic and submissive. You can hardly be a leader worth following if you are constantly concerned with the possibility of your thoughts, actions or decisions upsetting her. Either you end up not doing things that would upset her, and lose an integral part of yourself in the process, or you adopt a submissive and groveling posture when she is upset by something you've done, which will cause her to lose respect for you. Internal emotional stability is a necessary trait for any man who wishes to attract a high-quality woman and build a solid relationship. Dave In Hawaii has written a brilliant post on the subject of relationship dynamics, and how it is vital for a man to establish his own emotional frame and not be subject to the capricious nature of the female emotional roller-coaster ride. This second type of selective indifference synergizes well with both calmness and assertiveness.

I believe that these two types of selective indifference and two aspects of each are valuable traits for any man to incorporate into his life. While a man is certainly free to concern himself with the present status of a relationship or with a woman's emotional state, the typically stance he should adopt towards both is one of indifference. Having a well-rounded life with numerous central pillars ensures that nothing major will collapse, even if a relationship with a particular girl ends. Women are attracted to men who have full, purposeful and connected lives. Having confidence in one's own relational skills and ability to attract and sustain quality relationships is another foundational aspect of independence. The confidence and security that a man has in both of these areas of life are very attractive to a woman, since she wants to be with someone who lives well and who doesn't depend on her for strength or security--she wants to look to him to provide those things. Emotional stability and groundedness are vital for a man to make good decisions and be a strong leader. A woman will always feel safe and emotionally cared for if she knows that her man will be completely unfazed by her emotional state. Additionally, for a man to be himself, he must take ownership of his thoughts, opinions, values, beliefs and actions. He should always have a mindset that ensures he is living his best life at all times, and never waver or buckle under social pressure, stress or fear. A woman will have great respect for a man who is confident, bold and unapologetic about the way he lives. She will rightly view him as a strong leader, and will feel confident that she can follow his lead and trust his instincts.

As you can see, selective indifference, properly understood, is an invaluable trait for any man to possess. The direct benefits to a man's life are both numerous and extensive. Additionally, being more attractive to women is an indirect benefit of living the kind of life that gives you confidence, emotional stability, assertiveness and security, which are all necessary to adopt a true posture of healthy selective indifference. Because of your lack of neediness, you are in a position to attract a high-quality woman and enjoy her, without becoming dependent on her. Though indifference is an easily misunderstood trait, when properly understood, it is clearly a valuable and indispensible one for all men to strive for. It is a crucial part of inner game.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thoughts On Inner Game

Being a young adult, I often find my thoughts turning to the subject of dating. What makes for a great date? How can you present an honest and genuine, yet interesting and attractive image of yourself when meeting a girl, or taking her on a first or second date? What perspectives lead to the best possible results, both objectively and subjectively? While my thoughts are far from being highly refined, over the past couple of days I was struck with several simple insights.

My first major realization is that the external trappings of a date or interaction aren't especially important. They do matter, but only indirectly. Recently, a friend of mine went on a date with a girl that he was interested in, and a day after the date I asked him how it went. He said that they had gone to some fun places, and that the conversation was okay, but he really wasn't feeling the chemistry. Since the chemistry was completely absent, he told me in no uncertain terms that he wasn't going to go out with the girl anymore. He didn't want to date her. Ironically, a couple weeks later things completely changed and now he is ridiculously head over heels for her. Regardless of what happens with that relationship, I was just reminded that the trappings of a date aren't of final importance. On that first date they did a bunch of fun things, but afterwards my friend didn't want to see her again. It's all about the "chemistry." Such a term always seems to convey some sort of nebulous and mystical factor that is a necessary part of romantic connection. But, the importance of chemistry makes perfect sense when you fully understand both male and female natures.

The necessary implication of this realization is simply a recognition that Inner Game is the most critical determinate of how well your dates will go. What is Inner Game? Several people in the blogosphere have taken a stab at defining Game, and I think that Ferdinand Bardamu has come up with the most succinct and clear definition of Game. In his post, Ferdinand summarizes the seven principles that are most critical determinants of male attractiveness: assertiveness, calmness, confidence, independence, indifference, presentability, and sociability. In trying to hone my game, I've begun setting specific goals for myself before dates, to help me focus on the things that are most important for me to remember. Here are some rules/mindsets that I've set for myself recently, presented in no particular order:

1. Be Relaxed and Calm
Whether meeting a new girl, or going on a date with a girl I barely know, there's always a temptation to be worried about the interaction and how it's going. This self-inflicted anxiety is the most deadly thing possible. Feeling worried about an interaction turns the the interaction into a high-stress situation, which not only keeps me from enjoying some playful chatting, but also is subconsciously communicated to the girl. The calmer I am, the more I enjoy myself, and, in turn, the more the girl enjoys the interaction.

2. If I'm Having Fun, Then She's Having Fun
If I catch myself thinking about whether my date is enjoying herself or not, I have the wrong mindset. The most important goal of a date is to enjoy myself. If I am enjoying myself, then 95% of the time, she is also enjoying herself. There are two reasons for this. First of all, since happy people are more fun to be around, and since emotions are self-reinforcing, whenever I am enjoying myself I am more energetic, more creative, wittier and more humorous. So, whenever I am having fun, I am more fun to be around. Since I'm enjoying myself, she will automatically be having a much better time than she would if I'm not as fun to be around. Secondly, since women are naturally empathic, they cannot help but be directly affected by the emotional state of others. Emotions are contagious. For that reason, when she is with me, if I am enjoying myself, then not only does she enjoy my presence more, but she also feels internally happier, on a completely subconscious level.

3. Plan Dates That I Enjoy
Because of the previous rule, whenever I'm planning a date, I always make sure that everything that happens on a date is something that I want to do. I'll take her to places that I like to go, eat at restaurants that I really love, give her drinks that I really like and generally do things that I love doing. If it's something that I would only consider doing because it's a date, I cross it off the list of possibilities right away. If it's something that I would be perfectly happy to do with my best friend or by myself, then it's a winner. Therefore, any date plan I make will only include venues and activities that I really enjoy. It's always a surefire winner! Besides, if for some odd reason a girl doesn't like any of the places or activities on the date, then I already know that we're unlikely to be compatible. It's nice to find that out up front.

4. Touch Her More
As much as I love giving and receiving affection, I'm also very shy about touching people that I don't know very well. Neither of my parents are affectionate people, so touching people beyond hugs and handshakes has always forced me far out of my comfort zone. Given the importance of physical touch both for building comfort and signaling attraction, this is one thing that I've been putting major effort into. Thankfully, I'm starting to become more comfortable touching my friends, my family and girls that I'm interested in. Eventually it will become second nature; until then, I'll have to consciously focus on touching my date more.

5. Be Interesting and Fun
As a person, I am quite fun to be around and I always have plenty to talk about. However, whenever I have the wrong mindset or priorities, often my date doesn't have the opportunity to see those sides of me. Sometimes I come across as too intellectual. Sometimes I come across as socially awkward. But, whenever I stop concerning myself with whether my date is enjoying herself and what she thinks of me, then I am free to be my usual happy, hyperbolic, and humorous self. Being free to discuss whatever I happen to be thinking about and joke around the way I usually do means that I'm feeling relaxed enough to enjoy myself, and it also gives her a chance to see that I'm fun, interesting and verbally playful.

6. Central Date Focus: Do I Like This Girl?
The most important question of the date is, "Do I like this girl?" Is she fun to be around? Is she feminine? Is she a good conversationalist? Is she a spiritual person? Is she easy-going? Is she a warm and sweet person? Whether she likes me or not is only of secondary importance. That's because if I'm not very attracted to her, then it really doesn't matter how well the date went, nor how much she likes me. Also, women are attracted to men with standards and the very fact that I am sizing her up as a LTR-worthy girl makes me more attractive to her.

So far, these are the rules that I've set for myself to ensure that I keep the right mindset and improve my overall attractiveness. Inner Game is all about having the right internal attitudes and perspectives, which will always lead to better external results. Of the seven principles mentioned in Ferdinand's post, my rules definitely embody assertiveness, calmness, confidence, indifference and sociability. The only principle not included is presentability. That's one aspect of my game that doesn't need much work. We'll see what happens this month. After almost a year of not feeling ready for or desirous of a LTR, I'm feeling quite confident and excited about the prospect of finding an amazing woman and dating her.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Rational Case For Christianity - Metaphysics

Previously, in my introduction to The Rational Case for Christianity, I established the criteria that we will use to determine if Christianity is a true and practically viable worldview. For it to be valid, it must be able to account for any aspect of reality or life and leave no contradictions. According to Jean-Paul Sartre, the basic philosophical question is why something exists rather than nothing. Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that concerns itself with the existence of our universe and questions of how it came to be. Though a comprehensive study of metaphysics would require more than the scope of a single essay, all possible metaphysical answers can be categorized in just a few classes of answers. To simplify our inquiry, we will simply concern ourselves with human existence, which will allow us to circumvent the question of whether the universe itself has a beginning. We can do this because regardless of whether there universe has a beginning or not, it is universally accepted that human existence had a beginning.

The first metaphysical question we must ask is whether there is a logical, rational, intelligible answer to the question of human existence. There are two possible answers to this:

1 - There does not exist a logical, rational, intelligible reason for human existence
2 - There does exist a logical, rational, intelligible reason for human existence

Of these two answers, the first one is self-defeating for exactly the same reason epistemological nihilism is self-defeating... One cannot know that no reason exists unless he is omniscient, and one cannot know that the answer is not logical, rational or intelligible unless he comprehends it, which would result in a self-refuting claim. Therefore, of these two possibilities, the second one is the most rational answer to our first question considering metaphysical inquiry. Proceeding forward, we will assume that there does exist a logical, rational, intelligible reason for the existence of the universe.

The second metaphysical question we must ask is, by what means did human existence occur? There are three possible answers to such a question.

1 - Human existence sprung forth from absolutely nothing
2 - Human existence was caused by impersonal means
3 - Human existence was caused by personal means

Answer number 1, while technically possible, is not presently held by any sane person. It is quite preposterous that human existence sprung forth from absolute nothing.

Answer number 2, on the other hand, is a quite commonly held position. Belief that time plus chance plus matter eventually led to the process of macroevolution which eventually produced humanity is one such sort of answer. An impersonal universe birthed humans based on random physical processes that happened to interact in exactly the right way. Pantheism is another sort of answer that falls under the category of impersonal human origin. Pantheism suggests that everything ultimately is a unity, and that all diversity and personality will either melt back into oneness someday or all diverse and personality are ultimately illusory. The problem with any impersonal origin of humanity is that it cannot explain personality or what Francis Schaeffer calls the "mannishness" of man. Scientific materialism suggest that personality is nothing more than the impersonal plus complexity, and therefore you end up with theories of biodeterminism and evolutionary psychology which commit the fallacy of reductionism by claiming that what appears to be personality or freewill is just an illusion. Pantheism doesn't even try to use fancy words to hide the truth. Instead, religions such as Hinduism are quite clear on their stance that all diversity is an illusion and that at the deepest level, everything is one, which means that personality, too, is an illusion. While it is theoretically possible that personality is merely an illusion, there is no non-circular evidence for it being so. Therefore, unless personality is conclusively shown to be an illusion, no impersonal cause for human existence properly explains the world that we experience every single day of our lives. As such, it is irrational to believe that human existence is caused by impersonal means.

Answer number 3, therefore, must be correct. Since nothing with true personality can result from impersonal processes, and given the fact that humans have true personality, the only logical, rational answer is that human existence was caused by personal means. A personal being created humans. Some sort of personal God or god must exist.

The third metaphysical question we must ask is, is there one God or multiple gods or Gods? Obviously this simple question has two possible answers:

1 - There are multiple limited, personal gods
2 - There is one infinite-personal God
3 - There are multiple infinite-personal Gods

Answer number 1 is insufficient to explain the universe. As Plato correctly understood, without absolutes, nothing has any meaning. For that reason he recognized that the plethora of Greek gods was insufficient to explain existence, since none of the gods were infinite. None of them were powerful enough to create the universe and mankind. Because of this, in his writings he often referred to the Fates, who sometimes controlled the gods, and sometimes the gods controlled the Fates. This odd paradox was constructed because limited gods are not big enough to create and sustain the universe, nor human existence. No number of limited gods can possibly suffice as a metaphysical foundation for human existence, nor for the existence of the universe.

Answer number 2 is sufficient to explain the universe. From our second question we determined that a personal entity is needed to create a human with ture personality. Given the vast nature of the universe and the metaphysical necessity for absolutes, this personal God must also be an infinite* God, else He is not big enough to fit with the evidence of reality. This God must have the capacity to imagine and bring into existence the physical universe and human beings, as well as serve as the integretion point for everything else. The concept of God's necessity as an infinite integration point will be explained more in depth in the essays on morality and epistemology.

Answer number 3, could also be sufficient to explain the universe. However, presently there are no worldviews that postulate multiple infinite-personal Gods. Pantheism suggests that there are many gods, but that really there are none. The Greeks and Romans suggested multiple limited personal gods, but no infinite ones. There are several major worldviews that postulate the existence of a single infinite-personal God, but none that suggest multiple infinite-personal Gods. Therefore, given that one infinite-personal God is suffcient to explain human existence, and there that is no evidence for the existence of more than one infinite-personal God, it is rational to accept that there is just one infinite-personal God.

The fourth metaphysical question we must ask is, what sort of infinite-personal God can best explain the unity and diversity of human existence and the universe? To this question there are only a few possible answers; namely, the Gods suggested by Islam, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and the Judeo-Christian God.

While all of those Gods sufficiently explain the unity that we see in the universe, everything from the natural order of molecular structures to the highly organized and complex ecospheres that cover the planet, since any single being is necessarily unified, only one of those answers sufficiently explains the diversity found in the universe. Perhaps it makes sense for there to be one kind of plant, but why are there so many kinds? Perhaps it makes sense for there to be one sort of planet or star, but the universe is full of widely divergent planets and stars. Perhaps the existence of one kind of animal makes sense, but why are there so many, and why are the various species so similar and yet so diverse? A unifed infinite-personal being can explain the unity of creation, but not the diversity of our universe. Only a God who is both intrinsically unified and intrinsically diverse can explain what we unarguably see in our universe. The only answer that sufficiently explains this is the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. That there is just one God, but that He is a triune being who exists in three persons is the only possible monotheistic explanation for the universe's diversity. Returning to even the more limited scope of human existence, given the fact of human biodiversity, only a God who is both unified and diverse can explain the unity and diversity of humanity. You may search through all of philosophy and all of the world's religions to find another satisfactory answer, but you will not find another infinite-personal God who is both unified and diverse no matter how many ancient manuscripts you read, nor how many modern philosophical tomes you digest.

As I stated in my last essay, any worldview that declares to be the truth must perfectly match all the evidence of reality. The existence of the universe and of humanity, and the unity and diversity we witness in both demands a certain kind of metaphysical answer. For any metaphysical stance to be true and applicable, it must be able to explain why humans exist at all, why true personality exists, why humanity is existentially unified, and why humanity is existentially diverse. Having looked at all the various categories of answers to each of these four fundamental questions, the only metaphysical explanation that makes sense of those four things is the metaphysical answer offered by Christanity. There exists an infinite-personal God who is both the creator of the universe and the creator and sustainer of human existence. One God, eternally existing in three persons, is the only satisfactory answer for explaining the unity and diversity of human existence and of the universe at large. As such, Christianity, since it both offers the only philosophically satisfactory answer for human existence and since it neither contradicts nor denies any aspect of human existence, is the most rational metaphysical worldview. All other worldviews necessarily deny or contradict one or more of those four factors. Therefore, not only is Christianity the best rational metaphysical answer, it is the only rational metaphysical answer. Apart from Christianity, it is impossible to make sense of our universe or of human existence.

* Strictly speaking, it is not metaphysically necessary that God is infinite, in the sense of completely unbounded power or ability. All that is necessary is sufficient capacity to imagine, create and sustain the entire universe and human existence. When I refer to God as being infinite, it is a shorthand way of saying that He is necessarily at least powerful enough to do that. When I refer to limited gods, such as the Greek and Roman gods, I simply mean that no one of them possesses enough power to do so. Each of the Greek and Roman gods had their own domain, over which they possessed a great deal of power, but outside of their individual domains, they were just about as limited as any mortal man. As such, it is no contention with my basic point if you argue that infiniteness is not strictly a metaphysical necessity. I use the term "infinite" in this shorthand manner along with the term "infinite-personal," because Francis Schaeffer uses those term in like manner.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

On Social Tact: Handling Confrontation

Last night a couple of friends staged a little mini-intervention for me. They were concerned about certain lifestyle choices that they thought I was making. That part was cleared up quite quickly and easily since it was just a misunderstanding. In addition to that, they also let me know that something I did a couple of weeks ago really offended another friend of mine. Until they said something, I honestly had no idea that he was so offended. I have seen him quite a number of times since the incident, and not once did he say anything or convey that I had really offended him. To hear that he had an issue with me that he hadn't talked about really surprised me, since overall I view him as a very bold, assertive and direct sort of person. In fact, as I thought it more, I felt really angry that he hadn't said anything.

Let's be honest. Even in the best of relationships, occasionally tension comes between two people. Sometimes a person is offended by something their friend said or did. That's normal and natural. The question is, what is the best way to handle an offense? Fundamentally, there are three basic approaches to dealing with grudges. You can directly confront your friend about the issue, indirectly handle the problem through passive-aggressive behavior or gossiping, or avoid dealing with the issue completely.

In the case of minor irritations avoiding the issue might work, but with any serious offense or grudge, it is a horrible choice. Resentment builds internally and eventually will harm the relationship, lead to mental problems or result in an emotional blowup. Since all three of those are utterly undesirable, avoiding the issue is a horrible option. More specifically, it is an illusory option, since not dealing with things just means that they will be dealt with later in a much uglier way.

Directly confronting your friend is the scariest option, but also the most cathartic. The best way to handle confrontation is to be clear and direct about specifically what behavior bothered you and why. At the same time, the tone of the confrontation should be positive and non-condemning. In many cases, offenses are simply the result of miscommunication or misunderstanding and can be cleared up fairly painlessly. In other cases, an offense may have been a mistake, and a simple apology is all that is needed. In the rare case of a perpetual or serious issue, while the air may not be cleared immediately, at least everything is in the open and there are no mind games or misconceptions about the disharmony. Handling confrontation directly and in a positive manner is a scary option which takes a good amount of courage, but it also leads to the best results and the least emotional fallout or social collateral damage.

Indirectly handling the issue is the coward's way out. Engaging in passive-aggressive behaviors creates a major emotional rift in the relationship, which often causes more harm than the original offense. By expecting your friend to read your mind or just "know" something is wrong you refuse to take responsiblity for your own emotional state and for the condition of the relationship, placing the burden entirely on your friend's shoulders. Alternately, gossiping to other friends about the issue causes social damage and alienation. Eventually, when the gossip circle has completed its rounds, irreparable damage has been done, and the devastation far exceeds the original offense. At that point the direct confrontation will certainly be more heated and emotional than handling things directly up front would have been.

As such, I'm quite disappointed with my friend. He could have come to me directly and things would have been settled easily in five minutes time with a simple apology. But, instead of having the balls to tell me that something I had done bothered him, he chose to gossip about it and pretend that everything was okay between him and I, just because he was afraid that things would be "awkward" between us if he said anything. For most Americans, I would expect them to take the coward's route. As a nation, we are too passive and fearful to confront people openly and honestly, the way we should. In my friend's case I am surprised, because normally he seems quite courageous, assertive and masculine in his interactions. Hopefully, this was simply an odd abnormality. In any case, the next time I see him I will confront him directly about the issue and quickly clear things up. Directly handling confrontation is the most caring and courageous way to deal with things. Insipid mind games or destructive social gossip are both cowardly and wimpy ways to deal with offenses.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Rational Case For Christianity - Intro

Wisely has it been said that man is not a rational being--he is a rationalizing being. A person can convince himself that anything is truth simply through enough rationalizing. Whether he is right or wrong about his rationalizations depends on objective truth. As I have written about previously, all people believe in objective truth both regarding material reality and conceptual reality, regardless of purported belief in relativism. And, even if people didn't believe in objective truth, the objective nature of truth is not dependent on the belief or non-belief of people in it.

The rational case for Christianity, then, is based on objective truth. Christianity is not merely a moral code, or a belief in a certain Jewish revolutionary, though it is no less than those things. Christianity is a comprehensive worldview that explains everything. As such, though the case for Christianity is most certainly rational, it is definitely not simple, for reality itself is not simple. Additionally, let us set the bar extremely high. If Christianity is true, it must validly explain everything, it must be practically applicable, and it must not contradict any piece of evidence in our world. If Christianity contradicts even one piece of evidence in our world, then it cannot be completely true.

Allow me to borrow analogies from a couple of brilliant men to illustrate what I mean. Norman Geisler, Christian apologist and philosopher, likens the quest of philosophy to the assembling of a jigsaw puzzle. Imagine that you have a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, but that you have lost the box the puzzle came in. Anyone who has put together a jigsaw puzzle knows how critical it is to use the box top as a guide to assembling the puzzle. If you come across a piece of the puzzle and do not know where to put it, you simply examine the box top and use that information to help you put it in its correct place. Given that the box top for life has been lost, mankind scrambles around looking for various box tops in hopes of finding the one that provides the solution to the puzzle. Every worldview is a sort of box top. Either it matches the pieces of the puzzle or it doesn't. Some of the wrong box tops might possibly help to put some pieces in the right place, but they always either create odd conflicts or provide very little help at all. Only the right box top will serve to reassemble the jigsaw puzzle. If Christianity is correct, then it is the box top that provides a flawless guide for all the mysterious pieces we have to the puzzle of existence and human life.

Similarly, G.K. Chesterton illustrates the challenge of the quest for a fitting philosophy by pointing out that our world is quite complicated and in many aspects, quite unexpected. The simpler something is, the more likely a mere conincidence can satisfy it. The more complicated a thing is, the more irregular a thing is, the less likely a mere coincidence can match it perfectly. For example, noticing that a human being has two eyes, two ears, two legs, two arms and two hands, which are all arranged in near symmetry might lead one to decide that the human body is symmetrical. When we discover that a person has a heart on the left side of their body, it would be perfectly rational to assume that they would also have a heart on the right side of their body. But, of course, this would also be wrong. The simple explanation doesn't fit the evidence. Likewise, if Christianity is correct, it must be right not in some simple or obvious way, but it must correctly account for the irregularites and complexities of the universe. In Chesteron's own words, "A stick might fit a hole, or a stone a hollow by accident. But a key and a lock are both complex. And if a key fits a lock, you know it is the right key."

And so it is with the case of Christianity. The real question about whether Christianity is rational is not simply whether it works for some people, or if it explains some things. If Christianity is true, then it must be true about everything. The key must fit the lock. The box top must be the correct box top if we are to solve the puzzle. Either every facet of Christianity will be correct and properly explain the universe, or Christianity is wrong. That a key almost fits the lock is no consolation at all, for the door cannot be opened. To be almost right is even worse that being very clearly wrong, for the answer which is almost right seems the most convincing. Either Christianity is true, or it isn't. If it is true, then it must make sense of every single fact of the universe. If even a single piece is actually out of place, then Christianity fails.

Before I continue to point out some compelling facts that only Christianity can explain, I would like to clarify a few things which demand my attention. First of all, I would like to mention the obvious fact that an apparent contradiction and an actual contradiction are two completely different things. If you ask me where I was on Saturday and I tell you that I was at home reading, and I also tell you that I had coffee at Starbucks, you might perceive it as an apparent contradiction. Obviously, I can't be in two places at once. If I was at Starbucks, then I can't have been at home. If I was at home, then I can't have been at Starbucks. These statements are all quite logical and valid; after all, no person can truly be in two places simultaneously. However, the apparent contradiction immediately fades upon the realization that I never claimed to be at home and at Starbucks simultaneously. Once time is accounted for, it is apparent that I was at home during one part of the day, and at Starbucks during another part of the day. I simply use this playful illustration to show that not everything that appears to be a contradiction actually is.

Secondly, I would like to return to the analogy of the jigsaw puzzle to point out that if there are any missing pieces of the puzzle, it is no fault of the box top. Though Christianity may explain everything, our lack of some critical pieces do not invalidate it's truthfulness. For example, though Christianity may explain why the world exists, why man is fundamentally different than beast and why all men have a conception of morals, it is no argument against Christianity to say that it does not explain everything fully. If one is wondering why Christianity provides no clear and conprehensive explanation for why giraffes have long necks, why people enjoy butter on their bread, and why I enjoy grape-flavored lollipops more than orange-flavored ones, that Christianity does not explain these things in comprehensive detail does not invalidate Christianity. We are simply missing a few pieces of the puzzle. However, if Christianity says that no person enjoys butter on his bread, then Christianity does not fit with our universe, for quite clearly there are a large number of people who do enjoy buttered bread.

Lastly, it may be that some people will be confused as to how I define Christianity. The Protestant reformation definitely opened the door for many various groups to present similar yet different versions of Christianity. Therefore, in order to preempt any possible confusion about what I mean when I refer to Christianity, I would like to point both to my previous post on Basic Christian Orthodoxy and to the Apostles' Creed. My case for Christianity is primarily a rational case for that short list of pivotal Christian doctrines. God exists, and is the Creator of all. Man willfully chose and continues to choose to reject God's clear command, and therefore all men are sinners both by nature and by choice. Jesus, who is God incarnate, was born of a virgin, and lived a sinless life. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin and to make salvation and redemption available to all who place their faith in Him. His bodily ressurrection, three days after His death, secured his victory over sin and death, and gives new life to all who are spiritually united with Him.

In following essays, I will briefly state the rational case for Christianity by looking at questions of metaphysics, morality, and epistemology, and then offer a short essay on why philosophical materialism, the prevalent philosophy of our day, does not properly fit the facts of our universe.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The End of Philosophy

Recently I had an intriguing conversation with a friend of mine. He is currently studying to earn his master's degree in philosophy, which is a topic that he took an interest in when he was halfway done with his undergrad degree, which was going to be in art. I've had an interest in philosophy for several years now and have quite enjoyed studying and discussing philosophy, so I was quite happy to have someone else to have lots of philosophical discussions with. We've had numerous conversations about everything from the various modern strains of existentialism, to the major worldview changes that were brought about by post-cartesian philosophy, to the expansiveness of sin as a social concept, to any one of our other deep and complicated debates. But, our latest conversation really struck me with a profound insight.

We were discussing how Wittgenstein's philosophies changed dramatically over the course of his lifetime. His early philosophical works focused on semantics and the importance of defining concepts clearly. But, his later works headed in a very different direction as he began to consider the ultimate goal of philosophy. One of the major ideas he presented is the concept that the goal of philosophy is simply to live life. More expansively, philosophy is a tool to be used to resolve challenging mental and conceptual conflicts and to find a worldview with practical implications that puts the mind to rest. Philosophy is only needed to resolve philosophical problems. In that sense, philosophy is not a goal unto itself but instead is merely a means to an end.

Interestingly enough, that sort of a conclusion about philosophy finds itself nearly unified with my own thoughts and ideas concerning philosophy. My ultimate test of any philosophy or worldview includes only two criteria. First, a philosophy must be consistent with the evidence of reality. Second, a philosophy must be practically applicable. As you can see, half of my criteria centers on the concept of practical applicability. It is for that reason that I call myself a practical philosopher. I only use philosophy to solve apparent problems, so that I can live confidently and consistently, and so I can show others the philosophical answers I have found so that they can do the same. In that regard, my purpose in utilizing philosophy is nearly identical to what Wittgenstein eventually decided it was for: to live life.

To that end, the study of philosophy isn't what it seems to be. Knowing philosophy doesn't make you smarter; it just fills your mind with a few more facts. Knowing a lot of philosophy is of no use unless you live well. Knowing little philosophy is no hindrance if you live well. What this means is that philosophy doesn't matter in the end. The entire goal of studying philosophy is the cessation of studying philosophy. One only studies philosophy so that one won't have to study it anymore. If philosophy is used for anything beyond this, then it ceases to become useful and simply becomes tedious, tiresome head-wrangling.

For too many modern people, philosophy has exceeded its rightful bounds and become exactly the sort of tedious, twisted, convoluted mind-wrangling that it was never meant to be. Last year I had an ethics professor who had exactly this sort of approach to philosophy. He was one of the kind of philosophers who values the process of inquiry and the endless discussions, but has an unhealthy disdain for answers. Never wanting to commit to any final answers, he also led his students in the endless circular quest for more answers and more answers, with a precommitment to ultimately ignore all of them. The books we read and movie clips we watched weren't being used to teach us how to live. They were being used to teach us that there are numerous points of view, which are all valuable and useful in their own right. But, to say that everything is an answer is to say that there are no answers. If 2+2=4 is correct, and 2+2=5 is correct, and 2+2=8 is correct, then there is no right answer to the math problem 2+2. If everything is right then nothing is right. By transgressing the natural bounds of philosophy, his form of philosophy became mind-twisting exercises in futility rather than equipping students to better ponder life and live well. This is a perversion of philosophy. Needless to say, I promptly dropped the class.

If the goal of philosophy is to live well, then in the end we are looking for a series of answers to practical dilemmas. In that regard, a systematic theology is the best possible set of answers to life. While it is certainly possible to seek answers to life's plethora of dilemmas one by one, having an entire set of answers to all of life's metaphysical complexities, moral problems and epistemic challenges is, if not correct, at least expedient. In that regard, Confucius' teachings are more valuable that all that Kierkegaard ever wrote. The teachings of Jesus Christ are far superior to all of Plato. Ghandi's life is more useful for showing us how to live than the entire works of Karl Marx. Knowing if taxes ought to be paid is a far more practical consideration than deciding whether there exists the perfect idea of bed, which is imperfectly conceptualized by a bed-maker and then imperfectly created by him; for we care nothing for perfect beds, but simply for sleep, whereas the question of paying taxes is a vital and practical one. Similarly, seeing a life that demonstrates the power of non-violent resistence is much more practically potent than being told that all of modern life is fundamentally a class struggle, between the haves and the have-nots. Information, unless actionable, is merely useless trivia for cocktail party conversations and crossword puzzles. For that reason, all good philosophy transcends itself and properly points a person towards living rightly.

And if a systematic theology presents answers to all the practical issues a person faces, and gives answers that are consistent with reality, then adherents of such a theology have no need for philosophy. It may be a fun diversion or a useful exercise in logic and rationality, but it is thoroughly optional. The secular humanist may need to spend his whole life seeking more answers, since he must seek them one at time with each new dilemma that arises. For the Christian, all of the answers to life are contained in the pages of Scripture. "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so", is both the foundation and the final conclusion of philosophy for a Christian. Upon that foundation rests answers to all the other multi-faceted perplexities of philosophy.

Returning to the main point of this blog, philosophy, utilized correctly, is simply the means to an end. The goal of philosophy is right living. Any other goal of philosophy leads to needless exercises in mental frustration. One only does philosophy so that he doesn't have to do philosophy anymore. The only reason a person becomes a philosopher is so that eventually he won't need to be a philosopher anymore. The end of philosophy is its own obliteration, because philosophy kills philosophy. For those who lack the answers, this happens slowly, perhaps taking more than a lifetime. For those who have found the answers, the death of philosophy is swift and sure. As the blood of philosophy is spilled, real life is no longer hindered by needless ponderation.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Preposterous Shaming Words: Narrow-minded

While there are certain times and situations where shaming may be appropriate, most attempts to verbally or socially shame another person are completely uncalled for. Today, during a discussion, someone referred to certain ideas as "narrow-minded." Strictly speaking, all that means is the the person in question didn't like the ideas. But, the word "narrow-minded" has very specific connotations attached to it, which turns such an expression from being one of simple personal distaste to verbal shaming based on the implications of a fixed standard. While the literal meaning of the term doesn't imply any shame, in today's world calling someone "narrow-minded" is a major insult, akin to calling someone a "racist," a "bigot," a "sexist" or a "homophobe." Why do we allow such a generic, yet connotation-laden word to be used? I don't know, but I certainly oppose it.

My reason for opposing it is that the word "narrow-minded" really doesn't mean anything at all. Allow me to explain. Strictly speaking, something that is narrow is limited or constricted. Therefore, narrow-minded simply means that an idea or belief is limited or constricted. Alternately, in colloquial usage, narrow-minded means that some idea or belief is inflexible, intolerant or prejudiced. As a culture, we have been conditioned to view such thinking as unreasonable and petty. We have been brainwashed into thinking of narrow-mindedness as a character flaw of the highest sort. However, simply a moment's consideration is required to dismantle this ridiculous perception. I must ask, which idea or opinion isn't narrow? Supposing that I believe the sky looks blue in the daytime, by definition my belief is exceedingly narrow. That I think the sky looks blue necessarily means that I do not think it is red, yellow, purpose, green, black, turquiose or maroon. Nor do I think that it is invisible. Similarly, my belief must be inflexible or it isn't a belief at all. If I am certain that the sky appears blue, then it would take a lot of arguing and persuading for me ever to consider changing such a belief. If I am so uncertain that I can be easily swayed, then I don't really believe the sky is blue at all. Therefore, so long as I think that the sky is blue, such a thought must intrinsically be both narrow and inflexible.

Allow me to utilize another example. Let us suppose that grape popsicles are my favorite dessert. If grape popsicles are my favorite, then it is necessarily true that no other dessert is my favorite. Key lime pie, chocolate chip cookies, rainbow sherbet and candy canes may be perfectly delicious, but none of them is my favorite. Only grape popsicles are. My taste is intrinsically narrow. Additionally, if my taste in desserts is too flexible, then the concept of favorite means almost nothing. If my favorite dessert changes ever day or two, then saying that grape popsicles are my favorite means nothing at all. Only if my preference for grape popsicles is fairly static does my preference carry weight at all. Therefore, favorites are intrinsically narrow and inflexible. Moving on to a more serious example, let us suppose that I believe murderers should be put to death. If I believe that murderers should be subjected to the death penalty, then it logically follows that I do not believe murderers should be paid to kill more people, go on vacations to Hawaii, or shop for clothes at my local Target. My belief that they should die necessarily excludes those things. Similarly, my belief must be relatively static or else it doesn't mean anything at all. My belief in the death penalty is by definition narrow and inflexible. Likewise, if you oppose the death penalty, then you believe that murderers should not be drowned, shot in the head, stabbed in heart, injected with lethal poison, nor electrified. Your opinion also is narrow, since it necessarily exlcudes a great many things, and it is inflexible, else you don't really oppose the death penalty. I could list a thousand more examples, but my simple point is this: all serious ideas, opinions, tastes and beliefs are necessarily narrow and inflexible.

Granted that all serious ideas, opinions, tastes and beliefs are necessarily narrow and inflexible, it logically follows that all is strictly meant by calling something "narrow-minded" is that it is actually a thought. Since all ideas are ideas, all opinions are opinions and all beliefs are beliefs, calling something "narrow-minded" means nothing at all. The fact that it is a word laden with connotations means that when you call something "narrow-minded" you are trying to shame the other person for holding an idea, simply on the grounds that it is an idea.

Although, there is one other way such a statement could be meant. Perhaps one is not complaining that an idea is narrow (since all ideas are), but that the given idea is narrower than it should be. For an idea to be narrower than it should be, there must exist a standard for acceptable and unacceptable amounts of narrowness. Unless this standard is fully stated and supported, then it is simply an unfounded accusation. But, it is an unfounded accusation that is usually used by people who have embraced modern political correctness and are attempting to use political correctness as the standard for any idea. In that sense, saying that someone is narrow-minded simply means that their beliefs do not conform to acceptable social norms. But why should an idea conform? Political correctness is tyrannical demagogic excrement. Political correctness is used as a shield for the fearful to live in denial of reality and socially shame others into doing the same.

Therefore, any reasonable and courageous person would do well to completely reject the idea that narrow-mindedness should be opposed or frowned upon. In its literal usage, narrow-mindedness is intrinsically unavoidance. In its colloquial usage by those who support the modern system, narrow-mindedness is generally something that should be supported and applauded, since "narrow-minded" individuals are the only ones courageous enough to step outside of the box, think for themselves, say what's on their minds and question popular consensus. As a non-conformist, I take pride in being called narrow-minded or having people object to certain ideas I have. Holding "narrow-minded" ideas is the only way to move towards reform, oppose democratic tyranny, and fight for liberty and justice. When I do dicuss ideas with people I disagree with, I use logic and rationality to oppose their ideas, and don't stoop to using cowardly tactics like simple name-calling and shaming. No reasonable, courageous, logical person should ever refer to another person or idea as "narrow-minded."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Do It Again!

A couple weeks ago I re-read G.K. Chesterton's literary masterpiece, Orthodoxy. It's a book that I read once a year, and its pages are so full of wit and verbal brilliance that I am always struck with new thoughts and ideas. The book itself is fairly short, but thoroughly enjoyable from cover to cover. Rather than using dull and dry arguments for why Christianity must be true, he recounts his own personal religious journey using a plethora of vivid word pictures and imaginative metaphors. As a scholar, he possesses a remarkable grasp of knowledge concerning a vast array of subjects, and yet, as a wordsmith, every single illustration, citation and explanation in the book is presented using words that are both a pleasurae to ponder and a joy to quote. But, I digress. The point of this blog is to express one train of thought that Chesterton adeptly conveys, which I felt to be quite stirring. In fact, the immense pleasure I derive from reading and re-reading Orthodoxy is a prime example of the supreme enjoyment that Chesterton suggests is the deepest meaning of a childlike delight in repetition. Chesterton writes:

All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance. This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact. For the variation in human affairs is generally brought about, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still. But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness. The very speed and ecstacy of his life would have the stillness of death. The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises reguarly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life.
There are several ideas and themes touched on in this little paragraph, yet that one idea really jumped out at me. The idea that a rejoicing in monotony could be such a positive thing almost seems an oxymoron. After all, the very word monotony has many negative connotations attached to it. Monotony seems to lead inevitably to boredom. A teacher or speaker who speaks in a monotone is the most dull and unexciting sort to listen to. Monochrome movies aren't nearly as rich and sensually appealing as films in color. My first thoughts were that monotony couldn't possibly be a good thing. After all, it is commonly said that variety is the spice of life. It would seem that the key to an excess of life and joy would be an abundance of variety and not an excess of repetition. Yet, as I got beyond my initial thoughts and began to ponder Chesterton's little idea, the more true it seemed--beyond true, it seemed incontrovertible! Many of the highest pleasures in life are things that we do again and again. While you might watch a movie you enjoy once or twice, any movie that you love you will inevitably watch many times and perhaps memorize all the key lines. While I have fairly broad tastes in music and listen to all sorts of tunes, the albums I listen to most frequently are the ones from my favorite band; I listen to them again and again because they are thoroughly delightful to me. Your closest friends are the people that you want to see again and again, while the friends you're not as attached to you only see occasionally. Indeed, while there are many enjoyable things that one does only once, all of the most enjoyable activities are the things one does repeatedly. Chesterton builds his idea even more:

The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absense, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. Heaven may encore the bird who laid an egg. If the human being conceives and brings forth a human child instead of bringing forth a fish, or a bat, or a griffin, the reason may not be that we are fixed in an animal fate without life or purpose. It may be that our little tragedy has touched the gods, that they admire it from their starry galleries, and that at the end of every human drama man is called again and again before the curtain. Repetition may go on for millions of years, by mere choice, and at any instant it may stop. Man may stand on the earth generation after generation, and yet each birth be his positively last appearance.
It is fascinating to realize that children are more simply entertained and amused than adults. The young are more easily delighted with simpler things, and willing to do them longer and more often because of the joy they take in such things. Adults are quickly bored, and have such high expectations towards people and experiences that few can satisfy. Especially in affluent modern America, we are so used to having the best that anything ordinary seems almost too plain to enjoy. It does take a certain strength and a certain mindset to exult in monotony. Yet, the reward for such inner strength is continually joy. Looking it from that perspective, boredom clearly reveals a failure of perspective, a lack of desire or expectations that are too high. Chasing after pleasure by trying new things constantly and seeking entertainment frantically is utterly the wrong way to go about finding joy and delight. While there is a measure of happiness found in enjoying new things, the most enjoyable things are those that we do again. Trying a new frozen yogurt shop may result in a measure of pleasure. But, revisiting your favorite frozen yogurt shop will be a much more enjoyable experience. Listening to new music will be fun, but listening to music that you already love won't disappoint. Making new friends is fun, but spending time with people you already love will inevitably be a joyous celebration of kinship. While dating many women brings a certain amount of pleasure, there is greater joy to be found in marrying one amazing woman than the eternal philanderer will ever find. Trying many different kinds of art is pleasurable, but mastering your favorite form of art is even more wonderful. The same can be said about nearly all other realms of human experience.

Our experience of life will be much richer when we adopt a childlike attitude of delight in doing the same wonderful things again and again. "Do it again" is the ultimate cry of delight in a person, thing or experience! How much happier we would be if we chose to exult in monotony and if every single day were lived as an encore to the previous one! And that is why I read Orthodoxy every year. It is one of those supreme delights in my life. Not once have I been disappointed by reading it; instead, every time I read it I am mesmerized again and filled with a greater appreciation of the whole of life!