Unlimited permission to data mine everything we share
And, because we’re all doing this, they play us against each other. We distract each other, while they keep cashing ginormous checks. While billions of us share our lives together on social media, we are the largest free workforce in history.
Of course, the irony is: I have to share this on social media because we’re all there.
Free may not be such a great deal for us after all.
Everyone’s heard this cultural mantra: our feelings define our identity. According to pop-culture wisdom, truth itself is created and validated by our feelings. We must listen to and act upon our emotions, as they are the most authentic part of who we are. Just remember this verse and chorus from the most popular psalm of this doctrine-defining movie, Frozen:
Don’t let them in,
don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel,
don’t let them know
Well now they know
Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care
what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway
Elsa couldn’t hold back her feelings because they were the truest part of her identity. The story shows her parents reacting to her powers with the untenable command: “conceal, don’t feel.” When Elsa finally “can’t hold it back anymore,” she releases the “real her,” full of power and glamor and no limits. What an attractive message!
I come from a long line of Oregon wheat farmers. I tasted my heritage when Dad sent my teenage self away from my comfortable middle-class city life to hoe weeds around hundreds of acres of hot, arid, Eastern Oregon fields with my uncles and cousins. I’m grateful now, though I wasn’t then, for the front-line exposure to my family’s history. It cultivated (nice pun!) some of the honor of being a Smith within me.
I realize now that Dad taught me nobility. I learned that Smith men are hard workers. We keep our word. We are responsible. We make plans and follow through. He especially taught me that Smith men treat women, all women, with respect and honor. Continue reading →
Do you ever feel like the problems of the world are so overwhelming, there’s nothing you can do?
I’ve felt that way—consumed by fear of the future with a paralyzing inability to know what to do about it. Want to know the positive difference I made in the world while I was feeling that way? Not much.
Imagine a war between two forces. One army deploys a weapon against the other that, instead of blowing them up, it warps their minds. It makes the other army fight against anything except their real enemy. They fight themselves, they fight things that aren’t real, or they get so overwhelmed that they give up. The first army would win the war with little physical effort, since their deception would make the other army destroy itself.
If you knew you were in that second army, being inoculated against a real enemy, would you want to know? Would you do something about it?
I think many of us are living like we are in that second army, unable to make positive changes that may require a battle because we are too distracted, or overwhelmed, or apathetic.
Is 2016’s newest holiday toy craze a Trojan horse Penguala, threatening to ensnare millions of unsuspecting children?
Kids worldwide are begging Santa to bring them clever, cute, and harmless-looking toys called Hatchimals. Following similarly hyped interactive toys like Furby and Tamagotchi, Hatchimals simulate a real, ongoing relationship with their young owners.
With stores running very low on supplies of Hatchimals, the online auction market is seeing prices range from $150-$500+ for these ordinarily $50 toys. What is driving this incredible demand? What has hatched the desire in so many kids that drives their parents to blow their budget for the latest fad?
Before Christmas comes, will there be violence in the aisles over whether your child gets Owlicorn or Draggles?
On the surface, Hatchimals seem sweet, innocent, and harmless. As a dad of four grown daughters, I think my girls would have enjoyed one of these lovable toys, and I may have wanted to give them one.
However, the hidden risk of following the Hatchimals craze is the loss of your child’s ability to freely think for themselves, to become all they are made to be, and to apply their God-given gifts to help meet the world’s great needs.
I can remember wanting Fruity Pebbles for breakfast as a child. The Flintstone family, from the 60’s-era cartoon, were my frequent TV friends, and they loved Fruity Pebbles. So of course, I loved them too. On the rare occasion that my Mom bought them, I devoured bowl after bowl. As a kid, I never connected how yucky I felt an hour or two after eating sugary cereal. I just knew I wanted those tasty Pebbles, and that’s all that mattered.
Why did I want that cereal? Was it because it was good for me? Certainly not. (There is no fruit in Fruity Pebbles—it’s debatable whether it’s even food.) Would it give me the ability to meet my 7-year-old goals of being able to run faster or play longer? Not in my experience.
If you were being programmed to believe something that wasn’t true, and that lie was leading you to a harmful end, would you want to know? If there was an agenda to lead you to abandon reality and ultimately give up your freedom, would you be upset?
Many scientifically-minded people claim that mankind does not have free will. Instead, they say that all of our choices are determined by physical laws, and our perception of free will is an illusion. I hope to show that this claim is either false, or if it’s true then we can’t know it, because it is self-refuting.
In his bestselling book, Free Will, atheist neuroscientist Sam Harris boldly proclaims that our perception of free will is an illusion. He begins by telling the story of a heinous series of murders committed by two psychopaths. Dr. Harris then explains that if he had the same genes, upbringing, environment, and brains as these men, he would have also committed the same crimes. He says:
As sickening as I find their behavior, I have to admit that if I were to trade places with one of these men, atom for atom, I would be him: There is no extra part of me that could decide to see the world differently or to resist the impulse to victimize other people. Free Will (p. 4)
This is a compelling argument. It reminds me of Star Trek’s transporter: a person’s atoms are beamed across vast distances, and when they rematerialize, they are still the same person as before. If my atoms were converted into the atoms of another person, I’d be that person.
As president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, you have exercised significant influence over the direction of the modern evangelical Christian landscape. Your leadership is also recognized outside the church, as attested in a 2003 Time magazine article which called you the “reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S.”
When we consider ultimate questions, everyone has a starting place. Popular options include tradition, experience, preferences, and feelings. Others start with the Bible, but with all of the issues the Bible addresses, what should be considered foundational?
The good editors at the Conditional Immortality Association of New Zealand graciously posted my latest paper as a three-part series on their website. The article is my attempt to show that the Eternal Purpose of God is a valid foundational starting place for interpreting other truths. While the series ends by applying God’s eternal purpose as a lens to interpret last things, I hope you’ll be able to see how the knowledge of God’s eternal purpose provides context through which you can interpret many other ideas, teachings, doctrines, and practices.
Please enjoy, and share them if you find them valuable. I’d love to hear your feedback, whether as comments here or on their website.