Tuesday, April 17, 2007

the great dish debate

when you wash dishes (not in a dishwasher), do you wash them with clean water or with dirty water? (i've had this conversation with a few people and it always seems to go nowhere. by putting it online i can ensure having all the talk time to myself, as well as the last word.)

most people fill up the sink with clean water and a few squirts of detergent. then they proceed to wash each dish in the soapy water which, as expected, gets dirtier and dirtier with every dish cleaned. that process doesn't get anything clean, save for the few at the beginning that actually got the clean water. how can something get clean if the water rinsing it is full of food? you're basically washing a dish with soup. dinner soup. (dinner soup is made by mixing assorted pieces of whatever-you-had-for-dinner into a soapy water base.)

the same principle goes for taking baths. whoever thought up the sick and twisted idea of bathing for cleanliness should be made to bathe in his own sweat. what good will it do you to wash off the day's dirt, sweat and grime, and then sit in it?? worse yet, why would you use that dirty sweaty grimy water to "wash" off the rest of your poor body? you're just relocating your dandruff to the rest of your body, and, bonus! your foot fungus can get into your ears too. what a nice relaxing way to end your day.

i don't care how much soap you dump into the tub or the sink, it doesn't change the amount of gunk floating around in there. my mom believes that liquid soap in dirty water actually cleans the water itself, neutralizing germs and even liquefying food particles. she used to get upset with me when i'd do the dishes, because i liked them to be clean at the end. she thought i took way too long. (then she'd usually end up doing them herself, and i was okay with that because it DID take a long time.)

here's how i would (and do) wash the dishes in the absence of a dishwasher (and, might i add, ONLY in the absence of a dishwasher). put a tiny dribble of soap on the dirty dish. wash the dish with a clean rag or sponge. rinse the dish with clean water. set it aside to dry. repeat with each dish.

those who mock me are quick to point out that this wastes water. my response: are you really willing to sacrifice cleanliness for an infinitesimal decrease in your water bill? you can use old water to wash your toilet or the garage floor if you want, but your dishes?? the scoffers and doubters also think my way is too much work, boo hoo hoo. no, i don't enjoy handling the soap bottle 25 times, but i enjoy eating with particle-free tableware. i suppose cleanliness is a losing fight, though...anyone who tries to clean themselves with their own grime won't be persuaded to wash dishes correctly.

Friday, April 13, 2007

justice >=< mercy

Micah 6:8 (NAS) What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

we all probably know that verse or sing it or have it on a frame or magnet. it's one of those popular verses that everyone seems to know. and, it is one of my favorite verses. i've always liked it because like a sieve, it filters out all traces of legalistic and insincere "religion," and we're left with the unadulterated, timeless Message. law is nothing, and right living towards God is all.

i've recently been wondering again: how do the concepts of Mercy and Justice relate to each another? and, like we're commanded to do in that verse, how can we have both Justice and Mercy? how does our understanding of those qualities affect how we live?

maybe my judgment is skewed by the fact that sometimes i read Machiavelli at bedtime. :) but, it's always seemed to me that Mercy is basically the antithesis or counterpoint to Justice...like they are mutually exclusive. for example, in my mind, while it might be Merciful to let a young, scared father off for stealing food for his family, it is certainly not Just...because Justice seems to demand that he pay the full penalty for his crime, regardless of circumstances. and when someone has wronged me, Mercy asks me to forgive, while at the same time Justice urges that they be amply punished for what they've done. so you see my mental dilemma...when one is present, the other apparently can't be.

i may have said this to some of you before. but, when i looked up the word "justice" for purposes of a different study (that became forgotten at the time), it almost always appears in the context of justice to the poor, to the widows and to the downtrodden. not to the offenders, the murderers and the sinners. which kind of blows my mind, because Justice seems so...hard, fast, sturdy, and set in stone, like laws. that's what it reminds me of: laws. the cold, hard hand of justice (you know, Republicanism and political realism), tempered by soft, compassionate Mercy (like liberalism and universal health care and such).

we'll come back to that in a second. Micah 6:8 has also gotten me to pondering the multifaceted nature of God. keep in mind that God is Just and Merciful, and a lot of other things too...in perfect, complete, complementary equality. no characteristic can override or trump another. so while Justice requires that God to punish us for our sins, his Mercy compels him to offer a way out. Mercy always seems to get the last word. should we conclude that Justice is not being done; that our God can't be both? no. somehow they coexist.

there's something else that's hard to accept, because it's a little ironic. while my nature would rather someone be brought to Justice than handed Mercy, i'll admit: i'm really glad God had Mercy towards all of us and chose to offer the gift of salvation.

so, the question is, how could i call that gift unjust? because like i said before, it's unjust to allow people to not pay the penalty for their transgression. right? but shoot, if God has done it, it is Just already. so there is no question. God can be perfectly Just and perfectly Merciful at the same time.

(it still doesn't seem Just, from my admittedly un-divine perspective, to allow one person to take the penalty for another. it just doesn't seem right. i know Christ was perfect. but the whole principle is something i don't understand. it just plain seems wrong. i'm sure there are multitudes of philosophies that try to ration this out but i haven't read them.)

so when i have Mercy towards someone, how can i not undermine the equally divine ideal of Justice (and vice versa)? as i am not perfect not all-powerful, and my character elements do not perfectly harmonize with each other...how does this work out in my everyday life? are my concepts of Justice and Mercy are flawed? it was pointed out to me that when i say Justice, it sounds as though i actually mean Judgement. of course Judgement cannot work very well with Mercy.

someone else said that we should all view Justice through the eyes of Mercy. or, allow Mercy to temper and direct the Justice we seek. i think this might be the key. because it seems like Justice can never be un-merciful, or it would somehow not be Just. and i think Mercy must always have the aim of Justice. so Justice is the higher, more "authoritative" attribute.

so Justice not only allows Mercy, but encompasses it. anytime we carry out an act of Mercy, it is to be within the scope of Justice. and anytime we act out Justice, it should be through the "glasses" of Mercy, like our Savior who, lest we forget, had perfect, divine Mercy on us all.

i still wish i knew what the balance was, or what exactly it looks like. and by this point you have probably figured out that i do NOT have all the answers. (i figure can get you to read more if i don't tell you that until the end. sorry to keep you.) so, any comments or additional thoughts are, as always, more than welcome.

Matthew 23:23 (NLT) What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

creepy brain stuff

have you ever thought that maybe your brain doesn't work right? but you wouldn't know, because it's your own brain? i'm not talking about something like the matrix, where someone else is controlling or guiding you without you knowing. i'm talking about memory problems, or psychological disorders, that result in all kinds of really weird stuff.

i was just reading an article that talked about amnesia. do people with certain kinds of amnesia know they have it? do they realize that they can't remember stuff?

what about people who are mentally handicapped, to whatever degree? do they realize their brains don't work properly? do they think they are regular, functioning citizens?

the obvious point here is, is our own perspective accurate? did you ever think that maybe you're actually in some institution somewhere, but you don't know it? because your mind is perceiving it as normal, as regular everyday life, and it seems free and open to you, because something is wrong with you.

i'm not trying to make this deeper than it needs to be (i'm not about to wonder about the nature of reality and truth and false memory and all that), but all i'm wondering is, if they think the world is normal, and that THEY are normal, then we could be in the same boat and we wouldn't know.

kind of along the same lines (but also totally different), do you ever think about the fact that our own minds don't understand our own minds? brain surgeons don't understand everything about brains, even though their own brains are the ones trying to figure it out. and, it's my brain that tells my heart to keep beating, but even though it's MY OWN brain, i, MYSELF, can't tell my heart to turn off.

any correlating thoughts about brains, minds, consciousness, subconsciousness, sigmund freud, memory, perspective, wikipedia, a basketball, What About Bob, death, the difference between psychologists and psychiatrists, the bible, God, abortion, evolution, Archaeopteryx, the left wing media, indie movies, dreams, clowns, M. Night Shyamalan, history, truth, or reality are welcome.

now if you'll excuse me, my friend in the white jacket is saying i need to get back to that nice basket i've been weaving.

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