God is real, and He is good

We believe in one God,

the Father almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,

begotten from the Father before all ages,

God from God,

Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made;

of the same essence as the Father.

Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation

he came down from heaven;

he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,

and was made human.

He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered and was buried.

The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.

He ascended to heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again with glory

to judge the living and the dead.

His kingdom will never end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord, the giver of life.

He proceeds from the Father and the Son,

and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.

He spoke through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.

We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,

and to life in the world to come. Amen.

The more you study happiness, the more you uncover about the nature of happiness, going past the simple pleasures and understanding virtue, the more one image starts to stand out. God. Christianity is about happiness. This episode is about both. I’m going to explain Christianity. More than for you, this is for me. I want to reason some things out.

How do you be happy? Easy, just stop wanting things. The promotion, the new car, the six pack of abs, the girl. When you don’t want things, you are happy. It’s so simple.

How do you stop wanting things? The stoics said to practice discipline. The stoics were a smart bunch. “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.” – Seneca.

Smart people, talented people, people with everything, have said to be virtuous. “Recommend virtue to your children; it alone, not money, can make them happy. I speak from experience.” – Beethoven.

Jesus, Christians, and other religious people have recommended virtue, which is the antithesis of vice. Many Christians were very smart.

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” – Acts 2:38.

Most of religion is exactly this. The scripture is a how-to guide on how to be happy. Being virtuous is hard. It takes practice. Religion gives us a helping hand. God gives us strength. We ask him for strength. He reminds us when we slip, and he’s there to reward us when we do the right thing.

What’s the right thing? Being virtuous, following his commandments, not giving into vice. Be like Jesus. When we want to behave like Jesus, we want to be virtuous. When we want to be virtuous, we should try to act virtuous – like Jesus. When we act like Jesus, we do all the things that will keep us happy. Not just a momentary pleasure, but an unbreakable joy – that no one can take away from you.

Wisdom is happiness. YOLO is not. Don’t live life fast chasing fun will not lead to happiness. It will feel good, but the thrill is addicting, and mental addiction is the opposite of wisdom. John Milton said, “He who reigns within himself and rules passions, desires, and fears is more than a king.” The goal of wisdom – and the result, is everlasting mental, and spiritual freedom. I said that Christianity is about happiness. Well, Christianity is about wisdom.

Let’s dissect the Nicene Creed I started this with.

We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things seen and unseen.

We believe in one God. Not many. To believe in more than one god, as the pagan religions preach, is false for multiple reasons. One, the scriptures, the written testimony of those that preceded and followed Jesus, the ultimately wise being, say otherwise. And, as Christians, we believe Jesus was ultimately wise.

The second reason is secular. If you believe in multiple gods, you necessarily diminish the divine power associated with the one God. To honor multiple gods is to not be holding the priorities and honor of the one God as your ultimate priority. So don’t do it.

The pagan gods play a large part in the history of the world and the forming of religions and even in the Christian canon. This is because the pagan gods of the Greeks, Romans, Norse and others are used as an example to highlight the beauties of the world. The poetry muses, the hero warriors, and the gods of various natural elements – Aurora with her rose red hair – these are all used to paint a beautiful picture of human and nonhuman elements of life. However, when it comes to wisdom and eternal happiness, none of these gods hold a candle to the truth and beauty offered by the Christian God.

In fact, like idolizing anything – whether a career, a pretty girl, or you, the pagan gods offered a distraction from ultimate wisdom, and with that, ultimate happiness. If we focus our attention on becoming strong or pretty or artistic, this isn’t a bad thing necessarily. But it does take away from the attention we show to God – the attention we show to wisdom, and happiness right now.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made human. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried. The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.

CS Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:

“The teacher is able to form the letters for the child because the teacher is grown-up and knows how to write. That, of course, makes it easier for the teacher, and only because it is easier for him can he help the child. If it rejected him because “it’s easy for grown-ups” and waited to learn writing from another child who could not write itself (and so had no “unfair” advantage), it would not get on very quickly. If I am drowning in a rapid river, a man who still has one foot on the bank may give me a hand which saves my life. Ought I to shout back (between my gasps) “No, it’s not fair! You have an advantage! You’re keeping one foot on the bank”? That advantage—call it “unfair” if you like—is the only reason why he can be of any use to me. To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?”

Jesus proved the existence of Heaven when he rose from the dead. We are told this from the authority that is the Gospels and other scriptures. I often refer to authority as a bad thing. “Challenge authority.’ “Make your own decisions.” But we all believe, and must believe authority to some extent. Life would be chaos otherwise. To quote CS Lewis one more time,

“Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority. I believe there is such a place as New York. I have not seen it myself. I could not prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of the blood on authority—because the scientists say so.”

We trust authority. Even the most punk rock teenagers trust some authority. It just may not align with the authority you follow. This leaves us with a choice. We can choose the authority that is God and his followers that profess their own Gospels of the truth. Or, we can believe those who disagree. When it comes to science it gets tricky. The goal of Christianity is eternal happiness through not wanting things but instead honoring God. The goal of science is to make possible our wants and desires. So while scientific facts are not wrong, neither is that which I’m saying about God and which the Gospels have reported. You and I can live in the material world but live for the immaterial. And we should.

We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and to life in the world to come. Amen.

One of the virtues that is unique to Christianity is hope. This is a theological virtue, meaning it exists outside of the simply human virtues such as chastity and humility. In hope we look forward to more great things. Dante had many levels to his Heaven, and without hope we imit ourselves to the greatness available. Again, in secular speak, we limit our own happiness by not living virtuously, including with hope.

To hope, as a virtue, is not to have a Disney fantasy about the world or the after-life. Hope is to believe in the spiritual truths accounted for in the Bible. It is to understand the nature of happiness – all that I’ve said already, and to understand there is the ability to be more. You can be more virtuous, a better Christian, with more of Heaven to love. You can be happier.

I used to be an atheist. I was guided by truth and science. Those were my religions. I thought happiness was the ability to overcome my fears. But John Milton didn’t stop his saying when he called us to conquer our fears. He told us to overcome our passions and our desires as well.

I didn’t want to believe the poet. I worked so hard to become sexy and strong. Now he was telling me not to indulge in the passions that I’d worked so hard to become sexy so that I could indulge. Deep down, I knew he was right. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to have sex with women just because I could. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to sell a product for profit to someone who doesn’t need it, but that person hopes it will make them happier.

So, I started following the advice of the great poet. I read the Bible and loved it for the wisdom and the stories. Then I read Christian literature. The CS Lewis, Aquinas, and others. I started going to church. I loved everything that I was reading, and I saw the wisdom of it. As I outlined above, I came to understand happiness from a secular point of view. It kept leading more and more towards the teachings of Christianity. I was an atheist, but now God was closer than ever.

The last thing I did was to want Christianity. To want to be Christian is to want to love God. It’s to want to live virtuously so that we don’t want things. To honor the theological virtues of faith, charity, and, discussed, hope. Knowing these virtues are incredibly difficult, and wanting the support of God to help us stick to it. It was wanting to be Christian, more than anything, that made me Christian. It was this wanting, with the understanding of happiness and Christianity, that made me love God above all else.

God is real and omniscient.  A common argument is why do bad things happen if God knows they’re going to – if he has the power to stop them?  Choosing God must be voluntary. There has to be a choice involved. If there isn’t, we are all just robots on autopilot. What’s the point of that? There’s no honor there. But if we choose to honor God, when there’s so much else we can choose – powerful, tempting options, then there is glory.

This is also why forcing Christianity doesn’t work. Since it requires voluntary submission, this must be allowed at the individual level and societal level. A Big Brother government from Orwell did not allow Christianity, but it forced virtue. The virtue is meaningless if it is forced – again there is no honor or strength required.

So too the Nazis prescribed a Christian society. When Christianity is forced, it takes away the internal choice. By forcing the external, they made the internal less likely. Loving God isn’t just going through the motions. It’s about complete, voluntary submission to the greatness of God.

I leave you with a call to action. Stop wanting things, so that you will be happy today. If you want that, and it is very difficult, look to God for strength. Love God. Amen.

Thoughts on wisdom

  • Wisdom is happiness. 
  • YOLO is not. Don’t live life fast chasing fun will not lead to happiness. It will feel good, but the thrill is addicting, and mental addiction is the opposite of wisdom. 
  • The goal of wisdom – and the result, is everlasting mental, and spiritual freedom. 
  • To start, think about what makes you happy. Seek to understand that. 
  • But, go deeper than that. Seek to overcome the insecurities that are keeping you from being happy – why do you want what you want? 
  • Got to be confident to do that. So find something to be confident in. 
  • Build a skill. A sport, play an instrument, write or paint, box or wrestle. If you don’t know what to do, get good at lifting weights. 
  • If you do have a hobby and skill you work at, you should still lift weights. 
  • Be positive. 
  • You can always choose your attitude. Choosing to be angry toward others is a deadly sin – meaning it destroys the soul. 
  • The soul is your capacity to be happy. Don’t destroy it. 
  • Also, being positive is just fun. Other people appreciate it. 
  • Develop social skills. Learn to talk to strangers, flirt, speak. Practice. 
  • Social skills aren’t completely necessary to develop wisdom. But you need to have monk-like discipline if you plan to develop wisdom without social skill. These skills help with confidence, pressing others to learn from their wisdom and challenge your own, overcoming insecurities, and finding love. 
  • Social skills, like all skills, develop with repetition. 
  • But not mindless repetition. Old people hit the Elliptical machine all the time and don’t lose weight. People drive every day and remain awful drivers. 
  • Conscious thought needs to go into your reps. You get stronger at the gym by adding weight to the barbell. You become better at skills by thinking about your failures and doing it differently next time. 
  • Social skills, overcoming wants, everything I talk about here, requires work. Most of it is internal, rather than external. 
  • External work can take away from internal work that’s more important. Don’t let it. 
  • Don’t be slothful. 
  • John Milton said, “He who reigns within himself and rules passions, desires, and fears is more than a king.” 
  • Insecurities are fears. Am I good enough for him? Am I good enough for her? Don’t have any of these. 
  • It’s only after you overcome your insecurities that you know the “real you”. 
  • Don’t be arrogant, vain. While it is not weakness in ability, it presents a weakness of the mind, and the spirit. 
  • Be honest in all you do. 
  • That’s why “just act yourself” is poor advice, unless you’re so wise as to understand it means to act uninhibited, with virtue and courage. 
  • Virtue? How’s that fit in? 
  • The first part of John Milton’s speech – passions, desires. Money, fame, women, drugs, rock n roll, status. Power. These are all things we get passionate about, that instill desire. That desire seeks to have power over us. 
  • That desire – that temptation toward passion or things or feelings, in Christian terms, is demonic. The demon tempts. 
  • Christianity is true. 
  • When someone or something has power over us, we aren’t free to live how we want. 
  • Institutions, people, do not have your interest in mind. 
  • They are out to profit, to meet an admissions metric, and to look good for their boss. Mostly, they are out to make themselves look good to others so that they then feel good. 
  • The narcissist, the adolescent, does this. He puts on an external appearance to protect an inner ego. Without the good looks, the money, the status, the narcissist is alone. And the narcissist is not cool with that. 
  • Do not envy what others have. 
  • The wise man is happy alone. He is content with what he has, no matter how much or little. 
  • Material things – promiscuous sex, status, wealth – these are all advertised to us because they feel good. Because they make us feel good, when we are rewarded with these pleasures, it doesn’t make us not want them, it makes us want more. 
  • “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” – Mark 10:25
  • Do not be gluttonous. 
  • When something internal has power over us, we aren’t free to feel how we want. 
  • Our own psychology doesn’t have our interest in mind. I’m interested in happiness. Our own psychology drives us to survive and reproduce, not to be happy. 
  • Intimacy is a great thing. But it can distract from internal wisdom. Don’t let it. Enjoy your relationships, enjoy sex. But don’t be left wanting. 
  • Never want. Never lust. 
  • “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” – Matthew 7:13
  • Most of us work our whole lives at a corporation so we can retire in a modest home and live like bums – sleeping in, reading, writing, hanging with family, and fishing. You can do that now. 
  • There’s an old fable of an Indian Chief. “Indian Chief “Two Eagles was asked by a white U.S. government official, “You have observed the white man for 90 years.  You’ve seen his wars and his technological advances. You’ve seen his progess, and the damage he’s done.” 

The Chief nodded in agreement.

The official continued, “Considering all these events, in your opinion, where did the white man go wrong?”

The Chief stared at the government official then replied,

“When white man find land, Indians running it, no taxes, no debt, plenty buffalo, plenty beaver, clean water.  Women do all the work, medicine man free, Indian man spend all day hunting and fishing all night having sex.”

Then the Chief leaned back and smiled, “Only white man dumb enough to think he could improve system like that.”

  • That’s how the proverb ends. I propose an addendum. 
  • “Then the white man leaned back and smiled, “Only Indian man dumb enough to think he could maintain a beautiful system like that without having to fight for it.” 
  • You can be happy by yourself, meditating and virtuous, but the system you create that allows for that can come under threat. You can be happy, but if you want more people to experience that happiness, you need to help them. 
  • Material power doesn’t bring freedom. 
  • “Thereupon many statesmen and philosophers came to Alexander with their congratulations, and he expected that Diogenes of Sinope also, who was tarrying in Corinth, would do likewise. But since that philosopher took not the slightest notice of Alexander, and continued to enjoy his leisure in the suburb Craneion, Alexander went in person to see him, and he found him lying in the sun. Diogenes raised himself up a little when he saw so many people coming towards him, and fixed his eyes upon Alexander. And when that monarch addressed him with greetings, and asked if he wanted anything, “Yes,” said Diogenes, “stand a little out of my sun.” It is said that Alexander was so struck by this, and admired so much the haughtiness and grandeur of the man who had nothing but scorn for him, that he said to his followers, who were laughing and jesting about the philosopher as they went away, “But truly, if I were not Alexander, I wish I were Diogenes.” and Diogenes replied “If I wasn’t Diogenes, I would be wishing to be Diogenes too.” – Wikipedia
  • How do you remove the shackles of passion and desire? 
  • Don’t be greedy. Stop wanting things. 
  • How do you stop wanting things? 
  • The stoics said to practice discipline. The stoics were very smart. 
  • “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.” – Seneca
  • Smart people, talented people, people with everything, have said to be virtuous. 
  • “Recommend virtue to your children; it alone, not money, can make them happy. I speak from experience.” – Beethoven
  • Jesus, Christians, and other religious people have recommended virtue, which is the antithesis of vice. Many Christians were very smart. 
  • “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” – Acts 2:38
  • Most of religion is exactly this. The scripture is a how-to guide on how to be happy. 
  • Being virtuous is hard. It takes practice. Religion gives us a helping hand. 
  • God gives us strength. We ask him for strength. He reminds us when we slip, and he’s there to reward us when we do the right thing. 
  • What’s the right thing? Being virtuous, following his commandments, not giving into vice. 
  • Be like Jesus. 
  • When we want to behave like Jesus, we want to be virtuous. 
  • When we want to be virtuous, we should try to act virtuous – like Jesus. 
  • When we act like Jesus, we do all the things that will keep us happy. 
  • Not just a momentary pleasure, but an unbreakable joy – that no one can take away from you. 
  • It’s everlasting joy. It’s heaven on Earth. And God is with you. 

A Demon’s Story

A demon spawns

A child is born at least as free as any

He smiles and laughs and with others he plays

Not burdened by fear or insecurity 

Then he starts to go a different way

 

Hormones kick in and then he wants the girl

He sees a scanty dressed one on tv

Father comments that she’d be quite a whirl

Two demons seek inside his soul to see

 

Weakness’s an invite heard by evil ears

But weakness is called strength by his own dad

Wanting to look good to his dad and peers

The boy decides he wants the girl unclad

 

In seed of want the demon makes his home

Grows wants and fears the boy will always own.

 

Child without demons

Born of parents in a small Christian home

He wakes before the sun and starts to play

Play and wonder are all that’s on his dome

Nothing bothers him in any way

 

He rides his bike in the neighborhood

Then sets up toys and has them fight

Ties a dead snail to a firecracker 

And gets the little fuse ready to ignite

 

There’s so much to do it’s hard to be bored

Left alone with nothing but sticks and stones

Transformed to pirates raiding foreign shores

Burying the dead’s dismembered bones

 

No insecurity and not a fool

But demons wait for him to come to school.

 

Hormonal Teenager

The summer of freedom comes to an end

Middle is over and high school starts

Homecoming and prom right around the bend

And drinking and smoking in public parks

 

The girls bodies begin to develop

The boys’ delay but their interest does not

A few muster courage to say what’s up

But mostly the couples look over in want

 

This is all natural and good and fine

Until enter pics from web and tv 

A demon snake slithering on the vine

To deliver the apple from the tree

 

There’s little protecting the innocent 

When corporate execs must pay their rent. 

 

Adult fully demon

He goes to the office to make his bread 

Targeting minds to make another sale

When other products they can choose instead 

Quarterly figures’  th’only Mary hailed

 

Happy hour begins at the bar or home

Fi’lls his glass with Jamison and coke

It helps him feel different than a drone

Makes fun of colleagues that try to say no

 

Every Friday night he hits the bar

Buys drinks for his boys and ladies unmet

He tells them he can play a sweet guitar

And tries to convince them to get undressed

 

Not using any higher faculty

Attracting more society casualties.

 

Adult repents

Happiness the goal was never achieved

Doubting everything he’d ever been told

He’s told to try out Christianity

And try to let a new story unfold

 

His old habits since childhood are ingrained

But trusting the source he decides

That with virtue and trust in God’s aid

He’ll cast out the demons that lay inside

 

He brushes the dust off his old Bible

The words of the old prayers start to come back

Renounces old material idols

Sincere he modifies the way he acts

 

Deciding to put his trust in the Lord

He’ll never again be alone or bored.

 

Devil be gone

The man is daily reminded of sin

Easy to spot in ads fashion and sorts

It takes newfound strength and believing in 

God to not give in to lusty consort

 

He wills it and remains forever strong

Spots the demons inside him but he trusts

In God which makes him feel he does belong

To something better than these demon lusts

 

Harder than anything he’s ever done

Like Job he’s torn from all he knew and loved

Like Job he’s not deterred and is now one

With Christ and accepts the symbolic dove

 

One with the Lord Job is granted heaven

Not held by worldly chains or whims of men.

Stupid Believers

This was fun to write. 

It’s interesting how propaganda works. How many of you are religious? Believers of a book written 2000 years ago, long before modern science began to uncover worldly truths? 

I’m on your side here. Let’s make fun of the rest of the world. 

Religious propaganda has influenced billions of people. It influenced the founding fathers of the United States and it influenced the Bible Belt – the southern states that are stereotyped as not being as intelligent as us on the coasts. 

It’s the atheists, the agnostics, the non-believers, that are better than this cheap propaganda. 

Sorry, “better than”. 

You see, atheists, and the classes they populate, fall prey to another kind of propaganda. Advertising. 

These dumb hicks from ‘bama and east California, they don’t fall prey to your ads. They see an ad for an iPhone 13 and say, “Y’all don’t need that, y’already got a phone. That just ain’t no good.” 

The superior in intellect, those that resemble the founding fathers in courage and wisdom, but choose to write blogs to carry out their revolution, they say something similar, “You don’t need a new iPhone. The utility of adding three cameras to the back is not worth the opportunity cost of working weeks or more likely months at a job that doesn’t care for you. Plus the dopamine rush of having a shiny new object to show off to the neighbors won’t do me, or the neighbor any good.” 

It’s you heathen middle-brows, the average person, the basic bitch and hazy bro that gives into advertising. You, smart as you are for having disproved a man that peacefully recommended not wanting things and said by practicing virtue you can be better than your animal instincts. You told him he didn’t exist. 

In doing so, you reinforced your own ideas and your own shitty behavior. You are relegating yourselves to animals, prone to emotional whim and carnal desire. You let your lusts and fears drive your behavior, which makes you open to manipulation by marketing departments, which you are eager to see what they produce for you next so that you can incrementally raise your status over your neighbor. 

There’s a better way. I figured it out, and so did those Trump loving, gun toting rednecks down South. 

They are more capable of experiencing happiness than you.