Why My Life Will Never Be Good Enough For You Idiots
By David Metcalfe
June 24, 2018
If Only I Had…
If only I had money, my life would be good enough. If only I made $30,000/year, I could live in a nice apartment, eat out at restaurants, and own a car. Actually, I’d rather live in a house than an apartment. Let’s make it $50,000/year. Yes, then my life would be good enough. But I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii. In fact, I’d be happy if I could go there once a year. Let’s make it $60,000. But I also want a family and multiple vehicles; $80,000/year. I want nicer vehicles. I want my kids to be in the best private school. I want more vacation time. I want to go to more sporting events and concerts. I want to own more property. I want a bigger house. Let’s make it $500,000/year. Once I have that income, my life will be good enough.
Money obviously makes you happy. Robin Williams, Kurt Cobain, Chester Barrington, and more recently, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, were all extremely wealthy. They must have died of natural causes, because they couldn’t have suffered depression while having all that money.
A Good Career
If only I had a good career, my life would be good enough. If only I was more respected, held in higher esteem, and received more praise for what I do. If I told people I worked at Wal-Mart, they would look at me like I’m trash. If I told them I was a brain surgeon, they would look at me like I’m a god. If I was a lawyer, a doctor, a professor, a CEO, then they would treat me well. Everyone would approve of me, who I am, what I do.
So, I’ll study. I’ll sacrifice to attain this ideal career: my time, my hobbies, my relationships. The entirety of my twenties will be devoted towards education. The entirety of my thirties will be devoted to building my career. Then in my forties, I’ll be rich and loved by everyone. I’ll drive the nicest cars to the nicest restaurants and meet up with my fellow high-class friends and we’ll spend however much money we want and have a great time. It’ll be easy to get a hot wife because women love power, money and status. I would be the greatest. My life would be the greatest.
A Romantic Partner
If only I had a romantic partner, my life would be good enough. If only I had someone who thinks I’m so amazing that they are willing to spend the rest of their lives with me, that would prove that I’m good enough, that I matter, that I have worth.
No one is complete without a romantic partner. No one has ever been happy while single, and no one ever will be. People who are single into old age are terribly depressed and die alone. If you don’t have someone who has devoted themselves to ensuring your happiness, you are nothing.
Praise From Others
If only I had praise from others, my life would be good enough. If only people approved and cheered at the sight of my accomplishments. I need everyone to acknowledge how great I am for what I do. I need to build up a reputation in my social community as an awesome guy. I need to run a marathon, volunteer with a beloved charity, win a trophy, etc.
When I put effort into something, I need everyone to say, “Wow, that guy is incredible!”. If no one acknowledges my effort, whatever I do is a failure.
Deconstructing the Cultural Narrative
That is the predominant cultural narrative in America, as well as majority of capitalist, first world countries (Canada, UK, and Australia included, among others). These values are deeply ingrained in our society, and appear in every social interaction. When you meet a new person, the first question they will ask you is “what’s your name?”, the second question they’ll ask you is, “what do you do for work?”. That second question defines the interaction. It’s basically an appraisal of how much you matter as a human being.
I hate it. I can’t stand the superficial, money-obsessed, “humans as commodity” culture we live in.
The thing that is most celebrated in American culture is weddings. It’s like, “oh, you found someone to be in a romantic relationship with, let’s celebrate you like a god for a day (and the entire lead up to it).” If marriage is the best thing, singleness is, by default, the worst thing. The larger the party is for the winning team, the harder the loss is for the losing team.
I hate it. I can’t stand the artificial superiority of couples, how we praise them excessively, and the idea of being single as “half human”.
We are inundated with thousands of advertisements every day. They all say the same thing, “Buy this product or this experience, and it will make you happy.” The fact that we hear it every day isn’t the worst part. The worst part is that it works. How telling is it of our society that a car commercial can literally say, “owning this vehicle will make people like you more” and then it actually sells more?!?!
I hate it. I can’t stand that we are so easily tricked into this stupid idea of happiness, and still fail to understand why we aren’t fulfilled in our lives. We reduce humanity to “humans as consumers”; a bunch of seals barking for a fish.
Well, guess what? I’m not a commodity, a half of a human, or a mindless consumer, and I don’t expect to be treated like one. But if you don’t buy into this mentality, you get punished: socially and financially.
So, everyone buys in.
My Life Outside Cultural Acceptability
There are only three things I want in this life: to learn, to love, and to serve. Or, to elaborate: to acquire knowledge to come up with solutions for problems in society and the lives of people, to give and receive affection with people I care about, and to find ways to care for and serve others.
Overlying these three pivotal concepts is the idea of total, relentless authenticity. I don’t want to act a certain way because someone tells me to, or because some arbitrary social construction has dictated it to me. I want to act, think, and believe exactly the way I am, all of the time.
People don’t like this.
Employers hate it. High-end jobs want me to do whatever they say to become successful. They don’t like it when I care about truth or doing what’s best for society if it goes against the company’s profits. Low-end jobs can’t figure out why I choose to work at them when I could do higher paying, more “successful” jobs. Thrift shops and grocery stores take one look at my resume and say, “you’ve spent five years in university, have traveled North America, and have published over 100,000 words in magazines and journals, and now you want to stock shelves? Yeah, right.”
I’m an academic by nature. I live to study. If I didn’t have intelligent books, magazines, and internet content to read, I may as well take a permanent nap in a 6-foot-deep hole. But I’m not an academic in the practical sense. I don’t like being pigeon holed into a discipline, and being told how to write, how to research, etc. I want to do exactly what I want to do in the way that I want to do it. One day I want to read the history of Beethoven, the next day I want to study 1990’s media discourse on homosexuality, and the next day I want to compare the political philosophy of Hobbes and Rousseau. I can’t be a successful academic.
My writing is good. Sometimes, it’s really good. But it’s too polemic to be popular. I’ve published things that have been huge hits, but then I get annoyed at my own popularity, and feel the need to write something so offensive and critical that no publisher would ever take it. I put some polemic stuff on my blog, and it gets tons of views, and then subsequent articles have a significant drop in viewership. Basically, people read the polemic and are like, “ooohh, I don’t like this guy anymore because he criticized something I like.” I can’t be a successful journalist.
There’s nothing else I have any degree of propensity for. How rare is it that someone will spend hours reading complex literature solely for their own interest’s sake? But for me, it’s far more than interest’s sake. It’s my livelihood. It rarely ever pays me anything. It often loses me significant amounts of money through the books I buy, the conferences I travel to, etc. But I couldn’t live without it.
No One Understands Me
The worst problem I have is that no one understands me. I thought this blog would accomplish that. I think this blog has always had an underlying desperation of, “someone please understand me”. Someone please understand why I have trouble believing in Christianity. Someone please understand why I have trouble with romantic relationships. Someone please understand why I can’t do a normal job. Someone please understand how I’ve found enjoyment in life despite all these difficulties.
I don’t think the message has gotten across.
When I came back to Edmonton a couple months ago, I had this lofty ideal in my mind that everyone would be so happy to have me back and would be so enthralled to talk to me. After all, I had spent several months studying very complex topics with top professors, read lots of fantastic literature, and learned to apply these in practical ways to problems in society and within individuals. I thought people would ask me things like, “so what is the moral foundation of our legal system?” or “do all religions have truth in them?”. No one asked me that. They all asked, “how much money did you make?”, “what job are you going to do for the summer?”, “are you going to buy a car soon?”.
If I cared about that kind of stuff, I would have stayed in the petroleum engineering program or the pre-medical program. But I hate that stuff. I don’t want money or material possessions or a job. But people are unrelenting. All I hear from my family and friends is: “you need more money, you need a girlfriend, you need a better job. The way you are isn’t good enough.”
All I want is for someone to say, “David, who you are is enough.”
Is that too much to ask? Can I just be who I am and have you idiots be content with that?
The Social Strain of Misunderstanding
I completed more than enough credits for my bachelor’s degree, but the university said I need one more course to fulfill some arbitrary requirement. It’s not a course that I have any interest in, and I honestly don’t care whether I have the official bachelor’s degree. I sit in on classes with master’s and PhD students on a regular basis, and I know about as much as them on most topics. If I don’t know as much as them, I just spend some time studying it, and often surpass them fairly quickly. I don’t need some “official certificate” to tell me that I have the knowledge and abilities that someone with a master’s degree has. Any job or article publication I get should be solely on its own merit, regardless of some arbitrary designation. If I develop amazing knowledge and abilities, write an amazing article, and then someone says they won’t publish it because I don’t have an official degree in that field, then I don’t want it to be published.
My parents are trying to pressure me to do it. They offered to give me a car if I complete it. They don’t care about my goals, my ambitions, my process of self-discovery, or the kind of person I’m becoming. They just want me to get that degree. They know my story, and when I explained it at length to them, they had nothing to say other than, “well, we want you to do the course anyway.” They won’t even talk to me about anything other than the damn course.
Most of my old friends don’t talk to me much anymore. If I try hanging out with Stephen or Logan, good luck. They are busy pursuing money and romance and doing whatever culture dictates to them. Levi doesn’t talk to me about deep things anymore. I think he knows my disdain for things like money, career, and social status; things that he’s devoted his life to. I don’t think Jesse has the energy or expertise necessary to deal with whatever insane things are going on in my brain.
As for the people in US and Ontario, I sort of came to the unfortunate realization that friendships can’t survive distance. You’re just so separate from each other’s lives, and there’s no real connection. Like, I obviously think that Bryan, Allison, Evan, Jason, Reesey, Courtney, etc. are awesome people, but it’s not like I can hang out with them. I found that messaging them actually makes me miss them more, so I kind of stopped doing that.
Now, you might be saying: “but David, what about the Mormons? Didn’t you say they are awesome people who always love you?”. Well, yes, but I don’t know, I think there’s complications to that. I think the problem is that, yes, they are very nice people, but they don’t really know me all that well, and more importantly, I feel them trying to get me to act and think a certain way. I liked being an investigator, because I was allowed to doubt and it was fine. As a member, if I have doubts or hard questions, there’s a sentiment that I should just not have them. I’m just expected to go to church every week, fulfill a calling, believe everything, etc. But sometimes I don’t feel like it. Sometimes I think that I should just drink green tea or coffee and screw the word of wisdom. Sometimes I look out into the crowd at church and see a bunch of straight laced young men in white dress shirts and ties, and a bunch of young women in dresses, and I think, “These are great people, but that’s not me.”
The Mormons are all about marriage, and there is, of course, a strong culture that’s been built around that. It’s a good culture, though. It’s not like the stupid Christian/secular one in America. But at any rate, I’m not sure if it’s me. I’m not sure if I really fit into their idea of family, and work, and all these ideas they have about social interaction. Like, am I inspired to go to an FHE activity where I make balloon animals or decorate cupcakes? And I don’t mean to complain about FHE activities. The people who put them on do a good job, and lots of people enjoy them. But I’m not sure it’s really me.
And on the topic of marriage, I’m not sure if I can accomplish that either. Whenever I talk to my friends or family about the possibility of getting married, they always say, “well, you better get a real career together then. No woman will want to marry you if you don’t have a good job.” To which I respond, “I’m not interested in having a wife who likes me for my career, I want a wife who loves me for who I am.”
But here’s the thing: they’re right. Young women in America, including Mormons, will only marry men who have “real jobs”. Working at a minimum wage job for any length of time is a path to permanent singleness. And in my case, an unpaid journalist who works two days a week at a warehouse is prime material for singleness.
Is there a young woman out there in the world who would love me completely for who I am and not care about money or status at all? I don’t know. It doesn’t seem likely, does it? Even if I’m great in other ways, I’m not sure there would be any long-term takers. And beyond that, I’m not sure if marriage is really that great. I am not impressed in the least by my friend’s marriages. It seems terribly limiting, controlling, and mundane to have to dance to the wishes of someone else constantly.
My Ideal Life
Today, a friend asked me where I see myself in a year from now. I said I had no idea. She specified, “where would you want to be in a year from now?” It got me thinking about my life quite a bit. And I’d like to think beyond just a year, and into what it is that I’m actually working towards with this peculiar existence of mine.
I would like to serve society as a public intellectual. I want to be a regular contributor to a variety of major magazines, like “Time” and “The New Yorker”. I want to give talks at academic conferences to share new ideas I have. I want to be the guy who has something to say when stuff happens. Like when Malcolm Gladwell writes an article, people listen. And if it’s really good and really timely, it gets read by millions, and actually changes the way we do things. Or Bertrand Russell’s ideas on world peace and denuclearization after World War II. He was heard by millions, and his ideas actually affected major policy.
I want to be an author. I want to write a bunch of books on various topics relating to sociology and philosophy. I absolutely love reading them, and I believe that I am capable of writing a book that is just as good or better than most of the ones in bookstores.
I want to have a wife and children. As strange as it may seem, considering I constantly criticize marriage, I actually would like it if it was with the right person. If she gave me my space and freedom, and loved me unconditionally for who I am. If my wife ever said things like, “David, you can’t randomly go to New York for a week, I didn’t give you permission!” or “David, you have to eat with cutlery. You can’t just take food directly off the plate with your hand”, the marriage would not last long. But if she understood who I am, what I do, and why I do it, I think we could enjoy our marriage. Because, as socially weird as I am, I am actually a very nice person and can be fun to hang out with.
I’m not sure what I would want the children situation to be like, but I would probably prefer to adopt rather than literally have them. There are a lot of orphans who need families, and I would like to provide that to them.
You might say, “well, David, having a family is expensive, and you won’t be able to do it if you don’t have a real job.” That’s not actually true. Let’s say my wife and I each work two days per week at $20/hour. That’s $2,560 per month. Taxes wouldn’t be much since we are low income and with children, so net maybe $2,300. We live in a two-bedroom apartment or basement suite for $1000/month. Food costs $500/month. We have one vehicle that costs $200/month for gas and insurance. And then we have $600 per month for any other expenses. Most children in the world live in far worse conditions than that. Also, that’s assuming that my wife and I work only two days per week each.
But I’m not yet sold on the idea of having a family, so I’m not too intent on that aspect of my “ideal life” anyway.
There is something I want more than all of this. Something that would be so valuable that would make none of this other stuff matter. And that thing is very simple: to figure things out. I just want to understand this world we live in more than anything. I want to understand people, and be able to recommend a better state of existence for them. A state of existence where things like murder, rape, and poverty don’t exist. A state of existence where everyone is loved unconditionally for who they are, and where we all work together to make the world a better place. Not that I plan on achieving that, of course, but I like to think of myself as a link on the great chain of thinkers that have worked, and will continue to work, on making the world a better place. It’s like how we go from Socrates to Plato to Aristotle… and get to John Locke, Thomas Paine, Bertrand Russell, and then there’s some guy like me and then I die and some young person reads my work, is incredibly inspired by it, and continues the chain.
I can never decide whether I identify as a sociologist or a philosopher. I think it goes in waves depending on where my mind is at.
Dang it, maybe I actually have a pretty good life when I think about it. And also, this is the most disorganized article I’ve ever written, and I refuse to edit it. This was literally just me sitting at my computer for two hours and writing out all of my thoughts. I think I said the “f word” a couple times, what is up with that?
Alright, let’s bring this together into something coherent. I believe that life really is what you make of it, and we ought to be free in doing that so long as it doesn’t infringe on the freedom of others. I’m just a guy who wants to learn things, experience real love, and serve others. I don’t need a degree, a fancy job, or some woman for that to happen.
It’s true that no one will understand me, but maybe they don’t need to. Maybe people can just be nice and stand back a bit and see what I do. Maybe if my parents weren’t so fixated on this one course, they could back up and realize that I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my adult life, that I’m learning some really awesome stuff and impressing a lot of big time intellectuals, and that I really do have potential to make a difference in the world.
From reflecting on my personal experience at various times in my life, I’ve found that I am not really that unique in what I want from others. I just want to be accepted for who I am. I don’t want to be pressured to act a certain way or believe a certain thing. I just want to do my thing.
My life isn’t good enough for our society, for my parents, or for my friends, but it’s good enough for me, and that’s all that matters.
12 thoughts on “My Life Will Never Be Good Enough For You Idiots”
Oh man! I relate so much to this post, you can’t even imagine.
I do want to get married as well, but only for everyone to see the ring on my finger. Not because it’s diamond, but so that everyone knows that I am in a commited relationship and have no interesting in cheating or whatever.
Besides Im not going to pay a bunch of money so that people can judge me on the hair, make up, dress, food and what not.
I’m currently in one of those companies where you always have to perform bigger and better.
I honestly do like the job, but the politics and social commitments (team buildings, pub on friday evenings) are killing me.
Really great post!
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Wow..Quite lengthy but every word is worthy of praise. I could relate to everything you were sharing and my wife and me, have started following the minimalist blog and their ideas to build happiness in abundance and less of materials.
It takes courage to live life the way you have shared. Wish you all the best with your spiritual journey.
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From reading your blog post, I’m reminded of the passage in the Bible from the Apostle Paul,
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”
1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV
I don’t think I would count your friends out David, I think you can be a support for them as well. Especially if they are tired and drained. I like to think about the other side of the equation when I read your blog.
When you talk about useless courses, I had to take an Aboriginal studies course for my Math and Physics program (it is mandatory) this last term and somehow came out with an A+ and a greater appreciation and love for a culture that was mostly invisible to me (other than the teachings of a racist teacher in jr.high and a drive through Maskwacis Alberta). It was quite surreal and but still another 535$ bite out of my wallet. I guess depending on the course your experience might vary. I also agree with you that education is quite arbitrary, it can prove that you can jump through hoops and be cookie cuttered into some framework that just doesn’t fit in. Creativity is one of the highest forms of intellect that we can’t put a gradepoint on. I will say however, it can help to finish a degree if all that you need is one course (maybe you can get lucky and it is just in a 3 week term?).
When you talked about Mormons and Balloon animals, I really laughed. I have a Mormon friend who does balloon animals and the amount of love he shows from his gift from making them is quite astounding and to me a great apologetic. If his balloons could talk and the smiles that were given remembered, we would have another room to fill with books. I don’t know the lingo you used for your break out sessions into the community, but going back to showing love for the community speaks volumes, and generally does not have recognition unless if someone is supposed to see it. I don’t know how it necessarily works in the Mormon church. I find true peace in loving others and I think the Mormon church is awesome in providing opportunities to do so.
In my own journey of wanting to be loved for just being me, I went full on fundamental. I asked who am I and came to the words “I am human”. Which might seem really simple but what happened next was truely astonishing. I recognized that the people around me were also human, and therefore deserving the same love that I thought I deserved. It was a paradigm shift in my thinking that has continued to intrigue me. It has changed my thoughts and actions towards the people I am privaledged to be around. My discovery was helped out by good ole C.S. Lewis whom writes about finding morality in nature (from a crude understanding from my own reading of The Law of Human Nature). I found out later what I was actually witnessing but had no words to describe it yet, was the Image of God that is intrinsically on all of us. Jesse would say it is the Imago Dei, but I honestly didn’t know what he was meaning for quite awhile in young adults. Seeing others as created in the image of God, regardless of race, creed, gender identity. Religion in my opinion changes how I act, think, and conduct my everyday activities. I am interested to know how that works outside of a monotheistic framework like Mormonism.
On your comments about marriage, I’m not married so I don’t really know what to comment about.
To comment on your closing statement, I think it is important to be able to separate what parts of society that you don’t fit in with. You have obviously squeezed into a place in society with your blog, people are commenting here and on Facebook. You are in the academic arena with your attendance in PhD lectures and the people you impress. For myself I find that where I say I don’t fit in is usually where I want to fit in most. I guess what I’m trying to say is, you do matter David even if my opinion does not matter.
Sounds like you have thought about some similar things in your own life. I was actually surprised that so many people related to this. I was thinking that it would be taken more critically (although, it was by some).
You are right that it is theoretically possible for me to be a positive influence in my friends lives, instead of just asking what they can do for me. However, I possibly should have included a little more about how I’ve changed a lot over this past year and they are pretty much the same, which makes us grow apart.
I want to purposely not do my last course as a statement against the system, and as a way to remind myself that I don’t live according to arbitrary social constructions.
Mormonism is generally considered monotheistic, actually. The idea that there are other gods or that humans can become gods is not church doctrine. There is some theology about it that many Mormons believe, but it is not pivotal to the gospel, so it is rarely talked about or considered in how we live our lives and believe in Jesus. The idea of Imago Dei is almost the same as Protestant Christianity, although there are a few small differences since Mormons believe that part of being created in the image of God is being made with the intent of going to heaven, rather than being made with the intent of going to hell, and then being potentially saved from that if we do whatever is demanded of us, like in Protestant or Catholic Christianity. And then there are ideas like the “Light of Christ” that add to our understanding of what image of God means to our understanding of life and morality.
And yes, I think fitting in is easy for me, but being authentic and fitting in is much more difficult. I often end up lying to people in small ways just to get them to accept me and not think I’m socially deviant. I realized in Colorado when I wrote some stuff that was really popular that I could be a successful journalist by telling people what they want to hear, and using my critical analysis abilities to criticize people they don’t like. I realized I could make a career out of that. But then I realized I couldn’t pander to others’ wishes, and thus have been much less successful. I think the blog would be much more successful if I was more of a lawyer who argues in favor of the side people want me to argue (like how Jordan Peterson became popular).
Your entire 4th paragraph I disagree with, except for the “light of Christ” because that paradigm is a cool way to explain the metaphysic. While I was in Edmonton I attended classes at the Mormon institute that is close to the Univerity of Alberta. I was enthralled by our last conversation a few months ago to take you up on your idea to attend classes to understand Mormon doctrine. From all of my dealings with the nine different Mormons I met, we talked about how Joeseph Smith has witnessed God and Jesus Christ as two distinctly separate beings at the age of 14 years old. God gave his physical Son, who is apart from Himself, for the salvation of the world. All the Mormons I met held to the same position, and it is a unified story told that did not differentiate. So I would say Mormonism is not monotheistic, unless if you know something I do not, or I just met only the some that believe differently. It is also possible that I understood completely wrong, so I apologize for my arrogance.
To add to your comment about the Imago Dei is that God never created us to go to hell. The initial conditions in Genesis were that the earth and creation was created very good. I think I missed the going to hell part of the teaching. I see freedom from sin, loving my neighbor as my self, and loving God with all my soul, mind and strength. I would like to talk about this maybe on a different channel with you.
“I think fitting in is easy for me, but being authentic and fitting in is much more difficult.” I think about Plato’s writings on Socrates and how Socrates fought the system in Greece. Socrates was still trialed and died accused of what he was against. I guess I would not wish the same fate for you. Twenty-six hours in a classroom for a class to validate what could potentially expire your entire four years of university after two-five years seems like a straightforward decision. My program will kick me out and invalidate my courses if I don’t take a course for a year. I guess I am sorry that you first subscribed to the social construction of the university. The statement that is more real for me would be getting my degree but yet never using it. I have friends trying to get a degree and are put on academic probation for failing their classes, but yet they are still happy. I guess logically why try to get a degree if you can never achieve one, why stop getting a degree when the finish line is an arms reach away.
I would love to talk about how Jordan Peterson got popular, and I think it is more complex than himself arguing a side that people want him to argue. I think that is out of the scope of this conversation and maybe some other time.
Thank you for your reply, I appreciate it!
I’m glad you were able to make it to some classes.
The important thing to understand in Mormon theology is that Jesus is not God, or a god at all, but rather the Son of God. So they are two separate persons, both with physical bodies, but united in one purpose. It actually makes way more sense in accordance with the New Testament scriptures, where Jesus goes out of his way to mention that he is separate from God several times. There are only a couple ambiguous verses that combined with a lot of bias can get someone towards believing in the Trinity idea that the Catholics made up.
In Catholic and Protestant Christianity, everyone who is created after Adam and Eve is created to go to hell by default, because there is the idea that all are innately sinful from birth. That’s why Catholics, and some Protestants, do infant baptism. Other Protestants, with no scriptural backing, made up the idea that you aren’t in the age of accountability until you are older, so they do baptism at later date. But for them, “salvation” doesn’t mean only being saved from sin, but also being saved from your intended destination of hell.
I love the story of Socrates. I’m not sure if you ever read my blog post “The Martyr’s Guide To Life”. I talk about it quite a bit in that one. I aspire to be like that in my own life. There’s something I love about defying idiots and getting punished for it because you’re so far above them. Same thing happened with Jesus, Joan of Arc, John the Baptist, etc.
And that’s the question of what it means to put your degree “to use”. I hate when people say that my time in university would be wasted if I didn’t have the official degree. It couldn’t be farther from what I believe. I believe that my defiance of university is exactly what made me learn the most. It’s as Mark Twain said, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education”. Following the proper rules of university taught me proper grammar, research methodology, communication skills, and gave me a forum for intellectual debate. Other than that, I don’t care about it. And I would never use a degree to get a job. I don’t want to work for an employer of any kind because I want to work completely on my terms. That’s why I do mindless labor for a couple days to pay the bills and then do my own thing the rest of the time.
Thank you for your clarification, that does make more sense. If Jesus is not God, but only the son of God (like us) then why did he have to die on the cross?
You do bring up an important part of the origins in the debate in the Trinity, going back to St.Augustine. Early Christians were not concerned in the dogmatics of the Trinity. The Trinity being a teaching tool that is still taught today, I think we are missing the point if we let that interfere with our lives or lose sleep over it. To deny the Trinity, however, it devalues Jesus down to just another man, and I would no longer see the legitimacy of the crucifixion or the resurrection. In Mormonism, it can all be spiritually revealed which I think takes more faith than I am capable of. From my understanding with my reading of the new testament, I get an image of Jesus being 100% man, but still 100% God. Jesus modeling how we can have our own ontological relationship with God because he became fully human. So you have replaced the doctrine of the Trinity with the Mormon believe God and Jesus are two seperate distinct individuals and that the being a separate entity the Holy Ghost has been active in the world before and after Jesus (with after Jesus we can be filled with the Light of Christ).
I think there is a huge difference between our understandings of after Adam and Eve. I view that after Adam and Eve we are born into a broken relationship that can be restored, we have examples of people choosing not restoring that relationship, and I do not know what eternal separation from God looks like. We then get the story of the Israelites, being in a covenant relationship to with intentions to restore that broken relationship. I don’t know how you can jump to the conclusion that being born into a broken relationship means that you go to hell by default. By just being born the cards are stacked against us, not for us. Thank you for stating our theological differences well, I would like to get to the bottom of having unreconcilable differences. I guess my question is why do you think Catholicism and Protestantism have such harsh reality, but yet believe Mormonism negates that reality.
What if you did not have the opportunity of mindless labour to do what you want? In my opinion, an uncertain job market would be why I would want a university credential so that if our society fails to provide bare labour, I can have a larger window of opportunity so that I can help others.
What do you constitute as an idiot? “There’s something I love about defying idiots and getting punished for it because you’re so far above them.” I find it to be quite a stretch to say that Joan of Arc, Jesus, and John the Baptist were defying idiots.
Thank you for your comments, even though our stances differ quite radically.
There are no verses in the entirety of the Old or New Testament that say Jesus is God. It’s never even implied. The NIV translation has changed some words to fit their theology, but the KJV, which is much closer to the original manuscripts, clearly distinguishes Jesus and God as separate. And it’s just incredibly obvious from the simple fact that God says to Jesus, “this is my Son, in whom I am well pleased” after his baptism. Was God pleased with himself? Or when Jesus cries out on the cross, “Father, why hast though forsaken me?” is he asking himself why he’s forsaken himself? The most amazing thing about the trinity is the fact that it is so obviously false and yet so many people accepted it. It is a testament to the power of the Catholic Church in enforcing their doctrines into theology so strong that even the reformation couldn’t fully get rid of it. That’s why a restoration was necessary.
It doesn’t mean that Jesus is “just a man”. Being the Son of God and the savior of the world is a big deal. Scripture even says that Jesus created all things (Colossians 1:15-17, D and C 76:22-24). And Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the church (Ephesians 2:20). Mormon theology is not only consistent with the New Testament, but supplementary to it in order to increase our understanding of some very important concepts.
In Catholic and Protestant theology, if someone is born and dies without receiving Jesus into their life, they go to hell. It’s very clearly the default. You don’t start on neutral terms, due to the idea of being responsible for Adam and Eve’s sin.
If there is no opportunity for me to do mindless labor, and no one wants to provide food and shelter for me, then I am content to die. If our economy got so bad that there was literally no work, and our society so corrupt that no one wanted to share resources with me, then that is not a world I’m interested in living in. If somehow, in this scenario, finishing one course is the difference between life and death, then the education/work system is so tyrannical and authoritarian that I, and pretty much most of society, would have severe problems with that, and probably a revolution would ensue.
Of course Jesus, Joan of Arc, and John the Baptist were defying idiots! K, you will have to read the article I wrote on the topic. Here’s a link to it: overthinkingwithdave.com/2018/01/25/the-martyrs-guide-to-life-how-to-drink-hemlock-get-crucified-and-be-burned-at-the-stake/ I talk about the trials of Socrates, Joan of Arc, and Jesus towards the end.
I don’t think our stances actually differ very much. Evangelical Christians love to claim superiority over all of the other types of Christians by saying they are “radically different”, which is simply not true. Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, atheism; now those are radically different from Christianity. But if you believe in Jesus Christ dying and rising again for the sins of the world and being reconciled to him through repenting of your sins and believing in him, then you are very similar in the grand scheme of things.
Going from your recommended reading;
I’m sorry, I try to stay away from deriving my philosophy from modern movies and tv shows. It makes the world incoherent with its conflations. Many entertainment sources are dealing with post-modern realities that mess with your epistemology. If you have ever argued someone who believes in the force from Starwars, it’s kinda the same there.
You even say “Even the most brilliant film critics, sociologists and philosophers cannot entirely agree on the film’s meaning. Is it about imprisonment and redemption, conformity and beauty, sexuality and repression, or temporality and music? Well, it’s safe to say it incorporates and challenges all of these ideas.”
You are putting you as the source of truth, and that to me is radically different than gaining truth from, natural revelation, moral revelation, biblical revelation, and personal revelation (which is what you could be arguing for). You are also putting modern understanding into history and the Bible which is Eisegesis.
I would argue that the KJV is farther than the NIV for authority due to archeological finds and technological advancement, but I would still say that they both hold the true message of the Gospel.
In last response, you said “In Catholic and Protestant theology, if someone is born and dies without receiving Jesus into their life, they go to hell. It’s very clearly the default.”
I still greatly disagree because I do not see it as what is in reality. You are also conflating extremely diverse groups into one by saying Catholics and Protestants.
My faith does not depend on the doctrine of original sin, as it is a tool to help understand human nature. We can look overseas or the horrific atrocities in history to see the evil that humanity does or the gradual move towards chaos. I do not want us to get held up on it.
1 Corinthians 15:21-22 (NIV)
21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
If the Bible is incorrect and we cannot use our own reasoning faculties in our minds to try to discern what is true, I think we have come to the closing point.
I would say that I am content to die as well, but only in the scenario that I have finished what God has set before me to do.
I will have to do more reading because your claim that nowhere in the Bible says that Jesus is God is astounding. Like reading John 1 is the equivalent of rolling two strings together to become one string. In my little bible helper it also says to read, Colossians 1; Hebrews 1; Revelations 1. My reading of the book of John would be what is keeping me from saying that Jesus is not God. I would have to discard parts of the Bible to not accept the Trinity.
The first part of what you wrote is so wrong and totally absurd that it doesn’t even warrant a response. I can educate humble ignorance but I can’t educate arrogant ignorance (which is impossible). It’s better to stick to asking questions if you don’t know what you’re talking about.
I won’t explain each thing, but I’ll just give a brief note for each idea to tell you why it’s wrong.
We can learn a lot of valuable philosophy from modern media. The idea that it’s all incoherent or post-modern is just so wrong I don’t even know what to say. Every philosopher incorporates current media into their ideas.
When did I ever say that I think I’m the source of truth? Any amount of thought you put into anything is implying that you are reasoning out the truth for yourself from an external source. Any type of revelation, unless you don’t think about it at all, is still consistent with that.
The fact that you think you can disagree with a basic theological fact like Protestant and Catholic theology not believing that mankind is destined for hell is stupid. In addition, recognizing similarities is not the same as conflating.
The last part you mention about the Trinity is the only not terrible part. That is a legitimate theological debate and you didn’t overstep with intellectual arrogance there. I don’t personally believe in the Trinity but I have great respect for many theologians who do.
It is very hard to be taught by someone you do not trust, but I am still learning from you. You are correct that the teachings of the day impact philosophers but this is the first time in history we have such a huge pool of entertainment and books to go from, and our readings probably have never overlapped. Maybe perhaps Bertrand Russell but I appreciate everything he has done for mathematics and the Science dialogue and not much more. Check what I said again, I did not say it was all incoherent. Conflating movies with our worldview makes our worldview incoherent. Movies are an artificial reality and should be treated as such. My worldview shapes who I am and how I respond, I am more than happy to talk about how our worldviews do not agree with each other. I do appreciate your use of stories to piece together your view of reality; it makes this quote from C.S. Lewis ring true,
“Myth… takes all the things you know and restores to them the rich significance hidden by the veil of familiarity.” – C.S. Lewis
I am saying mankind is not made for hell (the initial conditions) which is consistent with the teaching of the cosmic fall. I do not know what authority you are making your statements/judgments from when you make the statement that it is stupid. I think it is actually amazing.
Our method of talking about many topics at once is probably one of the most inefficient ways we could go about talking. I do not know why you painted me with intellectual arrogance especially when it is something I may not understand like you do. I am sorry for the misunderstanding or if it’s better to just dismiss a person for what they believe I understand.
Ok, well it’s good you corrected yourself a bit.
And now I think you agree that stories are a valuable way to understand philosophical truths. But someone who thinks that they can get literal truths about reality from fiction would be so stupid that I wouldn’t concern myself with them. Like, if someone actually watched “Star Wars” and then believed in the force, I would not argue with them because they did not create their view with reason and they will not lose it with reason.
C.S. Lewis is a good example of someone who could communicate real truths through fiction. Obviously, someone with any sense is not going to start worshiping Aslan, but they might actually gain a better understanding of Jesus through the analogy. My “Martyr’s Guide To Life” article never makes the mistake of mixing reality with fiction, but rather develops philosophical truths from it that can be applied to reality.
And yeah, that is a little bit of semantics maybe with the fall of Adam and Eve and the hell destination. It sounds like you are referring to mankind in a larger sense but I am referring more to individual people. Like, say some guy named George is born. Just by being born, he is guilty of sin, and thus will go to hell. The requirement to not go to hell is to make a decision to accept Jesus. So the passive, or default, result is hell, and the active result is heaven. And I don’t mean it would be stupid to have this worldview, but rather that it would be stupid to say this is not the one espoused by Protestants and Catholics.
And what I mean by intellectual arrogance is when someone says a statement or criticism that is beyond their knowledge ability. Like, when first year philosophy students think they know better than Kant and Rousseau about ethics and try to criticize them. I am always sure to inform them of their own ignorance for trying to do so. Those guys, and many others, are way out of my own range to criticize much. There are 500 page dissertations that attempt to criticize one small aspect of one theory that Kant came up with, and they still aren’t successful in the end. The only way I even attempt to criticize intellectual giants like that is by employing the work of other intellectual giants. Like, if I was going to try to criticize Kant, I might use some of the writing of Schopenhauer.
So yes, just something to be careful of, always.