All things being equal: a contrast between celibacy and sterilization

game-characters-1751447_1280

I recently read a provoking article in the Metro newspaper, often found scattered about in our local buses and subway transit system. It is entitled “The mother of all double standards,” and it rallies against the medical system which it accuses of offering permanent sterilization for men more readily than for woman.

 

We are introduced to Andy Prosserman who, though he never got a vasectomy in his 20’s because he “knew that this would be irresponsible,” did in fact get one at the age of 30. While I was under the impression that the journey of self-knowledge takes a lifetime, apparently 30 was enough.

 

In lieu of having kids, Prosserman is seen posing, ready for his new life of liberty and indulgence: in one frame of a six part montage he is seen holding a bottle of Glenlivet 12 year old scotch, in another a Nintendo controller, and in yet another his passport.

 

When I looked at these images of what must be at least in part the ideal life of Prosserman, I could not help but be overwhelmed by a sense of deep regret for this man, for the trade that he has made.

 

My reaction can be explained by another incredible social phenomenon.

 

Do you ever wonder why Isis has managed to capture the imagination of so many youth?

 

It is because we live in a world that tells us that scotch and video games, in other words unlimited personal indulgence, is the pinnacle of our existence.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

If someone told me that the meaning of my life was to stuff my proverbial gullet with as many pleasures as humanly possible before I died, I would go join Isis too. At least they understand sacrifice on some level, though they have a very twisted idea of what that means. At least they understand what it means to serve a higher cause, even though what they call a higher cause is actually darkness and death.

 

Our brothers and sisters join Isis because at least in the sands of the middle east, or even within the borders of their own countries, these young souls looking for meaning can die for something, because even the illusion of a meaningful sacrifice is more tantalizing than the alternative.

 

Humanity is made in such a way so that our own gift of self to the point of self-sacrifice is the very pinnacle of our existence.

 

It is said that Jesus came, not to be served, but to serve.

 

Meanwhile, Prosserman is going to find at the bottom of his scotch bottle his own emptiness looking up at him. One day he will ask himself, “Surely there has got to be more than this.”

 

What is disturbing is that the author of the article, Sofi Papamarko, doesn’t give any concern whatsoever for the wellbeing and the interior life of these individuals. She does not so much as ask as to whether permanently destroying the body’s capacity to produce life is questionable.

 

Her only concern: equal access for men and women.

 

Think about what happens to a society that favours equal rights, or anything for that matter, over a love and appreciation of life.

 

In The Gospel of Life by Pope John Paul II, it is pointed at that “in the Old Testament, sterility is dreaded as a curse, while numerous offspring are viewed as a blessing.” (44) Nothing is more natural for living breathing beings than to bring life into this world, to continue their existence through their progeny.

 

From the eyes of this ancient Jewish people, we are all clamouring over one another to have equal access to a curse.

 

No one seems to care, just so long as access is equal.

 

Undoubtedly, at this point, someone will remind me that the majority of Catholic priests (there are some married Catholic priests) and all Catholic religious live celibately, which is to say they do not marry, nor have sex, nor have kids.

 

The first difference between sterilization and celibacy is sex.

Sterilization in modern western society has one purpose: to be able to have sex while undermining its natural result, which is children. They want the maximum pleasure, with the least responsibility. Turning the pursuit and goal of sex into pleasure, however, naturally cheapens it and makes it into yet another item for consumption. Thus, the love within flees before an ever greedy appetite for personal gratification, at no cost.

 

Celibacy, on the other hand, is focused towards giving life. A priest or religious does not renounce marriage, and by consequence sex and children, because they fear responsibility, or because “they know what they want.” They do it because they want to dedicate their lives in the deepest way possible to the glory of Christ, which brings life in the fullest sense possible.

 

Take the priesthood as an example:

 

The man who does not have the desire to be a father, should never be a priest.

 

For a priest becomes the father of all, the caretaker and the intercessor for every soul. If he lives out his vocation, he gives up the luxury of caring about himself, and learns to die daily for those he loves.

 

Likewise, I was once told that to become a contemplative monk in order to flee the chaos of the world was a terrible reason, and a false one. Those brave monks and nuns live cloistered lives so that their life may bring fruit in the world via their heartfelt prayers to the Divine who participates in all life.

 

The difference is enormous.

 

Prosserman sterilized himself so he could he could pleasure himself; celibate priests, monks, and nuns refrain from the beautiful earthly pleasures of marriage and children in order to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of others.

 

The former sees only himself, while the latter see everyone at once.

 

What greater form of equality is there than to see others before myself?

Advertisements

The Splendor of the Stars

 

Eight years ago in a orange Australian desert I had the blessed opportunity of seeing the night sky with no light pollution for hundreds of miles in every direction. In chorus with all those who have shared this experience, there is nothing quite like it. The sheer immensity and glory which flutters down from countless spots of light. The little dots are so thick in some spaces so as to seem like a dazzling blanket covering an enormous space, sometimes thicker, sometimes thinner, containing an incredible variety of colours. Words will never do justice…

pexels-photo

It is so often described how this experience makes a person feel small. I shall endeavour to take exactly the opposite route.

 

Consider this quote: “For what will it profit someone, if they gain the whole world and forfeit their life?”

 

What is implied by this quotation?

 

The word life here implies what is eternal, for, sorry to say it, no one gets out of this life alive. A synonymous word, in that case, would be soul, our life that is eternal. Thus, the meaning implicitly is that one human soul is more valuable than all known existence.

 

It means that all the stars, the heavens, the galaxies that surround us are lesser in value than the soul of one person.

 

What then should a person feel when they gaze up at the unfathomable sky?

 

They should feel big! not small.

 

For all that exists, in its glory and its beauty, is still less than that of the soul. Thus, by gazing at those brilliant stars, I should realise that within me, what is me, is even more vast, grand, and profound.

 

Just like the stars, this grandeur demands a response simply by its very magnitude. When I gaze into the sky on a dark night, I cannot help but be blown away, to stand back and admire. This is exactly the same response that should be natural when we gaze upon our friends, our brothers and sisters, our parents, even the strangers who pass by uneventfully on the bus or the train.

 

The fact is, however, that is not our natural reaction. For we do not see the soul first, but the wounds, the needs, the depressions, and anxieties.

 

If the eyes are to see clearly they need the right filter, the right prescription.

 

It is in the silence, in the chasms of my own soul where shines the gems the most brilliant because they are not adorned by myself. It is what is greater than us, from which comes our universe in all its beauty, that furnishes such beauty.

 

It is there, but it is only found in silence.

 

Just as the distraction of telephone, work, internet, and the all the rest can prevent us from ever venturing out into the dark places where the stars can actually be seen, so too the adventure inwards can only be achieved through silence.

 

Every time I make the time to leave the city, to shut off my phone, and to embrace the adventure of unplugging, I am always grateful that I did it. So it is with prayer, with meditation with the journey inward that is worth so much more than a night under the stars.
Why not start today, and search out the bright lights within?
last-photo

Suffering (Part 3 of 3): God Will Never Test You Beyond Your Strength

torn_copyPain is awful.
 

Suffering can be unbearable, and unthinkable. Especially when the source of our torment is the suffering of someone we love, like our children, the discomfort can be extraordinary.
 

There is within scripture and Christian tradition the idea the God will never give us more pain, or a greater trial than we can handle.
 

Recently I noticed a couple articles online which argued the opposite: that God will overwhelm us.
 

In order to believe this a person must hold a very narrow interpretation and understanding of the commonly cited quote from 1 Corinthians 10, “God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength.” Beyond that, if we take two known characteristics of God, that He is both all-powerful and all-loving, then this also supports the notion that God would never test us beyond our limit.
 

Within suffering, powerlessness rears its ugly head. Our limitations and finiteness become apparent. That can be a terrifying realisation, but one from which the greatest drop of truth is born. In our helplessness comes the knowledge of our need for help, for divine assistance.
 

Those who seek to fight the crashing waves of suffering on their own are inevitably crushed and thrown about. Though a person may survive the onslaught, they emerge with jadedness, with anger. Either that, or they emerge with a dwelling attachment to suffering and the battle that surrounds it.
 

When you suffer, beg the Lord of all mercies for help!
 

He will come to your aid.
 

Not in the way you might expect or want, but He will come.
 

Do not forget, reliance on God is not a one off, once and done kind of deal.
 

Relying on God in our suffering means repeated prayers, a constant personal reminding, a striving to turn again and again, back towards He who can give peace in the world’s worst turmoil.
 

God will never give you more than you can handle.
 

Our human strength is frail, it is inevitably empty.
 

If it is our own strength which we seek to rely upon, then yes, we will encounter trials which are too great.

 

God always offers the grace, but it is up to us, the receivers, to accept it.
 

Like a tool with no one to wield it, without acceptance grace is impotent.
 

The notion that God will give us more than we can handle is a flawed one which extols the “glory” or significance of our suffering above God’s grace and love. Even if, as most of these articles point out, being overwhelmed leads to the knowledge that we need God.
 

One man claimed that this promise is not in scripture and remarks that the line from 1 Corinthians 10:13 is about temptation and not suffering. It is actually about both:
 

God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.”
 

In every form of suffering we have a choice: to rely on our own strength, or to trust in God’s.
 

To rely on our own is a temptation, and a serious one because it can lead to despair, the greatest separation from God’s mercy. It is pride that motivates us to shirk God’s help, and it is from this pride that God gives us ‘a way out’. The choices we make during our suffering is exactly what Paul is writing about. He asks us to trust God.
 

Trust placed in God is never in vain.
 

If we only trust Him so that the world may unfold in our image, it is folly.
 

Some struggle just to be able to accept that good may come from suffering. Those who can accept this reality often endure suffering only because they have their own notion of what they hope to accomplish through it. It is no wonder then, that the pain becomes too much, because they hope for something which has never been promised.
 

When we plan out for ourselves what good things we will receive from our suffering, we will be overcome. When we seek to embrace suffering only on a temporary basis; we will be overcome. When we attempt to utilize suffering for our own ends; we will be overcome.
 

Only when we embrace suffering with complete openness and abandonment to God’s mercy, plan, and love, will we have the grace–and as a result the strength–to endure anything.
 

‘God will give you more than you can handle is satan’s motto.
 

He spreads this notion because he wants people to lose absolute trust in God’s goodness.
 

For a God who delivers His followers into snares from which they cannot escape is either not loving or not powerful enough to deliver them.
 

The evil one glosses over this lie with notions of compassion and understanding. He whispers that if we don’t acknowledge the lie we are not compassionate towards those who suffer. When if fact, we steal from those suffering the very tool to find help immediately, not after defeat.
 

One author introduced the idea that Jesus had claimed that the passion was too much for Him, that in His agony in the garden he paraphrased this to God. Nothing could be further from the truth.
 

And He went al ittle beyong them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
 

Shortly after He continues, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
 

If it was too much, Jesus would have fled. He would not have given His will up to that of His Father.
 

Instead, Jesus handed Himself over to his own crucifixion. He who could have called legions of angels to his assistance. Instead He humbled Himself to embrace torture, beatings, slander, and eventually death. It was not too much, because Christ allowed it to happen, he willingly participated in his own execution.
 

The immensity of Christ’s suffering should never be confused with a bowing of His will before the pain.
 

In imitating Christ, we must all willingly lay down our lives in our sufferings. Our emotional reaction to suffering does not have to become our actions. We must acknowledge that without God our trials are too much, but with Him, in God’s love, we can do everything. God never gives us more than we can handle, because he also supplies the grace.
 

While staying at a community in Ontario I was suffering under immense pain and confusion. To find help I asked a question to three of the communities leaders: “What do you do if you’re overwhelmed?”
 

They responded, “Stop relying on yourself.
 

It is time to draw ourselves up, out of self-pity, and into God’s love!
 

Suffering is the precursor to glory if we remain in His grace!
 

Do not lose heart, but bear your afflictions with joy. For He who has created the universe, He who has risen from the dead, will also carry you through your current hardships and into a life so resplendent and glorious that this current moment of suffering will seem like a distant, faded memory.file8781234480355

Suffering (Part 1 of 3): The Man on the Bench

article-2569408-1BE437E600000578-585_634x451

Our response to suffering speaks volumes about our interior state.
 

It reveals how we see others, ourselves; the needs of others, compared to our own desires.
 

Here I wish to reference a difficult experience I had after a shift at work which lasted into the night.
 

Tired, I walked over to a bus shelter and noticed a man sitting in an awkward position on a bench across the street. After watching for a little while it was easy to see that he was unconscious.
 

What happened next shook me deeply: it both showed how callous we can be towards our brothers and sisters, but also revealed my own coldness towards their suffering.
 

First, I noticed how a group of people standing nearby totally ignored his presence.
 

Second, a couple walked up and sat beside him; the woman proceeded to rifle through his pockets and remove their contents.
 

Afterward, they left.
 

Third. When I asked if the group nearby knew him, two women came over. One said, “Hey that looks like Rick, is that Rick?” By this point the man had fallen from the bench onto the ground. She kicked him over so his face was upwards; it wasn’t Rick.
 

They left laughing.
 

Fourth. A woman stopped by when she saw me stooped by his side and asked, “Is he ok?” I replied I didn’t know, I didn’t think so.” So she said, “I think he’s just resting!” with a hint of positivity. I just shook my head, disgruntled, “I think it’s worse than that.”
 

Fifth. A man with a bicycle stopped now and asked if he could help. He proceeded to hit the man with his bike tire repeatedly in attempts to awake him. He then force fed him some liquids and placed the limp man in a terrible position on the bench. When he heard police sirens nearby, he suddenly fled.
 

Sixth, seemingly the only beautiful witness was a teenager who stopped by and asked with a look of concern if everything was Ok. When I told him I’d already called an ambulance he smiled apologetically and left.
 

Seventh. The woman who robbed the unconscious man returned. She sat around asking me for a smoke, or if I had a light while I was trying to talk with the paramedics on the phone.
 

The ambulance arrived in good time and they told my help was no longer needed, so I left.
 

Upon reflecting on this incident later I realised that each person who stopped by represented a different internal state, most of which I have held myself at one time or another in my life.
 

The first people who just ignored him represented those with hearts which have never been lit aflame with sacrificial love. They saw no personal gain, and only annoyance in going to help the man. He was simply not worth their time.
 

Admittedly, this was my first reaction.
 

Love which cannot sacrifice, is not love at all.
 

The woman who robbed him represents all the times that we take advantage of those we love when they are vulnerable.
 

Whether we use subtle social pressure to get our own way, or by taking from the other intimacy that was never given. We have all, at one time or another, used the predicament of another person for our own selfish gain.
 

The fourth woman who stopped to offer the suggestion that, “Maybe he’s just sleeping!” represents our tendency to gloss over real suffering with happy-go-lucky slogans and meaningless cheer.
 

Every time we shrug off the very real suffering of another with pseudo-positivity, we offer them a cold shoulder as relief from their pain.
 

Pop psychologists love this kind of advice. They tell us that to improve our lives and eradicate our struggles we need only think happy thoughts or eat more green things!
 

The kind of love that lifts the burden of the other involves lifting a heavy, cumbersome, and precious cross.
 

It involves most importantly, entering into the pain of the other.
 

The man on the bicycle represents a curious middle ground. He was totally willing to help, but having no expertise about how exactly to help, did what was eventually totally unhelpful. His intention was there, but his lack of expertise and knowledge only served to worsen the situation. It is safe to say that spending time discerning whether our interventions are really helping a given situation would be fruitful time to spend indeed!
 

Knowing when we have the capacity to make a difference, and when our inexperience will lead the situation into an even greater problem than the first, is true wisdom.
 

I left that night on my bus, significantly later and more tired then I had expected, and thought about what had just happened. I was one step away from simply ignoring the situation and leaving without a second thought. When I witnessed my own reluctance to help the helpless, it shocked me most of all.
 

It motivated a serious reflection:
 

Where is my compassion?: I who claim to be a Catholic, devoted to Love itself.
Why was I so eager to leave this man to his lot in life? To be the unconcerned passerby in the story of the Good Samaritan?
 

As a Catholic I also identify with the fact that the risen Christ is present in every human being: to abandon any man or woman is to abandon Christ himself.
 

If I claim to care about humanity, while ignoring the very real suffering of those I know, see, and encounter, I am a liar, a hypocrite.
 

There should be no suffering in this world so foreign to me that I will be unwilling to at least acknowledge the struggle and the pain, to offer my presence and self-less gift.
 

May God kindle and fan the flames within our hearts to burn with compassion for all our brothers and sisters.

Individualism: The End of Meaningful Spirituality

file4781300045861

I would like to take some time to explore the idea of a “personal spirituality.”
 

In order to achieve this end I feel it necessary to first cover the principals of the spiritual world at large. I believe this discussion is worthwhile because I believe it impossible for someone with a “personal” spirituality to have a meaningful spirituality.
 

The nature of the spiritual world can be mysterious.
 

We often forget, however, that many of the properties of the physical world still apply to the spiritual. As science is keen to inform us, just because we can’t see something doesn’t mean that it is not constant! Oxygen and the other gaseous particles that make up our atmosphere are the invisible, but testable materials that sustain every moment of our living.
 

The spiritual is neither irrelevant nor of secondary importance as it might seem. It is true that I cannot be hit by a spiritual bus or clobbered by a spiritual gang, and so the immediacy of the spiritual can be lost, but none the less it is very real, and very important.
 

Some theologians and philosophers have discussed in great detail the idea that the spiritual gives rise to all matter: in effect, everything contained in the universe. They explain that the spiritual gives birth, it is procreative, and not the other way around. In this sense, air is only responsible for sustaining the life we have, but without the spiritual we would not even exist!
 

The debate over proving the spiritual life with science is a foolish errand because it will never bear fruit. It can only be said that those who believe in the spiritual often have an incredible amount of certainty, despite having little to no shareable evidence outside of personal stories and experiences.
 

Where could such overwhelming certainty come from if not from personal experience?
 

If we are to come to terms with the existence of the spiritual then we must consider the nature of it, as a scientist considers the nature of the universe.
 

One of man’s most visceral connections with the spiritual is his morality, or sense of right and wrong.
 

I have chosen this point specifically because even the person who rejects both God and the spiritual world knows the longing of the conscience for justice, for example.
 

Because of the spiritual, we have supernatural good and evil: the cosmic struggle between these two forces is a stark reality.
 

The second very important aspect of morality is that it refers to our relationships: between ourselves, and most importantly with God.
 

Here in lies the efficacy and beauty of spirituality: it always involves sharing, community, and connectedness. Never is spirituality simply a personal experience (in the finite sense), but always one of mutual experience, a deepening of relationship.
 

We must choose the side to which we belong: good or evil. To ignore the clash altogether is, arguably, to choose the side of evil. With that said, I believe it is safe to say that the majority of people defend goodness whether consciously or not.
 

It is now that we enter the realm of Spiritual Warfare.
 

These are the raging battles of the soul, the perilous journey of a person’s will, their ability to choose.
 

There is a burgeoning spiritual movement of people who say things like, “I don’t follow any religion or teaching, I just have a personal spirituality.” In essence, this is the equivalent of a single person going out as a “personal army” against the entire military strength of Russia in the height of the cold war. Any given soldier is a sitting duck without the structure and discipline of an army. As individuals we are useless against an organized enemy.
 

Wise military leaders sow seeds of disunity amongst their opponents army; they attempt to set them against one another. An army that is divided is an ineffective army. In exactly the same way, a hundred thousand Spiritual Individualists will do less good in the world than a hundred united souls.
 

There simply is no such thing as a meaningful “personal spirituality” precisely because it is just one person on their own. They remove the most essential element of spirituality: relationship.
 

If we seek to create spirituality in our own image we will inevitably discover a distorted image of ourselves through this search. It is to go in a giant and endless loop always leaving and ending at the same place.
 

To find the spirituality which brings peace, beauty, joy, we must work together. We must discuss, talk, argue, embrace, and love.
 
Religious dogma is not oppressive so long as it is founded in truth. In fact, it is the exact opposite. In the same way that a manual for a band-saw both protects the user and ensures the best possible result from the work, so religious doctrine seeks to ensure the safety of the believer as well as guide them into the highest possible union, the highest possible joy.
 

People today want to simply choose the parts of the manual that seem the best to follow, and to omit the parts that are uncomfortable or unworthy in their eyes. They say, to heck with safety goggles, those are uncomfortable and sweaty. Not realising that having a wood splinter in your eye is far worse than any discomfort caused by the safety gear.
 

And so it is with our individualist spiritualists.
 

They pick and choose what sounds good, or feels comfortable, instead of seeking the truth of why these rules or doctrines exist. In the end, they undermine themselves, and the community as a whole.
 

Now, it can be argued, quite rightly, that in the realm of the spiritual there are several manuals for the same machine and that these manuals are conflicting.
 

All the more reason to read them and to discern what they say!
 

This discernment must never come from a place of taste or preference though, but from an in depth search into whether or not they contain truth.
 

We do have an ace up our sleeves, however.
 

God is here to help, to listen, and to answer.
 

Don’t believe?
 

In that case, what harm could it possibly do to speak internally to no one?
 

If there is anything I can say with certainty, it is that if you ask, and you listen to the response, He will answer.
 

Often times His answer comes in an unexpected way, but it always comes.

Video Games: A Glance in the Mirror

file0001860307558

The phrase ‘rules are made to be broken’ is probably more meaningful than most realise. In Catholic tradition there is an understanding that charity always trumps any particular “rule”, or way of life.
 

I decided to break my rule of “one hour of video games a day” so that I could spend the night with my roommate during his birthday doing what he wanted to do.
 

I have given much thought to the conundrum of our continually blossoming habit of electronic entertainment.
 

Though I err on the side of less is more, and none is probably the best, I can see some redeeming qualities.
 

There is most forward in my mind the capacity of video games for bonding. Also, there is a certain form of excitement and feeling of accomplishment when all goes well. In addition there is a relaxing component to most video games that is desirable and there is intriguing research being done on the possibility of video games to help minimize PTSD. Most gamers will be quick to point out the artistic and creative elements that go in to making a game.

 
I do not consider video games to be bad by nature, but I regard them with great caution because of their effects on the human being. While it is true that many people can enjoy this entertainment in healthy moderation, I have seen far more of the opposite side of the spectrum: addiction.
 

I will not be surprised when authorities state that an enormous percentage of my generation (20-25 year olds) and the younger generations are bearing the burden of both video game addictions as well as pornography addictions.
 

The latter has already proven to be the case.
 

Someone once said to me, “There’s nothing wrong with playing video games all day.” When I heard this statement I did not respond outwardly, but internally I felt a great pain in my heart:
 

There is something wrong with playing video games all day.
 

The reason is not because of some silly argument like “video games are bad” or other related ideas, but stems more from our human side of the experience. There is something wrong with spending a sizable portion of a lifetime mindlessly manipulating two thumb sticks and some buttons in order to accomplish, arguably, next to no real world change or accomplishment.
 

Playing eight hours a day to achieve the highest level and the best items in World of Warcraft, for example, will be of no use on a person’s resume and in addition will probably lead to behaviours that are exactly the opposite of what employers are looking for.
 

Every addiction wears away a person’s capacity for self-motivation, clear and honest self-reflection, positive self-image, the capacity for active and lively compassion, as well as a number of other ramifications.
 

For example: my physiotherapist once told me that she is finding an increasing number of young individuals who now have the spine of a fifty year old. Hours and hours bent over playing games has warped their spines into an unnatural position. The negative results of a lack of exercise should be no mystery to us. Yet, few activities lend themselves to total inactivity more than video games and television.
 

If our physical bodies are ailing from this habit, what about our emotional, intellectual, and spiritual lives?
 

We can be assured that these suffer just as much.
 

I resent the ongoing movement which claims that playing video games is just “another way to spend your life”, because we might as well say that being an alcoholic is just another way to spend your life.
 

Even the best athletes do not practice nearly the same amount of time as many of the gamers I know spend playing games.
 

In order to believe that it is harmless spending ten hours a day playing games, I must also believe that human life is meaningless.
 

For how else could I rationalize such enormous amounts of valuable time to doing, essentially, nothing?
 

We all need relaxation, we all need a day every once in a while to just “veg”. I am not against that. On occasion I will spend lots of time playing games with my friends. For many people it is not an occasional day to veg, but every day off work, every half day after work, is spent with proximity to computers and consoles.
 

It is, in the fullest sense of the word, a waste; it is a waste of the awesome potential we have as human beings, having free thought, the ability to think, to be creative, to ponder the mysteries of the universe.
 

We are throwing away our capacity to reach out, to be loved, to love.
 

We grow in knowledge and wisdom in the areas of life where we spend the most of our time.
 

It is no surprise that those who spend more time on game consoles than in full time jobs have poor social skills. Many games employ active social elements in their games, but these interactions are not what any reasonable person would call deep or profound. Many of these gamers are very capable of having like minded friends, but their capacity to be strong, loving components of these relationships, or to be the stronger and more caring half of the relationship, is lacking.
 

I have seen the bonding that occurs around an X-Box console, and it is lacking in comparison to real and authentic conversation and mutual discovery. I have seen it a thousand times: it is impossible to have any meaningful conversation while one or an other participant of the conversation is engrossed in a video game, television show, or their cell phone.
 

They simply are not listening fully, and that is an awful person to have a conversation with.
 

It could be said that without this form of entertainment some people would never get to bond.
 

While this may be partially true, holding this opinion will only help to further isolate such people into these pseudo-relationships. If a relationship can start over video games then that is a good thing, but for it to grow it must never remain there indefinitely.
 

Video games have become a little nook to hide in where we can reside instead of facing the world, its challenges, and the very real adventure of creating new friendships and fostering them, of taking risks and leading a meaningful life.

Belief (Part 1 of 3): Something More

Someone once said to me, “There has to be more out of life…”

 

What is this more?

 

I have walked to the brink of despair, and said these very words: “there has to be more out of life…”

 

Is it more video games? More ice cream? More sex? More late nights watching movies? More work? More entertainment? More time spent with friends?

 

What is this more!?

 

This question burns in the hearts of so many searching souls.

 

For some this question turns into a lifelong pursuit, for others it means only a temporary interlude until they return to the same rat race as before which lead to the despair in the first place.

 

One thing is clear: there is a more!

 

It’s not more stuff, more notoriety, more friends, or more money. It’s not more recognition, more power, more wealth, or more sexual freedom.

 

This more is something beyond the senses, beyond the happenstance of our lives.

 

Lately there is a rising notion that the more we search for is in the literal sense of the word: extra, surplus, addition, enlarged.

 

The height of this illusion is expressed most fully by a billboard I saw advertising for a beauty clinic, “A woman should only ever be two things, who and what she wants.”

 

Unless technology has surpassed my awareness, since when did we get the ability to change who we are like a character in a video game? It is simply not possible. Further, coming from a place which alters surface appearances to make a woman more “beautiful”, that’s a desperately shallow statement. They might as well say, “Change your exterior, that’s all you really are anyways!”

 

Here is the more they are ignoring: A woman’s beauty is intrinsically tied with her actions, her thoughts, her love, her compassion, her womanhood, her motherhood, her strength, her choices, her beliefs, and her resolution. It is a shameful lie to suggest that exterior appearance changes who a woman is, or a man for that matter.

 

Yet this is the more that we are being offered everyday. “Be who you want to be!” “Choose and customize everything you like!” “Choose your expression, your identity, and your existence!”

 

Except all these customizations are just surface level clutter. Your cell phone cover does not identify you anymore than having knockoff corn flakes in your pantry does. Having a maple tree in your yard does not increase your worth as a human being anymore than having a Ferrari.

 

The more we are being offered involves zero personal change and expects everyone around us to bend to our will. “If they don’t love you at your worst, then they don’t deserve you at your best.” This is the motto of the stubborn, the loveless, the selfish.

 

There is a more but it requires change, and not superficial change. We must be honest, great good only ever comes from real change! You can’t change the cell phone covers of every rotten politician and expect the world to be a better place. Likewise, giving an extreme makeover to every hate filled extremist will do nothing for the good of human beings.

 

Minds and hearts need to be formed by something that is greater!

 

This formation takes the external appearance of conformity, which is treated like death by North Americans. Conformity happens in thousands of different ways. For example, feminists expect people to conform to the idea of equal wages for both sexes. This is a good thing, a form of conformity which is directed towards the good. Thus, not all conformity is bad.

 

Conforming because I’m too lazy or apathetic to search for answers myself is definitely a bad thing, but lets stick with the good for now.

 

The greatest possible thing that could ever happen in the universe today is that every human person should allow themselves to be formed by universal and perfect love. Goes without saying. It is easy to agree about this.

 

Problem is, this formation requires self sacrifice! This conformity requires us to acknowledge that some forms of what we call “individual freedom” are actually acts of hatred towards others, towards life itself.

 

This is a great problem indeed, because now its no longer the world of me.

 

What a blessing is the fact that the world is not centered on me, or you, or any one of us.

 

file0001453400651

The expression of self gift is exceptionally more satisfying than any number of hours spent playing video games. The
expression of my love is a million times more fulfilling, even if its painful, than a lifetime of relaxation and indulgence. Yet if the world is centered on me, then playing video games and relaxing is the only priority I will have.

 

It is time to start living for others.

 

There is more; there is more that we can give and receive. Until this becomes a reality the burning questions surrounding the statement “there must be more in life…” will plague us until the sun ceases to burn.