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The Ice Bucket Challenge and the Cynic

Cynic: a person who has negative opinions about other people and about the things people do; especially : a person who believes that people are selfish and are only interested in helping themselves

Pessimist: 1.an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities or to expect the worst possible outcome 2a.the doctrine that reality is essentially evil 2b.the doctrine that evil overbalances happiness in life

Hypocrite: a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs

It is so much easier to become a hypocrite when you are a Christian, than opposed to if you were, say, a Satanist. I battle my hypocritical tendencies constantly; analyzing what I say and do, trying to figure if they are in conflict with what I’ve said or done previously or at odds with the Christian life or expectations therein. I mean, it’s a constant battle between your self and who you truly are.

My friend, the Satanist, (I’ve told you about him, here, here and a little bit here) doesn’t  have to worry about being a hypocrite. I couldn’t guarantee the thought here, but it probably is a virtue to be hypocritical in the Satanist’s belief.

I enjoyed watching the classic television show The Addams Family, but was constantly confused by aspect of them enjoying the darker side of life while displaying attributes of loyalty, hospitality, friendship, patience; you know those things that are generally seen as positive or “lighter”. It was all so hypocritical and I couldn’t assimilate those conflicting behaviors in my young mind.

I still enjoy the “darker” things in life, such as reading horror novels or watching The Addams Family or listening to music that isn’t generally accepted by mainstream Christianity. I don’t think that makes me hypocritical, but some would disagree.

Which brings me to the point I have here. It all started with this whole “Ice Bucket Challenge.” In the early days of this summer I saw a few of these videos and it quickly reached a crescendo a few weeks ago. (Incidentally, I consider myself a sort of pop culture maven and will begin writing more analysis and thoughts here.) I found the videos fine and never really considered the typical/unpopular goofball such as myself to be challenged to do it. After all, these were cultural icons who were making a fool of themselves all for a good cause. Now don’t get me wrong, they aren’t fools for doing this, but allowing them to look the fool, being wet and cold and in some ways vulnerable, eventually brought about the idea of ALS to the forefront of international debate. It worked! Granted there are much more important causes to educate the world about; slavery, feeding the starving. But, that is just my opinion. Apparently this has raised over $40 million. These superstars are one upping each other on the creativity factor of which they can relate to the common man. This is now, officially, a cultural phenomenon. Even at my work’s social network site, they have a page dedicated to people dumping ice water all over themselves. Fortunately, I, nor my team, have been challenged yet because we are so far away from any corporate office that we are always forgotten. Always.

Then my brother challenged me. His boys dumped the bucket on his head and they had a lot of fun. I initially rejected the idea to do it, but thought that I could make some sort of statement and have my kids have fun with it at the same time. I wanted to say that who follows up with all these people who don’t accept the challenge. Is there some ALS Ice Bucket Police force making sure you get your donation in for not humiliating yourself. I saw the Super-Star as relating and us, and we, just humiliating ourselves. It needed to be more than just me dumping ice on my head. So, I did it and found myself forgetting all the things I wanted to say.

Sure, it was ridiculous and I knew that my participation in it would have the effect of nil or negative nil on the cause (that I necessarily didn’t care anything about), but my kids had fun and my wife even smiled about it. I posted it on that one site. I wasn’t going to keep it up long as I knew those I challenged would probably do nothing about it, (which was true) and it was just something that was a flash in the pan for me.

The next day my Satanic friend posts:

“I was going to ask someone what all this stuff about dumping water on people was about, but then, like an offensive Fbook post, I decided against it, as I don’t care. I reached this decision after concluding that humans are being led around like mindless sheep (as per usual), but probably never so bad as it is these days.”

Him and I agreed on one major point in High School: People Suck. This is what kept us together, our mutual feelings of how much better we were than everyone else. Nobody’s opinion mattered above our own. Since then, I believe I’ve grown the wiser in trying to understand people’s motivations and beliefs. Although there IS a lot of right actions with altruistic beginnings, people are still fallible and will make wrong choices even when they think they are right. I do believe we are all sheep. All of us. We have our own flock and do things for our flocks approval. He doesn’t realize the choices he makes are because of who he is, which is a series of experiences and related thoughts and actions he took because of them. He believes himself unique in his ideas and doesn’t realize that all those people agreeing with him are his flock and he is the mindless one seeking approval. I, wanting to answer, began typing something to this effect in the comments, but I didn’t want to start something that would never be finished. So I posted a general post regarding my thoughts on sheep and our sheeplike behavior. My Satanic friend then posts a huge rant about all these other problems in this world and how all these people think it is Obama’s fault, and how he never bashes religion, but makes scathing comments. It was basically our back and forth jibes at one another.

Then I see my brother-in-law going off on people who are dissing those who are taking the ice bucket challenge. And yet someone else as well. Who knew that dumping water on your head could cause such division and rants!? I deleted all the applicable posts and cemented the idea to get rid of my FB, that I’ve been toying with for a while.

My friend believes that being a mindless sheep is getting more prevalent these days, but he doesn’t consider division through this social media and snippets of news feeding the fire, as the main culprit for our increasing sheepiness. We need to read full articles. We need to consider differing opinions, (not meaning being so open-minded that we accept everything). We need to ask each other “Why?” in a sincere, inquisitive way. We need to stop being so offended and defensive. But, alas my pessimistic side believes that this will never get better, only worse.

After all this rigmarole, I posted this:

“Visited a youth group tonight that a friend is heading up and I enjoyed the discussion leading to seeking out Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT), and how that ties into the purposes of our life. Like a lot of the churches around here, most of the kids are bused in and are there mostly to socialize. My eldest daughter came with me and told me after, that it is hard to believe that she could relate to these other young adults. She is shy around new people, much like me, and those kids are brash, loud and seemingly overconfident. I told her that their behavior is an indication that deep down they are probably scared and uncertain. I went on to explain that most of these kids probably don’t have many good role models or possibly parents or even people who care. We can’t believe things about people by just what they choose to reveal to the world. We can’t think we understand who they are by what they do among their peers. Then I went off on a rant about how sad this world has become because we believe things about others without knowing them, and feel our anger, resentment and/or violence is justified because of how much we suffered in the past or our people suffered hundreds of years ago. Then we assume we could control ourselves in that situation and suddenly realize that we have never been in their shoes so how can we understand. “Some men just want to watch the world burn,” goes off in my head. Maybe all people don’t want to be understood, at least by those who aren’t a part of their group. I see those kids, and I pray for them that they will gain knowledge of who they are, what gifts they’ve been given, and think about life, and the world and their purpose in it. That is where I am the optimist. I believe that you can reach those kids through love and connections of a transcendent nature, seeing that the world is beyond them. But then I see the world and how we aren’t getting any better, so what hope do they have when we can just sit back and watch it all come crashing down. My optimism wanes… but in their eyes you see some connections being made, ideas being sprung, and there is hope. Love your kids, find those who don’t have a mother or a father. Be those people who care, bring hope into their eyes. Change the future for them. We can provide hope with an outstretched hand. We can provide hope with laughter or a tear. I see nothing new about what is happening in this world, but those kids are new, and we can make a difference.”

In all this, I wonder about cynicism, pessimism, and hypocrites. Although in many ways I am a pessimist, I realize that I am not a cynic; thank goodness. But the majority of pessimists are turning to cynicism, and that is what is dividing us. Find out people’s motivations, make your world a little more closer. A little more friendly perhaps?

~Stranger

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Strange Confessions: More On My Friend, The Satanist, The Facebook Strumpet

Strange Confessions: I couldn’t stand looking at my old friend’s stupid facebook posts anymore, and this last one had to be answered to.

So here was his post:

“I have a guardian demon.
Last night, I was SPEEDING on the freeway, TEXTING while driving, and changing lanes (often), WITHOUT SIGNALING- all this, and the guy that did the usual Utah-speed-up-no-you-can’t-pass-me-even-on-the-freeway thing got pulled over, by the UHP that I didn’t even know was there…
So I sped home, texting, and changed lanes again, for the hell of it- and I removed my seat belt. If only I had some trash to discard out of the window!
>:- )>”

So, I had to call him on this one, right? I mean what kind of idiot posts this stuff anyway. Okay, okay, calm down. He was my best friend and all from High School, and I love him and stuff, and I realize that he says things just so his friends can like his stuff and he can get cool comments that agree with him. If you remember me telling you on a previous “Strange Confession” about how I use to egg him on, to get him to argue with me; well this was just too much. So as I examine our friendship we had, I realize he was a Satanist all along. Their major ideology is that they are their own god, and if anyone gets in their way, they are to destroy them. So facebook is the perfect launching point for his brand of self worship. Not that Christians don’t fall prey to this as well, but that is another story. So, I let it burble for a bit and wait to see what some of his other friends will say. RT, for me, is an examination of cultural heritage within the realm of self-centeredness merged with technology; he is very interesting to me to examine. But I get angry at him, I think because of how close I came to be like him.

Then, his friends started to reply. Most just thought he was so funny and rebellious for his actions, some even taking on a tone of mild shock, yet still praising him for his “evil” ways. There was one though that I agreed with and I actually “liked”. He said, “You drive like an ****ole.”

Then I had to get my two-cents in. I said:

“I have this book I’m writing, it’s vignettes on this modern life, and I would like permission to use this status if you could. This chapter I’m currently writing is called “I’m a spoiled brat teenager trapped in an old man’s body. Help me! I may kill myself and others!” Could I use this status?”

Of course I cracked myself up. I thought is was a pretty good reply; equal parts common sense, smart alecness, and condemnation, and smart too. Well, the one friend of RTs “liked” this reply and so I believed his reply was serious too. (Sometimes you never know.)

Eventually RT came up with this response:

“That’s a coincidence! I’m writing a book too, called “Confessions of A Guy Who got Married and Found God”, I’ve already used your FB statuses without permission, but you can come over and raid the fridge, just like in the old days! Deal?”

That was it? Really RT? That is the best you could come up with? I believe he was trying to be insulting and reveal me to his friends my position as a “religious” type, who I assume are of the Satanic persuasion as well as him. I somehow thinks he thinks I get upset when he brings up the eating of food at his house while growing up. I ate at his house, because there was no food at our house and his mom made awesome meatballs and spare-ribs, so of course I was going to eat it. Anyway, I think his idea is that I zinged him and he was trying to get me back.

I know I needed to respond, (maybe not), and I did:

“That sounds more tame than your usual stuff. Just don’t write it while you drive.”

What I didn’t tack on the end was, “Idiot” which I really wanted to. He writes a kind of H.P. Lovecraft fan-fiction and I just wanted to let him know how stupid his actions were. I don’t want to turn this into some trite “I said, he said” sort of thing, but there you go.

I see RT as all that I was headed to. Self-centered so much to the point that everyone else is wrong no matter how wrong you are. Again, this was something he always upheld when we were young: he was never wrong. A lifetime Satanist. That my friends is what we all are, that is if we don’t find God, or more to correctly point out the error in RT’s statement, that God finds us. I find his whole life so shallow and sad. I’m sure he enjoys it… perhaps… maybe. When we come to people we have to come to them as if they were all hostile to God, because we were once. I truly pray for RT. He is, as I would say in my own mind, hopeless for God to find him. But, nothing is impossible with God. He may very well be in God’s sights as we speak.

~Stranger

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Strange Confessions: My Friend: The Satanist… The Facebook Strumpet

Strange Confessions: My best friend from High School is a Facebook Strumpet.

I use the word strumpet because it sounds a little more delicate than the word I really want to use, and, in keeping with the General audience material I’d like to maintain with this blog, we’re going with the cutesy. Please don’t look up the word if you don’t know it, perhaps my description will lead you to the idea I have of what a “Facebook Strumpet” actually might be. And who knows? Perhaps “strumpet” is quite a bit more derogatory, more racy, than the other term I had in mind. I have also decided not to post these thoughts congruently on my Facebook blog of the same name, which I often do, for I will be going into various other Facebook behaviors that drive me completely “antelope boffin” and thus may offend many of the “friends” I have on Facebook. I use the phrase “antelope boffin” because I could have used many other terms for the word “insane”, and in keeping with the creativity of this blog, and the General audience material I’d like to maintain, I did not use the term I wanted to, describing a flying rodent mammal and stuff that may come from it; granted the stuff the term describes has many good uses, the phrase itself could be deemed offensive to some. Anyway, “antelope boffin” is so cute and creative, I had to use it. You may also notice that I am using the actual name of the site, “Facebook”, as my usual moniker for it is: “that one site”. The reason I use the phrase “that one site” is because I hate saying “Facebook” in normal conversations or essays or any other way we use it, because it has invaded our culture so much so we can’t relate to each other without using it or saying you saw something on it or referring a friend to look at something on it, or whatever the gronk you want to say on it. I use the word “gronk” in the last sentence because I didn’t want to say the word I really wanted to there because I want to… Oh, never mind. You get the point. This is an entry dealing specifically with Facebook, so I’m going to say it. There. Facebook. I said it. In your face! Oops. Sorry, I hope I didn’t offend you by saying, “In your face!” I suppose I could go back and delete it, but it’s too far back now. I better just let it hang there and hope you didn’t notice the exclamation point I used, which could be considered offensive by some.

Facebook drives me antelope boffin in many ways. There are the people who are always wishing their kids “Happy Birthday” as a status. Saying things like, “Twelve years ago today I said, ‘hello’ to my little Roy. It was such a joy to see you come into the world, and boff all over us from the get-go. We’ll never forget.” Or a spouse saying on their status, “You said ‘I do’ when I came down the aisle twenty-four years ago, but the most memorable part, is that you are still here, even through all the boffing.” Or someone saying this, “Seven years ago today my dad went to a better place, even though I miss him I still get along without him.” Now, I am really not saying any of this is wrong per se… but what did we do before this? Before this Facebook status fulfillment of wishes and exposés of memorable moments? Has it all come down to some sappy Apple commercial, where we’re all typing love notes and good wishes and sorrowful sentiments while were sitting right next to the person? Is that what we did before? Did we turn to the table next to us at the restaurant and say to someone we might know, “I just want to wish my husband a happy anniversary,” as they look at us with confusion, then awkwardly say, “Ummm…. Congratulations.?” As our actual husbands, sitting next to us, asks the waiter to send a telegram to two-hundred and thirty of our best acquaintances about how awesome the steak and shrimp looks on our third anniversary. “Oh, and do you have a camera that will make this food look all old and weird? That’d be so boss!” says he. These are just some of the things I ponder as I look at Facebook. How did we get people to wish us a happy birthday. Well, the only people to wish us or our kids a happy birthday before Facebook, were those that actually cared. Holy crumpets! What a concept! People who really, actually cared just remembered or asked when your birthday was, then sent a card or brought over beers and celebrated just with you? Well nowadays, saying Happy Birthday on Facebook just about covers it. Hey, hey! I am not the kind who remembers or cares, I may be just as bad as a non-rememberer was back in the eighties. My nieces and nephews get no cards from me. Do I feel bad? Gronk! Yes I do! But I would feel worse if I didn’t get them anything and then thought that I could cover it because their mother just wished them Happy Birthday on Facebook, so I can get a comment in saying, “Oh, tell them Happy Birthday from Uncle Jerkface!”

Aaaanyyyywaaay… had to just be said. Now back to my best friend…

I am quite ashamed of my former best friends behavior now, because the way he is, is not the worldview we had as younger people. We were independent thinkers, who thought alike,… sometimes. What we did think alike about was that we could have cared less about what people thought about who we were or what we were doing. One of the things that I did that impressed (I believe I called him RT in former Strange Confessions) RT into thinking that we could become friends, was that when riding the bus home from school I would sing along to a certain song very loudly with headphones on, especially the screaming parts.

I would see the popular girls glare at me and it was hilarious. Other kids would look on in surprise that I was so brash, so stupid… Maybe they just admired my gall. I just thought it was funny. I tend to think obnoxious things are funny, if for short, brazen periods. I’d look around to see the reactions of other students and RT would be grinning at me knowingly, nodding his head in the way he probably still does. We rode together all the time after that and became good friends. Bonding in our disgust of the way most everyone else was: snotty, prudish, cocky. We made friends with some others who were shy or totally outside the normal realm of High School cliché. We had our own little island of misfit toys.

So this is the behavior he engages in on Facebook now: He changes his profile picture multiple times a week seemingly to gain likes and comments on a certain look he is going for. When we were growing up, RT showed signs of premature balding, while I, had the thickest mass of the most beautiful black locks you could imagine. I suppose a more insecure person could get jealous of my gorgeous hair, but not RT, he was as secure as they come. Well now he shaves his head completely, and when I last saw him or talked to him, he said that people say he looks like Anton LaVey, a man RT admires. For you see, RT has become a Satanist. When I found out he was one I looked up what that meant. In most cases it doesn’t mean they wear robes, walk through dark forests, and kill things in honor of satan… at least in RT’s case it doesn’t. But he comes from the understanding that there is no God and no satan, it’s just you. You are the focus of your life, if anyone gets in your way, destroy them. I don’t think, in most cases, that means kill, but perhaps it just means ruin them, get them out of your life, make them not matter in anything you do or are. I’ve seen him comment to others, “Hail self!” He talks about being on the throne and worshipping self. That is what he has done. He has made a shrine to himself on Facebook, and at the same time sells himself to it and to others. People “like” the pictures he posts of himself. They call him a “bada**”. They say he looks so awesome. They can’t get over how “baaaad” he looks. RT sucks it all in and spouts it back out. He says, “Yeah, I’m a bada**… I’ll kick your a**… I’m a Satanist…” all this stuff, just off his pictures. I mean seriously? Is this my friend I had all those years ago? A photo comment fisher? A like stalker? Only has people around that agrees with him? Of course he can’t stand it if you disagree with him. When we were younger it was a joke to me, to get him mad at me and I thought it was so funny to see his jaw working, tensing up, clenching, because I said something he disagrees with. Now he’s gotten rid of all those who disagree. I believe I am only friends with him on Facebook because of our past. I really don’t know why I keep him as a friend. It’s so disagreeable to see his posts. I can’t believe he has become… a Facebook Strumpet.

Anton LaVey: If he was still around, he'd be a Facebook Strumpet too.

Anton LaVey: If he was still around, he’d be a Facebook Strumpet too.

“What a world, what a world!” I cry out as I am dashed with a dose of technical reality, and it burns, and it burns as I shrink, green steam shooting out of my eyeballs.

This is in no way to say that I don’t desire people to notice me on Facebook, for it is nice to be noticed, is it not? I would say that I am still friends with RT because I love him. And God loves him. And I may be the only Christian that he knows, even though we don’t interact much anymore. But he just wants what we all want: a little love, a little attention, a little credit.

~Stranger

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