Dreams Dreams Dreams… What Do They Mean?

Something I’ve become interested in over the past few years is dream interpretation. I’m not so interested in the crazy horoscope interpretations that are reminiscent of Harry and Ron reading tea leaves in Divination, but the more personal interpretations that are specific to each of us. I’ve found some common themes and experiences in my dreams, and I’ve noticed some interested things about my dream world that I think should be noted. This is some very personal stuff, so honestly I’d enjoy talking about it all with whoever cares to read.Let’s start with some interesting things I’ve noticed about my dreams!

 

1. Conscious/Unconscious Memory

You know how hard it is to remember a dream when you’re awake? Even if you write it all down right after you wake up, reading it later it all just seems like a vague cloudy picture. Something I started noticing, however, is how clear that picture is… when you go back to sleep. I very clearly, very vividly remember things I dreamed 10 years ago, when I am dreaming today. It doesn’t happen SUPER often, but when I dream, I get deja vu. I am CONVINCED this thing happened before, or I’ve seen it before. And then I remember that it did indeed happen, in another dream a long time ago. And then I realize I am dreaming, which leads directly into my next point…

2. Lucid Dreaming

You can usually “pick” what you dream about using a form of self hypnosis. You simply focus on what you want to dream about, and you hypnotize yourself into sleep thinking on that topic. As you fall asleep, the picture in your mind becomes more vivid, more active, and eventually you are not forcing yourself to focus on it. It just takes off. If you have trouble doing this, I started noticing that I could take control of the direction of my dream after I was already in it. I’m sure when you were having a nightmare you kept telling yourself “It’s just a dream, wake up!” And then you did, right? Well did you ever try to not wake up, but change the dream instead? I started doing this when I was a teenager. I was having a nightmare about Chucky, the Good Guy murdering doll. I was freakin out and just wanted to wake up. But then, I realized I was dreaming. And instead of forcing myself awake, I decided I wanted a rocket launcher. And that is what I got! The one drawback I’ve noticed about lucid dreaming is that the dream doesn’t typically last long if you realize it is indeed a dream. It’s almost like once you’ve realized it’s a dream, you start using your conscious mind to make decisions and changes, and so you start to wake yourself up. Bummer!

3. Themes

I have noticed that I tend to have common elements, themes, or objects in most of my dreams. I’d bet that it’s the same for you. Think hard. What happens in lots of your dreams? What do you think it means? Following is a non-comprehensive list of my common themes and what I think they could mean. 

 

1. Epic Proportions

In nearly every dream I have, there is some epic adventure to be had. We’re talking Lord of The Rings scale here. Huge battles, long journeys, quests, all of it. And in each of these dreams, I am at or near the center of it all. I’m either the main character or I am going along with the main character. It’s difficult to describe exactly what I mean here, but the gist of it is my dreams are BIG. They are rarely about just me and someone else, or a small group of people. The stakes are ALWAYS high here.

Interpretation? I think the scale being big is a reflection of my desire to be an important piece in something grand. I often feel sidelined, unimportant, looked over. I’m not the hero. I tend to let someone I think of as being “more qualified” get the girl, win the gold, lead the team. If I even choose to participate I’m often the sheep in the bunch, or at most I am the devil’s advocate, but rarely ever the brazen man who stands for what he believes even if he doesn’t always have the words to explain why. I think I am the hero in my dreams because I want to be the hero in reality, but I don’t know how, or if I do know how the risk seems too great.

 

2. Afraid to Fly

Interestingly enough, I have the ABILITY to fly in EVERY dream. I mean it, even if the dream is small scale and very personal, I can randomly go outside and fly if I want to. Or at least, I can try. You see, nearly every time I attempt to fly in my dreams, I second guess myself. I look down, I see how high I am, and I begin to fall. It feels like the drop on a roller coaster. Even before I start falling, my heart jumps into my throat, my organs become weightless, and I feel myself begin to plummet. I know I can fly, and in the dreams I pretty much NEVER die from falling, but I can never stay in the air long enough to really fly.

 

Interpretation? Two-fold. I am actually afraid of heights in real life. You get me more than 7 feet off the ground and my heart rate jumps. Higher than that and my hands start to sweat, I start to get dizzy and lightheaded. I get a ringing in my ears. It’s not that I am incapable of going up high, at all. I’ll go up elevators, climb ladders and trees, all of it. But when there is only a guardrail between myself and the plunge, I begin to falter. I think my fear of heights in my dreams is indicative of my fear to go the distance and be everything I can in real life. I know I am smart, I have resources, I’ve been given so many talents in life and am blessed every day. I think when it comes down to it though, I’m afraid to be everything I am capable of being. What if I fall? If I go so high, what happens when I stumble and plummet? If I go so high up, won’t I be alone, with no one to catch me when everything goes wrong? I make so many excuses for the reasons why I don’t take risks, why I don’t just GO for it. I’ve lost so many things, so many opportunities and friends, simply because I was resolved to sit back and be mediocre, not ever take hold of what’s been given to me and make it something grand. I am the one talent man. I push people away, satisfied to keep what I already have instead of making it more. Satisfied to stay put where it’s safe, instead of go on an adventure. 

 

3. Telekinesis

Let’s face it, this one is awesome. I’ve found that I demonstrate many X-Men-esque superpowers in my dreams: healing, mind reading, shooting lasers out of my eyes, web slinging (awesome), and pyrokinesis. But none of them compare to telekinesis. I can move anything, ANYTHING, with my mind. I use this ability to do the most random stuff. In the epic dreams, I use to to throw my enemies around, pick up weapons, toss trees, stop projectiles, all of it. In my regular going-to-school type dreams, I use it to pick stuff up off the ground, open doors, get my book out of my locker. This power appears in literally 99% of my dreams.

 

Interpretation? It’s all about control. Self control, control of my environment, anything that has to do with control. I think that my control of everything in my dreams is because I like having control of what’s going on around me… And I wish I had more of it. I’ve already said that I hate taking risks. Well, nothing would be risky if you had complete control, now would it? I often feel that I cannot control myself, my feelings, my urges. I can’t control the feelings and actions of people I care about, the random awful drivers on the road, my boss, my psychotic puppy. There is SO much I can’t control… And even if I could, somehow I feel that I wouldn’t take the opportunity to gain that control. Having control isn’t as risky as gaining it. It’s easier to sit back and let things happen as they happen, then stand up and change my life to be what I want it to be. I know in my heart that I can have control of many things, that I have a choice of how to do things or at LEAST how to react to them. I know ultimately, whether you believe in fate or God or karma, control may be out of my hands and in the hands of a much wiser power. But in my small home, where I can have control and no one outside can tell me what to do, I still don’t take control. I let things happen as they happen. I sit back and say “Hey, whatever happens, happens.” Some people would say that this attitude makes for a happy life. You don’t make plans, they can’t get ruined. But what kind of life is that? The people who say this wish they could make more decisions, have a desire so strong that they would fight fate for it. I can’t move things with my mind in real life; I need to decide to just do things with my hands. 

 

4. Back to School, Back to School…

I think we’ve all had this type of dream. You’re back in high school! Hey, but I graduated high school, I’m in college, why do I have to be doing all of this again? Why does this math test matter, I’m not even supposed to BE here! Why am I freaking out about an assignment I forgot, I passed this class 5 years ago! Sound familiar? Mine isn’t just about going to school, specifically. It’s about family life in that time. You see, in these dreams, I also still live at home with my mom. And my step-dad, who she divorced. And it doesn’t make any sense to me in the dream because I know I’m old enough to decide what to do now, I shouldn’t have parents making my decisions. I don’t understand why my mom is back with him either. In these dreams, she is usually either brainwashed and back under his control, or she is with him because if she wasn’t, something horrible would happen to her or my little brother, so she takes the abuse for his sake. I rage against the fact that he is trying to tell me what to do, but it doesn’t usually work, and I almost always wake up before any good can come of it.

 

Interpretation? Your childhood follows you around long after it’s over. I am constantly returning to what happened to me as a child, when I had no control and was under someone’s rule. I’d like to think that the idea of my mother ever getting back with him is irrational, but I think the subconscious fear is that I am not really rid of him. The guilt tripping and criticism is still with me: he did it so much that I caught the disease and now I do it to myself and other people. The manipulation, the lying, avoiding blame, it’s all still with me, sucking me back into being a child, sucking away my maturity and my desire to be responsible for myself. Isn’t it much easier to blame what happened to you as a kid for the way you are now, then grow up and choose what you want to be? Isn’t is simpler to say you were raised a certain way and that it made you what you are, instead of saying you want something more and fighting to be your own person? I really think everyone struggles here. We were all raised to be some way, something, because our parents believed that was the way it should be. For a long time, we probably agreed with them.

I was baptized when I was 12 years old. Let’s face it, that was really late in my childhood, right? If I had died before then, after the age of 9 or so, I probably would’ve gone straight to hell. Or at least, this is what I was taught. At the time, I thought I was saving my soul. I was really just saving my social standing. All the COOL kids were baptized, after all. You don’t want to be one of those heathens you go to school with, right? So let’s put a label on ourselves, call ourselves BAPTIZED and CHRISTIAN, and then we can get back to being the exact same person we were before. I didn’t ever make my own choices about my soul til I was 20. It was then that the religion I swallowed didn’t sit well in my gut, at all, and it came spewing up. And after that I found myself hungry for some truth, for something I could believe and not just what I had been force-fed before. And even though now I believe what I have chosen to believe, I still fight the burden of guilt that was attached to my conscience as a kid. When I dream and I am back living at home with my awful step-father, I realize that as much as I try and want to rid myself of my childhood, it will come back once in awhile and nudge me. 

5. Tornadoes

This one is pretty easy. In the scariest dreams I have, a tornado is almost always involved. I usually have to decide between going and watching it, and hiding from it, which is not an easy choice to make. 

 

Interpretation? Images you saw as a child latch on to you. When I was 5 or 6, we were driving home from church one night, and we heard on the radio that a tornado had been spotted near our home. We drove fast down some back roads to get there just as soon as we could. I looked out the window at a large field, and I saw it. I saw a twister. It wasn’t humongous, but it was there, maybe several hundred yards away. I don’t know if this really happened or not, but I swear I saw lightning all around it. It was horrifying. Ever since then, I’ve had a weird obsession with storms. They scare me, and they soothe me. I want to hide from them, but I want to be IN them, to watch them and take pictures. I think this image stuck in my mind and has ever since been associated with my fascination and terror of all things wild and dangerous. It was just one tornado, and yet is has always been latched on to my definition of danger, or disaster. I would imagine many people have this experience with other things. Something you saw as a child, something traumatic or significant, you now associate with all things traumatic or significant. It’s this tendency to define our world by our sometimes limited experiences that is the reason why what we do, see, and say as a kid is so important. It’s foolish to think that your kid will forget something they just saw or heard because they are young.

 

 

Well, those are some common themes that I have an interpretation for! What happens in your dreams? What do you think it means? 

Cane’s Sauce Recipe!!!

Raising Canes

 

So, my roommate Travis and I were musing on the fact that Cane’s Sauce tastes good with everything. This is true, it really does. I had a thought, that we might be able to buy it in bottles from Cane’s. Turns out, you can’t! However, you CAN make it at home. It isn’t perfect, but it tastes great. There are several recipes floating around out there, and I tried one of them, but it was missing something… And I think I found out what it is! Here is what you need to make some sauce (double the recipe if you need a lot).

 

1⁄2 cup mayonnaise

1⁄4 cup ketchup

1⁄2 tablespoon garlic powder or salt

1⁄2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Generous amount of black pepper (cover surface two or three times and mix in)

TONY CACHERE’S SEASONING! (stir in to taste)

 

You may be inclined to use lots of mayo, but don’t. It comes through more than you’d think, so get it either exact or use slightly less. The last ingredients may need to be bumped up a bit to add some spice and cover the taste of the mayo, so add a bit more of each until it tastes right. Finally, the Tony’s needs to be added last. You aren’t trying to make the sauce SPICY, mind you. This ingredient just helps the sauce hit the right part of your pallet. Add some sprinkles in and taste a few times until it is right. Put it in your fridge for awhile and let it settle, and it will taste great! Enjoy.

 

Stay hungry my friends. 

 

13 Reasons Why Dead Space 3 Just Wasn’t That Scary

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CAUTION:

****SPOILERS AHEAD****

Following is my list of 13 reasons I found Dead Space 3 to be the worst game in the series. Don’t get me wrong, I still have faith in the games and I will buy the next one whenever it comes out, but while Dead Space 2 was fantastic and only improved on every single bit of what made Dead Space such a good game, the third installment is a major departure from the horror aspects that made this franchise awesome. If you haven’t played it yet and don’t want to ruin it for yourself, don’t read this!! Let’s get it on.

13. Suits

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Nothing suits me like a suit! Because they are all the same.

The suits look pretty cool in this game… But that’s it. There are only two instances where a specific suit is needed for a specific function. After the second time, literally every suit is exactly the same in every way. Where you used to be able to upgrade to a better suit with more armor, better attack ability, better speed, more inventory slots, cheaper prices at the store, etc., in this game there is no such luck. One suit is as good as the next. Finding or unlocking a new suit isn’t as life-changing as it once was. Whereas before it was a godsend to find a suit with 4 extra slots in the inventory, now finding a suit essentially means that your current fashion is outdated and it’s time to change. You’re wearing THAT suit after Labor Day? Tacky.

12. Introduction of Circuits and the Demise of Nodes

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I could never find these at Circuit City. Now I can’t even find Circuit City!

In Dead Space 1 and 2, finding a power node was the equivalent of finding a $20 lying in the street. SWEEEET! This will make a big difference! Power nodes could upgrade your suit and your guns, but the rarity and expense of power nodes meant that you had to carefully plan where to place them. Unless you wanted to spend 5,000 credits requisitioning them, placement of a node was PERMANENT. You had to ask yourself, “How much will I really use this gun? Do I NEED more oxygen time?” But now, we have circuits. Circuits are the nickels and dimes of the Dead Space world- useful, but only if you have enough of them. One circuit is not life-changing, and no matter how awesome a circuit can get, it can be moved or balanced out by something else. If I don’t like a circuit on this gun, I’ll just move it to this one. The introduction of circuits to the game meant that you didn’t really have to worry about where you put each one, because there were just so many that you couldn’t lose no matter where you put it.

11. Foreknowledge of Your Enemies

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Hey guys, listen, I REALLY appreciate you letting me know you’re the bad guys right at the beginning of the game.

You meet Danik, the main baddy, within like 15 minutes of the game’s start. You know he’s a bad guy right off the bat. About an hour into a 10-15 hourish campaign, you start to suspect that Captain Norton hates your guts and wants you dead. Thus, it is no surprise that he betrays you before the game ends. In Dead Space, you didn’t know Kendra was bad until the VERY end. You were led to believe that Hammond may be a bad guy, and you just weren’t all that sure about Kyne and Mercer. In Dead Space 2, we aren’t sure about Tiedemann, and we assume Daina is a good guy until we are proved otherwise. It takes some time to discover just who you can trust. Dead Space 3 just doesn’t have that. You know you can trust Ellie right off the bat, and while you don’t know much about Carter, he doesn’t seem to play a big enough role in the game to really make a difference. It was scary not knowing who you could trust, so consequently it’s less scary when you know exactly who NOT to trust.

10. Lack of Suspense (The British are Coming, we’ve seen it!)

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Dude, I’d act more surprised if you hadn’t told me you were coming…

Necromorphs jumped out of vents randomly and came around corners all the time in the first two games. Creepy and suddenly loud music played as soon as the necro came into direct camera view for the most part. You could have an enemy sneak up right behind you and not make a sound until he either hit you, or until you turned your camera around and he was there, roaring with loud music to back him up. They made me jump and scared the bajeezes out of me when I was playing at night. It was just so creepy how they… creeped. But don’t worry! Now they make a ton of noise, and you can see the snow moving when they’re headed your way. While in some situations the sounds they make set an ominous tone, these situations almost always involve a dark and very claustrophobic room. Out in the snow, seeing enemies coming from a long ways off and having time to prepare just doesn’t make their appearance all that frightening.

9. Crafting

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Let’s see, best way to kill zombies… ROCKET LAUNCHER, OBVIOUSLY!!!

In a way, weapon crafting is both the coolest and the worst thing about this game, though it obviously isn’t the most frustrating or else it would be higher on my list. The amount of possibility is really staggering here. It’s so neat that I can mix the plasma cutter and the contact beam, my two favorite guns. It’s cool that I can make one weapon have the ability to stasis my enemies when I shoot them, or to light them on fire, and another that gives me health as I kill with it. Best thing ever, right? Yes… In a different game. In a game where SURVIVAL is key, you would think that you just make do with what you can find. The first and second games basically only gave you mining tools to fight with, save for the pulse rifle, which sucked anyways. The idea was that you were fighting the alien enemies with the tools you could find and that you knew about. Now I can make just about any weapon I can imagine, and the game becomes less about surviving and more about killing in imaginative ways. Furthermore, every weapon now uses the same ammo. You used to have to very carefully choose what guns you carried, because they each had different ammo and your inventory would get full very quickly. You have to think about how you use the guns, since each is not equal in its usefulness. Some shoot fast and accurate, others slow but with lots of power, and still others disperse widely. I had to think about what gun to bring with me ahead, and would need to think on my feet quickly before taking any shots or killing enemies for fear that I had not brought enough ammo with me. Now, it doesn’t matter. I can switch freely between all firing modes and not worry about how much of one type of ammo or another I have, it’s all the same. If you aren’t picking up on it yet, the idea here is that EA decided to give gamers more freedom in how they play. While freedom means more customization, it means less suspense. If I’m free to decide how I kill, it’s far less likely I’ll ever have the suspense and anxiety of being backed into a corner.

8. Movement

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Double tap [A] to take away your worries!

This one, EA specifically addressed in a press release. They decided that giving Isaac the ability to roll around or dodge and to take cover felt essential, since his inability to move felt stupid and counter-intuitive. They believed that the horror in the game should come from what’s happening in the game and the story, not from sluggish controls. What they DIDN’T think about is that by this game in the series, we are largely desensitized to what is happening in the game. What’s happening in the game is no longer that shocking to us. Resident Evil suffered from the same issues. In the first game you used to have to stop moving completely in order to aim and shoot, and this was horrifying! You want to be able to run away and shoot at the same time, but you can’t! While many gamers would say this was stupid, it certainly made for a scarier game. Sometimes the scariest moments in a movie are the ones where a character can’t move or doesn’t know they SHOULD move and we see the monster coming for them. We yell and scream at the screen for them to just GET OUT OF THERE, and we get mad at how unrealistic it can be when they don’t try to fight back or get away… But that anger is really just our unwillingness to admit how badly those moments scared us. In this game, you no longer have that fear of an enemy suddenly being RIGHT next to you, and you have no choice but to shoot point blank like a mad-man until they go down. In Dead Space 2, the Puker would shoot you with a “stasis” shot which would slow you down, and suddenly you would have no choice but to fight whatever was in the room. Running wasn’t an option. Being able to dodge hits now makes it far less likely to ever come into contact with an enemy, and that makes it less scary.

7. Human Enemies

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“Hey man, you’re modding! Quit camping! I’m gonna do unthinkable things to your mom!”

This game introduces human enemies, the Unitologist soldiers. This one should be a no brainer, really. Human enemies aren’t scary. Necromorphs don’t hide, they charge right at you. They have no fear. Human enemies hide, they plan, they are predictable. The addition of human enemies to the series makes it feel more like Call of Duty than Dead Space. Call of Duty isn’t scary. I play this and think of the soldiers yelling things at me that I’m used to hearing from 10 year olds on multiplayer in CoD or Halo.

6. Scope/Magnitude of What We’re Doing

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I’m fighting to survive here, I can’t take that risk! What? It’s for the fate of mankind? Ok, I suppose I can do it then.

Dead Space 1 and 2 were about staying alive. Oh, mankind’s fate is alluded to. You know these aliens can’t make it to Earth or any of it’s colonies, so you have to kill them. But frankly, most of your fighting is done for yourself. But when you are suddenly fighting for the well-being of the entire galaxy… Well, it’s not so scary, because what you are doing is so important. Does this make sense? I might be afraid to fail because if I do, the whole galaxy falls apart. But if I fail, it was for a bigger cause and I’ll be remembered as a hero. But fighting for your own survival, fighting just to live for a few more minutes, is infinitely more scary than fighting for all humanity. It’s much more personal. As the focus shifted away from Isaac saving himself and his close friends, to saving others and eventually mankind, it got less scary to see what was happening to him. The suspense and anxiety get watered down as the stakes spread out to more than just your own well-being. This is the beginning of the big hitters of why this game wasn’t very good. This is where the game stopped being a SURVIVAL horror game. Plus, fighting planet-sized enemies makes killing human-sized enemies seem trivial.

5. Co-Op

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I’m glad you could be with me here Sam… At the end of all things.

Yet another example of a cool gameplay addition that also ruined the horror. Having someone play next to you, constantly talking to you, encourages you to laugh at the scary parts instead of shudder. You are already mowing down enemies by yourself in this game, but now you don’t even have to be afraid of the time it takes to reload your weapon. You don’t even have to look around. It becomes a contest of who can kill more enemies. Fear 3 suffered in this area as well. Having a co-op partner changes up the gameplay in big ways, but the biggest way is by making it just not scary anymore. There were many ways a co-op campaign could still be scary (split off into different areas of the ship, getting separated, seeing and hearing things that the other player can’t, etc), but this game only touched the surface of those possibilities.

4. Resource Hunting

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Shopping is so much fun, I’ve forgotten that I’m actually fighting for my life!

Another area that both Fear 3 and Dead Space 3 suffer is in the area of resource/ability hunting. In Fear 3, you kill in specific ways, with specific guns or moves, from special areas, etc, to earn style points. Earning style points upgrades your level, which gains you more health, better stats, more moves, etc. I focused so much on getting specific kills, that I completely forgot the game was supposed to be scary. In similar ways, you spend so much time hunting for resources and focusing on upgrading those darn weapons, you forget that the game and the story is still happening. I don’t kill a necro to survive; I kill him and hope he drops some tungsten. By adding so many items that you need to find to do anything, you take the focus away from the storyline. The plot would oftentimes drag, because I needed to scavenge resources in an area before moving on. You scavenged around for parts and items in the first games too, of course. But this game emphasizes that scavenging farrrrr more. It becomes a distraction rather than a necessity.

3. Loneliness and Never Being Alone

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… Shaggy… Velma… and Scoob. The gangs all here!

This entire game, you have Carter with you. If he’s not with you, you have Ellie or Norton or SOMEONE always contacting you, on your side, aware of your exact location. This game never really gives you that sense of being utterly alone, that creepy feeling you got in the first two games. This doesn’t specifically have to do with being able to play co-op either. It has to do with the plot of the story. You are working on a team for an obvious and set goal for the whole game, and thus the sense that you are alone in your mission is lost.

Simultaneously, the fact that you do not encounter any living humans makes the game less scary. Remember walking around a corner and seeing a woman with her eyes gouged out just laughing hysterically? Or another woman waiting for a necro baby to crawl to her? Or a man that you can’t really tell if he’s dead or not slamming his head into the wall at the end of the hallway, and hearing it all happen way before you could see it? This stuff gave me the heebie jeebies! There’s something inherently creepy about being on a ship or in a city where it seems like everyone is dead, but still encountering living people. People who have seem some horrible things and are now going crazy. These people reinforce the fact that something horrible happened and is happening currently all around you. Things are falling apart in other parts of the ship or city. You are not there after the event has already occurred; it’s occurring now. On Tau Volantis, however, everything happened a long time ago. You are re-awakening everything, rather than seeing it fresh.

2. Setting

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                                                      A flight in wide open space?

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A stroll through an entire planet of snow? Sounds lovely!

Darkness and closed spaces were two of the biggest selling points of the horror of Dead Space. You were trapped on a ship that had no power, and things were stalking you. In this game, you shift from a large moon colony, to the orbit of a broken up fleet of ships, to an entire planet. There are very few moments where true claustrophobia sets in for this game. The fact is, for probably 70% of the game, you aren’t even IN space anymore. And 15% of the game time, you aren’t on a spaceship but free floating around. This wide-openness, complete with lots of light and visibility, makes everything way less scary. If I can see my enemy a mile away, with no tight corners to worry about and no low light to be afraid of, I’m not gonna be scared. The most claustrophobic you get in this game is during the side missions that are mostly in place for acquisition of resources. So, you essentially trade off a scare of being in the dark, for the lack of scare of focusing on finding parts.

ANNNNNDDDD…. Number 1 reason why I think Dead Space 3 wasn’t scary is…..

1. The Necromorphs!

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                                          You’re just a giant bug, I think.

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You’re a murderer with a facemask on.

I think this is by far the biggest reason this game failed to scare me or creep me out. The necros on DS and DS2 were pretty much all recent converts. Many of them were human and changed into necros right before your eyes. There faces were still very human, they still made very human sounds. There were babies with tenticles, men and women with large spikes on them, a guy attached to the wall who still sounded very much alive but like he was being tortured. It was SCARY. They were so very human, and yet something else. It was the freshness of it, the fact that these monstrosities were human moments before, that made them so sickening. Seeing children with pale skin and long claws run at you, or a scorpion thing with a very human face and a human set of arms jump at you was the stuff of nightmares. But in DS3, the necros/mutated humans are both MORE and LESS human. The necros are all made of extremely decayed bodies, so their human traits are minimal. They really just look like big humanoid bugs to me, and killing bugs has never been an issue for me. The babies are now dogs, and even those dogs are barely recognizable. We also have humans who ate infected flesh. The only ones of these that are creepy are the Feeders, which essentially replaced the Pack from DS2. They are creepy zombie things. They are fast and mean and love the dark, so they can create a good amount of tension. But the Wasters, the ones that carry pick-axes and wear parkas… They aren’t scary. They look like humans with glowing face masks. The very fact that they can and do use weapons makes them less scary. I think the previous 2 games struck the right balance between alien and human for the necromorphs, and this game threw everything out of whack.

 

Dead Space, first and foremost, is supposed to be a HORROR survival game. EA tried to turn it into an action game with horror elements, and essentially turned away from what made gamers love the series in the first place.

So what do you think should be done to bring Dead Space 4 back to the horrifying roots from whence it came?

Thank you for reading, please comment and follow me!

Faith, Trust, Hope, Love, And KFC

If you loved it, you shoulda put a ring on it.

If you loved it, you shoulda put a ring on it.

I love fried chicken.

I LOVE IT.

I would eat fried chicken from just about any restaurant that sold it. In truth, when we go to a new restaurant that I’ve never been too before, I usually order some form of fried chicken just to be safe, because I know it will be good.

As much as I LOVE fried chicken, though, I get tired of it if I eat it too much or too often. I mean, it’s good and all, but once in awhile you just want pizza or a burger or salad, right? I just lose that warm fuzzy feeling of eating fried chicken, and so I move on to a different food, something that gives me that spark, that hits the oh-so-hard-to-find spot.

And that, my friends, is the reason that America’s divorce rate is soaring.

People get married because they’re in LOVE, but they “love” this other person the way they “love” fried chicken. It makes them FEEL good, it’s exciting, it’s comforting. But it’s just a feeling, a feeling that goes away when they’ve had too much of their spouse and they want the feeling back the only way they know how: go get it from someone else. Go eat pizza or a salad, that should mix things up and bring some spice back to life.

I hear people tell me that they have trust issues, quite often. Most of the time these issues are justified in some way. They were taken advantage of, used, abused by someone in a position that should have been trustworthy and comforting but instead was manipulative and hurtful. And granted, that all makes sense. But it seems that people treat trust like it’s a feeling too. That trust just sort of happens when you meet the right person, that when you feel happy and positive with this person, then trust shows up and you’ll have it forever. People treat faith the same way. It’s easy to have faith because the conditions are all right. Everything is good, life is good, so it’s easy for me to have faith. It just sort of happens because I’m feeling good! That’s what faith, trust, hope and love are all about right? Feelings? Just warm fuzzy words written on a blurry background and posted to Facebook or Instagram, that shows everyone how much trust or faith I have.

But what about when the circumstances aren’t so great?

What about when your spouse cheats on you? When your significant other stoops into a depression and every day they just seem like a dead weight dragging you down?

What about when you lose your job? When your kid gets very sick and it’s costing a fortune in medical bills to get them better?

Love, faith, hope, and trust are eternal, right? They last through all these situations and are EASY, right?

Sure. If they were easy, then we wouldn’t have so many suicides, so many broken homes, so many empty churches. But hey, they’re just feelings, so they’ll swing back when I improve my circumstances! All I need to do is get more money, lose some weight, get a new job, be more charming, etc etc etc, and then I’ll bring back those butterflies that are the DEFINITION of love!

This viewpoint, this attitude, is what drags us down and breaks us apart. Thinking that love is simply a feeling, that trust just happens with the right person, that hope or faith are easy because of what I see in front of me, is why relationships and families fall apart, why people leave the church, why people give up on life. It’s this adolescent fantasy, this dream that these 4 things are going to be easy, and all you need are the right circumstances to make them happen, that keeps us from growing up and taking responsibility.

I’ve been watching Dexter a lot lately. It’s an interesting show, to say the least. This may contain spoilers, but I will try to keep them vague. Dexter is about a man who is a serial killer, but he only kills people who deserve to die, who fit a certain Code. These people are rapists and murderers. Dexter feels this need to kill, which started at a young age when he witnessed his mother brutally murdered. Ever since then he’s felt what he describes as an uncontrollable force inside him that tells him to kill, and the only way he can control it and remain a good person is to kill the ones who deserve it. Very late in the season, he encounters a man who is setting people on fire. He does this because when he was a kid his friend set a gym on fire and killed several children and then blamed him for it. He blames this experience as the reason why he does what he does. Following is a transcript of the scene where Dexter is about to kill him (edited for language)

Dexter Morgan: So, he still talks to you. This Bobby… the one who tells you to set these fires?

Joseph Jansen: No. That would make me crazy. AND I’M NOT ******* CRAZY! But I only hurt people because of Bobby.

Dexter Morgan: No. You’re the one who’s setting those fires. You’re the one whose burning people alive. You can’t blame it on something that happened to you when you were a kid. You’re not a kid anymore. It’s time for you to take responsibility…

Dexter then realizes what he’s just said. He has blamed his urges on something that happened when he was young, and always said that the urges were uncontrollable, a different being, almost like a demon inside of him that took over his body. He comes to realize that these urges really are just feelings, and though they are strong, they can be controlled. He realizes that he and ONLY he is responsible for the choices he has made.

It was while watching this episode that I began to think about trust and love. It is so easy to think of these things as just feelings, but they are so much MORE than that. They are an ATTITUDE, a COMMITMENT, a RESOLUTION. If they were easy, they would not have the impact that they do on our lives. If they were easy, they would be cheap, and worthless. If love was easy, then God’s choice to let Jesus die, and Jesus’ choice to be sacrificed, was easy, and cheap, and worthless.

Yet another show I watched that I thought of while pondering all of this was Lost. This show is by far my favorite show of all time. No show ever had as big of an impact or resonated so deeply with me. Two characters, Jack and Locke, are often at odds with each other. Both had traumatic losses and hurt before arriving on the island, and both were still learning to cope with it. However, they chose to deal with these experiences very differently. Jack became a cynic and a skeptic, demanding tangible proof for everything before making any decisions. Locke became a man of faith, trusting that the universe or some higher power had a purpose for everything. He believes in fate and destiny. Both are born leaders, but the direction they would lead the group is very different. This difference in attitude comes to a head in the following scene. Watch the whole thing to gain a little context.

 

Why do you find it so hard to believe?

Why do you find it so easy?

IT’S NEVER BEEN EASY.

Faith, love, hope, trust, are not supposed to be easy. They aren’t whimsical feelings, blown about by the breeze and tossed by the waves whichever direction they might be going. Faith is a boat turning itself directly towards the storm, towards the giant waves that threaten to topple it unless it is faced head on. Trust is petting a grizzly bear at the zoo that is known to bite it’s handlers at times. Hope is climbing down a dangerous ravine because you’re dying of thirst and can hear water running somewhere but can’t see it. And, to loosely quote Death Cab, love is watching someone you love die. Oh, sometimes they will feel easier, the choice will be easier to make because you already feel good inside and the circumstances are right. But in those times, feelings will become 90% of your decision making, and the attitude of love or faith will take a backseat. When things fall apart and happiness (the feeling, don’t confuse with Joy, an attitude) is no longer in the equation, choosing to love someone may be harder, it may not FEEL right.

These things DON’T MAKE SENSE in a rational world. In a world that only “trusts” feelings, “trusts” physical measurable and quantifiable evidence, it makes no sense to continue loving a spouse that is brain dead and can offer nothing in return. It makes no sense to go to China and live with the poor when you have riches at home. The action of love makes no sense in a world where survival of the fittest is the ruler by which everything is measured, the ruler the world bows down to. But love is indeed an action. It is an active movement, not a passive thought. Love is a choice we have to make each day, regardless of how we are feeling.

No one likes to feel like they’ve been used. No one wants to be made a fool, to feel like our choices blew up in our face. Part of growing up is realizing that sometimes we won’t get what we want out of our decisions, but that does not mean that our decisions were foolish. Sometimes we are used, we are manipulated, we are let down. This should never keep us from being willing to trust, love, hope, or believe. We temper these choices with wisdom, with being able to look into a situation and realize the intent of a person, but we should never give a soft heart over to cynicism and cold calculation. When we let our hearts become hard, we stop making our choices for selfless reasons. Everything we do starts becoming about only ourselves and what we can gain, rather than what we can give. ‘

Love is like a diet. Sometimes, it might not be fun. We might not get to eat KFC all the time, we might have to eat broccoli. We might have to give up snacks. But it isn’t about what we feel like eating in the moment anymore, it’s about the long term benefits of what we choose to eat. We commit to diets, or to working out, to change ourselves for the better, even if at times we just want to eat fried chicken and pizza and sit on the couch. We choose to persist through hard times, choose to trust even if our trust has been broken, to love when we don’t like, to hope when we can’t see the end, and to have faith against the odds.

I choose to love, even though it’s been hard. I choose to hope, even though my feelings of “hope” aren’t with me, when the big feeling I’ve been having lately is sadness and loneliness. I have faith that everything will be ok, though I often feel that my life is falling apart. I choose to do these things, because if I didn’t choose to, I would give up.

When we start treating these as attitudes and choices that can be made despite our ever-changing feelings, we can begin to heal our broken world, to crack through our hard hearts. I leave you with a wonderful scene from The Matrix: Revolutions, one that is filled with Biblical symbolism.

Let’s Be Clear (Reflections on the “We’re Just Talking” Article)

There’s a post going around Facebook from another blog/publisher talking about young men and women caught in the pre-dating post-friendship stage known as “talking”. Here’s the link to those who haven’t read it.

 http://cbmw.org/men/manhood/were-just-talking/

The first time I read this a couple months ago, I nodded in agreement. I really just skimmed through it, enough to get a good feel for what it was saying, and I still do agree with most of what it says.

Young men DO have an issue with committing to anything. They, and WE, are sometimes afraid to go for it, to define the relationship and be clear about our intentions, to be decisive, and this can have the effect of the young woman feeling like she’s being strung along by the boy. I have something to say to both the young men, and the young women.

Men, in my lifetime I’ve come to realize one resounding truth: a woman desires to be DESIRED. They want someone to want them. This is why young women so often wear provocative or revealing clothing, why they become overly flirtatious, why they get such horrible body image issues. They want a man to desire them, but they read their inner desires badly, and they feel that their body is the best way to gain attention. I’ve been proud to see girls posting web links and statuses about being a Proverbs 31 woman, about being beautiful on the inside and loving God above all else; these ladies are fighting to make it known that their body is not the only thing about them that is desirable, and they refuse to be objectified. Good for you ladies, keep it up! Men, a woman wants to be fought for and pursued. They want someone to overcome some obstacle to have them. They want the man to pursue them and try to win their heart, to work through the difficulties and dig into their soul and love what they find there. There is nothing wrong with that, and you young guys need to understand that in order for that to happen you can’t just dilly around and hope you stumble upon that. You have to be decisive, be bolder, be insanely brave for just a few moments and put yourself out there.

But…

But women. Ladies. You need to stop emasculating us. I don’t think women really understand how intimidating they can seem. We live in a time where women, even Christian women, seem to be super sassy and feminist, and their body language and words just scream out the message “I don’t need a MAN to do ANYTHING for me. I can do it ALL by MYSELF.” Some girls get offended when a guy holds the door for them, some get offended when the guy is doing his best to be what he has been told is a gentleman’s deed. If chivalry is dead, I think women were the ones who buried it. 

So often I find women listing off all of these qualities in a man that they want, nay DEMAND, leaving no room for error. Christian woman want a tame man, a man who is groomed and obedient and quiet and soft and not dangerous. If he doesn’t lead songs at church, he clearly isn’t a good leader for my household. If he struggles at his job, he must be a deadbeat. If he has a beard, he’s a slob. If he enjoys a good cartoon once in a while, he’s immature. They say they want a man to lead, and then take his ability to lead away by listing off all these other qualities that he HAS to possess. You can’t MAKE someone lead you. That makes you the leader, doesn’t it? I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to see females talking about God having the perfect husband in mind for them in the future, like he’s a plastic Ken doll just waiting for them to unwrap and have him be exactly everything they want, with no personality quirks or flaws. Guys get a bad wrap for being too picky and unreasonable in the body they want their future wife to have, but ladies, you should be made aware of that plank sticking out of your head. You are just as picky about the personality your future husband better have, and he had better have it right when you two meet or it’s game over.

One of the most wonderful things I’ve found in developing my relationship with my girlfriend is that we are so different in some aspects and the same in others. Our relationship isn’t perfect in the sense that it has no flaws. We are flawed people, obviously we will bring that flawed character into any relationship or occupation we will ever have. Finding your significant other isn’t about finding someone with no character flaws, it’s about finding the person who you fit with. I saw a blog a year or so ago where a woman said that girls need to stop listing all of these requirements that their man should have, even if they seem holy and righteous, and just find a man who can make them laugh, who is attractive to them, and who loves God. Here’s a link to the full post:

http://theartinlife.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/my-husband-is-not-my-soul-mate/

The rest is a blessing and an adventure, it is a sign and becomes a witness to how God can work in someone’s relationship. You don’t find the perfect unflawed soulmate, you find someone who you can work with and learn to love and you grow into each other. A good relationship isn’t a microwave dinner from the freezer aisle, it’s a slowly prepared meal that takes time to put together. You don’t just find someone who fits your every need, you find the main ingredients, the few truly important things, and you go from there until you’ve built something you can find satisfaction and joy in. 

Ladies, what my message to you specifically is, you can’t tell a man that he needs to take some initiative and step up to the plate of dating you. You’ve then not only placed yourself on a pedestal, but you’ve also cut his legs out from under him. After that point if he does ask you out it’s because you told him to, not because he worked up the courage to do it. Nearly every couple ends up having the DTR talk. Define the relationship. There comes a time to do it. Right at the start isn’t always the right time, ESPECIALLY if your reaction to him asking you on a date is “I’m not looking for anything serious right now,” or “I just don’t want to date right now, I have so much going on.” This makes me furious, because it’s a total lie. If it’s not a lie, then it’s dishonest at best. I can’t tell you how many times I heard of girls saying that to a guy, and then within a month they are dating some other guy. That is SO damaging to a man’s self-esteem. You want to know why some guys don’t try to better define a relationship? Why they go for less scrupulous women, why all the “good” guys are taken? It’s because they’ve tried to define a relationship with a good girl, to be clear about their intentions, and the girl shot him down and then ran off with another guy not two weeks later, after telling him that she wasn’t looking for anything. There’s any number of reasons that a young lady might tell a guy that she isn’t looking for anything serious right now, but if young men should be required to define their intentions, then young women should be required to speak the truth. You may think you are sparing the young man pain by telling him you see him as a friend, or he isn’t quite your type, or you aren’t looking for anything right now, but it hurts worse when they think you just aren’t being honest with them.

My big point here is that ladies, if you want guys to be manly, to be clear and concise about their intentions, then don’t punish them by shooting them down. You have to let MEN be MEN, warts and all. Even a Godly man is imperfect. Don’t have such high, impossible, unreasonable standards for him that you reject him outright when he does try to ask you out. Maybe someday your husband will meet those standards and be everything you dreamed he would be, but I’d wager that most of the time he wasn’t all those things right when you met him. Stop thinking “Is this the man I’m going to marry? Is he everything I want in the father of my children?”

Instead, simply ask “Can I enjoy myself around him? Is it possible that he could grow to become someone I admire, someone I would follow?”

For all young people, male and female, you have to realize that you should never continue to date someone you’re sure you can’t see yourself marrying. If you know for sure you are heading towards a dead end, end it before you crash and burn. However, you can’t always be sure right when you meet someone that they AREN’T someone you could marry. It takes time to learn about someone, time to reveal their flaws AND their strengths, their dirt and their diamonds.

Don’t avoid dating, don’t be afraid to be clear about your intentions or to have someone be clear about THEIR intentions. Don’t run away from it. If someone is mature enough to be clear about their intentions, or to work up the courage to clearly ask you out, then I imagine they would be mature enough to handle the situation well if things don’t work out. Who knows, that person you knew for years and never even considered could be the one you’ve been looking for all along. 

First World Problemsssss! (The So-called “Persecution” of Christians in America)

I’ve spent most of my life being an observer of other people. I was never much of a trend setter, someone who wanted to stand out in the crowd and lead others. I tend more to watch others and follow their lead once I’ve been convinced it’s the right way to go. In my observance of others, I have noticed a disturbing trend amongst American Christians that needs to be addressed in a way that will most likely be offensive, troubling, and hopefully convicting.

In the past 48 hours, I have seen the Google machine and my Facebook newsfeed just LIGHT UP with talk about Phil Robertson and A&E. In case you don’t know, Phil said some fairly non-PC stuff in an interview with GQ magazine, stuff that would most likely be pretty offensive to the LGBT community as well as African Americans, or any other person who thinks themselves a “tolerant” individual. As a result, he has been suspended from the cash-cow that is “Duck Dynasty”. I myself even made a comment in a status post about the situation, though I believe I did well to not take a definite side one way or the other. I will address that stance a bit later.

The Internet displayed people either taking Phil’s side, or taking A&E’s side. The ones taking Phil’s side say that his 1st Amendment rights for speech are being violated, and that he is being persecuted as a Christian. Those supporting A&E say Phil is an old-fashioned intolerant right winged bigot, and that A&E did the right thing to punish him. The sheer ferocity of those reacting to this situation is what makes me laugh. Frankly, it’s astonishing, and it makes me shake my head and wonder how we got here.

Apparently, in America, persecution for your beliefs means being a millionaire before getting a tv show, then getting fired from that show for making some unsavory remarks and still being a millionaire. Today, “persecution” for being a Christian in America means that we can’t pray in schools, or at least it isn’t sanctioned or led by teachers. “Persecution” means having the Ten Commandments removed from some courthouses. It means abortion or gay marriage being made legal and being more widely practiced. “Persecution” means that my first-amendment right to say what I want or practice the religion I want should not be met with any consequence or repercussion that is unwanted.

Seems to me that people don’t really understand what persecution really is. Honestly, I feel like everyone who lives in America, who has lived here their whole life, has no idea what it means. We have instead done exactly what our Bible warned us not to do: we have let false doctrine into our churches. We have become loyal to a nation other than our Lord’s kingdom. We have confused the Kingdom of Heaven for America.

When I was young until I was an adult, I attended a church where being a Republican, an American, and a Christian were completely synonymous. I’m not kidding, if you voted Democrat at any time EVER, that was grounds for ex-communication. I even had people get mad at me for not voting for Romney, though I didn’t even vote at all. According to them, “It’s your DUTY to vote! We have to vote for Romney, he’s not nearly as bad for us as Obama is!” Some of my friends were downright furious with me for choosing not to get involved with the elections that year, because it was apparently my Christian duty to vote for Republicans every single election. Somehow, growing up, I came to believe that America was one big Church of Christ, that God himself had founded this country, that the penned documents of the forefathers was holy writ. Any time a topic came up in Congress that was controversial, I always heard my Christian friends saying “This country was FOUNDED on Biblical principles, they are ATTACKING the Constitution!” As an extension, by “attacking the Constitution”, those left-wing terrorists were attacking the BIBLE!!! We just can’t tolerate this!

I don’t know when it happened, or why, but somewhere along the way we started believing that American and Christian were the same. The pilgrims came here for their religious freedom, which translated into “the pilgrims came to America to be Church of Christers, and NOTHING ELSE.” And once the terms became synonymous, suddenly any time our Constitutional right to do anything (bear arms, public assembly, speech, religion) came under attack, our Christianity was suddenly being persecuted.

I find it incredibly rare that an American’s Christianity is TRULY persecuted. When you are ostracized at work for being a Christian, to a point where it becomes bullying, I’d say MAYBE that was persecution. Most people say they are persecuted because their teachers teach them evolution in school, or their classmates don’t believe in God… Or because people question why they pray before meals. They are persecuted because people get angry when they share the word of God with them.

I don’t think I’m sharing anything new here, but y’all do realize that people in China get hunted down and murdered for reading Bible’s, right? The Romans sawed Christians in half while they were still alive, burned them, had animals tear their flesh off, killed their babies in front of them. Monks had natives burn down their monasteries and pour molten gold down their throats. Torture, imprisonment, complete exile, and death are what many Christians have to deal with, but nooooo our favorite tv star getting fired from a TV SHOW is just an OUTRAGE. Heaven FORBID that a famous person say something that offends a particular group and have to pay ANY consequences for it. After all, he’s a Christian and he’s FAMOUS, why should HE have to have any tribulation? Phil has the RIGHT to say whatever he wants about his faith and NO ONE should say anything about that, right?

Think about this. What if President Obama got up and did a speech, and he said “I just really hate white people. I love black people, but I don’t think white people are all that great.” Or, maybe he says “Allah has told us that only Muslims will go to Heaven.” How do you think that’d play out? People would be downright FURIOUS, right? How can he say that, he’s the PRESIDENT! People look up to him, he’s got an image that’s seen all over, how could he say something like that even if it’s true? How can he voice his opinion like that? No, he MUST be impeached! Kick that racist out of the WHITE House!

Well guess what. Barack Obama just exercised his 1st Amendment right. He voiced his opinion, and he has every right to do that no matter how offensive it may be. So that means he can just keep going like nothing big just happened, right? No consequences for it, cuz that is his RIGHT, and it would be DISCRIMINATION, it would be PERSECUTION if there WERE consequences!

You see what I’m getting at? People everywhere realize that there are CONSEQUENCES for what they say. No matter how ignorant, bigoted, stupid, offensive, or opinionated it may be. People don’t raise their kids saying “Now I know you told me to go screw myself little Johnny, but that’s ok, that’s your right as an American citizen.” They punish that child! The kid grows up learning that there are consequences to live with, and that they must make their choices with consequences in mind and decide whether that action is worth it. The 1st amendment protects us LEGALLY from being thrown in jail for saying something against a leader, or for exercising a religion different from the rest. Think about the pilgrims writing it. They left Europe to get away from an oppressive king who had them thrown in jail for speaking badly about him or his kingdom (rulers, soldiers, etc), or who had them arrested or whatnot for wanting to worship differently. They wrote the Constitution as a response to the grievances they had at the time. I don’t believe for a SECOND that the first Amendment means “Say whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want, to whoever you want, with no negative consequences EVER.”

I can’t go into a job interview, say a string of curse words, and then cry foul when they don’t hire me. I was just exercising my first amendment right… right? I can’t make threats to the president, say certain key words on an airplane or in the terminal, and then get mad when I’m arrested.

We as Americans, and more importantly as CHRISTIANS, have become spoiled little brats. We think that we should be able to do anything, say anything we want, and get away with it because somehow it’s our God-given right. You know who else had that kind of attitude? The Pharisees. They took it upon themselves to judge and then execute punishment on everyone around them that they thought of as a sinner. Think about the adulterous women. They had caught her in the act, and were getting ready to KILL her.

Let that sink in. They were fully prepared to take this woman’s life, to hurl rocks at her and see the blood rush out, here the bones crush, hear her cries of pain. They were READY.

They brought her to Jesus to test him, to show to everyone that he wasn’t what he said.

Jesus didn’t take the approach most of us take. He neither condemned her to die, nor condoned her actions.

He said something so much WISER, so much more INSIGHTFUL.

“Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.”

This sentence isn’t telling them they are wrong for condemning this woman, or judging her to be with sin. This sentence is also not condoning their bloodlust. It is simply asking them to look inward, at the many times they deserved death for their actions, and recognize when someone showed them some compassion, some mercy, some grace.

I have a little secret for you.

Phil Robertson showed very little of ANY of those in his statements.

This is not a direct quote, but the gist of what he said was “It’s not normal for a guy to want to sleep with a guy. Sleeping with a girl is so much more normal and better.”

The fact is, Phil was much more graphic than that. I’m not saying his belief (that homosexual behavior is wrong) is unfounded or wrong! Don’t misunderstand me. Jesus didn’t condone adultery, just as Phil doesn’t condone homosexuality. But Jesus didn’t get graphic in describing how horribly unnatural this woman’s acts were. Jesus was wise in his actions, he considered the witnesses to his statement, he considered who he himself was, and he went from there.

I would say that Phil did not bother to use much discretion in expressing his belief. I wonder how they even got on the topic, honestly. So many Christians want to defend Phil and the Robertson’s, like they are champions of our faith and examples of what Christians should be. But they are NOT Jesus. They may be inspiring, but in the end they are horribly flawed, as are we all. They are not a good role model to follow, unless you too manage to become filthy rich and still keep your hands clean. I would say that things have gone well for them, and the fact that they praise God for that is amazing. But you know what I want to see now? I want to them get fired from A&E, and for the Duck Dynasty franchise to come crumbling to the ground. Because if they maintain their faith through all of that…. THAT would be truly inspiring. Maybe it’s nice to see a Christian value be put on a pedestal by our country once in awhile, or to see a good Christian actually win one, but I think it is far more inspiring to see people maintain their faith despite it being unpopular, the minority, politically incorrect.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that Phil was wrong. He stood up for his beliefs in a public way, which we can all take note of. But I don’t think he did it wisely. More than likely, even if he had been very thoughtful and clean is his expressions of his beliefs, the LGBT and others would STILL have gotten offended and STILL demanded action. Again, that’s the world we live in. But I think the reason Christians are so up in arms about this situation isn’t because we are being persecuted. Oh, we think we are. We act like the world is against us, attacking us at every corner. But honestly, though probably no one would ever admit it, I think the so called “persecution” that we as Christians feel we are receiving is that we might actually have to WORK to convince someone about the Bible.

It would be SO much easier if Phil, or the President, or our preacher could say “Homosexuality is a sin” in a massive forum, and all the sinners who read it would just be BLOWN AWAY by it, and be convicted and change their ways RIGHT then. Oh thank goodness. For a moment there, I thought I might actually have to talk to a homosexual, care about them, befriend them, show them Jesus. It’s so much easier if gay marriage is just illegal, surely then homosexuality won’t exist! After all, murder has always been illegal, so we don’t see it happen, right?

There are many times we see Jesus speak out about the kingdom of Heaven in a large public forum, with hundreds or thousands of people listening. But the fact is, most of the time a large crowd has gathered to listen, he isn’t preaching hellfire and brimstone upon all the sinners present. In fact, most of the time he EVER publicly condemns actions, it’s directed at the Pharisees. Why them? Because they should KNOW BETTER. They know their laws very well, they had the best education, they are the shepherds, and yet they use their power to oppress and subjugate those around them. We American Christians have become Pharisees. Maybe we think we are more loving, but the fact is we rarely befriend anyone we first think of as a sinner. Our terms of friendship seem to be “If you wanna be my friend, clean up your act first. Or you have to come to church with me. At least ACT like you want to be a better person.” Jesus didn’t do that. He went to the sinners, ate with them, made them his brothers and sisters and friends. And it was through that love, that grace and mercy that he showed to the people who had been told all their lives that they did not deserve such a gift, that they changed.

Friends. Brothers and sisters. It’s time we realize. A television show isn’t going to convert the lost. A law isn’t going to change sin. Personal relationships, one on one time, love and compassion despite our beliefs that the person we are talking to is drowning in sin, THAT is how we do things.

My final thought is about the arguments I have been seeing on my Facebook feed, and other places too. There seems to be this anger directed at GLAAD, at the LGBT community, at all those left-wingers who seem to hate God and morality. Some people really don’t care if Duck Dynasty gets cancelled or not, which is fine for them. Others just keep on saying that Phil exercised his right as an American, that he spoke out against sin, and that they stand with him. Personally, I don’t think the basis for which he expressed his belief was wrong. It is hard to argue with the words expressed in those verses, they seem pretty clear to me. I don’t think we need to be tiptoeing around issues and walking on eggshells just to remain PC… But we don’t need to be stomping on toes and dropping bombs either. Jesus didn’t do it that way, not to the lost and oppressed. Oh, he attacked the Pharisees big time, but need I remind you, in our world WE, the Christian community, are the well-educated, the knowledgeable in God’s word, the leaders and shepherds of the sheep. How are we doing with that?

The Christian side keeps saying “The people mad about what Phil said keep forgetting or ignoring what ELSE he said.” The gist of that statement was that Phil doesn’t advocate hate, but love. Everyone is so mad at the “other” side for ignoring that statement, and the Christian side doesn’t realize what we are doing. We are reacting to them… with hate. We are grouping the whole democratic community into one bowl, all the LGBT community into one room, and saying they are all alike, they all ignore the fact that Christians love them. But we aren’t acting like we love them. We are acting like they are oppressing US. You don’t like people making sweeping generalizations about Christians, right? Seeing posts about Christians blowing up abortion clinics, the Crusades, the Inquisition, all these horrible things done in the name of God, and having the people posting them saying Christians are all full of hate, hypocrisy, scorn, and self-righteousness? No one likes to be thrown into the mix and generalized based on the actions of extremists.

Well I’ve got news for you. We are doing the same thing to gays. We are grouping homosexuals together and saying they are all horrible, lawless and immoral, lost in the sins of their flesh, and they are all trying to oppress us and take away our rights. How about we stop attacking each other, stop using politics and silly TV shows to do our evangelism for us? We know for a fact it doesn’t work. How about we start talking to the lost, befriending them despite their flaws, loving them and appreciating them as children of God, and we do what Christ did for all of us?

Romans 5:6-8 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”