Monthly Archives: April 2019

When Stories Move Us

Nothing teaches big lessons quite like books…
 
I was quizzing Cami (my almost 8-year-old) with her reading comprehension questions, to make sure she read the chapters she was supposed to read on her own. She was answering all of the questions with confidence at first.
“What happened to Toad’s list?” (Answer: “It blew away, and he didn’t know whether to go chase it because ‘running’ wasn’t on his list.”)
“Why did Frog sing to his seeds?” (Answer: “He thought they were too scared to come out of the ground, so he tried to make them more comfortable.”) 🙂
 
Cami and I giggled several times, and then I asked her the last question:
 
“Toad had a dream that he was the BEST piano-player and the BEST tight-rope walker and the BEST dancer in the world…and what happened to Frog?”
 
Suddenly, my little girl got a funny look on her face, and she used her Baby Voice to say, “Well…he got smaller…”  (Cami’s Baby Voice comes out when she’s feeling vulnerable and doesn’t know how to put it into words.) “This is what I tried to talk to you about,” she said, still sheepish. “You were on the phone and told me to wait, but then I forgot.”
 
Me: “Oh, you had a question about your story? Did you have trouble understanding Toad’s dream?”
 
Cami: (*shy smile) “Yeah…”
 
So I re-read the story outloud to her, and this is what it said:
 
Toad was asleep, and he was having a dream. He was on a stage, and he was wearing a costume. Toad looked out into the dark. Frog was sitting in the theater. A strange voice from far away said, “PRESENTING THE GREATEST TOAD IN ALL THE WORLD!!!”

Toad took a deep bow. Frog looked smaller as he shouted, “Hooray for Toad!”

“TOAD WILL NOW PLAY THE PIANO VERY WELL,” said the strange voice. Toad played the piano, and he did not miss a note.

“Frog!” cried Toad, “Can you play the piano like this?”

“No,” said Frog. It seemed to Toad that Frog looked even smaller.

“TOAD WILL NOW WALK ON A HIGH WIRE, AND HE WILL NOT FALL DOWN,” said the voice.

“Frog,” cried Toad, “can you do tricks like this?”


“No,” peeped Frog, who looked very, very small.
“TOAD WILL NOW DANCE, AND HE WILL BE WONDERFUL,” said the voice.
“Frog, can you be as wonderful as this?” said Toad as he danced all over the stage.
There was no answer. Toad looked out into the theater. Frog was so small that he could not be seen or heard.

“Frog,” said Toad, “where are you?” There was still no answer. “Frog, what have I done?” cried Toad.

Then the voice said, “THE GREATEST TOAD WILL NOW–”
“Shut up!” screamed Toad. “Frog, Frog, where have you gone?” Toad was spinning in the dark. “Come back, Frog,” he shouted. “I will be lonely!”

“I am right here,” said Frog. Frog was standing near Toad’s bed. “Wake up, Toad,” he said.
“Frog, is that really you?” said Toad.
“Of course it is me,” said Frog.
“And are you your own right size?” asked Toad.
“Yes, I think so,” said Frog.
Toad looked at the sunshine coming through the window. “Frog,” he said, “I am so glad that you came over.”

“I always do,” said Frog.
Then Frog and Toad ate a big breakfast. And after that they spent a fine, long day together.
Sheesh!
Punch both of us in the gut, why don’t ya?! How about a little warning next time, Arnold Lobel?   #Trigger
I asked Cami, “Did this story make you cry?”
She replied, “No….but maybe I wanted to a little.”
I smiled and told her I understood completely. And then we had a great conversation about how pride affects our relationships with friends.  When we make it all about me-me-me, pretty soon “me” is all there will be.
This morning, I’m just thinking about the awesome power of words and stories, and it makes me want to praise the Creator.
Thank you, God, for the gift of words, to teach and encourage each other.  And thank you for these tender-hearted little souls you’ve given me the chance to guide.  They’re getting it, Lord! The seeds of Truth are taking root in my babies!
All glory be yours-yours-yours.

The Dark Results of Moral Relativism

If you’re looking for an example of what happens when members of society believe that HUMANS determine what is right and wrong, I have screenshots of the incident this week. (An event which forced me to write an apology letter to my dad’s readers on his blog.)

I’ll get to that in a second.

First, I need you to be familiar with the visual I shared two days ago, to help explain the “Moral Dilemma” of Atheists. You can read the full post here–and appreciate the nice, big picture I included as an aid. 🙂

But, the 2-cent version is that we’re all astronauts, hovering in the blackness of outer space, with NO WAY of determining which way is “up” without something bigger than ourselves to use as a reference point.

We’re floating and arguing “THIS WAY IS UP! I’M RIGHT! YOU’RE WRONG!” But words like up/down and right/wrong are ultimately meaningless. There’s no such thing as “direction” in outerspace.

Theists believe that the Universe has a Creator, who exists outside of space and time, and who serves as a reference point for what’s “good” or “bad,” which astronauts like us can tie our tether to.

But Secular Humanists believe that we can clump a whole bunch of astronauts together and eventually make a pile big enough to play God’s role. Whatever a large group of astronauts agrees to call “up” will just BE “up.” And we’ll all cross our fingers and hope we don’t encounter ANOTHER clumped-up group of astronauts who think that “up” goes a different direction….

….because then things are going to get ugly.

That’s essentially the conflict that happened this week, when a couple of Christians who are tethered to their Creator bumped into a clump of floating humans who are of the opinion that homosexuality is “good” but pedophilia is “bad.”

They were asked to give the reasoning behind their belief. But, of course, they weren’t able to justify it. Because they just made it up and agreed as a group to follow those rules arbitrarily…

And that’s when it quickly became obvious that this clump of floating humans holds other interesting moral opinions as well. Namely, on Planet Floating Atheist, if someone hurts your feelings, you are allowed to punish them however you see fit.

If you utter any words they subjectively decide to call “hate speech,” then they will feel justified in stalking you, mocking your family, and even publishing your private information, such as an IP Address.

That’s illegal in every country on planet earth. But, on Planet Floating Atheist, the end justifies the means. You started it. You deserve it. Those are the rules some Secular Humanists have made up for themselves.

This week, an anonymous Atheist (who attacks people under the name “Pink Agendist”) stalked a friend of mine named Jeff and published a picture of his wife and daughters in effort to shame and break him. (I’ll link again to my apology on my dad’s blog here, if you’d like more details, and a few more screenshots: https://johnbranyan.com/an-apology-to-my-readers/ )

But what I want you to understand, in the scope of this post, is WHY someone like Pink would be so backward in this thinking? WHY would he call his actions “good?”

In fact, I want you to read these screenshots, where he spells it out:

4.4.19 Pink is the Real Victim (1) (edit)

Did you catch it? Pink maintains that nothing seriously bad happened to Jeff, because the REAL victims are those who are “compared” with something negative.

If you make that comparison, you deserve to be stalked and doxxed. That’s how it works in their little clump…they’re pointing “up” and YOU’RE pointing down!

Look, here he explains it even clearer:

4.4.19 Pink is the Real Victim (2) (edit)

So, not only do people who make comparisons deserve to be shamed–but anyone who “gives them cover” will ALSO be forced to join the clump/mob…or face the consequences.

It’s a tough place to live, on Planet Floating Atheist!

But don’t take my word for it. Last year, this opinion piece was written by a man who used to be a crazed Social Activist Mobster, like the Pink Agendist.

He says the constant need to be seen as a “good” person (as well as the fear of being attacked by the very mob you’ve joined), causes a person to go along with horrible abuses without even stopping to ask if they’re still facing “Up.”

He writes:

“In my previous life, I was a self-righteous social justice crusader. I would use my mid-sized Twitter and Facebook platforms to signal my wokeness on topics such as LGBT rights, rape culture, and racial injustice. Many of the opinions I held then are still opinions that I hold today. But I now realize that my social-media hyperactivity was, in reality, doing more harm than good.

Within the world created by the various apps I used, I got plenty of shares and retweets. But this masked how ineffective I had become outside, in the real world. The only causes I was actually contributing to were the causes of mobbing and public shaming. Real change does not stem from these tactics. They only cause division, alienation, and bitterness…”

Sound familiar?

The writer correctly identifies his problem in the first sentence as “self-righteousness.” This mindless attacking and shaming is EXACTLY what happens, when humans with a survive-or-die mentality are told they must create meaning and direction for themselves.

They’re going to float in a very selfish, violent, mob-like direction…

The author goes on to say:

“I mobbed and shamed people for incidents that became front page news. But when they were vindicated or exonerated by some real-world investigation, it was treated as a footnote by my online community. If someone survives a social justice callout, it simply means that the mob has moved on to someone new. No one ever apologizes for a false accusation, and everyone has a selective memory regarding what they’ve done…”

I’m positive the thing described here–the place where self-righteous people devour each other but are never full–is just another way of saying “Hell.”

Everyone does whatever feels good, ushered along by the equally animal-like behavior of the temporary allies clumped around them. No purpose except survival.

I sincerely hope the Radical Atheists are able to escape from Hell (and perhaps tether themselves to their Creator?) before it’s too late and the Mob of Planet Floating Atheist finally turns to eats them.

Moral Relativism is a dark, meaningless, and eventually violent place.

The Moral Argument…Visualized

If you’ve ever been told by an Atheist that you’re “hateful” or “bigoted” or wrong in any sense, I hope you replied, “What standard are you using to judge me?”

But, if you don’t spend much time in apologetics circles, that might sound like a mouthful of nonsense.

Perhaps you want to learn how to engage with a godless culture better, but you have trouble understanding the premises that Theists often use.  That’s okay!  I can explain the Moral Argument with a very simple visual.  So simple, in fact, that I’m presenting it to my 8-year-old and 5-year-old, as we’re studying our solar system.

In order to grasp the moral argument, you only need to understand two things:

#1:  Outerspace is a big, black emptiness where things like “up” and “down” don’t make sense–unless you invent some type of reference point.

#2:  Once we put another object or body into space with us, we use those objects to talk about “up” and “down” relatively speaking.

 

Does that make sense?

Maybe the adults are tracking.

But, for the sake of polishing my lesson, I’m going to break it down as if I’m talking to a Kindergartener and 2nd-Grader.

If you imagine that you’re hovering out in the blackness of outerspace, how would you know which way was “up” and which was “down?”     Maybe you would just point your finger over your head and say, “That way is up.”  So, wherever your head is pointing you would call “up,” compared to where you are.

…But what if you started spinning?

First of all, how would you even know you were spinning, if you’re floating in blackness?

And second, would that mean that the meaning of the word “up” could change? (Or would “up” always be the same, even if your body was moving?)

Once we understand the challenge of discussing “directions” in a vacuum, we can see the Atheist’s problem in trying to define morality in a Universe that evolved for no reason or purpose.

Words like “right and wrong” are RELATIVE terms, which suggest that certain behaviors move us in a “good” direction and other behaviors move us toward a thing called “bad.”

But who determines which direction is “good” and “bad?”

Do we just point above our heads and say, “Let’s call ‘reducing harm’ a good thing, because it feels nice to us?”

…and, even if we agree about that, what if our culture starts spinning (so to speak)?

Can the definition of “good” change, as our cultures move and reposition themselves?

What happens if one group of people floating in the blackness wants to call THIS thing good, but another group of people floating in another part of the blackness wants to call THE OPPOSITE thing “good?”

Then what happens?

Imagine two astronauts are hovering in the abyss, and they’re both trying to use their individual bodies as starting points, until they realize that there’s too much conflict and confusion. Eventually, they agree to use their spaceship to define “up” and “down”–since it’s bigger than both of them.

Maybe that works for their tiny community of two people.  But, deep down, they still know they haven’t solved their problem in an objective way.  Just because the ship is bigger than the two astronauts doesn’t mean it’s more correct than a system that uses the Astronaut’s helmet to define “up” and “down.”  Both methods are arbitrary (and ultimately meaningless) ways of creating concepts out of–literally–nothing.

Again, for a mental picture of this issue, just envision ANOTHER set of two astonauts who have ALSO agreed that their spaceship determines what is “up” and what is “down.”  But, unfortunately for everyone, the two spaceships are pointing in opposite directions.

Now who’s “right?”

Well, neither of them.  Or all of them.  There IS NO “right” when all of the directions were made-up in the first place. And this idea that we (humans) can build a moral framework in outerspace is called “Moral Relativism.”  It’s the mistaken belief that when you pile together enough spaceships and astronauts (and rocks and ice and other bits and bobs), then you can make yourself big enough to have Authority… but, underneath all of that rubble, we know there’s not REALLY anything directing us.

It’s up to humans to craft meaning for themselves.

Unfortunately for the Moral Relativists, it’s very hard to live out their own beliefs… because all of us feel so very strongly that THIS WAY is up and THAT WAY is down.

Moral Relativists are often the quickest to accuse Christians of being “judgmental” or “bigoted”–which makes them astronauts screaming at other astronauts to turn around because they’re facing the wrong way.

That’s when someone like you, or my young children, will ask them, “By what standard are you judging me?”  And then wait for the rest of your life for an answer, because you’ll never get one.  🙂

The point is: in order to judge things as right/wrong, we need to have a standard that is much bigger than a single person…

…it needs to be bigger than a spaceship…

…in fact, the standard needs to be bigger than a whole PLANET full of astronauts and spaceships and teachers and bloggers and Atheists and Christians.

The Thing which determines right/wrong must be outside the Universe itself, so that it can properly see which way is “up” and which is “down,” relative to ITSELF.

If it’s up to humans to decide for ourselves, we’re only hovering out here in the blackness, bickering about which way to point until we die.