The journey of someone just like you, on a journey just like you

Category: Faith (Page 1 of 7)

6 Reasons Atheism Still Makes No Sense To Me

Even after all these years of listening to the ever increasing arguments in its favour, atheism still makes no sense to me.

Even after all these years, atheism still makes no sense to me

A number of years ago I wrote a post on 7 Reasons Why Atheism Makes No Sense To Me. It’s actually even today one of the most popular posts on the site, and for quite some time it was also the number one search result for “why atheism makes sense”. It even had a very respectable retort written against it.

And since then, a lot of life has happened – marriage, fatherhood, changing faith communities, getting older, COVID, widescale wars, and general living.

So, has my opinion changed?

No, and yes in some ways.

But even after all this time, atheism still makes no sense to me.

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Is It Harder To Date As A Christian?

Is the faith factor playing against your love life? Let’s have a look at whether or not it is harder to date as a Christian.

Is It Harder To Date As A Christian?
Photo by Jep Gambardella via PEXELS

Dating can be really, really easy for some people. They meet someone, a week later they are already in the “hanging out” phase, and then six months later there’s a ring or two involved. I’ve known quite a few couples in this boat where things have gone exactly like this and they’re still doing really well years later.

These are probably the few people who everyone wants to be like. Unfortunately, these are the minority that the majority wishes they were like. I know I wasn’t in this boat.

For everyone else, dating can be really, really hard.

My main exposure to the current state of the dating market is largely in Christian circles. I am super involved in church life and a large number of my currently single friends are Christians across various churches. And as people head into their late 20s, 30s, even 40s, and still not able to find someone they deem to be suitable (or someone who deems them suitable in return), it can be an extremly frustrating experience.

And you begin to wonder… is it harder to date as a Christian than otherwise? Is my faith causing me additional grief in the area of dating?

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What The War In Ukraine Teaches Me About Humanity

War is terrible, and unfortunately a great revealer. Here are 5 things the war in Ukraine teaches me about humanity.

What the War In Ukraine Teaches Me About Humanity
Source: WIRED

Like most of us, February 24 2022 rolled around and I found myself checking my phone every few minutes of every day to see what on earth was happening in my lifetime.

It marked the beginning of the “special military operation” (Russia’s words) by the Russian Federation into the nation of Ukraine. President Putin had been repeatedly demanding his issues of NATO be resolved, and launched a sudden campaign to “denazify” Ukraine and free the eastern self-proclaimed (ish?) republics in the Donbass region.

However most shockingly, the invasion actually primarily focused around Kyiv. In 2022, a major world power tried to invade and capture the capital of another major world power, even via the lands of another world power in Belarus. It’s like the ghosts of Hitler and Stalin came back for another round.

It’s been devastating for so many people. The Ukranians of course, but also for the citizens of Russia. Whether it’s by bomb or economic sanction, life on both sides has been devastated.

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To The Man Who Wants To Be The Head of the House

Are your words demanding something that your life isn’t? To the man who wants to be the head of the house…

To the man who wants to be the head of the house
Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels

I’m always fascinated by common patterns and trends in human relationships. Maybe underneath my IT, technology focused veneer and career is an anthropologist lying in wait. But I find myself so interested in statements that get repeated in or about relationships, as well as paradigms that drive people together or tear them apart.

Some common phrases I’ve explored in the past include “I’m too busy for a relationship“, “I’m not ready for a relationship“, “nobody is good enough for me“, and even a whole bunch of ways I believe all marriages to be the same.

One I’ve heard recently in multiple arenas being thrown around is a number of men saying they want to be the head of the house, and a number of women saying they want a man who takes the lead in that regard as well. I’ve seen a big push about it in mainstream media outlets (such as Mama Mia’s married women’s worst marriage advice in 2022 which originally got me thinking on this post), I’ve heard it from single men and women saying that’s the way it should or shouldn’t be when talking about dating, and I’ve heard from a number of married men and women recently saying it’s come up to the benefit or the detriment of the relationship.

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The Stupidest Thing I Did During the Pandemic (Reading Too Much Media)

I’ve done some stupid things, but this is one of the stupidest. Like many people, I found myself consuming and reading too much media.

The stupidest thing I did during the COVID pandemic was reading too much media
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

The COVID pandemic has been one of the generation defining events of our time (although the Russia-Ukranian invasion is definitely up there). Millions of people died, international travel stopped, domestic travel was restricted, people were sealed in their houses, vaccines were mandatory, and the impact on world economies is still not yet known.

At the time of writing, the CEO of Moderna has indicated the belief that 2022 is the year for COVID to become endemic, if it hasn’t already in some parts of the world.

This has made me reflect on the stupidest thing I did during the COVID pandemic. I did already write about 7 Good Things To Come Out Of COVID Season (For Real), but I thought what’s something that I didn’t do very well? And I worked it out.

Like most people, I ended up reading too much media.

Well, we had to, right? In my country, like in many Western countries especially, we had daily updates at 10am on case numbers, changes to restrictions, places we could or couldn’t travel, and every other update under the sun. And like many people, I found myself tuning into not just the state premier’s announcement, but the health minister’s update, the Prime Minister’s update, and other federal updates.

In Australia, they would sometimes give you as short as 6 hours notice to head back home otherwise you could be locked out of your state or even your city for two weeks, so we were all tuning in constantly for over a year. In general, I’ve always kept my ear pretty close to the ground on current affairs and always want to know what’s happening.

But then something happened. It wasn’t enough for me to just read the government updates. I needed the media commentary. I needed the explatory studies being raised to the surface. I needed the pros and cons of vaccination from the news sources I usually trusted. Which then turned into the pros and cons from the news sources I don’t usually check (NB. I’m pro-vax). And their contempories.

And then, maybe worst of all – what the comments sections had to say on all the issues. It started as finding out that sometimes the comment sections would list a restriction change or a venue closure that hadn’t been publicised elsewhere at that point in time.

And then my mood started to change. I needed to check the video update as soon as it was available. I needed to see people I didn’t know fight about the benefits and disadvantages of certain virus management strategies. I needed to read all the things people were saying about the government. And sometimes I would get so into the debates that I would find myself getting physically angry, anxious, or upset.

And then I realised – I had been reading too much media.

In reflecting on this discovery that I was reading too much media, I had a few big thoughts coming out of that. Here they are.

Outrage capitalism has (almost) replaced “sex sells”

We all know sex sells. It always has, and it always will. I’ve written about that reality and the impacts of that several times.

But I’ll always remember my friend Aaron describing what was happening in a single phrase – the media was no longer using clickbait, it was now outrage-bait.

There are a variety of sources on this information but a conservative estimate puts video and media consumption up at least 60% due to the pandemic. Nielsen puts it up between 52 and 215% depending on your country. That’s staggering.

And he was right.

Media companies and advertising agencies now even advise their media clients on the power of using shock or outrage marketing.

You don’t even have to look very far to see it happen. Headlines are set up to deliberately trigger people, especially outlets like The Guardian and The Daily Mail which REGULARLY use CAPTIAL LETTERS on ALMOST EVERY post. Headlines are designed to start fights, with most of them even deliberately using words “outrage”, “backlash”, “controversy”. Even though they’re the ones who want you to be outraged or to fight about it!

Then there are media outlets like BuzzFeed, Vox, MTV, and other pop culture oriented sights which intentionally start fights, from vaccines to religion to sexuality to Black Lives Matter and racial tensions.

You and I are the product, my friend. Just look how heated the comments sections get on posts about any of these topics. I know everyone jokingly posts that Michael Jackson popcorn meme as they’re just there for the comments, but the reality is that’s how companies are now making big money.

They’ll even try to manufacture outrage – I’m calling out specifically the Murdoch brand of media such as 9 News Australia or Courier Mail or, which have regularly featured articles which are just people going through Twitter for controversial opinions and posting it as if it’s news.

Or think about how many times you see a post about Flat Earthers. They want you to debate the views of a small minority simply because they’ll get you fired up and drive their engagements up too.

This is what news has turned into, people.

And guess what else happens? Those comment sections drive clicks and shares, which means the media companies make more money.

Which in turn, means they keep making more posts like that. In reading too much media, I found that I was buying into this outrage capitalism.

Don’t kid yourself: social engineering is real

Of course, there is a more insidious side to media. Not only does reading too much media influence and incite outrage and us vs. them violence and conflicts, but it also controls and directs cultural and behavioural trends.

We live in a world that no longer relies on conservative philosophies or religious documents in the way it once did – but don’t be kidding yourself that nothing took their place. I would strongly argue the media is now filling the void of priests and books and churches and directing people’s thinking, and they’re succeeding.

I always remember hearing a quote from the vice president, Robert Pittman, of Warner speaking of MTV on how he viewed the platform. As far back as 1982, he said of MTV, “At MTV, we don’t shoot for the 14-year-olds — we own them. We will reach 90 percent of them in any given household.”

Did you catch that? The head of programming said he believed he owned teenagers. MTV continues today and has significantly broadened its content offering, mainly known nowadays as another BuzzFeed. More topics like manspreading, racial tension, and sexual diversity are the topics of the day.

All the while you are consuming this content, keep in mind the owners of this company believes he owns you. And based on the behaviour of media outlets in general, this is not a viewpoint exclusive to MTV or Warner companies.

The impact of media on group think is measurable. The New York Times even did a significant feature measuring the shift in views on government, family, and relationships that the Murdoch empire has absolutely shifted.

I remember when I was in university that a fully free newspaper was being given out to everyone called MX. It was a cutdown version of the Courier Mail essentially from the same people. Everyone would read it, and it was pretty good for a while.

But then around that time (2006ish), there was a dramatic shift in news in general. We used to have a “news” section and an “opinion” section in our news, with the news section presenting the exact facts without (much) bias, and the opinion section providing commentary. However around this time and even now, these sections are now completely joined – and many outlets no longer even hide fact this is going on.

I hadn’t questioned the idea of a free newspaper that a company was spending millions of dollars in creating, printing, distributing en masse and marketing, but I probably should have.

If a government did this, we would call it propaganda and an insult to democracy. But when a company does it, we lap it up.

As a parent, I have been particularly interested on what the current drive of media is doing to our young people. Here are some standout facts I’ve discovered about Generation Z – the generation who has grown up during this media shift:

  • Gender theory and fluidity is one of the most topics regularly covered by news outlets. Recent Gallup studies from 2022 have shown the impacts of this with 25% of Generation Z identifying as non-binary. This has been on an upward trend, and as conservative commentator Matt Walsh stated, if these numbers are even half true, this represents a dramatic sexual revolution unlike anything previously observed in history. Even Alfred Kinsey put his famously optimistic estimate at 10% of a generation, and more thorough studies used to put this at about 4.2% even just a few years ago. Social commentators on both the left and the right credit media and societal factors in this shift.
  • Pride has always been a big deal, but even left-leaning LGBTIQ+ activists cite their frustrations with Rainbow Capitalism. This is the tendency for many big organisations (think Body Shop, Levis, Bonds, as well as these media outlets) to heavily push their support of Pride any chance they can get with the agenda of getting more consumers – Generation Z identified as the prime target, and all of these brands doing very well at these times of year.
  • Generation Z was not born during the times of slavery or apartheid, but the media’s constant stoking of racial tensions for clicks and views is increasing the perception and experience of race issues around the world. Some university studies have highlighted that only one racial narrative is being perpetuated throughout media currently and affecting Gen Z’s own experiences, and even more concerning, is that media is intentionally inciting conflict between Black and Asian-American experiences. I personally recall seeing how quickly any post about race would turn into Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter vs. Asian Lives Matter vs. Black Wives Matter, and the numbers of comments and engagement were through the roof.
  • Generation Z is now cited as the most depressed and anxious generation. Research showed they were the least interested in COVID but the most anxious and concerned about it. 90% of Gen Z’ers report high stress levels (wow). I read a powerful piece on Psychology Today highlighting the real factors involved in this increased anxiety and they put it on a few perspectives pushed on them by the media – “You are fragile”, “If you feel it, it must be true”, and “Life is about us vs. them”. Such perspectives create a generation dependent on the very information that is also poisoning it.

I’ve known a few people in advertising and marketing over the years, and they had regularly highlighted to me the practice of social engineering. This is also an increased push in the research on marketing in not just targeting the insecurities of the audience, but pushing to adjust societal beliefs for corporate objectives. News sites and their social media teams are all over this in even which comments and viewpoints they promote or remove.

Media and marketing corporations are undoubtedly fighting for your what you should believe. If like me you were or are reading too much media, you might want to stop and think about where your current belief systems have come from.

Who are you letting speak into your life?

I recently wrote about the question of who are we allowing to teach us about sex. It seems there are so many views about it nowadays, no wonder it’s hard for people to work out what they should be doing in their own relationships.

But beyond sex, it raises a real question about who we are allowing to speak into our lives about anything in general. I know I found myself being affected by reading too much media especially in mood and thinking. It reminded me of how important it is not just to think about what I believe, but where I got a belief from.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important for all of us to be aware of what’s going on in our world. I think it’s way worse to live in a bubble or under a rock and not know the very real issues people are facing.

But with companies paying bllions of dollars for their right and ability to influence the way we think and behave, we’ve gotta wonder who is winning the war for our minds.

I think truth is something that can be found. But unfortunately many people get all their truth now from incredibly biased, unbalanced, corporate sources. Balanced too far one way to the expense of all perspectives on an issue, or even replacing truth about who they are with opinions from companies with an agenda.

Let’s make sure we’re building our house upon the rock and not on the shifting sand of commercialism.

And more than that, I would encourage you to think about how you are contributing to this culture of outrage. I previously did a deepdive on a reality I continue to observe, that Our Obsession With Outrage and Being Triggered is Destroying Society. Are we more known for what we are for, or what we are against? We should be people who are demonstrating an exemplery and a copyable lifestyle, not just living lives constantly tearing down without displaying an alternative.

How about you? Were you reading too much media during COVID? Or before or after? How much should we allow the media to drive our thinking and behaviour?

Christmas Reminds You What You Wish Life Was Like

It’s the best and the worst part of the festive season – Christmas reminds you what you wish life was like.

Photo by Alex Urezkov from Pexels

Well, here we are again. It’s Christmas season, the shops have been craaaaaaaaaazy this year, the Carols are blaring, and all those December movies are in full swing.

And amidst all the idealism and the feeling of perfect portrayals when it comes to friends, love, family and generosity, it brings with it a sucker punch of a reality check unlike no other time of year.

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The Lonely Christian & 5 Ways to Make Meaningful Connections

Can’t find a date, a place to belong, or even a friend in and around church life. Here are 5 ways to make meaningful connections and avoid becoming a lonely Christian.

The Lonely Christian & 5 Ways to Make Meaningful Connections
Photo by Ric Rodrigues from Pexels

Many Christians live their lives guided by a series of views on what they’re “supposed to” be or not “supposed to” be. In fact, “supposed to” is one of the biggest phrases we throw around in our life of faith. It’s because the Christian life by nature shows us what our ideal and fully fulfilled and redeemed potential could be, as well as things that get in the way.

One of those big “supposed to” phrases is that “I’m not supposed to feel lonely”. You’ve got God, you’ve got a faith community, you’ve got your Bible, you’ve got all these things that you thought were supposed to eradicate loneliness forever. And yet here you might be – a lonely Christian, wondering if things are ever going to be different.

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How a Warped View of Forgiveness Enables Abuse and Destroys Lives

Christian teaching is big on forgiving, but have we missed something important? Here’s how a warped view of forgiveness enables abuse and destroys lives.

How a warped view of forgiveness enables abuse and destroys lives
Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

I’m a big believer in forgiveness. Healing is often impossible without first forgiving. It’s something I’ve written a lot about and a quality I’ve endeavored to exemplify in my life. We can’t keep clinging on to the things of the past without sacrificing the health of our future.

Way, way easier said than done though.

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The Most Beautiful Places I’ve Ever Been To (So Far)

International travel is still off the cards for now but the world is still full of amazing sights. Here are the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to… so far.

The most beautiful places I've ever been to... so far
New Zealand’s South Island approaching Mount Cook, definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to

Hard to believe it’s been about one year since Coronavirus shut down international borders. It’s amazing how much globalisation, the Internet, and fantastic airline services made the world so connected. Nowadays the digital highways are getting the most traffic but we still remember a time when travel was freely available and people were posting their great travel pics from different countries.

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Feeling Alone At Christmas Is The Worst Feeling In The World

It’s a time when you’re supposed to be happy, but a nightmare when you’re not. Feeling alone at Christmas is the worst feeling in the world.

Feeling alone at Christmas is the worst feeling in the world
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Or at least it’s definitely up there.

Christmas is a time where there are many images of joy displayed throughout the world, bombarded into our eyes and minds from every conceivable angle. Smiling children, singing carolers, joyous gift recipients and very content and full feast goers. The colours are bright, the music is upbeat, and the mood is entirely festive.

All this can be quite hard when you don’t feel any of that on the inside.

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Was 2020 The Worst Year Ever? Sowing in Famine – 2020 In Review

It’s cool to hate on this year, but is 2020 the worst year ever? Here’s my annual review of the year that was – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Was 2020 The Worst Year Ever?
Mr Walking The Shoreline going Walking The Shoreline with the fam in October

With a final few weeks to go until the start of a new year (seriously!!), the excitement is palpable. All the memes are out in force to pretend 2020 never existed, to flush it out of our lives, to be the year that never happened. A lot of things went wrong in the world this year, and it’s hard to blame a lot of people for feeling this way. I think that’s why everyone’s singing January, February, Quarantine, December.

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