The Most Important Thing

In the intro to “Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth” Buckminster Fuller’s granddaughter recalls a car ride that he asked her “What is the most important thing we can be thinking about right now?”

Here is the list of things that I thought of off the top of my head that are I am trying to determine if they are important. I think most of them are but how to decide “the most important”? I’ve probably started writing about half of these but often I find there is something else I thought was more important to write about at that time or I reached a point where I wasn’t sure what I thought about it.

How to help Syrian Refugees?
Can I “adopt” a refugee?
How to stop abortions?
How to stop senseless violence?
How to stop people from shooting each other in Waterloo, IA (where I live)?
How to effectively guide the charity I just became vice president of?
How what is my 5 year plan?
What are my life goals?
Will I ever get married?
Do I want to get married?
Why do I want to get married?
Can I more effectively “fix the world” if I’m single?
How much should I save in my 401k and how much should I invest in people?
Should I buy an electric car?
Should I sell all my “toys” and donate that money to some charity?
Should I buy a house?
What book do I want to write?
Why do I want to write a book?
Why do I spend so much time writing this blog stuff?
What is my purpose in life?
How do I be a better older brother?
Do I want to start my own company?
What would that company even do?
How do I help those less fortunate than myself?
How do I start a company that I enjoy working at, helps the world and makes money (self sustains).
What am I really passionate about?
Should I go back to college for more school or should I just learn by doing in life?
Is there a God?
If there is why is everyone telling me about their own different god’s and acting like some of them are the same god when it’s pretty obvious to me they are different?
How do I politely ask people about beliefs of theirs that I think are ridiculous?
Is it ok to be selfish sometimes?
Is it better to try to be a politician to change the world or do it outside politics?
Is it selfish to have your own kids?
Why are most Christians so obsessed with the bible but they don’t seem to remember that Paul said it is better to be single like he was?
Why do Jews have so many laws but try so hard to get around them?
Why do so many Christians leaders (pastors etc) preach “following the Bible” but forget that Paul had a full time job outside of preaching about Jesus?
How do I love more and judge less?
Should I listen when people are negative or tell them to just change their attitude and that will change their circumstances?
Instead of converting people to Christianity in places where that belief could get them killed why don’t Christians work to change the laws of that country or work to get people out of that country?
How do you motivate people to improve their situation?
What is the situation in other countries for labor? I hear about factories in China, Afghanistan, where people are paid very little and there are still effectively “company stores”. Are those true? If so how do we stop those practices?
How does my purchase of cheap stuff from other countries affect the above?
How do we expose people to the “very poor” and get them motivated to help those people?
Would religions be more effective helping people if they were less worried about pushing their doctrine on others?
What makes me happy?
What makes others happy?
What does it mean to be happy?
Is there an afterlife?
How do we store energy so we can use renewable but not consistent power sources like wind and solar?
When will the Chinese people become sick of restrictive laws like the 1 child policy and the conditions of the factories I mentioned above and have a large revolution?
How do we stop child sex trafficking, both in the USA and in the rest of the world?
Is it selfish to lift weights and eat a lot of protein and generally “be huge” while some people starve? I am not trying to be critical of people who lift weights. I am just generally interested in why we don’t help others more. This is also asked above in the 401K vs Charity question. I think about “Is this action selfish” a lot.
Why is promiscuous sexuality so stigmatized as a sin in Christian churches while obesity (gluttony) is not?
“You’ve got simultaneous epidemics of obesity and starvation. Explain that one! – Nix (Tomorrowland – movie)

What do you think is the most important thing you could be thinking about today?

Gay Marriage

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:5

Gay marriage was legalized today in the USA and it should be, depending on what your definition of marriage is.

I think that the problem a lot of people are having with this debate is that they aren’t actually articulating their disagreements with each other clearly. Saying “I’m opposed to gay marriage” really isn’t saying much. Marriage is such a complex word.

Some aspects of marriage:
Two people who express affection for each other (hopefully)
Two people living together (usually)
Two people who are legally able to visit each other in the hospital, as family.
Two people who can file taxes together (if they want).
Tons of other things.

So when you say “I’m against gay marriage” which of these things are you against?
When I say “I am against gay marriage” I am professing my stance against my belief in the misuse of sexuality specifically. I am also against premarital sex, contraception and abortion, thus maintaining what I consider a “strong moral ground” for my arguments from that point. Here is what I think the purpose of sex is

“Marital sexuality achieves two purposes. The Church affirms, first, its role in creating new human life, sometimes called the procreative dimension of sexuality. In giving birth to children and educating them, the couple cooperates with the Creator’s love. Second, sexual union expresses and deepens the love between husband and wife. This is called the unitive, or relational, aspect of sexuality.” Excerpt from This page specifically.  You can find plenty more on the Catholic understanding of the purpose of sexuality on hundreds of websites.

I am for a legal union of 2 (or 3 or 5 or 100) homosexual, pansexual, transexual, octosexual, metrosexual or lumbersexual individuals. I am still opposed to the union on religious grounds, which is completely within my ability to do as a legal gay marriage was declared today, not a religious gay marriage. A person can be for something legally that you disagree with personally. My favorite example is smoking which I refer to often. The challenge with each of these unions is that we need to understand what rights the individuals in each union want out of it? If you are only going to be married for a short time perhaps marriage is not for you anyway? It’s much easier to end a relationship that there are no legal ramification for, now I don’t think that’s a good way to have a relationship  at all, but it’d certainly be a lot easier for all parties involved. This goes for many heterosexual couples also.

I think that one problem that has plagued “marriage” is the intermingling of legal and religious marriage. All married people are legally married, at least if they want the benefits. Some are married in a church. If you are familiar with a Catholic marriage you will understand that while you can be divorced from your spouse in your legal marriage, you are still bound by your religious marriage. Similarly you can be married again in the legal manner, once you are divorced, but you can not be married again in the Catholic church until you have your first marriage annulled, which is not saying it’s over but saying that in fact it never happened. Annulment is a declaration that there was something present from the beginning of the marriage that disordered it from the beginning.

We as people are hardly to blame, completely, for our complete lack of understanding. We don’t take the time to understand what each other is actually trying to say or why we are saying it. It’s a result of the short attention span shown in the media.
I hope each religious person will take the time to consider what part of gay marriage they are against and perhaps take a look at how their lives are also at odds with God. One of my favorite responses to the question of sin comes from Frank Turek where a man asks him “Why doesn’t God get rid of all the evil?” Frank responds with “Perhaps because he’d have to get rid of you! And me.” What he is reminding us is that we are all sinners. While I am against homosexual relationships because I believe they are inherently sinful, via the misuse of sexuality, I am also aware of all the times I personally have not lived up to the pure ideals of sexuality put forth by Jesus and the Church.

We like to point to others whose sin appears egregious to us, while ignoring our “minor sins” but if we truly believe that all sins are equal, as most Christians do, perhaps we need to spend less time worrying about others and more worrying about ourselves. I will continue to campaign for the correct use of sexuality by both homosexual and heterosexual couples, married and not but I will not waste my time trying to make a union of 2 homosexuals (or any other sexuals) illegal simply because I disagree with their definition of the word.

Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” – Mark 12:17

The implication here being that the legal definition of marriage is for the legal system to determine. If you disagree with it you don’t have to agree it, and that’s ok.


Understanding. Can We Have A Reasonable Discussion?

Understand – Verb
perceive the intended meaning of (words, a language, or speaker)

Perceive – verb
interpret or look on (someone or something) in a particular way; regard as

interpret – verb
explain the meaning of (information, words, or actions).

If you take the time to type each of those definitions into Google, you will find that usually one of the definitions (there are usually 2) references one of the other words, which is very unhelpful.

As you drill down though, you see that understanding is an action that requires effort on your behalf that is supposed to help you know why something happens, how it happens or in the case of ideas, what someone is trying to explain to you.

Understanding is something that takes time. It is a process and is very difficult in today’s instant gratification society. We don’t take the time to explain things that we believe to others and we take even less time understanding what other people are trying to explain to us. One reason could be that we don’t actually have very well developed beliefs ourselves. Try a small thought experiment for me. Try to answer this question “My beliefs on homosexuality are….” Try to think beyond the “It’s wrong.” or “I agree with it.” Why do you think those things?” What other questions can you ask yourself about it? Do you support homosexual couples passing on their inheritance to each other after they die? Do you support homosexual couples being able to adopt children? Do you support homosexual couples having the right to having messy divorces when they decide it won’t work, much like many heterosexual couples these days? What is your definition of a marriage? Is it a spiritual bond? Is it a legal entity?

I’ll continue this thought later in the article.

In order for me (or anyone else) to determine if I am actually for or against your viewpoints, on anything, I need to understand your beliefs. I need to understand what drives you. This can only happen with discussion and usually pointed, deliberate, tough conversation. It is not always fun and often it gets cut short when people find a point they disagree on, or think they disagree on.

The problem is we each perceive the intended meaning of many things when we hear a word. I will explain my perceptions or what I think other’s erroneous perceptions are of 3 topics below.


When I hear the word feminism I automatically think of my own definition of radical feminism, which is hard to define and that cop out on my behalf is definitely not progressing understanding.  I will point to this video, that seems to try to shock people into thinking that if we teach young girls to swear and act in ways that wouldn’t be acceptable in a school setting or at home we are somehow empowering them. That seems radical enough to me.

Now I think you can agree that many people will be turned off by this vulgar display which from now on could be the idea that I would when I think “feminism”. Trying to work past my biases, and looking up the definition of feminism “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” I think we get a much different message and we can ask ourselves some questions.

Do I support women being paid equally, assuming they are equally qualified to perform any task. Of course.
Do I support women being giving the same backing on political issues and same doors to be a candidate if they so choose. Of course.

Do I support teaching kids it’s ok to say bad words to sell T-shirts. No.

So if you ask me if I’m a feminist, I’d argue, yes. If you ask me if the FCKH8 people are feminists, I’d argue no, because they are alienating their cause to the public. They are being bad stewards of feminism.

Another topic that is rampant with misunderstanding.

Gay Rights. Homosexual Agenda. Gay Marriage.

Whatever other terms you want to describe this.

This is a topic that has much of the world split into about 100 different factions, as evidenced by my not knowing what to call it even without being unbiased. There are those who are promoting gay marriage as the exact same as heterosexual marriage. You have those who insist that gay unions will ruin heterosexual marriage. You have those that just oppose it because they feel it’s wrong. (This one I have no argument for, it’s completely illogical, at least provide some argument!) You have those that oppose gay marriage on the basis of religion.

There is so much misunderstanding in this debate it’s not even fun to laugh at.

Speaking to several homosexual people and to several who are opposed to gay unions I see they are working on such different premises it’s no surprise that there is so much debate on this topic.

Let me present the arguments as I think each side wants to see them.

Homosexuals –  We want validation that our unions are legally binding. This is the most simple explanation. Here is a question from this article.

“Why do we need governments and courts to involve themselves in creating rules and tax codes for some provisional alliance between two (or three or 57) adults who merely wish to live together (or apart, or whatever they want) and ‘love each other?”

This gets to the root issue many people have with gay marriage. They want a definition of what is and isn’t included in the marriage. But what comes with legally binding? Do they get tax breaks or tax increases, as some married couples get? Do they want to right to adopt kids? Do they want hospital visitation and and the right to pass on belongings to spouses after they have passed.

Heterosexuals – Many I have talked to simply disagree with gay marriage because it’s not something they are familiar with. I think that’s a cop-out, a bad argument, etc. But that’s why we need to foster discussion.

Marriage as it happens in many churches is both a religious and legal contract. Many feel that if they legally validate gay unions and call it a marriage, it somehow degraded the sanctity of their religious marriage.

I find it a bit humorous that as many heterosexual couples choose to not get legally married that many homosexuals are looking for a legal marriage. Why don’t homosexuals choose to live together and not get married, much like many heterosexual couples. Then when they break up it’s not as big a deal. No lawyer, etc. Many who argue against homosexual marriage argue on the basis of religion. They don’t want their church to have to perform homosexual marriages in their churches. You might think, “that sounds silly, the state can’t force the church to do something.” Yet. Is my reply. Read about this happening elsewhere in the world. Good work Denmark.

Getting to a completely different topic which is being used to demonstrate the the importance of understanding.

The Catholic Church. I can’t imagine there is anything that has been so misunderstood in history as the Catholic Church. I recently read a book, Muscle and a Shovel, which I wouldn’t recommend. Based on it having completely incorrect information. Multiple times in the book it uses an argument that “The Pope is seen as God by the Catholic Church so it can’t be the church of Jesus.” To put it bluntly, this is completely and utterly false. I read this book because a good friend recommended it to me. After I reached that point, about ⅓ of the way into the book, I was tempted to put it down, but in the interest of understanding where he got these thoughts, I pushed through, and was exposed to the same thought at least 2 more times. Each time I thought, this is completely illogical, why is this book able to be sold at all?

The point being, obviously the author of that book (and anyone who reads and agrees) took a total of no time to understand the Catholic Church. He had an opinion, he wrote it down, sans thinking or understanding. If you have an opinion about something, take the time to discuss with people who hold views opposed to yours. You might find that you don’t actually understand the circumstances or that you actually even have the same views, just you didn’t take the time to understand it.

In all these situations, and many others around the world, there is rampant misunderstanding that I think with a little conversation and effort by both sides, could be cleared up. One thing we need to be aware of is that disagreement is not equal to hatred. I am allowed to think you are doing something wrong without hating you as a person. I think that that is something that has been lost in the world. If you aren’t for us you’re against us, seems to be the rally cry,and that just isn’t the case. I hope anyone reading my articles can engage in understanding and not just argument.

credit Nick Webb, cover photo