September 26, 2009

  • A Layman’s Explanation of the Laffer Curve

    Something you may or may not have heard about when hearing people discuss economics is the Laffer Curve.  Whether you have heard of it or not, taxes are definitely something you hear about a lot, and they are also a subject that most people have a vested interest in.  The Laffer Curve is a very relevant topic when it comes to taxes and economics as a whole.

    EDIT:  I was asked to provide pictorial examples of the Curve, so I have included a basic pictorial representation for those of you who are more visual-oriented.

    Definition and History of the Curve:

    The Laffer Curve is credited to Arthur Laffer, an economics professor who proposed the curve in 1978 on a dinner napkin.  The general purpose of the curve is to demonstrate, by comparing tax rates versus total tax revenue received, that at a specific point in time there is an optimum tax rate where the government will incur the maximum amount of revenue.  The graph typically is depicted with tax rates on the X-axis and tax revenue on the Y-axis, making a bell-shaped curve with a peak at the maximum tax revenue.

    Though Arthur Laffer is credited with the curve, he wasn’t the first person to think of the idea.  John Meynard Keynes discussed the concept in one of his famous works, General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (from which Keynesian economics is derived), though even he wasn’t the original source.  One of the earliest people that can be credited with the idea is (now this is from Wikipedia, so take it with a grain of salt) a North African polymath named Ibn Khaldun who wrote about it in 1377.

    Explanation of the Curve:

    On a macroeconomic scale, the graph assumes that all entities (consumers and businesses alike) are being taxed the exact same tax rate as everyone else, that no graduated tax brackets, tax incentives, or anything of the like are being employed.  This seems like a very gross simplification of what is actually going on in a taxed economy, but a lot of it is just to demonstrate a general idea of what is happening.  On a microeconomic scale, it can be broken down by individual tax brackets, industry tax brackets, taxes going to different levels of government, and by type of taxes, among others.  When it is viewed from a microeconomic perspective, each segment can be broken down and viewed individually with its own curve.

    I realize some of that may be over my readers’ heads.  All I said was that the Laffer Curve is a broad generalization of how the economy works when it comes to tax rates.  When using it to talk about the economy as a whole, it can’t be used as a completely accurate representation of the economy, only as a rough model.  Each specific industry is affected differently by different factors, and so the curve will look different for each industry.  The same also holds true for tax brackets, especially since we use a graduated income tax, meaning that richer people pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes, and so they will be affected differently by alterations in the tax rate.  The other thing about tax brackets is that the government usually alters tax rates by brackets, not for the economy as a whole.  The curve does provide a good, simplified, overall representation of what is going on, though.

    In general, the idea of the curve is pretty simple.  If the government were to charge a 0% tax rate, then it obviously wouldn’t make any tax revenue.  But if the government were to charge a 100% tax rate on income then it would be pointless for anyone to work and pointless for businesses to engage in normal operations with no income to be gained (both because no consumers would have income to spend and because 100% of the money the business does make goes to the government), and so nobody would be making any income and the government wouldn’t have any income to tax.  There lies a point somewhere in between where the government can make as much tax revenue as possible without discouraging consumers from working and discouraging businesses from making money.  This is not saying that the government necessarily needs to be making the most they possibly can in taxes, it just means they can use the graph as a barometer to see if the tax rate is too low or too high.  If tax rates are increased and the government receives more money, then the tax rate was below optimal.  If tax rates are increased and the government receives less money, then the tax rate was at or above optimal.

    A commonly-held misperception about tax revenue is that if the government needs to make more money in taxes then it simply needs to raise the tax rates to do so.  This is not necessarily true.  Just think about it as a business trying to maximize its profits by altering the price of its goods.  For example, a grocer could charge $1,000 for a jug of milk.  Using the logic of higher tax rates = higher tax revenue, then this should make the grocer more money because he has raised the price.  However, it is highly doubtful that he would sell any milk and wouldn’t make any money, based on simple consumer psychology.  Your average consumer is not going to think a jug of milk is worth $1,000, especially if they can go to another store and buy it for considerably less, so the grocer will probably not make too much money off of his milk, if any.  But obviously he can’t just give away the milk, because then he wouldn’t make any money either, and won’t be able to keep his milk in stock because everyone would take it.  There is an optimal price in between where the price is high enough to keep merchandise in stock, but low enough to where people will still be willing to buy it (Economics 101:  Supply and Demand).  The same holds true for the government.  If higher tax rates = higher tax revenue, then one would have to then assume that a 100% tax rate would generate the most tax revenue.  But how many people do you think would work if the government took every cent they made?  Not too many, at least not in a capitalist society.  There becomes a point where the tax rates will become so high that citizens will no longer see the point of continuing to earn income, or they will move to another country (no longer paying taxes to that government).  Just like with the grocer, there is an optimal tax rate where the government would have enough income to provide its services to the people, but low enough to where people would still be willing to earn money.


    Criticism of the Curve:

    The Curve does make several assumptions about consumer psychology.  In a capitalist society, greed is usually assumed to be the motivating factor in economics, where people are making decisions based on what is going to have the greatest positive (or least negative) effect on their wallet.  However, what if people are not being greedy?  If taxes are going into government programs and are being used to provide people with a way of life, then perhaps some people will not mind being rid of all their money.  This is essentially a Marxist state, where people work for the good of society rather than for personal gain.  In such an economy, taxes wouldn’t really even exist anymore, as all income would go directly to the state.  Possession no longer is dictated by having the financial wherewithal to buy it; it is distributed evenly (or at the government’s discretion).  Obviously, there are going to be quite a few within the society that will not bother working because they don’t want to lose their buying power.  But since the Curve is simply looking at government tax revenue, what will the impact on tax revenue be?  A critic would say that the revenue would not be zero unless 100% of the society is motivated by greed.

    One might say that greed isn’t the only factor, that the reason people don’t want to give their money to the government is because they don’t trust the government with their money, either because they think the government is corruptible and/or they think the government is inefficient.  In either case, people are afraid to give their money to the government because they don’t trust the government to do the right thing with their money.  People want to have control over their money so that they can decide what best to do with it, whether it be investing, spending, or saving.  Though since it is the desire to have control over their money, wanting to keep and “hoard” it (if you will), one could also argue that this is essentially the same thing as greed.  One also has to look at whether the lack of income would be enough of a motivator to stop people from working, even for those people who are motivated by greed.

    Regardless of whether or not a 100% tax rate would provide zero tax revenue, the question also remains as to if a 100% tax rate would provide the most tax revenue.  Again, one would have to look at what percentage of the society is being motivated (consciously or subconsciously) by greed or control.  Would enough people still work (and work hard) to generate income solely for the government?  Would enough businesses (most likely government agencies in this type of economy) be motivated to be profitable if all of their income is being taken?  This is a question of economic theory and statistical projection, and it is difficult to answer.  It ultimately boils down to the age-old argument of government control vs. private control.



    Regardless of whether or not the Curve works, the basic question at stake is who will be the most efficient and profitable with resources, the government or the individual?  This is not a simple question, and it has been debated for ages, ever since the first economy was born.  The natural impulse is to hold onto one’s own resources to ensure one’s own survival.  But as evolution (for lack of a better term) occurs, the survival of the family, race, and species as a whole eventually become higher priorities.  In order to aid in someone else’s survival, resources will obviously have to be sacrificed, whether that be through specifically giving it to the less fortunate person or giving it to a group who will administer the aid in your stead (like a charity or a government).  Since resources have to be given away, personal control over the resources and greed will have to diminish for this to succeed.  But care also has to be taken to make sure the resources are used responsibly, otherwise it will lose its resources and not succeed.

    Does the Laffer Curve work?  The answer is conditional.  In a pure market economy, where the absolute minimum of resources is in the hands of the government, then yes.  In order for such a society to succeed, people have to be motivated to be responsible and profitable with their resources, or else they will lose them.  In such a society, administrative (government) expenses would be considered “overhead,” and any business person will tell you that overhead is something you are always trying to minimize.  Therefore, a 100% tax rate would not be desirable in a pure market economy.  However, in a pure command economy administration is the key to success, and so all of the resources would need to be devoted to maintaining the government.  In order for such a society to succeed, people would have to be motivated to trust the government with their resources, and the government would have to be motivated to be responsible and profitable with the resources they have.  In such a pure command economy, a 100% tax rate would be the most desirable because everyone would be working hard and contributing the maximum amount of their income, and so the Laffer Curve is wrong.

    The simple answer is a question:  which do you agree with more, capitalism or socialism?  The answer will affect your opinion about the effectiveness of the Laffer Curve.

September 18, 2009

  • I Am Obsessive

    I just read a post on Healthkicker about OCD, and it inspired me to write this.

    I don’t know how many people I have told about this, and I don’t even know for sure if I have mentioned this on here.  I do not have obsessive-compulsive disorder, at least I haven’t been diagnosed with it, but I do have some of the symptoms of it.

    During one of my hospitalizations for depression, my doctor and I discussed having a Brain SPECT scan done of my brain, in order to help him further diagnose what was wrong with me.  And so, I was taken to the radiology department of the hospital, was given a (harmless) radioactive isotope, and then they laid me down and took 3D pictures of my brain.  It was all nice and colorful from the isotope they gave me, clearly showing what parts of my brain were most active.  I found out I have a very overactive frontal lobe, and I also have a lot of activity on one of my temporal lobes, which causes some social anxiety.

    The frontal lobe is responsible for a lot of higher brain functions, including the evaluation of consequences of current actions and altering behavior to avoid future negative consequences.  This is normally a good thing, because it helps us with short-term and long-term planning, gives us ambition, and in general helps us survive.  However, a person with OCD has a very overactive frontal lobe, causing them to obsess about actions and consequences that others consider small, and they have a hard time prioritizing which behaviors to alter.  The intensity of these thoughts is so great that it compels them to alter their lifestyle in response, because their mind has gotten “stuck” (for lack of a better term) on a few specific behaviors.  I have not been diagnosed with OCD, but my psychiatrist said I have a very active frontal lobe that presents itself similarly to OCD.

    When I first found out about it and the doctor mentioned “similar to OCD,” I was devastated.  For one, I now had a name for my condition, and a label.  This may not mean much to you, but in many ways I now was officially labeled as having a “mental illness.”  Like you, I’ve heard people make OCD jokes all the time, and now that I knew I had something similar I knew I would probably be the butt of many jokes.  But the other thing that really scared me was that the thoughts I had been obsessing about at that time were dealing with depression and thoughts of self-harm, a lot of it connecting to my struggle with religion (another thought I constantly obsessed about).  By telling me that I had this, all I could think about was that these thoughts would never leave me, and I would be plagued with them the rest of my life.  I saw myself twenty years in the future in an asylum, committed there because I could no longer function in everyday life.  Even worse, I saw myself in the future still constantly hating myself and thinking about hurting myself, and possibly even doing it a few times.

    Many people understand what it is like to have a thought stuck in your head, like a song or a joke that you just can’t stop thinking about.  But usually, those go away within a very short time, and even while you’re thinking about them they don’t interfere with your regular activities.  I have had times where I was thinking about something so much and it affected my performance at work, kept me from sleeping, and even directly caused me to become physically ill because I was obsessing so much.  People who don’t have it seem to think that all we need to do is just stop thinking about something and that is the end of it.  They don’t seem to understand why we can’t do this simple task.  But you see, we do want to stop thinking about it, but then we start obsessing about not thinking about it, which is thinking about it.  We want nothing more than to be able to push these thoughts out of our heads and live somewhat “normal” lives, but often we feel powerless to stop it, and even feel trapped inside our own brains at times.  I have even thought about going to extreme measures like getting shock therapy to help me stop thinking about it.  Please don’t think I am judging you for not understanding.  I know that most of the time people who joke about it do not have malicious intent behind their jokes.  Hell, I even poke fun at myself for my own OCD.  I just wanted to help you understand what it is like to be in the mind of an obsessive person.

    Though I do have good news.  It is possible to recover from this obsessiveness, at least partially.  Psychiatrists have developed ways to help people confront and deal with the fear often associated with OCD, and patients have found relief from their symptoms (or at least less severity).  I myself have started to get to the point where I can use mental techniques to calm myself down and get my mind focused on other things, and I have seen quite a relief as a result.  It is still something I deal with on a regular basis, and it is probably something I will have to work at for the rest of my life, but the good news is that it gets easier each time I do it.  If you do have OCD or some similar disorder, please don’t lose hope, thinking that you will be stuck in your own head for the rest of your life.  There are ways to work through it.  You don’t have to suffer for the rest of your life.

    Anyway, those are just my thoughts about the subject.  It is something that I think about a lot (I’m obsessive, after all) and I wanted to get it out there.

July 16, 2009

  • Hey all!

    I know I haven’t updated much recently, and I’m sorry.  I’ve been a bit busy, and I’ve also been taking a bit of a break from Xanga.  I have been trying to avoid certain topics, yet it seems like I get on Xanga and find myself fully immersed in them again.  Not that I don’t like thinking about those topics, just that it seems like I always get in arguments whenever they come up.  So to keep from getting in those arguments, I have been staying away from Xanga.  It’s not you, Xanga, it’s me. 

    Personally, I have made some changes.  I figured it was about time for a change, so I have now moved to the Kansas City area where I am living with a friend from college.  I wanted to get a bit farther away from the Bible Belt, where I wouldn’t be as bombarded with religion.  I figured it would help me move on.  I am still looking for a job, though, and I hear that Missouri’s unemployment news has been getting worse and worse.  I’d like to think that I am pretty marketable as an employee, but I have yet to be employed.  Hopefully that will change soon.

June 4, 2009

  • I Am Perfect

    I am perfect.  How do I know I am perfect?  Because I say I am perfect.  Because I just know that I am perfect.  Because anyone who truly knows what perfect is will know that I am perfect.  Look, I even have a dictionary that has the word “perfect” with my picture included in the definition.  What, your dictionary doesn’t have that?  Well, you just have the wrong dictionary then, because it is so obviously true.  I have the answer to all your questions, just because I am perfect.  When will you stop doubting and start believing?  I admonish you to prove me wrong, but you can only use the correct materials (like my dictionary) to do so.

    Doesn’t make sense, does it?  Of course not.  Then how does it supposedly work for explaining God?

May 22, 2009

May 8, 2009

  • Gender Roles

    I really get tired of all the established gender roles in our society.  Now I know it is not all the direct result of religion, but it is linked.  I think a lot of our gender roles come from having patriarchal societies rising to prominence across the globe, patriarchal societies that design religions based on their patriarchal society.  Or maybe the religion came first and the patriarchal society was based on that.  Perhaps even some religious doctrines may have developed from already established gender roles.  So it is kind of a “chicken or the egg” comparison, not knowing which caused which (gender roles or religion), but they definitely are related.

    Just in case you don’t know what a “gender role” is, let me explain.  A gender role is an expectation for a person to act a certain way based entirely upon their gender.  Other circumstances and other traits of your personality don’t matter; everything is based on your sex.  Let me just list a few examples:


    • Aren’t supposed to cry
    • Are supposed to be physically tough
    • Are supposed to be the breadwinner and head of the household
    • Are supposed to like sports
    • Are supposed to be leaders
    • Are supposed to be attracted to (and have sex with) females


    • Are supposed to be submissive
    • Are supposed to stay at home and take care of the children
    • Are supposed to shave their legs and wear makeup
    • Are supposed to wear dresses/skirts
    • Aren’t supposed to be in positions of leadership
    • Are supposed to be attracted to (and have sex with) males

    These are just a few examples of the many that are out there.  I am sure that all of you have heard at least some of these in one form or another, and perhaps some of you even agree with some of them.  These are all actions and traits that are expected of people simply based on whether they have a penis or a vagina.  This isn’t even getting into the topic of transgendered people or hermaphrodites, both of which throw a huge wrench into established gender roles all by themselves.  All of these expectations are assumptions based on what someone looks like on the outside and nothing else.  There is a great amount of pressure to conform to these established “roles,” and if someone violates them they are often ridiculed, shamed, or judged.  For example, if a man does something that is considered “feminine,” he may be called a “sissy” or “pussy” (people insult him by calling him a girl).  A lot of it is somewhat mild, but certain circles can create considerable pressure to conform.  In some societies and religions, not conforming to established gender roles may even result in death.

    There is just an obvious comparison here that I can’t help but to make.  People are being judged simply based on what they look like on the outside, with no regard for what is underneath.  Based on what is expected of you for what you look like on the outside, people may mock you and/or treat you with contempt, and might even kill you.  How is this any different from how African Americans were treated for centuries until the Civil Rights Movement came along?  I’m not saying that all elements of racism have been eliminated, but we certainly have come a long way from where we were in 1850.  But still, even though we may have made progress in the realm of stopping discrimination and segregation based upon race, we still discriminate against people who don’t act the way we think they should based on their anatomy.

    This permeates so many areas of our society.  I have already mentioned the religious areas, where women are expected to be submissive and wear certain things and where men are expected to be leaders.  You see the fashion industry, where there is so much pressure on women to be as skinny as toothpicks.  You see Hollywood, where you watch movies and TV shows with macho men doing outrageous action scenes and getting the girls (though it isn’t as bad as it used to be – you do sometimes see women in action scenes now).  You watch sports on television which are still mostly dominated by males.  You look at politics, where there are many women who participate but we have yet to elect a female president.  It is even a major part of the debate on gay marriage, because parts of our established gender roles say that both genders are supposed to be straight.  And you also can’t tell me that a certain amount of established gender roles don’t play into the abortion debate, whether it be through improper sex education or how women with unwanted pregnancies are treated.

    Seriously people, when are we going to learn to stop judging people for what is on the outside and look at the inside?  When are we going to realize that every individual person is unique and has their own unique personality?  When are we going to realize that though people with certain physical organs may have a tendency to act a certain way it doesn’t mean that everybody with those organs will (or should be expected to) act that way?  Not everyone who has a penis will fit into the definition of “masculine” in all (or even any) categories.  Not everyone who has a vagina will fit into the definition of “feminine” in all (or even any) categories.

    So stop expecting people to behave a certain way because of what you see on the outside.  Most importantly, stop treating people a certain way because of what you see on the outside.  Yes, your holy book might tell you differently, but it doesn’t make it any less wrong, in my opinion.  Stereotypes are stereotypes, no matter what justification you use for them.

    EDIT:  No more timestamping, I promise.  I was kind of wanting some feedback on this post, and with all the site maintenance I don’t know how many people got to see it.  Plus, with my weird work hours I post things at weird times sometimes.

April 29, 2009

  • Is It Silly to be a Hopeless Romantic?

    I made a post a couple days ago about how I was really going to concentrate on searching for love and searching for a mate.  I decided that was more important to me than my search for religious answers, at least for the moment (though I am pretty sure that it always will be).  I also figured it would be more productive, because finding someone is a goal that I could possibly achieve, an event that would make me VERY happy if/when it happens.

    I know I am definitely at least a bit romantic, and I think I might even fall into the category of being a “hopeless romantic.”  Not only did I mention it in that post, but I also talk all the time in real life about how much I desperately want love, and about how much it pains me that I don’t have love (and don’t feel I have ever had it).  I want that one special woman who I can hold in my arms and tell her how much she means to me, and show her how much I care for her.  It is something I want so much that it often makes me unable to concentrate, and at times has even made me physically ill.  I think about it night and day with my heart aching to find it, and it cries out that I don’t have it.

    First of all, does this make me a hopeless romantic?  I know that pretty much everyone desires love to a point, but it is the one thing I want most out of life, and I would do pretty much anything to get it.  I don’t really believe in fate or destiny, nor do I really believe in God anymore, but I still often think that there is one special person out there for me just waiting for me to find her.  My rational mind tells me there are probably multiple people who could potentially qualify, but my heart tells me that there is one unique individual out there who will be my soulmate, and nobody else.

    Whether this all makes me a hopeless romantic or not, is it silly for me to think such things?  Is it silly for me to go around trying to find “the one,” thinking that there will only be one person who will ever fill that part of me that needs companionship?  I haven’t had much experience with relationships, so I am still learning exactly what I want in a mate.  But it is something I have thought about a LOT, so I think I have a pretty good idea.  I also know that whoever I end up in a relationship with that I will give myself completely to her, loving her for who she is, possibly even to my own detriment.  Because of my lack of experience though, I am just afraid that I will settle down too quickly, deciding to make a life with the person I am with when there could have been something more.  But then again, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life searching and pass up some potentially great opportunities for love.

    I know the first task is to find someone, regardless.  But I am just wondering if I am going about this the wrong way.  Or perhaps I don’t really know who I really am when it comes to relationships and have much to learn.  I am still very new at all of this (yes, even being in my mid-20s), so I would really like some advice.

    EDIT:  I just had a thought about submitting this to Datingish to get some more comments.

    EDIT 2:  Datingish did put it up, and I have already started to receive comments over there.

April 28, 2009

  • Abandoning the Search

    This post is very difficult for me to write.  This is the second edition of it, and even it has gone through massive edits to get into this form.  This is a topic that I have been thinking long and hard about for awhile, particularly the last few days, and it is something I feel I just need to get off my chest.  So please bear with me as I write it.

    Ever since I started asking questions, and particularly when I left my faith, I thought the religious questions were so important to me, the fear of Hell so strong, that I would never think there could be anything more important.  The religious questions seemed to consume me, causing me much frustration as I searched and came back with only dead ends and more questions.  I would lose much sleep at nights, obsessing about them constantly in my head, reading books on the subject, and constantly feeling I had to have an answer in case I were to die that night.  I poured everything of myself into the search (all I had left after I lost so many people in my life), desperately wanting to find answers to the questions yet none seemed to ever come.  But I was afraid to give up the search, fearing that not having the right answers would doom me to Hell, and so I kept up a futile search for answers I never felt I would receive.  As much effort as I put into it, as much pain as it caused me, I never thought something else could possibly come anywhere close to matching the priority of the religious questions.

    All this time though, tangled up all the way through it were the issues I was dealing with regarding my emotions, particularly love.  I lost a fiancee over the religious questions, and losing her was always constantly a part of my internal struggle.  I don’t really feel I have had many opportunities at love; in fact, I feel that was the only opportunity I really had.  And I don’t really know if she even really loved me, after leaving me like she did after she found out I was no longer a Christian.  So there is a part of me that feels like I have never tasted love at all, or merely just a drop of it.  More than four years have passed since those events took place, and I haven’t come anywhere close to tasting it again.  Call me a romantic, but my spirit cries out to experience true love, my heart aches to have someone to hold close to me so I can show her just how much she means to me.  Every time I think about this, not only do I have the frustration over not having it and lose sleep over it, the symptoms seem to be much, much worse.  Whenever I think about how much I so want to have love, it also makes me physically ill so that I can’t eat, makes it so that I sleep only an hour or two a night (if that) and makes it so that I can’t focus on anything else besides that topic through all of my waking moments.  Comparing these two obsessions side by side, it seems the obsession that is much more important to me is the obsession over love, the one that is causing more problems.  Now I am sure hormones play a part in my longing for love, but I am sure my survival instinct also plays a part in my fear of Hell, so I still have to say that love clearly is the need with the higher priority for me.

    Thinking about it all, I have come to realize that my search for religious answers is at a standstill, and may be at a standstill for the rest of my life.  I have been doing what I can, but very little progress (if any) seems to have been made.  I know I have been afraid of dying without the answers, fearing I would be doomed for Hell, which drove me to find the answers.  But even with all of this motivation to find answers, all of this obsessing and stressing out about it, my rational side tells me that it is HIGHLY unlikely that I will ever find any answers, anyway.  So it makes me wonder what the point of the search really is.  I will never find any answers if I give up on the search (at least not through the traditional means), but if I continue the search I most likely will not either (and I will spend the rest of my life obsessing and stressing and end up giving myself an aneurysm or heart attack).  When I think about it that way, I actually feel a sense of peace over where I am at, because I know this will likely be where I am at the rest of my life.  So there is no use stressing out over it.  Why not instead spend the time on something more productive, such as enjoying life?  Love is so much more important to me, anyway, so perhaps I should spend my time and energy on that (something that I could actually accomplish) rather than wasting it on a futile effort.

    I am wanting to abandon (or at least suspend indefinitely) my active search for religious answers.  I will still keep an open mind about it, and I will read sources I find interesting as I come across them, but I will no longer actively pursue it for the time being.  I am just going to call myself firmly agnostic, admitting that I can’t possibly ever know the answers, and move on with my life.  If a loving god does exist, surely that God wouldn’t want me to keep wasting my life, and surely that God would want me to at least get some joy out of life.  After all, that God gave me these desires of my heart, so surely he/she it would want me to act on them, and to find that special person he/she/it created for me.  And who knows?  Perhaps in the process of searching for love I may find answers to the religious questions in a way that I never expected before.

    I have many Christian friends and family (including many of my readers) that will not approve of this, saying that I need to keep searching.  In their belief, I am doomed for Hell and so I shouldn’t stop searching as long as I am not a Christian (of course, when I am Christian I suppose it is okay for me to stop then?).  But I have done all I can do, in my opinion, and there just comes a point where one has to let go of the past and move on with life.  I am going to start pursuing what (or who) I want in life, because I feel that will complete me and give my life meaning.  Besides, if those people really do care for me then wouldn’t they want me to feel good about my life?  Plus, when I do meet the love of my life (which will hopefully happen before too long) I want to be able to give her all of me rather than force her to share it with this other part that consumes so much of my energy and attention.  That is the kind of lover I am, and I feel the love of my life deserves nothing less than that.

    If you are still reading this, I thank you.  A lot of time and thought went into this, and I do feel quite a bit relieved now.  I also am feeling at peace with this decision, which is the first time I have felt any semblance of peace in many years.  Yet this is still a major decision for me, a major life change, and so I am sure the road may not be easy.  If you do have any comments or suggestions about it (or merely just encouragement) it definitely will help.

    Thank you for reading.  It means a lot to me.

    *EDIT:  I don’t know how many of you read my post about “E-mail Propaganda,” but some more has happened with that story in relation to this.  I replied to the relative who talked about stopping people from spreading lies, particularly lies about the Bible.  I had never been able to stand up to her about what I believe, but I finally was able to tell her that I am no longer a Christian and gave her my reasons for it.  I asked her some of the tough questions about the Bible and God, and how my conscience was unable to reconcile them.

    That was a week ago, and I hadn’t received any response.  Then I got a letter in the snail mail from her yesterday.  It had a little note saying something about how I had asked questions that she couldn’t answer, but perhaps this little booklet (a tract that she included) would help.  She didn’t say anything else to try and persuade me (though I am sure she has been praying), just said that she still loved me.  I read the booklet, and it of course just rehashed the same tired Christian arguments that have pushed me away from the beginning.  My initial response was to be angry, but that was quickly replaced by a peculiar sense of peace.  This was one of the relatives I was afraid of angering (probably the one I feared the most, actually), but her telling me she still loved me really made me feel better.  That and the fact that I did read the tract (trying to be as open-minded as possible), and it only made me more sure that I didn’t believe it.

    So I think I really am moving on from it, which really gives me a lot of inner peace about this decision.

April 22, 2009

  • Kudos to you, Serena (Smaranda)

    I debated a long time over whether or not I would write this, but I finally decided to throw caution to the wind and do it.  I know a lot of my readers probably won’t agree with what I am about to say, but I have to just say it.

    SerenaDante just posted a live Xanga TV feed the other day, in which she had casual conversation with several people and in the process of the feed progressively stripped down until she was completely nude.  She still has it posted there, if you wish to watch it.  The point she was trying to make is that nudity is not something we need to be ashamed of, not something we need to be afraid of, and it isn’t that big of a deal.  Now she is not advocating that we go around publicly nude all the time (at least not yet), but the human body is very beautiful and there is no need for us to be so prudish about it.

    I give you kudos, Serena (Smaranda) for doing this, because I think it is an important message that we should really take seriously.  I don’t know if my posting this will be a good thing for you or not, since a great portion of my readers will surely disapprove.  But I really admire your courage, and I think you did a good thing by doing this, and I hope it helps the world start seeing nudity in a more positive light.  I give you all the eProps I can give.

April 20, 2009

  • E-Mail Propaganda

    The other day I received an e-mail from a relative, sent to most members of our family.  Later on, another relative also forwarded the same e-mail to me (and others).

    It is an e-mail about how schools in the United Kingdom are no longer teaching about the Holocaust because it is offensive to Muslims who don’t believe it happened.  The e-mail then goes on to show all these gruesome pictures of the Holocaust, talking about how Dwight Eisenhower had all of these pictures taken because he knew that some “son of a bitch” would one day try to say it never happened.  The e-mail ends with talking about how we must never forget this horrible chapter of our history, and never allow people to try and erase it out of the history books.  And finally (like all e-mails of this kind) it says to pass it on to everyone we know so that people will not be able to forget.  Both relatives also said in the text of their message that they knew people (family members) who had fought in WWII and had seen the atrocities in the concentration camps, trying to give more personal reasons why we should further spread this hate propaganda.

    First of all, this isn’t true.  I’m not one of those people that think the Holocaust didn’t happen.  I wasn’t around back then, but with all of the pictures I have seen, with all of the stories I have read about it, with all of the people I have met who were either there or helped liberate the camps, I think it probably did happen.  However, the United Kingdom is NOT removing it from their history books.  This e-mail has been out for a long time, even including editions about the University of Kentucky (another UK), and both Britain and the University of Kentucky have flatly denied it and even offered proof of their curriculum.  From what I read on, there was one classroom in some school in the UK that stopped teaching it, and that was apparently how this e-mail got started.

    This isn’t the first time I have received propaganda e-mails from members of my family, but this time I decided that I would say something about it.  I sent an e-mail to both of the people who sent it to me, telling them that this was a hoax and even giving them the URL for the Snopes article.  I told them that it was a nice attempt to try to generate hate toward Muslims, but that was all it was.  I received a message back from one of them, thanking me for telling them that it was a hoax, but saying that the Holocaust most definitely was not a hoax.  She said there are people who are trying to discredit it, trying to say that it never happened just because it is uncomfortable for them, and she said we need to make sure that nobody is allowed to do that.  It went on (as a lot of this relative’s messages do, especially to me it seems) to talk about how there are also many people out there trying to say that the Bible isn’t true, that Jesus never existed, and she said that it is obviously true and we need to stop people from spreading such lies.

    How are e-mails like this furthering a good cause?  Yes, it helps to ensure that people never forget, but it does that by rubbing their faces in it.  Just because something horrible happened doesn’t mean we need to constantly remind people, nor does it mean we need to specifically rub it in the faces of people who don’t want to believe it.  E-mail propaganda like this (and like a lot of other e-mail propaganda in general) is not being sent around so that people won’t forget; it is being sent around to offend people, and to attempt to foster hatred for the people who would say they don’t believe it.  Both of these people that sent the message to me are Christians, and I couldn’t help but wonder how they would react if I started some sort of e-mail chain reminding everyone about the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, and extremely bloody parts of the Bible (a book that they believe is true).  But all of it did happen right?  And it was all pretty horrifying, so I guess we need to remind people to make sure that they don’t forget, right?

    Seriously people, it is very doubtful that people are going to forget about this anytime soon.  Whether the Holocaust happened or not, there are plenty of people who claim to be eyewitnesses and plenty of stories going around about it.  There is so much there that it isn’t going to be fading out of our history anytime soon.  Case in point?  The Spanish Inquisition and Salem Witch Trials that I mentioned before.  I am sure many Christians would like to just forget that those things happened, but they did.  And both of them happened centuries ago, yet we still know about them.  So I highly doubt that something like the Holocaust, which only happened less than 70 years ago, is going to be forgotten in our lifetimes or for centuries beyond.