December 30, 2008

Hi. My name is Art and I'm a chronic rhetoricist.

AP English and my studies in effective, rhetorical writing have taught me that every essay needs a hook, roadmap, thesis, body, and summary.

Sometimes, even when I'm happy with something I've written, I'm compelled to add a hook, or put in more figures of speech. I will rewrite my emails because I don't want the recipient to get the wrong impression. I spend time perfecting and polishing what I write, not just for clarity or grammar, but because I know it will make it sound or read better. In essence, I change my initial, personal reaction to something I think is more palatable to my audience.

Do you think this is dishonest/insincere to myself and my ideas?

December 28, 2008

Privacy rights are puzzling.

What are privacy rights? The right to keep your thoughts and personal life to yourself? An article in The Economist called "How the brain buys" sparked my interest.

Researchers, aided by new technology, the article explained, are making more and more discoveries about neurology as it relates to shopping. For example, one study found that if coffee was categorized, (mild, dark roast, nutty, or even A, B, and C) customers "were more satisfied with their choice."

Technology could go even farther. Small machines could be installed on top of a shopper's head to measure brain patterns.

However, the article continues...
"The notion of shoppers wearing brain scanning hats would be ridiculous if it were not so alarming. Privacy groups are already concerned about the rise of electronic surveillance that records what people do, let alone what they are thinking."
But I wonder: what exactly are privacy rights? Suppose we say that our privacy rights only protect our public actions, not our private actions or our thoughts.

Without even reading our minds, which I'm think most would consider to be unacceptable, there are countless things machines or people could monitor and track:
  • time of day we shop
  • time spent at each shelf/rack
  • words we say
  • preferred brands
What would you feel comfortable allowing? I'm not just asking this theoretically: the rise of technology makes this more relevant than ever. Is it ethically justifiable to track buying patterns?

I'm now asking for answers and discussion, mainly on two questions.

1) What really is ours? That is, what is a reasonable distinction between what we have the right to keep unknown and what is open to the public?

2) Where do we get the idea that we even have rights?

December 19, 2008

Needing God

I need God.

It sounds simple and obvious, but it is something I ought to say more often.

God completes.

Revelation 3:1b,2
"I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strenthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God."

The Church in Sardis was criticized because it was dead, incomplete. God sets us a high standard- we are called to be new creatures.

But often, I don't act like it. Why?

John Bunyan wrote,*

“These troubles and distresses that you go through in these waters are no sign that God has forsaken you; but they are sent to test you, to see whether you will recall that goodness, which up to now, you have received from Him and if you will live upon Him in your distress. Be cheerful, Jesus Christ makes you whole.”

See, Jesus Christ makes us whole and complete. With Him, we can withstand trials without falling. He enables me to be alive. It's foolish for me to ignore Him.

God makes action possible.

A few weeks ago, I was, again, facing a block in my striving to reduce world hunger.

All the arguments I presented in my speech weren't enough to quench the problem- it wasn't that I wasn't convinced. Instead, it was my feelings that were getting in the way.

Absence of my feelings, to be precise: I wanted to feel for the starving children. To want to spread knowledge of the tragedy. I wanted to be passionate about solving hunger. I knew I couldn't trust my feelings, but that was easier said than done. I thought that if I felt nothing, I couldn't act. To some degree, I suppose that's right. If you don't care, don't speak up.

But my wonderful mother was determined to show me otherwise. "You're not doing it because you want to," she said. "Aren't you doing it to bring pleasure to God? Isn't that what you say in your speech?"

She was right. I wasn't trying to fight world hunger for myself. It was for God.

I wrote in my journal that night,
"Dear God,
I can't fool myself into thinking that if I invoke your name, my feelings will be set straight. But what I do know is that this will serve You. I cannot be certain of the results, but my motivation is clear- not for myself, not by myself.

I need you, God. You give me life and meaning. You power me and inspire me. I want to please you, God. ... I want to please you."

I know I must act, though I'm not yet quite sure how. I want my works to be complete. But not without the founder and motivator of my faith! I have to stop focusing on my ways and my arbitrary prerequisites to action. I have to be willing to relinquish my control and instead give my all to Him.

I pray for ideas, opportunities, and, most of all, wisdom. To God be the glory and power forever!

*John Bunyan, quoted by James W. Bruce in From Grief to Glory (Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2008), 34.

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