An Announcement

Hey everyone, and by everyone I mean my small-but-dedicated core audience and the occasional person I manage to snag in with decent post-tagging, I have an announcement to make, if you couldn’t tell already. First of all, yes, that alliteration in the title is intentional. Second of all, I’ve decided to take a bit of a long-term break/hiatus from making new blog posts. While I definitely have the time and ideas to probably write several posts most weeks, I want to take some time to focus on some creative projects. I have no intentions of “abandoning” this blog, I’ll return to writing new posts eventually. There are just a few creative projects I’ve been really wanting to focus my time on. I have no idea when I’ll return to writing posts full-time again, I anticipate it to be sometime later this year, probably during Fall at the earliest. Make sure to follow my blog or me on social media for updates on when I do, or maybe even on one of my creative projects if I make decent progress. Thanks for reading my (extremely inconsistent) posts, and I’m looking forward to making new ones again in the future! For the time being my site will remain up, and all posts will be available to read. Feel free to comment on posts or contact me, I might get back to you in a timely manner. Maybe. Until then, see you later! Wait, that’s not quite how that works, wouldn’t it be write for you later?

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Discontinuing Google Plus Page

Hey everyone, just a brief announcement that due to Google shutting down Google +, I will be discontinuing all services with my page and shutting it down. This will have no effect on those Following my blog, its Twitter page, or posts on my personal Facebook page. Now, I strongly doubt many of you actually checked my Google + page, but I do know a few did regularly, so I thought it best to let them know. To the four to six people this will affect, sorry! Feel free to directly Follow my blog or check out my Twitter. As for everyone, I’m sorry for taking another hiatus, I’m almost done with several posts so I have at least a few weeks of content coming out soon.

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One Year of Blogging!

Hey everyone, today is just gonna be a bit of a micro-post, but I just wanted to announce that apparently, I’ve been blogging for one year! I haven’t been keeping track myself, but WordPress just notified me when I logged in today. To both my small but dedicated core audience and the many occasional readers I receive, thank you for your support and taking the time to read my ramblings. I’m looking forward to another year of blogging (since I’ve already paid for another year of WordPress) and hopefully this year will have more frequent and regular posts. We’ll see! I’ll certainly try! This is getting awkward now so I’m just gonna stop!

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New Posts Coming Soon

Hey guys, sorry for not posting anything these last couple of weeks!  I’ve been on break from school, and spent a lot of time visiting with friends and family.  I probably could have fit in a post or two, but it just didn’t end up happening.  I promise to post something by the beginning of next week, even if it’s just a short snippet or game playthrough.  Happy New Year!

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What is Generational Theology?

As promised, today I’ll be going over a theology topic.  It’s not a particularly deep topic, nor is it inherently complicated, but it an important topic that I think doesn’t get addressed enough.

Merriam-Webster defines theology as

the study of religious faith, practice, and experience
especially : the study of God and of God’s relation to the world

Essentially, theology is how we view God, God’s nature, and how these views will affect the way we live our life.  While the term theology can technically refer to any religion, it usually is usually used when discussing Abrahamic religions, and when I use it will be in reference to Christianity unless I say otherwise.

In an ideal world, we (Christians), would come to our theological standpoints after extensively studying the Bible, church history/tradition, translation/canon issues, etc.  However, most Christians don’t have the time or interest to do so.  Most will be content to simply listen to sermons and/or go to Sunday school and/or do the occasional guided bible study.  This is perfectly fine.  Not everyone needs to be a theologian, and after all, it’s more important as a Christian how we live our lives than if we can complete a multiple choice test on what’s “proper theology”.  Because spoiler alert, with over 40,000 denominations worldwide, with an estimated two new ones forming every day, I can guarantee that everyone is a heretic to someone.  The danger, however, that can (and often does) stem from taking what we’re told about God at face value, is Generational Theology.

So, what is Generational Theology?  Simply put, Generational Theology is any theological belief that is relatively new but we assume has always been a Christian belief simply because it’s been believed for a couple of generations or more.  Basically, we forget that it wasn’t always an accepted belief.  Generational Theology is not an inherently “good” or “bad” thing, but it often has negative consequences.

The purpose of this post is not to tell you what to believe theologically, but rather to foster critical thinking so you will examine your beliefs and come to the conclusion of what you believe is true.  Having an informed opinion is important.  That being said, I feel I should give a clear example of Generational Theology, one that hopefully shouldn’t be too controversial.  So, here’s one: The Rapture.

That’s right, the Rapture is not a biblical concept and is quite new in Christianity, less than 200 years old in fact.  Historically, the book of Revelation has been viewed as allegorical or metaphorical, it actually wasn’t originally supposed to be in the Bible.  It is an example of the Apocalypse genre, a genre of literature that was quite popular but largely denounced among early Christianity.  When establishing the Biblical canon (which in and of itself is a complicated topic) the addition of Revelation to the canon was hugely controversial.  The majority of authorities were against it, but a vocal minority was able to just barely get it in.  Even if we were to assume the book of Revelation was to be taken literally, the term “Rapture” is never found in any form inside.  To this day the majority of Christians worldwide don’t believe in the Rapture, or the idea that believers will be taken up to Heaven at the end times and then Jesus will come back and commit torture and genocide on all unbelievers all whilst fighting the antichrist (Who by the way, was Nero Caesar.  The Antichrist has already lived and died).  The idea of the rapture originated with Puritans and was popularized by John Nelson Darby, a theologian who was frequently criticized for rejecting Christ’s nature and the message of the Gospel.  So, as much as you may think the Rapture has always been a Christian belief, it has not, and even today is not believed by the majority of Christians.

Hopefully, now you understand the importance of thinking critically.  There’s no need to become a full-blown theologian or even put in an enormous amount of effort if that doesn’t interest you, but I’ve found this mantra helpful:

If you can’t imagine Jesus doing, saying, or teaching it; it probably isn’t true.

After all, God gave us brains, we might as well use them.  Or, as the author of Proverbs more aptly put,

It is the Glory of God to conceal a matter, and the honor of Kings to discern it

Proverbs 25:2

That’s it for this post, have a good week and a Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers!

 

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Not Gnostism

This post is going to be dedicated to resolving a misconception that’s come up several times in multiple groups and churches I’ve been a part of/attended.  It’s going to deal with Church History, an area that’s often not taught or mistaught because frankly, it’s not of interest or even relevant to most people.  And that’s perfectly fine, but it interests me and if you’re reading my blog it must interest you or you’re very bored and have nothing better to do.  Now, let’s look at the issue at hand.

Multiple times now, from multiple groups, individuals, and churches, I’ve heard people claims the Johannes letters (1, 2, 3 John in the New Testament) are in condemnation of Gnosticism “running rampant” in the early church.  A couple of times (though not nearly as often) I’ve heard this said about a few of the Pauline Epistles as well.  This bothers me because not only does it reflect a lack of accurate knowledge of Church History it also shows a misunderstanding of what Gnosticism is in and of itself.  Here’s why:

  1. Gnosticism did not even exist at the time this letters were written: That’s right, Gnosticism truly didn’t exist until the early third century one to two hundred years after these letters were written.  You could argue that the individuals/groups being criticized held “proto-gnosticist” beliefs, but that’s an entirely different thing and difficult if not impossible to prove.
  2. Gnosticism initially coexisted with other Christian beliefs: Gnostic Christians and other Christian groups did not conflict until the end of the 4th century, when the proto-orthodox church began to determine orthodox and heterodox.  The early Christian church did not have cohesive beliefs, and many of the more predominant at the time “orthodox” beliefs are not held by most (especially western) Christians today.
  3. Paul himself was a Proto-Gnosticist: Paul was (and to a few today is) held as the “father of gnosticism”.  Now, this really is entirely accurate (as I’ll explain in the next bullet) but he definitely held proto-gnosticist beliefs.  He advocated asceticism, was (at least for the time) radically feminist, and even went so far as to testify before an early Christian court that his Christian knowledge was superior to others because Jesus came to him in a vision (aka “secret knowledge”) and he was opposed to legalism and traditional Jewish customs/regulations.  All of these (and I’m sure there’s others) were hallmark beliefs of proto-Gnosticism, and the early Gnostic Christians held Paul’s letters in high regard.  Now, this is not to say Paul was a Gnostic (he would have probably been sharply opposed to later-on Gnosticism) but it is unlikely in his letters when he rebuked false teachers and doctrine (which is ironic considering some of that comes from forged letters) he was addressing proto-gnosticists.
  4. Gnosticism isn’t inherently Christian and doesn’t represent a single belief set: While the early development of Gnosticism is closely associated with Christianity, the two are by no means mutually exclusive.  In fact mainstream Gnosticism shares more in common with Judaism and also stems from dozens of other religions and philosophies.  In addition Gnosticism is not a single religion, it’s like calling Hinduism a religion, it’s extremely misleading.  Gnosticism represented a range of beliefs, some branches of which had no connection with Christianity at all.  Back when Gnosticism was even really a thing (though I am aware there are a few Gnostics today) they didn’t call themselves Gnostics, just as the early Christians didn’t initially call themselves “Christians”.

Hopefully I’ve shed light on this issue, even if it doesn’t really bother most people (which is fine), but it bothered me so I decided to write a short rant on it.  Yes, the Pauline and Johannine epistles did feature rebukes of teachings viewed as false or heretical by their authors (though depending on the issue not necessarily the early Church) but it would literally have been impossible for it to be a refutation of Gnosticism, and at least in Paul’s case it is unlikely he would have criticized the then extant emerging ideologies of proto-Gnosticism.  If anyone knows where this misconception originated from, please let me know, because I tried googling it and found very little, so you’d make my day if you did.  That’s it for this post, so have a good rest of your day.

 

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Hey Game Developers: Make Your Video Game Trailers like This If You Want Me to Buy Them

Hey everyone, this week I’m going to share with you a few of my favorite video game trailers and discuss why I love them.  Two AP English classes have made me fairly critical, and unfortunately/fortunately I overanalyze stuff now, which in fairness works with this post.

Before I get started, I’m going to briefly touch upon what types of games I like.  The first thing I look for in a game is a great story and characters, and it’s pretty rare for me to play/enjoy a game that doesn’t at least have some effort put into the writing and story.  The second thing I look for, or rather listen for (pun totally intended), is a good soundtrack.  If I’m going to be spending a decent chunk of time playing something, I want there to be a memorable score (or in some cases curated actual music) that is emotionally evocative and fits well with the purpose of a scene.  This explains why many of my favorite games have larger soundtracks, with each scene having at least a unique arranged BGM (background music).   After music, I look for graphics/gameplay.  A key part of a good video game is immersion, and clunky gameplay and graphics can easily get in the way of this.  I don’t care if the graphics are photorealistic, but I do want them to have effort put into them and fit the tone of the game.  Lastly, I look for replay value.  I don’t usually replay games, and I don’t really actively look for this in a game.  However, in the rare case when I do find a game with good replay value, that’s always a plus.  More bang for my buck.

Having discussed that, there is a difference between a good game and a good game trailer.  They’re two completely different art forms.  Video game trailers used to be an afterthought thrown together at the end of a game’s development cycle.  Now whole studios exist just for the sake of creating trailers, and trailers can sometimes make or break a game.  So here, in no particular order, are a few of my favorite video game trailers:

  • Banner Saga (Launch Trailer)

A fine example of a cinematic trailer that showcases some of the game’s best moments without spoiling the plot.  Set to an evocative track (That unfortunately never made it into the final game.  At least the final OST is still fantastic) this trailer excellently portrays the dramatic contrast between bleak and beautiful that is the Banner Saga.

  • This War of Mine (Teaser Trailer)

The teaser trailer for This War of Mine does an excellent job of setting up your expectations and then dashing them.  Sure, it’s a “war game” but definitely not in the traditional sense.   While it’s absent in the beginning the end of the trailer does a nice job of showing off the pencil-sketch aesthetic of the games.  Also, the trailer is set to the beginning of Gyöngyhajú Lány, an iconic Eastern European Prog-Rock song, which conveys a sense of “iconic-ness” to aware audiences.

  • Tropico 6 (Announcement Trailer):

While this game may not be out yet, Tropico 6’s announcement trailer gives us a pretty good idea of what to expect without showing any actual gameplay footage.  More of the absurdist, satirical Dictator-Simulator gameplay and story, all the while subtly teasing new features.  It even manages to take a few subtle jabs at the current political clime, cementing it as “relevant” (of course who knows if they’ll be relevant when the game comes out, development cycles are rife with delays these days).

  • The Pillars of the Earth (Launch Trailer)

Several times this launch trailer reminds you of it’s narrative-based and novel-derived gameplay.  And while it could be argued that adventure games like this are basically interactive cutscenes, remarkably this entire trailer consists solely of actual gameplay footage (all of which looks great).

  • Telltale’s Walking Dead: The Final Season (General Trailer)

By not focusing on zombies, and rather on people, Telltale reminds the audience of what their series is all about.  It does an excellent job of making an ordinarily mundane nursery rhyme into something unnerving.  It also hints at the unsettling differences between our world’s childhood and that of the apocalypses’.   And finally, it ends with a “throwback” image, which immediately feels familiar to series fans, and frankly, anyone who’s ever been on the internet, raising hopes that it will be a return to form after the (mostly) terrible third season.

  • Sunless Skies (Early Access Trailer #2)

Fast-paced and filled with rapid-fire images, the Albion Region trailer for Sunless Skies shows off the games ability to balance the absurd and serious.

  • Final Fantasy XV (PS4 Trailer)

This trailer may have too much going on, but that’s exactly what makes it great.  Final Fantasy XV is a big game that mashes together a traditional fantasy world with realism.  The PS4 trailer does a good job of showing off the gameplay, story, major characters, and stunning graphics of the game.

  • Banner Saga 3 (Music Preview)

What, I’m not allowed to do the same series twice?  I can’t help if Stoic is really good at making trailers!  I love how this trailer focuses on the music of the game, all while managing to sneak a few fleeting glimpses of new footage in at the same time.

 

That’s all I have for this post!  Thanks for taking the time to read (and watch), make sure to link to or name your favorite game trailer in the comments!

 

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Support me on Patreon!

Hey everyone, I’ve opened up a Patreon for my blog!  What this means is that you’ll continue to have ad-free unrestricted viewing of all of my past, present, and future posts.  What this also means is that you can now use the secure, trusted Patreon platform to support me and my blog.  While relatively inexpensive, maintaining my blog is not free, and it can also take a great deal of time and research and to write some of my posts.  From now on I am going to make sure to write at least a post a week (barring any unfortunate accidents) even if it’s just some random rambling or weird/funny personal anecdote.  You can pledge as little as $1 a month to me or in theory as much as you want (though I’ve created a recommended cap of $25).  Any amount is helpful and will allow me to continue to provide quality content and even expand what I already have in the future.  If you are unable to pledge any money (or for whatever reason don’t want to) you are still free to read my blog free of charge.  I do not currently have any incentives attached to the Patron tiers, but I am working to introduce some in the future (such as T-shirts, early access to posts, etc.).  You can become one of my Patrons or learn more by clicking the link below.

 

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A Brief Clarification on Universal Healthcare

Hey everyone, today I’m going to briefly discuss a few objections to Universal Health Care in the United States of America.  This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive list, nor is it in any way meant to say that there are no concerns regarding Universal Health Care.  I also am not advocating any specific method Universal Healthcare should be implemented–I’m not a healthcare expert or a Politician, so I’m not particularly qualified to do so.  However, I can address a few misunderstandings and hopefully promote a discussion on how to fix the healthcare crisis in the US.

  1. Universal Healthcare Is a Step Close to a Communist America: First, I would like to discuss the difference between Communism and Socialism, because while there is overlap between the two they are two entirely different concepts, such as a hot dog and a sandwich.  Communism is government ownership of the means of production, such as factories, mines, and farms.  Socialism is the redistribution of wealth.  While “redistribution of wealth” may sound scary, all it means is that funds provided through taxes are used to provide a service to citizens.  If you support public schools, fire departments, and even a military, then you support “the redistribution of wealth”.  More importantly, having socialized policies does not make a country a socialist country.  Our country has had socialized policies before socialism was even a thing (And so has virtually any country with a government, because that’s what a government does, provide services.  Well, part of what it does).  Likewise, just because a country like Denmark has capitalist policies (such as private ownership of property and means of production) does not make it a capitalist country.
  2. America Already Has Systems in Place to Provide Healthcare for Those Who Truly Need It: Yes, America does have services such as Medicare and Medicaid that provide health care to millions of needy Americans.  These services are far better than nothing and truly do a lot of good.  However, they are inadequate and alienate many needy people.  A large part of the problem is the Poverty Threshold.  Those who fall at or below the Poverty Threshold are legally considered to be in a state of “Absolute Poverty” and qualify for certain types of government aid.  Those who are slightly above the Poverty Threshold may qualify for reduced or partial aid.  What makes the Poverty Threshold problematic, however, is the formula behind it.  The current formula for the Poverty Threshold has existed since the 1950’s, and is “Cost_Of_Foodx3”.  Back in the 1950’s, food was the largest expense for a family, and this formula largely worked.  However, this is no longer the case.  Advances in storage and transportation, as well as agricultural technology, have lead to food being one of the cheapest expenses for a family.  Changing society and economy has caused things such as insurances, childcare, and debt to become a much larger expense.  Because food is no longer the largest expense for families, this formula no longer holds up in today’s world.  It causes millions of Americans who fall into the category of “Relative Poverty” (meaning they make less than the average amount for comparably sized family units) instead of “Absolute Poverty”, where they should probably belong.  Because of this, they no longer have access to the same benefits, even if they need them, or only have access to insufficient benefits.
  3. America Cannot Afford Universal Healthcare: Actually, it can, and it would potentially be cheaper than the hodgepodge of solutions we have now.  According to a 2018 (meaning recent) Harvard Study, America spends proportionately more on Healthcare per resident than other developed countries (the overwhelming majority of which have Universal Healthcare) yet has “the shortest life expectancy and highest infant and maternal mortality rates among any of its peers”.  This is not saying that the exact systems these other countries have would work in America, but is saying there’s a strong correlation between Universal Health Care and an overall higher standard of living.  It also shows that a single-payer system universally (pun totally intended) actually costs less than a mixture of subsidized and private healthcare we have today.  Another issue is decreasing regulation on the prices of medication.  With many types of medication, there is very little (if any) regulation on the cost Labs can charge for medications.  While they are going to have to charge more money than it costs to produce the medication to make up research costs (research is expensive and lengthy) they are charging exorbitantly more, sometimes exponentially greater.  Many of these medications are sustainably sold in other countries at lower, more affordable rates.

Hopefully, for the three issues I discussed tonight you’ll come out with a greater understanding of them.  Some of you may even disagree with Universal Health Care as the solution, but I hope that at least you recognize the need for a solution.

“If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother.” Deuteronomy 15:7

 

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An Apology for the Lack of Posts

Hey everyone, I’d like to offer my sincerest apologies for the utter lack of blog posts in the past couple of months.  Due to a salmagundi of different reasons, I’ve been busy and while I probably could have found the time to at least throw together a post of some sort I did not.  With that being said, I have a miscellany of ideas I’m looking forward to writing about, some fun, some serious, and some that are way out of the ballpark.  You can look forward to topics ranging from theology to culture to movies to books to TV shows to Church history to random musings to more.  Thanks again for being patient, and I’ll see you (well, figuratively speaking) again next week!

 

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