Parade of Jerks

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People seem to be jerkier today than at any other time in history. Maybe this phenomena is due to media ubiquity or perhaps it has to do with a breakdown in society that leads people to become narcissistic idiots. Either way, we’re seeing a definite rise in anti-social and misanthropic behavior.

Consider the latest mass shooting in California by the 22-year-old son of a high-profile director. Now, it would be easy for us to simply blame the whole tragic trail of death on the availability of guns or some other platform-dependent nonsense. But, honestly the actions of the young man come down to the simple fact that he was a jerk; an insane, narcissist jerk. Anyone who saw his YouTube video (before it was removed) or read the transcript of that video can tell that this kid was all about himself and what he perceived as the world’s problems all becoming his problem.

Of course, the same thing could be said concerning the Batman shooting, Sandy Hook, and any number of other mass murders that have occurred lately. But, where is all this coming from?

There’s a term I’ve used for sometime that I think embodies what is going on here: misanthropic schadenfreude. Basically, there is an increasing number of people who hate humanity and take pleasure in knowing they are causing emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical harm to humanity on a large scale. We all have a touch of this issue. Have you ever taken pleasure in the fall of someone who was rich? Did you rejoice, for instance, when Tiger Woods perfect life with his beautiful wife and kids, then his stellar golf career, began to fall apart? Have you ever laughed at the misfortunes of another? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you suffer from misanthropic schadenfreude.

In extreme cases, MS (I’m tired of spelling out misan..well, you get it) manifests itself violently. But, where does it start? I believe the answer is far more subversive and counter-culture than we might imagine.

Study your history. What happened in the WWI and WWII eras of America when there was a common threat and cause? People put aside their differences and became more selfless and won a great victory. But, after all that altruism, what happened? Did America continue to share and hold hands and pull together? Nope. Everyone went their own way, started making as much as they could, and coined the phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses”. Except, instead of liking the Joneses and admiring their pluck and success, most people began to secretly hate them and wish for their downfall.

And here we are, six or more decades later, hating the Joneses enough to post videos about how we’re going to kill them and then killing them and killing ourselves.

OK. So, now we’ve identified that people are becoming jerkier and MS is the issue. But, what do we do about it?

Ready for the oversimplified answer? As “Ted” Theodore Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esquire stated so aptly in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” … “Be excellent to one another…”

That’s right. If we want people to be kind, we have to be kind. If we want people to be peaceful, we have to be peacemakers. If we’re going to repair society, we have to be excellent to one another.

Go be excellent, folks…

Soulbook: Some Key Differences and Similarities Between the Spirit and Soul of People @Enwrightened

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Some Key Differences and Similarities Between the Spirit and Soul of People

This is the sixteenth excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.

There are several points to consider when analyzing what your Soul and Spirit are and how you can understand yourself better by understanding that these two aspects of you are the true you. While you have a physical body here on Earth, it’s important to recognize that, when this vessel ceases to have life (i.e., Soul and Spirit), you will take on a spiritual body in its place, thereby remaining in God’s image, or three-in-one. I Corinthians 15:44 highlights this fact, “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” We will refer to the spiritual body later in the book when we look at Jesus’ properties following His resurrection.
A key verse in explaining the difference between our Soul and Spirit is found in I Thessalonians 5:23, where Paul states, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In this verse, there is a plain distinction made between the Soul, Spirit, and body of human beings. However, the most marked differentiation is, of course, between the two eternal aspects of our nature: Soul and Spirit. The fact that Paul implores the Thessalonians to keep all three portions of themselves “blameless” adds another dividing line in that, as image-bearers of God, we must look at each part differently and examine each part in order to ensure we are keeping each section clean and pure. This understanding goes precisely with what Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 23:25-26, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” Jesus knows that we are more than just what is outside and that we must look into ourselves in order to be blameless inside and out.

The Soul is defined as the part of a person that gives that person his or her personhood. The Spirit is that possession of a person that endows that person with life. The Soul is what you refer to when you talk about your “self”. The writers of the Bible understood this very well. Today, when we refer to ourselves, we say something like, “I feel sad.” However, the Bible writers, including Jesus Himself, referred to the self as, “My soul is sad (grieved).” Perhaps, there is more to that than we realize today. Maybe understanding the fact that the Soul is one’s self helps us to envision the eternal nature within ourselves more appropriately and to live according to that nature more readily. When Bible writers referred to their spirits, they did so with the understanding that this part of them was conveying some feeling from their life-bearing spark to their physical being. Daniel referred to his spirit in this manner, “As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me”, (7:15). The life-giving force of our spirits and the clear understanding of our souls work together to bring light to our existence, but they remain separate pieces of the whole.
The Soul and Spirit both live on after death, in what can only be known as an “intermediate state” in Paradise or Hades. Therefore, both are immortal parts of the person. In Luke chapter 16, the story of the rich man and Lazarus indicates that after death, both men continued to exist; one in Paradise and the other in Hades. One was comforted while the other was tormented, therefore they had some form that their eternal souls and spirits occupied in order to convey these felt sensations. Overall, the understanding conveyed through this parable of Jesus is that the self, the life, and a new body will go on in one of two states following death.
Finally, there is a pivotal understanding from Scripture about the fact that the physical body cannot live without the soul and spirit. The importance of this point cannot be overstated, as there seems to be some confusion in the modern world as to what “alive” means. James leaves no room for misunderstanding when he writes, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead”, (2:26). Additionally, it’s important for us, as humans, to understand what “dead” means. “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him,” (Hebrews 9:27-28). Death occurs once the spirit and soul have left the body, never to return to that physical body. Once we have departed, our self and our life take on a new and unfathomable existence.

The Publishable Novel: How to Get an Acquisition Editor to Say “Yes!”

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Charlotte Robin Cook, an experienced publisher and story editor, and Jon James Miller, an award-winning screenwriter and debut novelist, present this 89-minute video tutorial. Charlotte and Jon show you the elements and standards used by acquisition editors in selecting material, as well as the criteria and considerations, and even the attitudes that acquisition editors bring to submitted manuscripts. They show you how to leverage your skills and experience to serve your career goals in publishing. Above all, you will learn how to get the acquisition editor to say, “Yes!”

Soulbook: Further Analysis of the Spirit and Soul @Enwrightened

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This is the fifteenth excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.

Soulbook: Further Analysis of the Spirit and Soul

The word “ruach”, like “nephesh”, has a wide range of meanings. First, it seems originally to have referred to the wind, which was viewed as being invisible and immaterial, (Gen. 8:1). Additionally, since God is invisible and immaterial like the wind, He is described as “spirit”, (Isa. 63:10). Since the angels of God are invisible and immaterial, they are called “spirits”, (Ps. 104:4, KJV; cf. Heb. 1:14). The life principle which animates man and animals is invisible and immaterial and is also called “spirit”, (Gen. 7:22). In this sense, it was viewed as the “breath” of life which departs at death. Congruently, since man has an invisible and immaterial self or soul which transcends the life principle by its self-consciousness, man’s “mind” or “heart” is called his “spirit”, (Ps. 77:6; Prov. 29:11, KJV). The invisible side of man which is called “spirit” cannot be reduced to a simple idea of physical life or the breath of the body because man’s transcendent self is contrasted to those things in such places as Isa. 42:5. Also, man’s self-awareness as a cognitive ego overcomes the life concept which operates in animals. At death, this ego or mind is called a “spirit” or a “ghost”, (Job 4:15). This is parallel to “rephaim”, or disembodied spirit, (Job 26:5). Thus, at death, while the breath of life ceases to exist in man or animals, the higher self or spirit of man ascends at death to be with God, (Ps. 31:5; Eccles. 12:7). Also, since attitudes and dispositions such as pride, humility, joy, or sorrow are invisible and immaterial, they are described as being someone’s “spirit”, (Prov. 11:13; 16:18). The Holy Spirit is described as the “sevenfold Spirit” in the sense that He gives people the disposition, attitude, or spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, fear, and holiness, (Isa. 11:2; cf. Rom. 1:4; Rev. 3:1). Altogether, spirit (“ruach”, in the Old Testament) encompasses many areas of existence. However, the one area most applicable to us as image-bearers of God is the one that puts us most closely in relationship with Him. The spirit that is our inner life or inner being is that part that goes on and truly makes us something more than just animals who survive on instinct and only do things because it offers a better chance of maintaining that survival. We are God-breathed, and that makes us something outside of nature; supernatural.

The word “pneuma” is found 406 times in the New Testament. First, the New Testament writers use the Greek words for wind, such as “animas”, instead of “pneuma”. The only instance where “pneuma” definitely refers to the wind is in John 3:8, where there is a poetic play upon the sovereign movement of the divine Spirit and the wind. Also, “pneuma” refers to the life principle, which gives the body life. This is actually a term rarely used in the New Testament. For instance, the false prophet who accompanied the Antichrist in the last days will make an idol “alive”, (Rev. 13:15). “Pneuma” is also used to describe the immaterial nature of God and angels, (John 4:24; Heb. 1:14). Christ defined a “spirit” or “ghost” as an immaterial being, (Luke 24:39). Additionally, “pneuma” refers to the disposition which characterizes a person, such as pride, humility, fear, etc. (1 Pet. 3:4). It’s also used to describe the disincarnate spirit or soul of man after death, (Matt. 27:50; Luke 24:37, 39; John 19:30; Acts 7:59; Heb. 12:23; 1 Pet. 3:19). Man’s transcendent self, or ego, is also called “pneuma” because of its immaterial and invisible nature, (1 Cor. 2:11). It is described as the center of man’s emotions, intellect, and will, (Mark 8:12; Mark 2:8; Matt. 26:41). Since man’s pneuma transcends his physical life, it is frequently contrasted to his body, or flesh, (Matt. 26:41; Mark 14:38; Luke 24:39; John 3:6; 6:63; 1 Cor. 5:5; 7:34; 2 Cor. 7:1; Gal. 5:17; 6:8,9; James 2:26). It is man’s pneuma who is with God after death, (Acts 7:59). Our spirits are like the spirit of Christ and the Holy Spirit in many amazing ways. With our spirits, we discern many things we cannot necessarily understand with our senses, (I Corinthians 14:15). With our spirits, we can communicate to God in ways we can’t utter with our mouths. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words”, (Romans 8:26). These “groanings” are feelings from deep inside us that we cannot communicate with our lips. Our spirits communicate these feelings to God through the Spirit of God Himself. It’s not just a way of communication we cannot fully comprehend, but a picture of the communication we will have forever with Him in eternity!

The Bulletproof Submission Preview

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The Bulletproof Submission Preview Enjoy the preview and visit Writer’s Digest Tutorials to learn more: http://bit.ly/1mRNQ7R | Writer’s Digest Tutorials was launched in 2010 to provide online writing tutorials from experts in the industry on everything you need to know to help improve your craft and get published. The tutorials are streamed to Writer’s Digest Tutorial members so that they can be viewed 24/7 from any computer with a high-speed internet connection without requiring software downloads. You can choose to purchase a membership to all of our tutorials for either a 1-month ($25/month) or 12-month ($199/year) period. For more information on ordering options, please mouse over the “Buy Tutorials” link in the top navigation bar & select membership length you’d like. Writer’s Digest Tutorials is operated by F+W Media, Inc. — owners of Writer’s Digest Magazine, Writers Market, Writer’s Digest University, and the Writer’s Digest Shop.

Bully for You!

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Anger sometimes gets the best of me, especially when I see kids picking on other kids. You might describe my middle and high school years as the antithesis of fun. When I should have been enjoying my youth, I was terrorized daily by boys who were bigger and stronger than me. After a while, I got tired of the constant bullying and began to lift weights. By my junior year, no one picked on me anymore because I pledged to not take anything from them, not to mention I gained forty pounds of muscle.

But, this isn’t an option for all kids. Bullying takes many forms today, from cyber-bullying to sexual assault. So, how do we help children to combat the various bullies they encounter now?

1. Build confidence – One of the things that kept me in the submissive posture I learned to develop for so many years was a lack of confidence in myself. Many kids who are bullied are simply small and shy. They might be the youngest in their class or just genetically disadvantaged by height and weight. This leads to the larger, more aggressive children feeling like they can take advantage of the smaller, weaker ones. But, with confidence and self-value, the smaller child can put a stop to bullying. But, how does a small, shy child build confidence? A great deal of this comes from a home life where parents are caring, engaging, and listen to their children. If the child doesn’t feel like home is a safe place and somewhere he or she can be fully themselves, they will feel hopeless, as if they don’t belong anywhere. Children need that haven and fortress from which to launch their identity. If parents can provide this kind of place, it can make all the difference.

2. Build abilities – Part of building confidence is based in what talents the child has. Every person has something they are good at. Sometimes, these talents aren’t discovered until later, but if you can uncover them early and begin to develop them, your child has a much better chance of seeing himself as a success. My talent early on was music. I was always too small to play sports, but I could sing and play instruments very well. Not only did my parents recognize this and support the development of this talent, my teachers did the same. Even when I was being hit or spit upon by bullies, I still knew I had worth and value in my talent. It got me through some very painful times.

3. Build an escape – Sometimes kids who are bullied get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time too often. For instance, at my school, there was an area between and behind two buildings that was a perfect place for bullies to hide and pop out of to attack unsuspecting kids. I learned quickly to avoid this place, but found that there were other areas around school (under the bleachers, in the bathroom, etc.) where bullies would prey on smaller kids. Some of these places such as the bathroom, were unavoidable. But staying away from others was easy to do. Also, if you did get trapped, you needed to have a way out. But, ultimately you needed people (teachers, parents, schoolmates) who you could trust to have your back in potentially rough situations. Having an escape and knowing what and where to avoid are extremely important points for getting past bullies. This includes staying away from bullies online as well as in person. If a bully is making threats, report it to an adult. If a bully is terrorizing you online, block them or get rid of them any way you can. Don’t let yourself be hurt any longer.

While this doesn’t answer every problem kids face from bullies and other violence, I hope it will add to the conversation about bullying. No one, no matter what age or race or preference, should be threatened or harmed. I hope that many children can avoid the hurt and shame I endured for so much of my childhood and learn to be confident, compassionate, and strong children and adults. I wish you well…

You Keep Saying that Word…

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Something I hear people, especially Christians, say quite often is how “blessed” they are. But, I wonder where they’re getting their definition of what a blessing is. Of course, what people are usually referring to when they talk about how “blessed” they are is physical belongings, money, and other worldly things. Yes, people also refer to being “blessed” with family, health, and other advantages, but are these things really blessings?

In the Old Testament, there are a couple of places where “blessings” refer to earthly things and people, most notably in Deut 28:3-8 “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. The LORD will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And he will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.”

However, in the New Testament, Jesus makes it immediately obvious how He defines blessings: Matt 5:3-12

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The Sermon on the Mount as it is often called, represents a paradigm shift in conventional understanding as it relates to “blessings”. Where the religious elite of the day placed all their emphasis on the outward appearance and understanding of being “blessed” with wealth and power, Jesus turned this idea completely around as if to say, “No! THIS is what blessings really are!”

So, are you really blessed? Are you praying for and realizing TRUE, Christian blessings in your life, or do you still believe your new car, house, or boat is a great “blessing” from God? I hope you will be truly blessed as I hope I will be, too.