Monday, January 24, 2022

Thoughts on Moral Relativism

I sit in history class listening to my classmates talk about how religion has caused division and conflict. I can't deny it: it's obvious to anyone paying attention that religions—both "Christian" and otherwise—have played a role in many wars and conflicts throughout the history of the world. But one of my classmates seems to be trending towards a sort of universal control as a solution. And so I have to speak up.

I've read far too many dystopians and far too much history to believe there should be any kind of absolute control by man, I say, but there absolutely needs to be a universal standard for morality. As a Christian, I continue, that moral standard comes from the Bible.

But I'm not religious, one girl protests, though I am reminded how earlier in the semester she admitted to knowing right from wrong.

People are raised so differently, another girl says. Right and wrong comes from how they were raised.

A person could steal, and feel he has no choice, one boy suggests and I am not a quick enough thinker to point out that a person could have a perfectly justified reason in his own mind for killing another person.

Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
—Judges 17:6

I do not mention that verse, though it plays over and over in my head—I know it won't do any good. But I can't stay silent either.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, is what I end up saying, and love your neighbor as yourself. Treat others the way you want to be treated. No one wants to be burned at the stake, so don't burn people at the stake. And so on.

My professor seems to agree with that, but I'm not sure if my classmates really understand my point. Still, I've said what I can. But I can't help but continue to think about the conversation. And about how clearly it shows the moral relativism that has become so prevalent. How everyone does what is right in his own eyes. How while we still do have laws against murder and theft and so on, people still get tried and convicted for crimes, more and more sin and violence is condoned.

Theft and vandalism is okay if you're "protesting" a media-approved event. Violence and murder is okay if it's against the people politically and/or racially condemned in the mainstream narrative, or if the victim is your own unborn child. You apply this filter of cultural acceptance of sin to history and how can you say the human sacrifice of the Aztecs was wrong? What's wrong with cannibalism if you were raised to think it was normal? Is there really anything wrong with cheating on your spouse, especially if you've agreed to have an "open marriage"? Is pedophilia actually wrong if it makes you happy? Why can't I go stab someone because I disagree with what they believe and want them to stop spreading their ideas? (To clarify, while I may kill characters, I have zero desire to harm any real people, even people I don't like very much. I would far rather they come to know Jesus.)

Where does it stop?

Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

You see, without an absolute universal standard for morality, there is no morality. What is right? What is wrong? It's all up to your own interpretation, your own judgement. It starts small...Sure, I can lie if I think it'll be more beneficial than telling the truth. Cheating at a game doesn't really hurt anyone. Walmart's a big company, they can afford it if I shoplift a small item.

But it's a slippery slope. Man can justify pretty much anything. You might start with seemingly harmless missteps, but the things get bigger and bigger. They grow until you're destroying the property of innocent business owners because their shops happen to be in an area where you're protesting an incident. You can kill your unborn child because you don't want/can't handle the responsibility of raising a child. You can ruin a person's career and reputation because they're not ashamed to say that they disagree with the prominent political view. You can put people in camps and gas chambers because they don't fit whatever predetermined standard for the only acceptable citizen you've established.

And where does such a thing lead? Only to death and destruction, both in this world and the next.

Because there is a moral standard.

The self-proclaimed not-religious girl in my class said earlier in the semester that people do know what's right and what's wrong. I didn't ask why or how. Maybe I should have. I'm genuinely curious where people draw their moral standards from if not from the Bible. But what I did say is that I agree, people do know. And I believe that is because, as the Bible says, God has written His law on our hearts. That's what a conscience is.

"That was your conscience punishing you, Davy."

"What's my conscience? I want to know."

"It's something in you, Davy, that always tells you when you are doing wrong and makes you unhappy if you persist in doing it. Haven't you noticed that?"

"Yes, but I didn't know what it was. I wish I didn't have it. I'd have lots more fun. Where is my conscience, Anne? I want to know. Is it in my stomach?"

"No, it's in your soul," answered Anne, thankful for the darkness, since gravity must be preserved in serious matters.

"I s'pose I can't get clear of it then," said Davy with a sigh.
—Anne of the Island, L.M. Montgomery

Love your neighbor as yourself.

That's truly what it all comes down to. It really is that simple. Don't mistake that for easy. It's most certainly not easy. But if you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself, your morals will not be relative. You won't be justifying stealing, lying, murder, and all manner of other cruel, destructive practices. You will be doing those things that are good, right, and noble.

Moral relativism may be on the rise, but that doesn't mean it is right. That doesn't mean an absolute moral standard no longer exists. On the contrary, with the prevalence of moral relativism, a true moral standard is even more important. Right and wrong matter, and always will.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Do this, and you will live.

Monday, January 3, 2022

2021 in Review

It's apparently been a couple years since I actually did a year in review post. Interesting. I guess there hasn't been much in recent years that I wanted to relive, what with my dog dying in 2019 and the fiasco that was 2020. But somehow despite all the Covid stuff continuing in 2021, I actually on the whole feel good about 2021. Who knew, right?

January started off with my library branch finally, finally, FINALLY opening to the public, and though it was a gradual process that annoyed me with rules that kept me from properly doing my job the way I used to, I was SO glad to be able to interact with our patrons again. Sure, I can't really listen to audiobooks at work anymore, but I CAN help kids find the perfect book to read. I've even been able to help with programs again (now that we're DOING programs again) and it's heavenly. 

I also got myself an animatronic Grogu. 😁 Forgive the messy hair. I'm terrible at selfies, but I really don't care.

And we started planning for Realm Makers. 😁 My friends and I all stayed up to register as soon as it opened just to be sure we got spots. And it was totally worth it.

I was also spending a lot of time studying for the SAT. Which I admit was kind of nerve-wracking, but I ended up doing fine. 

Early on in the year, I tried writing the pirate book I've been wanting to write for like eight years now. I really tried. But I don't know, I guess I just wasn't in the right mindset for pirates. It's not permanently abandoned. I still very badly want that book. But what I really wanted to do was go back to Acktorek. Which is what I did. I won Camp NaNo in April, which was bittersweet because I knew it was going to be my last NaNo for awhile. (Yes, I was pretty bummed last November watching so many other people prep for NaNo knowing I had too much homework to do it myself. Someday I will do NaNo again, but that is not this day.) I really got a lot of writing done, but I still wasn't very happy with what I had. More on that later.

Round about this time, I was also working on Jedi costumes for Realm Makers. I dyed fabric for the first time ever, which was an adventure, and I'm pretty proud of how the costumes turned out.

First look at Obi-Wan

First look at Anakin

Then I got accepted into Kennesaw State University and promptly went crazy with CLEPs. I studied for and passed five CLEPs in two months while also brushing up on German to make sure I could get into the class I needed. I'm still not sure how I did it. Especially since algebra and especially biology were a bear. But the English CLEPs didn't take much effort, and I got a near perfect score on the College Composition Modular test. Good thing too, since I'd told the lady at the testing center that I'm an author. I wouldn't want to talk all about my books and then turn out to be terrible at English! 😂

We watched Timeless early in the year, and I may have gotten slightly obsessed. Time travel+history+Matt Lanter. I mean, how could it not be fabulous?

I held a recital for my violin students and they all did a great job! They've all learned so much. I also had arranged a Return of the Jedi medley to play with my sister, which was a ton of fun.

Once Jedi costumes were declared complete, we did a photoshoot, attempting to recreate poses from the Revenge of the Sith promo materials. I normally hate photoshoots, but we had a blast with this one. And naturally I had to add lightsaber blades. See more photos here.

I went on a campus tour for part of orientation, got separated from the group when I picked the wrong time to go to the bathroom (I seem to have a knack for that) and came out to find the group had left for the dining hall without me, pulled out a book to read when the opportunities arose during the tour because that's just how I roll, understood nothing of the layout of campus because I was hopelessly turned around, and had to finish up my visit with an exploration of the campus library. I love the campus library. They have a lot of 90s Star Wars books. 😁 The first book I ever checked out from the campus library was Truce at Bakura, though all the other books I've checked out were actually for research for my English paper. And I know my way around (relevant) parts of campus now. Though I'm still not 100% sure how to get to the dining hall. Doesn't matter. I know where the Chick-fil-A is, and that's what really counts.

THEN REALM MAKERS!!! Definitely the highlight of the year. It was my first time driving on a road trip (my dad always drove on family trips) and I had very little interstate experience, so that was definitely nerve wracking. Migraine-inducing. Stomachache causing. But we managed to get there and back again and had a fabulous time while we were there, so it's all worth it. And I have a TON more interstate experience now because of my commute to school, so interstate driving and traffic don't really bother me anymore. I mean, when you have to sit for an hour in horrific traffic because of big accidents and end up late for your history midterm (I still completed it and got a 96 so it's all good), you kind of end up getting over interstate anxiety.

And Realm Makers was seriously amazing. Getting to hang out with Jaye L. Knight and Tricia Mingerink was awesome, and I got to meet Frank Peretti and Nadine Brandes and Sara Ella and Dave Wolverton and Carla Hoch, and I learned so many things, and our group cosplay was loads of fun, and you can find my full recap here. I don't know when I'll be able to go back, but I already can't wait. There's nothing quite like Realm Makers.

With Frank Peretti!

Rex (Tricia), Anakin (Addy), Obi-Wan (me), and Ahsoka (Jaye)

Saying goodbye is the worst

Then we got a kitten! I admit, I still prefer dogs. And no animal will ever replace my Labrador Sophie. But I do love Pippin. He's adorable, and he can be so sweet and cuddly when he wants to be. Unfortunately, he also sometimes displays a teenage attitude (he's an adolescent kitty right now, so yay). But when he's in a good mood he's just so sweet that it totally makes up for the attitude. And he loves watching TV, which is hilarious to me since Sophie couldn't care less about it. And I may have filled up my phone with cat pictures.

Watching church with me while sick...
I'll get to that.

One of his favorite spots

Watching Merlin with me

Then school started and it consumed my life. I mean, not totally, but mostly. Hey, I got to write my English paper on speculative fiction in the Christian community and it was great. And I loved stats too. It was a good semester, even if it was a bit of an adjustment. I did even get to the point where I was able to dabble at planning out the rest of the Acktorek series. I figured out that I needed a series plan, a general one, anyway, so that I had an actual series arc. Important stuff, knowing where you're going with a story. It was slow going, but it was going.

Aaaaand then we got Covid. It was miserable, I'll admit. But all in all, it didn't really turn out to be any worse than having the flu. Kind of interrupted my series planning, but now we've been through it. And I was still able to mostly keep up with my classes virtually. So it worked out.

Fall really was mostly school, school, and more school. And kitty cuddles. And watching Merlin while working on my paper because for some reason I couldn't focus on writing that paper without something like Merlin on in the background. Not complaining. It's my favorite show for a reason.

But then we had Thanksgiving break wherein I read three books and also discovered that LEGO Star Wars has an IOS version. Maybe a bad discovery? Anyways. We had some family over for Thanksgiving and had leftovers for days. And then back to school for a week of class and then finals. But hey, I finished my first semester of college with straight A's and with my CLEPs I'm officially a sophomore.

And I was able to take some time Christmas break to catch up on stuff. Like finishing that series plan. (Well, finish is a relative term. Parts of it are still rough and purposely so. I need room for my characters to take charge. But I have enough of a plan I think I can finally write book 2 properly. If I can find the time.) And I made the theory pages I need for my students AND finished the bulk of photoshopping on a new picture book I'd put on hold since like May. Not sure when it'll be done done since it still needs a cover and a title and to go through the whole proofing process (and school starts up again in a week), but it's significant progress.

I participated in my church's Christmas program, singing in the choir and playing violin, and it was great. I may have been quietly singing the alto part of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" while shelving at the library. A lot. And I played the conductor for my library's Polar Express program.

And my sister and I saw Spider-Man: No Way Home opening weekend. I loved it so much! And I REALLY want to see it again. It was SO GOOD.

We had Christmas at home with colds (yippee), and I got Star Wars books and watched The Fellowship of the Ring, so it's all good. Then I got a new computer because my old one had a crack that was popping out the corner of the screen. 😜 Still not thrilled about that since all I thought I needed was a new battery, but I'd rather not have my computer totally break in the middle of the semester. We then rang in the new year with more Lord of the Rings, and it's 2022 now!

Who knows what kind of year it'll be? I know for me it'll be filled with lots more school, and hopefully some writing, but beyond that, just about anything could happen. I guess we'll just have to wait and see!