Megachurch orders all members to sign new anti-LGBTQ pledge to adhere to ‘biblical sexuality’ or risk being cast out: Pastor defends oath as ‘an exercise in clarity in a sexually confused world’

Florida megachurch is asking its congregation to sign a pledge denouncing homosexuality, warning them they will be kicked out of the church if they do not sign the document affirming their beliefs ‘in a sexually confused world.’

First Baptist Church in Jacksonville decided in October to make all of their 3,500-strong congregation sign the statement by March 19. If they refuse, they ‘will be considered by the church to have resigned their membership.’

The pledge states: ‘As a member of First Baptist Church, I believe that God creates people in his image as either male or female, and that this creation is a fixed matter of human biology, not individual choice. 

‘I believe marriage is instituted by God, not government, is between one man and one woman, and is the only context for sexual desire and expression.’

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Here’s Why the Big Club and People Managing Ron DeSantis Hate Donald Trump

President Trump transmitted a message to congress, warning them not to cut Social Security and Medicare {Direct Rumble Link}.  Many politicians and pundits will look at Trump’s position from the perspective of it being good to campaign for older voters, but that’s not the core of his reasoning.

In 2016 CTH was the first place to evaluate the totality of President Trump’s economic policies; specifically, as those policies related to the entitlement programs around Social Security and Medicare.  We outlined the approach Trump was putting forth and the way he was approaching the issue.   In the years that followed, he was right.  He was creating a U.S. economy that could sustain all of the elements the traditional political class were calling “unsustainable.”

Before getting to the details, here’s his video message and policy as delivered yesterday.

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Fortunately, we do not have to guess if President Trump is correct. We have his actual economic policy results to look at and see how the expansion of the economy was creating the type of growth that would sustain Social Security and Medicare.  This was/is MAGAnomics at work.

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Hierarchies evolve to reduce connections (and confusion)

Large social systems, especially those with many members who do not know each other, evolve into hierarchies because the number of connections is reduced.

When the number of connections that hold a group together is reduced, it is less costly to maintain the group and thus such groups are more likely to survive.

Military organizations, companies, religious organizations and schools are usually organized into hierarchical structures. Creative, independent modules can relieve some of the formalism of hierarchy but these modules will still fit into the hierarchical structure somewhere.

Hierarchies are (always?) organized around a purpose—money for corporations, winning for militaries, belief and organizational systems for religions, food for animals and so on.

You can even see the hierarchical principle in plant structures.

A research project on this topic as it applies to artificial intelligence demonstrates that biological networks evolve into hierarchies:

…because hierarchically wired networks have fewer connections. (Research showing why hierarchy exists will aid the development of artificial intelligence)

If we accept this principle behind the development of hierarchies, I would submit that we can also apply it to how language has developed as a hierarchy in and of itself and also as a support system for the social hierarchy within which it is used.

Language and culture are held together by a system of hierarchical categories.

These categories are what we think of as beliefs, values, codes, stories, political systems, who’s who in the group, and so on.

Hierarchical systems based on general categories of that type typically also exist between individuals within any society. Indeed, we can find the same sort of hierarchical system within the individual.

This is an efficient and very reasonable way to maintain a society and a language.

Problems arise in this system, however, when the individual does not know any other way of organizing themself or of communicating with others.

An individual who exists and communicates only within a hierarchical structure will be alienated from the great mass of idiosyncratic perceptions, responses, thoughts, and emotions that exist within them and others. I think that this causes a great deal of psychological suffering and is a major part of what the Buddha meant by delusion.

FIML is designed to fix this problem between individuals.

first posted

Contemporary Hermits: A Developmental Psychopathology Account of Extreme Social Withdrawal (Hikikomori) in Young People

Although it is widely accepted that human beings have an ingrained ‘need to belong,’ there seem to be a substantial subset of young people who seclude themselves for most of the time at home and no longer engage in education or work, ultimately withdrawing from participation in society. In Japan, this phenomenon has been labeled as ‘hikikomori,’ but given its global presence it may be preferable to use the term ‘extreme social withdrawal’ (ESW). In this qualitative review, we provide a description and definition of ESW, provide figures on its prevalence, and discuss a number of associated concepts, including loneliness and “aloneliness,” school absenteeism and dropout, the ‘new’ developmental stage of adultolescence, and the labor force categories of freeter (‘freelance arbeiter’) and NEET (a young person not in employment, education, or training). The core of the paper is focused on the origins of ESW in young people and provides a narrative overview of relevant etiological factors, such as aberrant brain processes, unfavorable temperament, psychiatric conditions, adverse family processes including detrimental parenting, negative peer experiences, societal pressures, and excessive internet and digital media use, which are all placed within a comprehensive developmental psychopathology framework. We will close with a discussion of possible interventions for young people with ESW and formulate a guideline that describes (the temporal order of) various components that need to be included in such a treatment.

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I have only read the abstract linked above but am posting this paper because it may be of interest to readers of this site. From a Buddhist point of view, there are many legitimate reasons to withdraw from society or reduce one’s participation in it. I am not encouraging that but am saying asceticism is a major form of Buddhist practice as are long silence retreats. This is not the same as what’s known as hikikomori and for the most part I do not think Buddhist asceticism is pathological in any way. Since I haven’t read the paper, I have no more to say than that. ABN

FIML and Symbolic Interaction Theory

Symbolic Interaction Theory, also called symbolic interactionism, provides the best large-scale framework I have found so far for explaining FIML practice.

Three basic premises of symbolic interactionism are:

  • “Humans act toward things on the basis of the meanings they ascribe to those things.”
  • “The meaning of such things is derived from, or arises out of, the social interaction that one has with others and the society.”
  • “These meanings are handled in, and modified through, an interpretative process used by the person in dealing with the things he/she encounters.”

These basic premises have been taken from the Wikipedia article linked above. I tend to agree with most of the general framework, as I understand it, of symbolic interactionism and believe that FIML practice can reasonably be understood as a method that can fit fairly comfortably within that framework.

FIML differs from symbolic interactionism in that FIML is much more a form of interpersonal psychotherapy than a sociological theory. FIML is a communication technique that focuses on meaning as it arises and is apprehended during short periods of time. FIML’s focus on very small units of interpersonal communication is what allows partners to understand how their sense of meaning intertwines with their emotional responses.

From a FIML point of view, society does not appear very well structured in many of its contexts, especially interpersonal contexts involving emotions, friendship, and intimate bonding. From this point of view, a great deal of social structure appears to be a substitute for authentic interaction between individual minds.

FIML seems also to show that a great deal of human suffering arises from the paucity of meaning that can be exchanged between individuals in most social contexts. Indeed, even in intimate contexts, most individuals, if not all of them, have great difficulty in attaining profound mutual understanding. This happens because our perceptions of our selves and others—due to how we use language and semiotics—are too crude and vague to allow for communicative complexity equal to the complexity of our minds/brains.

FIML corrects this problem by focusing on the details of interpersonal communication. Incidentally, FIML theory/practice can be falsified by having many couples do FIML practice and measuring the results. A criticism of symbolic interactionism is that it is not falsifiable. FIML differs from symbolic interactionism in that it is a practical technique that uses objective data (agreed upon by both partners) to optimize communication and improve psychological well-being.

I am pretty sure I will have more to say about symbolic interactionism in the days to come. A friend just sent me the article linked above, so I put down a few thoughts after one reading. FIML partners may find that symbolic interactionism helps with a general understanding of FIML practice.

first posted JUNE 26, 2014

UPDATE 01/13/22: The Wikipedia page has been updated since the excerpt above. I found this update interesting:

[Symbolic interactionism] is a framework that helps understand how society is preserved and created through repeated interactions between individuals. The interpretation process that occurs between interactions helps create and recreate meaning. It is the shared understanding and interpretations of meaning that affect the interaction between individuals. Individuals act on the premise of a shared understanding of meaning within their social context. Thus, interaction and behavior is framed through the shared meaning that objects and concepts have attached to them. From this view, people live in both natural and symbolic environments.

I agree with this and would add that the the shared understanding and interpretations of meaning that affect the interaction between individuals occurs all-importantly and very profoundly on the level of intimate interpersonal relationships. What FIML does is discover, foster, and create a much more accurate shared understanding and interpretations of meaning between FIML partners. The benefit of this is enormous since it has an extremely profound effect on individual psychology and all other shared understanding and interpretations of meaning encountered in society everywhere. ABN

No Other Options: Newly revealed documents depict a Canadian euthanasia regime that efficiently ushers the vulnerable to a “beautiful” death

Since Canada legalized euthanasia in 2016, there has been a strange balancing act at the heart of its medical system. There is a national suicide prevention hotline you can call 24/7, where sympathetic operators will try to talk you out of killing yourself. But today there are also euthanasia hotlines, where operators will give you the resources you need to carry out your wish. Doctors and nurse practitioners are now in the business of saving the lives of some patients while providing death to others.

Canada calls it Medical Assistance in Dying, or MAID. The term encompasses both assisted suicide, which is when providers give patients the means to end their own lives, and euthanasia, which is when a medical practitioner directly administers a patient’s lethal injection. But virtually all such deaths — over 99 percent — are euthanasia.

Supporters insist that this is not state-sanctioned suicide. Rather, it’s a dignified solution for those who no longer wish to suffer from terminal or chronic illness. MAID allows “for compassionate action, while also protecting those who are particularly vulnerable,” claimed David Lametti, the attorney general and minister of justice, in 2021.

…Important people — prominent politicians, physicians, and judges — promised Canadians that their rights to autonomy would be expanded. But the picture that emerges is not a new flowering of autonomy but the hum of an efficient engine of death.

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Once you make anything explicit, it changes it. Once you make something legal, it changes it. The moral compass moves all over due to complex factors that overwhelm the vastly simpler act of making something explicit or legal. As with all health care, providers are as much patients as the patients. ABN

Public semiotics: how they are used and controlled

Public semiotics are semiotics known to many people, semiotics that many people within a society or culture will respond to in similar ways.

Some examples of public semiotics are conventions in literature, film, news, customs, clothing, language use, courtship styles, and so on.

In film and literature, most viewers recognize the semiotic difference between first- and third-person narratives as well as typical plot-lines such as “the individual against the group,” “the individual who overcomes a tragedy,” or simply “good versus bad.”

Viewers responses are controlled by these narratives through expectation, emotion, and habit. Due to their short lengths, most popular films rely very heavily on a single strong emotion for narrative effect, while serious literature generally deals with more complex themes.

A recent scholarly study of US politics came to some conclusions about public semiotics and our perceptions of them that are not likely to surprise readers of this site.

The study and an interview with one of its authors can be found here: Scholar Behind Viral ‘Oligarchy’ Study Tells You What It Means.

In the interview co-author Gilens has this to say about the study:

I’d say that contrary to what decades of political science research might lead you to believe, ordinary citizens have virtually no influence over what their government does in the United States. And economic elites and interest groups, especially those representing business, have a substantial degree of influence. Government policy-making over the last few decades reflects the preferences of those groups — of economic elites and of organized interests. (Source: same as above. This source has the study as well as the interview.)

What this study says about public semiotics is the public does not control them. Rather, the public is controlled by them.

Interestingly, the study left out some of the main ways that public semiotics are controlled by elites. Public semiotics are not just controlled by interest groups and lobbies influencing legislation, they are also greatly controlled by:

  • elite control of the media
  • elite control of which topics the media covers
  • elite control of presidential debates by the Democratic and Republican parties through the Commission on Presidential Debates
  • elite control of members of congress by the parties they “represent”

In the linked interview, which is well-worth reading, Gilens mentions non-business lobbying groups, but does not say who they are.

If we do not understand that our public semiotics come from somewhere—that many of them are created and maintained by special interest groups—we will fail to understand how we are manipulated by them.

As this study shows, voting for a very limited selection of candidates who rarely, if ever, fulfill their very limited campaign promises is an exercise in public hypnosis. It is a complex semiotic that fosters the illusion of participation where there is none.

I do not think any of this will change. But I do think it is important for individuals, and especially FIML partners, to understand where the semiotics that jostle around in their heads are coming from. As individuals, we can have great control over what we believe, value, do, and understand about human life, and need not be controlled by the self-serving agendas of others.

It is important to understand that much of what is construed as “public life” is actually a complex mix of semiotics consciously controlled by people who work to create and maintain illusions of plots and themes in the world in much the same ways that plots and themes are created and maintained in film.

first posted APRIL 23, 2014

Idiolects and idiotics

An idiolect is the “dialect” of one person. It is unique to that person. We all speak an idiolect unique to us. No one else speaks in exactly the same way as you do. In fact, the varieties of idolects among speakers of even the same dialect can be quite pronounced, to say nothing of speakers who have been acculturated to different dialects.

Virtually, the same thing is true for our use and understanding of semiotics. Each one of us has a unique tangle of semiotics even if we share the same culture. Even if two people were born and raised in the same very strict cult, they will have different takes on their “shared” semiotics; they will see thier semiotics in individual and unique ways.

The term “idiolect” is a blend of the prefix idio, which means “own, personal, distinct to the individual” and the suffix lect, which is taken from the word “dialect.”

In that spirit, I want to coin the term “idiotics” to mean “the semiotics unique to one person.” Each and every one of us has a very complex idiotics.

It is profoundly important to know this and to understand it deeply.

We can talk at length about the generalities of our idiotics and profit from discussions like that. But we will never fully grasp what our idiotics do, how they function, and when they come into play unless we tackle them the moment they arise.

This is so because idiotics are very complex, with many parts bonded and tangled together in unique ways. The only time we can really get anything approaching an objective view of them is when they arise as small bits within real-life conversations. We can only see them when they function in the moment, when they touch our emotions in the moment, when they determine how we hear, speak, or respond in the moment.

General discussions lead away from idiotics because general discussion by their very natures (being general) are not unique to the individual. By definition, generalities are not idiotics.

This is one reason it is possible (indeed, common, I believe) for individuals to feel horribly lonely while in the company of other people. Or to feel horribly lonely when trying to explain yourself as you get more and more lost in generalities.

If you are never able to deal with, contend with, analyze, or remark upon you or your partner’s idiotics, you will have a bad time.

FIML practice works because it works with idiotics. Ironically, working with your own and your partner’s idiotics will make you much smarter.

first posted APRIL 14, 2013

Russia’s Neo-Byzantinism

There is something irresistibly attractive in Russia’s defense of traditional and religious values (what might be called Russian neo-conservatism if that label had not been usurped by American Jewish warmongers). But where does it really come from? We tend to assume that it is a reaction to Western post-modern decadence. But there is more depth to it.

What is Russia? How does Russia define herself, and how does she conceive of her relationship to Europe? Specifically, from what tradition do Russia’s current ruling elites draw their vision of Russian civilization? I wanted to learn about the Russian thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that the Russians themselves have rediscovered since the fall of Communism, and who are said to have a strong influence on Vladimir Putin and his entourage. Here is what I found.

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