Week 23 in the year of our Lord 2022

Getting where you want to go

9 minutes to read

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Gaining rank can be a pathway to disrespect #

Rank will lead to growing resentment and disrespect if it is not accompanied by the skills and confidence to support it.

Needless to say, rank does not confer ability. So being promoted can be a curse if you are not prepared.

Promotion should be a confirmation of a base level of ability which the person will then further develop.

But if you lack the ability, promotion into a manager, husband, pastor, etc may be a pathway to disrespect.

It pays to develop your skills before seeking status. Indeed, developing your skills is what will naturally elevate your status.

Steaming piles of productivity #

There is no real way to develop the kinds of skills you need in life without being willing to get your hands dirty.

The productive life is sticky, gooey, and bloody.

But it is also a good life. It ought to be pursued with vigor.

If you want a clean, risk-free life, you will stagnate. You cannot be productive that way. Sweat, blood, and dung are inherent to this sort of living.

Why? It is partly because of the curse. But the burden of performance we face, and the toil we must go through to produce something worthwhile, are merely ways that sin has twisted the work God made us to do.

Work in itself is good. And work in itself, even in an unfallen world, would still be messy. Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”

The earth didn’t plow itself in the unfallen creation. Adam would still have had to do that. And oxen still needed to be fed—and presumably still produced poop.

Apparently God is quite comfortable with mess. It is “very good.”

You can have an always neat and tidy manager. But if you turn the manager into a museum, you will do so at the cost of the strength of the ox. There is the exchange you must make for the productivity of the ox. It must be fed and kept safe. This requires a manager. And what goes in must come out. Hence…

  • The productivity of an ox results steaming piles of dung
  • The productivity of a womb results in diapers swollen like a water balloon
  • The productivity of a workshop means dust and wood chips
  • The productivity of a new alternator means bust knuckles soaked in oil

The productive life is sticky, gooey, and bloody. It’s gross. Gloriously gross. If you can’t embrace that, you won’t be productive.

That said, the consumptive life does not escape mess. Excess consumption is messy in a far more disturbing way. Take gluttony—it leads to inflammation, diabetes, and bad skin. Your consumption can make you bleed and ache from the inside out.

Thus, pain and mess, in of themselves, aren’t evidence of productivity.

You must discern the difference.

Don’t be ashamed of good mess. Embrace it. Get things done.

Developing productive habits #

We can learn a lot about habits by even considering a negative example.

The first thing to see about habits is that they are small.

James Clear wrote a great book called Atomic Habits. In it, he says, “Habits are the small decisions you make and actions you perform every day.”

Now look at the instruction Solomon gives in Proverbs 24:33–34:

A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest,
Then your poverty will come as a robber
And your want like an armed man.

The sluggard’s vineyard didn’t get overgrown and broken down all at once. It happened little by little.

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest.”

Many, if not most of personal crises, are the result of the years of small bad habits. They feel like they come out of nowhere—but behind most health, financial, marriage, and parenting crises are mountains of little decisions made, and actions taken, over and over again.

Solomon says: “Then your poverty will come as a robber, and your want like an armed man.”

The sluggard’s little habits lead to big results that seemingly come to fruition all at once.

His poverty feels like he was mugged all of sudden. But it in reality, he was talking down that alley ignoring for some time. Every little step took him closer to the armed man.

Small actions, when repeated, have powerful results—but those results aren’t immediate.

Michael bought some of his kids geodes for Christmas. Rocks with crystals inside them.

You can open them with a single swing of a sledgehammer—but that’ll often destroy the cool formations inside. A better way to crack them open is to take a chisel and hammer, and slowly tap away until a crack forms. Then you gently open it.

You can do 99 taps and see nothing. And then all of a sudden, on the 100th tap, a crack forms.

Now which tap formed the crack?

Well, all 100 did. It just didn’t produce the desired result immediately.

Whether good or bad, that is how habits work. Their power is realized over time, and come seemingly out of nowhere.

So you want a productive life?

Resolve to cultivate habits that will produce the outcome you want. Focus on the small actions that will build to the end goal. Don’t focus on the goal itself. Heed Clear’s advice:

You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Your goal is your desired outcome. Your system is the collection of daily habits that will get you there…spend less time focusing on outcomes and more time focusing on the habits that precede the results.

Big goals don’t deliver big results. A consistent system of small daily habits do.

Everything Everywhere All At Once—a review #

Bnonn watched Everything Everywhere All At Once recently. Here’s what he thought:

It’s a hell of a movie, though not necessarily in a good way.

My wife enjoyed it. I enjoyed the first half, but by the time it finished I came away disturbed and deflated.

It’s the kind of movie that Christian historians who understand symbolism will have a field day with in a few centuries, as they trace the fall of the West and examine how its entertainment tracked along.

It was essentially an act of worship and obeisance to the void, in which the devouring nature of infinite potentiality without rule or regulation was simultaneously glorified and propitiated. But I have noticed that the appeasement of chaos has become very weak in these kinds of movies; when you look into the void, the void also looks into you, and the longer you look, the more it devours, until your efforts to glorify it start looking very frightening, and your attempts to convince everyone that everything is ok start to ring very hollow. Since by definition there’s no rule or regulation, what starts out as a fun romp through crazy possibilities can’t help but turn into directionless, plotless nonsense.

There is some effort to redeem it with what, to my Western mind, looks like a gloss of traditionally Christian values (love, family, onetogetherness etc). But this inevitably become more and more absurd as the chaos eats more and more of the foundation of these things, and exposes the lie that they can even exist or matter in the world of the movie at all.

Overall, the first half is fun, and then the face comes off and you realize that it’s really an exploration of the nihilistic despair of facing a world in which you are “free” to formulate your own identity without any guidance, constraint, or sense, and a comically inadequate and tacked-on-feeling apologetic for solving the despair by choosing the constraint of being nice. It may be trying to insert some Taoism, balancing order and chaos; there is even a line early on explicitly about this. The problem is, it follows nihilistic logic to its end, which just is destructive, without the possibility of any truly positive resolution. Thus it actually depicts chaos devouring order.

It tries to cover this despair with a thin blanket of traditional values, where the solution is basically to arbitrarily pick one out of infinite potentialities and stick with it—but this can never overcome the intense sense of meaningless it establishes. The climax resolves nothing, and despite being depicted as love on the human scale, is intercut with two planets colliding—a cosmic symbol of arbitrary destruction.

There is, of course, also the obligatory homosexual main character, and the positive portrayal of disordered things like BSDM and homosexuality certainly added to the confusion of interpreting the film. Overall, I would call this a hard pass. The best of the action could be found in compilation clips online, and the rest isn’t worth it.

Real leaders focus on EQ, not IQ

New content: #

Michael appears on the new season of Man Rampant, which is now available through Canon+. Here’s a clip to whet your appetite: How Porn & Video Games Hijack Manhood | Doug Wilson & Michael Foster - YouTube

Notable: #

Talk again next week,

Bnonn & Michael

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