Monthly Archives: February 2013

A Desperate Plea!

loneliness_by_mehrdadart

I am giving my last radio interview today on “Violent Video Games and their relationship to Teenage Violence”. And, as has happened to me before, several seemingly totally unrelated events have come together to put all of the past few weeks into perspective.

Yesterday, I reviewed “The Little Seer” for an new author, Laura Cowan. I wondered why God had placed this “divine” appointment in my path when I was already so busy with building a platform for my books and attending the PLATFORM conference. One of my takeaways from the book was the realization of how evil can destroy a life. How the enemy uses his minions to target a person, in this case the character of Tara and not only destroy other people through that person, but destroy the person in the process. I write about demons and spiritual warfare. And, in the years since I have started to do this, I have had personal attacks directed against me by forces of evil. Some of them I have recounted in past blog posts, such as the Devil house in Austin.

Now, let me take you in a lateral move to violent video games. When I started researching the effect of our current culture on young adults way back in May, 2012 as preparation for my update to our Conquering Depression book, I had no idea I would be studying violent video games. My son, Sean, is an avid game player. I have posted his comments on this phenomenon in the past few weeks and I urge the reader to review those posts. Sean began playing video games at an early age on my Commodore 128 computer. Last week, while attending the PLATFORM conference in Nashville, Sean and I had a great time together. On our last day together before I took him to the airport to fly back to his lovely wife in Austin, we stopped off at one of favorite haunts, Best Buy. There is nothing quite like geeking out with your son at Best Buy! As we walked through the door we entered the first “zone” and it was video games. Sean paused, looked around and made an amazing statement. “This used to be my area.”

Used to be? I looked at him in amazement. He went on to say he had practically given up playing video games, specifically violent first person shooter games in the weeks since he and I started talking about this phenomenon. Wow! I was impressed. Let me say this again. The boy has been playing video games his entire life — heavily immersed in video games — hours on end — online with his friends! And now, he has practically given them up! This was a stunning revelation to me. Why? He was tired of the only option for advancing a story — to kill or be killed. There is more to a story than this. There is more to life than this!

Yesterday at dinner, I sat across from my daughter, Casey. She is 25 and is still living at home battling epilepsy and migraines. She has suffered from seizures since age 8 and the story of her life is one of heroism and defiance to this horrific disease. She is one of the strongest people I know on the face of this planet. Recently, we have discovered that her seizures are migraine auras. We are changing out her medication completely. This has left her on an emotional roller coaster as she weans herself off of one drug and onto another. As a consequence, Casey has led a very sheltered life. And now, most of her friends are online — girls in distant parts of the country. Yesterday, I saw in her a deep oppression, a deep depression, a weight of worry and anxiety unlike anything she has faced. Instead of her online friends encouraging her and helping to build her up, these girls are sucking the very life out of her. Surrounded by needy, emotionally labile friends, Casey is desperately trying to please her friends; to help her friends; to encourage her friends. Only the energy is flowing in one direction — over the wifi into the world of ether and faceless “friends” leaving her listless and emotional empty.

This is the bane of their generation. They cannot exist without the internet and yet, all human relations become virtual. There is a danger of becoming isolated and disconnected from real people and, reality. This is the danger of addictive video games, as I have said in my interviews. This is the danger to this generation; a loss of interpersonal relational skills; a deepening, oppressive, paralyzing isolation into a totally self centered world where the greatest danger is becoming your own god.

Last night all of this came together in a sudden and shocking realization. Was Casey like Tara in “The Little Seer”? More specifically, was she like Aria, the main character? Isolated and alone at the hands of jealous, evil oppressed “friends” and not realizing her own special beauty as a “daughter of God”? I gasped as the realization settled in. Thank you Laura for writing your book! Thank you God for giving me insight and discernment.

For you see, my son has been under oppression for years with the evil that naturally resides in the the story of these video games. It had effected him and held him back from a healthy relationship with God. And, now, this is happening to my daughter! I immediately called my wife this morning and we are going to pray for Casey; pray with Casey; bind up the evil forces around her; and help her see that she is a beautiful, radiant daughter of God; meant for happiness and joy; meant for a life filled with light and love; meant to be so much more than the punching bag for a bunch of selfish, anonymous souls suffering in solitude on the internet.

satan2

So, here it is in a nutshell. We live in a world full of evil. It is growing in influence and power every day. It’s greatest ally is our isolation and loneliness. For in our solitude, we risk the danger of becoming our own god. But, there is light in the world. Satan is already defeated and God is waiting right where we left Him. He can deliver us out of this solitude by showing us that we are never alone; we are created in His image — an image of love and laughter and creativity and community and joy. Pray for my children. A selfish request on my part. Pray for your own children as they struggle in this world that is increasingly hostile to God. Be a part of their lives. If you are a young adult, seek the company of others — find real community and stop getting pulled into the false reality of video games that are just that — games. Know when to turn off the console and walk outside into the real world and look around. When you do, you will SEE GOD!!!!!

 

joy

The Little Seer Blog Tour Day 2

“God seals men’s instructions while they sleep; you don’t need to figure everything out. God can speak straight to your spirit and tell you what to do, even when you don’t understand his words.”

This sage advice from a mother to her young daughter is at the heart of that child’s dilemma in “The Little Seer” by Laura Cowan. Aria is having dreams, sometimes in the middle of the day! In her dreams horrible things are happening around her particularly at her church. In one dream, she is attacked by birds and upon opening her eyes finds her arms and wrists covered with cuts! Soon, her classmates at school are making fun of her and adults are whispering about her parents behind their backs. The world seems to have turned against poor, little Aria.

“Why am I seeing demons in my own house, and why are my friends being so mean?”

Aria finds an ally in Mrs. Coghill who tells her she is a prophet with these soothing words, “The gift of prophecy just means your ear is tuned to hear God’s voice.”

Pastor Ted of the local church is at the center of Aria’s dreams. Soon, he is accused of embezzlement and Aria’s father, the church treasurer finds himself wrapped in false accusations as Pastor Ted pulls the church members into his evil clutches. Aria begins to see demons all around her, and one of them has its arms wrapped around Pastor Ted’s neck! And, it is during this encounter that Aria finally sees her salvation — a guardian angel!

The story has three specific events, each building on the one before as Aria grows in her awareness of God and His presence and plans for her life. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but it is fast paced and filled with downright creepy elements of demonic presences and spiritual warfare. Well done, I might add!

I have read the Twilight series and the Hunger Game series and this book easily approaches that level of intensity and immersion in teen angst in a GOOD way. It brought back many memories of a nerdy boy growing up with those who made fun of me and looked down on me. I highly recommend the book for any middle schooler or high schooler and it is a wonderful book for parents and adults to read.

I particularly like how Laura took something some benign seeming and made it the enemy. I don’t want to give this away but it is right on the money in today’s culture.

The dream sequences are moving and lyrical with an artistic sense of being transported to another world. I have often felt that God communicates to us in our dreams and this story really nails it. There is a particularly moving scene between Aria and Christ that I can not possibly describe. It must be read and enjoyed. Laura has captured the essence of being in the presence of God; the presence of Christ; the presence of the Spirit in a close and moving way. I read each of these passages and breathed deeply of the moving presence of God I sensed behind the words.

The sense of dread and anxiety also built as the climax of the story approached and the author managed to keep the stakes high, the tension tight, and the threat of evil very, very real.

I am reminded of a song written by Andrew Peterson, “The Voice of Jesus”. It is a song written for his little girl and it talks of wandering the woods and hearing “the voice of a secret companion” following and protecting the child. That “secret companion” is the presence of our Triune God always just beyond our full comprehension but still there waiting for us to turn to Him. Laura captures this feeling in every encounter between Aria and our Creator. Wonderful, moving work. I highly recommend this book for anyone who seeks to learn more of the nature of the spiritual war that wages around us. Here are the links to the book and author’s website. The first link is a link to a giveaway so check it out. http://laurakcowan.com/2013/02/17/welcome-to-the-little-seer-blog-tour-and-giveaway/

Great job, Laura. You have a very promising future and I can’t wait to read your next work.

Information about Laura:

Laura K. Cowan, The Dreaming Novelist, writes spiritual supernatural stories set against rich dreamscapes. A lifelong dreamer and modern Christian mystic, Laura draws from subconscious depths to bring the things we believe are impossible, spiritually and physically, into the world in a literal way, to bring the supernatural into the natural and help others come to see their infinite worth and the exquisite possibilities that exist in a world in which the supernatural is part of the natural order of things.

Laura has worked for years as an accomplished writer and editor in genres such as green tech, green parenting, and automotive media, and has been called one of the best copy editors in the business by multiple colleagues, including late mentor David E. Davis, Jr., whom TIME Magazine called “the Dean of Automotive Journalism.” She is the founder of popular green parenting blog 29 Diapers, author of Ecofrugal Baby: How To Save 70% Off Baby’s First Year, and Road Test Editor for Inhabitat, the web’s largest green design blog. Laura’s work has appeared in Automobile Quarterly as well as on numerous parenting sites including BabyCenter, EcoMom, and Inhabitots. She lives in Michigan with her husband and her 3-year-old daughter. You can find her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, or email her at laurakcowan[at]gmail.com.

Links:

Laura K. Cowan’s website: http://www.laurakcowan.com

Laura K. Cowan on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/laurakcowannovelist?ref=ts&fref=ts

Laura K. Cowan on Twitter: @laurakcowan

The Little Seer on Amazon:

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/The-Little-Seer-Laura-Cowan/dp/1482500825/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1360722609&sr=8-1&keywords=the+little+seer

Ebook: http://www.amazon.com/The-Little-Seer-ebook/dp/B00BEZKU3C/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360722931&sr=1-2&keywords=the+little+seer

Exodus ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Exodus-The-Little-Seer-ebook/dp/B00BEYX7N8/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360723388&sr=1-8&keywords=the+little+seer

Desert ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Desert-The-Little-Seer-ebook/dp/B00BEZPWYO/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360723388&sr=1-9&keywords=the+little+seer

Midnight ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-The-Little-Seer-ebook/dp/B00BEYX2NI/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360723388&sr=1-7&keywords=the+little+seer

The Little Seer Blog Tour Day 1

SEER FINAL V 2013-FrontToday is the first day of a two day blog tour featuring a new book by Laura K. Cowan

Today, I will share Laura’s answers to questions about her book and tomorrow, I will feature a review of the book and more tidbits.

Inside The Making of The Little Seer, a Speculative Supernatural Novel

By Laura K. Cowan, author of The Little Seer

 

People often ask me how I wrote a novel about the supernatural and prophetic dreams. The answer? Well, come peek over my shoulder a bit to see. What went into the making of The Little Seer was nothing short of supernatural itself, and I’m not talking about my effort, though that was pretty intense.

Where Did The Idea for The Little Seer Come From?

I was bullied for years as a kid, and a journal entry I wrote about wanting people to love me for who I was was actually read in front of my seventh grade class and ridiculed, so suffice it to say I had some fear to work through before even being able to get back to writing as an adult. Putting my writing out there for people to judge? Yeah, terrifying. You can read more about my miraculous journey back to health in my full bio on my blog, but long story short: when my daughter was born, I realized I wanted to write an imaginative adventure story for her like the ones I had loved as a child, but one that also acknowledged the pain suffered by people who don’t fit the mold–whether in church, school, or society in general. I had been through a painful church split on top of my wedding that destroyed my faith community as well. But I had also experienced the most miraculous moments of my life after these devastating events, including being healed from an incurable disease through prayer, so I wanted to explore the role that rejection and other painful life experiences play in our paths to healing and life. The result was a story that was a little more grown up than I had originally planned, I suppose just because the reality of the conflict over our souls is pretty intense stuff.

Is The Little Seer Inspired By Your Life Experiences?

Inspired, yes, but The Little Seer is not my story. Yes, I went through the disillusion of seeing people who were my spiritual mentors behaving badly and discovering that the church I was raised in couldn’t answer some of my most pressing questions about life and faith, and yes I even had prophetic dreams about the event that helped me through a difficult time, but Aria’s story is very different from mine. One of my concerns about this story is that people will assume that the people I knew as a kid are as badly behaved as some of the characters in The Little Seer. None of these characters is meant to portray anyone I went to church or school with, so please don’t interrogate my friends and acquaintances and ask them if they ever tried to destroy my life! 🙂

How On Earth Did You Come Up With Those Dream Sequences?

Would you believe that my own dreams are weirder than Aria’s, and more complicated? Maybe lots of people’s are, but mine seem to be particularly intense, and I think that’s the reason I don’t believe you can thoroughly understand someone from their waking life alone. When I wrote the dream sequences for The Little Seer, I took a symbol from one of my own dreams that had some significance for me, such as tornados or bears, and then wove it into a fresh dream from Aria’s perspective. There is a whole different level on which you can read The Little Seer, by following colors and nature symbols through the story to find foreshadowing of their significance in her discoveries about her identity. If you like the book, read it twice and look at colors, plants, water, weather, and the rustle of angels’ wings the second time, and I think you’ll begin to experience the story on the level that I do.

Can We See What You’re Working on Next?

I’m working on a novel called Music of Sacred Lakes that explores the relationship between a person and the land that gave birth to them. I’m excited about this book, because it explores how some of the worst things we do can lead to our redemption and our reconnection with creation. My protagonist, a young man in crisis from northern Michigan who accidentally kills a girl, struggles to find his way back to his connection with life through living by the shores of Lake Michigan and trying to hear its voice. He is haunted by the dead girl in a series of terrifying encounters, but in the end, this horror is what leads him to peace. It’s a weird and wonderful story, and I hope I can do it justice. I will begin my second round of writing and editing in the next few weeks, and as soon as I have something that’s ready to share, you can find excerpts from the work in progress on laurakcowan.com. I’m also working on a speculative supernatural short story collection called The Thin Places: Supernatural Tales of the Unseen, which takes 30 different “What if?” questions about the way the spiritual world works, and spins them in all directions, from modern mythology to the marriage of fairy tales and time travel. I’m pretty excited about where these next few years will lead, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride. My rule is no boring stories, and I hope you like what I come up with.

 

Laura K. Cowan, The Dreaming Novelist, writes spiritual supernatural stories set against rich dreamscapes. A lifelong dreamer and modern Christian mystic, Laura draws from subconscious depths to bring the things we believe are impossible, spiritually and physically, into the world in a literal way, to bring the supernatural into the natural and help others come to see their infinite worth and the exquisite possibilities that exist in a world in which the supernatural is part of the natural order of things.

Laura has worked for years as an accomplished writer and editor in genres such as green tech, green parenting, and automotive media, and has been called one of the best copy editors in the business by multiple colleagues, including late mentor David E. Davis, Jr., whom TIME Magazine called “the Dean of Automotive Journalism.” She is the founder of popular green parenting blog 29 Diapers, author of Ecofrugal Baby: How To Save 70% Off Baby’s First Year, and Road Test Editor for Inhabitat, the web’s largest green design blog. Laura’s work has appeared in Automobile Quarterly as well as on numerous parenting sites including BabyCenter, EcoMom, and Inhabitots. She lives in Michigan with her husband and her 3-year-old daughter. You can find her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, or email her at laurakcowan[at]gmail.com.

Links:

Laura K. Cowan’s website: http://www.laurakcowan.com

Laura K. Cowan on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/laurakcowannovelist?ref=ts&fref=ts

Laura K. Cowan on Twitter: @laurakcowan

The Little Seer on Amazon:

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/The-Little-Seer-Laura-Cowan/dp/1482500825/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1360722609&sr=8-1&keywords=the+little+seer

 

Ebook: http://www.amazon.com/The-Little-Seer-ebook/dp/B00BEZKU3C/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360722931&sr=1-2&keywords=the+little+seer

 

Exodus ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Exodus-The-Little-Seer-ebook/dp/B00BEYX7N8/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360723388&sr=1-8&keywords=the+little+seer

 

Desert ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Desert-The-Little-Seer-ebook/dp/B00BEZPWYO/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360723388&sr=1-9&keywords=the+little+seer

 

Midnight ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-The-Little-Seer-ebook/dp/B00BEYX2NI/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360723388&sr=1-7&keywords=the+little+seer

 

PLATFORM Shoes!

I haven’t blogged in almost a week because I have been learning how to be a better blogger. I just completed my attendance to the very first PLATFORM Conference with Michael Hyatt and Ken Davis. The conference was held in Nashville at the Sound Kitchen. And, it was an incredible experience. My father once told me “I may be thirsty but I don’t want to drink from a fire hydrant.” Well, I feel like I’ve been trying to drink from a fire hydrant. It will take me a couple of weeks minimum to process what I have learned. But, there are some wonderful concepts that emerged during the week.

 

1 — Know Your Audience. Over and over, each speaker emphasized that writing a blog, starting a business, building your brand; whatever it is you plan is only worth pursuing if it CHANGES SOMEONE’S LIFE! This was so refreshing to me. The goal is not to make money. The goal is not to have thousands and thousands come to your site. If your goal is to make people’s lives better, then all of this will follow. First, care about something and then find those people who care about the same thing.

 

2 — Tribes! Another word for this is community. There are many of us out there who share a passion; a cause; a love; an interest. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could connect around some central “home base”? This is another key principle of building an effective platform. Find and identify your “tribe”. Match their passion for something and then make that something the center of your endeavor

 

3– Don’t Sacrifice Your Life for Your Tribe! Each and every speaker from Michael down the line emphasized the same principle. Your family comes before your business. As Michael said, “God first, my wife second, my family third, and then I’ll consider my platform.” Thank you, Michael. What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world wide web but loses his soul?

 

4 — God is at work. I was one of the fortunate attendees to sit at the “Master Level” table. The first person I met was Jonathan Howe with LifeWay working with social media. LifeWay is the umbrella organization over B&H Publishing, the publisher of “Conquering Depression”. This book and its upcoming update are why I went to the PLATFORM conference. And, right off the bat, I met the man who is most intimate with LifeWay’s social media. You see, in the back of our book on depression are tear out cards called LifeFilters. In our update, we want to convert these cards to smartphone applications. When I told this to Jonathan, he immediately showed me other apps created by LifeWay and I was instantly excited! It was a divine appointment.

Later on, I met other people, some of who suffered from depression. Their stories were moving and powerful and they agreed to allow me to contact them in the future for possible testimonials.

Also, I was able to sit by Michael Hyatt and show him the old book. I told him about our plans and he was extremely supportive. And, a bonus was a years subscription to PLATFORM University, an online membership service through which I can get support and help during the next year as we build our own platform for Conquering Depression.

 

5 — My Chronicles of Jonathan Steel WILL continue. I received incredible support for the book series. As I search for a new publisher and consider the possibility of co-publishing versus self-publishing, I will continue to write and edit the fourth and fifth books. Jonathan Steel lives!!!

 

In the coming weeks, I will be working with my co-author, Mark Sutton, on building a new platform for Conquering Depression and restructuring the platform for the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel.

The Biopsy

When I look at the man in the mirror, I’m not sure who he is. It’s not the image I have of myself in my head. I’m still that slim, athletic twenty something guy that was running 6 miles a day and had a 28 inch waist. Now, I’m lucky if my thigh is under 28 inches in diameter!

Getting old is NOT for the faint of heart. Since 2009 I’ve had neck surgery, almost broke my hip dancing to Thriller on the XBox, had major problems with my legs related to a herniated disc in my back that will one day have to come out, chest tightness in May resulting in a cardiac catheterization that was normal, and just recently a brush with prostate cancer. It was that last thing that plagued me now for almost three months.

My PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen also known as Profound Stress Anxiety) doubled on a routine screening test in November. My urologist recommended a biopsy with the statement, “When your PSA doubles at your age, the changes you have cancer are 30% or 3 chances out of 10”. My father had prostate cancer. His father died of prostate cancer. I decided to go for the biopsy. Problem was, I could not have it until January. I would not be off from work and in town long enough to have the biopsy until then. True, I was off the week of Christmas, but who wants a shiny new prostate biopsy for Christmas!

needle-biopsy-fine-needle-aspiration-PNA-

It is all said and done, now. And, looking back I’d like to make some observations:

The Anticipation of the Event was the worst part of the whole thing. Endless waiting for the day to arrive. This has really opened up my eyes to what patients go through after I tell their physician, “The CAT scan shows a mass and I recommend a biopsy.”

“Local” anesthetic is NOT anesthetic! My urologist placed a probe up inside my rectum and then uttered these words: “You’ll feel a little pinprick when I deaden the tissue.” Pinprick my, well, my lower anatomy! It hurt! Bad! I use local anesthetic on just about every procedure I do, although my procedures usually go through the skin which is far less sensitive than the lining of my, well, lower anatomy. I now have a new appreciation for what my patients are feeling when I use local. From now on, I will say, “This will feel like a big wasp sting and it is going to hurt like hell”.

Completing the procedure in a timely fashion helps a great deal. My urologist was quick and efficient and literally, the 14 biopsies took less than a minute. It didn’t make them any less painful. But, I hardly had time to think about what was going on before the next biopsy was being done. I’ve noticed this in my own practice. I try not to prolong the procedure with unnecessary “down time” such as preparing the biopsy tray or long chit chat with the patient. Get it done as painlessly as possible and as efficiently as possible. It is wonderful news to hear from my patients when they tell me what I told my urologist: “It’s already over? Thank goodness!”

Getting the news, good or bad, is very, very stressful. I was scheduled to return a week later for my biopsy results. Being a physician, I knew that the results would probably be in much sooner than that. My urologist showed me professional courtesy and called me the minute he had the results. In one way, this was great. I didn’t have to wait a week. On the other hand, it was harrowing. I didn’t know WHEN I would get the news. I would almost have preferred to wait a week knowing the exact date and time I would find out as opposed to watching the clock and the calendar and my iPhone screen waiting for the call. I was a nervous wreck with anticipation. But, good news or bad, I was relieved just to finally know.

Expect the worse and when it doesn’t happen, you are relieved. If it does happen, you are prepared. My wife doesn’t understand this. My father taught me this principle when on the first night in my new bedroom after my sister moved out he brought a hammer and placed it on the night stand by the bed. “What is that for?” I asked. He looked at me and frowned. “To break the glass out of the windows when the house catches fire so you can jump out.” My eight year old mind was alarmed and I slept with the hammer clutched in my hand the entire night but truly never slept waiting for the first tale tale odor of smoke. But, by anticipating what it would mean to have a positive biopsy, I was already prepared. I had researched the treatment options and had even chosen the surgeon and oncologist if the biopsy was positive. I was prepared. And yes, when I heard the results were negative, I danced with glee; shrieked with joy; and thanked God and everyone who prayed for me.

Telling people “It’s going to be okay.” just doesn’t work very well. I learned this the hard way. My friends told me over and over, “Don’t worry, Bruce, it will be negative. You’ll be fine.” I am not normal. I started tallying these remarks and when they were approaching 100, I realized that if this were a democracy, there would be no way I could have prostate cancer. However, there was only one “vote” that counted and that would be the pathologist who examined my biopsies and declared them truly normal. In my atypical, paranoid way the more reassurances I received, the more certain I was that my biopsy would show cancer. Certainly not my friends’ fault. They meant well and it was ME who was having a problem. Weird, warped, paranoid Bruce! Go figure! But, what this taught me is that when I have a friend or relative in this situation in the future I am going say, “No matter what the outcome, I’m thinking about you and praying for you and if there is anything I can do, let me know.” But, then, thank goodness most people aren’t as paranoid as I am! Or, or they????

powerhope

So, let me play off of that last paragraph with the thought that brings all of this together. What we need is HOPE. From my friends, my wife, my children, and everyone who prayed for me, I received hope. I can’t receive hope from the world. Our world is not founded on the hope of Christ. It is founded on the hopelessness of chance; randomness; relativism; naturalism. Only the worldview of Christianity gives us ultimate hope. It tells us that the pain and suffering of this realm are nothing compared to what lies beyond. For, in our future is Another Country with a swift Sonrise and a fair shore where pain and death are but a distant memory. A New Heaven and a New Earth. Our scientific view of the universe promises only a slow, cold death as the energy of the universe dissipates. And, we cannot change the universe. But, there is a second creation coming according to Christ; a world in which these trials and pains are nothing more than training programs for what lies ahead. Hope. That is what got me through the endless weeks. That is what got me through 2012.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Violent Media and Common Sense

I have read many of Lee Child’s novel about his character, Jack Reacher. I was a bit perplexed that Tom Cruise chose to portray Jack Reacher in the recent film based on the book. In my mind, Jack is a tall, muscular guy more on the level of the Rock rather than the smaller Tom Cruise. My daughter wanted to see the show so we went and it was right on the money! Tom Cruise captured the personality and quirks of Jack Reacher. I would pay to see him in other movies as Jack Reacher. During the movie, there was a protracted and very well done car chase scene. I was gripping my seat, gritting my teeth and grunting with each collision. Great chase scene!

jackreacher

After the movie I was almost out of the parking lot when my daughter screamed, “Dad, slow down! You’re not Jack Reacher!” I stopped in dismay. I had been gunning my car engine and trying to outrace the other cars leaving the parking lot. I had been driving like Jack Reacher and never realized it! This has happened to me many times before. I watch a television show, a movie, or read a book and find myself acting out the emotions or behavior I just encountered in that fictional setting. One time, after losing a domino game to my wife and her mother, I let lose with a casual string of curse words, including the F bomb that would have made a rap artist blush. Where did that come from? I realized I had spent all day with two of my medical colleagues whose language was mostly such curse words and without realizing it, MY BEHAVIOR WAS CHANGED!

In recent interviews about violent video games and their effect on players, I have been astounded at the denial by the video gaming industry that playing such games has NO effect on behavior. Not even a little. Not even a smidgen. Nothing! Walk away from five hours of Grand Theft Auto and you don’t drive any differently; you don’t feel aggressive or violent. There is NO EFFECT on behavior. And before you get mad at me, video game industry read ALL of what I have to say!

25 years worth of studies have proven differently, but still those studies are all wrong! Ideas do NOT have consequences! I can walk away from anything and not be effected by my participation in that thing. The mind is NOT influenced by ideas.

What? I found it interesting on a recent radio talk show this claim was made. One of the hosts maintained that playing a first person shooter game based on Columbine in which the player can kill innocent school students was just “adult art” and would have no effect on behavior. But, the show also had at least 15 advertisements during the thirty minutes. They were breaking away from me every 6 minutes for 3 minutes of ads. Advertisement! You know, advertisement —  where an idea is put into someone’s head to CHANGE their behavior and make them want to drop what their doing and go buy that item RIGHT NOW! Why did companies spend millions of dollars per minute for recent Super Bowl ads? Because ideas DO have consequences. What we see, what we hear, what we do does effect our thinking and can change behavior. If this were NOT so, then companies would never spend 2 million dollars for a 30 second television ad.

commonsense2

What we have here is a failure in common sense. It is the height of rationalization and shows that when we don’t want to believe the truth, we will embrace the lie as long as it supports our position. Common sense clearly should show us that what we hear, what we see, what we experience will have an effect on our behavior. It has been that way since man first looked up at the stars and wondered who made them. It will always be that way as long as we communicate ideas in some way.

This conclusion does not mean that violent video games cause someone to kill. There are many reasons people kill and there is some meager evidence that those individuals may use first person shooter games for practice, but we CANNOT BLAME the video game industry for such killings. This is the problem we face. Placing the blame. Again, an appeal to common sense would prove that violent content has been around for centuries. I grew up on comic books that were felt to be subversive in the 1970s. We played cowboys and indians and if some kid shot an “indian” today they would be censored by the PC police. We watched gory live footage on television from the Vietnam War. Violence in our society has always been there and has been used to capture our attention either for a news program or a magazine or a television show or a movie. Why? MONEY! That’s right. Violence, like sex, sells. It gets our attention and in our macabre fascination with death and violence, we stare slack jawed into the abyss.

commonsense

So, here’s some common sense. If you play violent video games for hours on end, it WILL effect your behavior and to deny that is lying to yourself. Admitting it means you have used good sense to prevent yourself from acting out. Being aware that what we put into our minds effects our thoughts and behavior means we have the capacity to use reason and discernment before making decisions. This is, again, common sense. Until we accept the fact that our choices are a direct result of how we think and how we think can be effected by external stimulus we can never begin to realize that we are not victims, we are choosers of our actions and WE ALONE are responsible for the consequences of our actions. In fact, it is the victim climate of our culture that makes the  gaming industry afraid to use common sense when admitting gaming effects behavior. In our sue happy culture, if the gaming industry were to admit what we intuitively know is true, some lawyer will happily sue them all for these killings. And, that is common sense!

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