The Easy Road to Cynicism, and the Perilous Expedition Getting Back

“The adventure begins,” I thought to myself while sitting on the couch after working hard to get my apartment furnished and in order. One would think I was referring to the idea of being an adult, independent, beginning a new life of being self-supportive. However, in this case, my thoughts were of something else entirely. The adventure was of me completely abandoning my pessimistic ways and completing my metamorphosis into a real idealist. I honestly didn’t think it was possible.

There is a running joke between myself and my fiancee where I, in a self-deprecating manner, call out my own 17-year-old identity whenever he bubbles to the surface. This age was peak cynic for me. Matt the Detractor, Matt the Skeptic, Matt the Pessimist, Matt the True Hipster, Matt the Overthinker.

Matt the Confused.

This is not self-loathing. On the contrary, I understand now that this was an important step in my journey towards being the better person that my creator wants of me, but it doesn’t mean I like myself when my brain goes into fact-checking mode. It is a sign of insecurity in yourself when all you can do is try to prove others wrong using facts and statistics, however true they may be. To do so expresses a kind of high arrogance, an assumption that your methodological way of viewing the world is the only correct one. The surface of rationale, argumentation, and dialectic, however, is cold and hard, and the consequences of such paradigm are two-fold.

First, you’ll find yourself without friends, speaking a language unintelligible by common folk. Or, at least, you hope that to be true, but in the recesses of your mind there exists one other alternative: that all you claim to be is just a collection of fancy words and mindless trivia, and that everyone else is just as smart as you. Second, you’ll find yourself adopting a view of the world that significantly darker than those around you. You’ll begin to pedestalize your own intelligence while reducing the value of the opinions of those around you. Soon, nobody’s discussions about anything seem to make any sense, despite them having existed in the world for as long as you have.

Here you are, you can put it on the map. When you assume that everyone else is either uninformed or stupid, you have arrived safely at Cynicism. There are no humans in Cynicism, only lonely individuals pretending to be gods without actually having the power to back it up. They dole out judgments where none are needed nor appreciated.

Getting to Cynicism is an easy drive on a Sunday afternoon with little traffic to get in the way. The journey back from Cynicism, however, is far more dangerous than that. It’s more like a hike through hot swampland with alligators and venomous snakes. My trip took at least five years, and featured a detour through chronic lower-back nerve pain, a case of Meniere’s  Disease, and experiencing a setback in my dream to teach college.

There on the couch I realized, I’m no longer that person. I have his memories, yes, and the skill of skepticism sure comes in handy while doing academic research, but I’ve been transformed somehow. God, with his actual power, has turned me into a better version of myself.

I suppose I made it official when I changed my name on Facebook from Matt to Matthew. Matthew the Idealist, Matthew the Dreamer, Matthew the Pollyanna, Matthew the Sociable, Matthew the Optimist. I’m glad my dangerous journey has ended, and I’m excited to start my new adventure of actually being human.

So, I must ask. Have you made the same journey I have? Have you been wooed by the lights of Cynicism, only to realize that once there, it was a very dark place? How did you escape? Did you escape? Are you still escaping, or are you headed down the road to Cynicism right now?

Seeing Red: We’ve Forgotten What Real Christianity is All About

The world, so beautiful and glorious. Each day is filled with a new wonder, and something new shines greater each morning than the day before. Even on the cloudiest of days, looking up at the sky brings the promise that blue skies and sun are not too far away. The clouds that veil the sun break for an instant, and contentment shines down. And if we’re breathing, no matter how belabored that effort becomes with age or emotions, we are blessed. To live. To exist. To be who we are despite all common sense telling us this should not be. That is a blessing. And I can pray to my creator thanking him for each and every day. Continue reading

Hashtags and Hypocrites

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You see it all the time. You’re on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Then you stumble across it. Somebody posts a generic image macro that mentions God or Jesus. A bit of nausea swells up inside of you as one word surfaces to the top of your mind. “Hypocrite.”

Or maybe I’m just describing my sense of disgust. But it isn’t just myself. Allow me to copy the “pitch” that suggester Myra Boulware gave me to write about. 

“I was basically talking about how easy it is these days to make everyone think you’re a Christian. Because it’s so easy to put a religious hashtag at the end of a Facebook status or a tweet. People who portray themselves as Christians without actually living Christian lives.”

The words spoken here are so huge that I don’t even need to type this blog, but then it wouldn’t be much of a post. 

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is that this is so prevalent in social media society today. Don’t people understand that sharing an image that’s been shared by a thousand other hypocrites doesn’t mean that they’re living a Christian lifestyle? 

And I’m not even directly downing those images, although they are both frustrating and a waste of time. What’s wrong is when I see a religious picture, followed by a provocative picture or a picture of that person hardcore partying. I don’t care if you can find a way to justify these actions, they are not conducive of a relationship with Christ. 

When your social media life is a duality between worldly and religious, it wounds the minds of people who don’t know Christ. That automatically makes nonbelievers question the validity of the Christians who actually are shining examples for Christ. It fractures the respect of people who don’t know God.

The most important thing we as Christians have is our consistency. We are expected to live a life free of the fluctuations than sin ushers.

This is not unrealistic, because living a life of consistency is something I try to do every day. The issue comes with people see a direct conflict in one person that claims to share my faith. I don’t like that. It’s embarrassing. I not perfect, but I try to be at least spiritually consistent in the things I do and the ways I act. 

I hate to say this, but people are hypocrites on Facebook because it’s a shallow way to achieve short-term fulfillment. People ride the highs of these short public experiences thinking it makes them a better person. But it doesn’t. Sharing those images that make little sense and Bible verses that simply turn into out-of-context words is ultimately never fulfilling. And those “spiritual” Twitter hashtags that are nothing but high-powered social weapons. They just make you more fake.

I just want to see a world where people respect one another for their beliefs. Ultimately, I want to see that respect and love lead to people finding the one true God. Destroying those ideas in people over social media is nothing but devastating for people searching for the truth.

I’m sorry to report this, but social media is an arena for hypocrites. Hashtags and hypocrites.

[Thanks Myra Boulware for the suggestion!]