My Fulcrum: A Psychological Odyssey

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Prologue

My mind is my greatest source of leverage, granting me power over issues professional, personal and spiritual. But leverage requires a lever, which requires a fulcrum. Something immovable that I can use to move everything else.

But what if the root of the most important issues I face is hidden under that fulcrum? What can I use to move an immovable object?

And what is the secret I have spent my whole life pressing further away from my consciousness?

What Lies Beneath

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Limerick: Unclean Healing

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Everyone wants to be seen
Performing a healing that’s clean
Where it’s clear I am right
To all those in sight
And nobody knows where I’ve been

Much harder to go to a cross
And bear all the world’s shame and loss
But if we’re like Him
And want to kill sin
He’s gotta make gold from our dross

Pride, A Part (Socratic Monologue)

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‘Twas a dark and stormy night.

The elegantly dressed woman walks the empty streets, bundled up against the rain and using an umbrella. It is the 1950s. She looks like Peggy Carter from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

A man waits in an alley. He wears a hat and a suit, but no overcoat or umbrella. He looks like Marlo Brando in Guys & Dolls. As she approaches, he is lighting a cigarette with a match.

Woman: Thank you for coming.

Man: For you, baby? Always.

W. That… is what I wanted to talk to you about. I… I don’t think we should see each other anymore.

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Redeeming Animism, Part 1: Animal Spirits

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Book III of The Great Redemption (the sequel to Redeeming Aphrodite and Redeeming Ares)

Prologue

Feeling more than a little ridiculous, I start walking South from the Temple of Apollo.

I still find it hard to believe that all I have to show from my epic journeys among the gods, from the heights of Olympus to the depths of Hades, is the small white mouse riding on my shoulder.

I must have accidentally spoken that thought aloud, though, as a soft voice replies.

“Imagine how it feels for the god of mice to end up being carried by a mere mortal, like some sort of pet!”

Sminthus

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Socrates Repents (An Alternative “Apology”)

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[I realize this looks like (and probably is) a harsh critique of the most revered figure in philosophy (Hat Tip to Taleb for stating it first). But I didn’t write it about him. I wrote it about me.]

Friends, Athenians, countrymen
Lend me your ears!
For I fear mine have not been working.

While awaiting my trial
And preparing my Apology
I was granted a vision of Apollo

He reminded me that his Oracle
Had already said
That none was wiser than Socrates

Why then, he asked me
Did I still torment the citizens of Athens
Hoping to find answers to my questions?

His words troubled my heart
It made me question my deepest beliefs
I felt my soul shriveling within me

For the God spoke truth
I had ignored his words
Or rather, sought to refute them

Worse, why did my daimonion not stop me?
This inner voice that long warded me
Always kept me from acts of evil

It forced me to ask the hard question
I had never asked myself
Or enabled others to ask of me

Why did I trust the daimonion
And not the deity?

Pride

The easy answer is pride
Certainly my enemies see it so
And I must acknowledge their bitter truth

Yet strangely it was an excess of humility
That drove me to challenge the God’s claim
That none were wiser than I

So why did I see humility
In the very same thing
That others recognized as pride?

Because I saw myself
As submitting to my daimonion
As a thing other than myself

The thing I took pride in
Was my self-awareness
Of how little I knew

You Athenians only saw
Me worshipping what was inside me
At the expense of the what you worship

It is right and just
For you to accuse me
Of pride and impiety

It is just and right
For me to die
For I have set myself above all of you

Yet while that is all true
And death would be fair and merciful
It is still too easy of an answer

For if I confess my sin as mere pride
Then I am the most foolish of men
Which once again, makes the God a liar

My true sin is far, far worse
Yet it is one my worst enemy
Would be loath to speak against me

Cowardice

For as I stared into the depths of my soul
And confronted with horror
My willful defiance of the God’s own truth

I had to ask myself: why?
Why could I not simply agree?
Why not simply accept I was the wisest man alive?

Why not revel in my high position?
Why not accept riches and status
For selling wisdom to eager buyers?

If I had, I would not be here today
Shackled and condemned
Making a widow and orphans of my family

You may have envied me
But you would never have condemned me
Because I would have been no threat

But I was cursed with a deep truth
That I truly had no wisdom to give
And to claim otherwise would unman me

But I can claim no credit
For my embrace of that truth
Since it led me to deny a deeper one

The word of the Oracle to me
That many would sing as praise
Was to me the knell of death

For I knew I had no goodness in me
And if none were wiser than I
Then surely we all were doomed

It is only to be expected
That a mortal such as I
Would flee that terrible abyss

Indeed, that is why
None of my accusers
Leap to condemn my cowardice

For they too share that same fear
Which is why they must silence
My questions that reveal their shame

In truth, I cannot blame them or myself
For refusing to face the emptiness
That ritual and tradition help us avoid

Yet I cannot help but wonder
Why my daimonion dared not speak
And challenge my craven fear?

I trusted that voice with all my heart
I would gladly have gone to my death
In order to honor its commands

I had always assumed
That this inner voice
Spoke only the truth

And perhaps it is still fair
To say it never lied
Except by omission

What if
That voice
Was also scared?

Trust

I still believe that voice
Cared for my soul
Even to the death of my body

But now it seems
That even spirits
Have their limits

There is a place
That man must go
Where spirits dare not tread

Perhaps my daimonion thought it kinder
For me to wander in darkness
Rather than be burnt by light

But it seems more likely
That my voice was bound
With an oath too terrible to contemplate

It would help me if it could
But is itself in need of rescuing
Which is why it could not save me

I can no longer trust this inner voice
Yet neither can I deny it

Commission

Citizens of Athens
Lend me your ears
And I will lend you mine

I owe you my life
It is yours to take
And mostly gladly would I surrender it

But I ask you instead
To lay a greater burden on me
And perhaps on yourselves

Send me to ask the God
The question I should have asked
Instead of trying to prove Him false

Perhaps only a God
Can speak the awful Word
Than binds the lips of spirits

Grant me the exile I once spurned
But with the added scourge of hope
That I may return if my quest succeeds

If you grant me this indulgence
I will seek the Oracle at Delphi
And lay this Question before her

I know not even now
What is the right Question
That I need to ask

Perhaps my daimonion
May contrive a way
To evade the curse that blocks its aid

Or perhaps I will waste away at Delphi
Longing for a Truth I know not to ask
Of which I and the world are not worthy

Either way, fair citizens
I will trouble you no longer
And you need not have my blood on your hands

Conclusion

My heart rends within me
At how my deeds
Have sundered me from those I love

I know not how to ask forgiveness
When even my penance
Adds to the pain of those who love me

All I can do is lay down my life
In faith to the God
And submission to my community

Thank you.

The End
(Or possibly, The Beginning ?)

Dream: Techie Mayor CEO

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I am at another startup
We have just gotten a new interim CEO
Everyone is skeptical
Especially the Engineers

Because the CEO
is actually the (former?) mayor
Of a nearby town
(Small but with a large population)

Everyone is expecting him
To be a slick extrovert
With no substance
Or Intellectual depth

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AORTA Adolescence: The Perpetual Practice of Growing into Christ

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It may be too late to have a happy childhood, but it is never too late to have a turbulent adolescence!

We as a society have lost sight of what it means to grow up. And that’s a good thing!

The gift (and curse) of the Enlightenment is that each of us must answer the question: who do I want to be when I grow up?  It is tempting to envy our ancestors and traditional cultures who had well-defined “markers of maturity”, e.g., marriage, mortgage, and making money.  There is enormous security, stability, and support in having society validate who you are supposed to be.

But there is also enormous danger, especially for Christians.

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The Virtue and Emotion Pride

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One of the most controversial aspects of Knight Club is that it treats pride (“By Myself”) like anger (“Not Fair”): an emotion which is prone to sin, but is not necessarily a sin — and can even be a virtue.

While it is true that the vast majority of Bible verses mention pride in the context of sin, a number acknowledge its positive role. Here are some that are often translated using the word “pride.”
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Meet the Dragons of Knight Club

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The great challenge of manhood is learning to harness our emotions to serve a good purpose. As I mentioned earlier, I believe we need to harness (not slay) these Four Dragons of Manhood: Desire, Fear, Anger & Pride.  Here’s a more comprehensive summary of my current understanding:

Dragons The Green Dragon of Desire The Yellow Dragon of Fear The Red Dragon of Anger The Blue Dragon of Pride
Color Green Yellow Red Blue
Emotion Desire Fear Anger Pride/Glory
Breathes Vines Light Fire Water
Says “Mine!” “I’m Scared” “Not Fair!” “By Myself!”
Verse: Psalm 37:4 1 Peter 1:17 Ephesians 4:26 Galatians 6:4
Nurtured By: Hope Wisdom Love Faith
Reined In By: Patience Responsibility Gentleness Obedience
Experience God’s: Generosity Justice Mercy Predictability

Therefore I urge you who have been chosen by God to live up to the life to which God called you. Always be humble, gentle, and patient, accepting each other in love. — Ephesians 4:1a-2

Knight Club: Moral Authority and the Fourth Dragon

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One of the ways I tackle “wicked problems” is by exploring different possible answers in order to help clarify the essential question. My posts on flying and mastering the dragons of manhood have been useful in helping me recognize that the two main questions Knight Club is trying to answer are:

  • What does it mean to be a man?
  • What can we do to help our sons become those kind of men?

I believe the most critical aspect of authentic manhood is “moral authority,” where people trust you will do the right thing.

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