Addiction

AddictionOnce addiction sets in, the user has a whole new set of problems, because addiction damages the part of the brain that helps you think things through to make good choices— the brain’s limit setting system.  For more than 10 years, studies have shown that drug addictions can cause the brain’s frontal lobes to start shrinking. While “frontal lobe” sounds really technical, basically it’s the part of the brain that controls logical problem solving and decision making. But recent studies have found that it’s not just drugs that cause that kind of damage—the same problems show up with other kinds of addictions, such as overeating, Internet addictions, and sexual compulsion.

Get the Facts on Pornography © 2013 FIGHT THE NEW DRUG

Fix You

Fix You

Cover by Brendan Malone and Joe Zambon

When you try your best, but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse
And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you’re too in love to let it go
But if you never try you’ll never know
Just what you’re worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face and I
Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face and I

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Man in Black

Man in Black

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black
Why you never see bright colors on my back
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone
Well, there’s a reason for the things that I have on

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down
Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town
I wear it for the prisoner who is long paid for his crime
But is there because he’s a victim of the times

I wear the black for those who’ve never read
Or listened to the words that Jesus said
About the road to happiness through love and charity
Why, you’d think He’s talking straight to you and me

Well, we’re doin’ mighty fine, I do suppose
In our streak of lightnin’ cars and fancy clothes
But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back
Up front there ought to be a Man In Black

I wear it for the sick and lonely old
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold
I wear the black in mournin’ for the lives that could have been
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men

And I wear it for the thousands who have died
Believin’ that the Lord was on their side
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died
Believin’ that we all were on their side

Well, there’s things that never will be right I know
And things need changin’ everywhere you go
But ’til we start to make a move to make a few things right
You’ll never see me wear a suit of white

Ah, I’d love to wear a rainbow every day
And tell the world that everything’s okay
But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back
Till things are brighter, I’m the Man In Black

The Church

In practical terms this means that the church is built on the New Testament Scriptures. They are the church’s foundation documents. And just as a foundation cannot be tampered with once it has been laid and the superstructure is being built upon it, so the New Testament foundation of the church is inviolable and cannot be changed by any additions, subtractions or modifications offered by teachers who claim to be apostles or prophets today. The church stands or falls by its loyal dependence on the foundation truths which God revealed to his apostles and prophets, and which are now preserved in the New Testament Scriptures.

John StottStott, John. The Message of Ephesians: With Study Guide (The Bible Speaks Today) (Kindle Locations 1529-1533). Inter Varsity Press UK. Kindle Edition.

Concussion

It’s been an irksome few weeks.

The BlackoutRegular readers of this blog will be aware that on 1 September 2016 I had an MVA: Motor Vehicle Accident.  This MVA resulted in the writing off of the vehicle in which it occurred.

The immediate impact that it had on me was that of whiplash, as per the agreement of multiple physicians that I have seen since the accident.

The Neurologist’s Opinion

Though this be the majority opinion, there have been some doctors (a General Practitioner and a Neurologist) that suspect it might  be worse than that.  Their suspicion is that I had a complex partial seizure.   The neurologist ordered a series of tests (some of which are yet to happen) and suggested I avoid driving for at least 6 months.

So the warring question has been:  What is it?

One of the reasons for the suspicion of seizure is that I sustained no head trauma, that is, I didn’t actually hit my head.  The question that arises from that is: Can I get a concussion without hitting my head?

Dr. Google seems to suggest that it is quite possible, especially given the initial diagnosis of a whiplash injury.

This is the direction Dr. Google pointed me in:

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). It can occur after an impact to the head or after a whiplash-type injury that causes the head and brain to shake quickly back and forth. Concussions are usually not life-threatening, but they can cause serious symptoms that require medical treatment. (Healthline, 2016)

Concussion – Expected Recovery Time

It’s been 68 days since the MVA.  Expert medical opinion suggests that the effects of a concussion would last a few weeks, but its been 9 weeks and 5 days, and still the headache, and neck pain persists.

The doctor I saw yesterday isn’t alone in suggesting that I have something called Post-Concussion Syndrome.

Post-concussion syndrome is a complex disorder in which various symptoms — such as headaches and dizziness — last for weeks and sometimes months after the injury that caused the concussion. (Mayo Clinic, 2016)

This describes my experience with a great degree of precision.

It also provides a window of relief.  The prospect of having had a seizure, and the long-reaching consequences, has been a source of nagging fear and frustration.  If, however, the diagnosis of post-concussive syndrome sticks, then the fear and frustration are unsubstantiated, at least in part.

Mission Field

Mission Field

“You don’t have to go overseas to have a mission field. You don’t even need to make new contacts to have people to pursue with the gospel. God has already set each of us among unbelievers that we can take steps to reach for him. These people are our natural mission field. God calls us to reach them just as certainly as he calls others to preach the gospel in Ecuador or Malawi. Looking for new contacts to evangelize is fine, but is that where we should start? Can we expect God to bless our efforts to contact new people when we aren’t doing anything to help those he has already given us? Evangelism falters when we don’t see our mission field, or when we don’t get busy and do something with it.” ~ Dr. Andrew Young

The above quote is taken from an Evangelism course notes that Andrew developed and delivered.

Andrew YoungAbout Andrew Young

Andrew is the founding (and now former) Principal of Grace Theological College.

The Punjabi – An Overview

The Punjabi – An Overview

Brendon Ward (2016)

The PunjabIn terms of people group, the Punjabi people of the Indian subcontinent are effectively a nation belonging to two countries.  Their cultural and religious identification transcends those national borders so that one is first Punjabi, and Indian/Pakistani second.

The PunjabiThe Punjabi are defined by common language and custom, as well as religious identification.  Spanning India and Pakistan, they are neither Hindu, nor Muslim.  Rather, they are Sikh, a word meaning “disciple”.  They can thus be identified by the wearing of a turban and the possession of the last name Singh (which means lion).

Sikhism is a hybrid religion, incorporating aspects of both Islam and Hinduism.  While it is monotheistic (i.e. one God), it is also pantheistic (i.e. God is all pervasive).  Sikhism retains the idea of a karmic cycle while rejecting the Hindu cast system.

Sikh History

Guru NanakSikhism is relatively new, being established by Guru Nanak in the 15th century.  It is a mystic religion, that is, it does not appeal to empirical evidence for the basis of its tenants.  At the age of 30, Guru Nanak is said to have had a heavenly vision.  His report of that vision was captured in the words, “There is neither Hindu nor Mussulman (Muslim), but only man. So whose path shall I follow? I shall follow God’s path. God is neither Hindu nor Mussulman and the path which I follow is God’s.”

Guru Nanak was followed by 10 patrilineal Guru each of whom contributed to the evolution of Sikhism as a religion.  The last of the human Guru, Guru Gobind Singh passed the guruship not to another human, but to the “First and Last, eternal living guru” Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Scriptures.

Sikh Scripture

Guru Granth Sahbib

The Guru Granth Sahib contains the writings (mostly hymns) of Guru Nanak and successive Guru as well as writings of both Muslim and Hindu religious leaders.  In contemporary Sikh custom, the Guru Granth Sahib is venerated, having central place in processions and position within the Gurdwara.  In terms of a daily procession, the Guru Granth Sahib is held above the head before being placed on a cushion in a special area of the Gurdwara, that has been previously washed with an ablution of water and milk.  That special area becomes the focal point of the Gurdwara.  To the Guru Granth Sahib money and food is offered.

A complete recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib takes place with major life events, which may include moving into a new house.  The printing of the Guru Granth Sahib maintains a strict format in order to maintain the exact page numbering.  This means that every copy of the Guru Granth Sahib must have exactly 1430 pages and so would take approximately 48 hours to recite from cover to cover.

Sikh Worship

sikh worshipSikhism has neither liturgy nor clergy.  Being a mystical religion, Sikh devotional practice is meditative in nature, centring on the singing of hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib.  Meditation focuses on the Divine Name, viewed as a method of moving toward a life totally devoted to God.  The God of Sikhism is known as Nam, or Name.  Other synonyms include the Divine, Ultimate, Ultimate Reality, Infinity, the Formless, Truth, and other attributes of God.

In addition to meditation on the name, Sikhs adhere to two other basic principles: hard work and sharing what one has.

After services in the Gurdwara, all people, regardless of caste or social standing, sit on the floor in a straight line and eat a simple vegetarian meal together.  This meal is served out of free kitchen that is attached to every Gurdwara.

Sincere

1 Peter 1:22-25

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Bludgeon

Bludgeon is a ferocious warrior, skilled in the ancient Cybertronian martial art of Metallikato. He and his blade can cut through the battlefield as if everyone else is operating at a minimal speed setting. Bludgeon’s feats in battle seem nearly supernatural, which is probably the effect he’s going for, if he doesn’t believe his own hype. Utterly vicious and aloof, Bludgeon is also highly religious, adhering to an arcane code of honor. Though his beliefs fuel his single-minded bloodthirstiness with dogmatic precision, they also cause him to be rather superstitious.

Bludgeon’s confidence, skill, and grand words have often catapulted him to the upper ranks of the Decepticons. Who wouldn’t fall in line behind him? He’s charismatic! The Mayhem Attack Squad is his usual host of cronies, but he’s also been known to fill in as Decepticon leader if a power vacuum presents itself.

Bludgeon is (obviously) a Pretender who has adopted a shell which takes the appearance of a skeletal samurai. His signature weapon is an energo-sword, though he also carries a shield and a high-voltage electric cannon. In accordance with his martial arts motif, generators in his shell’s legs can create disorienting clouds of smoke, and he can generate electric fireballs from the torso of either his body or his shell.[1] It is unknown whether Bludgeon is any less agile or capable in his blocky robot mode, but it wouldn’t be surprising.

Sometimes Bludgeon combines with some of the members of the Mayhem Attack Squad to form Thunder Mayhem.

Prattling fool! Your warrior heart is tainted by an idiot’s tongue! Perhaps I shall remove both for you!Bludgeon takes on Jazz, The Primal Scream

Social Justice from a Sikh Perspective

Social Justice from a Sikh Perspective

Prof Upkar Singh Thethi Pardesi OBE

July 16, 2014 posted from LinkedIn

One definition of Social Justice is the desire to create a fair and socially mobile society through wealth distribution, equality of opportunity for personal development and protection of human rights. If we accept this definition, then achieving social justice is the bedrock of the Sikh faith and teachings.

Social Justice and the Sikh Scriptures

The central message of the Sikh Holy Scriptures, Sri Guru Grant Sahib Ji (SGGS) is of humanism and universal brotherhood. It is a source of inspiration for those who seek social justice, the equality of all people, the empowerment of women and of the under privileged. It is for those reasons that the text has remained alive as a guide to all those who value these fundamental principles of humanism and human integrity. The SGGS developed the concept of “Sarbat Da Bhalla” that simples translates to mean the importance of all human live, care for the environment and to live in harmony with the rest of God’s creation.

A deeper interpretation of the four core tenets of the Sikh Dharam : kirat kamai (earning an honest living); wand (sharing); nishkam sewa (selfless service) and simran (prayer and contemplation) reveal how the practice of these principles contribute to the achievement of social justice.

Social Justice and the Sikh Dharam

The Sikh faith propagates the importance of self help through work to earn an honest living (kamai) and the desire for life long learning as the first step towards achieving personal development and social mobility. “Kirat Kamai” has a much more profound meaning. Kirat is work that is done with utmost passion, whether it is cleaning the streets, laying bricks or performing surgery. Passion and dedication to one’s profession leads to personal satisfaction, excellence and hopefully, sustained employment and career progression. This however is still not Kirat in its intended meaning. True Kirat kamai is when one works with passion and dedication to earn an honest living while remembering God with every stroke of the brush; laying of every brick and sewing of every stitch on a sick patient. Kirat kamai therefore brings to life the world wide concept of “Work is Worship”. Hard work (including running an honest business (sacha sauda)) helps one to climb the social ladder and provides the means for the most basic needs for survival of food, shelter and warmth.

In simple economies without state controlled systems of wealth distribution to support those not able to earn an honest living, the Sikh tenet of “wand ka shako” (share your good fortune) became a powerful driver in creating sustainable communities. Sikhs everywhere are required to donate at least one tenth of their earnings to charity and other good causes for all humanity. The numerous successful and self sustaining learning institutes, hospitals, eye camps and social housing projects around the world are testament of the durability of the principle of sharing to this day. The sharing of food that is cooked by the community and for the community is one of the most important attributes of the practice of Sikh Dharam.

Social Justice and the Sikh Kitchen

The Langar, or free kitchen, was founded by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji. It was essentially designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people of the world regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status. In addition to the ideals of equality, the tradition of Langar expresses the ethics of sharing, community, inclusiveness and oneness of all humankind. “..the Light of God is in all hearts.” (sggs 282). Everyone is welcome to share the Langar; no one is turned away. The food is normally served twice a day, every day of the year. In many parts of the world Sikh Gurdwaras prepare Langar specifically to feed the poor because people can only work and look for social justice when they have a fully belly.

Social Justice and Sikh Service

Irrespective of the wealth of any community, there are always fellow humans who, for whatever reason, suffer disadvantage or economic deprivation. As Sikhs, we are required to do voluntary work in the community without the expectation of any reward or recognition. The core tenet of Nishkam Sewa (selfless service to humanity) encourages Sikhs to apply their manual labour and , or their professional skills to help build loving community life; to assist those less fortunate to improve their health, wellbeing and education so that they can become more active members of a socially mobile society.

Simran (prayer and contemplation) – the forth tenet of the Sikh Dharma helps an individual to meditate and to achieve self actualisation and consciousness of the need to connect with God. Practicing kirat Kamai, wand and nishkam sewa that helps other improve their lives assists an individual to reunite with his/her maker.

Social Justice and Sikh Equality

The promotion of equality has been a distinguishing feature of the Sikh faith since its conception in the late 15 century. In around 1499 when the world offered low, or no status or respect to women, Guru Nanak sought to improve the respect of women by spreading this message: “From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married. Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. So why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all. O Nanak, only the True Lord is without a woman.” (page 473). Equality and brotherhood of mankind have been emphasised in the sacred Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Nanak says in Japji Sahib: “Accept all humans as your equals, and let them be your only sect” (Japji 28), and Guru Gobind Singh promoted the principle of: “manas ki jat sabhe eke paihcanbo – recognise all of mankind as a single caste of humanity”. Therefore, Sikhs believe that all human beings are equal. “We are sons and daughters of Waheguru, the Almighty”. Sikhs have to treat all peoples of the world on equal basis and without gender, racial, social or caste discrimination.

Social Justice and the Sikh Sant Sipahi

Sikhs are also required to be ready to protect and stand up for the rights of the weak among us; to fight for justice and fairness for all. Sikhs fight for human rights through the concept of “Warrior Saint” and use the term “Sant Sipahi”. Sant is used to refer to a wise, knowledgeable and Dharmic person or a “person with knowledge of God”. This concept was first developed by Guru Hargobind, and later personified in Guru Gobind Singh. The first duty of every Sikh is to be a “Sant” – to be a wise, considerate, judicious and knowledgeable person who has a good understanding of Dharam or religion. A “Sant” should also be a soldier (Sapahi) able to fight and engage in warfare. So the second duty of a Sikh is to be able and ready to fight for a worthy cause and for the protection of righteousness and the weak. Sikhs are taught to be kind as well as fearless. However, a Sikh is forbidden to ever engage in a first attack on any person for whatever reason. Only when all means have been exhausted and negotiations have failed can the sword be yielded in defence of a legitimate and worthy cause.

Although Social Justice is the one of the foundation stones of the Sikh faith, it is human centric. The much wider Sikh principle of Sarbat Da Bhalla, that embraces Social Justice, but emphasises the importance of our duty to the care of the environment and to live in harmony with the rest of God’s creation is much more powerful and relevant goal for all humans to pursue in the beginning of the third millennium.

an ongoing testimony of God's grace