The Middle Ground

My Interactive Reflection Journal

January 6, 2010
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Welcome to the Middle Ground!  Here you will find the not-so lucky Jeremy Knox on his journey to find inspiration, and a glimpse of my thought life as I explore various issues and weigh my opinions.  You will also find my insightful reflections on novels from class.  Enjoy!!

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The Teeter Totter of : The Ideal of Justice and Vengence

February 5, 2010
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In the Hebrew Bible  justice and vengeance often become intertwined. In Genesis 35.31, the son of Hamor the Hivite, Shechem, rapes the daughter of Jacob, and then asks his father to marry them. After Jacob makes a deal with Hamor that, if he and his male people get circumcised, Jacob’s daughters would marry the men of Hamor, and vice versa. But, late in the night, Simeon and Levi, two sons of Jacob, went to the people of Hamor and slaughtered all the men, including Hamor and his son. When confronted by Jacob, they said, “Should our sister be treated like a whore?”

This chapter from the Bible brings up an ideal that has been debated for many centuries. Should people who have committed crimes be punished with death? People on juries are told to be indifferent, and totally impartial. But, unfortunately, humanity commonly seeks out vengeance in the place of justice. Many people say that those who have been wronged by criminals should have their vengeance. But what if that vengeance brings them to the level of those who have committed the crimes? This question has confused the minds of many free people for generations, and even today, the ideal justice system is still being contemplated.


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Eni-Miene-Miney-Mo: God’s Choice of His Creations

February 3, 2010
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In the Bible, Gen. 12.6 & 12.7,  God determines that Abram, his new favorite creation, should have the greatest nation ever to exist. Now, at the time, the land that God promised to Abram was held by the descendants of Cain, named the Canaanites. God says to Abram, “At the time the Canaanites were in the land.  Then the Lord appeared to Abram, and said ‘to your offspring, I will give this land.'” Earlier in the Bible, God banishes Cain, but states that any man that sheds Cain’s blood will be punished as well.

Personally, I find this idea a bit confusing, due to the fact that, later in the Bible, God is so willing to send his new favorite pick and his descendants to annihilate those in the land, so that they could have the land for themselves. Now, as God said Himself in Genesis 4.15 that, “Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.” At that time, Adam was His favorite creation at the time, and thus, God was just and fair, believing in life. But now, God is willing to send his new favorite and his descendants  into battle to destroy the offspring of the man he promised to avenge. By doing this, God shows that he acts just like a politician of today, who moves his support from creation to creation when favor falls with one of his earlier creations.

Image Citation: http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/Pictures/Patriarichal%20Age/images/abraham_and_lot_part_ways.jpg


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IRJ Reflection #19

January 29, 2010
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In the Hebrew Bible, Genesis 3.16, God, after catching Adam and Eve after they have eaten from the forbidden tree, says to Eve, “… yet your desire shall be for you husband, and he shall rule over you.” God is basically saying that Adam has control over his wife, in all regards. I believe that this statement is fundamentally sexist and, in the process of trying to prove a  point based off of a mistake, shows the basis for sexism.

From what I have read from the Bible so far, many of the core principles have been sound and just, explained fairly, and provides guidance between good and evil. Everything was fine and well until I came to this passage, where I believe, a principle of God is at fault. If He has created humankind in his image, then why should those creations not be equal to each other in the face of God? Should people be cursed for eternity for a simple mistake that was not even their fault? Later in the Bible, specifically Genesis 9.6, God proves that he is just and fair, when saying, “Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person’s blood be shed.” Here, God is proving the ideal of justice.

All in all, God proves himself to be a just and fair Lord, but sometimes can make mistakes, just like his creations.


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IRJ Reflection #18

January 27, 2010
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Desire of Sin or Success: An Insight the Desires of Sin

In the Hebrew Bible, Genesis 4.7, God says to Cain, “And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” God is referring to the ability He vested in man to master sin and see good vs. evil. He states that it is sin that drives man’s desire, and thus, desire must be forgotten

I personally do not agree with this. Human desire is not always a bad thing, and certainly is not always brought on by sin. If desire did not exist, than many great accomplishments that have furthered human development would never have come into being. True, desire sometimes leads to trouble and evil. But many humans have used their desires to further humanity, including Steve Jobs and Apple, stretching all the way back to Galileo and his beliefs on the universe.

Unfortunately, the quotation following shows Cain’s apparent lack of will power, for he fell to desire, killing his brother, and cursing his life forever. This I also do not agree with. Throughout the ages, many humans have had the will power to resist sin and desire, even though the lure of desire is very strong.


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IRJ-OP #17

November 20, 2009
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Head over Heart: the Power of Passion and Goals

 

In the novel, The Golden Compass, John Faa, the king of the western gyptians explains to a furious mother who wants revenge because she had her child stolen by the Gobblers, the importance of keeping your head and striking with judgment instead of vengeance. “ To be sure, there is a warm passion behind what you say. But if you give in to that passion, friends, you’re a doing what I always warned you agin: you’re a placing the satisfaction of your own feelings above the work you have to do.” (Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass). John Faa shows the vengeful gyptian peoples that succumbing to passion and rage will only endanger the final goal, which in their case is saving the stolen children.

 

Video Clip – A segment of the movie Kung Fu Panda expressing the fundamentals of head over heart

 

Head over Heart – A background of when “head over heart” was used in music during the Classical Period

 

In many of the greatest novels such as Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Lost World, by Michael Crichton, when a character succumbs to their passion and drive, it only turns out for the worse for that character. In Lord of the Rings, after Frodo yields to the power the ring possessed, he became vengeful, hateful, and ended up hurting himself and his final goal of destroying the ring. Passion and vengeance play major roles in distracting and destroying characters throughout the history of writing.

 

Although being driven by passion alone may often lead to one’s downfall, without that passion, the ultimate goal of the characters might never be realized. As shown in the clip of Kung Fu Panda attached, without his passion for food, Po would never have been able to fight with such vigor, which unknowingly helped him to gain the skills that he needed to achieve his goal. What made Po such a formidable opponent to his Master, was the fact that, after he fought so hard for that one dumpling, he was able to let it go in the end, and kept control of his passions, realizing the role that his passion played in his training and the person he was becoming.

 

Proposition: Although passion in itself is not a bad thing, when a person is driven by passion alone and cannot keep it under control with a clear goal in his mind, he might jeopardize achieving his final goal.


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IRJ-CP#16

November 11, 2009
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After thanking the kind woman, Jeremy Knox returned anxiously to his seat, desperately attempting to hold on to the trickle of inspiration that he had gained from the very amiable woman. He squeezed into his seat, reached under his seat, brought out his pad and ink pen, and began to write. Writing furiously, our less-than inspired author became the total opposite. Ideas flowed from his cranium like never before. Visions and ideas about far off lands, powerful heroes, and mysterious monks crawled out of his brain, down his arm, and on to the pad. This new found inspiration began to take form of an epic story, evolving from just a simple slip of the hand. The story is as follows…

Not so once upon a time, there began a story, one so great that its like had never been seen before. This story was so great, that its characters could simply walk off the pages, dancing and frolicking, stumbling and spluttering. One of these fabulous characters was a young sorceress by the name of Vivian. Vivian, while still being a young sorceress, had a lot of poten…

Jeremy never got to finish that sentence, because at that exact moment, the plane began to encounter violent turbulence, and as one could have predicted, the stout man who was drinking coffee next to him jumped and spilled his coffee all over Jeremy and his notes. Subsequently, the ink bled all across the page, making the words undecipherable. The flow of inspiration met an instant and traumatic constipation. The magical world that had been brewing in Jeremy’s head imploded, leaving no trace of his once great idea. In the moments that ensued, Jeremy thought he experienced a range of symptoms exhibited in a number of psychological disorders:  bipolar disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, and even some signs of dementia.  Overwhelmed by shock and all that he was experiencing, he let out a slight cry that sounded very much like this…

AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! (to put it in slightly less aggressive terms)

To Be Continued…


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IRJ-OP #15 Open Prompt

November 10, 2009
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The “Ecology of Thought”: The Progression of Power and Deception

The “Ecology of Thought”, a science used and explained in Michael Crichton’s famous novel State of Fear, studies the changes in the public opinion, media power, and the general state of fear caused by controlling ideas. In the novel, Crichton explains several of these controlling ideas, including nuclear war, red-scare, and global warming. Crichton writes in the novel, “With modern culture, ideas constantly rise and fall. For a while everyone believes something, and then, bit by bit, they stop believing it. Eventually, no one can remember the old idea. Ideas are themselves, a sort of fad, you see…” (State of Fear) There are many great things that grow from these rising tides of ideas, but unfortunately, many great people have abused this concept, using it to control a populace and twist their minds to believe anything by imposing fear upon them.  This is exactly what happened back before the fall of the Berlin Wall with eugenics, and even today, with the new theory of global warming and post 9/11 terrorism.

http://www.michaelcrichton.net/books-stateoffear-plot.html – A brief summary, of Michael Crichton’s novel State of Fear.

 

http://hnn.us/articles/1796.html – An article on the American foundations for Nazi eugenics.

 

In the past, politicians have used this fear to control the populace of the United States of America. Before World War II, there was a rising tide of fear that spread across the USA and Europe, which sparked the idea of eugenics that was supported by Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson. This fear included the idea that “lesser peoples” were reproducing more rapidly than the better citizens. This idea was taken largely out of context, fostering ideas such as “rising tides of imbeciles” or “only eugenics can save man kind”. These ideas where then used by politicians to allow for sterilization of these degenerates, all based on faulty research. Before the onset of WWII, many prominent organizations such as the Rockefeller Organization supported German research in eugenics. But once WWII began, all support for this ideal was dropped, and any one who was brave enough to speak about it was shouted down and was silenced. Politicians used this fear to control several nations to take extreme measures for a pseudoscience, only to control their nations to do extreme things in the name of “humanity”.

 

In more recent times, politicians have found new ideas to control and subdue the populace: global warming and terrorism. Now, I am not saying that global warming or terrorism is anywhere close to being as terrible as eugenics, but there is a fine line between what is right and what is wrong. After 9/11, the government propagated and publicized fear in any way they could, ultimately starting a war to end terrorism, which may have been acceptable at the time, but is no longer acceptable. This system attracted so much popularity, and was based of little to no evidence. It is remarkable because, on the other side of the aisle, many politicians postulated this theory of global warming, and immediately gained immense popularity from the public, but had, and still has, little evidence to back up their theories. It is astounding that even though we have come so far from social control and secrecy, many of the things we believe may not be true, and will eventually die, along with the large amounts of people who support them. The “Ecology of Thought” controls the politicians, and in the same since, the politicians control the perpetual State of Fear.

Proposition: Certain ideas and concepts may rise to prominence and fame, but never should these ideals be abused and used to control a nation.

 


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IRJ:CP #14 Vocab Practice/Creative Piece

November 3, 2009
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After being attacked by a barrage of less-than cool liquids, the desultory author Jeremy Knox continues his painful journey to the back of the plane, accompanied by none other than the newest antagonist, R. K. Fowling. Walking along the aisle, Jeremy noticed many of the faces peering at him and his predicament. Some of the faces showed an unmistakable feeling of disdain, for what reason Jeremy was oblivious to. A few of the more compassionate faces showed expressions of sympathy. The majority of the faces however, showed expressions of torpidity, as it was 3 o’clock in the morning. Reaching the back of the plane, Jeremy asked the flight attendant if she could spare a wet cloth so that he could clean himself up. This stout flight attendant nodded, and then handed him a small wet cloth. As he was cleaning up the less-than washable liquid out of his shirt, the murky madam explained herself in more detail.

According to her story, R.K. Fowling was in fact, a writer herself. She was once the protégée of the famous Sci-Fi writer Stephanie Queen, and had escaped to Australia to avoid the craziness of her mentor’s lessons. She was at the pinnacle of her career, until her inspiration just ran out. She found that she could no longer write novels of far off lands and powerful sorceresses. After her lake of inspiration ran dry, she decided to return to her homeland to find inspiration. It seemed as if Jeremy had finally found his first source of inspiration.

 

To Be Continued…


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IRJ-CP #12

October 21, 2009
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Entering his room from the northern staircase, a certain fact stands out: there are dozens of windows facing both east and west. Sunlight shines in from these windows at all times, showing the bright light of the sun at all times of the day. In the center of his room, on the ceiling, there is a sizable ovular sky-light, opened and closed by a nearby remote. Three quarters of the wall space on the south and the north side of the room is monopolized by immense book shelves covered by a wide array of books, from old looking tomes to newer paperback books. The topics of these books include fiction, sci-fi, philosophy, world history, science, and religion. In the areas not covered by book shelves, large pictures of famous historians, philosophers, and religious figures of all major religions are framed in modest black frames, and placed seemingly in random order.

In front of the west set of windows, facing the sunset, rests a large, hand crafted, desk made of different types of hard woods, including birch, mahogany, and rosewood. Each leg of the desk depicts a different wind: the powerful north wind, the wise south wind, the courageous east wind, and the swift west wind. Each leg, carved out of the beautiful rosewood, emits an aroma that fills the room with the faint smell of roses. Across the room, in front of the eastern windows, there is a king-sized bed, with the head board and foot board made of a collage of different hard woods. In the middle of the head board, a large Ying Yang is placed, carved out of a deep, rich mahogany, and a light, beautiful birch wood, with a small circular stone of marble and an amethyst with the same proportions.


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